This week at the movies brings us a supernatural romance ("Just Like Heaven"), a jaded arms dealer ("Lord of War") and two experiments in terror ("Venom," "Cry Wolf"). What do the critics have to say?
"Ghost," "Wings of Desire," "City of Angels"…. The list of movie romances that vacillate between heaven and earth isn’t short. But the critics say "Just Like Heaven," starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, is charming, if slight, rom-com entertainment. The story of a San Francisco architect who meets an ethereal woman who may be a ghost, "Just Like Heaven" is floating along at 63 percent on the Tomatometer. And it should help Witherspoon’s combined Tomatometer, which currently stands at 52 percent.
The movies are pretty cavalier about showing bad guys (and good guys) with huge caches of weapons, but it’s rare for a film to actually address the issues behind the weapons trade. "Lord of War," starring Nicolas Cage, Jared Leto and Ethan Hawke, tells the darkly comic story of a self-justifying arms trader who doesn’t ask too many questions about how his product will be used. The critics say that’s a nice summary for what’s wrong with the film, currently at 41 percent. While it raises some interesting questions, "Lord of War"’s aim is off, and the script can’t get beyond its tricky moral questions.
The critics are busting out their poison pens for "Venom," a slasher movie that the scribes say fails to distinguish itself from hundreds of friends-in-peril flicks. Starring Agnes Bruckner, Jonathan Jackson and Method Man, the plot involves several kids who try to uncover the secret behind the death of a friend; naturally, they discover evil at every turn. At 22 percent, the critics say this "Venom" deserves a Mr. Yuck sticker.
Oh, and I don’t mean to "Cry Wolf," but any time a movie is in wide release and it’s not screened for critics, that’s never a very good sign.