Critical Consensus: Chuck is No Good, Sydney White is No Fairy Tale, Eastern Exceeds Promises

Plus, guess Resident Evil Tomatometer!

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This week at the movies, we've got cursed couples (Good Luck Chuck, starring Dane Cook and Jessica Alba), a collegiate Snow White (Sydney White, starring Amanda Bynes), the London underworld (Eastern Promises, starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts), and post-apocalyptic zombie killing (Resident Evil: Apocalypse, starring Milla Jovovich). What do the critics have to say?

Romantic comedies are often the most difficult films to pull off; you need palpable chemistry between the leads, inspired jokes, and a delicate sense of comic timing. Good luck finding those attributes in Good Luck Chuck, critics say. Dane Cook stars as a guy who's the victim of a curse, one in which any woman who dates him finds true love -- with someone else. Enter Jessica Alba as a penguin-lover who really digs him. Can she break the curse? Critics say the movie seems to be under a spell of its own, one in which potential laughs are squandered by means of rude humor, shopworn slapstick, and an ultimately cheesy resolution. At seven percent on the Tomatometer, Chuck this one to the curb.


"Why yes, I am interested in renewing my subscription to The Atlantic Monthly."

Sydney White, the titular heroine of this Snow White update, might find herself singing, "Someday, my prince will come." Or perhaps, "Someday, a bunch of princely movie critics may give my movie a good review." Sydney White stars Amanda Bynes as a college freshman who has to contend with a malicious sorority queen while whipping a frat of geeks into social shape. While critics agree Bynes is a talented actress who's rescued movies in the past, her comic skills go largely to waste here on a script that functions completely on stereotypes and does little to plant new twists on the classic fairy tale. In fact, the scribes say the unsubtle references to Snow White lore in the movie are jarring and distracting. At 46 percent Tomatometer, Sydney White is one poisoned apple.


"Tomatometers that big gotta be fake."

With Eastern Promises, David Cronenberg continues to utilize genre trappings for his singular dark, bold vision. Promises stars Viggo Mortensen as a mysterious yet charismatic Russian hitman whose loyalties are put into question when he encounters Naomi Watts's character. Critics praise Eastern's tight pacing, grisly images that are shocking but short of exploitation, and Mortensen's daring performance.  And a fight scene in a bathhouse between Mortensen and a group of thugs is being touted as one of the most impressive action set piecess in recent memory.  At a Certified Fresh 86 percent, Cronenberg Promises a good time. (Check out our interview with Cronenberg and Mortensen here).


"So what makes you qualified to be an American Apparel model?"

Are video game adaptations headed the way of the eggplant wizard? That's up for debate, but it appears that the people behind Resident Evil: Extinction were prepared for a critical ice age; what other reason for not screening the movie before its release? As with the first two Evil flicks, Extinction stars Milla Jovovich as a zombie killer roaming a post-apocalyptic landscape. Kids, put down your biology textbooks and Guess that Tomatometer. (Oh, and be sure to check out our report from the Resident Evil: Extinction set here).


"Just give me some green herb and no one gets hurt."

Also opening this week in limited release: The Brazilian import Antonia, the gritty story of a group of female rappers overcoming poverty, is at 88 percent; Sean Penn's Into the Wild, starring Emile Hirsch as a young man who ditches civilization for the wilderness, is at 85 percent; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, a revisionist look at the famed outlaw starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, is at 84 percent; The Last Winter, a supernatural/philosophical horror film set in Alaska, is at 80 percent; Beauty Remains, a story of two sisters in love with the same man on the cusp of the Chinese Revolution, is at 67 percent; Adrift in Manhattan, about profound encounters between strangers in the Big Apple, is at 60 percent; The Jane Austen Book Club, a tale of book club members who find their lives paralleling the text of the great author, is at 58 percent; and Trade, a drama about young women sold into sexual slavery, is at 33 percent.


"Now give me some sensibility, with a little pride and/or prejudice thrown in."

Finally, props to our old buddy Mizzoucritic, who came the closest to guessing Dragon Wars' 25 percent Tomatometer. If you see MC, be sure to spot him for breakfast at Ron's Country Boy, the ideal eatery for celebrating a hard-fought victory.

Recent Viggo Mortensen Movies:
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87% -- A History of Violence (2005)
46% -- Hidalgo (2004)
94% -- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
97% -- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
94% -- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Recent Jessica Alba Movies:
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40% -- The Ten (2007)
36% -- The Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
21% -- Into the Blue (2005)
26% -- Fantastic Four (2005)
77% -- Sin City (2005)

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