Critics Consensus: Looper Is Certified Fresh

Plus, Hotel Transylvania is giddy but thinly-scripted, and Won't Back Down is impassioned but bland.

This week at the movies, we've got a futuristic hitman (Looper, starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a monster bash (Hotel Transylvania, with voice work by Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg), and a pair of education advocates (Won't Back Down, starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal). What do the critics have to say?

Looper

93%

The fanboy anticipation for Looper has grown to a fever pitch over the last few months. It appears the wait was worth it; critics say Rian Johnson's third feature pulls off that rarest of trifectas -- it's at once a provocative head trip, a tense thriller, and an intriguing character study. It's 2044, and control of time-travel technology is in the hands of the mob; when they want somebody rubbed out, they send them back 30 years for an assassin to kill. But when one such "looper" (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is tasked with killing a future version of himself (Bruce Willis), he finds himself on the run from perhaps fate itself. The pundits say that despite the occasional narrative stumble, the Certified Fresh Looper is such an exciting, heartfelt, and ambitious sci-fi tale that it's sure to imspire plenty of conversation after the lights come up. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Willis' best-reviewed films.)

Hotel Transylvania

45%

They may look scary, but all the famous movie monsters are just like us on the inside. That's the clever premise of Hotel Transylvania, but while critics say the movie looks great and has moments of comic inspiration, it largely fails to balance the yuks with its attempts at sincerity. At a remote hotel, Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy, and a bunch of other horror VIPs gather for Dracula's daughter Mavis' birthday celebration. But the ghoulies' placid idyll is threatened when Mavis falls for a human and her dad gets really overprotective. The pundits say Hotel Transylvania has a buoyant, giddy tone that may please children, but it's also loud and thinly-scripted. (Check out this week's 24 Frames, an image gallery of legendary creatures in animation.)

Won't Back Down

33%

If you've seen one inspirational story of underdogs taking on the system, you've seen 'em all, right? Not necessarily, though critics say Won't Back Down feels awfully familiar -- not to mention simplistic -- despite the best efforts of stars Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Davis and Gyllenhaal play a teacher and a single mom, respectively, who become so disillusioned by the bureaucratic rigidity of the local public school system that they start a grass-roots movement to wrest control from the teachers union. The pundits say Won't Back Down is well-acted, but its script fails to lend dramatic heft or sophistication to the hot-button issue of education reform.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Other Dream Team, a documentary about the politics surrounding the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic basketball team, is at 86 percent.
  • The Waiting Room, a documentary about the workings of a public hospital in Oakland, is at 86 percent.
  • Joe Dante's The Hole, a horror film about a pair of middle-schoolers who discover a bottomless pit in the basement of their new house, is at 81 percent.
  • Tales of the Night, an animated collection of vignettes featuring fantastic tales from around the world, is at 80 percent.
  • Pitch Perfect, starring Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow in a comedy about a new girl on campus who encourages the school's a cappella group to get hip, is at 76 percent.
  • Solomon Kane, an action/fantasy hybrid about an English mercenary who goes to war with the devil, is at 64 percent.
  • The Thai import Headshot, an action/thriller about a cop-turned-hitman with vision problems, is at 56 percent.
  • Vulgaria, a comedy about a movie producer who must make a bizarre pornographic film in order to pay alimony to his ex-wife, is at 43 percent.
  • Stars In Shorts, a collection of seven short films featuring an all-star cast, is at 38 percent.
  • Bringing Up Bobby, starring Milla Jovovich and Bill Pullman in a comedy about a con artist who tries to create a stable environment for her son, is at 14 percent.

Finally, props to Bently Lyles for coming the closest to guessing House at the End of the Street's 11 percent Tomatometer.

Comments

Christopher Cross

Christopher Cross

Not surprising at all, Looper was an incredible film. One of the year's best. Too bad Hotel Transylvania will likely beat it in the box office.

Sep 27 - 05:07 PM

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

I hope Looper will beat it.

Looks what happened to a film not reviewed beating up Finding Nemo!!!

