New movies this week
The gist: A man and his son dodge cannibals and dreadful existentialist overtones in an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer-winning postapocalyptic novel about a small slice of the end of mankind. You know, cheery holiday fare. R
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Guy Pearce.
The buzz: Critics that complain it's bleak miss the point. "The filmmakers capture enough of the book's essence — and the power of its knockout, transcendent ending — to more than justify the movie's existence," the Miami Herald says.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The gist: Wes Anderson's stop-motion translation of the Roald Dahl fable about a suburbanite fox who has a midlife crisis and starts stealing chickens, only to get his fellow woodland creatures to band together to protect him from the farmers who are rightfully angered by his trespassing. There's some kind of foreign policy lesson in there. PG
Starring: The voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson and Jarvis Cocker.
The buzz: It already has two built-in audiences: "In some ways his (Anderson) most fully realized and satisfying film," the New York Times says. "Once you adjust to its stop-and-start rhythms and its scruffy looks, you can appreciate its wit, its beauty and the sly gravity of its emotional undercurrents."
The gist: Two aging pals have to babysit wailing infants while on the verge of a big business deal. And then there's the plot of the movie. PG
Starring: John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Seth Green, Ella Bleu Travolta, Lori Loughlin and Matt Dillon.
The buzz: The cast just kinda showed up for this one. Kinda. "Too bad this shrilly tuned comedy doesn't demand more than clock-punching effort from everyone involved," Variety says.
The gist: There's absolutely no way a Hollywood-made story about a ninja planning to take down his clan will be any good, but ninja movie vet Sho Kosugi is in this one, so there's a fan base that really won't care. R
Starring: Rain, Naomie Harris, Ben Miles, Kosugi and Rick Yune.
The buzz: The reviews say it's just terrible, which we expected, so we'll go with what the Hollywood Reporter ruled: "Ninja isn't a great movie, but if you're in the right frame of mind, it is a bloody good time."
The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
The gist: The MacManus brothers emerge from hiding on the Emerald isle to avenge the death of a priest. This is a lot more like Ninja Assassin than anyone will admit. R
Starring: Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery, Clifton Collins, Julie Benz, Judd Nelson, Robert Cochrane Marley Jr., Brian Mahoney, David Ferry, David Della Rocco, Peter Fonda and Billy Connolly.
The buzz: Apparently the critics think so, too. "You wouldn't call The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day a taut thriller ," the New York Post says. "More like a fleshy, messy, jangled frenzy of shootouts and much discussion about the mechanics of romantic entanglements that bloom between prison inmates."
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org