This week at the movies, we’ve got a strange alien world (James Cameron‘s Avatar, starring Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana), and a couple on the run (Did You Hear About the Morgans?, starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker). What do the critics have to say?
Avatar is one of the most hotly anticipated films in years, for a number of reasons: it marks James Cameron’s return to fiction filmmaking after a long layoff; its motion capture techniques were the subject of intense pre-release press; and it’s the most expensive movie ever made. And now, the verdict is in: critics say Avatar is indeed a visionary picture, a movie of such sensorial power and majesty that you won’t mind too much that the plotting and characters aren’t quite as state-of-the-art. Sam Worthington stars as an ex-Marine who has replaced his twin brother as an Avatar driver in the alien world of Pandora; he soon finds his loyalties divided between the military and the Na’vi, the indigenous species on this strange planet. The pundits are wowed by Cameron’s phantasmagorical visuals, which many agree mark a giant leap forward in the realm of special effects, and for that reason alone, you should probably see the Certified Fresh Avatar. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we take a closer look at Cameron’s career, as well as our video interview with Worthington. In addition, watch this episode of Unscripted on Moviefone., in which Worthington and Saldana interview each other.)
Fish-out-of-water comedies are so prevalent at this point that any new entries in the genre need to bring something fresh to the table. Unfortunately, critics say the appeal of Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker is not enough to elevate Did You Hear About the Morgans? above its middling script. Grant and Parker star as a big-city married couple on the rocks; upon witnessing a murder, the Witness Protection Program relocates them to Wyoming, where they relearn to love each other. The pundits say Morgans is utterly generic, with shopworn stereotypes about small town folk, and little chemistry between its two leads; worse, it’s almost laugh-free.
Also opening this week in limited release: