Critics Consensus: Argo Is Certified Fresh

Plus, Here Comes the Boom is predictable, Sinister is spooky, Seven Psychopaths is Certified Fresh, and Atlas Shrugged was not screened.

This week at the movies, we've got a daring escape (Argo, starring Ben Affleck and Alan Arkin); a tough teacher (Here Comes the Boom, starring Kevin James and Salma Hayek); frightening footage (Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio); criminal cinephiles (Seven Psychopaths, starring Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken); and striking capitalists (Atlas Shrugged: Part II, starring Samantha Mathis and Jason Beghe). What do the critics have to say?

Argo

96%

As a director, Ben Affleck is on a roll. With two Certified Fresh films (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) under his belt, critics say Affleck scores again with Argo, a tense, darkly comic thriller with terrific characters and an eye for period detail. In the midst of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, a group of militants take hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. When six Americans escape and hole up elsewhere, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a scheme to rescue them: pretend they're filmmakers working on an epic sci-fi movie. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Argo is a terrific entertainment -- it's suspenseful, deftly scripted, sharply acted, and politically reflective.

Here Comes the Boom

38%

Here Comes the Boom borrows from two musty sub-genres: it's both an underdog sports story and an inspirational teacher movie. And critics say it's not all that bad -- Kevin James gives a warm, committed performance that occasionally makes up for the movie's slavish devotion to formula. James stars as an indifferent high school teacher who is roused into action when the school is threatened with budget cuts. His solution: raise money by battling on the mixed martial arts circuit. The pundits say James is surprisingly convincing as a fighter, but Here Comes the Boom is a little too bland and predictable to work as a whole. (Check out this week's 24 Frames, in which we take a pictorial look at co-star Salma Hayek's career..)

Sinister

63%

Found footage frightfests are all the rage these days, but critics say it's to Sinister's credit that it creates a tense atmosphere out of some familiar parts. Ethan Hawke stars as a true crime writer who moves his family into a house where a family was mysteriously killed. While investigating the deaths, he discovers a cache of old super 8 movies, and discovers awful secrets that could threaten him and his family as well. The pundits say Sinister is sometimes over-reliant on jump scares, but it's also intelligent and involving, thanks to strong performances and a creeping sense of dread. (Check out our interview with Hawke here.)

Seven Psychopaths

83%

Director Martin McDonagh and star Colin Farrell have apparently found a formula that works; having earned accolades for their work together in 2008's In Bruges, the pair reunite for Seven Psychopaths, a dark comedy that critics say delivers a heaping helping of witty dialogue and gleeful violence. Farrell stars as a struggling screenwriter whose well-meaning buddy (Sam Rockwell) places him in danger when he unwittingly kidnaps a dog belonging to a violent gangster (Woody Harrelson) who will stop at nothing to rescue his beloved pet. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Seven Psychopaths is terrifically written, with memorable performances and a sly sense of humor. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Walken's best-reviewed films.)

Atlas Shrugged: Part II

5%

Give the folks behind Atlas Shrugged: Part II points for perseverance, especially since Part I disappointed both critically and commercially. Unfortunately, the film was not screened for critics prior to its release, so we can't tell you if the second chapter will fare better with the pundits. In this installment, the global economy is near collapse after a number of prominent industrialists and thinkers have gone missing. Time to guess the Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Gayby, a comedy about two close friends who decide to conceive a child together despite their mismatched sexual orientations, is at 100 percent.
  • In My Mother's Arms, a documentary about an orphanage for troubled children in Baghdad, is at 100 percent.
  • Photographic Memory, in which a filmmaker attempts to revisit key places in his life in an attempt to connect with his son, is at 100 percent.
  • Middle of Nowhere, a drama about a med student whose life is upended when her husband is incarcerated, is at 92 percent.
  • Smashed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a dramedy about a young woman struggling with alcoholism, is at 84 percent.
  • The Big Picture, a French thriller about a successful man who assumes a new identity to escape his existence, is at 81 percent.
  • Two Years at Sea, a doc about a Scottish man living in near isolation, is at 75 percent.
  • Simon and the Oaks, a coming-of-age drama about two childhood friends whose lives are upended by the turmoil of World War II, is at 50 percent.
  • 3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom, starring Chris O'Dowd and Lizzy Caplan in a comedy about two brothers who hire a hacker to scrub the internet of an embarrassing video, is at 44 percent.
  • Special Forces, starring Diane Kruger and Djimon Hounsou in an action movie about a military unit working to free a kidnapped journalist from the Taliban, is at 33 percent.
  • Hotel Noir, starring Carla Gugino and Mandy Moore in the pulpy tale of a down-on-his-luck detective who meets a variety of interesting characters during the course of a night, is at 20 percent.
  • War of the Buttons, a period drama about rival preteen gangs who set aside their differences to protect a friend in Nazi-occupied France, is at 17 percent.
  • Smiley, a horror film about a mad slasher who kills people who participate in internet video chats, is at zero percent.

Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Seven Psychopaths" and "Argo" are my must-sees this week. I'll probably squeeze in "Sinister" at some point. I think director Scott Derrickson is visually interesting, but he's never had a film that's made the most of his talent.

"Smashed" looks schmaltzy, although the cast is interesting, especially Miss Winstead. Hopefully it does better with the material than the many, many films which preceded it. (No one will top Jack Lemmon, btw)

I've heard a lot of good things about a few of the limited releases, and I'll hope to catch them soon, such as "Photographic Memory", "Middle of Nowhere", "Big Picture" and "Two Years at Sea". I'm surprised by the low score of "War of the Buttons". The only thing that surprises me about "Smiley" is that Keith David still doesn't pre-read the scripts he signs up for. "Just tell me what day to show up and where to stand." Total pro.

Oct 11 - 05:33 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I agree that I hope Smashed is able to side-step the schmaltz and cheese normally associated with these stories. I like Winstead a lot, and think she is one of those actresses who has a lot more talent than the projects she is usually given.

Oct 11 - 06:58 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I agree. I find MEW (meow) to be very watchable in what I've seen her in, but I think only "Scott Pilgrim" and "Death Proof" were actually good movies. She's not as shrill as some young actresses.

Oct 11 - 07:43 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Didn't care of Scott Pilgrim, I'll admit though I am a huge fan of the comics and it was more bummed the short running time and original idea was not given a franchise. You are spot on though, MEW was an inspired Ramona and I honestly don't think anyone else could have played that part. Excellent portrayl of the spirit of that character. Schwartzmen too. And Brody. You know I really should give this film another chance.

Oct 12 - 11:21 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

That leaves Cera. I'm assuming that was a major block for you?

Oct 12 - 12:35 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Yeah, I never really saw Scott Pilgrim as Cera and Cera being only able to play Cera didn't really play Scott Pilgrim well in my opinoin since he wasn't playing Scott Pilgrim, he was playing Cera. I hate that I have allowed my prejudice of Cera ruin this film for me.

Oct 13 - 12:32 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

A number of smashed reviews I've read said the movie is NOT preachy, so that gives me hope.
Too many recent movies on the subject (28 Days, When a Man Loves a Woman) got WAY to preachy and it undermined the film. It's unfortunate, because Sandra Bullock and Meg Ryan actually gave very good performances in those movies.
Lost Weekend, even though it's almost 70 (!) years old now, is still my favorite, but yes, Lemmon was great.

Oct 12 - 06:07 AM

George Patchell

George Patchell

Have to call you out on those 2 films being 'recent.' The late-90s this aint.

Sorry I'm just really bored and avoiding uni work.

Oct 12 - 09:51 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

NP. I guess I meant recent compared to say, Lost Weekend and Days of Wine & Roses.

Oct 12 - 10:08 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Sometimes, avatars are too perfect :)

Oct 12 - 10:51 AM

Doris M.

Doris Miller

I am a single biker woman, ride a Harley motorcycle and like feel the machine at my fingertips. Now I am seeking someone who can love me and share the passion for speed, so I joined____Seekingbikers.com____under the name of RidingFree. It is the largest place for motorcycle enthusiasts and the admirers to find friendship, fun, love and romance. Have a try and you'll find your biker soul mate to ride and travel together. :)

Oct 17 - 07:19 PM

Sean D.

Sean D

I have been looking forward to Argo and Seven Psychopaths. I cannot wait to see them. Who woulda thought that Ben Affleck could direct?

Oct 11 - 05:39 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I really liked "Gone Baby Gone", actually much better than "The Town". I'm glad he's out of his "action hero" phase. I saw where IFC was playing "Reindeer Games" this evening, probably his worst film.

Oct 11 - 05:49 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Gigli is his worst, in my opinion, but Reindeer Games is pretty damn awful. The plot twist at the end defies logic in ways that most bad movies can only dream of.

Oct 11 - 07:01 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

I give his worst award to Surviving Christmas. Just terrible.

Oct 12 - 06:07 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Yeah, "Reindeer Games" was bad, but I thought the scene where Afflect uses the squirt guns filled with gasoline was pretty cool which was something I had never seen before but in my opinion it's far from being Afflecks worst films though. Some of his romantic comedies are quite unbearable to watch with "Gigli" on the top of the list and shall be making it my goal to be one of few bad films I'd want to check out! Besides it being a bad film, it was also known for ending a brief real life relationship between J'Lo and Ben Affleck!

Oct 12 - 12:40 PM

Sean D.

Sean D

I thought The Town was great. "Gone Baby Gone" is on my "to watch" list but I have heard good things.

Oct 12 - 01:48 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

I think if you subtract the Bennifer years where J-Lo was feeding off his soul The Fleck has had a pretty stellar career.

Oct 12 - 02:10 AM

Sean D.

Sean D

This is true. He was great in Chasing Amy and Good Will Hunting as well.

Oct 12 - 01:47 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Changing Lanes was great, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, he was very good in Bounce. Also liked his subtle performance in Hollywoodland.

Oct 12 - 01:54 PM

Dave J

Dave J

I agree, I liked "Changing Lanes" but I'm not so enthusiastic about checking out "Bounce"!

Oct 12 - 03:13 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I was thinking this as well. Although it has never been said by Affleck himself, his recent comeback as an actor and director really makes you think that J-Lo and her posse were running Affleck's career for the duration of their relationship, since he has bounced back even better than before, while Lopez is fighting to stay relavent by taking judging positions on televisied talent shows.

Oct 12 - 10:33 PM

Rated NCC-1701

Rated NCC-1701

I have it on good authority that he was the bomb in Phantoms.

Oct 15 - 09:35 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I think the consistent rule emerging here is that Affleck works better in ensembles and as a supporting actor than he does in leading roles. His role in "Dazed and Confused" was also great, and brief.

Oct 15 - 01:43 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I really liked "Gone Baby Gone", actually much better than "The Town". I'm glad he's out of his "action hero" phase. I saw where IFC was playing "Reindeer Games" this evening, probably his worst film.

Oct 11 - 05:49 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Gigli is his worst, in my opinion, but Reindeer Games is pretty damn awful. The plot twist at the end defies logic in ways that most bad movies can only dream of.

Oct 11 - 07:01 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

I give his worst award to Surviving Christmas. Just terrible.

Oct 12 - 06:07 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Yeah, "Reindeer Games" was bad, but I thought the scene where Afflect uses the squirt guns filled with gasoline was pretty cool which was something I had never seen before but in my opinion it's far from being Afflecks worst films though. Some of his romantic comedies are quite unbearable to watch with "Gigli" on the top of the list and shall be making it my goal to be one of few bad films I'd want to check out! Besides it being a bad film, it was also known for ending a brief real life relationship between J'Lo and Ben Affleck!

Oct 12 - 12:40 PM

Sean D.

Sean D

I thought The Town was great. "Gone Baby Gone" is on my "to watch" list but I have heard good things.

Oct 12 - 01:48 PM

Francesco F.

Francesco Fortuna

Wow Sinister plummeted, still seeing it though. Definitely want to see Argo since I loved Gone Baby Gone and The Town. I'll try and catch Seven Psychopaths at some point. Here Comes the Boom is a rental to me, and I really want to see Smashed.

Oct 11 - 06:17 PM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

I'm so glad Argo did well. Who knows how many accolades it'll sweep.
Does 7 Psychopaths strike anyone as the kind of movie a younger Tarantino would've made?

Oct 11 - 06:19 PM

Daniel Morris

Daniel Morris

Either him or the Coen brothers.

Oct 11 - 06:48 PM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

For it to be Coen material, there'd have to be a scene of headlights shining on a road at night, like in "Drive" ;)

Oct 11 - 07:40 PM

Daniel Morris

Daniel Morris

Either him or the Coen brothers.

Oct 11 - 06:48 PM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

For it to be Coen material, there'd have to be a scene of headlights shining on a road at night, like in "Drive" ;)

Oct 11 - 07:40 PM

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

17% for Atlas Shrugged: Part 2. So happy that Smiley got a zero. It looked terrible and I hate Shane Dawson.

Oct 11 - 06:53 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Seven Psychopaths and Argo both look great. Affleck has three consecutive films that have hit the 90% range, and his acting has improved a ton over the last few years; seems he finally found his mojo. Sinister and Here Comes the Boom both look uninteresting to me, though. 12% for Atlas Shrugged Part II.

Oct 11 - 06:56 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I agree that I hope Smashed is able to side-step the schmaltz and cheese normally associated with these stories. I like Winstead a lot, and think she is one of those actresses who has a lot more talent than the projects she is usually given.

Oct 11 - 06:58 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I agree. I find MEW (meow) to be very watchable in what I've seen her in, but I think only "Scott Pilgrim" and "Death Proof" were actually good movies. She's not as shrill as some young actresses.

Oct 11 - 07:43 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Didn't care of Scott Pilgrim, I'll admit though I am a huge fan of the comics and it was more bummed the short running time and original idea was not given a franchise. You are spot on though, MEW was an inspired Ramona and I honestly don't think anyone else could have played that part. Excellent portrayl of the spirit of that character. Schwartzmen too. And Brody. You know I really should give this film another chance.

Oct 12 - 11:21 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

That leaves Cera. I'm assuming that was a major block for you?

Oct 12 - 12:35 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Yeah, I never really saw Scott Pilgrim as Cera and Cera being only able to play Cera didn't really play Scott Pilgrim well in my opinoin since he wasn't playing Scott Pilgrim, he was playing Cera. I hate that I have allowed my prejudice of Cera ruin this film for me.

Oct 13 - 12:32 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Gigli is his worst, in my opinion, but Reindeer Games is pretty damn awful. The plot twist at the end defies logic in ways that most bad movies can only dream of.

Oct 11 - 07:01 PM

Jpeffer

Jake Peffer

I've seen all four of the big movies that come out Friday and I have to say they're all worth checking out.

Here Comes The Boom is definitely the weakest out of the bunch but it was surprisingly good. Kevin James does a good job and helps lift the movie above it's cliche story.

Sinister is one of the best horror movies I've seen in a long time. It really doesn't rely on jump scares like it says above, it has them but most of them work and it goes for more for a sense of atmosphere over cheap scares. Ethan Hawke does a great job as well.

Seven Psychopaths is one of the funniest movies of the year. I expected it to be good but it was even better than what I expected. Essentially everything in it works and Sam Rockwell easily steals the show.

Argo is my favorite out of the bunch. Ben Affleck does another superb job of directing. He's able to combine incredible scenes of tension as well as add some spots of humor that are all genuinely hilarious.

Oct 11 - 07:20 PM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

For it to be Coen material, there'd have to be a scene of headlights shining on a road at night, like in "Drive" ;)

Oct 11 - 07:40 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I agree. I find MEW (meow) to be very watchable in what I've seen her in, but I think only "Scott Pilgrim" and "Death Proof" were actually good movies. She's not as shrill as some young actresses.

Oct 11 - 07:43 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Didn't care of Scott Pilgrim, I'll admit though I am a huge fan of the comics and it was more bummed the short running time and original idea was not given a franchise. You are spot on though, MEW was an inspired Ramona and I honestly don't think anyone else could have played that part. Excellent portrayl of the spirit of that character. Schwartzmen too. And Brody. You know I really should give this film another chance.

Oct 12 - 11:21 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

That leaves Cera. I'm assuming that was a major block for you?

Oct 12 - 12:35 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

Yeah, I never really saw Scott Pilgrim as Cera and Cera being only able to play Cera didn't really play Scott Pilgrim well in my opinoin since he wasn't playing Scott Pilgrim, he was playing Cera. I hate that I have allowed my prejudice of Cera ruin this film for me.

Oct 13 - 12:32 PM

SecondBest

This Guy

Looking forward to Argo and Seven Psychopaths. Sinister is not for me since i am such a pussy when it comes to horror films. I do want to watch Here comes the Boom but i'll wait to rent it. Still, im seeing Argo this weekend for sure.

Oct 11 - 08:50 PM

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

I said 5 percent for Atlas Shrugged 2!!!

Oct 11 - 09:04 PM

David Hurlburt

David Hurlburt

Another win for Affleck! He's on his way of becoming one of the best directors of our time. Watch out Nolan lol.

Oct 11 - 09:37 PM

A Wise M.

A Wise Man

Lets not get ahead of ourselves now...

Oct 12 - 08:39 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I think he has a point. he says WATCH OUT NOLAN! but awards wise Aflec is all ready more achieved than Nolan. I think Nolan is a special case that will never be recognized by these award groups for his achievements while Aflec will always be recognized.

Oct 12 - 11:56 AM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Don't get me wrong, Affleck's films have been ranged good (Gone Baby Gone) to solid (The Town; haven't seen Argo), but he has yet to make a film in the same league as Memento or Inception.

Oct 12 - 10:36 PM

David Hurlburt

David Hurlburt

Well he has a pretty good start I should say. He has only made three films. He hasn't hit his masterpiece yet. As for Nolan I think his best films are The Dark Knight, Insomnia, and the Prestige. I think Inception is very overrated, starts to fall at about the third dream layer. Never saw Memento.

Oct 13 - 09:29 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I consider Gone Baby Gone a masterpiece. I don't think he has toped himself since that film. I have not seen Argo yet. I liked John Hamm in The Town and everyone else seemed like a cliche from a Michael Mann Thriller.

Oct 13 - 12:35 PM

Kyle Frame

Kyle Frame

Nolan has kind of been ruined for me. Someone pointed out his camera style and now I can't get it out my head. Basically, he only points the camera at who is speaking. Conversations between two people flip back and forth instead of a wider shot showing both characters. Its consistent through all of his movies. Once it is seen, it cannot be unseen. Similarly, now when I watch tv I'll catch them using the same tactic. It kind of seems amateurish to me, to use it ALL of the time.

Oct 14 - 07:03 AM

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