Critics Consensus: Gravity is Certified Fresh

Plus, Runner Runner is a losing bet, and Metallica Through the Never is Certified Fresh.

This week at the movies, we've got stranded astronauts (Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney), a gambling racket (Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake), and some heavy metal thunder (the concert documentary Metallica Through the Never). What do the critics have to say?

Gravity

97%

It's too soon to tell whether Gravity will join 2001 and Apollo 13 in the pantheon of classic films featuring astronauts in peril. What we can say for certain, however, is that critics are over the moon for Alfonso Cuarón's outer space thriller, calling it a marvel of technical wizardry, white-knuckle tension, and emotional resonance. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star as a pair of astronauts who become stranded in the atmosphere when an unexpected debris shower destroys their shuttle and leaves them without a way to return to Earth. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Gravity is a singular movie achievement: it's bold, immersive, formally trailblazing, and achingly moving. (Check out our interviews with Bullock and Cuarón, as well as our gallery of memorable movie astronauts.)

Runner Runner

9%

A great cast and an intriguing premise do not a successful thriller make. Critics say Runner Runner is a surprisingly dull, by-the-numbers crime film that is made only slightly more watchable by virtue of its tropical setting and its overqualified acting ensemble. Justin Timberlake stars as Richie, an Ivy Leaguer whose online poker winnings are financing his education. But when Richie gets scammed, he travels to Costa Rica to confront Ivan (Ben Affleck), the site's CEO; soon enough, Richie is drawn into Ivan's high-roller lifestyle. The pundits say Runner Runner is predictable, short on suspense, and unconvincing in its depiction of the gambling demimonde. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Affleck's best-reviewed films.)

Metallica Through the Never

78%

After a week in limited release, the Certified Fresh Metallica Through the Never goes wide this weekend; critics say it's one of the most inventively filmed, viscerally powerful concert documentaries to come along in quite some time -- though they also note that its fictional narrative, which features Dane DeHaan as a young roadie who encounters a variety of strange situations and people while on a mission for the band, is slightly less assured. Still, the pundits say that even non-metalheads are likely to be impressed by the sheer power of Metalica's live set, which is captured in eye-popping 3D.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • A.K.A. Doc Pomus, a documentary about the legendary R&B songwriter behind many of Elvis Presley's hits, is at 100 percent.
  • Let The Fire Burn, a documentary about a violent attack on an activist group by Philadelphia police, is at 90 percent.
  • The Dirties, a black comedy about a pair of high schoolers whose plan to make a film about getting revenge on a bully goes too far, is at 82 percent.
  • A Touch of Sin, an action drama about four different men in China who turn to violence after becoming victims of circumstance, is at 80 percent.
  • The Summit, a doc about the deaths of a number of climbers attempting to scale K2, is at 78 percent.
  • Concussion, a drama about a woman whose staid suburban existence is upended after taking a baseball to the head, is at 75 percent.
  • Bad Milo!, starring Ken Marino and Peter Stormare in a horror comedy about a demon living in a man's intestine, is at 71 percent.
  • Linsanity, a doc about NBA guard Jeremy Lin's seemingly out-of-nowhere success, is at 56 percent.
  • A.C.O.D., starring Adam Scott and Richard Jenkins in a comedy about a guy who learns he was part of a divorce study when he was a kid, is at 50 percent.
  • Parkland, starring Zac Efron and Paul Giamatti in a drama about the events that followed the assassination of President Kennedy, is at 48 percent.
  • All Is Bright, starring Paul Rudd and Paul Giamatti in a comedy about two ex-cons who try to go straight by selling Christmas trees in New York City, is at 20 percent.
  • Argento's Dracula 3D, starring Asia Argento and Rutger Hauer in the Italian horror maestro's take on Bram Stoker's classic novel, is at zero percent.

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