Critics Consensus: Brave Is Rousing and Heartfelt

Plus, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is oddly muted, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is inspired but sentimental.

This week at the movies, we've got a bow-wielding princess (Brave, with voice work by Kelly Macdonald and Billy Connolly); a 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). What do the critics have to say?

Brave

78%

Pixar has finally added a female lead to its stable of animated stars, and while critics find Brave to be a cut below the studio's finest works, it's still a rousing, beautifully animated tale with some funny gags and a lovable heroine. Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a princess who balks at her mother's plan for her life, preferring to romp about the Scottish countryside with her trusty bow and arrow. However, when Merida impulsively asks a witch for a spell to change her destiny, she unintentionally throws her kingdom into chaos. The pundits say Brave isn't the sharpest story in the Pixar cannon, but it's a visual marvel with a strong protagonist and heartfelt scenes of mother-daughter bonding. (Check out 24 Frames for a pictorial rundown of Pixar's history.)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

35%

One would expect that a movie titled Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter would deliver lots of goofy gory thrills. Critics say that's only half correct; while the movie has a couple of deliriously weird moments, it's surprisingly muted and serious given its premise. When his mother is killed by a vampire, Honest Abe (Benjamin Walker) vows revenge. So he establishes a successful law practice, is elected to public office, and tries to preserve the union -- all the while wreaking havoc on the bloodsucking undead. The pundits say Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is visually striking, but its odd mix of biopic and action spectacle makes for uneven viewing. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we run down memorable movies featuring historical presidents.)

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

56%

An apocalyptic romantic comedy, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World has a concept that seems designed to divide critics. Some say it's buoyed by inspired casting and a number of touching moments, while others say it's too contrived and sentimental to fully resonate. An asteroid is headed straight for Earth, so lovelorn Dodge (Steve Carell) decides to seize the day and go on a road trip with his free-spirited downstairs neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley). The pundits say Seeking a Friend for the End of the World hits on some big themes with delicacy and tact, but some find it too much of a tonal mishmash.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Invisible War, a documentary about sexual assault within the armed forces, is at 100 percent.
  • Nate & Margaret, a dramedy about the close friendship between a young film student and a fifty-something aspiring comedienne, is at 80 percent.
  • Kumaré, a gonzo doc about a filmmaker-cum-holy man who finds a group of people following his questionable teachings, is at 73 percent.
  • Woody Allen's To Rome with Love, starring Alec Baldwin and Penelope Cruz in a comedy about a group of people falling in and out of love in the Eternal City, is at 49 percent.
  • The Last Ride, a fictional account of the last days of country music legend Hank Williams, is at 38 percent.

Comments

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

Suprisingly enough, this week's wide releases all got three stars from Roger Ebert. I plan to catch Brave this weekend. Some reviews say that the film starts off well and then it becomes more of a kids movie toward the end. Anyways, I love Pixar and I can't wait to see this movie for myself.

I knew Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wouldn't be a hit with the critics. I was expecting mixed or average reviews. The plot does sound entertaining so I'd like to rent it once it's available. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World also sounds interesting. Thats another I would rent. TWO WEEKS LEFT UNTIL SPIDER-MAN!!!

Jun 21 - 04:47 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

Whereas "Cars 2" was a letdown, "Brave" is, luckily, helping critics and Pixar buffs wash the nasty taste away.

Jun 21 - 05:18 PM

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

I haven't seen Cars 2 since I'm too afraid to watch a bad Pixar film. I plan to rent it pretty soon.

Jun 21 - 05:30 PM

Lyle Bandoquillo

Lyle Bandoquillo

Cars 2 was not that bad. I actually preferred it over the original Cars, mainly for all the cool characters and fast pace. And it's definitely better than Madagascar >;-(

Jun 21 - 05:47 PM

Eldest2005

Christopher Aull

Quite right. I don't think it was that bad. Yes, it's lackluster compared to the other Pixar movies, but it was OK on its own merits. I'd give it a 60%. It lacks the heart that the others had, but it's still entertaining and has really good animation as always. Don't listen to all the hate, they're probably overreacting just because almost everyone expects perfection from Pixar.

Jun 22 - 11:55 AM

Just'Manoj Here

Just'Manoj Here

Cars 2 is not a bad movie. But it gave me a lot of headache though. It's an average animated film.

Jun 24 - 12:27 AM

Josh Leitzel

Josh Leitzel

Spider-Man! It looks so good!

Jun 21 - 06:08 PM

Jimmy G.

Jimmy Gee

I also suspected the same from Abe Lincoln. I think that maybe most of the critics are missing the point. The director said that they wanted the only joke to be in the title of the movie. The fact that the subject matter is treated so seriously is pretty funny--this was supposed to be an epic horror/thriller/action affair, not a comedy. The comedy was supposed to be understated. The real challenge was for the author to make a compelling vampire story that was totally out of the box, and the book did an admirable job accomplishing this feat. Now, I'm not sure if the film accompished this task as well, but from what I've heard so far he at least stayed true to the basic idea. For now, I'm not too concerned yet about the reviews. I think some of them wanted it to be more humorous, not serious, and others think its just a stupid idea. At least its a fairly original idea...at least they took a risk. I can't fault the storytellers there.

