Movies out today: Sci-fi escapism all around

Sci-fi dominates at South African cinemas this weekend, with all 3 new releases dealing with matters of technology and extraterrestrial exploration.

Oblivion:
I have to admit this sci-fi actioner took me completely by surprise. I'd never even heard of it until a few months ago. Anyway, from the director of Tron: Legacy comes this tale of an "average joe" repair man (Tom Cruise) involved in the reclamation of resources on an abandoned Earth. When he encounters astronaut Olga Kurylenko, he's forced to question everything he's ever been told about Mankind's battle with feared alien Scavengers. Also with Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Melissa Leo.

According to reviewers, you'll be watching Oblivion primarily for its striking visuals, elegantly technical approach to filmmaking, and Cruise's charismatic performance. It's a pity though that the film's strengths are primarily visual as opposed to cerebral. Nice throwback approach though. 66% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.




Escape from Planet Earth:
Screening in 2D and 3D is this animated comedy from the studio responsible for all the Barbie movies. Yep. A nerdy alien (Rob Corddry) must rescue his brother, a popular jock explorer (Brendan Fraser) from Area 51 when the latter is captured by the US military. This one looks a helluva lot like Monsters vs. Aliens meets Planet 51. It does have an all-star voice cast though.

If overseas critics are be believed, Escape from Planet Earth is alright for the kiddies and passable enough for adults. It's colourful and energetic, but very limply scripted. 28% Fresh.


Robot & Frank:
Screening in limited release is this award-winning film festival darling. Set in the near future, Frank Langella is an ageing ex-jewel thief who is given a robot personal helper - voiced by Peter Sarsgaard - by his son (James Marsden). Immediately Frank starts planning heists with the Robot's help. Also starring Susan Sarandon and Liv Tyler.

Comedy drama Robot & Frank is apparently superbly acted, intelligent and charming. It might be a bit too slight to make it must-watch though. 87% Fresh.

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