Critics Consensus

Friday, Jul. 23 2010, 04:32 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a spy on the run (Salt, starring Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber) and some feuding sisters (Ramona and Beezus, starring Selena Gomez and John Corbett). What do the critics have to say? Now that the Cold War is long over, they don't make thrillers like they used to. Oh, wait, maybe they do. The pundits say Salt is a solid, meat-and-potatoes spy flick with a standout performance from Angelina Jolie -- and, unfortunately, a completely preposterous plot. Filled with true-to-life vignettes and mischievous humor, the works of Beverly Cleary have long been staples of the pre-teen reading diet. Now, Ramona and Beezus is finally getting the big screen treatment, and the result, say critics, is pleasant but generic.

Friday, Jul. 16 2010, 05:32 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a mind-bending dreamworld (Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page) and a modern-day fantasia (The Sorcerer's Apprentice, starring Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel). What do the critics have to say? Christopher Nolan is on a roll. He took the superhero movie to new heights with The Dark Knight, and now he's back with Inception, which critics are calling an ambitious, dreamy sci-fi heist movie that's quite a mind bender. For those who can't wait for the next Harry Potter installment, The Sorcerer's Apprentice provides plenty of wizards and sorcery. What it lacks, say critics, is originality and inspiration.

Friday, Jul. 09 2010, 06:26 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a suburban supervillain (Despicable Me, featuring voice work from Steve Carell and Jason Segel) and mandibled monsters (Predators, starring Adrien Brody and Alice Braga). What do the critics have to say? It's always nice when a non-Pixar CGI feature dispenses with the lowest-common-denominator gags and shows off its smarts. Critics say that's one of the many reasons to love Despicable Me, which they call a witty, delightfully weird film that should appeal to kids and adults. Futuristic, brutal, and counting two future governors among its alumni, Predator was among the most memorable action/horror films of the 1980s. And critics say Predators, the latest installment of the franchise, offers rock-solid, old school thrills and stands alongside the original.

Friday, Jul. 02 2010, 04:36 AM

This week at the movies, we've got brooding bloodsuckers (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson) and elemental excitement (The Last Airbender, starring Noah Ringer and Dev Patel). What do the critics have to say? Hey, Twihards -- you're probably going to see Eclipse anyway, so feel free to ignore the reviews. However, for the uninitiated who find themselves dragged to the theater, the critics say Eclipse is a big step up from New Moon -- even if it still suffers from slack pacing and portentous dialogue. Goodness, what happened to M. Night Shyamalan? In the decade since The Sixth Sense, his reputation as a wunderkind has taken a steep dive, one that won't be revived with The Last Airbender, which critics are calling an incomprehensible, ugly mess.

Friday, Jun. 25 2010, 05:42 AM

This week at the movies, we've got puerile parenting (Grown Ups, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock), and rogue romance (Knight and Day, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz). What do the critics have to say? On most days, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Kevin James are very funny people. Unfortunately, it seems few of those days coincided with the filming of Grown Ups, which critics say is a juvenile, repetitive, lazy comedy. Say what you will about Tom Cruise's oddball public persona, but the guy has charisma to spare. Critics say his presence goes a long way toward enlivening the action/comedy/romance Knight and Day, which is otherwise short on logic and ultimately favors bombast over charm.

Friday, Jun. 18 2010, 04:36 AM

This week at the movies brings the return of Pixar's most iconic heroes (Toy Story 3, with voice work by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen) as well as a supernatural bounty hunter (Jonah Hex, starring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox). What do the critics have to say? Few (if any) studios can boast a critical and commercial streak that's been as astonishing as Pixar's. Now, with Toy Story 3, the company's creative minds have reprised the characters that have long been their trademark, and the critical response has run from positive to borderline ecstatic. Critics say the stylistically bold but haphazardly structured Jonah Hexis a modest showcase for the talents of Josh Brolin, but fails on nearly every other level.

