To be honest we expected Ray to score heavily with the critics this week. After all the Oscars and Golden Globes hoo-haa and the number of plaudits heaped on Jamie Foxx's performance we were expecting four or five stars at least.
We were wrong.
The average number of stars handed out to Taylor Hackford's biopic this week is a measly two! The most generous critic is Bradshaw in the Guardian who gives the film three stars, but it's his criticisms that set the theme for everyone else: "the film's big problem is that stunned managers and record producers act as a rather stilted Greek chorus to tell us what we should be thinking and feeling...Ray is a sunny film which diplomatically turns away from the darker side of things."
Anthony Quinn in the Independent is only willing to give Ray two stars even though the film is apparently "electrified by a powerhouse title performance and a soundtrack that almost blisters the screen with its energy." For Quinn it's the fact that "you have to keep suppressing a groan at the film's pedestrian pace and the banality of its storytelling links" that spoils things for him, plus, like Bradshaw, he feels that the movie "tells us more than we care to know while clearly compromised in its mission to 'tell it like it was'."
It's another two stars from James Christopher in The Times, who, despite praising "the period detail," and "the moments when Charles cuts loose in the studio or at a gig", in the end can't get rid of the idea that "Hackford’s hagiography is a rose-tinted apology for a man who shaped history without any idea why."
That summation seems a little harsh to us, but then Christopher turns his claws on Jamie Foxx himself and the review gets really strange:
"Foxx monopolises the Hollywood high ground by calling all his own shots, and sorting his own deals. But the longer he is in charge, the more chaotic the picture. Everyone wants a pound of his flesh. Diehard fans will covet the sentiment. I found it impossible to swallow."
Whew! Did Foxx insult James Chritopher's mother or something?
We couldn't resist taking a look at the reviews for Elektra this week. Like Ray in reverse, we were fully expecting a hat trick of scathing, one star reviews.
And with the Guardian and The Times we got what we were looking for. Bradshaw seems reluctant to award even the one star, but does manage to find one entertaining aspect in the Marvel superhero affair: "Terence Stamp, a blind martial arts master signals his blindness by looking slightly down and to the side. Jamie "Ray" Foxx eat your heart out!"
In The Times James Christopher sums up his distate in four short sentences:
"I’ve been waiting for a girl called Elektra to come and save me for a long time. Her real name is Jennifer Garner. She’s Ben Affleck’s latest squeeze. She’s a martial arts expert, and apparently she suffers from a rare disease which I suspect might be woodworm."
Ther's a similarly potted review in the Independent from Anthony Quinn:
"This lamentable action movie gives Marvel Comics superwoman Elektra her own stage. Jennifer Garner plays her as tough and humourless, her job made no easier by having to interact with Terence Stamp as a "blind" fight master."
So how many stars do you think he gave it? One? Two at a stretch? Nope, Quinn decides Elektra is a three star movie! That's one more than Ray gets. In fact it makes Elektra Quinn's 'best film of the week' alongside Dear Franky. We have no explanation for this apparent generosity. But one answer is that Quinn was saving his 'really bad one star review' for Ladder 49.
"This dismal drama makes a wholly inadequate thank-you," says Quinn of the New York firefighting drama, "the film essays nothing so bold as character development, preferring instead to maunder over every funeral procession or to laugh along with the fireman's knockabout humour. To the flames with it."
In the Guardian meanwhile, Bradshaw sums up his disgust with this one line: "What a backdraft of nonsense." That'll be a one starrer then.
And finally, James Christopher in the Times, can barely seem to lift his fingers to the keyboard in order to rip into what must truly be a craptatstic bunch of twaddle:
"Jay Russell’s Ladder 49, a post 9/11 salute to American firefighters starring two A-list podges: John Travolta as the captain of a Baltimore fire station, and Joaquin Phoenix as a family man addicted to the adrenalin. The simple lesson is: don’t rush into a burning building unless there’s a fat pay cheque in the top drawer back home."
And that's the entire review. We think it says it all.
In film news there's a bit of War of the Worlds info over at Yahoo movies where they have some film of an interview with Cruise and Speilberg.
And it seems Davd Fincher's next project will be based on the real life Zodiac Killer.
The Fantastic Four tariler is now up. Looks ok but we're still reserving judgement on this one. "One will be bad, four will be fantastic"? Erm...
As for our trailer of the week, we can't decide between Adrien Brody in The Jacket (.Mov file), or Cole Hauser in The Cave but you might not want to click on either of them if you're at all claustrophobic.