This weekend, the dream of the 1990s is alive at the multiplex: the lusty teenagers of "American Pie" are all grown up in "American Reunion," and "Titanic," the decade's biggest commercial success, gets a deluxe 3D rerelease. Who would have thought we'd see the "American Pie" kids grow and mature? Critics say that in "American Reunion," our old friends are still good company, but they're certainly not as shocking as they used to be. "Titanic" was pretty much unsinkable upon its release in 1997. This period blockbuster solidified James Cameron's status as one of Hollywood's master technicians, made superstars of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, and collected a boatload of Oscars.
One week after "The Hunger Games" broke box office records, several Katniss-free flicks hit multiplexes: "Wrath of the Titans," starring Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson, "Mirror Mirror," starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins, and the documentary "Bully," which drew headlines after its distributors protested its MPAA rating. Wrath of the Titans is a sequel to a remake - specifically, 2010's Clash of the Titans -- and critics say that while this follow-up retains its predecessor's goofy charm, it once again favors spectacle over storytelling and character development. Mirror Mirror attempts to tell a classic tale with a modern sensibility, but critics say it only half succeeds; it's a playful, visually exquisite revisionist fairy tale that's regrettably uneven and in its plotting and pacing.
This week at the movies brings only one new wide release: the hotly-anticipated adaptation of Susan Collins' post-apocalyptic young adult novel The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. What do the critics have to say? The Hunger Games is one of the most eagerly anticipated literary adaptations since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And critics say the movie delivers -- director Gary Ross maintains the brisk, tense pace that made the books so tough to put down, and Jennifer Lawrence gives an intense, commanding performance in the lead role. In a dystopian North America, a tyrannical government stages an annual televised gladiatorial competition, in which young people are selected to fight to the death.
This week at the multiplex, remake fever strikes again in the form of 21 Jump Street. An adaptation of the hit late-1980s cop drama - which featured a certain young actor named Johnny Depp - "21 Jump Street" stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as detectives who go back to school; what do the critics have to say? In theory, a revamp of 21 Jump Street doesn't sound all that promising. In practice, critics say, it's a delightful surprise, one that successfully satirizes its source material while plumbing the depths of its well-developed characters. In the film, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as a pair of cops who go undercover as high school students to bust a drug ring.
Disney's John Carter has been the source of Hollywood tongue-wagging for months: this massively-budgeted action/adventure is helmed by Andrew Stanton, a director best known for his work in animation, and features a character who's largely unknown to contemporary audiences. It's finally hitting theaters, along with Silent House, which stars Elizabeth Olsen as a young woman trapped in a secluded dwelling, and A Thousand Words, starring Eddie Murphy as a man left speechless. After earning near-universal acclaim for Finding Nemo and WALL-E, Pixar wiz Andrew Stanton takes a big leap into live action filmmaking with the much-ballyhooed John Carter. The result, critics say, is something of a mixed bag.
Now that Oscar season is officially behind us, it might be a good time to take in some less demanding (and prestigious) fare at the multiplex. This week brings an animated eco-parable "The Lorax," with voice work from Zac Efron and Taylor Swift) and a wild party ("Project X," starring Thomas Mann and Oliver Cooper). Delightful as Dr. Seuss? books are, they aren?t all that long, so it can?t be easy to adapt them to the big screen. The critics say The Lorax sometimes feels padded with action and musical numbers, but on the whole, it?s bright and colorful, and it delivers a solid message about protecting the planet.
The 84th Annual Academy Awards are Sunday, so here's your last chance to check out the nominees before the Oscars are handed out. However, if you're in the mood for something new, we've got real American heroes (Act of Valor, starring Roselyn Sanchez and Alex Veadov), a wacky commune (Wanderlust, starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd), a soul-sick businessman (Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, starring Tyler Perry and Thandie Newton), and a mysterious disappearance (Gone, starring Amanda Seyfried and Daniel Sunjata). Act of Valor is a fictionalized action film featuring real-life Navy SEALs, but critics say it's not a particularly good one; it's an over-adrenalized series of (literally) explosive set-pieces that never finds the humanity within these heroes.
If you're planning on hitting the multiplex over Presidents' Day weekend, you've got a few new options. We've got lovestruck spies ("This Means War," starring Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine), a very little girl ("The Secret World of Arrietty," with voice work from Bridgit Mendler and Amy Poehler), and a combustible biker ("Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," starring Nicolas Cage and Idris Elba). What if the characters in Mad Magazine's "Spy vs. Spy" duked it out over a woman? That's the basic premise of "This Means War," but unfortunately, critics say its blend of screwball comedy and action is surprisingly flat.
This week in multiplexes, "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" gets a deluxe 3d rerelease, but there are plenty of other choices for those unwilling to venture to a galaxy far, far away. We've got a jungle quest ("Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Josh Hutcherson), rogue CIA agents on the run ("Safe House," starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds), and a couple rebuilding their relationship ("The Vow," starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum). Plus, there are a bunch of interesting indies and foreign language films over at the arthouse. Find out what the critics have to say!
