Movies out today: Boxers, book thieves and demons... again

Four new films open in South African cinemas today. And a quick scan over the reviews reveals they're all a pretty watchable, if unexceptional, lot.

Grudge Match:
Those heavy hitters (literally) of 70s and 80s cinema - Robert "Raging Bull" De Niro and Sylvester "Rocky" Stallone - star in this sports comedy about two retired boxers and rivals who come out of retirement to settle once and for all who is the better fighter. Also with Alan Arkin and Kim Basinger.

Obviously the big appeal with Grudge Match is the never-before pairing of its stars, both of whom have iconic boxing flicks under their belt. Word is that the film is watchable enough but far from special. A riddled with cliches-and-clumsiness 25% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.


The Book Thief:
The acclaimed bestselling novel for young adults gets the big screen treatment. The film chronicles the experiences of an adolescent girl (Sophie NĂ©lisse) in Nazi Germany. Apart from the loss of her mother and brother, her hatred for the regime is fed by pre-WWII book burnings. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson play the girl's foster parents.

The greatest amount of critical praise for The Book Thief has been for its young star and Oscar-nominated score by John Williams. Otherwise, the film is sitting with a split down the middle 50% Fresh rating. Great performances and heartfelt moments are apparently offset by the production's overall bland "safeness."


Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones:
Say what? They're still making these found-footage-style horror movies? Movie #5 in the Paranormal Activity franchise departs from the tale of Katie Featherston and co. and instead focuses on a group of Hispanic teens who cross paths with a demon-summoning clan of witches. With a cast of unknowns.

People seem to be a bit tired of the Paranormal Activity formula by now. New characters and settings are evidently the only thing fresh about The Marked Ones. Not a trainwreck but a rather dull and dumb 38% Fresh.


Faan se Trein:
This South African drama centres on a simple-minded man living in a tiny Karoo town in the 1950s. When his father dies, the town's inhabitants are divided over whether he should be institutionalized. Based on the hit stage play, the cast includes Cobus Rossouw, Marius Weyers, Sandra Kotze, Deon Lotz, Nicola Hanekom and Willie Esterhuizen. In Afrikaans with English subtitles.

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