Critics Consensus: Taken 2 Is Less Than Captivating

Plus, Frankenweenie is Certified Fresh, and Pitch Perfect is toe-tapping fun.

by Tim Ryan | Thursday, Oct. 04 2012

This week at the movies, we've got a kidnapping plot (Taken 2, starring Liam Neeson and Famke Janssen), a reanimated pooch (Frankenweenie, with voice work from Charlie Tahan and Winona Ryder), and a cappella all-stars (Pitch Perfect, starring Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow). What do the critics have to say?

Taken 2

21%

Why would anyone mess with Liam Neeson's family again, given the brutal swath he cut in the first Taken? That's a great question, say critics, who find Taken 2 to be largely bereft of the kinetic thrills -- and surprises -- that made the original a hit. Neeson is back as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills, who must use every skill in his arsenal when his ex-wife and daughter are kidnapped in Istanbul by vengeance-driven family members of the folks who abducted Mills' daughter last time. The pundits say Taken 2 is essentially a rehash of its predecessor, but without the logic, coherence, and excitement required to keep it fresh. (Check out this week's 24 Frames, in which we present a gallery of rough-and-tumble old guys.)

Frankenweenie

87%

Tim Burton has always had a taste for the macabre, and a love for outsiders. Critics say those fixations dovetail nicely in Frankenweenie, an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story. Young Victor is a lonely middle schooler who spends his days working on bizarre science projects in the company of his faithful dog Sparky. When Sparky is fatally wounded, Victor is able to bring him back to life; in doing so, however, he unwittingly unleashes a plague of monsters on his normally placid hometown. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Frankenweenie may not be Burton's best, its twisted sensibility and sweetness harkens back to the director's earlier classics. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Burton's best-reviewed films.)

Pitch Perfect

81%

At first glance, Pitch Perfect sounds like little more than a big-screen Glee. However, critics say this tale of a college a cappella competition has panache and goofy good humor that make it stand out from the pack. Anna Kendrick stars as a new kid on campus who goes looking for a new clique and finds one in the form of the school's a cappella ensemble. Can our heroine's hip taste in tunes shake up the group's staid arrangements -- and make it a contender at the big singing competition? The pundits say Pitch Perfect's plot is awfully tired, but the performances -- particularly the scene-stealing Rebel Wilson -- are excellent, and the musical numbers are toe-tapping as well. (Find out Kendrick's Five Favorite Films here.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

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