Critics Consensus

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.

Thursday, Mar. 03 2011, 05:10 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a leapin' lizard (Rango, with voice work from Johnny Depp and Abigail Breslin); a fateful romance (The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt); a night to remember (Take Me Home Tonight, starring Topher Grace and Anna Faris); and an update of Beauty and the Beast (Beastly, starring Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens). What do the critics have to say? In an animation landscape dominated creatively and commercially by Pixar, it's rare that a CGI feature brings much originality to the table. However, critics say that's the case with Rango, which they say is a manic, wildly inventive, very funny homage/parody of spaghetti Westerns.

Friday, Feb. 25 2011, 06:21 AM

This week at the movies, we've got midlife crises (Hall Pass, starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) and automotive vengeance (Drive Angry, starring Nicolas Cage and Amber Heard). What do the critics have to say? In the past, the Farrelly brothers' deft mix of raunch and heart made for a potent comedic combination. However, with their latest, Hall Pass, critics say the brothers' aim is off; though the movie has some very funny moments, it's bogged down by a little too much gross stuff and a little too much sentimentality. With a title like Drive Angry, you pretty much know what to expect -- lots of action, and Nicolas Cage doing his unhinged thing, with subtlety and nuance left in the dust.

Thursday, Feb. 17 2011, 04:54 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a mystery man (Unknown, starring Liam Neeson and January Jones), a teenage alien (I Am Number Four, starring Alex Pettyfer and Timothy Olyphant), and a cross-dressing fed (Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, starring Martin Lawrence and Brandon T. Jackson). What do the critics have to say? Lately, Liam Neeson has a thing for European intrigue. He journeyed to Paris to rescue his daughter in 2009's Taken, and now he heads to Berlin for Unknown, a twisty thriller that critics say undermines its strong premise with implausible plotting. Neeson stars as a man who falls into a coma after a car accident; when he awakens, he discovers his wife (January Jones) doesn't recognize him, and he's being targeted by shadowy forces.

Friday, Feb. 11 2011, 05:00 AM

This week at the movies, we've got romantic deception (Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston); Bieber fever (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, starring Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus); Shakespearean lawn ornaments (Gnomeo and Juliet, with voice work by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt); and an epic journey (The Eagle, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell). What do the critics have to say? If you're a 12-year-old girl with a severe case of Bieber fever, you'll probably love Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. If you're a parent, or if you're merely curious about the Bieber phenomenon, critics say you'll probably have a better-than-average time with this concert/behind-the-scenes doc.

Friday, Feb. 04 2011, 04:20 AM

This week at the movies, we've got undersea terror (Sanctum, starring Ioan Gruffudd and Richard Roxburgh), and a psycho roomie (The Roommate, starring Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly). What do the critics have to say? James Cameron loves high drama under the sea; his directorial credits include Piranha 2: The Spawning, The Abyss, and that little movie about an ocean liner that sank after hitting an iceberg. Cameron is the executive producer on Sanctum, and critics say the film maintains his flair for arresting visuals, but unfortunately the characters and plot are nothing particularly special. It looks like the folks behind The Roommate forgot to list a "critics wanted" ad, since it wasn't screened prior to release.

Friday, Jan. 28 2011, 07:48 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a vengeful assassin (The Mechanic, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster) and an exorcism education (The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins and Rutger Hauer). What do the critics have to say? If you're looking for an action star that can simultaneously seem both tough-as-nails and emotionally vulnerable, Jason Statham is your man. Critics say the star brings a level of emotional heft and gritty brawn to The Mechanic, which is otherwise a so-so action flick with some decent thrills but little originality. Given the number of horror flicks who turn demonic possession into schlock, The Rite gets points for taking the battle between good and evil seriously. However, critics say there's a difference between being serious and being dull.

Friday, Jan. 21 2011, 03:58 AM

This week at the movies, we've got friends with benefits (No Strings Attached, starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher) and a great escape (The Way Back, starring Ed Harris and Colin Farrell). What do the critics have to say? Once in a while a romantic comedy will come along and represent the messiness of the contemporary dating scene. Most of the time, however, we get movies with a little bit of insight and a lot of contrivance. Critics say No Strings Attached falls into the latter category, with moments of warmth and sweetness that are spoiled by a predictable narrative and a dirty mind.

Friday, Jan. 14 2011, 05:40 AM

This week at the movies, we've got an unlikely crime fighter (The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogen and Jay Chou) and some shaky relationships (The Dilemma, starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James). What do the critics have to say? The Green Hornet, who began life as the star of a 1930s radio serial, is a little late to the gritty superhero reboot club. And the critics say despite the direction of the oft-whimsical Michel Gondry and the presence of likeable everyman Seth Rogen in the title role, The Green Hornet doesn't quite succeed as a superhero flick or as a subversive send-up of the genre.

Friday, Jan. 07 2011, 03:51 AM

This week at the movies, we?ve got courageous Crusaders (Season of the Witch, starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman) and a country comeback (Country Strong, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw). What do the critics have to say? Say what you will about Nicolas Cage, but give the man credit: at a time when too many movie stars studiously protect their images, he's unafraid to look ridiculous. Sometimes, his devil-may-care attitude pays off (see Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans), and sometimes, well, we get stuff like Season of the Witch, a Medieval action flick that critics say is too dull to qualify as so-bad-it's-good kitsch.

Thursday, Dec. 23 2010, 05:03 AM

Happy holidays from RT! This week at the movies, we've got frontier justice (True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld), family awkwardness (Little Fockers, starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro), and a fantastic voyage (Gulliver's Travels, starring Jack Black and Amanda Peet). What do the critics have to say? It takes guts to try to fill John Wayne's shoes. But if anyone can substitute for the Duke, well, why not the Dude? The critics say the Coen Brothers' (relatively) straightforward remake of True Grit is a rewarding movie in its own right -- it's tough, sly, and filled with marvelous performances.

Friday, Dec. 17 2010, 03:53 AM

This week at the movies, we?ve got a combative computer (Tron Legacy, starring Jeff Bridges and Garrett Hedlund), buffoonish bears (Yogi Bear, starring Dan Akroyd and Justin Timberlake), a rollicking romance (How Do You Know, starring Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd), a promising pugilist (The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale), and brooding ballerinas (Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis). What do the critics have to say? Upon its release in 1982, TRON was hailed as a technical marvel; its status as one of the first films to rely prominently on computer-generated images helped to cover the fact that the plot was a little goofy. Now, the long gestating and heavily-anticipated sequel Tron Legacy is here, and critics say it has the opposite problem.

Friday, Dec. 10 2010, 05:29 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a spiritual journey (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, starring Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes) and some European intrigue (The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie). What do the critics have to say?


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