Jun 22 - 06:57 AM

Geek Guy

Benny Bayani

I'm forward to seeing Brave this weekend. I would watch it not expecting this to be another Pixar masterpiece like Wall-E, Finding Nemo, or Toy Story, but I will expect it to be simply a solid animated film. I will even find it better than the stupid and dullish Madagascar 3 (watched on the internet since I saw Prometheus in IMAX on the same weekend, I thought it was not good). The Avengers and Prometheus are my favorite summer movies so far, and Brave might almost end up on my list. However, I would like the film or not.

Jun 21 - 04:56 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

That's good.

Jun 21 - 05:06 PM

Sputnik99

sputnik 99

Madagascar dullish? I've never heard people laugh as hard as they did watching M3 before. It wasn't a perfect story, far from it. But dullish? Methinks you were just in a bad mood and expecting too much when you saw it. =/

Jun 22 - 07:55 AM

Matthew A.

Matthew Anderson

I, for one, am really excited for Brave. Vampire Hunter and Seeking a Friend, eh...not so much.

Jun 21 - 04:59 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

:D

Jun 21 - 05:19 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

Phew! I'm glad that Pixar has a 71% (Good) "Fresh" Tomatometer (A higher 72% for the Top Citics) for its latest film, Brave! Even though it's not a "quality" Pixar film (Toy Story, Up, etc.), it's still a big step-up from the shocking misfire that is "Cars 2" from last year. I'm glad that Pixar is starting to rebuild its "Fresh" Tomatometer after its first "Rotten" movie. And Brave is its "Redemption" film. Let's keep our fingers crossed for "Monsters University" next year, and Pixar's upcoming future works! :D

On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? I'd just read the book instead of watching the movie based on the T-Meter.

Also, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World could make for a decent rental, I guess. I'm not sure if I wan to buy it on Blu-Ray afterwards.

Jun 21 - 05:03 PM

DOCTOR P.

DOCTOR PRIME

Yeah I'm glad it's fresh as well because a lot of critics still have the " it's not as good as previous Pixar films" mentality that in my opinion is way too harsh on judging the quality of a film, even more so when they still say it's a good movie. Personally I hope to enjoy it this weekend, much like I've enjoyed all 12 past Pixar films(yes I even enjoyed Cars 2, which was also unfairly bashed for not being "Pixar" enough by many even when they still said it was top notch in comparison to many other studio films) that being said I can't wait for the future Pixar films to see how the quality is kept up.

Jun 21 - 05:23 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

<3

Jun 21 - 05:56 PM

Cole Ruster

Cole Ruster

Saw advanced screening of AL-VH and it was exceedingly entertaining. Saw it in 2D so can't attest for the 3D quality. Can't wait to see Brave this weekend.

Jun 21 - 05:03 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Slim pickens. Good thing "Moonrise Kingdom" arrives in town this week. I have no interest in any of these wide releases. "Kumare" sounds very intriguing, I'll look for that on video. "Last Ride" is also a great set-up for a movie, and Henry Thomas sounds like a great Hank Williams on paper, but it appears there's just not a lot of talent or imagination behind the camera. Too bad for Woody. Back to chronicling boring, bland bourgie victims of affluence.

Anyone interested in "End of the World" should rent "Take Shelter" instead so they can understand the pathology of such anxieties and their exploitation. It's a topic that deserves more than a glib sitcom.

Jun 21 - 05:03 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

I thought TAKE SHELTER was the best film of 2011. That ending may have pissed some people off, but I loved it, it was sheer perfection. An extra perk was I saw it opening night with a tense audience, largely because we were watching it during an actual thunderstorm.

Jun 21 - 05:33 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Ha! I thought it was funny, because I saw it shortly after "Tree of Life" which also has a scene with the birds doing something like what they were doing in that film. Amazing stuff. Emotionally wrenching.

Jun 21 - 06:08 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I saw Take Shelter. I can understand why so many people hate the ending. I think more people saw it as a deep psychological horror story of over coming schizophrenic paranoia through the power of trust and love...until the ending where it just sort of becomes a Ah HA, see you thought you were watching something interesting well HA! It's a silly mainstream movie after all!

Personally I think the movie works on many levels. Like an Onion!

Jun 22 - 08:52 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'm not entirely certain if the ending was real, but I'd rather not even get into spoiler territory. A must-see regardless!

Jun 22 - 02:08 PM

dj Mark

Mark Marquis

Personally I loved the ending. "Take Shelter" is the sort of movie that M. Night Shyamalan was supposed to be making at this point in his career - a fantastic character study with hints of the supernatural (or not, depending on how you view it).

Jun 25 - 12:58 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Moonrise Kingdom = Critically acclaimed poop.

Jun 22 - 01:02 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

There, there, Val.

Jun 22 - 02:09 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

That's good.

Jun 21 - 05:06 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

Whereas "Cars 2" was a letdown, "Brave" is, luckily, helping critics and Pixar buffs wash the nasty taste away.

