Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a Solid Sendoff

Plus, Night at the Museum is so-so, Annie hits a sour note, and Wild is Certified Fresh.

by | December 19, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got Middle-earth warriors (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, starring Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen), a world-travelling night watchman (Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams), a streetwise orphan (Annie, starring Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx), and a determined hiker (Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern). What do the critics have to say?

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies


It would be nearly impossible for director Peter Jackson to top — or even equal — the sweep and grandeur of the Lord of the Rings movies, and while the reviews for the first two Hobbit films were generally positive, many found something lacking. Critics say The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings this trilogy to a close in reasonably rousing fashion, but while the battle scenes are visually striking, the story is more than a little thin. After going up against the fire-breathing dragon Smaug, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and makeshift battalions of men, elves, and dwarfs must join forces to fight off an onslaught of orcs and restore order to Middle-earth. The pundits say that Jackson’s visual sense is as strong as ever, but this conclusion to The Hobbit saga lacks the human touch and weightiness that made the Lord of the Rings films such revered classics. (Check out our Hobbit Headquarters for much more on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, including features, interviews, and countdowns.)

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb


At this point, you pretty much know what you’re getting with a Night at the Museum movie: a few good laughs, a bunch of famous people playing historical figures, and little to offend — or stir — anyone in your family. Critics say that’s basically the deal with Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which offers up some decent slapstick and a few new faces but never quite coalesces into anything truly enchanting. This time out, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) finally ventures outside the stuffy confines of those crazy museums; instead, he goes on a globe-trotting mission to preserve the magic that animates the museum’s historical populace. The pundits say Secret of the Tomb will probably please the kiddies, and Robin Williams shines in one of his last performances, but it’s largely a slack, so-so affair. (Take a look at this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Stiller’s best-reviewed movies.)



Annie is one of Broadway’s most durable and beloved productions, but it hasn’t fared nearly as well on the big screen. John Huston’s 1982 version drew decidedly mixed reviews, but critics say this update is even more of a misfire, a surprisingly tuneless, left-footed affair in which a number of big names deliver performances of wildly varying quality. Quvenzhané Wallis stars as the titular orphan, who lives with a mean foster mom until Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a businessman with political ambitions, takes her in. The pundits say that while Wallis is charming, the biggest problem is that this Annie is a musical starring talented people who, with a few exceptions, aren’t necessarily the best singers or dancers. (Watch our interviews with Wallis, Foxx, and co-stars Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, and Bobby Cannavale.)



After winning strong reviews in limited release, Wild is going wide this weekend, and it’s already generating Oscar buzz for the strength of Reese Witherspoon’s lead performance. Based upon the bestselling memoir from Cheryl Strayed, Wild is the story of a woman reeling from the death of her mother and her recent divorce who decides to walk the entire Pacific Crest Trail by herself in an attempt to get back on track. The critics say this Certified Fresh drama is a thoughtful, emotionally potent character study with strong performances and beautiful natural locations.

What’s Hot on TV:

Homeland (Certified Fresh at 81 percent) wraps up its fourth season Sunday night, and critics say the show has had been smart, tense, and focused, making for the strongest iteration since its hard-hitting first season.

Thanks to some smart, creative storytelling and spectacular performances, The Affair (Certified Fresh at 94 percent), which has its season finale on Sunday night, is a somber, bewitching exploration of truth and desire.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

