ALEX COHEN, host:
This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Alex Cohen.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
And I'm Madeleine Brand. An eclectic mix of movies hits the theaters this weekend. To tell us whether they get any love from the critics, here's Mark Jordan Legan with Slate Summary Judgment.
MARK JORDAN LEGAN: This is our first post-inauguration Summary Judgment and I, for one, truly hope President Obama keeps his campaign promise to make sure Hollywood makes better movies. Since today's three releases were made during the Bush administration, I'll cut him some slack. In fact, this first film, "Killshot," was made three years ago, and sat around on a shelf unwanted and gathering dust. But Mickey Rourke stars in it, and now that he's nominated for an Oscar, the studio wants to make the most of that buzz. Rourke plays a hit man determined to find someone in the witness relocation program who can identify him from a previous job. Diane Lane also stars.
(Soundbite of movie "Killshot")
Ms. DIANE LANE: (As Carmen Colson) What if we're being used as bait?
Mr. MICKEY ROURKE: (As The Blackbird) What are you talking about?
Ms. LANE: (As Carmen Colson) What if the FBI's just waiting for those two freaks to find us so they can find them?
LEGAN: This film is getting a very limited release, but the critics applaud Rourke. The Arizona Republic shouts: Following up his acclaimed work in "The Wrestler" with another compelling performance, Mickey Rourke serves notice that he is, indeed, back. And the Colleges Times nods: "Killshot," for all its goofiness and implausible plot turns, is actually a good time. And another actor that's also in the Oscar spotlight, Michael Sheen, currently starring as David Frost in the Best Picture nominee "Frost Nixon," proves that he can truly stretch as an actor - because he's playing a werewolf. Yes, a werewolf, in "Underworld: The Rise of Lycans," the third installment in the popular werewolf-versus-vampire horror franchise.
(Soundbite of movie "Underworld: The Rise of Lycans")
Mr. BILL NIGHY: (As Viktor) How dare you raise your hand to me?
Ms. RHONA MITRA: (As Sonja) I do not want this.
Mr. NIGHY: I am your father!
LEGAN: Apparently, the only thing that werewolves fear more than silver bullets is bad reviews, because the film was not screened in advance for U.S. critics. But it has already been released in Australia, and the Herald Sun snarls: a cheap and cheerless cash-in that should bury the franchise once and for all. But Australia Filming says: Loyal fans will find there's still bite left in this franchise. And a very successful kids' novel, "Inkheart," has now been adapted for the big screen. Brendan Fraser stars as a father who has the magical ability to bring characters from books to life. But this isn't always a good thing. Helen Mirren also stars.
(Soundbite of movie "Inkheart")
Mr. BRENDAN FRASER: (As Mo "Silvertongue" Folchart) I read several chapters of that and nothing happened. And they appeared out of nowhere. From the medieval world of the book, my voice brought them out.
Ms. HELEN MIRREN: (As Elinor Loredan): Your voice brought them out of the book?
Mr. FRASER: (As Mo" Silvertongue" Folchart): And her mother went in. That's how it works.
LEGAN: The nation's critics are split down the middle of the page. The Los Angeles Times complains: The magic thuds more often than it soars. But Austin Chronicle finds "Inkheart" rollicking, overstuffed but enormously entertaining. And the Washington Post smiles: packs a welcome amount of entertainment value, creating a genuinely original world of enchantment. You know, I'm glad a movie finally has the guts to show the dangers of reading. I'm so sick of all those librarians and literary snobs shoving their agenda down our throats. If you ask me, Americans read too much. It cuts into our snacking and TV viewing. Oh, they're selling a beef dehydrator on Home Shopping Network; I've got to run.
BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer who hates books? - I don't know - living in Los Angeles.