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Film Clips: This weekends movie openings and more May 14 2010

Thieves are stealing the show this week with the openings of "Robin Hood" starring Russell Crowe and the epic western "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly." But this wasn't difficult for the bandits to do since competitors like "Letters to Juliet" lulled the audience to sleep.

OPENING TODAY

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD 3 stars (PG) Korean director Kim Ji-Woon helms an energetic but thin homage to Sergio Leone’s epic Western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. An upstanding bounty hunter, a sadistic assassin and a goofy petty thief contend with bandits, Japanese soldiers and each other while racing to find a treasure in the Mongolian badlands. The film features a spectacular chase scene on horseback near the end, and Song Kang-ho gives an amusing performance as “the Weird,” but his co-stars lack screen presence and the film feels like a well-designed, expensive doodle on Western conventions. – Curt Holman

LETTERS TO JULIET 2 stars (PG) Magazine fact-checker Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), while vacationing in Verona with her distracted fiancée (Gael Garcia Bernal), writes a response to a lovelorn English girl’s 50 year-old letter to Juliet. Sophie ends up joining the now-elderly writer (Vanessa Redgrave) and her priggish grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) on a search for the long-lost “Romeo.” The film works the charms of Vanessa Redgrave’s sunny (but one-note) performance, but the initial insults turned romantic banter between Claire and Charlie couldn’t be more rote, and the film seems actively terrified of surprising its audience. As a sleep aid, Letters to Juliet could drive Ambien out of business. — Holman

ROBIN HOOD 2 stars (PG-13) Cynical archer Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) impersonates stalwart knight Sir Robert Locksley and ends up defending the people of Nottingham against French invaders, a double-dealing English agitator (Robert Strong) and onerous taxation. Director Ridley Scott’s attempt at a Robin Hood Begins story becomes ensnared in convoluted history lessons that incorporate the Crusades, nasty King John and the Magna Carta, leaving the title character (and Crowe’s acting) surprisingly passive. Amid weak dialogue and a blur of background roles, the film only hits its targets with Cate Blanchett’s tough performance as Lady Marian and the final battle by the white cliffs of Dover. — Holman