Jun 21 - 05:18 PM

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

I haven't seen Cars 2 since I'm too afraid to watch a bad Pixar film. I plan to rent it pretty soon.

Jun 21 - 05:30 PM

Lyle Bandoquillo

Lyle Bandoquillo

Cars 2 was not that bad. I actually preferred it over the original Cars, mainly for all the cool characters and fast pace. And it's definitely better than Madagascar >;-(

Jun 21 - 05:47 PM

Eldest2005

Christopher Aull

Quite right. I don't think it was that bad. Yes, it's lackluster compared to the other Pixar movies, but it was OK on its own merits. I'd give it a 60%. It lacks the heart that the others had, but it's still entertaining and has really good animation as always. Don't listen to all the hate, they're probably overreacting just because almost everyone expects perfection from Pixar.

Jun 22 - 11:55 AM

Just'Manoj Here

Just'Manoj Here

Cars 2 is not a bad movie. But it gave me a lot of headache though. It's an average animated film.

Jun 24 - 12:27 AM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

:D

Jun 21 - 05:19 PM

DOCTOR P.

DOCTOR PRIME

Yeah I'm glad it's fresh as well because a lot of critics still have the " it's not as good as previous Pixar films" mentality that in my opinion is way too harsh on judging the quality of a film, even more so when they still say it's a good movie. Personally I hope to enjoy it this weekend, much like I've enjoyed all 12 past Pixar films(yes I even enjoyed Cars 2, which was also unfairly bashed for not being "Pixar" enough by many even when they still said it was top notch in comparison to many other studio films) that being said I can't wait for the future Pixar films to see how the quality is kept up.

Jun 21 - 05:23 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

<3

Jun 21 - 05:56 PM

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

I haven't seen Cars 2 since I'm too afraid to watch a bad Pixar film. I plan to rent it pretty soon.

Jun 21 - 05:30 PM

Lyle Bandoquillo

Lyle Bandoquillo

Cars 2 was not that bad. I actually preferred it over the original Cars, mainly for all the cool characters and fast pace. And it's definitely better than Madagascar >;-(

Jun 21 - 05:47 PM

Eldest2005

Christopher Aull

Quite right. I don't think it was that bad. Yes, it's lackluster compared to the other Pixar movies, but it was OK on its own merits. I'd give it a 60%. It lacks the heart that the others had, but it's still entertaining and has really good animation as always. Don't listen to all the hate, they're probably overreacting just because almost everyone expects perfection from Pixar.

Jun 22 - 11:55 AM

Just'Manoj Here

Just'Manoj Here

Cars 2 is not a bad movie. But it gave me a lot of headache though. It's an average animated film.

Jun 24 - 12:27 AM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

I thought TAKE SHELTER was the best film of 2011. That ending may have pissed some people off, but I loved it, it was sheer perfection. An extra perk was I saw it opening night with a tense audience, largely because we were watching it during an actual thunderstorm.

Jun 21 - 05:33 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Ha! I thought it was funny, because I saw it shortly after "Tree of Life" which also has a scene with the birds doing something like what they were doing in that film. Amazing stuff. Emotionally wrenching.

Jun 21 - 06:08 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I saw Take Shelter. I can understand why so many people hate the ending. I think more people saw it as a deep psychological horror story of over coming schizophrenic paranoia through the power of trust and love...until the ending where it just sort of becomes a Ah HA, see you thought you were watching something interesting well HA! It's a silly mainstream movie after all!

Personally I think the movie works on many levels. Like an Onion!

Jun 22 - 08:52 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I'm not entirely certain if the ending was real, but I'd rather not even get into spoiler territory. A must-see regardless!

Jun 22 - 02:08 PM

dj Mark

Mark Marquis

Personally I loved the ending. "Take Shelter" is the sort of movie that M. Night Shyamalan was supposed to be making at this point in his career - a fantastic character study with hints of the supernatural (or not, depending on how you view it).

Jun 25 - 12:58 PM

Bradley Johnson

Bradley Johnson

Though not the highest Pixar film, i'm still happy with its rating considering it was at the 64% for a while and I'm glad it made a nice recovery. I'm not expecting it to be another masterpiece from Pixar, but I'm sure it will be a vast improvement on Cars 2.

Jun 21 - 05:42 PM

Lyle Bandoquillo

Lyle Bandoquillo

Cars 2 was not that bad. I actually preferred it over the original Cars, mainly for all the cool characters and fast pace. And it's definitely better than Madagascar >;-(

Jun 21 - 05:47 PM

shadypotential

Chris Cox

Brave is lower than Madagascar 3? lmaooo

Jun 21 - 05:47 PM

DOCTOR P.

DOCTOR PRIME

Mostly cause it's from a company with a lot of great films (this somehow makes it worse) while Madagascar 3 is from a company with a lot of crap films so the standards are different.

Jun 21 - 05:56 PM

Rebeccachu Elizabeth C.

Rebecca Clark

But it has a "Fresh" on the Tomatometer, at least! XD

Jun 21 - 06:00 PM

CoreyG

Corey Gallagher

Raised expectations thus a different level of scrutiny.

Jun 21 - 06:14 PM

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