Sep 27 - 05:37 PM

CyborgUnicorn

Cyborg Unicorn

lol it might be okay of you just pretend it's a movie about Count Chocula and Frankenberry.

Sep 27 - 08:58 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I would want nothing more than the opportunity to see "Tales of the Night" on a 3D IMAX screen, but it doesn't look forthcoming. It looks like a beautiful movie nonetheless for my home screen. And I feel kind of bad for Genndy Tartakovsky, not necessarially for this film as much as its prospects for his upcoming "Popeye" and hopefully eventual "Samurai Jack" films. I'm an old fan of GT going back to "Dexter's Laboratory", and a fan of his old partner in crime Craig McCracken going back to "No Neck Joe". I do harbor shameful passions to see a 3D Mojo Jojo at some point in the future.

Speaking of all these Joes, has "The Hole" really been sitting on the shelf for 3 years? I'm a big fan of 80s Dante, and it seems to me there's been plenty of room on the studio's release schedule for films like this and the similarly interesting "Solomon Kane" over these last three or four weeks of record setting low box office turnout. Can anyone even remeber the name of the other Bruce Willis film released this month?

"Headshot" looks badasss. Who says a tight action film can be arty. "Stars in Shorts" sounds generic, although the Lily Tomlin one sounds interesting.

And "Looper". We'll see.

Sep 27 - 05:20 PM

Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis

If Hotel Transylavnia is successful then Popeye and the Samurai Jack will most likely be greenlit.

It doesn't matter what critics think, what matter's most is box office and audience reception.

Sep 27 - 08:47 PM

Mitchell Nash

Mitchell Nash

I'd like to see a Samurai Jack movie...

Sep 28 - 04:14 AM

King  S.

King Simba

I'm not sure if even the potential success of Hotel Transylavnia could get a Samurai Jack movie made. Tartakovsky couldn't get it made even when the show was still running. Despite establishing a strong cult following, the series just doesn't have that massive level of popularity that other animated series like Spongebob, Transformers, Simpsons, Last Airbender, Ben 10, etc have that would make adapting it into a movie likely. Then again, if movie studios are willing to adapt boardgames and critically panned shows from 30 years ago who knows, they might be willing to adapt it. You never can tell with them.

Sep 28 - 03:29 PM

Hugo Emanuel Melo

Hugo Emanuel Melo

I've actually already seen both The Hole and Solomon Kane. The Hole is ok, Not bad but far from Dante's best. As for Solomon Kane, I believe you will be dissapointed with it. Despite good performances,gorgeous cinematography and competent directing, the movie's clunky script and badly CGI'd creatures turns it into a below average movie.

Sep 28 - 03:46 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I wouldn't think either of them were worth buying a theater ticket for, I just don't know we've had a couple weeks of relatively weak wide releases while these seemingly more interesting films were in the pipeline. Regardless of it's actually good (too high a bar for Hollywood anyway), if they put the "Solomon Kane" trailer on TV and opened it against, say, "The Words", I think it had a pretty good shot at #1 that week. But for myself, I won't be checking for it until it hits Netflix or the movie channels.

Sep 28 - 07:41 AM

CyborgUnicorn

Cyborg Unicorn

I saw Solomon Kane, that movie was epicness! we watched it the night before we saw the new Conan in theaters, and I think it's partly to blame for my bf not liking Conan as much, since Kane was such a heavy movie in comparison.

Sep 29 - 12:09 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

That must have been last year. I didn't know the film was that old, although I knew it had been sitting on the shelf for awhile because the director also has the new "Silent Hill" about to be released.

Oct 1 - 11:27 AM

Dave J

Dave J

I don't know why but the set up of "Looper" seems almost identicle to "Minority Report", and Joseph Gordon- Levitt is on a role!

Sep 27 - 05:20 PM

Jason H.

Jason Huang

minority report is much more... well "colorful". looper just looks different, but it does have the same feel.

Sep 27 - 06:13 PM

Myron

Myron Kinsey

The only similarity is that they deal with the future but that is about it.

