The final week of the year brings no wide releases, but Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner The White Ribbon hits theaters in limited release. What do the critics have to say? Michael Haneke's films are not for the faint of heart. Best known in the United States for Cache and Funny Games, the Austrian maestro makes haunting thrillers that burn into your psyche. Critics say his latest, the Certified Fresh The White Ribbon, ranks among his very best. Set in a small German town in the days before World War I, the film tells the tale of a series of horrible events that at first seem random -- until it appears there's a sinister explanation. The critics say The White Ribbon is hypnotic, disturbing, and ultimately thought-provoking -- another fine effort from a director that refuses to compromise his unsettling vision.
This week at the movies, we've got a legendary detective (Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law); matriculating rodents (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, starring David Cross and Jason Lee); a middle aged love triangle (It's Complicated, starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin); turbulent business travel (Up in the Air, starring George Clooney and Vera Farmiga); and a directionless director (Nine, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Penelope Cruz). What do the critics have to say? Known for his hyperkinetic lad pictures, Guy Ritchie may not seem like an obvious choice to direct a Sherlock Holmes adaptation, given that 221B Baker St.'s most famous resident is a paragon of sophistication and stateliness. But a little Robert Downey Jr. goes a long way, critics say, and the star's elementary appeal helps to draw us into this 21st century, action-packed update of the legendary detective.
This week at the movies, we've got a strange alien world (James Cameron's Avatar, starring Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana), and a couple on the run (Did You Hear about the Morgans?, starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker). What do the critics have to say? Avatar is one of the most hotly anticipated films in years, for a number of reasons: it marks James Cameron's return to fiction filmmaking after a long layoff; its motion capture techniques were the subject of intense pre-release press; and it's the most expensive movie ever made. And now, the verdict is in: critics say Avatar is indeed a visionary picture.
This week at the movies, we've got a Southern-fried fairy tale (The Princess and the Frog, with voice work from Anika Noni Rose and Keith David) and inspiration through rugby (Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon). What do the critics have to say? The Princess and the Frog has gotten plenty of notice for two reasons: it marks Disney's return to traditional cel animation, and it features an African American heroine. However, critics say that it's also a rousing, heart-warming, and likable (though somewhat predictable) movie that works on its own. Sure, Invictus is yet another inspirational sports film, but critics say Clint Eastwood's drama about how sports helped heal South Africa is a strong, well-crafted entry in the genre.
This week at the movies, we've got a fractured family (Everybody's Fine, starring Robert De Niro and Drew Barrymore); a sibling rivalry (Brothers, starring Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal); an inside job (Armored, starring Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne); and vampire hilarity (Transylmania, starring Patrick Cavanaugh and James DeBello). What do the critics have to say? Sometimes a film contains such good acting that one is willing to overlook its other faults. One example might be Jim Sheridan's Brothers, a film critics say often works despite being frequently overwrought. Robert De Niro has an intensity and presence that shines through even when he's not playing Travis Bickle/Jake La Motta types. And critics say his measured performance is easily the best thing about Everybody's Fine.
This week at the movies, we've got martial arts mayhem (Ninja Assassin, starring Rain and Naomie Harris); family-friendly hi jinks (Old Dogs, starring John Travolta and Robin Williams); and a post-apocalyptic trek (The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron). What do the critics have to say? It seems that the latest collaboration between the Wachowski brothers (The Matrix Trilogy) and James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) is a bit of a dud, and that the Travolta-Williams pairing in Old Dogs fails to work very effectively, despite the pedigree of its stars. It may be left up to The Road to be the most solid choice at the movies this week, but we'll let you decide for yourselves.
This week at the movies, we've got hot teen vampires (The Twilight Saga: New Moon, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson); a football family (The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron); and some interplanetary mishaps (Planet 51, with voice work by Dwayne Johnson and Jessica Biel). What do the critics have to say? So far, it looks like the latest installment of the Twilight Saga is failing to resonate with the critics, but that didn't stop the first movie from doing gangbusters at the box office, pleasing all of the book's fans in the process. Sandra Bullock hasn't had much luck this year on the Tomatometer, and that doesn't look to change. And lastly, Planet 51 seems as though it doesn't carry much narrative weight behind those flashy visuals. Read the full article for all the details.
