Movies out today: Roman catastrophe, cops and Walt Disney

Four movies hit South African cinemas today, and the entertainment offer is all about escapism in its many genre forms.

Pompeii:
Slathering on the CGI-visuals is this shot-for-3D action-adventure from director Paul WS Anderson (he of Resident Evil and other video game adaptation fame). Set in Pompeii on the brink of Mount Vesuvius's surprise eruption in 79CE, this disaster romance centres on a slave-turned-gladiator (Kit Harington) who is intent on reuniting with his love, a wealthy merchant's daughter (Emily Browning) before it's too late. Kiefer Sutherland is the Big Bad Roman official trying to keep the couple apart. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

Totally targeting the Titanic formula (and audience), Pompeii is apparently a big, dumb, guilty pleasure that doesn't skimp on the cheese. Like we expected anything less of Anderson? Pity that the convoluted love story spoils the destructive fun. Pompeii is currently sitting with an aggregated review score of 31% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.


The Nut Job:
Don't confuse this animated kiddie flick with upcoming tongue-in-cheek horror film Squirrels. Screening in 3D, this comedy (from a Korean animation studio) seems to channel Over the Hedge and Fantastic Mr Fox. A thieving squirrel leads a band of park animals during an attempt to rob a nut store. With the voices of Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Katherine Heigl and Liam Neeson.

The Nut Job is apparently strikingly animated - doing a great job replicating the look of small town 1950s America. However, it's pretty much your standard issue animated film, manic and exhausting. An obnoxious lead character doesn't help matters. 11% Fresh.


Ride Along:
In this action comedy, Kevin Hart is a video game-obsessed security guard who must impress his fiance's tough older brother, played by Ice Cube. Said older brother is a cop, and naturally our hero joins him on patrol. Cue mismatched buddy cop shenanigans. Also with Laurence Fishburne and John Leguizamo.

Ride Along was a box office hit when it released back in January in North America. Audiences clearly liked it while critics have dismissed it as all too familiar, with the best bits already revealed in the trailer. 17% Fresh.


Saving Mr Banks:
Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson star in this true life comedy-drama about the lengths Walt Disney went to acquire the film rights for Mary Poppins from uptight Aussie-American author P.L. Travers. Also with Colin Farrell and Paul GiamattiTrailer Tuesday profile.

Saving Mr Banks has been a commercial and critical hit, garnering particular love for the film's score and Thompson's performance. It's likeable and intelligent evidently. Cynics beware though - this one is also an unapologetically sentimental tear-jerker. 80% Fresh.


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