Critics Consensus

Thursday, Aug. 16 2012, 04:30 PM

This week at the movies, we've got macho mercenaries (The Expendables 2, starring Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham); a zombified community (ParaNorman, with voice work by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Casey Affleck); an arboreal child (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, starring Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton); and troubled songstress (Sparkle, starring Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston). You pretty much know what you're getting with The Expendables 2: a group of past-and-present action stars wisecracking and blowing stuff up real good. The surprise, say critics, is that this sequel tops its predecessor in just about every way; sure, it's dumb, loud, and a little too self-conscious, but it's got enough muscular action and funny one-liners to delight the popcorn crowd.

Friday, Aug. 10 2012, 08:46 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a man on the run The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz), a pair of congressional hopefuls (The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis), and spouses in a rut (Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones). With Matt Damon in the title role, the Bourne franchise was a commercial and critical juggernaut. Now, Jeremy Renner tries to give the series a reboot, and while critics say The Bourne Legacy is a bit overlong and more disjointed than previous installments, it's still a capable chase thriller with strong action scenes.

Friday, Aug. 03 2012, 09:31 AM

This week at the movies, we've got artificial memories (Total Recall, starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale) and summertime blues (Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, starring Zachary Gordon and Steve Zahn). If you're going to remake a modern classic, you'd better bring something new to the table. Unfortunately, critics say this new Total Recall is visually impressive, but it swaps out the existential anxiety and eccentric panache of Paul Verhoeven's 1990 film for an overabundance of action set-pieces. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise has been nothing if not consistent; each movie chronicles the terrors of middle school with moderate wit and little elegance.

Thursday, Jul. 26 2012, 04:20 PM

This week at the movies, we've got amateur crime fighters (The Watch, starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn) and politically active dancers (Step Up Revolution, starring Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick). What do the critics have to say? At first glance, The Watch looks reasonably promising: it stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill as a group of average Joes battling a malicious interplanetary attack. Unfortunately, critics say the movie makes the least of its premise, uneasily mixing sci-fi elements with gross-out gags. You pretty much know what to expect from a Step Up movie at this point: great dance sequences interspersed with clichéd plotting.

Thursday, Jul. 19 2012, 04:25 PM

We've only got one new wide release in theaters this week, but it's one of the most hotly-anticipated movies of the summer: "The Dark Knight Rises," the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, and Tom Hardy. Find out what the critics have to say on Rotten Tomatoes. With "Batman Begins" and (especially) "The Dark Knight," Christopher Nolan imbued the Batman mythos with a unique blend of visceral thrills, intelligence, and realism. His Batman trilogy concludes with "The Dark Knight Rises," and the critics say the result is a sprawling, ambitious, emotionally satisfying film with a pulse-pounding climax that (mostly) justifies its epic runtime.

Thursday, Jul. 12 2012, 04:15 PM

While the eyes of movie nerds will be on San Diego Comic Con this week, we've got one new offering in multiplexes: the animated "Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D," featuring voice work from Ray Romano, Denis Leary, and John Leguizamo. Find out what the critics have to say on Rotten Tomatoes. With the exception of its first installment, the Ice Age franchise has never been a critical darling. That trend that continues with Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D, which critics say has moments of charm and witty slapstick but often seems content to recycle ideas from the series? previous films.

Thursday, Jul. 05 2012, 04:30 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a legendary web-slinger (The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone), a deadly cartel (Savages, starring Taylor Kitsch and Salma Hayek), and a teenage dream (the 3D concert documentary Katy Perry: Part of Me). What do the critics have to say? The Spider-Man franchise might have set a record for the quickest reboot, though critics say The Amazing Spider-Man is still entertaining, gritty, action-packed stuff - even if we've seen it all before. Oliver Stone may have mellowed in recent years, but critics say Savages is a return to the disreputable Stone films of old - one that's messy, but often queasily compelling.

Thursday, Jun. 28 2012, 04:30 PM

This week at the movies, we've got an uncouth stuffed toy (Ted, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis); striptease artists (Magic Mike, starring Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey); a family secret (People Like Us, starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks); and a defensive granny (Madea's Witness Protection, starring Tyler Perry and Eugene Levy). Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane makes his big screen directorial debut with Ted, and critics say this vulgar, sometimes touching comedy retains the irreverent spirit of his TV work. Magic Mike might look like just another pretty face, but don't be fooled -- critics say this hunky drama/comedy has a heart and a brain too.

Friday, Jun. 22 2012, 01:41 PM

This week at the multiplex, we've got Pixar's first heroine in a starring role ("Brave," with a vocal performance from Kelly Macdonald as the bow-wielding princess Merida). Plus, we've got an axe-toting undead slayer-in-chief ("Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," starring Benjamin Walker and Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and an apocalyptic love affair ("Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley). In addition, Woody Allen's "To Rome with Love," starring Alec Baldwin and Penelope Cruz, and "The Invisible War," a documentary about sexual assault within the armed forces, open in limited release. What do the critics have to say?

Friday, Jun. 15 2012, 02:33 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a rock 'n' roll romance (Rock of Ages, starring Julianne Hough and Tom Cruise) and some father-son bonding (That's My Boy, starring Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg). What do the critics have to say? Given the runaway success of Glee, it's no surprise that the hit jukebox musical Rock of Ages -- featuring songs by Journey, Bon Jovi, Poison, and the like -- made the transition from the stage to the screen. Unfortunately, critics say this headbanger's ball is unlikely to rock you like a hurricane; though it provides some campy thrills, the film is overstuffed with underdeveloped characters and plot strands.

