X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The gist: Hugh Jackman returns in a prequel that lengthens the X-Men franchise a bit with lots of mutants, explosions, one-liners, explosions, open plot threads for more Origins movies, and explosions. PG-13
Starring: Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch, Will.i.am, Danny Huston, Dominic Monaghan and Daniel Henney.
The buzz: As we recall, as much as we like Logan, the comic version of this sucked out loud. So maybe it's not strange that Variety says: "Noisy and impersonal, X-Men Origins: Wolverine bears all the marks of a work for hire, conceived and executed with a big budget but little imagination." A few fanboy critics liked it, though. Your call.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
The gist: It's like A Christmas Carol, but with a womanizing lout realizing that he really should buy into Hollywood schmaltz about romance by revisiting all the women he used up and threw out like old Kleenex. PG-13
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert, Robert Forster, Anne Archer, Emma Stone and Michael Douglas.
The buzz: It's Matty Mac, so caveat emptor, but the Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert has the best line: "It's not particularly funny to hear women described and valued exclusively in terms of their function as disposable sexual partners. A lot of Connor's dialogue is just plain sadistic and qualifies him as that part of an ass it shares with a doughnut."
Battle for Terra
The gist: A lot of celebrities (including the Mac Guy) play sci-fi in this yarn about a planet being invaded by ... wait for it ... humans from a dying Earth! Ooooh, see what they did there? PG
Starring: Voices of Justin Long, Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood, Luke Wilson, David Cross, Amanda Peet, James Garner, Dennis Quaid, Chris Evans and Danny Glover.
The buzz: Slightly off-center tale is well-animated and perhaps even a bit thought-provoking. But is it good? "Naive but ambitious, it comes across as a Battlestar Galactica vetted by pacifists, Clone Wars neutered for Saturday morning kids' TV," the Charlotte Observer says.
Is Anybody There?
The gist: Michael Caine chews the scenery one more time as a dying magician in an old folks' home who befriends the kinda-creepy son of the owners. PG-13
Starring: Caine, Bill Milner, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey and Leslie Phillips.
The buzz: Caine fans only need apply. "You don't need a Ouija board to suss out where all this is heading, but Is Anybody There? counteracts its deficiencies — predictability, sentimentality — with a healthy dose of dark humor," the Miami Herald says.
The gist: Working class Paris + eve of Nazi invasion + lots of song and dance = narrowly focused period flick. PG-13
Starring: Gerard Jugnot, Kad Merad, Nora Arnezeder, Nora Arnezeder, Pierre Richard, Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Maxence Perrin and François Morel.
The buzz: Given the subject matter and execution, what more do you expect than an overwrought love letter to France? "A handsomely made French musical that never really soars," the Washington Post offers.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org