Movies out today: Spidey, assassinations and young love

It's another long weekend in South Africa as of today, so there's extra time to hit your local cinema. There are also six new releases to choose from, although there's no question which of them will dominate at the local box office.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of  Electro:
Screening in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX is this sequel to the 2012 comic book reboot. In true blockbuster sequel form, everything is bigger, and the stakes have been upped all round. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) - AKA Spider-Man - has to face not one but three foes with ties to Oscorp, namely the supremely powerful Electro (Jamie Foxx), Rhino (Paul Giamatti) and Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan). Meanwhile Peter has to juggle his relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and delve into the mystery of his parents' disappearance.

Personally, I found the first Amazing Spider-Man all rather redundant - with the exception of Garfield's less irritating take on the superhero. So I'm not exactly desperate to see this follow-up.  Judging by reviews, Rise of Electro is a step in the right direction, but remains a mixed bag (You can read Nick's review at TheMovies.co.za here). The film benefits from star charisma, and is loads of fun. However, it also features a very stilted, overstuffed narrative. Then there's the fact that it's a butt-numbing 142 minutes long. 76% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.


Parkland:
For history fans, there's this drama that depicts the chaos and paranoia following the assassination of President John F Kennedy in 1963 - shifting between the perspectives of the ordinary people involved. The impressive cast includes J ames Badge Dale, Zac Efron, Jackie Earle Haley, Marcia Gay Harden, Ron Livingston, Billy Bob Thornton and Paul Giamatti.

Parkland is solidly acted, and refreshingly steers clear of conspiracy theory hysteria. However, the multiple narratives don't really gel to form an engrossing whole. A split 49% Fresh.



Endless Love:
Young love is centre stage in this romantic drama - a remake of the 1981 Brooke Shields starrer as well as the acclaimed novel of the same name. Recent high school graduates (Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde) from opposite sides of the tracks fall in love, and parental types disapprove of the match. Also with Bruce Greenwood and Joely Richardson.

Like its tearjerker predecessor, Endless Love has not been well received by critics. This version is apparently horribly bland, superficial and cliched. 15% Fresh.



Fruitvale Station:
This acclaimed indie drama tells the true story of Oscar Grant, a young man and former prison inmate (played by Michael B. Jordan) who commits to going straight. He doesn't receive much of an opportunity though due to a fateful encounter with police at a Bay Area rapid transit station.

Fruitvale Station has been a film festival darling, winning dozens of accolades in 2013 - including the Grand Jury and Audience Award at last year's Sundance Film Festival, and the Best First Film Award at Cannes. Star Jordan has received massive praise for his performance. The film as a whole gains its power from its casual, understated approach to depicting tragedy. 94% Fresh.



iNumber Number:
Your first of two South African films releasing this weekend is this crime drama-actioner about an undercover cop (S'dumo Mtshali) who is cheated by his corrupt superiors. In retaliation, instead of simply infiltrating a cash-in-transit gang, he joins them to pull off a massive heist. There's complication though in the form of his honest partner (Presley Chweneyagae) and a thug who may know he's a cop.

iNumber Number won the Audience Award at this year's Jozi Film Festival, as well as the Best Screenplay Award at the 2013 African International Film Festival. It's been called South Africa's Reservoir Dogs, and has been optioned for an American remake.



Die Windpomp:
On the opposite end of the local cinema spectrum is this "quirky" romantic fantasy drama based on an award-winning AFSA Film School short. A young man (Armand Greyling) ends up in a sleepy retirement village, but finds his boring existence electrified when he meets a beautiful dancer (Leandie Du Randt) one night by a secluded dam. Things aren't what they seem, however. In Afrikaans with English subtitles.

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