This week’s wide releases share a concern for the agonies of the modern family. How does a single mother cope with leaky faucets that are harbingers of doom? How does a family of superheroes deal with its newfound powers and its place in an oversaturated media environment? How will the fraternity (and sorority) of movie critics respond to these dilemmas?
The comic/superhero genre has seen something of a resurgence lately. There’s the exhilaration of the "Spider-Man" films, the dark grittiness of "Batman Begins," the stylistic delights of "Sin City," and even the domestic woes of a super family in "The Incredibles." So where does that leave the "Fantastic Four?" In the dust, according to critics. The creation myth of Marvel’s oldest super-posse is, at 29 percent, less than, um, fantastic. The bar has been raised, and this silly throwback, with its lack of depth and clumsy script, is short on firepower. In fact, it’s one of the most poorly reviewed superhero movies of recent years. And that doesn’t help Jessica Alba, who stars as the Invisible Woman, as her Average Tomatometer is at 40 percent.
Scary dwelling? Check. Spooky child? Check? J-horror pedigree? Check. A-list credits in B-list material? Check. All of the hallmarks of recent horror cinema converge in "Dark Water," starring Jennifer Connelly as a woman who picks out an apartment with so much flooding it begs the question: can you get back your damage deposit if the supernatural is involved? This remake of the Japanese thriller of the same name is headed down the drain with the critics; at 45 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes say this flick contains spooky atmospherics but is a bit too dull to be truly scary. And it doesn’t compare with "The Ring," still the critical high watermark in Hollywood’s recent glut of J-horror rehashes. Nor does it rise above Connelly’s Average Tomatometer of 65 percent.