Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Boxtrolls, The Equalizer, Fall TV

In limited release: Pride, The Two Faces of January, and Jimi: All Is by My Side.

by | September 26, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got misunderstood monsters (The Boxtrolls, featuring voice performances from Elle Fanning and Ben Kingsley) and an enigmatic vigilante (The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington and Chloë Grace Moretz). What do the critics have to say?

The Boxtrolls

78%

Witty, original, and darker than your average family fare, Coraline and ParaNorman proved that Laika was a force to be reckoned with in the animation world. Critics say the studio’s latest effort, The Boxtrolls, offers a less compelling story than those films, but it’s meticulously crafted and often delightfully weird. The titular creatures are kindly, goofy monsters that have raised a little boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as one of their own. But the nefarious Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) wants to wipe out the Boxtrolls for personal gain, so it’s up to Eggs and his new friend Winnie (Elle Fanning) to stop him. The pundits say The Boxtrolls is visually striking, but it lacks the charm and narrative pull of previous Laika features.(Check out our video interviews with Kingsley and Fanning.)

The Equalizer

60%

The last time Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua teamed up, the result was Training Day, a searing portrait of a crooked cop that earned Washington an Oscar. They’re back together for The Equalizer, but critics say the results are mixed this time; Washington is his usual compelling self, but the script often succumbs to thriller cliches. Washington stars as McCall, a man with a mysterious past who’s trying to keep a low profile. However, when he stumbles upon Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) a troubled young woman under the thumb of heartless mobsters, McCall decides to take matters into his own hands. The pundits say The Equalizer is stylish and gritty, but the formulaic plot doesn’t always make the best use of Washington’s fine central performance. (Watch our video Q&A with Fuqua, as well as Washington’s best-reviewed films.)

Certified Fresh on TV this week:

Expanding upon the Batman universe, Gotham (90 percent), which stars Ben Mckenzie and Jada Pinkett Smith, delves into the history of the key players of the Dark Knight saga. The critics say Gotham features high production values, a talented cast, and an appealingly stylized approach to the Batman mythos.

black-ish (86 percent) stars Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne in a comedy series about a father who’s concerned that raising his his kids in the suburbs will force them to lose touch with their African American roots. The critics say black-ish is smart, ingratiating, and often very funny.

Viola Davis is an exceptional talent, and critics say she’s the best reason to watch How to Get Away With Murder (84 percent). The pundits say this legal thriller is slick and exciting, which helps it to overcome its sometimes shaky plotting.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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