This week at the movies, we've got a heroic strongman (Conan the Barbarian, starring Jason Momoa and Rachel Nichols), pint-sized agents (Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D, starring Jessica Alba and Joel McHale), scary neighbors (Fright Night, starring Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell), and part-time lovers (One Day, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess). What do the critics have to say? The 1982 Conan the Barbarian became a seminal entry in the sword-and-sorcery subgenre, maiking Arnold Schwarzenegger a star in the process. And although critics say Jason Momoa does his best with the title role, this new Conan the Barbarian eschews pulpy swashbuckling for non-stop action.
This week at the movies, we've got deadly premonitions (Final Destination 5, starring Nicholas D'Agosto and Emma Bell); a wacky bank heist (30 Minutes or Less, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride); societal change (The Help, starring Viola Davis and Emma Stone); and Gleek mania ( Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, starring Lea Michele and Chris Colfer). What do the critics have to say? Listen up, Final Destination fans: we've got good news, and we've got bad news. The good news first: the critics say Final Destination 5 is probably the best entry in the series, with tense, well-crafted set pieces that provide some welcome freshness to the franchise's signature Rube Goldberg-esque kills. The bad news: "critical success" is a relative term here.
This week at the movies, we've got intelligent primates (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, starring James Franco and Freida Pinto) and a body swap (The Change-Up, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman). What do the critics have to say? It seems we will never exhaust our collective need for Planet of the Apes movies. The 1968 sci-fi classic spawned four sequels (of wildly varying quality), a remake, and, now, a prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And guess what? The critics say Rise is one of the best of the bunch, with dazzling effects, thought-provoking ideas, and plenty of action.
This week at the movies, we've got bronco-busters and extraterrestrials (Cowboys and Aliens, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford), little blue people (The Smurfs, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Katy Perry), and modern romance (Crazy, Stupid, Love, starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling). What do the critics have to say? What is Cowboys and Aliens? Is it a Western? A sci-fi thriller? An homage? A parody? Well, say critics, it's all those things and more, though it's not quite as seamless -- or as fun -- as one might have hoped, given the talents involved (and the B-movie promise of its undeniably awesome title). Daniel Craig stars as a mysterious man with no memory of his past who stumbles into a rough-and-tumble town called Absolution.
This week at the movies, we've got a shield-wielding superhero (Captain America: The First Avenger, starring Chris Evans and Hayley Atwell) and a commitment-free couple (Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis). What do the critics have to say? Good ol' Captain America. He's one of Marvel's oldest heroes. But how does he fare in the 21st Century? Not badly at all, say critics; if Captain America is a cut below Marvel's other 2011 blockbusters (Thor and X-Men: First Class, both Certified Fresh), it's still a rousing, proudly old-fashioned superhero flick with tons of visual flash and an exceptional lead performance from Chris Evans.
This week at the movies, we've got the conclusion to one of the most popular cinematic franchises ever (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson), and we revisit Hundred Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh, with voice work from Jim Cummings and Craig Ferguson). What do the critics have to say? How do you conclude one of cinema's most beloved franchises? With a bang. Critics say Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II is the perfect send-off to a series that's enchanted millions: it's viscerally thrilling, visually majestic, and poignantly acted -- especially so because we've watched Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint grow up on the big screen.
This week at the movies, we've got scheming employees (Horrible Bosses, starring Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston) and talking animals (Zookeeper, starring Kevin James and Rosario Dawson). What do the critics have to say? Plenty of folks slog through dead-end jobs with contempt for their employers. Fortunately, few of us would ever entertain the possibility of murdering our boss, but that's the setup for Horrible Bosses, which critics are calling a gleeful, cheerfully silly and dirty comedy that's perfect for our troubled economic times. Remember Dr. Doolittle? Charlotte's Web? Babe? There are plenty of solid family movies that feature talking animals. Unfortunately, critics say Zookeeper is unlikely to join that group, since it does so little with its premise and instead relies on shopworn physical humor and bland plotting.
This week at the movies, we've got robots in disguise (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, starring Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), a recession romance (Larry Crowne, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts), and a royal mix-up (Monte Carlo, starring Selena Gomez and Leighton Meester). What do the critics have to say? Three films into the franchise, we pretty much know what we're getting with a Transformers movie: tons of hyperkinetic robot action, with little in the way of character development or coherent plotting. So it is with Transformers: Dark of the Moon; critics say this latest installment is a marked improvement over Revenge of the Fallen, but it's still an exercise in sensory overload that favors special effects over storytelling.
This week at the movies, we've got animated autos (Cars 2, with voice work from Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy) and execrable educators (Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake). What do the critics have to say? Pixar's output has been so good for so long that it seemed unfathomable that one of the studio's films would get a less-than-rapturous response from critics. Well, all good things must come to an end, and that now includes Pixar's streak of Certified Fresh releases; critics say Cars 2 looks fantastic, but the studio's trademark storytelling prowess and character development is MIA here, and the result is a decent animated feature that must count as a big disappointment, given the standards that Pixar has set for itself.
This week at the movies, we've got a hero with a power ring (Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively) and some wacky waddlers (Mr. Popper's Penguins, starring Jim Carrey and Carla Gugino). What do the critics have to say? With the towering exceptions of Batman and Superman, DC's stable of superheroes haven't fared as well on the big screen as Marvel's. And critics say the publisher's latest adaptation, Green Lantern won't reverse the trend - it's a generic, special effects-heavy effort that lacks interesting characters and a compelling script. Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, a brash test pilot who's recruited by the Green Lantern Corps to join their crusade against evil in the universe.
This week at the movies, we've got a close encounter (Super 8, starring Kyle Chandler and Elle Fanning), a quest for fun (Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, starring Jordana Beatty and Heather Graham), and a Gallic nostalgia trip (Midnight in Paris, starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams). What do the critics have to say? What do the critics have to say?With films like Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg altered the cinematic landscape by combining B-movie thrills with sophistication and emotional heft. Now, with Spielberg producing, J.J. Abrams tries something similar with Super 8, and the result is stunning.
This week at the movies, we've only got one wide release: the hotly-anticipated origin story of everyone's favorite mutants (X-Men: First Class, starring James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender). What do the critics have to say? Sometimes, when a franchise starts drifting toward mediocrity, it's best to start again from the top. That certainly seems to be the case with X-Men: First Class; critics call this origin story a visually stunning, action-packed popcorn flick with excellent performances and a smarter-than-average script. And in indieland, Submarine, a coming-of-age dramedy about a young man trying to save his parents' marriage and find love for himself, is Certified Fresh.
This week at the movies, we've got men behaving badly? again (The Hangover Part II, starring Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms) and the return of a bamboo-eating martial artist (Kung Fu Panda 2, with voice work from Jack Black and Angelina Jolie). What do the critics have to say? Hey, remember The Hangover? It was pretty funny, right? What if they did basically the same thing, only this time in another country? Well, critics say that's essentially the problem with The Hangover Part II -- it's got hilariously bawdy gags and manic energy, but it's lacking the element of surprise that made the first film so fresh.
This week at the movies, we've got the hotly-anticipated fourth journey of Capt. Jack Sparrow -- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Jonny Depp and Penelope Cruz. What do the critics have to say? When Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl hit theaters in 2003, it was a delightful surprise - Johnny Depp charmed nearly everyone with his Keith Richards-meets-Buster Keaton performance as the lovable, roguish Capt. Jack Sparrow, and the whole enterprise was much smarter - and more exciting - than any movie based upon an amusement park ride had a right to be. What was once fresh, however, has now become pretty stale.
This week at the movies, we?ve got a vampire slayer (Priest, starring Paul Bettany and Karl Urban) and nuptial nuttiness (Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph). What do the critics have to say? When the armies of evil are on the march, who you gonna call? A priest should do the trick, especially if his name is Priest, and is more adept at dishing out pain than serving communion. Too bad the critics find Priest to be less than heavenly. Kristen Wiig is a funny lady. Unfortunately for moviegoers, the Saturday Night Live star has largely been limited to a series of sharp cameos on the big screen. Well, now she?s got a vehicle for her comedic chops with Bridesmaids.
This week at the movies, we've got a mighty Norse god (Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman), a love triangle (Something Borrowed, starring Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin), and wedding bell blues (Jumping the Broom, starring Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine). What do the critics have to say? Blockbuster time! Now that summer's here, all we need is a good superhero movie to kick things off in grand style. And critics say we've got one with Thor, a robust, thrilling adventure with smarts and sly laughs. Chris Hemsworth stars as the God of Thunder, who's been exiled from Asgard after heedlessly starting a war.
This week at the movies, we've got speedy autos (Fast Five, starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker), a night to remember (Prom, starring Aimee Teegarden and Thomas McDonell), and a fractured fairy tale (Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil, with voice work from Hayden Panettiere and Patrick Warburton). What do the critics have to say? Action sequels are always mercenary cash-grabs, and by the time a fifth installment hits theaters, any pretension to quality has pretty much evaporated. Right? Not necessarily, if the reviews of Fast Five are anything to go by -- critics say this installment delivers high-octane thrills and rarely pauses for thought, leaving the sporadic success of the first four films in the dust.
This week at the movies we've got a big-top romance (Water for Elephants, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson); a maternal fixer (Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, starring Loretta Devine and Bow Wow), and familial felines (African Cats, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson). What do the critics have to say? Nowadays, the word "melodrama" is mostly used pejoratively, but it wasn't always so: melodramas were the stock-in-trade of great directors like George Cukor and Douglas Sirk. However, we live in more cynical times, and critics say the Depression-set Water for Elephants has an evocative sense of its time and place but lacks the burning passions required to pull off this type of romantic weepie.
This week at the movies, we've got meta mayhem (Scream 4, starring Neve Campbell and Emma Roberts), a winged migration (Rio, with voice work from Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway), and a historical trial (The Conspirator, starring Robin Wright Penn and James McAvoy). What do the critics have to say? It's been 11 years since Ghostface last haunted the horror movie-obsessed teens of Woodsboro, so it's not unfair to ask: how well does Wes Craven's venerable franchise hold up after a decade of torture porn and reboots of 1970s horror warhorses? Pretty well, say critics, who call Scream 4 a worthy addition to the series.
This week at the movies, we've got an eccentric imbiber (Arthur, starring Russell Brand and Greta Gerwig); medieval mischief ( Your Highness, starring James Franco and Natalie Portman); a teenage assassin (Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan and Eric Bana); and a surfing survivor (Soul Surfer, starring AnnaSophia Robb and Dennis Quaid). What do the critics have to say? I know it's crazy, but it's true: if you get caught between the moon and New York City, critics say you can probably do better than this remake of Arthur, which lacks the charm and wit of the 1981 original. Stepping into the shoes of the late Dudley Moore, Russell Brand stars as the whimsical, heavy-drinking hedonist whose irresponsible pursuit of pleasure threatens the good name of his staid family's foundation.