This week at the movies, we’ve got serious swashbuckling (Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchet), amour in Verona (Letters to Juliet, starring Amanda Seyfried and Chris Egan),and roundball romance (Just Wright, starring Common and Queen Latifah). What do the critics have to say?
Robin Hood is a merry man, right? Doesn’t he rob from the rich and give to the poor? Well, not in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, and the film suffers from its deviation from the legend, despite its impressive visuals and strong performances. Russell Crowe stars as the titular hero, returning to Sherwood Forrest from the Crusades reluctantly deciding that England needs some cleaning up. To that end, he teams with a motley bunch that will become the Merry Men, as well as the recently widowed Lady Marion (Cate Blanchet); swordplay and archery ensues. The pundits say that although Robin Hood is handsomely produced and well-acted, it’s way too downbeat and lacks the sense of fun that made previous big-screen retellings so memorable and exhilarating. (Check out our feature, Legendary Heroes on Film, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we count Russell Crowe’s best-reviewed films.)
Romeo once wondered, “Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous; and it pricks like thorn.” Not in Letters to Juliet, which critics say is too safe, too predictable, and too sticky sweet. Amanda Seyfried stars as a young woman on vacation in Verona with her dispassionate fiancé — and finds that many love-minded people have written “Dear Abby”-esque letters to Shakespeare’s heroine. She responds to one elderly writer of a long-lost missive — and soon finds herself in the company of a nice young man. The pundits say Letters to Juliet has a refreshingly earnest romantic charm, but it suffers from limp dialogue and an utter lack of surprises.
Sometimes a movie can generate tons of goodwill despite its hackneyed premise. The critics say Just Wright is such a film, one that benefits from its likeable leads but is ultimately undone by its sheer predictability. Common stars as a pro hoopster who’s just suffered a potentially career ending injury. He turns to a physical therapist (Queen Latifah) for help, but soon the pair are falling for one another. Will love carry the day? Unfortunately, Just Wright takes an intriguing premise and strong performances and undercuts them with a strict adherence to formula.
Also opening this week in limited release: