Critics Consensus: Lawless Is Violent and Atmospheric

Plus, The Possession is mostly scare-free, and The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure is more weird than enchanting.

This week at the movies, we've got bootlegging brothers (Lawless, starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy), a bedeviled box (The Possession, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick), and some bewitching balloons (The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure, featuring Toni Braxton and Christopher Lloyd). What do the critics have to say?

Lawless

67%

Director John Hillcoat (The Road) has carved out a niche as a filmmaker skilled at wringing empathy from bleak and bloody scenarios. Critics say his latest, Lawless, is brilliantly acted and evocatively atmospheric, which helps it to overcome the script's sometimes slack narrative. Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy star as Prohibition-era bootleggers whose business is threatened both by rival hooch-makers and crooked cops who want a cut of their profits. A wave of violence ensues. The pundits say Lawless' plot occasionally meanders, but it's viscerally powerful and features fine performances from a top-notch cast. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Gary Oldman's best-reviewed movies.)

The Possession

40%

Plenty of horror flicks have ripped off The Exorcist, so The Possession earns points for injecting a dash of Jewish mysticism into the bedeviled-tot subgenre. Otherwise, critics say, this is a pretty ho-hum frightfest, and despite strong performances and smooth direction, it's both clichéd and light on scares. Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars as a divorced dad who's unsettled by his young daughter's obsession with an antique wooden box purchased at a yard sale, which contains a malevolent spirit from Jewish folklore. The pundits say The Possession is a little better than many of its ilk, but it's still a pretty by-the-numbers supernatural thriller. (Check out 24 Frames for a pictorial rundown of cursed movie items.)

The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure

27%

If you've got (really) little kids, there's a decent chance they'll enjoy The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure, a colorful, sweet family musical. However, critics say grown-ups may find this odd slice of juvenilia to be overly saccharine and pretty far from toe-tapping. The plot: the Oogieloves are planning a birthday party for a friend, but complications ensue when their magical balloons fly away. Our heroes embark on a quest to retrieve the balloons, and team up with likes of Toni Braxton, Christopher Lloyd, and Cloris Leachman for some musical numbers along the way. The pundits say The Oogieloves is gentle and well-intentioned, but the songs are forgettable and the whole enterprise is more weird than enchanting.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Bullet Vanishes, a period mystery about a murder investigation in 1930s China, is at 100 percent.
  • The Ambassador, a gonzo documentary about a man who impersonates a diplomat with the expressed intention of smuggling blood diamonds out of the Central African Republic, is at 74 percent.
  • For a Good Time, Call..., starring Seth Rogen and Ari Graynor in a comedy about a pair of cash-strapped roommates who work as phone-sex operators, is at 66 percent.
  • The Good Doctor, starring Orlando Bloom as a young resident who becomes obsessed with a beautiful patient, is at 60 percent.
  • Tsui Hark's The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, starring Jet Li as the leader of a group of fighters defending the people from a tyrannical leader, is at 56 percent.
  • Little Birds, starring Juno Temple and Leslie Mann in a drama about two teenage girls who leave their depressed small town for a turbulent big city experience, is at 50 percent.
  • The Tall Man, starring Jessica Biel in a horror film about a woman who searches frantically for her missing son, is at 44 percent.
  • One Day On Earth, a documentary that chronicles a single day from every country on the planet, is at 43 percent.
  • The Day, starring Shawn Ashmore and Ashley Bell in a post-apocalyptic thriller about a group of friends attempting to fend off cannibals, is at 29 percent.
  • Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy, a drama about a young man who has to decide between clubbing and love, is at six percent.

Finally, props to Richard Dempsy for coming the closest to guessing The Apparition's two percent Tomatometer.

Comments

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Lawless" looks good to me. Just because he's no longer available on this site, I'll mention that Armond White warned audiences that this film might inspire another Aurora-type shooting. Shameless hate. I'm sure he misses your comments.

The Asian films look great. "Bullet Vanishes" looks like Hong Kong Hitchcock, and I'd love to see "Flying Swords in 3-D IMAX (probably can't find it, though).

Dybbuk-horror was already played (and cliched) in "The Unborn", so I don't see what's so novel about that, other than Catholics no longer have a monopoly on religious horror. (Belief in demonic possession isn't really anything to be proud of) Meh. I'll take "A Serious Man" instead, a horror film of Mentacular proportion. But for this week, "The Tall Man" is the horror film to watch. I'm not taking the RT score for that film seriously in the slightest.

"The Ambassador" looks great. "The Day" looks like a mediocre video game (= stupid movie).

Aug 30 - 05:04 PM

Jennifer D.

Jennifer Davis

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Sep 4 - 12:49 AM

Jaxx Raxor

Adam Jones

Is there an error on Rotten Tomatoes? Only Posession is listed as a wide release. Although interestingly that movie and the The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure are not playing at my favorite local theater, but Lawless is. Looks like the summer movie season will go out on a whimper instead of a bang.

Aug 30 - 05:11 PM

Mr. RePlay

Arthur Jones

Not to mention "Flying Swords" in 3D not showing in the theaters in Detroit as well. That's a shame because we have several IMAX 3D theaters in the area and I'm really interested in seeing it before it comes to DVD in October.

Aug 31 - 09:24 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'd like to see it too. But I can't complain that our local IMAX will be getting a new print of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" next week!

Aug 31 - 03:31 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

I have been awaiting Lawless for quite a while now, and was planning on seeing it reguardless of T-meter just for the cast and director. Glad to see fall is getting here so all the foreign and indie films will start to be unleashed, along with the studio's big dramas.

Aug 30 - 07:11 PM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

agreed

Aug 30 - 08:56 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Sad to say, The Oogielove commercials scare me a heck of a lot more than those for the Possession. Nothing is scarier than the Boohbahs, though. Those floating, farting bastards put any movie monster/demon/ghost to shame.

Aug 30 - 07:25 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'll take your word it. I never heard of any kind of Oogie love or Gabba Boohbahs or whatever creepy things are lurking around our precious children these days. I'll stick with Looney Tunes.

Aug 30 - 08:00 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Okay, seriously, you need to see Boohbah, Jansen. They're on youtube. It is truly an unforgettable experience.

Aug 30 - 08:18 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Oh, why, Linda? Tonight was NOT the night to watch this. Now I'm seriously considering telepathic extraterrestrial assimilation of child synapses. I guess that's one kind of "unforgettable". I stumbled onto some videos made by kids playing with their toys (horrible horrible parents who would allow this), and one of the videos had a "GBH" logo, which I found out is actually a Boston station, but that's still pretty funny. I guess WPCP and WLSD have already folded in this bad broadcast economy. And the farts! I really thought you were joking. I really did.

Aug 30 - 08:44 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Gah--I spelled your name with an "e" instead of an "o". What has come over me? The Boohbah's spell has rendered me somewhat brain-dead. I would have loved to attend some production meetings for that show, probably hilarious. And it was popular, too!!!

Aug 30 - 09:06 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

No worries. I always remind people - "round vowels". And I don't mind the Full Blue Moon invaded by Boohbahs so much. The farts were haunting, however. Such idolatry needs no incontinence.

Aug 30 - 09:22 PM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

whenever i see the trailer it reminds me of the Garbage Pail Kids Movie.....

Aug 30 - 09:05 PM

Kadeem S.

Kadeem Stewart

I probably gonna see that new anti-Obama movie that is currently at the box office and I haven't seen it yet thanks to the boring Republic National Convention. I might see it this week.

Next week, I hope Branded could be as good as Chronicle.

Aug 30 - 07:54 PM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

it's really great! you should bring a bunch of people to see it with you1

Aug 30 - 08:59 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Oh please, "bring your friends!" Do you really think a movie is going to get Obama out of office? If anything does, it'll be Mittens and the money machine behind him. The Bush-bashing Fahrenheit 9/11 was the highest grossing doc ever with $120m, and it didn't even get that buffoon out of office.

Aug 31 - 05:52 AM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

@brad Bush had a war on his side and a loyal party base. This election is far ascew in that volitale political factors have brought instability to all ends. John Kerry was also an incredibly weak candidate. An indentured president is hard to oust, but if there were a time to do it, it is now.

Aug 31 - 05:41 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"2016: Obama's America" is nothing more than a propoganda documentary financed by Fox studios and the Republicans, I've seen Dinesh D'Souza character on interviews eg Piers Morgon and stuff like that and he bases his silly findings on presumptions- it's nothing more than a scare tactic, similar to the same way when Adolf Hitler convincing Germany that whites are the master race! This is like saying that if anyone were to like the color 'red' then that would mean you must support commnism.

The other thing is that if Obama succeeds to win again for another 4 years and the claims on the documentary made by Dinesh D'Souza never happened then he'd be one of the biggest idiots on the face of the planet. Dinesh D'Souza's other documentary also include "Michael Moore Hates America" meaning that he was always a Democrat basher since that has always been his job making a living out of doing this, just like comedien Dennis Miller who supports gay marriage and helping the unfortunate but can't vote Democrat because he gets his ridiculous salary from the Republican party - this is absolutely nothing new and if anybody were to believe the documentary to be true I have to say are idiots as well!

Aug 31 - 11:39 AM

Flash T.

Flash T

It strikes me that films like these are just playing to the gallery anyway, i don't think floating voters or ardent liberals are going to part with thier hard earned cash to watch. It's simply there to add more fury to the GOP fueled storm.

Sep 2 - 02:34 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'll take your word it. I never heard of any kind of Oogie love or Gabba Boohbahs or whatever creepy things are lurking around our precious children these days. I'll stick with Looney Tunes.

Aug 30 - 08:00 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Okay, seriously, you need to see Boohbah, Jansen. They're on youtube. It is truly an unforgettable experience.

Aug 30 - 08:18 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Oh, why, Linda? Tonight was NOT the night to watch this. Now I'm seriously considering telepathic extraterrestrial assimilation of child synapses. I guess that's one kind of "unforgettable". I stumbled onto some videos made by kids playing with their toys (horrible horrible parents who would allow this), and one of the videos had a "GBH" logo, which I found out is actually a Boston station, but that's still pretty funny. I guess WPCP and WLSD have already folded in this bad broadcast economy. And the farts! I really thought you were joking. I really did.

Aug 30 - 08:44 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Gah--I spelled your name with an "e" instead of an "o". What has come over me? The Boohbah's spell has rendered me somewhat brain-dead. I would have loved to attend some production meetings for that show, probably hilarious. And it was popular, too!!!

Aug 30 - 09:06 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

No worries. I always remind people - "round vowels". And I don't mind the Full Blue Moon invaded by Boohbahs so much. The farts were haunting, however. Such idolatry needs no incontinence.

Aug 30 - 09:22 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Okay, seriously, you need to see Boohbah, Jansen. They're on youtube. It is truly an unforgettable experience.

Aug 30 - 08:18 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Oh, why, Linda? Tonight was NOT the night to watch this. Now I'm seriously considering telepathic extraterrestrial assimilation of child synapses. I guess that's one kind of "unforgettable". I stumbled onto some videos made by kids playing with their toys (horrible horrible parents who would allow this), and one of the videos had a "GBH" logo, which I found out is actually a Boston station, but that's still pretty funny. I guess WPCP and WLSD have already folded in this bad broadcast economy. And the farts! I really thought you were joking. I really did.

Aug 30 - 08:44 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Gah--I spelled your name with an "e" instead of an "o". What has come over me? The Boohbah's spell has rendered me somewhat brain-dead. I would have loved to attend some production meetings for that show, probably hilarious. And it was popular, too!!!

Aug 30 - 09:06 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

No worries. I always remind people - "round vowels". And I don't mind the Full Blue Moon invaded by Boohbahs so much. The farts were haunting, however. Such idolatry needs no incontinence.

Aug 30 - 09:22 PM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

Lawless looks like the only movie that bridges the gap between a cowboy flick and a gangster flick. Does anyone know any other good movie which also features that interesting evolution?

The Possesion's score proves just how high of a tomatometer The Apparition could've gotten had it chose to share itself with the critics first.

You know which other movies don't feature bad guys and are for little children? The majority of Hayao Miyazaki's, those don't! But of course, at least The Oogieloves showcases a taste of what America's got in that department.

Aug 30 - 08:30 PM

Clint Davis

Clint Davis

I know it is not a movie but it is movie quality but Boardwalk Empire has been nailing this subject beautifully for 2 years in a row now. If you haven't caught this show yet you are really missing out on something special

Aug 31 - 07:20 AM

DBrock

David E-Brock

one year in a row...first season was kind of dumb,second season is awesome.

Aug 31 - 12:15 PM

Coach M.

Coach McGuirk

First season was "kind of dumb?" Wow...no, just no.

Sep 1 - 01:50 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Oh, why, Linda? Tonight was NOT the night to watch this. Now I'm seriously considering telepathic extraterrestrial assimilation of child synapses. I guess that's one kind of "unforgettable". I stumbled onto some videos made by kids playing with their toys (horrible horrible parents who would allow this), and one of the videos had a "GBH" logo, which I found out is actually a Boston station, but that's still pretty funny. I guess WPCP and WLSD have already folded in this bad broadcast economy. And the farts! I really thought you were joking. I really did.

Aug 30 - 08:44 PM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

agreed

Aug 30 - 08:56 PM

Brian B.

Brian Barreto

'Lawless' was great. I recommend it to everyone who likes a well-made crime film. The cast is great (Hardy steals the show like expected), the film is beautifully shot, the violence is brutal, the tone is grim, and the ending is comical. I'd put 'Lawless' as the fourth best film (behind TDKR, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Avengers) I've seen so far this year, but there's still lots of great-lloking films coming out in the near future like The Master, Trouble with The Curve, Django Unchianed, Killing Them Softly, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Lincoln, and--I can't believe I'm saying this--Dredd 3-D. I'm interested in catching 'The Possession' at a matinee sometime during next week. It looks a lot better than, say, 'The Devil Inside' and 'The Apparition'.

Aug 30 - 08:57 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Killing Them Softly, The Master, and Skyfall are my most anticipated for the rest of this year. I am excited for Django and The Hobbit as well, but not as much as I was expecting after I saw the trailers.

Aug 31 - 06:22 AM

Clint Davis

Clint Davis

Speaking of interesting upcoming releases, does anyone else think Life of Pi looks pretty awesome so far?

Aug 31 - 07:21 AM

DBrock

David E-Brock

I just saw the preview at the movies,and I totally turned back into a twelve year old for 3 minutes...an adventure about a boy and a tiger!Hell yes! Now my gf is going to have to hear for the next year how bad I want a tiger.

Aug 31 - 12:18 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I think the Life of PI's visual's are absolutely stunning however it seems that most of the visuals are just there to be absolutely stunning. WHy is the kid leaving life boat during a huge storm to dive under water to watch the boat sink? BECAUSE IT'S COOL LOOKING THAT'S WHY!!

Really enjoyed the story though so I'll admit I'm excited to see it.

Sep 1 - 11:52 AM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

it's really great! you should bring a bunch of people to see it with you1

Aug 30 - 08:59 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Oh please, "bring your friends!" Do you really think a movie is going to get Obama out of office? If anything does, it'll be Mittens and the money machine behind him. The Bush-bashing Fahrenheit 9/11 was the highest grossing doc ever with $120m, and it didn't even get that buffoon out of office.

Aug 31 - 05:52 AM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

@brad Bush had a war on his side and a loyal party base. This election is far ascew in that volitale political factors have brought instability to all ends. John Kerry was also an incredibly weak candidate. An indentured president is hard to oust, but if there were a time to do it, it is now.

