This week at the movies we’ve got turtle power ("TMNT"), whimsy ("The Last Mimzy," starring Timothy Hutton), conspiracies ("Shooter," starring Mark Wahlberg), buddies ("Reign Over Me," starring Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle), swimmers ("Pride," starring Terrence Howard), and cannibals ("The Hills Have Eyes 2"). What do the critics have to say?
"TMNT" marks a CG return for the pizza-loving, sewer-dwelling 1980s icons. However, to paraphrase the theme song, it appears movie critics are unwilling to cut "TMNT" any slack. The film details the turtles’ attempt to defeat an army of ancient warriors and the Foot Clan, despite dissention in the ranks. Critics say the CG animation looks fine, but the story is lacking, and "TMNT" lacks the goofy charm of its lower-fidelity predecessors. At 20 percent on the Tomatometer, this one appears to be a bit short on turtle power.
Based upon a short story by Lewis Padgett, "The Last Mimzy" tells the fanciful tale of two siblings who, after discovering a box of discarded toys, gain special powers, get involved with time travel, win a science contest, and run afoul with the Patriot Act. If this sounds ambitious for a kids flick, critics agree. In fact, they’re saying it’s too ambitious: despite excellent moments, "Mimzy" lacks focus and frequently veers towards awkward, New Age feelgoodness. It’s at 52 percent Tomatometer.
Leaving the extravagance of "King Arthur" and "Tears of the Sun" behind, director Antoine Fuqua tones it down for "Shooter," a simpler kind of action flick. One man, one gun, one word for the title. Mark Wahlberg stars as former Army sniper Bob Lee Swagger (a movie moniker if there ever was one) who finds himself on the run and in the midst of a government conspiracy. The scribes say Wahlberg does a decent job, but the film skimps on logic and contains more plot holes than a target down at your local gun club. At 29 percent on the Tomatometer, "Shooter" misses the mark.
In "Reign Over Me," Adam Sandler, looking like "Blonde on Blonde"-era Bob Dylan, stars as a man still reeling from the loss of his family in the 9/11 attacks. He drops in on his college roommate (Don Cheadle), who’s got family issues of his own. Critics say "Reign Over Me" provides proof, were it needed after "Punch Drunk Love," that Adam Sandler is capable of playing serious roles, and helmer Mike Binder manages to keep the film funny and touching without overdosing on sentiment. At 73 percent on the Tomatometer, "Reign" shines.
Terrence Howard is a terrific actor, but critics say he can’t save "Pride," a by-the-numbers sports flick based on an interesting true story. Howard stars as Jim Ellis, the coach of an all-African American high school swim team; the squad faces a number of obstacles, from racism to unsympathetic city officials. The pundits say Howard gives another outstanding performance, but "Pride" sinks under the weight of cliché. It currently stands at 38 percent on the Tomatometer.
The peepers of critics have yet to grace "The Hills Have Eyes 2," since it wasn’t screened. This sequel to a remake tells the tale of a group of National Guardsmen who stumble upon a group of cannibals in the New Mexico desert. Finish up that tasty meal you’re eating and Guess the Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release: "Air Guitar Nation," a spirited rockumentary about the art of the air strum, is at 100 percent; "Offside," Iranian master Jafar Panahi’s examination of politics through the lens of soccer, is at 95 percent; "The Page Turner," a Hitchcockian tale of revenge and music from France, is at 88 percent; "Boy Culture," featuring the trials and tribulations of three gay roommates, is at 86 percent; "Journey From the Fall," a drama about a family’s struggles at the end of the Vietnam’s civil war, is at 67 percent; "Colour Me Kubrick," a comedy about a man impersonating the director starring John Malkovich, is at 58 percent; and the noirish "First Snow," starring Guy Pearce and Piper Perabo, is at 50 percent; and "Memory," a sci-fi thriller starring Ann-Margaret and Dennis Hopper, is at 20 percent.
And finally, props to SlyDante for coming the closest to guessing "Dead Silence"’s 24 percent Tomatometer.