Friday, Jun. 08 2012, 02:22 PM

This week at the movies, we've got an alien resurrection (Prometheus, starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender) and an incredible journey ( Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, with voice work from Ben Stiller and Jada Pinkett Smith). What do the critics have to say? More than three decades after Alien helped to usher in a new era in sci-fi cinema, Ridley Scott heads back to the cosmos for the ambitious Prometheus. And critics saythat while this kinda-sorta prequel to Alien lacks the focus and brutal efficiency of Scott's 1979 classic, it's well acted, visually stunning, and filled with big ideas.

Thursday, May. 31 2012, 04:20 PM

This week at the movies, we've got a high-octane fairy tale (Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron) and the story of a band of freedom fighters (For Greater Glory, starring Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria). There's a good reason fairy tales keep getting adapted to the big screen: stories with heroes, villains, fantastical elements, and lessons on human nature will never go out of style. Still, critics say Snow White and the Huntsman is something of a mixed bag: it's visually resplendent and full of evocative atmospherics, but it fails to bring its characters or familiar story to stirring new life.

Friday, May. 25 2012, 01:13 PM

This weekend at the multiplex, we've got the latest installment of a blockbuster franchise ("Men in Black III," starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin), along with a haunted vacation video ("Chernobyl Diaries," produced by "Paranormal Activity" mastermind Oren Peli) and an eccentric coming-of-age love story (Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," starring Bill Murray and Bruce Willis, which is opening in limited release). Find out what the critics have to say on Rotten Tomatoes. In the world of franchise moviemaking, the third time is rarely, if ever, the charm. So it's something of a surprise to report that the critics say Men in Black III is unexpectedly solid.

Thursday, May. 17 2012, 04:40 PM

This week at the movies brings us a trio of cinematic adaptations from disparate source materials: a board game (Battleship, starring Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna, and Liam Neeson), a self-help book (What to Expect When You're Expecting, starring Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, and Elizabeth Banks), and a Charlie Chaplin classic (The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen). What do the critics have to say? A big-budget blockbuster based upon a board game, Battleship all but promises empty-headed thrills. On that count, critics say, it succeeds, though they also note that a few mindlessly awesome set pieces can't totally compensate for the film's thuddingly silly script.

Thursday, May. 10 2012, 04:40 PM

This week at the movies, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp reteam to spoof the 1970s horror soap opera "Dark Shadows," with help from Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, and Chloë Grace Moretz. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have made plenty of witty, macabre pictures together. Unfortunately, critics say their latest, Dark Shadows, lacks their particular brand of black magic - despite moments of oddball inventiveness, the film suffers from jarring tonal shifts that prevent the story from resonating. Based on the 1970s soap opera, Dark Shadows stars Depp as Barnabas, a wealthy 18th century playboy who becomes a vampire after breaking a witch's heart.

Thursday, May. 03 2012, 04:20 PM

The summer blockbuster season starts this weekend. Marvel's The Avengers, the hotly-anticipated superhero-fest starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson, soars into multiplexes Friday, finally providing comic book fans with the opportunity to witness Iron Man, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Black Widow team up to protect the world from evil. Over the past decade, Marvel Comics heroes like the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have each starred in their own films. And each individual installment offered tantalizing hints of a monumental big screen superhero gathering. Well, comic book fans, the wait is over, and it was worth it.

Friday, Apr. 27 2012, 05:09 AM

This week at the multiplex, we've got a little something for everyone. There's Aardman's stop-motion animated comedy "Pirates! Band of Misfits" with a vocal performance from Hugh Grant; the Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy "The Five-Year Engagement," starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt; "Safe," an action-packed chase thriller starring Jason Statham; and "The Raven," a period whodunit starring John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe. Aardman Animations, the folks behind Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit films, make animated features the old-fashioned way: using stop-motion claymation. With their patented mix of heart and raunch, Judd Apatow's productions - including, but not limited to, Knocked Up and Bridesmaids -- have scored big with audiences and reviewers.

Friday, Apr. 20 2012, 10:01 AM

This week at the movies, we've got a picture-perfect romance (The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling), relationship advice (Think Like a Man, starring Michael Ealy and Meagan Good), and a curious little monkey (Disneynature's Chimpanzee, narrated by Tim Allen). At this point, we know what we're getting from a film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel: syrupy romance and melodramatic plot twists. Sometimes an excellent cast can elevate even the most shopworn material. Case in point: Think Like a Man. Since 2009, Disneynature has celebrated Earth Day with a feature length nature documentary. This year's selection is Chimpanzee, and critics say it's a remarkably intimate look at our primate friends.

Thursday, Apr. 12 2012, 04:50 PM

This weekend at the multiplex, we've got two Howards and a Fine (the Farrelly Brothers' adaptation of "The Three Stooges"), a spooky rural dwelling ("The Cabin in the Woods," written by cult-favorite Joss Whedon), and an outer space prison riot ("Lockout," starring Guy Pearce). If anyone could update the Three Stooges' brand of violently stoopid slapstick for the 21st century, it would be the Farrelly Brothers. And while critics say they're helped immeasurably by the uncanny performances by Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso as Larry, Moe, and Curly, The Three Stooges is ultimately a not-bad comedy with some decent gags and a little too much filler.

Thursday, Apr. 05 2012, 04:20 PM

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.


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