Friday, Jun. 11 2010, 11:55 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a pair of 1980s reboots, one featuring a band of ragtag mercenaries (The A-Team, starring Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper), and another with an aspiring martial artist (The Karate Kid, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan). What do the critics have to say? Don't you love it when a plan (or, in this case, a remake) comes together? And since we're asking questions, is there anything wrong with a big dumb action flick every once in a while? The critics would likely answer yes to the former question, but on the later they're largely split.

Friday, Jun. 04 2010, 03:54 AM

This week at the movies, we've got rock 'n' roll ribaldry (Get Him to the Greek, starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill); DNA disturbances (Splice, starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley); a canine caper (Marmaduke, starring Owen Wilson and William H. Macy); and espionage entanglements (Killers, starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher). What do the critics have to say? It might seem like fun to hang with your favorite rock star -- unless you actually have to do it. The critics say Get Him to the Greek takes this inspired premise and wrings plenty of terrific gags from it, making for a film that has such high energy that its lapses are easy to forgive.

Friday, May. 28 2010, 03:59 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a royal adventure (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton) and sexy socialites (Sex and the City 2, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall). What do the critics have to say?

Friday, May. 21 2010, 04:02 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a fairy tale finale (Shrek Forever After, starring the voices of Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz) and a clueless commando (MacGruber, starring Will Forte and Kristen Wiig). What do the critics have to say? Everyone's favorite ogre returns this week in the fourth installment of the Shrek franchise, but is there enough fairy tale magic left after Shrek the Third? And while Saturday Night Live has produced some of America's best comedic talents over the past few decades, films based on SNL sketches haven't fared as well. Will MacGruber be one of the few to succeed?

Friday, May. 14 2010, 04:08 AM

This week at the movies, we've got serious swashbuckling (Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchet), amour in Verona (Letters to Juliet, starring Amanda Seyfried and Chris Egan),and roundball romance (Just Wright, starring Common and Queen Latifah). Robin Hood is a merry man, right? Well, not in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, and the film suffers from its deviation from the legend, despite its impressive visuals and strong performances. Romeo once wondered, "Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous; and it pricks like thorn." Not in Letters to Juliet, which critics say is too safe, too predictable, and too sticky sweet. Sometimes a movie can generate tons of goodwill despite its hackneyed premise. The critics say Just Wright benefits from its likeable leads but is ultimately undone by its sheer predictability.

Friday, May. 07 2010, 03:57 AM

This week at the movies brings just one wide release: Iron Man 2, the hotly-anticipated superhero romp starring Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, and Scarlett Johansson. What do the critics have to say? As with many blockbuster sequels, Iron Man 2 is bigger, louder, and filled with more characters than its predecessor. Critics say that doesn't mean it's better, but it's still got enough firepower to kick off the summer in fine style -- and the always-delightful presence of Robert Downey Jr. ensures that Iron Man 2 stays on track. Downey is back as Tony Stark, the multimillionaire and professional adventurer who dons the high-tech Iron Man getup and is reluctant to turn his creation over to the military.

Friday, Apr. 30 2010, 07:40 AM

This week at the movies, we've got the return of Freddy Krueger A Nightmare on Elm Street, starring Jackie Earle Haley and Kyle Gallner) and some angry rodents (Furry Vengeance, starring Brendan Fraser and Brooke Shields). What do the critics have to say? Freddy Krueger, one of horror cinema's most iconic killers, is back to terrorize the teens of Springwood. Unfortunately, say critics, the new incarnation of A Nightmare on Elm Street is stale stuff, lacking the imagination and scares of its predecessors. Critics say Furry Vengeance is no Over the Hedge; instead, it's a mirthless, aggressively dumb family comedy that substitutes slapstick violence for laughs or a message.

Friday, Apr. 23 2010, 03:58 AM

This week at the movies, we've got pregnancy pratfalls (The Back-up Plan, starring Jennifer Lopez and Alex O'Loughlin); mercenary mayhem (The Losers, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Zoe Saldana); and aquatic animals (The Disney nature documentary Oceans). What do the critics have to say? Jennifer Lopez hasn't been heard from in a little while, and the good news is that critics find her appealing in The Back-Up Plan. The bad news is they find little else to like in this romantic comedy, which is sitcommy, predictable, and unconvincing. If you like your slam-bang action-fests to contain not a shred of subtext or intellectual pretention, The Losers is for you. But mindless explosions can only take you so far. It's Earth Day, and what better way to celebrate than by gazing upon the wonders of nature?

