Movies out today: Cap, Kermit and Corners

Five new movies open in South Africa today, with the emphasis for the most part being on secret identities, crime and action.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier:
Screening 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX is the latest Marvel Comics movie and the second solo Captain America flick. With its predecessor chiefly set during World War II, The Winter Soldier explores how Cap AKA Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) struggles to reconcile his 1930s/40s values with the shadowy actions of his 21st Century government handlers. Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury are back. Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp and Robert Redford join the cast. Trailer Tuesday profile.

If reviewers are to be believed - it currently sports an aggregated review score of 93% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes - Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a standout must-see. Unique among the recent Marvel releases it plays down the CGI and plays up the conspiracy angle, coming across more as an espionage actioner with a costumed hero spin. As expected it gets a bit overblown and explosion-dominated towards the end, but there's a surprising amount of character focus, suspense and commentary on real world politics. It's a rare superhero film with substance. Read Kervyn's Cap 2 review at TheMovies here.


Muppets Most Wanted:
After the success of the puppet-centric 2011 film, a sequel was inevitable. Here it is, with Kermit and co. heading to Europe on a World Tour. Problems arise though in the form of a criminal mastermind who is Kermit the Frog's exact double. Along with over two dozen celebrity cameos, the main human performers this time are Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey.

Muppets Most Wanted apparently doesn't have the tender-hearted nostalgia value of its predecessor. It's still lots of family-friendly fun though, mixing gags and catchy sing-along numbers. 78% Fresh.


Four Corners:
South Africa's official Foreign Language submission for this year's Academy Awards was this crime drama about a teenage chess prodigy (newcomer Jezriel Skei) and other characters affected by gangsterism and violence on the Cape Flats.

You can read my full Four Corners review here. In essence though, the movie is technically polished and very well acted. It is hampered though by the filmmakers' decision to overstuff the 114 minute running time with too many story arcs.


Agent 2000:
Another local release is this action adventure for the younger set. Unassuming teenager Walter du Toit (Paul Loots) is actually a secret agent, and must unmask the school's anonymous bully before it's too late. If he fails his mission, his true identity will be exposed, plus he'll lose his best friend and the girl of his dreams. In Afrikaans wth English subtitles.


Philomena:
Screening in limited release is this bittersweet drama and true story about a journalist (Steve Coogan) who aids an elderly woman (Judi Dench) trace the whereabouts of a son she was forced to put up for adoption decades earlier because she was a single mother. Stephen Frears directs.

This highly acclaimed movie was up for 4 Oscars this year, including Best Actress, Best Film and Best Adapted Screenplay. Apparently it's a perfect balance of pathos and humour, although it's really the completely credible chemistry of the two leads that make it. 92% Fresh.

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