Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Frozen is Certified Fresh

Plus, Black Nativity is heartfelt but uneven; Homefront is mostly generic; and Oldboy is intriguing but not quite successful.

by | November 27, 2013 | Comments

Happy Thanksgiving! This week at the movies, we’ve got a frigid fairy tale (Frozen, featuring voice performances by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel); a small-town drug war (Homefront, starring Jason Statham and James Franco); a holiday musical (Black Nativity, starring Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett); a quest for vengeance (Oldboy, starring Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen); a mother’s search (Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan); and a troubled childhood (The Book Thief, starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson). What do the critics have to say?

Frozen

90%

Any film released under the banner of Walt Disney Animation has a lot to live up to. Happily, critics say Frozen acquits itself quite well: it’s got toe-tapping tunes, crisp visuals, and a sensibility that’s at once classic and au courant. Like a blustery King Midas, Elsa (Idina Menzel) is cursed with the power to turn everything she touches to ice. She’s forced into exile after plunging the kingdom into a deep freeze; it’s up to her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) and some newfound friends to rescue her. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Frozen is beautifully animated, consistently inventive, and intelligently written — in other words, it’s a solid entry into the Disney pantheon.

Homefront

42%

Homefront boasts an intriguing pedigree: it’s an action flick starring Jason Statham and James Franco (as a bad guy!) with a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone. Unfortunately, critics say the end result is pretty generic, with a few decent thrills and a whole lotta clichés. Statham stars as an ex-DEA agent who has relocated to a small rural community in order to put the past behind him. Soon, however, he’s pulled into a conflict with a local meth kingpin (Franco) and must defend his home against an army of thugs. The pundits say Homefront offers the dependable sight of Statham cleaning house, but it’s essentially a thin genre exercise with a better-than-average-cast.

Black Nativity

50%

em>Black Nativity would seem to have everything needed for uplifting holiday entertainment, including an all-star cast, powerful music, and warm messages about faith and family. And while some critics think it’s a winning formula, others feel the film is weighted down by sappiness and heavy-handed sermonizing. A loose adaptation of Langston Hughes’ play, Black Nativity is the story of a teenager (Jacob Latimore) who is sent by his mother to spend Christmas with grandparents he’s never met; while he initially chafes under their austere morality, he eventually learns a thing or two about life and love from the people he meets on his travels. The pundits say Black Nativity is undeniably warm-hearted and well-acted, but it’s hamstrung by its preachiness and contrived plot.

Oldboy

39%

Spike Lee has never been one to play things safe, which is why critics are all the more surprised that his remake of Chan-wook Park?s cult classic Oldboy is disappointingly straightforward — a competent, occasionally stylish thriller that fails to replicate the gonzo panache or moral weightiness of its predecessor. Josh Brolin stars as a man who’s abducted and confined for 20 years — until he’s mysteriously released, at which point he goes on a mission to enact revenge against his captors. The pundits say Oldboy is sufficiently grim and violent, but it lacks the freshness that made the original such a punch to the gut.

Philomena

91%

Based on a remarkable true story, Philomena won raves in limited release last week; now, this Certified Fresh drama goes wide, and critics say it’s witty, deeply moving, and terrifically acted. Judi Dench stars as a woman who was forced to give up her son for adoption years ago after getting pregnant out of wedlock. In order to find her child, she enlists the aid of an investigative reporter (Steve Coogan). The pundits say Philomena is a bittersweet, inspiring tear-jerker that benefits from Dench’s typically outstanding work.

The Book Thief

48%

The Book Thief expands into wide release this week, and critics say it’s a handsome and well-acted drama that’s a bit too facile and syrupy to fully convince. Based on Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel, the film stars Sophie Nelisse as a girl who learns to read while living with foster parents (played by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in a German town on the cusp of World War II. The pundits say the film is well-intentioned and occasionally touching, but it tiptoes around its incendiary setting.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

comic book movies razzies Focus Features Horror critics romantic comedy Discovery Channel SDCC Indigenous quibi royal family MSNBC Election broadcast SundanceTV nfl Photos LGBT TLC thriller 4/20 south america YouTube Red toronto technology 2020 Podcast BBC America WarnerMedia 20th Century Fox spider-verse VH1 OWN sitcom Extras Crunchyroll reboot Comic Book SXSW Set visit war TCA USA Network Emmy Nominations NYCC child's play miniseries PlayStation comic book movie new york slashers travel DC Universe Shondaland Rocketman Fargo rt labs Best and Worst Adult Swim First Look book Superheroes Cosplay spinoff APB 2016 cancelled TV shows women serial killer HFPA godzilla docudrama singing competition police drama Trivia ITV Lifetime hispanic independent monster movies critic resources NBA The Purge Tumblr Infographic emmy awards CW Seed Summer king kong National Geographic Pop Hallmark Christmas movies TruTV Syfy Certified Fresh Disney X-Men superman ABC Family Star Wars Celebration Countdown Endgame USA saw Music laika historical drama parents comedies streaming movies talk show comic books 2021 IFC rt archives Pride Month Spike kaiju RT History crime drama Comedy Walt Disney Pictures twilight mission: impossible hist vampires psychological thriller art house Nat Geo Peacock Holiday IFC Films politics cats Comics on TV television Interview ViacomCBS kong elevated horror Rock venice werewolf Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt genre Crackle Christmas GLAAD australia Fantasy films cancelled TV series die hard HBO dark Marvel Studios Kids & Family mutant Ellie Kemper Stephen King ratings Sci-Fi zero dark thirty PaleyFest Starz worst comics kids halloween universal monsters Ghostbusters Heroines romance gangster reviews 90s CMT Holidays Marvel Television jamie lee curtis ghosts FXX rt labs critics edition asian-american E3 TV movies discovery black comedy Reality Competition Hallmark Oscar obi wan BAFTA game show joker Pop TV stand-up comedy San Diego Comic-Con Country news sequel Winners concert Fall TV PBS Chernobyl Pacific Islander justice league TNT blockbuster vs. Reality docuseries richard e. Grant aliens Classic Film Sony FX on Hulu zombie Mary Tyler Moore cults TIFF a nightmare on elm street halloween tv Cannes streamig See It Skip It japan Esquire Mindy Kaling Emmys canceled young adult 79th Golden Globes Awards MCU Apple TV Plus adventure Schedule indie unscripted 2015 archives Opinion cartoon dramedy Tomatazos sports DirecTV Turner Prime Video cancelled versus Amazon Prime Musical robots Bravo Creative Arts Emmys mockumentary GIFs 94th Oscars Disney streaming service anime Animation rotten movies we love American Society of Cinematographers Premiere Dates Pixar heist movie A24 composers Baby Yoda Lionsgate Red Carpet olympics scorecard summer TV Star Wars A&E El Rey 73rd Emmy Awards FX interviews Western superhero french fast and furious GoT 2018 Polls and Games Hear Us Out Black History Month Television Critics Association Television Academy dreamworks Spectrum Originals stop motion Geeked Week IMDb TV dc comic BET binge wonder woman 93rd Oscars adaptation space Warner Bros. Apple slasher LGBTQ Awards mcc action-comedy target Comic-Con@Home 2021 documentary AMC video The Arrangement mob YA 21st Century Fox dogs scene in color Disney Plus indiana jones Box Office documentaries TCM witnail Anna Paquin VICE Amazon Prime Video spain spy thriller prank fresh dexter blockbusters name the review Disney Channel spanish Dark Horse Comics series YouTube Premium Pet Sematary Character Guide trailers Freeform spider-man remakes Vudu The Academy Quiz E! Shudder Action theme song First Reviews TCA 2017 crossover Nickelodeon jurassic park hidden camera Best Actress 45 marvel cinematic universe telelvision toy story Sundance TV festivals Academy Awards anthology Winter TV award winner Fox Searchlight Amazon Studios Disney+ Disney Plus debate james bond Wes Anderson children's TV Rom-Com aapi video on demand Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Star Trek Song of Ice and Fire Tags: Comedy Tokyo Olympics transformers live action know your critic DC Comics Lifetime Christmas movies 71st Emmy Awards festival Binge Guide dceu TV Land FOX Arrowverse MGM The Witch Avengers Sundance Now screen actors guild best Trailer legend TV Turner Classic Movies Teen Year in Review Best Actor medical drama Funimation movie TBS Acorn TV italian BET Awards what to watch MTV rom-coms black The CW natural history political drama Hollywood Foreign Press Association supernatural History golden globe awards cooking HBO Max HBO Go renewed TV shows Neflix finale 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards criterion ID Nominations golden globes screenings game of thrones Spring TV social media Netflix live event 24 frames latino Trophy Talk YouTube CNN facebook DGA hollywood streaming Sundance SXSW 2022 Valentine's Day Fox News disaster Pirates Thanksgiving based on movie popular Native biography Paramount dragons cancelled television Watching Series Netflix Christmas movies target scene in color Ovation Women's History Month rotten Universal Pictures king arthur 2017 TV renewals cops Mary poppins chucky Tarantino AMC Plus TV One scary Alien Musicals hispanic heritage month Superheroe Video Games BBC One period drama Paramount Network Exclusive Video Travel Channel Epix The Walking Dead Showtime Tubi summer TV preview adenture deadpool basketball boxoffice CBS All Access nature foreign book adaptation BBC breaking bad psycho Comedy Central cars Brie Larson posters zombies football nbcuniversal DC streaming service new star wars movies lord of the rings marvel comics South by Southwest Film Festival free movies Best Director pirates of the caribbean Columbia Pictures Sneak Peek NBC classics Mystery Super Bowl Martial Arts all-time Britbox Universal WGN japanese Calendar leaderboard Logo 1990s blaxploitation Oscars Rocky crime thriller Instagram Live OneApp suspense spanish language The Walt Disney Company Grammys satire Drama CBS Mudbound Awards Tour 2019 revenge scene in color film series Hulu Paramount Pictures Amazon international 72 Emmy Awards sequels Lucasfilm canceled TV shows Marvel teaser crime green book Captain marvel casting Family directors Elton John ESPN doctor who comiccon boxing obituary scary movies high school Black Mirror franchise feel good Legendary Mary Poppins Returns VOD true crime Writers Guild of America scene in color series cinemax diversity trophy science fiction Toys stoner biopic Paramount Plus RT21 TCA Awards movies animated strong female leads ABC sopranos Apple TV+ Sony Pictures summer preview Film Broadway sag awards Image Comics 99% Marathons harry potter Film Festival batman Masterpiece New York Comic Con Biopics Food Network Best Picture worst movies Cartoon Network christmas movies TCA Winter 2020 007 President new zealand ABC Signature tv talk