This week at the movies, we’ve got a nerd with an overbearing fiancée ("Norbit," starring Eddie Murphy) and the early days of Hannibal Lecter ("Hannibal Rising," starring Gaspard Ulliel and Gong Li). What do the critics have to say?
Eddie Murphy’s searing, Oscar-nominated performance as a James Brown-esque soul singer in "Dreamgirls" may be the venerable star’s best work to date. So, what does he do for an encore? "Norbit," a film that critics say is as lowbrow as the day is long. Murphy plays three roles (a nerdy guy, his incredibly brash and obese significant other, and his Asian-American adoptive father), a strategy that paid off in the "Nutty Professor" movies. Does it work this time? Not really, say critics; though Murphy gives it his all, the material is crass and largely unfunny. At 21 percent on the Tomatometer, "Norbit" is not phat.
As Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins created one of the most iconic villains in the movies, a character so morally repugnant and yet so brilliant that audiences could only imagine what was going on inside his head. "Hannibal Rising" is an attempt at explanation. As it turns out, young Dr. Lecter (Gaspard Ulliel) went through a lot: he was orphaned, his sister suffered a horrible fate, and he became hell-bent on revenge. The problem with "Hannibal Rising," say critics, is not the direction, as Peter Webber creates an eerie, sinister mood throughout. The scribes say that explaining Hannibal’s motivations reduces the character to a collection of dime-store psychological traits. At 16 percent on the Tomatometer, "Hannibal Rising" isn’t much of a cinematic feast.
Also opening this week in limited release: "The Lives of Others," a thriller set during the paranoid days of the East German regime (and a Best Foreign Film Oscar Nominee), is at 93 percent; "The Decomposition of the Soul," a documentary about the tactics of the East German secret police, is at 67 percent; "Burning Annie," an indie comedy about a college kid obsessed with "Annie Hall," is at 29 percent; and "The Last Sin Eater," the tale of a young girl’s search for absolution, is at 17 percent.
And finally, mad props to bribios for correctly guessing "The Messengers"’ Tomatometer of 14 percent. Excellent work, bribios.