Aug 31 - 05:41 PM

Dave J

Dave J

"2016: Obama's America" is nothing more than a propoganda documentary financed by Fox studios and the Republicans, I've seen Dinesh D'Souza character on interviews eg Piers Morgon and stuff like that and he bases his silly findings on presumptions- it's nothing more than a scare tactic, similar to the same way when Adolf Hitler convincing Germany that whites are the master race! This is like saying that if anyone were to like the color 'red' then that would mean you must support commnism.

The other thing is that if Obama succeeds to win again for another 4 years and the claims on the documentary made by Dinesh D'Souza never happened then he'd be one of the biggest idiots on the face of the planet. Dinesh D'Souza's other documentary also include "Michael Moore Hates America" meaning that he was always a Democrat basher since that has always been his job making a living out of doing this, just like comedien Dennis Miller who supports gay marriage and helping the unfortunate but can't vote Democrat because he gets his ridiculous salary from the Republican party - this is absolutely nothing new and if anybody were to believe the documentary to be true I have to say are idiots as well!

Aug 31 - 11:39 AM

Flash T.

Flash T

It strikes me that films like these are just playing to the gallery anyway, i don't think floating voters or ardent liberals are going to part with thier hard earned cash to watch. It's simply there to add more fury to the GOP fueled storm.

Sep 2 - 02:34 AM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

whenever i see the trailer it reminds me of the Garbage Pail Kids Movie.....

Aug 30 - 09:05 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Gah--I spelled your name with an "e" instead of an "o". What has come over me? The Boohbah's spell has rendered me somewhat brain-dead. I would have loved to attend some production meetings for that show, probably hilarious. And it was popular, too!!!

Aug 30 - 09:06 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

No worries. I always remind people - "round vowels". And I don't mind the Full Blue Moon invaded by Boohbahs so much. The farts were haunting, however. Such idolatry needs no incontinence.

Aug 30 - 09:22 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Oh please, "bring your friends!" Do you really think a movie is going to get Obama out of office? If anything does, it'll be Mittens and the money machine behind him. The Bush-bashing Fahrenheit 9/11 was the highest grossing doc ever with $120m, and it didn't even get that buffoon out of office.

Aug 31 - 05:52 AM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

@brad Bush had a war on his side and a loyal party base. This election is far ascew in that volitale political factors have brought instability to all ends. John Kerry was also an incredibly weak candidate. An indentured president is hard to oust, but if there were a time to do it, it is now.

Aug 31 - 05:41 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

Killing Them Softly, The Master, and Skyfall are my most anticipated for the rest of this year. I am excited for Django and The Hobbit as well, but not as much as I was expecting after I saw the trailers.

Aug 31 - 06:22 AM

Clint Davis

Clint Davis

I know it is not a movie but it is movie quality but Boardwalk Empire has been nailing this subject beautifully for 2 years in a row now. If you haven't caught this show yet you are really missing out on something special

Aug 31 - 07:20 AM

DBrock

David E-Brock

one year in a row...first season was kind of dumb,second season is awesome.

Aug 31 - 12:15 PM

Coach M.

Coach McGuirk

First season was "kind of dumb?" Wow...no, just no.

Sep 1 - 01:50 PM

Clint Davis

Clint Davis

Speaking of interesting upcoming releases, does anyone else think Life of Pi looks pretty awesome so far?

Aug 31 - 07:21 AM

DBrock

David E-Brock

I just saw the preview at the movies,and I totally turned back into a twelve year old for 3 minutes...an adventure about a boy and a tiger!Hell yes! Now my gf is going to have to hear for the next year how bad I want a tiger.

Aug 31 - 12:18 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I think the Life of PI's visual's are absolutely stunning however it seems that most of the visuals are just there to be absolutely stunning. WHy is the kid leaving life boat during a huge storm to dive under water to watch the boat sink? BECAUSE IT'S COOL LOOKING THAT'S WHY!!

Really enjoyed the story though so I'll admit I'm excited to see it.

Sep 1 - 11:52 AM

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