Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is quite obviously the big release of the week, only this time round it's all dark and scary stuff as our hero makes the journey into adolescence and... God help us, haven't we had all this stuff already with Spiderman and Star Wars? Oh well, let's see what the broadsheets make of it.
All the reviewers seem to fix on the fact that the cast of the film are getting older, but Wendy Ide in The Times gets the award for broaching this tediously predictable subject in the most interesting way:
Harry Potter has lost his innocence. Hormones slosh around the latest instalment of the HP franchise like a cauldron full of slug sputum and frog eczema flakes or whatever the kids are using these days.
We don't know about you, but Londonist just loves to read the words "frog eczema" over its morning bowl of cornflakes.
Ide goes on to say that the ageing of the protagonists means "that the franchise is losing some of its wide-eyed wonder," and the whole film gets bogged down in typical teen cliches like "the Yule Ball [which] borrows from every high-school prom in every Hollywood teen movie you care to mention," as well as the odd bit of "toe-curling juvenile comedy and sub-Grange Hill acting".
Ide does claim however that the film is lifted by the final half hour which "gives a hint about what is to come".
Erm, hasn't everyone already read the book?
In contrast to Ide, both Anthony Quinn and Pete Bradshaw feel that the 'prom scenes' are the highlight of the movie, with Quinn calling them "the best moments in a film that never finds a settled rhythm or narrative fluency," and Bradshaw following suit: "the movie only becomes humanly interesting with the excruciating prom-style ball which the young Hogwarts scholars are forced to attend."
Other than that it's all just extended plot descriptions and more comments on how dark and gloomy the direction is...and how old the cast look. In fact, taken togther these three reviews would seem to suggest that The Goblet of Fire is a worthy filler in the series but a filler all the same.
Next up this week is Johnny Depp in The Libertine (yes, we could make all sorts of Pete Doherty jokes here, but we're not going to).
Again, the broadsheet reviewers are neither disgusted nor set alight by this period romp. In fact we can't even tell what score the Independent give the film because whoever updates their website has once again forgot to include the stars...sort it out please or we might have to swap you for Time Out.
However the Indy does say that Depp, playing the 17th Century poet, "fastens onto the bawdy, foul-mouthed script like a terrier on a rat," which we like, so we'll forgive them for now. And apparently the film "runs out of steam in the last half hour" which presumably means that if you put the last 30 minutes of Harry Potter onto the end of the first 30 minutes of The Libertine then you might come out with quite a good film.
Meanwhile The Times is awarding another three stars describing Depp as "terrific in the role, with a rock star’s lip- curled arrogance and a sexually predatory swagger." A description which is swiftly becoming a catch-all for every other Depp performance.
Ide also thinks "the look of the film that is tremendous fun," although not quite as good as the play by Stephen Jeffreys...even though Jeffreys himself has written the screenplay.
The film gets it worst mark in the Guardian with just two stars from Pete.
"Overripe, over-long...weirdly prolix and self-important," are just some of the adjectives P.B. throws at the film, and he doesn't even like Depp (who he raved about in Willy Wonka): "Johnny Depp creates an essentially humourless character for the poet who, in some sub-Wildean sense, has put his talent into his life - genius is nowhere forthcoming."
Out of some sense of duty we feel obligated to choose Stoned as our last film this week...even though it's just another three-starrer. But hey, at least it's British right?
It doesn't take a great deal of brainpower to work out that the Indy doesn't really like this film though, especially when the first paragraph is:
The producer-turned-director Stephen Woolley reportedly spent 10 years developing this drama about the last days of the former Rolling Stone Brian Jones, and one only wishes it had been worth the effort.
Wow, a decades work dismissed in around thirty words. That's harsh.
And it gets worse, because even though "Paddy Considine provides a class angle as the London builder who becomes Jones's cook and companion, while the technical team deftly nails the outlandish costumes and designs of the period," it's the main character who ruins the picture: "Jones himself comes over as little more than a spoilt medieval princeling who beat up women and couldn't handle the drugs. You want to know why this dead rock star mattered? Don't look for an answer here."
Ian Johns in the Times is of the same opinion, writing "Leo Gregory lacks the kind of charisma to make us care for the arrogant, cruel Jones," but unfortunately Johns taints his entire review with a rather contrived analogy right at the end: "It’s more like a compilation than a fully realised concept album that intrigues more than it enthrals."
Interestingly Pete Bradshaw is the most sympathetic reviewer, calling Stoned "a flawed but intriguing directorial debut," and "always watchable".
Still not enough to actually make us want to go out and see any of those films. Are we in the pre-Christmas doldrums already? Whatever the reason, maybe we can find some solace in the film news this week.
The thing that's going to cause the most arguments in the fanboy community is of course the teaser trailer for Superman Returns. And, yes, you do get to see him fly.
Sticking with comic book stuff, if you couldn't find the V for Vendetta trailers we talked about earlier this week, then how about this poster. This is actually the first thing we've seen attached to this film we actually like.
If you want to start making a list of 'Films To Avoid In 2006' can we suggest you start that list with the film in which Adam Sandler loses his family on 9/11?
And remember when De Niro said he'd never play another mafia character...well he might have lied.