Our weekly roundup offers a brief look at this week's new film releases. For a full selection of reviews for these and many more films, visit Metacritic Movies. [Scores updated 2/26 5:45p]
This week's wide releases include a genre-film remake and an original buddy-cop comedy, but it's the remake that's attracting the positive reviews. But to find a really great new movie, you'll have to seek out an Oscar-nominated French import that arrives in a few American theaters this weekend. Here are the details:
|Compare to the "best" wide releases from recent weeks:|
|Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief||2/12||PG||Teen Fantasy||47||8,17,4||6.5|
Cop Out 32
This buddy-cop comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan was directed by Kevin Smith but scripted by Mark and Robb Cullen -- marking the first time that the Clerks director is helming a movie that he didn't write himself. While that may sound like a good idea in theory -- Smith's recent self-penned releases haven't been great -- the resulting film is one of the worst-reviewed major releases of 2010.
What the critics like: Very little. The Arizona Republic finds it "at times laugh-out-loud funny," and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch admires the leads' "attitude and timing." Some critics, like the Village Voice's Karina Longworth, enjoyed the numerous references to 1980s and '90s cop movies that are a constant presence in the film -- probably the only element of Cop Out that saves it from being completely generic.
What they don't like: Let's start with the script, which Variety calls "shoddy" and the Chicago Tribune labels "lousy," and is marked by a "flimsy" plot (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) and "lame" dialogue (Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times). The New York Observer's Rex Reed has much more fun lambasting the movie than he did watching it; he calls Cop Out "stupid," "sleep-inducing," a "monstrosity," and "about as funny as the contents of a toilet bowl." More than one critic compares Cop Out to garbage, and while many call it juvenile -- or even boring -- few find it funny, except in isolated moments. The A.V. Club criticizes Smith's "slack" direction (many other reviewers also conclude the the director does a poor job with the action sequences), while Boxoffice Magazine's John P. McCarthy also cites the "sub-standard" production values and Smith's choppy editing, which results in a lack of flow. The Miami Herald's Rene Rodriguez seems to speak for the consensus when she condemns Cop Out as "a soulless, witless, landfill contraption that Smith once would have mocked mercilessly."
The Crazies 56
The inhabitants of a small Midwestern town fall victim to insanity and death after their water supply is contaminated in this remake of George A. Romero's low-budget 1973 chiller. Timothy Olyphant stars, and Breck Eisner directs for the first time since 2005's Sahara 41. Somewhat surprisingly, critics seem somewhat receptive to Eisner's new film, and it has received a fair number of positive reviews.
What the critics like: While few critics are calling it an out-and-out great film, most reviewers are finding The Crazies to be an above average thriller, with enough scares and ideas to make it a fun and unsettling experience that doesn't insult its audience's intelligence. The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips actually prefers this "lean and simple" chiller to the '73 original, and the Boston Globe's Ty Burr adds that The Crazies is "about as good as you could hope from a B-movie retread, and miles better than its closest genre cousin, 2007’s pompous 'The Mist.’"
What they don't like: A lack of originality is the chief complaint. Several critics complain about the type of movie more than The Crazies itself; Roger Ebert states that the zombie film is "a genre that has exhausted its interest for me," and the Orlando Sentinel's Roger Moore adds that "we’ve been here, seen this too often and too recently to experience any real surprises." A few reviewers note a fairly brief stretch of tedium in the middle of the movie. And several critics aren't impressed by the crazies themselves: The Globe and Mail calls the film "restrained," Entertainment Weekly says "they're not very interesting," and the A.V. Club's Keith Phipps finds that the movie isn't quite as scary as it should be, nor does it hold up to Romero's best films. The movie is also lacking the humor that characterizes Romero's classics.
A Prophet (Un Prophète) 89
|The Ghost Writer||78|
|The Red Riding Trilogy||75|
An Oscar nominee this year for best foreign-language film, this French gangster drama from director Jacques Audiard (The Beat That My Heart Skipped 75) won top honors at last year's Cannes Film Festival and has scored stellar reviews around the world, with the director earning comparisons to Martin Scorsese in the process. Set in a prison, A Prophet centers on a lonely French Arab convict who falls under the influence of a Corsican gang, who send him on increasingly challenging missions. The film opens in Los Angeles and New York this weekend, and will reach additional cities throughout March.
What the critics like: Almost everything; Prophet so far is well ahead of fellow foreign-language Oscar nominee Ajami in the race for 2010's highest Metascore. EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum praises the director's "unshowy" approach, which results in "a stunning portrait" of its central character. The A.V. Club hails Prophet as "a Gallic Goodfellas: thoroughly absorbing, exciting, even poetic," and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers calls it "a new crime classic."
What they don't like: Complaints are few, though New York's David Edelstein finds that the sheer number of characters and connections between them can be a bit confusing to follow. He adds, "That’s the price you sometimes pay, though, for filmmakers who zig and zag and resist clicking into an established groove." A few critics also had issues with the movie's length; it runs for over two and a half hours.
Also in limited release this week
William Hurt, Maria Bello, and Kristen Stewart star in the "low-key road movie" (Los Angeles Times) The Yellow Handkerchief 59, a semi-remake of the 1977 film of the same name; the dramedy Defendor 59 stars Woody Harrelson as a delusional would-be superhero; and documentary The Art of the Steal 76 focuses on the battle over ownership of a multi-million-dollar art collection controlled by an educational nonprofit.
Next week in Metacritic
Opening wide next Friday, March 5th, are Tim Burton's 3D spectacular Alice in Wonderland and the gritty crime drama Brooklyn's Finest. Here are the trailers: