Pop quiz, hotshot: which of the lesser Roberts do you prefer? Because this Friday, it’s a match between Eric Roberts (playing the bad guy in "DOA: Dead or Alive") and Emma Roberts (title star of "Nancy Drew"). Also, there’s some arty movie about people in spandex ("Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," starring Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba). What do the critics have to say about them?
"Spider-Man" fought the symbiote, the X-Men went through the Phoenix saga, and Batman will soon fight The Joker for the first time (again). Now it’s The Fantastic Four’s turn to go through their most famous story: the Galactus crisis. In "Rise of the Silver Surfer," the molecularly enhanced quartet returns to ward off the planet-gobbling Galactus and his sporty assistant, the Silver Surfer. Critics argue that the exciting bits come only during the beginning and the climatic finale, with everything in-between featuring the same wooden acting and juvenile hijinks that pervaded the first. At 31 percent Tomatometer, "Silver Surfer" does not rise to the occasion.
After a long hiatus from the public consciousness, "Nancy Drew" is resurrected in the form of a chipper, sanguine gumshoe in Talbots. Emma Roberts stars as said Nancy, who, with some help from her friends and none from her bewildered classmates, is determined to solve a mystery that’s pickled professional dicks for decades. Though some critics are tickled by "Nancy Drew"’s jokey, laidback attitude, others take offense that the film bears little resemblance to the books, in addition to the thin characters and even-thinner central mystery. At 50 percent Tomatometer, critics are closing the case on "Nancy Drew."
Video games and summer blockbusters have a lot in common, and the "Dead or Alive" series represents these qualities in spades: it’s repetitive, violent, and features men and women of rather fantastic proportions. I still don’t know what the games are about (I recall fighting a big ugly bird at the end of the second one), but the plot of the "Dead or Alive" movie adaptation involves hardened fighters attending a mysterious tournament run by Julia Roberts‘s brother. While some pundits were more than ready to turn off their brains for the feature, everybody else wasn’t game for the wacky plot, bad acting, or Eric Roberts’s constantly exposed paunch. "DOA" is more dead than alive at 47 percent Tomatometer.
"The Trials of Darryl Hunt," a harrowing doc chronicling a rape in the American South, is at 100 percent; "Czech Dream," a doc about a grand prank in the Czech Republic, is at 88 percent; "Beyond Hatred," a reflection in documentary form from parents of a murdered 29-year old, is at 83 percent; "Gypsy Caravan," a visually appealing doc about gypsy music, is at 80 percent; "Lights in the Dusk," the latest deadpan-o-rama from Aki Kaurismäki, is at 74 percent; "Fido," a zombie spoof set in the Atomic Age, is at 70 percent (catch our interview with the "Fido" director here); "Golden Door," a lyrical drama recalling the classic Italian directors, is at 64 percent; and "Eagle vs Shark," a darkly twee romantic comedy from New Zealand, is at 47 percent.