Critics Consensus: Elysium Soars; Planes is Grounded

Plus, We're the Millers and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters are uneven, and The Spectacular Now is Certified Fresh.

This week at the movies, we've got a futuristic factory worker (Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster); anthropomorphic aircraft (Planes, with voice performances from Dane Cook and Julia Louis-Dreyfus); a drug-smuggling "family" (We're the Millers, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis); a high school demigod (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, starring Logan Lerman and Brandon T. Jackson); and an unlikely teenage couple (The Spectacular Now, starring Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley). What do the critics have to say?

Elysium

68%

Director Neill Blomkamp has a thing for allegorical sci-fi action. His debut, District 9, was a thinly-veiled tract on xenophobia featuring bug-like aliens, and his latest, Elysium, utilizes its stunningly realized setting in the year 2154 to expound on income inequity. Critics say it's a potent mix of visceral thrills and social commentary, though its message isn't delivered with much subtlety. Matt Damon stars as a factory worker who learns he'll die within days without medical help. So he makes a risky journey from Earth to Elysium, a space station where the wealthy live in luxury and perfect health -- and don't take well to outsiders. The pundits say Elysium sometimes falls short of its intriguing premise, but it still delivers kinetic action and plenty of futuristic eye candy. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Damon's best-reviewed movies, and watch our video interviews with Damon, Blomkamp, and more.)

Planes

26%

The output of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios is usually greeted with glowing reviews -- too bad neither of them were involved with Planes, the DisneyToons Studios film critics say is surprisingly lightweight and frivolous, with dull characters and only fleeting moments of visual invention. Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) is a crop-dusting plane with a fear of heights and a big dream: to compete in an around-the-world race against the fastest, highest-flying aircraft. The pundits say Planes will probably serve as a decent audiovisual babysitter, but parents are likely to find its generic plot and cardboard characters make for a bumpy flight. (Check out our video interviews with the Planes cast and crew.)

We're The Millers

47%

Take Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, and Emma Roberts, toss them into a stoner road trip comedy, and what do you get? An unfortunate shortage of laughs, apparently; critics say We're the Millers has some stray chuckles, but its talented cast is mired in an undisciplined, overly vulgar plot. Jason Sudeikis stars as a small-time weed dealer who becomes indebted to his supplier when his stash is stolen. He contrives a plan to smuggle major weight in an RV, traveling with a ragtag group of neighbors pretending to be a family on vacation. The pundits say We're the Millers might have benefited from letting the actors cut loose from the script; as it stands, this would-be satire lacks the discipline to generate consistent hilarity.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

41%

Of the young adult novels to be adapted the big screen in the wake of Harry Potter and Twilight, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief garnered decent, if hardly spectacular, reviews. Unfortunately, critics say its sequel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, is a step down; it's an occasionally diverting fantasy adventure that's decidedly short on enchantment. This time out, Percy (Logan Lerman) must protect the realm of his demigod brethren, so he embarks on a voyage to find the fabled Golden Fleece that will restore the tree spirit and ward off evil. The pundits say Sea of Monsters is reasonably brisk and visually sharp, but there's a shortage of energy and character development that makes for a less-than-fantastical time.

The Spectacular Now

92%

The Spectacular Now, which critics have praised as a touching, uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age tale with an outstanding young cast, goes into wide release this week. Miles Teller stars as Sutter, a party-hearty high school senior who has a chance meeting with Aimee (Shailene Woodley), an eccentric, thoughtful classmate; as the two develop a romantic bond, Sutter begins to reflect on his impulsive ways. The pundits say this Certified Fresh dramedy benefits from sympathetic direction and a cast of characters with a lot more complexity than your average teen flick. (Check out our video interviews with Teller and Woodley.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Jug Face, a horror film about a pregnant teenager who fears she'll be sacrificed by the citizenry of her rural community, is at 92 percent.
  • In a World..., starring Lake Bell in a romantic comedy about a movie trailer voiceover artist, is at 85 percent.
  • The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear, a documentary in which young people in post-Soviet Georgia discuss their lives while auditioning for a film, is at 80 percent.
  • David Gordon Green's Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch in a comedy about two men who bond while doing maintenance on a country road ravaged by wildfire, is at 78 percent.
  • Kid-Thing, a drama about the adventures of an under-supervised 11-year-old, is at 73 percent.
  • I Give It a Year, starring Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall in a romantic comedy about the trials and tribulations of a couple in its first year of marriage, is at 57 percent.
  • Off Label, a doc that examines the dark side of prescription drugs, is at 57 percent.
  • Blood, starring Paul Bettany and Stephen Graham in a drama about a pair of siblings who work as small-town British detectives and use unscrupulous means to incriminate a murder suspect, is at 55 percent.
  • Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard in a biopic of the Deep Throat star, is at 50 percent.