This week at the movies, we've got a global catastrophe (2012, starring John Cusack and Chiwetel Ejiofor) and some rock 'n' roll rebellion (Pirate Radio, starring Philip S. Hoffman and Bill Nighy). What do the critics have to say? Nobody goes to a Roland Emmerich picture expecting art or realism; they go for sheer spectacle. On that level, critics say, 2012 largely delivers. However, they also note that if you enjoy character development, witty dialogue, remotely plausible science, and brevity, you're out of luck. It's an understatement to say that the mid-to-late-1960s was a revolutionary period for British rock music, and Pirate Radio is a fond, celebratory comedy about those heady times. Critics say it may not rock quite hard enough, but it's got enough infectious good humor -- and hummable tunes -- to drown out objections.
This week at the movies, we've got some modern-day Dickens (Disney's A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman); a button-pushing thriller (The Box, starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden); vanishing Alaskans (The Fourth Kind, starring Milla Jovovich and Elias Koteas); and some psychic soldiers (The Men Who Stare at Goats, starring George Clooney and Jeff Bridges). What do the critics have to say? Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is one of literature's most haunting morality tales - and one of the most adapted. Critics are largely split on two key aspects of Robert Zemeckis' motion-capture version starring Jim Carrey: whether it honors the, ahem, spirit of Dickens' classic, and whether the motion-capture technology is aesthetically appealing.
This week at the movies brings only one wide release: the hotly-anticipated performance documentary Michael Jackson's This Is It, which captures the King of Pop in rehearsals for what was to be a comeback tour. What do the critics have to say? Before its release, it was difficult to escape the notion that Michael Jackson's This Is It was little more than a cynical cash-grab -- an attempt to strike at the wallets of the great star's fans after his death precluded a potentially lucrative concert tour. Such concerns may have been unwarranted, however; now that the film's actually here, the critics say it's an intriguing portrait of the artist at work, and a reminder of Jackson's protean talents, as well as a farewell gift to fans.
This week at the movies, we've got an anime hero (Astro Boy, with voice work from Kristen Bell and Nicolas Cage); a vampire war ( Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, starring Chris Massoglia and John C. Reilly); an aviation pioneer (Amelia, starring Hilary Swank and Richard Gere); and gore galore (Saw VI, starring Costas Mandylor and Mark Rolston). What do the critics have to say? Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy is one of anime's most iconic and venerable characters. Now he's getting the big-screen CGI treatment, and the result, critics say, is an energetic but derivative affair. In the film, Astro Boy is a young robot with super powers who learns, slowly but surely, what it means to be human; he also must protect his new-found friends from danger.
This week, we've got a wild rumpus (Where the Wild Things Are, starring Max Records and Catherine Keener), a legal skirmish (Law Abiding Citizen, starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler), and some unconventional parenting (The Stepfather, starring Dylan Walsh and Sela Ward). What do the critics have to say? Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are is one of the most beloved classics of modern children's literature, but the brief text doesn't necessarily lend itself to feature-length cinematic treatment. Critics have largely praised Spike Jonze for maintain the spirit of the book while adding some visually daring touches to bring it to life; however, some feel the narrative is a little thin.
This week at the movies brings only one wide release: Couples Retreat, starring Vince Vaughn and Kristen Bell in a comedy about a group of friends in marriage counseling in a tropical locale. What do the critics have to say? Couples Retreat contains some of the funniest actors in the business, and is set in a lush island paradise. Sounds like the recipe for a good time, right? Unfortunately, the critics say Couples Retreat is essentially a series of gags sorely in need of some over-arching comic discipline. Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell star as a couple whose relationship is in trouble, so they invite a group of married friends (including Vince Vaughn, Jon Farveau, Kristen Davis, and Malin Ackerman) to a resort for their counseling sessions -- and it turns out the whole gang is required to undergo treatment as well.
