Critics Consensus: Who's Better, Who's Best; Never Goes Down; Guess Doomsday's Tomatometer!
Summarizing the critical voice on this week's movies.
Virtually no one denies the genius of Dr. Seuss' books, but it's been an open question whether their compact, staccato whimsy could be translated into feature-length films; the results thus far have been middling (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 52 percent on the Tomatometer) to poor (The Cat in the Hat, 12 percent). However, critics say the CG Horton Hears a Who is easily the most Seussian Seuss feature, and therefore the best. Horton (Jim Carrey) is an elephant who stumbles across the microscopic Who-ville; he promises to protect the tiny inhabitants, despite ridicule from his fellow pachyderms. The pundits say Horton is filled with deft animation, solid voice work, valuable life lessons, and good cheer -- and if the runtime is a little padded, the movie still maintains the enchanting, thoughtful spirit of Seuss' books. At 74 percent on the Tomatometer, Horton may be a cut below the animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas (100 percent), but it's still cause for Who-bilation. (Check out co-director Jimmy Hayward's favorite animated films here.)
Never Back Down is yet another film in which a wayward teen learns about martial arts -- and life -- from a stern-but-caring teacher. Wasn't Ralph Macchio in a movie like this a few years back? Perhaps, but critics say NBD is still a reasonably involving take on old material. The movie stars Sean Faris as an unmoored, ill-tempered youngster who, after being humiliated in a fight with a classmate, learns mixed martial arts under the tutelage of Djimon Hounsou and, in the process, how to better focus his bluster. Pundits say Never Back Down's premise may be old as the hills, but pundits say it's made with more skill and panache than the material would indicate. At 36 percent on the Tomatometer, the critical reception to Never Back Down puts the "mixed" into mixed martial arts. (Check out this week's Total Recall, where we take a fond look at movies in which people get punched in the face.)
The folks behind Doomsday must have feared a critical apocalypse. Why else wouldn't they screen their film for the scribes before its release? Directed by Neil Marshall, the film tells the story of a group of scientists who've been dispatched to a country where a deadly virus has broken out. A note of interest: Marshall's previous movie was modern horror masterpiece The Descent, likely marking the first time a director has gone from Certified Fresh on one movie to not-screened on the next. Kids, climb out of that fallout shelter in your backyard and guess that Tomatometer.
Also opening this week in limited release:
- War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, a doc that argues our policymakers often trump up the case for war, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer.
- Blind Mountain, Li Yang's searing drama about wife selling in China, is at 88 percent.
- Sputnik Mania, a doc about America's reaction to Russia's advancements in space exploration, is at 80 percent.
- Heartbeat Detector, a drama in which a Parisian HR man discovers a link between his corporation and the Nazis, is at 83 percent.
- Funny Games, Michael Haneke's remake of his own film of the same name starring Naomi Watts and Michael Pitt, is at 50 percent (check out RT's Guide to Home Invasion here).
- Flash Point, the latest action flick from the Hong Kong grind, is at 40 percent.
- Sleepwalking, a drama about a man who develops a bond with his niece starring Charlize Theron, Nick Stahl, and AnnaSophia Robb, is at 36 percent.
"We were wondering if we could borrow some brown sugar...?"
Recent Jim Carrey Movies:
8% -- The Number 23 (2007)
28% -- Fun With Dick and Jane (2005)
70% -- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
94% -- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
49% -- Bruce Almighty (2003)