Critics Consensus

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.

by | June 22, 2012 | Comments

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

34%

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

55%

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.

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