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ROBIN HOOD

Studio: Universal

Rated: PG-13 for violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, William Hurt, Mark Strong and Mark Addy

Directed by: Ridley Scott

What it’s about: Ridley Scott teams up with Russell Crowe for the fifth time to tell the story behind the story of Robin Hood. It begins in the Crusades and follows Robin Longstrides as he heads back to England to claim some land. Unfortunately, the corrupt King John is squeezing the villages and his evil henchman is forming a dangerous alliance with France

What I liked: Let’s face it… Ridley Scott knows how to put together a kick-ass battle sequence. When there is action in this film, it’s pretty awesome. Sadly, this only happens a little bit throughout, and with two major sequences book-ending the film. It’s not as awesome, gritty and bloody as Gladiator, but it’ll do for now.

Also, Russell Crowe makes a formidable Robin Hood. For the few scenes where he’s actually doing Robin Hoody things, he comes across as a solid historical action hero. Now, if you could just send him back in time to play the lead role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, then you might have something.

What I didn’t: I had a bad feeling about Robin Hood for months. Sure, Scott and Crowe work well together, but they’re only batting .500 (or less, depending on how much you credit Crowe for American Gangster). Ridley Scott has a tendency to get long-winded in his filmmaking, and it is painfully obvious here. The film runs almost 2 1/2 hours, and much of that time is spent on village politics.

The cast is crowded with needless character, many of them just turning into another stinky guy with a beard. I didn’t care enough about the story to keep track of everyone.

Ultimately, this isn’t a Robin Hood movie. The scenes from the trailers are the only scenes you’ll recognize from the legend. And that’s disappointing because I’d rather watch Russell Crowe battling the Sheriff of Nottingham while he robs from the rich and gives to the poor than to watch his not-so-witty banter with Cate Blanchett in the fields.

Who is gonna like this movie: The older you are, the more you’ll like it.

Grade: C-

LETTERS TO JULIET

Studio: Summit

Rated: PG for brief rude behavior and sensual images, some language and incidental smoking

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan, Gael García Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero

Directed by: Gary Winick

What it’s about: Amanda Seyfried plays a woman who takes a pre-honeymoon to Verona, Italy. There, she discovers a place where people write letters to Juliet Capulet for love advice. Women in the village write back to the authors, and Seyfried’s character gives a shot, answering a 50-year-old letter from a woman who left her first love in Italy. The woman gets the letter and travels to Verona, where they spend the next few weeks searching for her lost lover

What I liked: There’s nothing overtly special about this movie, but I have to say that it was damned charming. The film rests upon the shoulders of its actors, and Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave both do excellent jobs. There’s not a lot of depth on the page, but they both give an emotional depth to the characters that made me fall in love with them a little bit.

Plus, setting the film against the gorgeous backdrop of the Italian countryside didn’t hurt at all.

If you’re looking for a light romance, this one will do nicely.

What I didn’t: Look, if you can’t stomach light romances, you’ll cringe throughout this movie. We could go down the laundry list of standard complaints about these sorts of films – somewhat one-dimensional characters, ridiculous plot points, unrealistic relationships, deus ex machina endings – and they all fit. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying this movie.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of the light romance.

Grade: B

JUST WRIGHT

Studio: Fox Searchlight

Rated: PG for some suggestive material and brief language

Starring: Paula Patton, Queen Latifah, Pam Grier, Common and Mehcad Brooks

Directed by: Sanaa Hamri

What it’s about: Queen Latifah plays a physical therapist who helps an NBA superstar get back on his feet, falling in love with him in the process. Too bad that teacher from Precious looks so good and is angling in on her man

What I liked: I like Queen Latifah. I’ve liked her before it became chic to like her when she turned heads in Chicago. And in this movie, she’s pretty good. Unfortunately, she’s slumming for this production. The best part of the movie is her… and that’s about it.

What I didn’t: Did you know that Common is pretty much the same height as Queen Latifah? He looks her directly in the eye when she’s wearing tennis shoes, so I just don’t buy him as an NBA player. Plus, he’s not that great of an actor. And if you’re saying that about one of the leads in a film, there’s a problem.

As predictable and formulaic as these sort of movies are, Just Wright goes above and beyond that. Not only does it take the film more than an hour to enter in to plot territory that isn’t laid out in the trailer, it throws every cliche and stereotype at the audience. Then the characters have reactions and behavior that makes them seem either terribly shallow or awfully stupid… or both.

Who is gonna like this movie: People dying for a movie about love and basketball that isn’t a sequel to Love and Basketball.

Grade: D

Want to see what Kevin had to say about these films on TV? Check out his interview on FOX…


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