Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Woman in Black is a Solid Ghost Story

Plus, Chronicle is Certified Fresh, and Big Miracle is a strong whale tale.

by | February 3, 2012 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a ghost story (The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Ciarán Hinds), teenage superheroes (Chronicle, starring Dane DeHaan and Alex Russell), and a whale rescue (Big Miracle, starring John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore). What do the critics have to say?

The Woman in Black

66%

Daniel Radcliffe tackles his first major post-Harry Potter role in The Woman in Black, and critics say this spooky, atmospheric ghost story conjures up some terrific old-fashioned thrills. Radcliffe stars as Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer who journeys to a small town to settle the estate of a recently-deceased, reclusive widow. However, the locals are reluctant to discuss the matter, and for good reason — a spectral presence casts a dark shadow over the community. The pundits say The Woman in Black sometimes relies too heavily on jump scares, but mostly it does the resurrected Hammer Films imprint proud by harkening back to the company’s Gothic glory days, and Radcliffe is rock-solid in the lead role. (Check out Radcliffe’s Five Favorite Films here.)

Chronicle

85%

A found-footage mockumentary about teenagers with superpowers, Chronicle is also terrifically acted and endlessly imaginative, critics say. Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a kid who’s being bullied at home and at school when he starts videotaping his daily activities. His footage gets exponentially more interesting when he and two of his friends develop telekinetic powers after visiting a mysterious gulch. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Chronicle is an action-packed sci-fi yarn that doesn’t skimp on character development, and the result is an exciting, emotionally resonant feature debut for director Josh Trank. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some of cinema’s most unconventional superheroes.)

Big Miracle

75%

Big Miracle is a mix of romance, realpolitik, and animal rescue that critics say makes for a surprisingly satisfying blend, thanks to excellent performances and an intelligent script. John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore star as a small town news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who campaign to save a trio of gray whales trapped by ice at the Arctic Circle; their efforts attract global attention and governmental response, and romance soon follows. The pundits say Big Miracle is smarter and more complex than its synopsis suggests, and if its plotting is occasionally uneven, the film earns its feel-good climax.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Splinters, a documentary about indigenous surfing in Papua New Guinea, is at 83 percent.

  • The Innkeepers, a horror film about ghost hunters searching for spirits in a haunted hotel, is Certified Fresh at 76 percent.

  • Kill List, a thriller about a mentally damaged hitman who undertakes a particularly disturbing assignment, is Certified Fresh at 76 percent.

  • Windfall, a documentary about the impact of a wind farm on an economically depressed small town, is at 58 percent.

  • W.E., starring Abbie Cornish and James D’Arcy in Madonna‘s biopic of American Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, is at 18 percent.

And finally, mad props to Brian C for coming the closest to guessing One for the Money‘s three percent Tomatometer.

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