Slate's Summary Judgment: 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Over the Fence,' 'See No Evil'

Slate contributor Mark Jordan Legan reviews what critics are saying about this weekend's movie releases: The Da Vinci Code, Over the Fence and See No Evil.

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Trying to decide if you should see this week's potential blockbuster film, The Da Vinci Code? Or perhaps there's something else out there worth 10 bucks and two hours? To help you decide, the online magazine Slate compiles our weekly digest of what the critics are saying.

Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

First up in wide release, we have the computer animated family comedy, Over The Hedge, based on the popular comic strip. A group of woodland creatures discover the human suburbs creeping in closer and closer. Steve Carell, Catherine O'Hara and Bruce Willis lend some of the vocal talent.

(Soundbite of "Over The Hedge")

Mr. BRUCE WILLIS (Actor): (As RJ): Now, the plan works in three simple steps: Step One, kill the lights; step two, get inside; step Three, get out with mountain of food.

Mr. WILLIAM SHATNER (Actor): (As Ozzie): But this place is like a fortress. Walls so high. Doors impenetrable. How do we get in?

LEGAN: The critics liked this hedge, even though the L.A. Times finds it disappointingly pedestrian, they're in the minority. Entertainment Weekly says, The voice acting is delightful. The Hollywood Reporter cheers, Chirpy, silly fun. And Newsday pants, Irresistible balance of computer graphics animation and high wit.

Next up is the horror film See No Evil. A group of youth offenders are staying in a remote hotel as they finish off their community service. And wouldn't you know it, a crazed killer starts murdering them. I believe this is part of some new tough on crime proposition on November's ballot.

(Soundbite of "See No Evil")

Unidentified Woman (Actress): (As Character) Oh, no. Where the hell are they coming from?

Unidentified Woman (Actress): (As Character) Oh, my God.

(Soundbite grunting and pounding)

LEGAN: Guess what, horror fans. See No Evil decided the critics would see no preview. Fearing negative reviews, Lions Gate did not make it available for advanced screening. But I'm sure the slaughter of the naughty teenagers is well shot and expertly lit.

And we close with this little movie you may have heard something about, The Da Vinci Code. Based on the best-selling, controversial novel by Dan Brown, Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and Ian McKellen star in the Ron Howard-directed thriller.

(Soundbite of "The Da Vinci Code")

Ms. AUDREY TAUTOU (Actress): (As Sophie Neveu) The only way to access information is got to read the password with these. Five dials, each with 26 letters. That's 12 million possibilities.

Mr. TOM HANKS (Actor): (As Robert Langdon) I never met a girl who knew that much about a crypt text.

LEGAN: The nation's critics, and perhaps even the big critic upstairs, don't like this movie very much. Many complain of the two and a half hour running time, and the word dull pops up in many reviews.

The New York Post enjoys it, calling it a crackling, fast-moving thriller. But almost everyone else saw a different movie. The Philadelphia Inquirer yawns, Plodding, tedious, deafly dull. The Baltimore Sun says, The Da Vinci Code lacks suspense, momentum, and visual panache. And Rolling Stone groans, Da Vinci is a dud. A dreary, droning, dull-witted adaptation.

Of course, they're already at work on a much less controversial sequel, The Michelangelo Code. In this one, Tom Hanks' character discovers that hidden in the Sistine Chapel ceiling is the original, top-secret recipe for stuffed crust pizza.

ADAMS: That's Mark Jordan Legan, a Los Angeles writer.

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