New movies releasing today: More bang and blood for your buck

Apart from a couple of more contemplative movies, it's a macho weekend at the box office - bringing big explosions and buckets of blood for your viewing pleasure.  

Battleship:
Leave your brain at the door for this spiritual successor to Transformers, also from toy company Hasbro. Loosely based on the board/pen-and-paper game, Battleship pits a small naval fleet - in the midst of a multinational naval exercise - against alien invaders who erect a force field around the Hawaiian islands. Taylor (John Carter) Kitsch is the cocky lead while the cast also includes Alexander Skarsgård,
Liam Neeson and Rihanna. P.S. Once again we're getting this one way before the States. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

For better or worse, Battleship can't escape comparisons to a Michael Bay movie - despite being directed by Peter (Hancock, Friday Night Lights) Berg. It's big, it's loud, it's consciously dumb and it's way too long. But at the same time, consumed in the right spirit, Battleship is apparently a lot of ridiculous, if unoriginal, fun. Currently a divisive 49% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.



The Raven:
My personal pick of the week is this historical mystery thriller - which looks like a blending of Sherlock Holmes, Sleepy Hollow and The Bone Collector. John Cusack is iconic 19th Century writer Edgar Allan Poe, who is roped into a police investigation when a Baltimore serial killer starts basing his murders on Poe's greatest and goriest horror stories. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

The Raven always ran the risk of coming across like yet another formulaic, "battle of minds" murder mystery... just dressed up for a new setting. And well, judging by overseas reviews, the film is pretty much just that. It looks great, but is otherwise unsatisfying: silly, dull and sadly lacking in intellectual depth. Currently 21% Fresh.



Think Like a Man:
The movie that finally dethroned The Hunger Games at the US box office. This romantic comedy centres on several couples who find their relationship dynamic changed when the women read Steve Harvey's self-help book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Starring the likes of Michael EalyRegina Hall, Gabrielle Union and Chris Brown. With its interlocking storylines, consider this one a cousin to He's Just Not That Into You.

Think Like a Man is currently a middling 52% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (which, for the record, is a pretty strong score for a romcom). Apparently it's a bit too long and formulaic, but benefits from its charismatic young cast and strong sense of humour.



Coriolanus:
Showing in limited release is this adaptation of one of Shakespeare's lesser known tragedies. Ralph Fiennes directs, produces and stars in this tale of a heroic Roman general whose disdain for the masses sees him banished from Rome. He then joins forces with his former arch enemy (Gerard Butler) to get revenge. Contemporary set, but featuring the original Shakespearean dialogue. Also starring Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain and John Kani.

Coriolanus looks pretty damn great in its trailer. And it's got the reviews to match. 94% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the film apparently deftly bridges Shakespearean verse and action movie grittiness in an apologetically hardcore tale of war and politics.  
 


Bending the Rules:
Get your B-grade kicks with this WWE-produced actioner starring wrestler Adam "Edge" Copeland and comedian prankster Jamie Kennedy. The former is a cop on trial for corruption and the latter an Assistant District Attorney on a losing streak in all areas of his life. The 2 men join forces to retrieve the lawyer's stolen vintage car, and take down a killer.

No score for this one on Rotten Tomatoes, but a quick scrounge for opinions online reveals this one is a watchable enough B-grade buddy movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's far from great but it's far from awful as well.



Lessons of a Dream:
At the opposite end of the pedigree spectrum is this German language historical drama starring Daniel Bruhl as Konrad Koch - a young school teacher who, in the course of teaching English at a prestigious all boys school, introduces football to Germany in 1874. Only at Ster Kinekor Cinema Nouveau.

So yeah, think of this one as a German Dead Poets Society, as the teacher's unconventionality inspires his students and enrages the traditionalist authorities. Apparently Lessons of a Dream is palatable enough but doesn't veer at all from feel-good formula.

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