We covered the Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy a bit in last week's Friday Film news, but it's worth revisiting briefly this week if only because it seems to be dividng the critics a little.
Over in the Independent the adaptation receives just the one star from Anthony Quinn, who complains, "Seldom have I sat through a high-profile comedy that has generated so little laughter - even nervous laughter."
Oh dear - so what went wrong?
"The to-ing and fro-ing of this intergalactic romp has the random clunk of pub pinball, and its squiggles of invention - a man with two faces, a fish that translates all languages - are mere juvenile surrealism. Indeed, the whole tenor of Hitchhiker feels like a Seventies throwback."
The random clunk of a pub pinball eh? It's a different story over in the Times however, where the film gets a respectable three stars.
The movie is a "lavish film debut" according to James Christopher, but it's not all good: "The romance between Arthur and Trillian has the commercial texture of a Richard Curtis pudding: puffed up, over-sweet and none too convincing. It coughs and splutters like a large, sick second-hand car."
And then of course there's the ultimate insult: "students will love it."
Ouch. Oh well, you've probably already made your mind up whether or not to see this one or not, so let's move on.
Mean Creek is a US indie offering from first-time director Jacob Aaron Estes, and the broadsheets seem to think it's not bad.
Pete Bradshaw gives it a very nice four stars, but not before he goes off on one of his little rants, this time about the theme of bullying in reality TV shows such as Big Brother:
"The sado-format of grown men and women being made to play rough games in silly costumes and trying not to cry is subconsciously lifted from Dennis Potter's drama Blue Remembered Hills, in which adult actors played children left to their own devices and turning vicious in an idyllic country landscape."
Ok then...but what about the film Pete?
Apparently Mean Creek "shows how mercurial the emotional power politics of teenagerdom can be, as well as how scary and violent," but for Bradshaw the performance by Macaulay Culkin's little sibling is not so great: "Rory Culkin [gives] the least compelling performance on screen".
In the Independent it's a middling three stars, with a nod to another of the young actors ("a brilliant performance by Peck as the roly-poly George, who seems pathologically driven to make himself obnoxious.") as well as praise for the fledgling director: "a great calling-card for writer-director Estes, who homes in on issues of teenage anxiety and guilt with heat-seeking accuracy and gets precisely what he needs from his young cast."
It's another three stars over at the Times, where Ian Johns notes that the film "captures the swagger and indecision, intimidation and fearfulness, rebellion and conformity of teenage behaviour through potently naturalistic performances by its young actors."
And, apparently, the young Culkin offspring is actually not bad: "Chief among equals is Rory Culkin, who makes it easy to forget his older brother’s Home Alone reign of child-star terror."
Unfortunatley though, "the script can veer into cliched, sad-teen territory and makes a jarring dash to an unsatisfying conclusion, as if the budget was running out".
And so finally on to the blockbuster sequel of the week: XXX2: The Next Level.
Weirdly Pete Bradshaw resists going for the jugular with this one and even admits that the original XXX was for him "a guilty pleasure."
However, as for the follow up: "both guilt and pleasure are substantially down." so it's only two stars from Pete:
"Ice Cube, the only action star plumper than Vin. Ice Cube rolls around with a perennially grumpy expression on his face, the vexed look of a man who has had to get out of the bath to answer the phone...The plot is wildly and uproariously daft; there's a pretty good prison-break scene and it finishes with Ice Cube pursuing a bullet train in his souped-up sports car, a cheerfully silly contest which reminded me of the "chase" idea in Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation: horse vs motorbike"
It's another two star review over in the Times, and again Ice Cube's paunchiness is the main topic:
The chubby rebel can fight for his country, leap from tall buildings into helicopters, trash the Capitol Building, kiss the girl, mangle entire squadrons of bent soldiers, and persuade his psychotic army of pimping brothers to, and I quote, 'Fight for the freedom to jack cars'.
Sounds good to us. But not so for Anthony Quinn who can only bring himself to give XXX2 one measly star: "a formulaic ride through macho heroics, big explosions and a plot whose absurdity it would demean even a film critic to recount."
Meanwhile as far as films yet to be slated by the critics are concerned there's what should be the last the trailer for the new Batman film
There's some cute celebrity geek Star Wars obsessing courtesy of Empire
, and Mos Def continues his unpredictable career arc by teaming up with Bruce Willis.