This week at the movies, it’s the pirates ("Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End," starring Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley) versus the bugs ("Bug," starring Ashley Judd). We know who’ll take the box office, but who emerges victorious with the critics?
Another week, another money-printing franchise closes its first trilogy. Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End," along with his army-sized supporting cast, boundless CGI, and about a dozen unresolved plot threads left over from "Dead Man’s Chest." Sound awesomely excessive? The critics think so too. Except for the awesome part. They contend that when it’s not exhausting the viewer with over-the-top action sequences, "At World’s End" is boring the viewer with talky scenes of exposition and strained dialogue. At 53 percent, "At World’s End" is on par with "Dead Man’s Chest," but a far cry from the original’s Certified Fresh 79 percent.
Ignoring 1990’s obscure "The Guardian," "Bug" represents director William Friedkin’s first major foray into horror since "The Exorcist." Ashley Judd stars as Agnes, a depressed waitress who holes up in a seedy motel (is there any other kind?) with an unstable war veteran who sees creepy crawlies everywhere. The critics are calling this a return to form for Friedkin. Though "Bug" descends into incomprehensibility at the end, they’re nevertheless impressed by "Bug"’s cinéma vérité camerawork and palpable dread. At 63 percent, horror and thriller fanatics should consider going buggin’ this weekend.
Also opening in limited release: "Paprika," an animated head trip from director Satoshi Kon, is at 92 percent; "The Boss of It All," the new black comedy from the notorious Lars von Trier, is at 92 percent; "Ten Canoes," a unique tragicomedy set among an Aboriginal tribe, is at 91 percent; "Golden Door," a romantic fable about an Italian clan coming to America, is at 60 percent; "Angel-A," likely Luc Besson’s last live action film, is at 43 percent; and "Hollywood Dreams," a comedy about a struggling actress in Tinseltown, is at 25 percent.