Critics Consensus: Hellboy II Is Heavenly; Meet Dave Is Lazy
Plus, Journey is worth taking, and The Dark Knight's Tomatometer is at 100 percent.
Guillermo del Toro is one of contemporary cinema's biggest dreamers, a director who brings an arty touch to the pulp he sincerely loves. And critics say that such enthusiasm is infectious in Hellboy II: the Golden Army. Like a gumshoe in a 1940s film noir (but with bigger muscles and crimson skin), world-weary, sarcastic Hellboy (Ron Perlman) stalks the city at night, doing battle with a dizzying array of demons hell-bent (pun intended) on bringing Hades to earth. Critics say Hellboy II may not have the tightest plot in the world, but that almost works to its advantage: it's a chaotic, visual marvel, filled with bizarre touches, a wacky sense of humor, and plenty of knockout action. At 88 percent on the Tomatometer, Hellboy isn't just Golden, it's also Certified Fresh.
Further Hellboy reading: our interview with del Toro, costar Doug Jones' favorite flicks, and this week's Total Recall, which recaps the best superhero hookups of all time.
First, the good news: critics say Meet Dave is by no means the disaster that was The Adventures of Pluto Nash. The bad news, of course, is that that's still setting the bar pretty low. Eddie Murphy's latest, which was barely screened for critics before release, tells the tale of a spaceship that bears a remarkable resemblance to a human being and contains a crew of tiny humanoids who need salt to survive; along the way, they learn a thing or two about humanity. The pundits say Meet Dave has a reasonable premise and a couple decent chuckles, but it's indifferently executed and weighted down by pretty juvenile humor. At 33 percent on the Tomatometer, you may not want to Meet Dave.
Jules Verne's futuristic sci-fi is nearly as adaptable to the big screen as Shakespeare, and with Journey to the Center of the Earth, one of his most venerable classics heads for the third dimension -- and it's a trip worth taking, critics say. Brendan Frasier stars as a largely-dismissed scientist who, on an expedition to Iceland, finds a passage to the earth's center; on his journey, he and his companions discover a plethora of fantastical creatures. The pundits say Journey is a goofy, old-school adventure elevated by impressive 3-D visuals that make up for the film's thin plotting. At 67 percent on the Tomatometer, this is a Journey worth taking.
It doesn't come out for another week, but The Dark Knight is already winning raves from the critics. The sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, TDK finds Christian Bale reprising his role as Gotham City's greatest caped crimefighter, this time going mano-y-mano with his nemesis the Joker (the late Heath Ledger). Pundits so far say The Dark Knight is a visionary, disturbing crime drama, and possibly one of the best superhero movies ever. It's currently at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; check back next week (same bat-time, same bat... oh, whatever) for a full breakdown.
"A Canadian quarter. It's enough to drive a guy...loony."
Also opening this week in limited release:
- The Exiles, a rediscovered 1961 film about a group of young Native Americans making their way in Los Angeles, is at 80 percent.
- The Italian import Days and Clouds, about a dark period in the lives of a middle-age couple, is at 75 percent.
- The documentary Full Battle Rattle, about a U.S. Army simulation of Iraq in the Mojave Desert, is at 69 percent.
- The Stone Angel, about an older woman's reflections on her past starring Ellen Burstyn and Christine Horne, is at 63 percent.
- Gillian Armstrong's Death Defying Acts, starring Guy Pearce and Catherine Zeta-Jones in the tale of one of Harry Houdini's (fictional) love affairs, is at 60 percent.
- Eight Miles High, a doc about Rolling Stones groupie/ revolutionary Uschi Obermaier, is at 40 percent.
- Harold, the story of a 13-year-old curmudgeon starring Spencer Breslin, Chris Parnell, Rachel Dratch, and Cuba Gooding Jr., is at 33 percent.
- Garden Party, an indie ensemble drama about the intersecting lives of a group of teens in Los Angeles, is at 22 percent.
- August, starring Josh Hartnett and Naomie Harris in the story of the rise and fall of a young businessman, is at 17 percent.
Recent Guillermo del Toro Movies:
96% -- Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
79% -- Hellboy (2004)
56% -- Blade 2 (2002)
92% -- The Devil's Backbone (2001)
54% -- Mimic (1997)
Recent Eddie Murphy Movies:
9% -- Norbit (2007)
42% -- Shrek the Third (2007)
78% -- Dreamgirls (2006)
89% -- Shrek 2 (2004)
28% -- Daddy Day Care (2003)