Our weekly roundup looks at this week's major new releases in film, music, games, and television.
This week in Movies
Although Avatar 84 will continue to be the big story at the box office this weekend, Friday will see the arrival of the first three major releases of the new year. Daybreakers (Rated R), a vampire horror film with an intriguing cast (Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neill), is set in a future where vampires have taken over society and the human race is nearing extinction. (Unlike Edward in Twilight, these vampires are mean -- and they definitely drink blood.) The first few reviews note that while the film may be "slick" and "stylish," it lacks excitement and scares -- two things essential to a good action-horror film.
Also on tap: Michael Cera plays his usual character -- but also tries on a new role -- in Youth in Revolt, an R-rated comedy centering on an awkward teenager who develops a rebellious alter-ego to help him get the girl he thinks he's in love with. Early reviews are pointing to a "mediocre" label, with critics citing a bit too much Michael Cera and not enough quality writing.
Finally, Leap Year (Rated PG) is a romantic comedy set starring Amy Adams (Enchanted). In the film, an American woman travels to Ireland to propose to her longtime boyfriend, but meets another man when she is diverted by a storm. Early reviews point toward a middling film that lacks "pizzazz," as Entertainment Weekly puts it.
Here are the trailers:
This week in Music
It'll be a few weeks before the music industry returns to a full release schedule, but there is one major new release this week. Kesha Rose Sebert, the 22-year-old singer better known as Ke$ha, exploded onto the pop music scene a year ago when she appeared on Flo Rida's number one single "Right Round." Released in August, her debut single "Tik Tok" also topped the charts. Now, her debut full-length Animal 66 has reached stores. While the Boston Globe panned the disc as "flat and vacuous," the Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly had positive views of the album, while Rolling Stone fell somewhere in the middle.
This week in Games
If there's one word to describe Sega's new cinema-style action game Bayonetta (PS3: 89, Xbox 360: 93), it's probably "inventive." Created by Hideki Kamiya (who previously helmed critically-acclaimed hits like Okami and Devil May Cry), the new game centers on the title character, a scantily-clad witch who engages in plenty of combat using a variety of weapons (magic and otherwise). But don't mistake it for just another action/fighting game. It is rare that such a high-scoring game gets released in January -- let alone the first week of the year -- but critics are finding Bayonetta stylish, imaginative, funny and fun. In fact, some are already mentioning it as a potential "game of the year" candidate. At the very least, as 1UP writes, it might be "the best game Sega has published in years."
The second huge release of the week is another third-person actioner. THQ's Darksiders (PS3: 86, Xbox 360: 85) comes from the pen of comic book artist Joe Madureira and puts you in a demon-ravaged world in the role of War, one of the legendary Four Horseman of the Apocalypse who has been betrayed by his master. (His horse's name? Ruin.) Critics love the visuals and admire its clever storyline and well-executed combination of puzzles and action, although a few say that Darksiders borrows too heavily from other games.
This week in Television
Demons 52, basically an inferior (and British) version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," debuted on BBC America last Saturday to middling reviews. The show follows a high school student who happens to be the last descendent of vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing. If that sounds unappealing, there will be plenty of new and returning shows debuting in the very near future; check out our Midseason TV Preview for a guide to what to expect.
This weekend, look for the return of NBC's action-comedy "Chuck" (airing both Sunday and Monday) and the fourth season debut of HBO's acclaimed polygamy drama "Big Love" (Sunday). We should have reviews posted for both shows closer to their air dates.
This week on DVD
There are only two major DVD releases this week: a pleasant animated film based on the popular children's story, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 66 Add to my Netflix queue, and the confusingly titled fourth and likely final installment in the Final Destination series of horror thrillers, The Final Destination 30 Add to my Netflix queue. Coincidentally, both films were originally released in 3D, meaning that you will be missing something (namely, at least one dimension) when you watch them on DVD.
Next week in Metacritic
The small screen will see the premiere of FX's animated spy comedy "Archer" (Jan. 14) and the returns of Fox's "American Idol" (Tuesday), and Lifetime's "Project Runway" (Jan. 14).
In music, Contra, the second album from indie buzz band Vampire Weekend, will arrive in stores on Tuesday. Here's the first single, "Cousins":
Opening wide in theaters on Friday, Jan. 15 will be the Denzel Washington post-apocalyptic action-adventure The Book of Eli, and the Jackie Chan family comedy The Spy Next Door. Here are the trailers: