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Tag: Reviewing the Reviews (1-10 of 84)

Enough with the reviews pitting 'What's Your Number?' and 'Bridesmaids' against each other

Critics really, really don’t like the new movie What’s Your Number?, in which a likable weirdo vows to get serious about life and stop sleeping around. My beloved Lisa Schwarzbaum gave it a D-, which strikes me as the cruelest grade of all. I  saw the movie last night and kinda liked it, as did my row consisting largely of women. What’s Your Number? is far from great, despite the marvelous Anna Faris doing her best to serve up stale material in her fresh, offbeat, and occasionally uncomfortable manner. I loved Faris in The House Bunny and Smileyface, two movies far superior to What’s Your Number?, and am taken by her way of lingering over seeming throwaway lines. She’s at once the drowsiest and most perceptive person in the room. READ FULL STORY

The critics have spoken on the final 'Harry Potter' film. And the verdict is...

The first reviews for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 are rolling in, and the verdict is… overwhelmingly (and unsurprisingly) positive. David Yates received across-the-board praise for his directing, as did the ratcheted-up action and the satisfying conclusion to a 10-year franchise. EW’s own Lisa Schwarzbaum declared, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 is proof that authentic movie excitement is its own form of magic. Half the spell-casting formula lies in what the audience itself brings to the eighth and final movie made from J.K.Rowling’s culture-shaping literary epic…. This is an ending suitable for The End.” You can check out more critical responses to the film below: READ FULL STORY

Critics have a hard time disliking 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon'

At first glance, it seems that critics are, as per usual, taking pot shots at director Michael Bay’s latest blow-‘em-up blockbuster, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. “Breathtakingly dumb” and “too much of only a semi-good thing” are but a couple of the phrases being used to describe the third movie in the franchise. Roger Ebert says it is “one of the more unpleasant experiences I’ve had at the movies.” But upon closer examination, one can find some creatively passive-aggressive praise hidden in the disdain for this popcorn flick, which EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum gives a respectable, not-quite-glowing-but-still-mostly-satisfied B (though she also says it’s “hardly a fleet production”). To wit, a few examples:  READ FULL STORY

Plinkett treats 'Revenge of the Sith' like freezing tauntaun

Mr. Plinkett, the comically churlish critic who’s made a name for himself by dissecting the Star Wars prequels, saved his best for last. In a 110-minute takedown of The Revenge of the Sith, the semi-lucid Plinkett insists that the emperor — ah, Ah, AH … LUCAS! Gezundheit. Thank you — has no clothes. “This was like going to an autopsy,” drones Plinkett, describing the final chapter in the space epic. “You know it’s dead and nothing’s gonna change that, but you gotta do an autopsy to find out what killed it. Or who killed it.”

Yes, Plinkett claims that George Lucas “ruined six years of everyone’s lives, even starving children in Cambodia.” But he’ll also spotlight the thinnest of silver linings: At least Han Solo was not dragged into this mess. Lucas clearly knew better than to tamper with an iconic Harrison Ford character. Oh. Right.

Part I of Plinkett’s epic three-part spanking is below. But do watch the NSFW critique in its entirety. It’s cathartic for any middle-aged person who has kids that think “Yippeeee!” is a battle cry. READ FULL STORY

Do 'Cyrus' and 'The Kids Are All Right' belong in a 'worst movie year' essay?

Image credit: Chuck Zlotnick

Sign me up as one of those people who think that summer 2010 hasn’t exactly been a banner season for movies. So I was curious to see how the very amusing writer Joe Queenan would sum it up in his WSJ.com essay, The Worst Movie Year Ever? For the most part he was dead on. But I have to take issue with a few of his statements. “The Kids Are All Right…is no Sideways,” he alleges. Excuse me? The Kids Are All Right contains more heart, more truth, and more big laughs than that fine wine-drenched film. But the sentence that really jumped out at me comes near the top of his rant: “Stop making movies like Grown Ups, Sex and the City 2, Prince of Persia and anything that positions Jennifer Aniston or John C. Reilly at the top of the marquee.” Now, I hear him on those first three. But Jennifer Aniston’s only film this summer is the yet-to-be-released Jason Bateman comedy The Switch, which is actually surprisingly touching. And John C. Reilly’s vehicle Cyrus is a truly unique love triangle that happens to boast a score of 81 on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed a respectable $7 million in limited release.

Does anyone else think he was out of line to lump Cyrus in with Robin Hood and The A-Team? Or have this summer’s indie flicks been as disappointing to you as the blockbusters?

'Inception': Early rave reviews tell us almost nothing (while making us 10 times more excited)!

inceptionImage Credit: Stephen VaughanOh, summer 2010, you sly pup. You’ve teased us for two long months now with a nonstop cinematic parade of threequels and reboots and remakes and Adam Sandler. Not that we’re complaining: some of those movies were pretty good. But now you’re revealing your prized possession: Inception, Christopher Nolan’s long-awaited, utterly mysterious follow-up to The Dark Knight. We’ve watched the trailers. We’ve pondered over the posters. We’ve noticed that Tom Berenger is in the movie. We are intrigued. Now the reviews are hitting the internet, and guess what? We are even more intrigued.

Todd Gilchrist over at Cinematical speaks for most reviewers when he notes that Inception is “a film that benefits from knowing as little as possible about it before seeing it,” and without spoiling anything, calls Inception “a stunning achievement and the most completely entertaining film I’ve seen in years.” Over at IGN, Jim Vejvoda gets heavy with allusions sure to send film studies majors into the upper reaches of the geekosphere, saying Inception reminds him of Jean Cocteau, Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, The Matrix, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Drew McWeeny over at HitFlix praises the entire cast, who do “great work.” Getting just a teensy bit SPOILER-ific here, he also notes that READ FULL STORY

'The Last Airbender': Three things I liked about a mostly disappointing movie

air-bendingImage Credit: Industrial Light & MagicLast Thursday, I wrote about my angst over seeing The Last Airbender, M. Night Shyamalan’s live action adaptation of the acclaimed Nickelodeon animated series known formally as Avatar: The Last Airbender. My kids and I were big fans of the anime-style cartoon, and we had been eagerly anticipating the flick. But after reading the reviews, which were almost unanimously negative to the extreme, I found myself in a parenting pickle: Should I discourage my two children from seeing the film, or should I take them anyway and let them make up their minds for themselves. I decided on the latter course of action, and it was the right call. We went on Saturday evening. The verdicts? I left the theater disappointed; my son, age 9, was enthralled by the experience. He can’t stopped talking about it, although his ongoing commentary includes a few quibbles, including the (narratively necessary) omission of some cherished characters. He can’t wait for the sequel. (The movie is designed to be the first in a trilogy.) I haven’t yet told him that the prospects for another installment could be iffy. (My daughter, 7, passed on the movie. She suddenly became convinced it would scare her. It wouldn’t have.)

Still, for all the disdain heaped on the movie, and for all of my own disappointment, I didn’t hate it. Put it this way: It’s not as bad as David Lynch’s Dune.  And I liked David Lynch’s Dune. READ FULL STORY

Critics down on 'Lovely Bones,' but swoon for star Saoirse Ronan

The Lovely Bones has finally made it into theaters — well, three theaters; it’s in limited release until Christmas. It opened strong, pulling in $116,000 for a per-screen average of just under $39,000. If the movie, an adaptation of Alice Sebold’s bestseller, holds up over the coming weeks, it’ll be thanks to the many, many fans of the novel, and to the legions of die-hard devotees of director Peter Jackson.

Because Bones certainly won’t be benefiting from an abundance of critical love. For the first time since his days of making gross-out, low-budget wonders like Meet the Feebles, Jackson earned a round of reviews that were lukewarm at best, scathing at worst. The most widespread gripe? That the Oscar-sweeping Lord of the Rings guru indulged too much in CGI at the expense of emotion and consistent storytelling. (See EW’s review by Lisa Schwarzbaum here).

But even the harshest reviews (like Variety’s — ouch!) have pointed out at least one positive: the brilliance of lead actress Saoirse Ronan (above, with costar Rose McIver). The New York Times applauded her “unnerving self-assurance and winning vivacity,” while The Los Angeles Times went even further, arguing that Jackson’s “best move by far was casting young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, Oscar-nominated for her compelling role in Atonement, as the murdered Susie Salmon. An enormously gifted performer, Ronan is the only element of the film that is exactly as it should be, bringing naturalness, honesty and radiance to the part of a young woman just on the cusp of life.” Click on over to The Hollywood Reporter, Newsweek, and Slate, where you’ll find similar adulation for Ronan.

I’ll leave it to Dave Karger to ponder whether Ronan’s got enough critical affection to snag an Oscar nom. I’m hoping she will. She’s a prodigiously talented actress and a cool kid to boot, mercifully devoid of any of that weird, overly precious kid-actor stuff that plagues so many youngsters in Hollywood. (Maybe it’s ’cause she lives in her native Ireland, a good 6,000 miles away from the ego-inflating bubble of Tinseltown?) Plus, she can spoof Britney Spears as well as any SNL-er. Don’t believe me? Check out the embedded clip below. It’s from Amy Heckerling’s I Could Never Be Your Women, which she shot when she was barely out of elementary school.

Awesome, right?

So are you pulling for young Ms. Ronan, PopWatchers? What about Mr. Jackson? Do you love him enough to ignore reviews? Will you see The Lovely Bones?

'Parks and Recreation': Suck it, focus group

Parksandrecreation_lEveryone’s a-buzz today about the lousy focus-group results for Parks and Recreation, the new Amy Poehler-led Office-style mockumentary, which according to an apparently leaked report, didn’t test well. NBC honcho Ben Silverman tells EW that "all of the research we do around initial rough cuts is negative," and that it’s common for successful shows to have crummy focus group results. (No joke.) Silverman confidence or no — I mean, the guy greenlit Knight Rider — I’m still really looking forward to Parks and feel largely able to dismiss the concerns raised in this focus group report. Behold, y’all:

Complaint: It’s too much like The Office First, that’s like complaining that your boyfriend looks too much like Brad Pitt. But I’ll bite: When The Office first premiered, I hated how closely it hewed to the UK’s original — it seemed derivative and redundant. Over the course of its first season, and particularly through its second, however, the US version really found its own unique voice. It’s possible that Parks does feel too much like its progenitor, but that’s far from an unsolvable or surprising problem.

Complaint: "[A]ll the men in the show were seen as ‘sleazy’ in one way or another…there are no ‘datable’ [male characters.]"
I guess that means more Aziz Ansari and Chris Pratt for me? (Just kidding, Anna Faris, I hope you guys are really happy togeths.) Sleaze has a way of growing on you: Barney on How I Met Your Mother, Jack on 30 Rock, Chuck on Gossip Girl, Sawyer on the early seasons of Lost, and House on House could all be considered sleazy in some contexts, but that’s hardly limited their appeal. Not worried. Plus…not every show has to be about boning. I can handle 22 minutes without sexual tension.

Complaint: The pacing is too slow, and "many were confused as to the reasons and motivations behind the ‘documentary.’" If the pacing actually is too slow, or the show actually is confusing, those are both common issues for pilots. But they’re also issues that people had with The Office, and that show’s pacing doesn’t bother me at all, nor do I want an explanation of the documentary format. I like the mystery of it all!

Okay, PopWatchers, how are you feeling about Parks and Recreation? Excited? Cautiously so? Or totally tuned out?

addCredit(“Mitch Haddad/NBC”)

'Watchmen': The early reviews are in

Watchmen_lWe’re still eight days away from Watchmen Day (March 6, for those of you who don’t follow such things), but people are beginning to lay eyes on Zack Snyder’s epic superhero treatise/action spectacle. It had its World Premiere in London a few days ago, and it’s been screening here and there for select parties — and with the Cone of Silence starting to lift, we’re getting a sense of the early reaction. In a word: mixed.

As anyone with half a brain might’ve predicted, from the Fan quadrant, Watchmen is, for the most part, a life-changing, Holy Grailicious event. But the mainstream media — mostly made of critics who haven’t spent untold hours digesting Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seismic graphic novel — isn’t quite as rapturous.

A quick early-reviews rundown, after the jump. And, of course, be sure to check back next week for the official EW review.

addCredit(“Clay Enos”)


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