This week at the movies, we’ve got a kid who ventures into a magical world ("Arthur and the Invisibles," with voice work from Robert De Niro and Madonna), a frat dance-off ("Stomp the Yard," starring Meagan Good), a lavish tale set during the Tang Dynasty ("The Curse of the Golden Flower," starring Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li) and a ripped-from-the-headlines teen crime pic ("Alpha Dog," starring Bruce Willis and Justin Timberlake). What do the critics have to say?
Written by Nick Hershey and Alex Vo
"Arthur and the Invisibles" is a partially animated children’s film from director Luc Besson. Ten-year-old Arthur must find a passage to a magical world populated by tiny little beings called Minimoys in order to save his grandfather’s home. Critics say that the story tries to do too much, and the film wastes the big-name voice talent on a predictable script (including Robert De Niro, Madonna, and Snoop Dogg). In addition, they note that while the animation is interesting, it doesn’t hold up to the current CG standard. At 28 percent on the Tomatometer, "Arthur and the Invisibles" may not be something to see.
"Look how you’ve grown! You’re as tall as my ex-boyfriend now."
Two rival fraternities compete for the allegiance of a street dancer from Los Angeles in "Stomp the Yard." "Stepping" is the latest dance, and "Yard" has plenty of pep, thanks to appealing performers like Columbus Short and Meagan Good. But critics say that while "Stomp" contains impressive musical and dance numbers, it loses its momentum during the intervening soap opera-style subplots. At 27 percent on the Tomatometer, "Stomp" doesn’t quite go the extra yard.
"Let’s stomp the desert!"
You wouldn’t expect it from a Yimou Zhang movie, but "The Curse of the Golden Flower" is something not to be over-thought, but simply watched. Critics say the film goes to great lengths to visually mesmerize the audience, with enormous sets lavished in gold and silk, jade and brocade, and exquisitely bloody swordfights. But they also say the story is melodramatic. Really melodramatic. At 63 percent on the Tomatometer, this one’s both a blessing and a curse.
Apparently they had Jell-O shots in the Tang Dynasty.
Like a Hollywood remake of a Larry Clark movie, "Alpha Dog" is a glossy yet unflinching look into a violent and hedonistic teenage community. Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone play scene-chewing figures of authority, but critics say it’s Justin Timberlake who’s noteworthy, and the relationship his and Anton Yelchin’s character develop is the emotional tether that holds "Alpha Dog" together. The scribes say that while some of the techniques director Nick Cassavetes employs are a bit over the top, he’s able to draw good performances out of the cast. At 63 percent on the Tomatometer, this "Dog" has bite.
"Step 1: Cut a hole in a box."
Looks like we’re starting the year off right: we’re just two weeks into 2007, and already we’ve got a movie that wasn’t screened for critics. It’s called "Primeval," and it’s about a serial killer that has claimed more than 300 victimsm. It’s probably mediocre. Guess that Tomatometer.
Nope, it ain’t ‘The Searchers.’
Also opening this week in limited release: the compelling Holocaust documentary "Verdict on Auschwitz" is at 100 percent; "God Grew Tired of Us," a powerful doc about the Lost Boys of Sudan, is at 93 percent; "Ever Since the World Ended," a mockumentary about post-apocalyptic San Francisco, is at 75 percent; and "Tears of the Black Tiger," a heavily stylized Thai western, is at 73 percent.
Luc Besson-Directed Films:
50% — Angel-A (2007)
30% — The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999)
68% — The Fifth Element (1997)
81% — Leon The Professional (1994)
86% — La Femme Nikita (1990)