On Dreamgirls, Variety's David Rooney writes,
Finally. After "The Phantom of the Opera," "Rent" and "The Producers" botched the transfer from stage to screen, "Dreamgirls" gets it right. Bill Condon's adaptation of the 1981 show about a Motown trio's climb to crossover stardom pulls off the fundamental double-act those three musical pics all missed: It stays true to the source material while standing on its own as a fully reimagined movie. Driven by tremendously exciting musical performances, the Par/DreamWorks release should sing loud and strong through awards season and beyond. . .
Kirk Honeycutt of Hollywood Reporter disagrees, somewhat.
. . . If there is a disappointment, it is this: The anticipation may have exceeded the realization. It's a damn good commercial movie, but it is not the film that will revive the musical or win over the world. The best thing about this movie may be our introduction to newcomer Jennifer Hudson. So the boxoffice prognosis for "Dreamgirls" is fuzzy. It should enjoy a successful theatrical run and a decent afterlife in ancillary markets, but perhaps not as much as DreamWorks and Paramount are counting on. . .
On Blood Diamond, Variety's Brian Lowry comments,
. . . Filmed almost entirely in Africa, pic captures a big, adventurous scope, including sweeping vistas of lush jungle, large-scale bursts of action and a massive refugee camp poignantly described as "an entire country made homeless."
Africa's enduring sorrow is ripe for drama, but "Blood Diamond" is, finally, a fitting metaphor for the gems: Potentially brilliant from a distance, but upon closer inspection, one likely will see the flaws.
In the ambitious, sweeping and sometimes moving "Blood Diamond," Edward Zwick aims to fuse recent history with mass-scale entertainment. That's nothing new for Hollywood, and the story of the wages of capitalism and war on the African continent -- and their connection to the American consumer -- is an important, ever-timely one. But while getting across the facts it wants to tell, the film seldom transcends the awkwardness of its edutainment blend. The ultra-cinematic heroics feel too large and dazzling for the material, the classic movie tropes too formulaic, and the illuminating effect of all of it is more mechanical than organic. . .
On The Good German, Variety's Todd McCarthy notes,
Steven Soderbergh tries to make one like they used to and comes up short with "The Good German." A post-World War II drama set amid the rubble of a bombed-out Berlin, this black-and-white backlot production endeavors to recapture the bitter romanticism of such '40s studio artifacts as "Casablanca" and "A Foreign Affair" while adding contemporary frankness. But doing what came naturally to Hollywood craftsmen 60 years ago is clearly harder than it appeared, as Soderbergh can't duplicate the look and feel of the old-fashioned entertainments he means to honor. Despite the starry cast, the public will steer clear, leaving the director's latest honorable but failed experiment to artfilm buffs. . .
Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt doesn't pan this film,
The seamless mix of archival footage and sets is much superior to what was possible in 1945 Hollywood. The murky shadows and slightly smudged look of the cinematography -- by Soderbergh under the pseudonym Peter Andrews -- fit the old style, as well as the theme of darkness reaching out to blot the light. The editing -- also by Soderbergh under another pseudonym -- keeps things moving right along at a let's-get-to-the-point speed that even Jack Warner would have admired.