Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Rio is Certified Fresh

Plus, Scream 4 is a bloody good time, while The Conspirator is a smart but bloodless history lesson.

by | April 14, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got winged migration (Rio, with voice work from Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway), meta mayhem (Scream 4, starring Neve Campbell and Emma Roberts), and a historical trial (The Conspirator, starring Robin Wright Penn and James McAvoy). What do the critics have to say?

Rio

72%

As the old standard goes, “Return I will/ to old Brazil.” Sounds kinda like the plot of Rio, which critics say is a colorful, exuberant animated romp with good music and strong voice performances. Jesse Eisenberg is Blu, a domesticated macaw who travels to Brazil with his owner in search of another of his kind. There, he meets and befriends Jewel (Anne Hathaway), but soon our feathered friends have been bird-napped by animal smugglers. Will our heroes escape? Will hilarity ensue? To the latter question, yes, say pundits — the Certified Fresh Rio will almost certainly delight kiddies with its vivid colors, high energy, and good humor.

Scream 4

61%

It’s been 11 years since Ghostface last haunted the horror movie-obsessed teens of Woodsboro, so it’s not unfair to ask: how well does Wes Craven’s venerable franchise hold up after a decade of torture porn and reboots of 1970s horror warhorses? Pretty well, say critics, who call Scream 4 a worthy addition to the series, featuring the winking humor and bloody thrills that fans have come to expect. Neve Campbell is back as Sidney Prescott, now a celebrated author, who returns to her hometown as part of her book tour. Naturally, her homecoming coincides with the reappearance of Ghostface, who’s back to his old teen-murdering ways. The pundits say Scream 4 isn’t the sharpest installment, but its cast contributes smart, game performances, and it’s much smarter — and funnier — than the vast majority of its contemporaries. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Craven’s best-reviewed movies, and Emma Roberts’s Five Favorite Films.)

The Conspirator

56%

Making history come to life is a difficult task. Director Robert Redford tries his best with The Conspirator, based on a fascinating chapter in the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, but critics say the film, despite its strong performances and handsome craftsmanship, struggles to overcome its textbook feel. Robin Wright Penn stars as Mary Surratt, the only woman charged in the conspiracy to assassinate the president; as her case goes to trial, she faces the wrath of an angry public, and it’s up to her lawyer (James McAvoy) to get to the truth of the accusations in order to save his client. The pundits say The Conspirator has a lot going for it, including a terrific cast and thorny ethical dilemmas that mirror our current times, but the movie sometimes feels more like a historical reenactment than a drama.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Armadillo, a documentary that follows Danish and British soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, is at 90 percent.

  • The Princess Of Montpensier, a period drama about love and intrigue among 16th century French aristocrats, is at 85 percent.

  • The Italian import The Double Hour, about a passionate romance between an ex-cop and a chambermaid that takes a dark turn, is at 83 percent.

  • A Screaming Man, a drama about the impact of unrest in Chad on a pool maintenance man and his son, is at 80 percent.

  • Footprints, about an amnesiac’s journey to some of Hollywood’s most famous sites, is at 20 percent.

  • Atlas Shrugged Part I, the first installment of a proposed trilogy based upon Ayn Rand’s Objectivist novel, is at zero percent.

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