Summary Judgment: New Movies

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In this week's roundup from the online magazine Slate, hear what critics are saying about Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Bug and Angel-A.


No cowboys at the movies this week, but Mark Jordan Legan has found a bug, maybe a pirate or two. Here's his weekly look at what the critics are saying. It's Slate's Summary Judgment.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN ( William Friedkin, who's directed everything from "The French Connection" to "The Exorcist," returns to the horror genre with "Bug," based on the hit play about a returning paranoid Iraqi war veteran who may or may not have contracted a strange medical condition. Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon star.

(Soundbite of movie, "Bug")

Mr. MICHAEL SHANNON (Actor): (As Peter Evans) Bug problem?

Ms. ASHLEY JUDD (Actress): (As Agnes White) You should know.

Mr. SHANNON: (As Peter Evans) I should? What are they?

Ms. JUDD: (As Agnes White) Aphids.

Mr. SHANNON: (As Peter Evans) Aphids.

Ms. JUDD: (As Agnes White) They're in right now. They like to go in sometimes.

Mr. SHANNON: (As Peter Evans) And the tin foil?

Ms. JUDD: (As Agnes White) Scrambles the signal.

Mr. SHANNON: (As Peter Evans) You're receiving a signal?

Ms. JUDD: (As Agnes White) Transmitting.

Mr. SHANNON: (As Peter Evans) You're transmitting a signal.

Ms. JUDD: (As Agnes White) Not me, the bug.

LEGAN: Most of the nation's critics were very creeped out, but in a good way. The Chicago Sun Times finds it searingly intense. The Boston Herald shouts: one of the most disturbing horror films imaginable. And New York magazine says "Bug" has the feverish compression of live theater and the moody expansiveness of film. The mix is insanely powerful.

Like Friedkin, Luc Besson is an eclectic filmmaker with "La Femme Nikita," "The Transporter," and even the recent children's movie "Arthur and the Invisibles" among his many credits. This time out he goes for the romantic fantasy "Angel-A," where a young thug stops a woman's suicide only to learn she is not who she seems to be. The French film is shot in black and white with English subtitles.

(Soundbite of movie, "Angel-A")

LEGAN: The critics feel, eh, not so much this one, eh? Even though the Miami Herald cheers: this lighter-than-air bubble proves a pleasurable diversion. Variety complains: an achingly sincere but protracted effort. And Entertainment Weekly moans: tre tedious.

And it wouldn't be a Friday without some huge Hollywood blockbuster coming back for thirds. Oh yes, it's "Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End." Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow and legendary rocker and substance abuser Keith Richards cameos as his father.

(Soundbite of movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End")

Unidentified Man #1: What are you doing?

Unidentified Man #2: What are you doing?

Unidentified Man #1: No. What are you doing?

Unidentified Man #2: What are you doing?

Unidentified Man #1: No. What are you doing?

Unidentified Man #2: What are you doing?

Unidentified Man #3: Captain gives orders on the ship.

Unidentified Man #4: The captain of the ship has given orders.

LEGAN: Who dares give a bad review to me maties? Well, I'll run you through, you scallywag. Yes, yes, I promised I wouldn't do the pirate voice anymore. Sorry.

The Chicago Tribune finds "Pirates" visually spectacular, action-packed and surreal; but the Seattle Post Intelligencer warns it's a tedious storytelling mess with a plot so muddled it's impossible to accurately describe. And USA Today sighs: the pirate ship has hit foul waters and even the sharp wit and charm of Depp can't save it.

Still, this franchise will make plenty of doubloons, and yet I hear the next installment is trying to be an edgier and more realistic showing of life back then. So be on the lookout for "Pirates of the Caribbean 4: The Rehab and Scurvy Years."

BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer and Keith Richards fan living in Los Angeles. Well, "Pirates" fans are pretty obsessive. Maybe not...

COHEN: Aye, aye, Madeleine.

BRAND: Oh, Alex, you're kind of scaring me. Okay, maybe not as obsessive as Alex Cohen.

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