This week at the movies, we've got zombie zaniness (Zombieland, starring Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg); derby dolls (Whip it, starring Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page); funny falsehoods (The Invention of Lying, starring Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner); financial follies (Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story); and a pair of Pixar classics (Toy Story and Toy Story 2, both in 3-D). What do the critics have to say? For those who think there's nothing left on the carcass of the zombie subgenre to pick over, guess again. Critics say Zombieland is a hilarious send-up of films about the undead - with enough blood and guts to satisfy the gorehound set. With Whip It, Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut with a girl-empowerment sports comedy.
This week at the movies, we've got robot clones (Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis and Radha Mitchell), artistic-minded freshmen (Fame, starring Kelsey Grammer and Megan Mullally), and scared spacemen (Pandorum, starring Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster). What do the critics have to say? Unfortunately, only one of this week's opening wide releases was screened for critics, so it's currently the only film with a Tomatometer. Does this spell bad news for the other two? It's still too early to tell, so continue checking back with us here at Rotten Tomatoes for the latest updates on what critics are saying about all three of them, not to mention the films in limited release.
This week at the movies, we've got a possessed student body (Jennifer's Body, starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried); an oddball snitch (The Informant!, starring Matt Damon and Scott Bakula); food from the heavens (Cloudy, with voice work by Bill Hader and Anna Faris); and unlikely love (Love Happens, starring Jennifer Anniston and Aaron Eckhart). What do the critics have to say? Megan Fox is the "it" actress of the moment, and Diablo Cody (Juno) is one of Hollywood's hottest writers. Unfortunately, critics say their combined efforts can't elevate Jennifer's Body above typical teen horror fare. Steven Soderbergh is one of mainstream cinema's most enigmatic, unpredictable directors. It's a good thing, too, because his latest, The Informant!, is about an enigmatic, unpredictable guy, and the result, critics say, is odd but offbeat and entertaining.
This week at the movies, we've got post-apocalyptic conflict (9, with voice work by Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly); Antarctic intrigue (Whiteout, starring Kate Beckinsale and Gabriel Macht); campus killings (Sorority Row, starring Briana Evigan and Rumer Willis), and an unconventional family (I Can Do Bad All By Myself, starring Taraji P. Henson and Tyler Perry). What do the critics have to say?
Visual splendor does not a movie make. The critics say 9 looks unlike anything you've seen before, but the story's mired in cliché. The film follows 9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), who's an anthropomorphic hodgepodge of mechanics and cloth. Occupying a vast apocalyptic wasteland ruled by machines, 9 and his numerically-monikered compatriots team up to save the world from robot-kind.
This week at the movies, we've got a wacky workplace (Extract, starring Jason Bateman and Ben Affleck), crazy love (All About Steve, starring Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper), and video game violence (Gamer, starring Gerard Butler and Ludacris). While Gamer and All About Steve have not been widely screened for critics, All About Steve still has amassed just under 20 reviews, and if the current trend continues, it may be the worst reviewed movie of the year so far. Extract, Mike Judge's latest directorial effort, has also been less than impressive, but read on for the full story.
This week at the movies, we've got the return of Michael Myers (Halloween 2, starring Malcolm McDowell and Scout Taylor-Compton), three dimensional fatalities (The Final Destination, starring Shantel VanSanten and Bobby Campo), and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius (Taking Woodstock, starring Demetri Martin and Emile Hirsch). What do the critics have to say? Rob Zombie is back with a new chapter in the rebooted Halloween franchise. However, we don't yet know for sure if Michael Myers' latest adventure is a trick or a treat, since it wasn't screened for critics. It appears we'll have to wait to see what fate has in store for the young protagonists of The Final Destination, as it was not screened for critics prior to release. Depending on who you ask, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was either a beautiful, generation-defining cultural touchstone or an overrated, muddy bummer - or perhaps a bit of both.
This week at the movies, we've got Nazi killers (Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, starring Brad Pitt), a magic rock (Shorts, starring William H. Macy and Leslie Mann), unemployment blues (Post Grad, starring Alexis Bledel and Michael Keaton), and extreme sports (X Games 3D: The Movie. After less than auspicious buzz followed the Cannes premiere of Basterds, it has managed to march its way to Certified Fresh status, but Shorts, Post Grad, and X-Games 3D: The Movie, haven't been quite as lucky. Read on to find out exactly what critics have been saying about all four movies opening this weekend, and chime in with your thoughts.