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Hollywood Movie Roundup: Enter Sandman (but make way for the ladies)

By Kevin Crust

HollywoodNews.com: The summer’s first three-day weekend features a pair of films that figure to split demographically along gender lines with the women taking the top spot at the box-office. Memorial Day is traditionally one of the biggest holiday weekends at the movies, but without a behemoth to soak up most of the attention, attendance figures to be widely distributed with many people using the extra time to catch up with movies that have been out for a few weeks.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME

Jake Gyllenhaal straps on sword and sandals for his action hero debut, starring as a renegade royal seeking a powerful ancient dagger.  Rising British star Gemma Arterton portrays the enigmatic princess he teams with. Sir Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina are also along for the ride. Director Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) attempts to brings a little magic to the popular video game, while Boaz YakinDoug Miro and Carlo Bernard did the adaptation.

A few critics — including Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum and the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips — found some fun in the film, but Phillips’ Windy City counterpart, Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times, fashions a more typical response, labeling the film’s leads as “not inspired” and the special effects, “irritating.” Manohla Dargis of the New York Times calls the movie, “perfectly painless mush,” while the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern finds that the pumped-up “Prince” proves his thesis that bigger is not better when it comes to the digital realm.

The movie hasn’t garnered the kind of must-see buzz to launch it into the stratosphere. Despite a fanboy base from its VG progenitor, “Prince” already looks like an also-ran at the box office, which has not been kind to action epics of late. Not only will it lose out the top spot to a bunch of well-heeled girls, its predicted take of $35-44 million may not even be enough to hold off “Shrek 4” for second place.

SEX AND THE CITY 2

Carrie Bradshaw and company reunite for a romp through Abu Dhabi with stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon back for a return engagement. Writer-director Michael Patrick King attempts to mine more from Candace Bushnell’s stylish, sassy characters but he may have finally hit bottom.

There’s little love from critics for SATC2. Some bemoan the tired state of the franchise, while others are offended by its tone-deaf approach to geo-poltics and Middle East culture. Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times writes that “the satire is sagging, the irony’s atrophied and the funny is flabby.” Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal calls the film “callow, garish, ghastly, grisly … grotesque” and “borderline-interminable” and the New York Times’ A.O. Scott opines that “the ugly smell of unexamined privilege hangs over this film like the smoke from cheap incense.”

“Sex” got a jump on things with a Thursday opening and prognosticators figure it to clock in at $65-70M for the three day weekend and as much as $83M over the four days. Scathing reviews could keep its tally in the lower register.

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