Critics Consensus

Thursday, Jul. 21 2011, 04:35 PM

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.

Thursday, Jul. 14 2011, 04:52 PM

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.

Thursday, Jul. 07 2011, 06:05 PM

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.

Thursday, Jun. 30 2011, 05:10 PM

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.

Friday, Jun. 24 2011, 07:49 AM

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.

Friday, Jun. 17 2011, 02:24 PM

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.

Friday, Jun. 10 2011, 04:52 AM

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.

Thursday, Jun. 02 2011, 05:13 PM

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.

Friday, May. 27 2011, 11:03 AM

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.

Friday, May. 20 2011, 06:53 AM

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.

Thursday, May. 12 2011, 07:48 PM

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.

Friday, May. 06 2011, 02:29 PM

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.

Thursday, Apr. 28 2011, 05:50 PM

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.

Friday, Apr. 22 2011, 09:21 AM

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.

Thursday, Apr. 14 2011, 04:19 PM

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.

Friday, Apr. 08 2011, 12:56 PM

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.

Thursday, Mar. 31 2011, 04:20 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a funny bunny (Hop, starring James Marsden and Russell Brand); identity intrigue (Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan); and a juvenile ghoul (Insidious, starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne). What do the critics have to say? Recipe for a sci-fi thriller: take a sprig of Memento, a dash of Groundhog Day, and a pinch of Inception. Mix them together and you've got Source Code, which critics say is a smart, suspenseful popcorn flick with excellent performances. Easter's right around the corner, so it would seem like an ideal time for a family comedy about a bunny battling with an army of chicks for control of the holiday, right? Right?

Friday, Mar. 25 2011, 04:23 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a violent fantasyland (Sucker Punch, starring Emily Browning and Abbie Cornish) and some brotherly love (Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules, starring Zachary Gordon and Devon Bostick). What do the critics have to say? Smoking-hot babes with swords! A daring escape from a creepy asylum! Samurais and dragons! Is there any way Sucker Punch could possibly go wrong? Well, yes, say critics, who find Zack Snyder's latest to be a compendium of geeky obsessions in search of a story (or indeed, general coherence). It appears Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules won't set the critical world on fire either - some critics say its life lessons and good humor are more pronounced this time out, but others feel it's a little shopworn and occasionally cynical.

Friday, Mar. 18 2011, 12:47 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a close encounter (Paul, starring Simon Pegg and Seth Rogen); a perfect drug (Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro); and some rough justice (The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei). What do the critics have to say? Simon Pegg's filmography is littered with expert genre parodies (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and director Greg Mottola is known for mixing big laughs with poignancy and intelligence. And although their new effort, Paul, may not live up to their previous work, critics say it's an amiable, sweet road comedy that smartly sends up sci-fi references.

Friday, Mar. 11 2011, 03:42 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a war of the worlds (Battle: Los Angeles, starring Aaron Eckhart and Ramon Rodriguez); an interplanetary quest (Mars Needs Moms, starring Seth Green and Joan Cusack); and a lupine love story (Red Riding Hood, starring Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman). What do the critics have to say? The extraterrestrial invasion movie never seems to go out of style. Still, it helps if we have heroes we can root for and a strong storyline, two things that critics say are generally lacking in Battle: Los Angeles. Aaron Eckhart stars as a marine who must lead his charges into battle to protect Santa Monica after hostile outer space visitors have attacked many of the world's major cities.


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