Terrence Malick’s The New World (New Line, 12.25) is almost in theatres but enveloped in a deafening silence. I mean, except for the put-down quotes in the Rotten Tomatoes selection of reviews. Salon‘s Stephanie Zacaharek says Malick “may not care much for people, but he never met a tree he didn’t like.” (Somebody previously said this when The Thin Red Line came out, only they used “leaf” instead of “tree.”) She calls it “so much atmospheric tootle…his idea of using actors in a movie is straight out of ‘Where’s Waldo?'” The L.A. Weekly‘s Scott Foundas calls it “suffocating…a movie less interested in expanding the boundaries of narrative cinema than in forsaking them.” The hands-down funniest blurb is from Mike Clark’s USA Today review: “That sound you’re about to hear is the cracking of spines as Terrence Malick enthusiasts like me bend over backward trying to cut The New World a break.” Second prize goes to e-Film Critic’s Eric Childress: “Between the Smith-wanna-poke-a-hontas relationship, the seditious behavior back in Jamestown and the fear of the naturals that their kindness may be turned against them, a story as vast of The New World should serve as more than just a footnote in American history and a stain on the art of storytelling for all eternity.” And yet draggy-final-third and all, it’s still worth seeing…as I tried to explain in my own review: “[During] those first two thirds, The New World is a truly rare animal and movie like no other…a feast of intuitive wow-level naturalism that feels as fresh and vitally alive as newly-sprouted flora.”