Sep 28 - 06:39 PM

King  S.

King Simba

Minority Report was about a guy on the run because he was predicted to perform a murder in the future, Looper is about a guy on the run because he wouldn't kill his future self. The only similarities I see is that they're futuristic on the run movies and there's an entire genre of those movies.

Sep 29 - 12:14 AM

CyborgUnicorn

Cyborg Unicorn

Minority Report was a Philip K Dick story, and Looper is... the new Rian Johnson movie! but for all their differences, I could see it as a bit of a Dick homage, given the almost fact time travel is used by gangsters, it almost seems comically f'd up and reality warping, but it's nothing new for the protaginist. Just like Cruise's character in Report, seeming to have a monopoly on the future but-hey-it's just a job, right?

Sep 29 - 12:18 PM

Cal Doritosaurus

Cal Doritosaurus

Oh wow, I didn't even realize there was a new Joe Dante movie. Awesome.

Sep 27 - 05:35 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I know. It caught me off guard too. Arrow in the Head didn't inform me!

Sep 28 - 12:23 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Ok. Now I just saw the trailer and movie poster and I understand why..

Sep 28 - 12:25 AM

ProducerPaul

Paul Barrett

The movie was actually finished in 2010 and they're just now releasing it.

Sep 28 - 01:05 PM

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

I hope Looper will beat it.

Looks what happened to a film not reviewed beating up Finding Nemo!!!

Sep 27 - 05:37 PM

Jason H.

Jason Huang

YES LOOPER! cannot wait to see that!

Sep 27 - 06:12 PM

Jason H.

Jason Huang

minority report is much more... well "colorful". looper just looks different, but it does have the same feel.

Sep 27 - 06:13 PM

Kadeem S.

Kadeem Stewart

I don't know if I'm gonna see Hotel Transylvania next week, but since Frankenweenie is coming out next week Oct. 5, maybe I'll wait for the DVD.

Looper. I gotta see it this week. I think it's gonna be way better than The Matrix.

Sep 27 - 06:17 PM

John H.

John Hurson

The only question mark I have regarding Looper is Jeff Daniels. I just can't picture him as a heavy.I hope the incongruity of his casting doesn't take away from the film for me.

Sep 27 - 06:36 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

He was a pretty good heavy in Clint Eastwood's BLOOD WORK, and he's wasn't so much a heavy as he was an asshole in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT.

Sep 27 - 06:46 PM

John H.

John Hurson

Wow. I haven't thought about Blood Work since first seeing it, in the theater, some 10 years ago. He was a serial killer in that one, if I recall correctly. Pretty much plays it normal until the reveal at the end. I expect he'll be less subtle in Looper. More of an obvious threatening presence. No disrespect intended to Daniels, but, unfortunately, for me, he's always going to be the boorish buffoon form Dumb and Dumber. He's so real in that role that it's become locked into my perception of Daniels, which both praises him as an actor, while at the same time doing him a real disservice. Perhaps Looper will break the mold for me, in a way that other Daniels pictures haven't.

Sep 27 - 09:00 PM

ProducerPaul

Paul Barrett

Watch him in the HBO show The Newsroom. He's not a bad guy per se, but he's a lot different than his character in Dumb and Dumber.

Sep 28 - 01:05 PM

George Patchell

George Patchell

Thankfully I have seen Blood Work, but for all the people that haven't you just ruined that movie for them. You really shouldn't give away the endings to movies, especially when they are mystery movies and the ending is the big twist/reveal. I wasn't even signed it but I did just to bring this up coz it really pisses me off when people ruin films for others, and doing it on a sight frequented by movie lovers, well, you should have more common sense.

Sep 30 - 10:15 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Thank you. I guess I will remove that movie from my Netflix queue.

Did you really have to tell the ending to make your point?

Oct 1 - 09:23 AM

Dave J

Dave J

That's one of the downsides about reading all the comments on here. And although "Bloodwork" is also another film I haven't seen yet, I still think I rather find out myself whether or not it's any not good rather than reading that from some one else- I think that's one of the ones I still have on commercial VHS!