unscripted mission: impossible History award winner movies parents spanish cinemax screenings hollywood Acorn TV A24 Disney Channel dramedy slasher Ghostbusters comedies strong female leads suspense toy story streaming comic books biopic Television Academy international rotten movies we love marvel cinematic universe GLAAD prank Food Network BET IFC DirecTV quibi venice Heroines japanese The CW king arthur Hallmark Christmas movies Dark Horse Comics Comedy Central fast and furious Creative Arts Emmys nbcuniversal Sci-Fi olympics Image Comics PlayStation Fall TV Turner sequel TV renewals Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2016 HBO Go rt labs X-Men Music spider-man genre Wes Anderson Biopics canceled Anna Paquin ITV Paramount American Society of Cinematographers Turner Classic Movies Hear Us Out E! CBS All Access historical drama San Diego Comic-Con PaleyFest Black Mirror Teen The Arrangement kaiju Mary Poppins Returns USA festivals football australia Academy Awards 2018 movie based on movie 90s cats breaking bad First Reviews south america IFC Films Funimation art house CMT Schedule classics PBS DC streaming service ESPN Mindy Kaling Prime Video halloween Mystery live event Universal Pictures canceled TV shows technology Paramount Network Superheroe singing competition deadpool concert romance 24 frames Character Guide GIFs Lucasfilm politics Thanksgiving franchise NBA Logo die hard Shondaland Epix Polls and Games binge HFPA renewed TV shows TCM Marathons scorecard heist movie name the review Comic-Con@Home 2021 asian-american Comedy Marvel Studios space Binge Guide superhero Star Trek YouTube Premium popular Premiere Dates doctor who SXSW high school worst movies child's play First Look Marvel Television 99% Black History Month Sundance ghosts Sundance Now Holiday ViacomCBS Winter TV obituary adenture Rock critic resources versus Amazon Prime Video 21st Century Fox cancelled crime thriller cops RT21 book adaptation jamie lee curtis spain hidden camera crime SDCC TruTV video war target Apple TV+ docuseries Netflix The Witch Year in Review dogs Walt Disney Pictures cars adventure El Rey dc marvel comics blockbuster green book feel good Stephen King Hulu WGN TLC king kong Television Critics Association Crackle witnail Oscars children's TV Interview TV movies CBS rotten Sony Pictures know your critic pirates of the caribbean lord of the rings LGBTQ Brie Larson scary movies emmy awards Horror Nat Geo dceu crossover Esquire free movies true crime legend period drama Fox News elevated horror sopranos blaxploitation FX toronto rom-coms MSNBC telelvision Adult Swim monster movies Freeform A&E Tarantino Comics on TV VOD Tomatazos HBO Max DGA what to watch universal monsters Hallmark natural history 72 Emmy Awards dark Toys Neflix nature hist Legendary royal family streaming movies boxing best laika kong mutant adaptation Pop slashers Emmys kids game of thrones indiana jones james bond dexter aliens NYCC reviews WarnerMedia werewolf Summer Pop TV Sneak Peek batman scene in color cancelled TV shows chucky Apple 2019 Tokyo Olympics jurassic park Superheroes teaser harry potter satire new star wars movies Set visit reboot Ovation biography Britbox book science fiction Ellie Kemper discovery Classic Film Writers Guild of America psycho Trophy Talk comics RT History Travel Channel OWN See It Skip It scary rt labs critics edition thriller superman Alien Mudbound Star Wars fresh ABC Family joker stand-up comedy TNT mockumentary FX on Hulu CW Seed sitcom Opinion ID Film Festival debate Vudu Emmy Nominations trophy rt archives The Academy APB comic book movies festival Quiz Animation Box Office Countdown AMC Plus Video Games TCA Winter 2020 cults blockbusters foreign young adult TV Land remakes sequels Broadway Awards Tour Cosplay Rocketman HBO golden globe awards NBC latino AMC comiccon films leaderboard sports talk show Valentine's Day Trailer halloween tv The Walt Disney Company YouTube Best and Worst USA Network stoner Apple TV Plus Musicals godzilla Martial Arts Nickelodeon Holidays 2015 FOX video on demand Certified Fresh Film BBC all-time Fantasy Super Bowl 71st Emmy Awards YouTube Red miniseries trailers serial killer vampires Captain marvel Pacific Islander richard e. Grant romantic comedy Amazon Studios transformers cancelled television TBS Spike diversity documentaries social media Crunchyroll facebook Action nfl french Cannes spanish language travel Discovery Channel Cartoon Network Universal supernatural Peacock game show psychological thriller Disney streaming service japan Lionsgate The Walking Dead Rom-Com ABC 1990s Syfy critics Red Carpet television CNN 20th Century Fox Pirates DC Comics Awards National Geographic Fargo Masterpiece Showtime Podcast Winners BBC One 2017 New York Comic Con series LGBT Disney+ Disney Plus aapi VICE Rocky BBC America animated docudrama Pet Sematary Musical cartoon tv talk Baby Yoda Western 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards boxoffice Arrowverse theme song Columbia Pictures live action OneApp political drama revenge Instagram Live Christmas medical drama Trivia 73rd Emmy Awards ratings Lifetime razzies Nominations hispanic Sundance TV TCA 2017 President hispanic heritage month vs. Extras cooking MTV crime drama TV golden globes The Purge Tubi Avengers Mary poppins TV One Infographic Pride Month news Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt E3 stop motion Chernobyl Disney a nightmare on elm street Marvel Paramount Plus ABC Signature Tumblr Shudder 2020 saw MCU spider-verse BET Awards gangster Warner Bros. disaster comic book movie criterion Comic Book archives 4/20 Fox Searchlight Reality Competition robots casting mob 2021 Spectrum Originals Kids & Family TCA new zealand Tags: Comedy SundanceTV VH1 new york comic FXX Amazon mcc 007 posters cancelled TV series Starz Reality action-comedy Bravo Amazon Prime basketball Grammys wonder woman anthology indie Mary Tyler Moore black black comedy screen actors guild documentary TIFF 79th Golden Globes Awards twilight Song of Ice and Fire anime TCA Awards police drama YA finale christmas movies Spring TV Photos Family Watching Series GoT DC Universe Women's History Month Hollywood Foreign Press Association justice league spy thriller composers women Calendar Country italian Netflix Christmas movies Election zombie zero dark thirty 45 worst Disney Plus Endgame Drama sag awards Pixar dreamworks independent zombies spinoff IMDb TV directors Exclusive Video 93rd Oscars Lifetime Christmas movies dragons Elton John BAFTA