Friday, July 11, 2008

Movies opening this week

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss, dir. Guillermo del Toro)
As I believe I've said before, I tend to like del Toro's movies more in theory than in actuality, and while I thought the first Hellboy movie was fine, it didn't make much of an impression on me. I feel much the same way about the sequel, which again has a fairly forgettable story augmented by some cool and creative creature design and a fun performance from Ron Perlman as the grumpy yet lovable title character. Del Toro indulges in more of his personal style this time around, with some weird and highly imaginative sequences involving monsters and mythical beasts. But there's still not much to grab onto plot-wise, and the stabs at giving Hellboy some inner angst don't quite come off. Still, at least it's got way more ambition and style than The Incredible Hulk. Wide release

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem, dir. Eric Brevig)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I remain unconvinced of the likelihood that 3-D represents the future of moviemaking, but even if it does, this completely tame and predictable family adventure story won't be the way to get there. If we're ever to realize the crazy dream of artistic possibilities described by Matt Zoller Seitz, we're going to need to do a lot more with this technology than use it to make it look like dinosaur loogies are coming right at you. Wide release

Meet Dave (Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, dir. Brian Robbins)
I was so relieved that this movie wasn't as vulgar or insulting as Norbit that I think at first I was inclined to give it more credit than it deserves. But while it's indeed much less offensive, it's still poorly plotted, sloppily paced and not particularly funny. Murphy seems to be only interested in throwing himself into these weirdly challenging roles in which he plays characters who are not recognizably human (here he's both a spaceship and an alien). There's clearly a lot of effort and skill on display here, but it's all focused in a very misguided way. There's nothing to connect with, the jokes are all obvious variations on the aliens-learning-about-human-culture routine, and Murphy comes off as completely detached from it all. Maybe he needs to slow down his relentless work schedule and find a project actually worthy of his time. Wide release

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