Oct 4 - 01:56 PM

Myron

Myron Kinsey

what's a "heavy"??

Sep 28 - 06:35 PM

John H.

John Hurson

A tough guy. Generally used in reference to the villain.

Sep 29 - 03:44 PM

ap sirius

karl anderson

have no fear....he is brilliant in it and Looper is one of the years best films

Sep 28 - 07:38 PM

DBrock

David E-Brock

Have you seen The Lookout? Jeff Daniels and Joseph Gordan Levitt have really good chemistry in that movie so i look forward to seeing them work together again.

Sep 28 - 09:07 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I guess I'll add his performance of Colonial Chamberlain in both "Gettysberg" and "Gods and Generals" or his excellent role in "Traitor".

Oct 1 - 11:33 AM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

He was a pretty good heavy in Clint Eastwood's BLOOD WORK, and he's wasn't so much a heavy as he was an asshole in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT.

Sep 27 - 06:46 PM

John H.

John Hurson

Wow. I haven't thought about Blood Work since first seeing it, in the theater, some 10 years ago. He was a serial killer in that one, if I recall correctly. Pretty much plays it normal until the reveal at the end. I expect he'll be less subtle in Looper. More of an obvious threatening presence. No disrespect intended to Daniels, but, unfortunately, for me, he's always going to be the boorish buffoon form Dumb and Dumber. He's so real in that role that it's become locked into my perception of Daniels, which both praises him as an actor, while at the same time doing him a real disservice. Perhaps Looper will break the mold for me, in a way that other Daniels pictures haven't.

Sep 27 - 09:00 PM

ProducerPaul

Paul Barrett

Watch him in the HBO show The Newsroom. He's not a bad guy per se, but he's a lot different than his character in Dumb and Dumber.

Sep 28 - 01:05 PM

George Patchell

George Patchell

Thankfully I have seen Blood Work, but for all the people that haven't you just ruined that movie for them. You really shouldn't give away the endings to movies, especially when they are mystery movies and the ending is the big twist/reveal. I wasn't even signed it but I did just to bring this up coz it really pisses me off when people ruin films for others, and doing it on a sight frequented by movie lovers, well, you should have more common sense.

Sep 30 - 10:15 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Thank you. I guess I will remove that movie from my Netflix queue.

Did you really have to tell the ending to make your point?

Oct 1 - 09:23 AM

Dave J

Dave J

That's one of the downsides about reading all the comments on here. And although "Bloodwork" is also another film I haven't seen yet, I still think I rather find out myself whether or not it's any not good rather than reading that from some one else- I think that's one of the ones I still have on commercial VHS!

Oct 4 - 01:56 PM

Brian B.

Brian Barreto

I can't wait to see Looper. It looks great. Anyways, I finally got around to watch Dredd 3-D. It was a fantastic popcorn flick, and I think its a shame that its done so poorly at the box-office. Forgive the horniness, but I felt cheated when [director] Pete Travis teased every male in the audience, who was watching Dredd, with blurry scenes of Olivia Thirlby naked. Damn you, Mr. Travis! Still, though, it was a great, old-fashioned popcorn flick. I hope it does well enough overseas and on home video in order to warrant a sequel.

Sep 27 - 07:53 PM

Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis

Hotel Transylvania will most likely win the weekend.

Looper's box office is up for grabs at this point. It could make anything.

Sep 27 - 08:46 PM

Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis

If Hotel Transylavnia is successful then Popeye and the Samurai Jack will most likely be greenlit.

It doesn't matter what critics think, what matter's most is box office and audience reception.

Sep 27 - 08:47 PM

Mitchell Nash

Mitchell Nash

I'd like to see a Samurai Jack movie...

Sep 28 - 04:14 AM

King  S.

