This week at the movies brings just one wide release: Iron Man 2, the hotly-anticipated superhero romp starring Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, and Scarlett Johansson. What do the critics have to say? As with many blockbuster sequels, Iron Man 2 is bigger, louder, and filled with more characters than its predecessor. Critics say that doesn't mean it's better, but it's still got enough firepower to kick off the summer in fine style -- and the always-delightful presence of Robert Downey Jr. ensures that Iron Man 2 stays on track. Downey is back as Tony Stark, the multimillionaire and professional adventurer who dons the high-tech Iron Man getup and is reluctant to turn his creation over to the military.
This week at the movies, we've got the return of Freddy Krueger A Nightmare on Elm Street, starring Jackie Earle Haley and Kyle Gallner) and some angry rodents (Furry Vengeance, starring Brendan Fraser and Brooke Shields). What do the critics have to say? Freddy Krueger, one of horror cinema's most iconic killers, is back to terrorize the teens of Springwood. Unfortunately, say critics, the new incarnation of A Nightmare on Elm Street is stale stuff, lacking the imagination and scares of its predecessors. Critics say Furry Vengeance is no Over the Hedge; instead, it's a mirthless, aggressively dumb family comedy that substitutes slapstick violence for laughs or a message.
This week at the movies, we've got pregnancy pratfalls (The Back-up Plan, starring Jennifer Lopez and Alex O'Loughlin); mercenary mayhem (The Losers, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Zoe Saldana); and aquatic animals (The Disney nature documentary Oceans). What do the critics have to say? Jennifer Lopez hasn't been heard from in a little while, and the good news is that critics find her appealing in The Back-Up Plan. The bad news is they find little else to like in this romantic comedy, which is sitcommy, predictable, and unconvincing. If you like your slam-bang action-fests to contain not a shred of subtext or intellectual pretention, The Losers is for you. But mindless explosions can only take you so far. It's Earth Day, and what better way to celebrate than by gazing upon the wonders of nature?
This week at the movies, we've got hapless heroes (em>Kick-Ass, starring Aaron Johnson and Nicolas Cage), and madcap mourners (Death at a Funeral, starring Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan). What do the critics have to say? Given the recent glut of superheroes on the big screen, it was inevitable that we'd get a film that both relishes and satirizes the genre (sorry, Superhero Movie, you don't count). Critics say Matthew Vaughn's hotly-anticipated Kick-Ass largely lives up to its name, even if some find its ambitious approach a bit scattershot. Three years ago, Frank Oz had a modest hit with Death at a Funeral, which revolved around a series of wacky misadventures in the wake of a Brit family patriarch's death. Now Neil LaBute tries his hand at similar material with a mostly African American cast, and critics say the result is generally uninspired.
This week at the movies, we've got a wild night on the town (Date Night, starring Steve Carrell and Tina Fey) and some supernatural snail-mail (Letters to God, starring Tanner Maguire and Jeffrey S. Johnson). What do the critics have to say? Steve Carell and Tina Fey are two very funny people. So it seems like a no-brainer that a comedy featuring the two of them as a married couple out on the town would be a can't-miss proposition, right? Well, sort of: critics say Date Night is best when its two stars are riffing off each other, and adrift when it focuses on its caper elements.
This week at the movies, we've got swords and sandals (Clash of the Titans, starring Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson); teen romance (The Last Song, starring Miley Cyrus and Greg Kinnear); and couplehood challenges (Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too, starring Janet Jackson and Michael Jai White). What do the critics have to say? The original Clash of the Titans was campy, goofy, and plenty of fun - partly because of the charmingly lo-fi special effects. However, critics say the big-budget remake lacks the joie de vivre of the original. Miley Cyrus can't play Hannah Montana forever, so what better way to take baby steps toward an adult film career is there than starring in a Nicholas Sparks movie? Unfortunately, critics say Cyrus' showcase, The Last Song, is a bland, bloodless weepie.
This week at the movies, we've got aerial adventure (How to Train Your Dragon, with voice work from Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson) and an '80s flashback (Hot Tub Time Machine, starring John Cusack and Rob Corddry). What do the critics have to say? In the world of CGI animation, DreamWorks has long played second fiddle to Pixar. However, critics say that if How to Train Your Dragon is any indication, the gap between the studios may be narrowing. Hot Tub Time Machine boasts one of the funniest titles in recent memory. And critics say the movie's pretty good, too - it's a throwback to such 1980s raunch-fests that's elevated by an excellent cast.
This week at the movies, we've got a scheming tween (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, starring Zachary Gordon and Steve Zahn); squabbling exes (The Bounty Hunter, starring Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston); and hazardous healthcare (Repo Men, starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker). What do the critics have to say? It's a (debatable) maxim that the book is always better than the movie. That certainly seems to be the case with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which critics say contains moments of insight and humor but never fleshes out its middle school characters with the same empathy as Jeff Kinney's books.
This week at the movies, we've got Iraq War intrigue (Green Zone, starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear); opposites attracting (She's Out of My League, starring Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve); brooding and bonding (Remember Me, starring Robert Pattinson Emilie de Ravin); and multicultural matrimony (Our Family Wedding, starring America Ferrera and Forest Whitaker). What do the critics have to say? At their best, the Bourne movies were models of mainstream filmmaking - intelligent, suspenseful, and timely. However, critics say that if you got a little queasy with those films' use of the shaky-cam, you'll need a suitcase full of Dramamine for Green Zone.
This week at the movies, we've got a trip down the rabbit hole (Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp and Mia Wasilkowska) and a ride-along with the boys in blue (Brooklyn's Finest, starring Richard Gere and Don Cheadle). What do the critics have to say? At first glace, a Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland seems perfectly serendipitous: Hollywood's most playfully macabre filmmaker would be the obvious choice to reinterpret Lewis Carroll's darkly whimsical tale. However, critics say the result is curiouser - a film of remarkable visual invention that lacks strong plotting or a sense of wonder. Brooklyn's Finest
With Training Day, Antoine Fuqua brought fresh, gritty energy to the cop drama. Now he's back on the mean streets with Brooklyn's Finest and critics say this one is far less -- ahem -- arresting.
This week at the movies, we've got law enforcement laughs (Cop Out, starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan) and small-town terror (The Crazies, starring Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell). What do the critics have to say? The 1980s cop-buddy action/comedy is a subgenre that continues to delight movie buffs. Unfortunately, the critics say a strong cast and director Kevin Smith's obvious affection for the likes of 48 Hrs. and Beverly Hills Cop can't elevate Cop Out above blandness. Like an unassisted triple play or a giant squid sighting, a critically acclaimed horror remake is exceedingly rare. However, such is the case with The Crazies, a revamp of George Romero's 1973 chiller that's tense, nicely shot, and uncommonly intelligent.
This week at the movies brings just one new wide release: Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, a psychological thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley. It's inevitable that a new Martin Scorsese movie will be greeted rapturously by film buffs -- and will inevitably be compared, fairly or not, to his past triumphs. Critics say Shutter Island is unquestionably the work of a cinematic maestro, but it's also a second-tier effort in the man's career. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a U.S. marshal investigating a patient's disappearance from a remote hospital for the criminally insane; however, it quickly becomes clear that things aren't quite as they seem. Most pundits say Shutter Island is masterfully crafted and atmospherically creepy; however, others find it somewhat bloodless, a solid B-movie that lacks the master's touch.
This week at the movies, we've got modern love (Valentine's Day, starring Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher); a teenage demigod (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, starring Logan Lerman and Uma Thurman); and some hair-raising horror (The Wolfman, starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins). What do the critics have to say? Looking for a tasty cinematic bon-bon for Valentine's Day? One that explores modern romance and features a staggering array of stars? Well, tough luck. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is unabashedly attempting to become a teen fantasy franchise along the lines of Harry Potter. And critics say that although this opening installment is a few notches below its Hogwarts rival, it's a largely diverting, occasionally electrifying family adventure. The Wolfman is one of horror cinema's most iconic -- and tortured -- anti-heroes. Unfortunately, The Wolfman is a mostly tepid update of the famed lycanthrope.
