A Dreddful weekend for new cinema releases... and that's a good thing

Six new movies open in South Africa today... although I'm sure the geek and comic-loving crowd have eyes for one film only.

Dredd:
The last high-profile comic book adaptation of 2012, based on the character from Britain's seminal 2000 AD. This Stallone-free franchise reboot sees  Karl Urban playing the title character - a helmeted, all-in-one law enforcer in a Dystopian future. Olivia Thirlby is the rookie at Dredd's side as he fights his way to powerful drug peddler Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Shot for and screening in 3D. With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 76% Fresh, Dredd is apparently gritty and gratifying.... even if it's unapologetically B-grade grungy and unambitious plot-wise. Trailer Tuesday profile.



Hotel Transylvania:
Also screening in 3D (and 2D) is this family-friendly animated comedy from Sony Pictures Animation. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, Hotel Transylvania centres on a remote holiday resort for monsters. Things are going well for proprietor Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) until a human tourist (Andy Samberg) discovers the place and falls for Dracula's daughter (Selena Gomez). While the film looked great in its teaser, it unfortunately came across like just another Sandler flick in this trailer - i.e. childish, sugary and predictable. Critics are spit, enjoying the inventiveness of the character design and overall energy, but rolling their eyes at the stale story. 57% Fresh.



A Thousand Words:
Speaking of comedians with faltering careers, A Thousand Words is the latest "feel good" family comedy starring Eddie Murphy. The actor plays a fast-talking literary agent who finds his life magically linked to a tree (seriously!). For every word he speaks, a leaf falls from the tree, and he has only 1000 words to mend the relationships in his life. Universally panned - it's at 0% Fresh - this definite 2013 Razzie contender has been slammed for depriving Murphy of his greatest comedic asset: his rapid-fire quips.


Hit & Run:
Mixing action, romance and comedy, Hit & Run stars real-life couple Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell. An ex-getaway driver emerges from the Witness Protection programme to drive his girlfriend to Los Angeles, triggering numerous car chases by criminals, cops and angry exes. Also with Kristin Chenoweth, Tom Arnold, Bradley Cooper and Beau Bridges. Splitting critics, as evidenced by a 45% Fresh rating. Supporters call it breezy fun in the Tarantino crime caper mould; detractors complain it's very hit and miss. 


Ruby Sparks:
This indie romantic comedy-drama stars Paul Dano as a frustrated young  novelist who invents a character called Ruby Sparks to serve as his muse. One day though, Ruby makes the transition from the printed page to real life, in the form of Zoe Kazan. Also with Antonio Banderas and Annette Bening. Ruby Sparks apparently starts off light and charming but gradually becomes smarter and more affecting, offering insight into relationships and the creative process. From the makers of Little Miss Sunshine. 79% Fresh.


Damsels in Distress:
Screening in limited release is this art circuit comedy about a group of young women who attempt to make their once "boys-only" college more female-friendly and fashion-conscious. Starring Greta Gerwig,
Megalyn Echikunwoke, Analeigh Tipton and Adam Brody. Damsels in Distress is the first film in 13 years for writer-director Whit Stillman - a specialist in mannered comedies - and critics are throwing around words like "joyous", "frivolous" and "whimsical." Slight on plot but strong in performances. 75% Fresh.

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