Comments

Kevin DeLoughry

Kevin DeLoughry

Anyone notice the 13% of the spectacular now. Ain't it a 90%?

Aug 8 - 05:20 PM

I fight for the users

Ian Fastert

Me too. WTF?

Aug 8 - 06:04 PM

Selena F.

Selena Forda

I work at Home with Google. It's by-far the nicest job I have had. I've made $64,000 so far this year working online and I'm a full time student. I've made such great money. It's really user friendly and I'm just so happy that I found out about it. Here is what I do, Bling6.com

Aug 19 - 01:07 PM

I fight for the users

Ian Fastert

Me too. WTF?

Aug 8 - 06:04 PM

Cooper Jones

Cooper Jones

rip in peace editorial staff

Aug 8 - 06:36 PM

closedmouth

Anna Belle

Did they really fire their editorial staff? There is an unusual amount of typos in this article.

Aug 9 - 07:41 AM

María Inés Molina

María Inés Molina

I also noticed it. Let's hope RT people notice it.

Aug 8 - 06:46 PM

Aviacsa18

Julian Cervantes

it must be an editing error.

Aug 8 - 07:12 PM

crusader151

Peter Marsh

I hd to do a double take there. I couldn't believe it had dropped so low, holy crap. Nope RT just messed up.

Aug 8 - 09:42 PM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

And they say it's certified fresh in the description too. Didn't know 13% was considered a passing score now.

Aug 8 - 11:36 PM

Dave J

Dave J

The movie was sidetracked and changed by an anonymous hacker despite "The Spectacular Now" said certified fresh!

Aug 9 - 11:28 AM

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

They got it fixed now. It's 90% instead of 13% now.

Next thing, some hacker now saying that Reese Witherspoon's role in "Mud" is the funniest role ever (Blame that on her DUI!!!)!!!

Aug 9 - 06:25 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I want to catch "Elysium", and there are a lot of good indie picks this week. Very interested in "Jug Face", "In a World", "Prince Avalanche" and "Kid Thing", as well as "Spectacular Now". "Blood" doesn't look too bad either.

Aug 8 - 05:41 PM

ProducerPaul

Paul Barrett

Jug Face is pretty good, but kind of strange. I liked it, but it wasn't great. My buddy Sean is in it, playing the simple-minded potter who makes the faces. He does a great job, but then he's always good.

Aug 9 - 11:38 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Sean Bridgers? Not Sean Young, right? I'm familiar with Lauren Ashley Carter from a couple of things. Looks good to me. b (pretend that's a thumbs up)

Aug 9 - 01:46 PM

Andrew Brinkerhoff

Andrew Brinkerhoff

"Planes" looked like a trashy cash grab from the first teaser two years ago, not even a little surprised at the reception it got. And there's two sequels coming... -__-

I'm disappointed that "Elysium" didn't get a better score, like in the 80s or 90s (I'll probably still see it); this year for movies has overall been disappointing to me. I just hope the last few months of 2013 can deliver.

Aug 8 - 05:57 PM

robin a.

robin atkinson

End of this year there should be sum great titles out like 47 ronin, Hunger Games 2,the new Thor and Carrie remake,like you said though its not been really a good year up to yet.

Aug 8 - 11:47 PM

Kurtiss Keefner

Kurtiss Keefner

Maybe for big budget films, but for Indie films this year has so far been fantastic.

Aug 11 - 12:19 PM

I fight for the users

Ian Fastert

Me too. WTF?

Aug 8 - 06:04 PM

Selena F.

Selena Forda

I work at Home with Google. It's by-far the nicest job I have had. I've made $64,000 so far this year working online and I'm a full time student. I've made such great money. It's really user friendly and I'm just so happy that I found out about it. Here is what I do, Bling6.com

Aug 19 - 01:07 PM

I fight for the users

Ian Fastert

Me too. WTF?

Aug 8 - 06:04 PM

shadypotential

Chris Cox

To all the critics who liked the movie but couldn't give Elysium a good review just because it has a message in it that they don't like?...quit your jobs.


Aug 8 - 06:26 PM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

It's not the message itself its how the message is delivered... No one likes movies that are too preachy

Aug 9 - 05:51 AM

Rot Hero

Rot Hero

It wasn't too preachy. They are just butthurt

Aug 9 - 03:04 PM

Zach Trotter

Zach Trotter

I agree, Elysium left all subtlety at the door and shoved it's message down your throat, It really took me out of the movie.

