The Verdict on This Weekend's Movies: "From Paris with Love," "Frozen" and More

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  • Publish Date: February 4, 2010

Our weekly roundup looks at this week's new film releases. For reviews of these and many more films, visit Metacritic Movies. [SCORES UPDATED FEB 5, 10:45am]

This Week's Biggest Releases, Head to Head
Movie Release Date Rating Genre Metascore Critic Grades
Dear John NEW PG-13 Romance 44 4,19,4
From Paris with Love NEW R Action 45 7,11,7
Frozen NEW [Limited] R Thriller 42 3,8,4
Compare to the "best" from recent weeks:
Edge of Darkness 1/29 R Thriller 55 17,14,3
Extraordinary Measures 1/22 PG Drama 45 6,24,3
The Book of Eli 1/15 R Action 53 15,14,4

The latest romance to be based on a best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, Dear John 44 stars Channing Tatum as an American serviceman who falls in love with college student Amanda Seyfried, only to be separated when he is deployed overseas. Previous Sparks adaptations (The Notebook 53, A Walk to Remember 35) failed to electrify reviewers, but Dear John is helmed by Lasse Hallström (Casanova 57, The Cider House Rules 75), which could be a somewhat encouraging sign. Except that it's not. Early reviews range from mixed to negative, with a few good reviews describing the film as "a sweet and digestible syrup" and "old-fashioned." (Yes, we said good reviews.) Other notices called it "shamelessly manipulative" and "tasteful and restrained to a fault, while still more critics found Hallström's film "terminally sappy," "mawkish" and "dramatically stillborn." There's also bad news for Tatum, as many reviewers cited his performance one of Dear John's lowlights, while also noting a lack of chemistry between him and Seyfried.

Although From Paris with Love 45 appears to be the best of this week's new wide releaes, that's not saying much. Basically a buddy cop movie (one's an FBI agent while the other is a mere embassy employee, but that's a mere technicality) set in France, the action-comedy stars John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and comes from the same director (Pierre Morel) and co-writer (Luc Besson) as last winter's action hit Taken 50. Paris has earned a handful of positive reviews so far, with some critics finding it an entertaining, Hong Kong-style actioner, albeit one that lacks intelligence. Other reviewers had less love for Love, although only a tiny minority actually hated the film. And even most of the movie's detractors praised Travolta's hammy performance, even if he was, as Roger Ebert wrote, "essentially acting in a movie of his own."

Fresh from its premiere at Sundance, the high-concept, low-budget chiller Frozen 42 (in a more limited release) has an interesting premise: three snowboarders are stranded on a chairlift in the dark when a ski resort shuts down for the night, leaving them to fight for their very survival as hypothermia sets in. While some critics found a few thrills -- and The New York Times hailed it as "a nifty little chiller ... with an unexpectedly warm heart" -- Frozen's no-name cast impressed no one. Writer-director Adam Green also received low marks from reviewers for his "wince-inducing" dialogue, story and direction. That said, it certainly doesn't seem to be the worst movie playing at your local multiplex.

Also expanding into wider release this week are a trio of well-reviewed smaller films hoping to capitalize on their recent Oscar nominations: Crazy Heart 83, An Education 85, and Precious 79.

The most prominent of this week's other limited releases is the French action film District 13: Ultimatum 61, the sequel to the 2004 "parkour" cult hit District B13 70 (which, coincidentally, was directed by From Paris With Love helmer Pierre Morel). Patrick Alessandrin takes over as director for the new film, but the cast and the high-flying stunts return. Critics, seem to prefer the original film, finding Ultimatum "cartoonish" and campy, and weak in the story department. There were few complaints with the action and combat sequences, however, which again were a major highlight.

Next week in Metacritic

Opening next Friday, February 12th, are Benicio Del Toro's pet project The Wolfman, the timely romantic comedy Valentine's Day, and the teen fantasy adventure Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Here are the trailers:

Full Movie Release Calendar

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