This week at the movies we’ve got plucky thespians (High School Musical 3: Senior Year, starring Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens), fraternal cops (Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell), and systematic slayings (Saw V, starring Tobin Bell and Costas Mandylor). What do the critics have to say?
One of the most irrepressible pop culture phenomena of recent years is finally getting the big-screen treatment. And critics say High School Musical 3: Senior Year, while fluff, is toe-tapping and exuberant. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens star as a pair of teens going their separate ways; they join their peeps to stage a musical that summarizes their high school careers and confronts their fears for the future. The pundits say HSM3 isn’t going to win many converts beyond its tween target audience, but it’s aggressively upbeat, well-crafted, and features an excellent performance by Efron. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, High School Musical 3 earns a passing grade.
“Awesome! It’s raining Sunny Delight!”
The world is so full of police procedurals that you’ve got to do something to separate yourself from the pack. Unfortunately, critics say Pride and Glory is essentially a generic cop movie enlivened somewhat by the strength of its cast. Edward Norton stars as Ray, a New York City detective who is tasked with investigating the murders of several fellow cops, a mission that leads him to suspect that some of his family members, including Jimmy (Colin Farrell), his brother and fellow officer, may be involved. The pundits say this one’s pretty by-the-numbers, featuring cliched dialogue, familiar plot twists, and an overall sense of weariness. At 34 percent on the Tomatometer, Pride isn’t glorious.
“If the scoreboard is any indication, it appears our team name overstates our gridiron abilities.”
It’s practically becoming an annual ritual: a new Saw gets released, and it isn’t screened for critics. Such is the case with Saw V. Jigsaw may be gone, but Hoffman is just as fond of crafting elaborate traps for those poor souls that displease him. Kids, stop playing with those power tools and guess that Tomatometer! (And be sure to check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we tally the body counts of some of your favorite movie psychos.)
“Ooh, time for Judge Judy.”
Also opening this week in limited release:
Let the Right One In, a darkly atmospheric vampire flick from Sweeden, is at 94 percent.
Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane That Crashed in the Mountains, a documentary that examines the aftermath on the survivors of the famed 1972 plane crash in the Andes, is at 89 percent.
Fear(s) of the Dark, an animated omnibus horror film from France, is at 70 percent.
Charlie Kaufman‘s directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as a suburban theater director who stages a wildly ambitious play, is at 62 percent (check out our interview with Kaufman here).
Ben X, a stylistically daring drama about a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome who disappears into an online dream world, is at 61 percent.
The Tree of Life, a doc about a Los Angeles woman’s look at her family tree, is at 60 percent.
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait which follows the French soccer great for an entire match, is at 53 percent.
The Universe of Keith Haring, a documentary about the artist who turned the early 1980s New York scene on its head, is at 43 percent.