This week in Movies
Based on early reviews, of the two major releases this week, one is good, and the other is average at best. One is about rugby, and the other is based on a bestselling novel. Which is which? Put your money on the rugby film.
Of course, Invictus is no ordinary rugby film (and if there's one thing we're tired of, it's ordinary rugby films). Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, the drama centers on a newly-elected President Nelson Mandela, who inspires South Africa's national team to make an unlikely run in the 1995 World Cup. As is the norm when Eastwood is behind the camera, critics have plenty of good things to say about the film, even if some find it modest and predictable.
The Lovely Bones is based on an acclaimed 2002 novel by Alice Sebold and is helmed by one of the decade's most heralded and commercially successful directors, Peter Jackson. Despite that pedigree, critics are finding that the story -- the film is about a murdered 14-year-old girl who watches over her family from the afterlife -- did not make the transition from page to screen successfully.
Although it opened it limited release last month, Disney's hand-drawn animated fantasy The Princess and the Frog opens nationwide this week. It has received generally positive reviews, although short of, say, a Pixar level of acclaim. Also opening in very limited release on Friday are Tom Ford's well-reviewed A Single Man, and the latest Broken Lizard comedy, The Slammin' Salmon.
This week in Television
What do Ray Romano, Andre Braugher, and Scott Bakula have in common -- other than the fact that they are three people who have never been in my kitchen? They are all men of, shall we say, a certain age, and critics found their new TNT dramedy (coincidentally titled Men of a Certain Age) about middle age a pleasant surprise, making it one of the highest-scoring new shows of the season. The show airs Mondays at 10/9c.
Also in TV, ABC's quirky workplace sitcom Better Off Ted (Tuesdays, 8:30/7:30c) returned for its second season to very strong reviews, although at least one television critic opines that Metascores for returning series are inflated thanks to "false positives." (We tend to agree.)
This week in Games
The newest installment in the Legend of Zelda series hit stores this week, and it made a favorable impression on critics. The railway-themed Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (Nintendo DS) is the stylistic successor to both the 2003 GameCube hit Legend of Zelda: The Wind Walker and the recent DS release Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.
Critics have mixed feelings about Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii, a remake of the very first Silent Hill title (for the Playstation), and they also weren't all that impressed with Pandemic's WWII adventure The Saboteur, available for 360, PS3 and PC. (Of the three, the PC version gets the highest marks.)
This week in Music
December is always a slow month for music releases, and this week was typical for the season. The week's highlights include new discs from rappers Snoop Dogg (Malice N’ Wonderland) and Clipse (Til the Casket Drops), and movie-star rockers 30 Seconds to Mars (This Is War). Of the three, only the Clipse record scored mostly positive reviews, and only barely, at that. The new disc from R&B star Chris Brown also dropped this week, and it, er, took a beating from critics.
This week on DVD
Heading to the video store this weekend? (They still have those, don't they?) All three major DVD releases this week were praised by critics: the Meryl Streep-starring Julie & Julia, the Johnny Depp-starring Public Enemies, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.