This week at the movies, we've got Gallic gunplay ( From Paris With Love, starring John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and some sad pen pals (Dear John, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried). What do the critics have to say? It's been a while since a good cop-buddy action flick has hit screens, a situation that critics say From Paris with Love does little to alleviate. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as a low-level CIA agent who's thrilled to be assigned to a career-making case. If you're in the mood for a tearjerker - or, perhaps a tear-yanker - any movie adapted from a Nicolas Sparks novel will probably do the job (The Notebook and A Walk to Remember are based on his books). But critics say Dear John is overly sappy and melodramatic.
This week at the movies, we've got an angry detective (Edge of Darkness, starring Mel Gibson and Ray Winstone) and a Roman holiday (When in Rome, starring Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel). What do the critics have to say? It's been nearly a decade since Mel Gibson has played a leading role onscreen. And critics say the reason Edge of Darkness works as well as it does is Gibson's presence, which elevates the film above a run-of-the-mill revenge thriller. When in Rome attempts to meld romantic comedy and fairy tale tropes into a picturesque travelogue. However, critics say this long-delayed would-be confection is hardly worth the trip - it's a forced and unconvincing attempt at whimsy that falls flat.
This week at the movies, we've got a muscular molar collector (The Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Ashley Judd), a race against time (Extraordinary Measures, starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser); and some angry angels (Legion, starring Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid). What do the critics have to say? Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson hasn't been in a lot of good movies, but he has an easygoing appeal that's hard not to like. However, critics say The Rock's likeability can only go so far when it's stranded in a family flick as middling and unambitious as The Tooth Fairy. At a time when the debate of health care dominates the news cycle, Extraordinary Measures benefits from timeliness - as well as the presence of such dependable actors as Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. Where the film falls short, critics say, is in its execution.
This week at the movies, we've got Biblical bloodshed (The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman); neighborhood intrigue (The Spy Next Door, starring Jackie Chan and George Lopez); and life after death (The Lovely Bones, starring Saoirse Ronan and Mark Wahlberg). What do the critics have to say? For those who like their religious parables with plenty of fire and brimstone, The Book of Eli should be up your alley. That said, most critics say Eli is a bit of a muddle. Not since the days of Buster Keaton has anyone combined slapstick comedy with astonishing stunt work quite like Jackie Chan. However, critics say his talents are risibly misused in The Spy Next Door.
This week at the movies, we've got a vampire virus (Daybreakers, starring Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe); a romantic road trip (Leap Year, starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode); and a teenage wasteland (Youth in Revolt, starring Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday). What do the critics have to say? Given the recent glut of vampire flicks, Daybreakers needs a little something extra to stand out -- a healthy dose of dystopia, maybe? Well, critics say the result is a skillful B-movie that should please both horror and action fans. Amy Adams is darned likable. However, critics say her winsome screen presence can only go so far in redeeming the predictable, laugh-deficient romantic comedy Leap Year. Nobody plays a sensitive nebbish quite like Michael Cera. But can he play cool? Smooth? The critics say Youth in Revolt benefits greatly from Cera's dual performance.
The final week of the year brings no wide releases, but Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner The White Ribbon hits theaters in limited release. What do the critics have to say? Michael Haneke's films are not for the faint of heart. Best known in the United States for Cache and Funny Games, the Austrian maestro makes haunting thrillers that burn into your psyche. Critics say his latest, the Certified Fresh The White Ribbon, ranks among his very best. Set in a small German town in the days before World War I, the film tells the tale of a series of horrible events that at first seem random -- until it appears there's a sinister explanation. The critics say The White Ribbon is hypnotic, disturbing, and ultimately thought-provoking -- another fine effort from a director that refuses to compromise his unsettling vision.
This week at the movies, we've got a legendary detective (Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law); matriculating rodents (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, starring David Cross and Jason Lee); a middle aged love triangle (It's Complicated, starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin); turbulent business travel (Up in the Air, starring George Clooney and Vera Farmiga); and a directionless director (Nine, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Penelope Cruz). What do the critics have to say? Known for his hyperkinetic lad pictures, Guy Ritchie may not seem like an obvious choice to direct a Sherlock Holmes adaptation, given that 221B Baker St.'s most famous resident is a paragon of sophistication and stateliness. But a little Robert Downey Jr. goes a long way, critics say, and the star's elementary appeal helps to draw us into this 21st century, action-packed update of the legendary detective.