Movies releasing today: Sequels and art house fare

This week at South African cinemas, new entries in hit movie franchises are evenly matched with art house fare. Take your pick...

The Bourne Legacy:
Matt Damon is out and Jeremy Renner is in for this fourth film in the action-espionage Bourne film series, stemming from Robert Ludlum's spy thriller books. A rogue black ops agent - who isn't Jason Bourne! - tries to get to the bottom of a shady government scheme to create drug-enhanced super-soldiers. Also with Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, Oscar Isaac and Albert Finney. Overseas critics are divided between calling Legacy well-constructed, electric entertainment or unnecessary franchise milking. 55% Fresh.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days:
The second sequel in the family-friendly comedy series, based on Jeff Kinney's popular book series. Mixing live-action and cartoon illustration, the film follows self-absorbed tween hero Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) during his incident-filled Summer break. Sitcom-like with slapstick humour, but not without its old school "family values" charm. 49% Fresh.

The Flowers of War:
A multi-award nominated historical drama from acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou. Christian Bale and Ni Ni star in this tale of a mortician holed up in a cathedral with a group of convent girls and prostitutes during Japan's violent 1937 invasion of Nanking. Human drama clashes with spectacle, sans subtlety in either department. 40% Fresh.

Monsieur Lazhar:
Screening in limited release is this French-language Canadian production about an Algerian immigrant (Mohamed Saïd Fellag) who takes over teaching duties at an elementary school. Despite the cultural gap, he gradually forms a bond with his class, but continues to struggle secretly with his own grief and fears. Tender and authentic-feeling. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars. 97% Fresh.


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