Friday, Apr. 16 2010, 07:44 AM

This week at the movies, we've got hapless heroes (em>Kick-Ass, starring Aaron Johnson and Nicolas Cage), and madcap mourners (Death at a Funeral, starring Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan). What do the critics have to say? Given the recent glut of superheroes on the big screen, it was inevitable that we'd get a film that both relishes and satirizes the genre (sorry, Superhero Movie, you don't count). Critics say Matthew Vaughn's hotly-anticipated Kick-Ass largely lives up to its name, even if some find its ambitious approach a bit scattershot. Three years ago, Frank Oz had a modest hit with Death at a Funeral, which revolved around a series of wacky misadventures in the wake of a Brit family patriarch's death. Now Neil LaBute tries his hand at similar material with a mostly African American cast, and critics say the result is generally uninspired.

Thursday, Apr. 08 2010, 03:32 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a wild night on the town (Date Night, starring Steve Carrell and Tina Fey) and some supernatural snail-mail (Letters to God, starring Tanner Maguire and Jeffrey S. Johnson). What do the critics have to say? Steve Carell and Tina Fey are two very funny people. So it seems like a no-brainer that a comedy featuring the two of them as a married couple out on the town would be a can't-miss proposition, right? Well, sort of: critics say Date Night is best when its two stars are riffing off each other, and adrift when it focuses on its caper elements.

Friday, Apr. 02 2010, 05:41 AM

This week at the movies, we've got swords and sandals (Clash of the Titans, starring Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson); teen romance (The Last Song, starring Miley Cyrus and Greg Kinnear); and couplehood challenges (Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too, starring Janet Jackson and Michael Jai White). What do the critics have to say? The original Clash of the Titans was campy, goofy, and plenty of fun - partly because of the charmingly lo-fi special effects. However, critics say the big-budget remake lacks the joie de vivre of the original. Miley Cyrus can't play Hannah Montana forever, so what better way to take baby steps toward an adult film career is there than starring in a Nicholas Sparks movie? Unfortunately, critics say Cyrus' showcase, The Last Song, is a bland, bloodless weepie.

Thursday, Mar. 25 2010, 04:16 PM

This week at the movies, we've got aerial adventure (How to Train Your Dragon, with voice work from Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson) and an '80s flashback (Hot Tub Time Machine, starring John Cusack and Rob Corddry). What do the critics have to say? In the world of CGI animation, DreamWorks has long played second fiddle to Pixar. However, critics say that if How to Train Your Dragon is any indication, the gap between the studios may be narrowing. Hot Tub Time Machine boasts one of the funniest titles in recent memory. And critics say the movie's pretty good, too - it's a throwback to such 1980s raunch-fests that's elevated by an excellent cast.

Friday, Mar. 19 2010, 10:59 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a scheming tween (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, starring Zachary Gordon and Steve Zahn); squabbling exes (The Bounty Hunter, starring Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston); and hazardous healthcare (Repo Men, starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker). What do the critics have to say? It's a (debatable) maxim that the book is always better than the movie. That certainly seems to be the case with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which critics say contains moments of insight and humor but never fleshes out its middle school characters with the same empathy as Jeff Kinney's books.

Friday, Mar. 12 2010, 05:26 AM

This week at the movies, we've got Iraq War intrigue (Green Zone, starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear); opposites attracting (She's Out of My League, starring Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve); brooding and bonding (Remember Me, starring Robert Pattinson Emilie de Ravin); and multicultural matrimony (Our Family Wedding, starring America Ferrera and Forest Whitaker). What do the critics have to say? At their best, the Bourne movies were models of mainstream filmmaking - intelligent, suspenseful, and timely. However, critics say that if you got a little queasy with those films' use of the shaky-cam, you'll need a suitcase full of Dramamine for Green Zone.


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