New movies this week
The gist: A freshly elected Nelson Mandela tries to inspire South Africa's rugby team during an improbable run to the World Cup. Convenient how this is coming out right before the country hosts the 2010 World Cup for soccer, hmm? PG-13
Starring: Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon.
The buzz: Weepy and inspirational, like you'd expect. "Inspirational on the face of it, Clint Eastwood's film has a predictable trajectory, but every scene brims with surprising details that accumulate into a rich fabric of history, cultural impressions and emotion," Variety says.
The Princess and the Frog
The gist: Wait, in all these decades, this is the first time a Disney movie has had black main characters? And it's just an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's The Frog Prince, set in New Orleans? And it's hand-drawn? Way to put some effort into it, Mouseketeers. G
Starring: Voices of Anika Noni Rose, Terrence Howard, John Goodman, Keith David, Jim Cummings, Jenifer Lewis and Oprah Winfrey
The buzz: Passable, but where's that Disney magic? "The movie slam-jams its overpacked story in a frenetic, needlessly complicated manner," the Chicago Tribune says. "It lacks for nothing in setting and atmosphere but comes up short where it counts: the characters."
The gist: John Woo rewrites the definition of epic in Chinese, exploring an intense and bloody campaign that changed the face of that nation forever. Plus, there's enough romantic and historical backstory that folks who shun gore might dig it long enough to overlook the CGI blood and guts.
Starring: Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Chang Chen, Zhao Wei and Hu Jun.
The buzz: For foreign-film nuts who like their bloody history served with subtitles. "Red Cliff is a dichotomous beast: The computer-generated imagery that makes so much of it possible is served up in heaping, state-of-the-art portions, but the results occasionally border on the cartoonish. At the same time, Red Cliff is a classic tale that gets a classicist's treatment," the Washington Post says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org