Aug 10 - 02:26 PM

Cooper Jones

Cooper Jones

rip in peace editorial staff

Aug 8 - 06:36 PM

closedmouth

Anna Belle

Did they really fire their editorial staff? There is an unusual amount of typos in this article.

Aug 9 - 07:41 AM

Vits

Vicente Torres

I think ELYSIUM suffered from way too much hype. Yes, DISTRICT 9 was excellent (better than AVATAR and THE HURT LOCKER to me), but the moment it came out, people were like "OK, so what's Neill Blomkamp gonna do next?". I'd still like to see it, though.

I just found CARS PART 2 to be average, but I could easily hate PLANES. And WE'RE THE MILLERS looks like one of those movies where all the main characters are *ssh*l*s and we're supposed to like them by the end when they learn their lesson.

Aug 8 - 06:38 PM

María Inés Molina

María Inés Molina

I also noticed it. Let's hope RT people notice it.

Aug 8 - 06:46 PM

Aviacsa18

Julian Cervantes

it must be an editing error.

Aug 8 - 07:12 PM

Typhon

Typhon Q

Planes looks absolutely terrible. They should've kept it a direct to video movie.

Elysium looks interesting, but not quite as original as District 9.

Aug 8 - 08:32 PM

Jon Cox

Jon Cox

sucks I can't see 'Spectacular Now' still since last week, it's not playing in my city -_-

sucks I have to skip everything else but 'Elysium' should be the only thing worth goin to the theater for

Aug 8 - 09:08 PM

Zach Trotter

Zach Trotter

I have the same problem.

Aug 10 - 02:27 PM

crusader151

Peter Marsh

I hd to do a double take there. I couldn't believe it had dropped so low, holy crap. Nope RT just messed up.

Aug 8 - 09:42 PM

Gary Devenport

Gary Devenport

And they say it's certified fresh in the description too. Didn't know 13% was considered a passing score now.

Aug 8 - 11:36 PM

Tom Carter

Tom Carter

Elysium: Looks interesting actually. I loved Blomkamp's other film District 9 (even though it's still one of the most disgusting films I've ever seen that's not the Cronenberg Fly remake, and hence I don't want to give D9 a third viewing). It's interesting how Blomkamp decided to cast someone like Matt Damon in the lead role rather than introducing another fresh face like he did with Sharlto Copley in D9. And then we have Jodie Foster in the "I-Swear-This-Character-Was-Not-Meant-For-Sigourney-Weaver" role. Still seems like the best of the bunch in wide release this week.
Planes: Yea, I kinda figured this wasn't going to do too well, as did most people (heck, Nostalgia Critic had a joke about how bad it was likely going to do in one of his recent reviews). Sad Pixar and Disney didn't take a hint from Cars 2 and stop the whole "talking vehicles" thing there. And seriously, Dane Cook? What's he done lately other than nothing?
We're The Millers: So, the movie that's trying to be a hybrid of National Lampoon's Vacation, RV, PAUL, Horrible Bosses, and a bunch of other things gets released. There are seriously only 2 reasons people would want to see this: Jennifer Aniston as a stripper and that kid getting bitten in the junk by a tarantula, which wasn't funny when they used that as the "I'm on Fire" joke in the trailers. Also, is it just me, or is it weird that Jason Sudeikis and Ed Helms are in this movie together considering that they look almost exactly alike?
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters: Only read the first one of the books, and didn't really see the movie for that, so why should I go ahead and do this movie?

Aug 8 - 11:38 PM

Chace Boswell

Chace Boswell

Disgusting? Really? Man, you need to get out more :)

Aug 9 - 03:51 PM

robin a.

robin atkinson

End of this year there should be sum great titles out like 47 ronin, Hunger Games 2,the new Thor and Carrie remake,like you said though its not been really a good year up to yet.

Aug 8 - 11:47 PM

Kurtiss Keefner

Kurtiss Keefner

Maybe for big budget films, but for Indie films this year has so far been fantastic.

Aug 11 - 12:19 PM

King  S.

King Simba

I'm still looking forward to Elysium but wow, those reviews are way weaker than I expected, which seems to have been the case with almost every film this summer.

I have to admit when Disney announced that Planes would be released in theaters I hoped it was a sign that the film was much better than expected (plus, they did a really good job with their Tinker Bell spinoff franchise) but I guess not. Then again, they also thought Return to Never Land deserved a theatrical released. Oh well, let Disney Toons continue with their mediocre sequels. As long as that's not affecting Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar who cares.

The first Percy Jackson was pretty meh, but still better than a lot of other Harry Potter wannabes. Still don't care about the sequel.

Aug 9 - 01:30 AM

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