From action to saccharine drama, horror to animated comedy, there’s something for the whole family at South African cinemas this weekend.
Rampart: Likely to be the most appealing of the new releases for “tough guy” loving TheMovies.co.za readers, Rampart centres on Woody Harrelson’s Vietnam veteran turned dirty cop, who finds himself in the media spotlight after he’s caught on video beating a suspect. Written by James (LA Confidential) Ellroy, this indie action drama also stars Ice Cube, Ben Foster, Anne Heche, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi and Robin Wright.
Rampart looks to be Harrelson’s Training Day, with the actor giving one of the greatest performances of his career. As a whole, the film is apparently a gritty, unflinching character study, but some critics have complained it stumbles into caricature and cliche territory.
The Devil Inside: It’s found-footage horror time yet again with this “real life” exorcism tale. A young woman and documentary maker (Fernanda Andrade) delves into the dark world of unsanctioned Roman Catholic exorcisms in a bid to understand her own mother’s deadly brush with demonic possession.
The Devil Inside has a nifty trailer with all the expected eye-rolling and bone-snapping body contortions. The film also shot to #1 at the US box office on release back in January. However, the public swiftly turned on the film because of its cop-out ending, and with no pre-screenings for critics, it ended up with a dire Rotten Tomatoes review score of 5% Fresh. An early contender for Worst Movie of 2012.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Along with The Help, this drama was the most critically dismissed of this year’s Academy Award Best Picture nominees. Based on the novel of the same name, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close sees a young boy (Thomas Horn) embark on a scavenger hunt in New York City, adamant that his dead father (Tom Hanks) – killed in the 9/11 attacks – wants him to find something. As a result be crosses paths with Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, John Goodman and Jeffrey Wright. Sandra Bullock plays the boy’s mother.
Given its subject matter, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has been called emotionally manipulative Oscar bait. It’s a surprisingly syrupy effort from director Stephen (Billy Elliot, The Hours) Daldry but the outstanding work of young Horn and veteran Von Sydow make this mixed bag more palatable.
The Sitter: One of the first R-rated comedies out the gates in 2012 is this tale of a college drop-out (Jonah Hill) who ends up as an unsuitable babysitter for 3 unruly siblings. When his pseudo-girlfriend lures our hero with sex, he loads the kids into a car and heads off to New York City. Cue assorted shenanigans involving drug debts, car theft, and even jewellery store robbery. Sounds very Adventures in Babysitting… although it comes from the director of Pineapple Express.
Apparently The Sitter is a messy hit-and-miss affair, frequently trying a bit too hard to spice up a predictable plot with crassness. There are some laughs to be had, sure, but if you, like me, really dislike Jonah Hill’s standard on-screen persona, stay far away from this one.
Open Season 3: Here’s sequel #2 for the wacky, CGI-animated franchise. Open Season 3 went straight to DVD in the US but South Africa is getting a full cinema release. Completely free of celebrity voices this time around, the film sees domesticated bear Boog find romance at a Russian travelling circus.
The straight-to-DVD pedigree of Open Season 3 means audiences should seriously lower their expectations. Evidently, the writing is mediocre at best, the new voice artists are poor replacements for the originals, and, worst of all, the animation is on par with a bargain bin kids’ video game. Littlies may enjoy it but nobody else will.