Our weekly roundup looks at this week's major new releases in film, music, games, and television.
This week in Movies
Yes, we have come to this point: our first official Stinker Alert of the year. When a movie is not screened in advance for critics, it can mean only bad things -- and critics have been denied an opportunity to see Legion before Friday's release. So while we'd love to tell you precisely how terrible it is, all we can do is warn you that it is likely to be awful. For those of you wishing to take your chances anyway, we can tell you that the action film stars Paul Bettany and Dennis Quaid, and depicts a battle between humans and angels over the fate of mankind. Who wins? Probably not you.
Unfortunately, neither of this week's other two major releases look to be much better. (In the industry, there's a technical term for this onslaught of lousy releases: "January.") The inaugural release from CBS Films (which shares a parent company with Metacritic), Extraordinary Measures is a based-on-a-true story drama about one father's search for a cure to a rare disease that threatens to kill his young sons. Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser star, and early reviews peg it as a run-of-the-mill tearjerker better suited for the small screen.
The third major film debuting Friday finds Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson taking another stab at family comedy, to predictable results. Tooth Fairy centers on a tough-guy hockey player who is sentenced by somebody who hates moviegoers to serve as a tooth fairy for one week. It's a big departure for the former wrestler; in his last family comedy, he played a football player, not a hockey player. There are only two reviews posted at press time, but neither one is positive.
Here are the trailers:
This week in Music
The acclaimed indie-rock band Spoon released its seventh album, Transference 81 this week, to predictably positive reviews. Even more minimalist than previous efforts, this 11-song set has been labeled "challenging" by multiple reviewers, although there certainly are some immediate pop hooks for those listeners who prefer not to be challenged. (Try the singles "Got Nuffin" or "Written In Reverse.") A few critics found the disc lacking "distinctive melodies" or "swagger," and even many of those publications praising the album felt that it didn't quite live up to past heights (which were very high indeed).
The suddenly prolific Mark Oliver Everett, who records under the name Eels, released his second album in just over six months on Tuesday. A break-up album, End Times 70 left critics somewhat divided, with some praising the disc as Eels' best yet -- or close to it -- while others found it a bit too mopey or even "impersonal."
Also in stores this week: The UK band Editors released their Flood-produced third album, In This Light & On This Evening 59, to disappointing reviews, with many critics finding their new synth-heavy, Goth sound uninspiring. The reviews were far better for pop-punk band Motion City Soundtrack, whose fourth album My Dinosaur Life 89 was produced by Blink-182's Mark Hoppus.
This week in Games
It's another relatively slow week in games (though things will pick up very soon), with just one major release. Capcom's Dark Void (Xbox 360: 59, PS3: 58, PC: 57) is the first game developed by new indie studio Airtight Games. The sci-fi action title pits players (with jetpacks!) in combat against an alien race, and features a score by Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary. Critics have not been very kind to the game, with GameZone's review best summarizing the consensus: "So much potential, so much disappointment." (The music, however, was well-received.)
This week in Television
A throwback to "old-school" WB family dramas, the CW's Life Unexpected 69 debuted on Monday night to generally positive reviews and generally positive ratings. The other major new show this week was Fox's Human Target 69, an action program starring Mark Valley that similarly received a positive response from critics and viewers.
The pilot to Caprica, the eagerly-awaited prequel series to Battlestar Galactica, has already been viewed by over 1.5 million viewers despite the fact that it hasn't yet aired on television. That will change Friday night, when it debuts on Syfy at 9pm. Also premiering Friday (at 10pm on Starz) is Spartacus: Blood & Sand, a graphic (in every sense of the word) new action series set during the Roman Empire. We'll have reviews for both new programs later in the week.
Also note that many network programs scheduled for Friday night will be preempted by a telethon (8pm, multiple networks) aiming to raise money for Haitian earthquake victims. George Clooney, Jay-Z, Rihanna, and U2 are among the stars set to appear and perform.
This week on DVD
Out of the four major releases newly out on DVD this week, only one is even halfway decent: the middling Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention of Lying 58 Add to Netflix queue. Critics had few good things to say about the Gerard Butler action vehicle Gamer 27 Add to Netflix queue, the sci-fi thriller Pandorum 28 Add to Netflix queue, or the Antarctic thriller Whiteout 28 Add to Netflix queue.
Faring better with reviewers were two limited releases now making their way to video stores. While long -- very long -- Steven Soderbergh's two-part Che Guevara biopic Che 64 Add to Netflix queue had some admirers -- especially for its first half. And the documentary No Impact Man 66 Add to Netflix queue follows a family that attempts to alter their lifestyles to leave zero impact on the environment -- to mostly amusing results.
Next week in Metacritic
TV: BBC America's teen comedy The Inbetweeners, described as a British "Freaks & Geeks," debuts Monday night at 9pm. Also on Monday (at 10pm), FX's acclaimed Glenn Close legal thriller Damages returns for a third season, while Showtime's Secret Diary of a Call Girl (10pm) and State of the Union (10:30pm) make their season debuts. Speaking of States of the Union, President Obama's address to Congress will air next Wednesday, putting an end to rumors that it would preempt the Lost season premiere (which is now safe, on February 2nd).
GAMES: Tuesday will see the release of a number of major titles, headed by one of the year's most anticipated releases, the sci-fi action RPG Mass Effect 2 for the 360 and PC. Also out that day: the massively multiplayer MAG (Massive Action Game) for the PS3, and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle for the Wii.
MUSIC: On a busy Tuesday, expect new releases from indie-rockers The Magnetic Fields, Los Campesinos! and Beach House, the first album in five years from folktronica artist Four Tet, a new disc from British singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, plus actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg's collaboration with Beck.
MOVIES: Opening wide in theaters on Friday, Jan. 29 will be the Mel Gibson thriller Edge of Darkness and Disney's romantic comedy When in Rome. Here are the trailers: