This week at the movies, we’ve got modern love (Valentine’s Day , starring Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher); a teenage demigod (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, starring Logan Lerman and Uma Thurman); and some hair-raising horror (The Wolfman, starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins). What do the critics have to say?
Looking for a tasty cinematic bon-bon for Valentine’s Day? One that explores modern romance and features a staggering array of stars? Well, tough luck: critics say Valentine’s Day may have an army of familiar faces, but they’re left stranded in an episodic, unfunny, clichéd mess of a romantic comedy. Directed by Garry Marshall, it’s a series of interconnected vignettes about Los Angeles residents finding and losing love. Valentine’s Day has a role for virtually everyone in Hollywood, from Julia Roberts to Jamie Foxx to the Taylors; what it lacks is a decent script that gives them much of anything to do — funny, insightful, heartfelt, or otherwise.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is unabashedly attempting to become a teen fantasy franchise along the lines of Harry Potter. And critics say that although this opening installment is a few notches below its Hogwarts rival, it’s a largely diverting, occasionally electrifying family adventure. Logan Lerman stars as the title character, a troubled high schooler who discovers his dad is Poseidon; soon, he’s making a cross-country trek in an attempt to intervene in a potential war among the gods. The pundits say Percy isn’t the most original flick in the world, but the cast is strong, and the result is an often inspired action romp.
The Wolfman is one of horror cinema’s most iconic — and tortured — anti-heroes. Unfortunately, The Wolfman is a mostly tepid update of the famed lycanthrope, one that doesn’t hold a candle to the Lon Chaney Jr. chillers of old. Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a troubled blue-blood who returns to his family’s estate after his brother’s disappearance — and soon finds he has been afflicted by a horrible curse, one that manifests itself during a full moon. The pundits say The Wolfman has a nice sense of atmosphere, but it’s lacking scares and an emotional pull. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down star Anthony Hopkins’ best-reviewed films, as well as our Universal Monsters Starting Lineup, a compendium of your favorite horror heroes.)
Also opening this week in limited release: