Critical Consensus: Brave One Isn't Tops, Mr. Woodcock is Flaccid, Hunting Party is Busted
And guess Dragon Wars' Tomatometer!The Brave One, starring Jodie Foster), gym teachers (Mr. Woodcock, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Susan Sarandon), war correspondents (The Hunting Party, starring Richard Gere and Terrence Howard), and flying menaces (Dragon Wars, starring Jason Behr). What do the critics have to say?
In Taxi Driver, Robert DeNiro played a cabbie that went on a killing spree to "protect" a teenage hooker played by Jodie Foster. Now, with The Brave One, it's Foster's turn to take the law into her own hands. She plays a talk radio host whose significant other is killed in a random attack, triggering an impulse to arm herself and "avenge" her husband's killing. Terrence Howard plays a detective who's on the trail of this vigilante. Critics say The Brave One's an-eye-for-an-eye message is problematic, but the material is slightly elevated by Neil Jordan's direction and strong performances from Foster and Howard. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, Brave may not be one to watch. (Check out our review from the Toronto Film Festival here.)
"Hi, can you guys tell me where the frozen banana stand is?"
Some couldn't climb a rope, others got pelted with dodge balls: It's safe to say a lot of us have negative associations with gym class, the most Darwinian of middle school educational pursuits. Mr. Woodcock taps into that feeling, but not quite successfully, say the pundits. The movie stars Seann William Scott as a self-help author who's never quite gotten over the ritual abuse he suffered at the hands of his P.E. teacher, the sadistic Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob Thornton); the trauma continues when he learns his mom (Susan Sarandon) is dating his old nemesis. Critics say Woodcock lacks the energy to make the most of its intriguing premise, and underutilizes a talented cast. At 18 percent on the Tomatometer, Mr. Woodcock isn't in very good shape.
"Remember when I gave your son an atomic wedgie in the locker room?"
The Hunting Party tells the story of two veteran war correspondents (Richard Gere and Terrence Howard) on the trail of a Bosnian war criminal -- and the story that could make their careers. The Hunting Party isn't the first movie to attempt to mine bleak humor from the Bosnian conflict (the Oscar-winning No Man's Land also found some grim laughs in the midst of that bitter war). But critics say director Richard Shepard's follow-up to The Matador is awkward at a tonal level, shifting from dark satire to serious discussions of international politics to create an uneven film, despite the best efforts of its game leads. At 46 percent, this Party isn't quite as swinging as it should be. (Check out our interview with Shepard here.)
Don't hold your breath for this one.
Far be it from us to question the collective taste of the good folks in South Korea. It's just that Dragon Wars, which made out like gangbusters at the Korean box office, wasn't screened for critics in the U.S. of A. Dragon Wars tells the story of a TV reporter (Jason Behr) who discovers that earthquakes around Los Angeles are not the work of plate tectonics but a dragon possessed with the spirit of a 500-year-old warrior. No, it's not a documentary. Yes, you should attempt to Guess the Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release: The Great World of Sound, a drama about a pair of traveling music producers, is at 82 percent; Forever, a documentary about Paris's famed Pere-Lachaise cemetery, is at 80 percent; David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, starring Viggo Mortensen as a member of London's underworld, is at 79 percent (check out our interview with Cronenberg and Mortensen here); King of California, starring Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood as a father and daughter on a quest for gold, is at 75 percent; Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron, about a war vet's search for his missing son who recently returned from Iraq, is at 63 percent; Ira & Abby, a rom-com about a whirlwind courtship that takes a dark turn, is at 50 percent; Across the Universe, Julie Taymor's ambitions musical that chronicles the 1960s through the music of the Beatles, is at 45 percent (check out our Beatles movie feature here); December Boys, a story of orphaned teenagers in Australia starring Daniel Radcliffe, is at 43 percent; and Silk, a period romance starring Keira Knightley and Michael Pitt, is at zero percent.
"Who are we?" "The Wildcats!" "Who are we gonna beat?" "The Wildcats!"
Recent Jodie Foster Movies:
87% -- Inside Man (2006)
38% -- Flightplan (2005)
77% -- A Very Long Engagement (2004)
76% -- Panic Room (2002)
51% -- Anna and the King (1999)
Recent Billy Bob Thornton Movies:
59% -- The Astronaut Farmer (2007)
25% -- School for Scoundrels (2006)
45% -- The Ice Harvest (2005)
46% -- Bad News Bears (2005)
79% -- Chrystal (2004)