With awards season in full swing, audiences have plenty to choose from at the multiplex, whether it be the Oscar contenders they've missed or a solid trio of new releases. We've got a haunted town (The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Ciarán Hinds), a teenage superheroes (Chronicle, starring Dane DeHaan and Alex Russell), and a whale rescue (Big Miracle, starring John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore). What do the critics have to say? Daniel Radcliffe tackles his first major post-Harry Potter in The Woman in Black, and critics say this spooky, atmospheric ghost story conjures up some terrific old-fashioned thrills.
While the world of filmdom trains its sights on the Sundance Film Festival this week, there are plenty of diversions in multiplexes for those of us who couldn't make the trek to Park City. We've got a snowy survival story (The Grey, starring Liam Neeson and Dermot Mulroney), a twisty heist thriller (Man on a Ledge, starring Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks), and the tale of a sassy bounty hunter (One For the Money, starring Katherine Heigl and Jason O'Mara). (Incidentally, the latter two films are being released, respectively, by Lions Gate and its recently acquired subsidiary, Summit Entertainment). Find out what the critics have to say!
This week at the movies, we've got a reluctant smuggler (Contraband, starring Mark Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale), a musical showdown (Joyful Noise, starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton), and a Disney classic (Beauty and the Beast In 3D, with voice work from Paige O'Hara and Robby Benson). What do the critics have to say about this week's cinematic offerings? Mark Wahlberg made a big score in The Italian Job; now he's trying to pull off another caper with Contraband, and while the critics find it to be a competent heist thriller, they also say its plot is both convoluted and recycled.
Happy New Year! This week at the movies, we've got just one new wide release -- The Devil Inside, a tale of demonic possession starring Fernanda Andrade and Simon Quarterman. What do the critics have to say? It appears the folks behind The Devil Inside feared their film would be exorcised by those mean old film critics, since it wasn't screened prior to release. It's the tale of a young woman who brings a film crew to Rome, hoping to rescue her mother from demonic possession -- and avoid the same fate herself. Kids, put down those pitchforks and guess the Tomatometer!
Happy Holidays! This week at the movies brings no new wide releases, but we've got one hotly anticipated limited -- The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. What do the critics have to say? Meryl Streep's playing Margaret Thatcher - sounds like The Iron Lady is bound for awards season glory, right? Well, the critics say Streep does a great job with the role - it's the movie around her that doesn't quite know what it wants to say. The Iron Lady delves into the personal and political life of the pioneering and polarizing British prime minister on the eve of the 1982 Falklands War.
Happy Holidays! This week at the movies, we've got a junior adventurer (The Adventures of Tintin, starring Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis); a punk hacker (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara); an animal house (We Bought a Zoo, starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson); a trusted steed (War Horse, starring Jeremy Irvine and Emily Watson); and an alien invasion (The Darkest Hour, starring Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby).Plus, we've got Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Pina, and The Land of Blood and Honey. And don't forget -- the Certified FreshMission: Impossible Ghost Protocol expands into wide release this weekend. What do critics have to say?
This week at the movies, we've got a brilliant detective (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law), secret agents (Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, starring Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg), singing rodents (Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, starring Jason Lee and David Cross), and a prodigal daughter (Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt). What do the critics have to say? Purists griped about the first Sherlock Holmes, but audiences didn't seem to mind the famously logical detective in full on action mode. Critics say you'll get more of the same with A Game of Shadows.
This week at the movies, we've got a star-studded celebration (New Year's Eve, starring Hilary Swank and Halle Berry) and adventures in babysitting (The Sitter, starring Jonah Hill and Ari Graynor). What do the critics have to say? Director Garry Marshall certainly has a yen for celebrity-populated, holiday-centric comedies, but critics say his latest, New Year's Eve, is even weaker than the thematically similar (and critically panned) Valentine's Day, stranding a terrific cast in a thinly plotted, schmaltzy confection. In theory, an irresponsible babysitter and his bratty charges embarking on a precarious journey through the big city could be a recipe for hilarity, but critics say The Sitter only occasionally lives up to its promise.
This week at the movies brings no new wide releases, but we've still got some strong limiteds, including Shame, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and Takeshi Kitano's Outrage. What do the critics have to say? Critics say Shame is an intense, beautifully crafted portrait of a profoundly damaged soul, often painful but powerfully acted. Shame stars Michael Fassbender as a sex addict whose inner demons threaten to spiral out of control when his troubled younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment, bringing her resentments with her. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Shame isn't always easy to watch, but it's visually stunning and features terrific performances from its leads.
This week at the movies, we've got a Muppet caper (The Muppets, starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams), a special delivery (Arthur Christmas, with voice work from James McAvoy and Hugh Laurie), and a cinematic fantasia (Hugo, starring Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz). It's been more than a decade since the Muppets were in multiplexes, but critics say it was worth the wait: they find The Muppets to be a joyous musical comedy. The good folks at Aardman have made plenty of delightfully offbeat animated films, and critics say the trend continues with Arthur Christmas. Martin Scorsese made a family movie? In 3D? Yes, he did, and critics say Hugo is a dazzling affair.