All Christopher Nolan Movies Ranked by Tomatometer
Christopher Nolan had such a perfect outsider journey into Hollywood filmmaking, he makes transforming into one of the world’s foremost A-list directors look simple. First, you make your requisite black-and-white feature debut for less than a half-million dollars (Following) in England. Then you come over to America, put together an inventive, almost revolutionary indie (Memento), which gets you invited into the big studio system for Insomnia, where two seasoned pros like Robin Williams and Al Pacino can recognize an up-and-coming talent and agree to star. Then, boom: You’re good to go in your new career as a rising director.
For Nolan, the next step up was a surprising move at the time: Resurrecting Bruce Wayne for Batman Begins, whose big-screen reputation had been trashed by Batman & Robin. With The Prestige, he really began to establish himself as a brand and icon whose pictures you can rely on to feature slick-as-ice style, heavy dollops of science fiction, mind-warping concepts and resolutions, and a growing repertoire of actors to fulfill his vision. Inception and Interstellar certainly fit this mold, while The Dark Knight (and its Rises sequel, to an extent) revolutionized comic book movies and pop culture fandom. And lest we think he forgot his roots, Dunkirk was a worthy movie monument to the WWII military evacuation’s inspirational stature within British society.
2020’s Tenet was a bellwether to test the lockdown winds. Its release was controversial and helped sever Nolan’s working relationship with Warner Bros. Now, he’s setting up his Oppenheimer biopic at Universal. Until that one lands, we’re ranking all Christopher Nolan movies by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus:Interstellar represents more of the thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent filmmaking moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan, even if its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp.
Synopsis: In Earth's future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael... [More]
Critics Consensus:Dunkirk serves up emotionally satisfying spectacle, delivered by a writer-director in full command of his craft and brought to life by a gifted ensemble cast that honors the fact-based story.
Synopsis: In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover... [More]
For some, staying home right now can mean curling up with a loved one on the couch for a date-night flick or gathering the whole family together for movie night. For many others, it can mean flying solo – long days and nights of streaming by yourself. We’re here to help with some movie suggestions we think are tailor-made for that latter experience.
Just like going to the movie theater alone can be a singularly joyous “treat yo self” excursion, solo home-viewing can be a great experience too – if you choose the right film. There are movies out there that actually benefit from being watched alone: It might be that they require a level of concentration and focus that distracting friends and loved ones just won’t allow you, or that the maximum scare factor is best felt when you are completely isolated – just like the babysitter being stalked on screen. It might just be that the movie has the kind of awkward/titillating sexy bits that make watching it with a first date – or, let’s say, mom – not exactly ideal. Watch it alone – no judgment, no nervous giggles.
To help those solo-fliers get through the next little while, the RT team pulled together a list of movies perfect for watching alone for all of those reasons – and a bunch that are just guaranteed to put you in an awesome mood the moment they start. Which might be the best reason of all.
What’s your favorite movie to watch by yourself? Let us know in the comments.
Click on each movie’s title to find out more, including where to stream, rent, or buy.
BECAUSE THE MOVIE REQUIRES YOUR ABSOLUTE CONCENTRATION…
Critics Consensus: Propelled by Charlie Kaufman's smart, imaginative script and Michel Gondry's equally daring directorial touch, Eternal Sunshine is a twisty yet heartfelt look at relationships and heartache.
Synopsis: After a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes a procedure to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey)... [More]
Critics Consensus:Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.
Synopsis: Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X --... [More]
Critics Consensus: A quiet, dialogue-driven thriller that delivers with scene after scene of gut-wrenching anxiety. David Fincher also spends more time illustrating nuances of his characters and recreating the mood of the '70s than he does on gory details of murder.
Synopsis: In the late 1960s and 1970s, fear grips the city of San Francisco as a serial killer called Zodiac stalks... [More]
Critics Consensus:Silence ends Martin Scorsese's decades-long creative quest with a thoughtful, emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director's finest works.
Synopsis: Two 17th-century Portuguese missionaries, Father Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), embark on a perilous journey... [More]
Critics Consensus: Its greatness is blunted by its length and one-sided point of view, but the film's weaknesses are overpowered by Michael Cimino's sympathetic direction and a series of heartbreaking performances from Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken.
Synopsis: In 1968, Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage), lifelong friends from a working-class Pennsylvania steel... [More]
Critics Consensus:Inherent Vice may prove frustrating for viewers who demand absolute coherence, but it does justice to its acclaimed source material -- and should satisfy fans of director P.T. Anderson.