King Simba

I'm not sure if even the potential success of Hotel Transylavnia could get a Samurai Jack movie made. Tartakovsky couldn't get it made even when the show was still running. Despite establishing a strong cult following, the series just doesn't have that massive level of popularity that other animated series like Spongebob, Transformers, Simpsons, Last Airbender, Ben 10, etc have that would make adapting it into a movie likely. Then again, if movie studios are willing to adapt boardgames and critically panned shows from 30 years ago who knows, they might be willing to adapt it. You never can tell with them.

Sep 28 - 03:29 PM

CyborgUnicorn

Cyborg Unicorn

lol it might be okay of you just pretend it's a movie about Count Chocula and Frankenberry.

Sep 27 - 08:58 PM

John H.

John Hurson

Wow. I haven't thought about Blood Work since first seeing it, in the theater, some 10 years ago. He was a serial killer in that one, if I recall correctly. Pretty much plays it normal until the reveal at the end. I expect he'll be less subtle in Looper. More of an obvious threatening presence. No disrespect intended to Daniels, but, unfortunately, for me, he's always going to be the boorish buffoon form Dumb and Dumber. He's so real in that role that it's become locked into my perception of Daniels, which both praises him as an actor, while at the same time doing him a real disservice. Perhaps Looper will break the mold for me, in a way that other Daniels pictures haven't.

Sep 27 - 09:00 PM

ProducerPaul

Paul Barrett

Watch him in the HBO show The Newsroom. He's not a bad guy per se, but he's a lot different than his character in Dumb and Dumber.

Sep 28 - 01:05 PM

George Patchell

George Patchell

Thankfully I have seen Blood Work, but for all the people that haven't you just ruined that movie for them. You really shouldn't give away the endings to movies, especially when they are mystery movies and the ending is the big twist/reveal. I wasn't even signed it but I did just to bring this up coz it really pisses me off when people ruin films for others, and doing it on a sight frequented by movie lovers, well, you should have more common sense.

Sep 30 - 10:15 PM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Thank you. I guess I will remove that movie from my Netflix queue.

Did you really have to tell the ending to make your point?

Oct 1 - 09:23 AM

Dave J

Dave J

That's one of the downsides about reading all the comments on here. And although "Bloodwork" is also another film I haven't seen yet, I still think I rather find out myself whether or not it's any not good rather than reading that from some one else- I think that's one of the ones I still have on commercial VHS!

Oct 4 - 01:56 PM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

Can't wait to see The Loopers!!!!! I also saw Dr. Dredd yesterday and it was great!!

Sep 27 - 11:53 PM

DBrock

David E-Brock

are you sure you dont want to see Motel Romania instead? I know The Loopers will be great cuz I love Bruce Willis in Dieing Tough!

Sep 28 - 09:10 PM

Vincent Fissore

Vincent Fissore

A movie called Motel Romania might sound more appealing than Hotel Transylvania.

Sep 29 - 02:34 PM

Jonathan Edward O.

Jon Owens

I think that movie Backing Down I Won't! Looks dreadful. Also how is Perfect Pitch getting good reviews???? It's just like that show bad show on NBC Show Choir

Sep 29 - 08:00 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I heard it was even better than "A Black Squire Ascends".

Oct 1 - 11:34 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

I know. It caught me off guard too. Arrow in the Head didn't inform me!

Sep 28 - 12:23 AM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Ok. Now I just saw the trailer and movie poster and I understand why..

Sep 28 - 12:25 AM

ProducerPaul

Paul Barrett

The movie was actually finished in 2010 and they're just now releasing it.

Sep 28 - 01:05 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

Ok. Now I just saw the trailer and movie poster and I understand why..

Sep 28 - 12:25 AM

ProducerPaul

Paul Barrett

The movie was actually finished in 2010 and they're just now releasing it.

Sep 28 - 01:05 PM

What's Hot On RT

Total Recall
Total Recall

Nine Movies That Bring the Funk

Weekly Binge
Weekly Binge

Watch Arrested Development

Cosplay Gallery
Cosplay Gallery

See over 350 Comic-Con Costumes!

24 Frames
24 Frames

Photo gallery of great movie spaceships

Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile