Charles Dickens could have written a book about how lame this week's releases are. Not even the official kickoff of the cloud drive wars can make me say differently.
I Am Number Four
James Frey, the truth-stretcher who wrote the lie-laced mega-selling memoir A Million Easy Pieces, wrote a teen alien sci-fi romance novel under the nom de plume Pittacus Lore in 2010. D.J. Caruso turned it into a horrible movie the very next year. Timothy Olyphant, TVs biggest badass, continues his run of improbable and even absurd film roles. Fire your agent, dude. Rated PG-13
Gnomeo and Juliet
Exactly what you think it is, though probably half as good as you'd hope. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt are wasted in this weird, digressive adaptation of Shakespeare. Rated G
This Is Country Music | Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley is the best thing pop country has going for it. Is it weird to say that? If there was any current gen country star who deserved to title his album "This Is Country Music," it's Paisley.
I Was Born This Way | Lady Gaga
You missed the $.99 cent Amazon cloud-drive purchase yesterday, so pony up, sucker.
Strange Negotiations | David Bazan
Wash St.'s favorite conflicted indie songwriter comes back with more songs merging Christian apologetics with the dour worldview of Eeyore.
Brilliant! Tragic! | Art Brut
Everyone's cheeky Brit, Eddie Argos tries something on Art Brut's fourth studio album he's never done before: singing. Results are mixed.
Dirt 3 | PS3, XBox, PC
The Dirt franchise has become like a ralley-based, arcade-fueled version of Gran Turismo. A gorgeous, massive, detailed simulation that has enough action to be fun for more than obsessives and customization sluts.
Witcher 2 | PC (XBox and PS3 later in 2011)
Missed this last week, somehow — maybe it was the total lack of week-of reviews — but this has emerged as a critically beloved, punishingly difficult hardcore American-style RPG. Aparently an absolute bastard in the early going, the game grows with the character, telling a story that critics say is gorgeous, moody and as unique as any in recent memory. The interface — like many american RPGs, unfortunately — is clunky and problematic, but that wasn't enough to keep one reviewer from proclaiming it "The Empire Strikes Back of video games." A huge improvement over the original that leaves the player salivating for Witcher 3.
Kung Fu Panda 2 | PS3, XBox, Wii, DS
This will sell well, because children have bad taste in things.
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