Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Fury is Certified Fresh

The vibrant Book of Life, the bland Best of Me, and some Certified Fresh TV.

by | October 16, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got soldiers in a tank (Fury, starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf), a princess and her suitors (The Book of Life, with voice performances by Channing Tatum and Zoe Saldana), and star-crossed lovers (The Best of Me, starring Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden). What do the critics have to say?

Fury

76%

Take the star of Inglourious Basterds, mix him in with a ragtag band of soldiers reminiscent of the crew in Saving Private Ryan, and what have you got? Fury, a World War II drama that critics say is a powerful document of the horrors of war that doesn’t quite meet its grand ambitions but still packs a wallop. Pitt stars as tank commander who leads a diverse band of brothers on a deadly mission behind enemy lines to stymie a Nazi attack; along the way, our heroes come face-to-face with the grim realities of life on the battlefield. The pundits say Fury is a rock solid war film, with bracing battle scenes and a feeling of you-are-there authenticity. (Check out Pitt’s 10 best-reviewed films here.)

The Book of Life

83%

Right off the bat, The Book of Life has a couple big things going for it: it’s a visually stunning fantasy that’s rooted in Mexican cultural tradition. And critics say that’s mostly enough, even if the story is never up to brilliance of the animation. It’s the tale of two childhood friends who fall in love with a princess, one of which must make a perilous journey through the land of the dead in order to win her heart. The pundits say The Book of Life is energetic and vibrant, a rare example of style winning out over substance.

The Best of Me

12%

Nicholas Sparks knows the value of corn better than anybody, and the films adapted from his novels (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember ) can extract tears from even the sternest souls. But critics say The Best of Me is so preposterous and bland that it’s more likely to inspire incredulity or boredom than sniffles. Two high school sweethearts are reunited at a mutual friend’s funeral, and find that they still have feelings for each other, before forces beyond their control intervene. The pundits say the actors do what they can with the paper-thin characters and silly dialogue, but ultimately, The Best of Me is too schmaltzy and absurd to resonate.

Certified Fresh on TV this week:

The dubious premise of Jane the Virgin (100 percent) is part of its unlikely charm, which critics say shines thanks to sharp writing and a knockout performance by Gina Rodriguez.

Thanks to a liberal dose of propulsive, bloody action and enough compelling character moments to reward longtime fans, critics say The Walking Dead‘s fifth season (97 percent) continues to deliver top-notch entertainment.

Critics say The Affair (96 percent) is a somber, bewitching exploration of truth and desire, thanks to some smart, creative storytelling and spectacular performances from Dominic West and Ruth Wilson.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya, an animated folk tale about a girl who’s found inside a bamboo stalk, is at 100 percent.

  • Dear White People, a comedy about an African American college student whose no-holds-barred radio show shakes up the predominantly white campus, is at 97 percent.

  • Birdman, starring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in a comedy about an actor famous for playing a superhero who’s trying to mount a Broadway play, is Certified Fresh at 94 percent.

  • Housebound, a horror comedy about a woman sentenced to home confinement who discovers her house is occupied by a malevolent spirit, is at 94 percent.

  • Diplomacy, a historical drama about a plot to destroy Paris during World War II, is at 91 percent.

  • Listen Up Philip, starring Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss in a dramedy about a self-obsessed author burning bridges with the people around him, is at 87 percent.

  • Watchers of the Sky, a documentary about activists pushing for justice in the wake of mass atrocities, is at 87 percent.

  • Felony, starring Joel Edgerton and Tom Wilkinson in a thriller about three cops dealing with the potential fallout from a bust gone wrong, is at 79 percent.

  • Camp X-Ray, starring Kristen Stewart in a drama about a guard at Guantanamo Bay who develops a friendship with a detainee, is at 64 percent.

  • Rudderless, starring Billy Crudup and Anton Yelchin in a drama about a man who copes with his son’s untimely death by playing music, is at 61 percent.

  • Summer of Blood, a horror comedy about a schlubby guy who becomes a lady-killing vampire, is at 60 percent.

  • Young Ones, starring Michael Shannon and Elle Fanning in a sci-fi drama about a farming family struggling to survive in the midst of a global water shortage, is at 50 percent.

Finally, props to Andrew LaPlant for coming the closest to guessing Addicted‘s eight percent Tomatometer.

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