Synopsis: In a California beach community, private detective Larry "Doc" Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) tends to work his cases through a smoky... [More]
Critics Consensus: It might have been better served by a filmmaker with a deeper connection to the source material, but The Color Purple remains a worthy, well-acted adaptation of Alice Walker's classic novel.
Synopsis: An epic tale spanning forty years in the life of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), an African-American woman living in the South... [More]
Critics Consensus: Playing as both an exciting sci-fi adventure and a remarkable portrait of childhood, Steven Spielberg's touching tale of a homesick alien remains a piece of movie magic for young and old.
Synopsis: After a gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a young boy named Elliott... [More]
Critics Consensus: In Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley plays with the documentary format to explore the nature of memory and storytelling, crafting a thoughtful, compelling narrative that unfolds like a mystery.
Synopsis: Through a series of revealing interviews, filmmaker Sarah Polley investigates the truth about her family history.... [More]
Critics Consensus:Old Yeller is an exemplary coming of age tale, packing an emotional wallop through smart pacing and a keen understanding of the elemental bonding between humanity and their furry best friends.
Synopsis: While Jim Coates (Fess Parker) is off on a cattle drive, his wife, Katie (Dorothy McGuire), and sons, Travis (Tommy... [More]
Critics Consensus: A delightfully postmodern fairy tale, The Princess Bride is a deft, intelligent mix of swashbuckling, romance, and comedy that takes an age-old damsel-in-distress story and makes it fresh.
Synopsis: A fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love. He must find her after a... [More]
Critics Consensus:Little Miss Sunshine succeeds thanks to a strong ensemble cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin, and Abigail Breslin, as well as a delightfully funny script.
Synopsis: The Hoover family -- a man (Greg Kinnear), his wife (Toni Collette), an uncle (Steve Carell), a brother (Paul Dano)... [More]
Critics Consensus: Undisciplined, scatological, profoundly silly, and often utterly groan-worthy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights still has an amiable, anything-goes goofiness that has made it a cult favorite.
Synopsis: Crusading nobleman Robin of Loxley (Cary Elwes) escapes from prison in Jerusalem and returns home to find that the evil... [More]
Critics Consensus: With a terrific cast and a surfeit of visual razzle dazzle, Crazy Rich Asians takes a satisfying step forward for screen representation while deftly drawing inspiration from the classic -- and still effective -- rom-com formula.
Synopsis: Rachel Chu is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. She's also surprised... [More]
Critics Consensus: David Lynch's dreamlike and mysterious Mulholland Drive is a twisty neo-noir with an unconventional structure that features a mesmirizing performance from Naomi Watts as a woman on the dark fringes of Hollywood.
Synopsis: A dark-haired woman (Laura Elena Harring) is left amnesiac after a car crash. She wanders the streets of Los Angeles... [More]
Critics Consensus:A Quiet Place artfully plays on elemental fears with a ruthlessly intelligent creature feature that's as original as it is scary -- and establishes director John Krasinski as a rising talent.
Synopsis: If they hear you, they hunt you. A family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though its underlying themes are familiar, House of the Devil effectively sheds the loud and gory cliches of contemporary horror to deliver a tense, slowly building throwback to the fright flicks of decades past.
Synopsis: Desperate to make some money so she can move into a new apartment, college student Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) takes... [More]
Critics Consensus: Though it deviates from Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is a chilling, often baroque journey into madness -- exemplified by an unforgettable turn from Jack Nicholson.
Synopsis: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer's block.... [More]
Thumbnail image: Everett Collection, Paramount Pictures, Focus Features
All Christian Bale Movies Ranked
Welcome to Rotten Tomatoes, where we’ve got Bale by the barrel! There’s skinny Bale (The Machinist) and big Bale (American Hustle), edgy Bale (The Fighter) and business Bale (American Psycho). Not to mention two varieties of P.O.W. Bale (Empire of the Sun, Rescue Dawn)! We’ve got cowl Bale (The Dark Knight) if that’s your fever, along with cool Bale (Equilibrium) and magic Bale (The Prestige). Then there’s bard Bale (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) if you’re a person of letters, which we suggest pairing with a biblical Bale (Exodus: Gods and Kings). A Christian Bale, if you please.
Bale’s been nominated for an Oscar four times (winning in 2011 for The Fighter), with the latest in 2019 for Vice. Ford v Ferrari wasn’t nominated for any of its performances, though it did land one for Best Picture. And now he’s in talks to jump from the world of DC to Marvel for a role in Thor: Love and Thunder. Come what may in 2021: First, we’re ranking the best Christian Bale movies (and the worst) by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: The cinematography is gorgeous, but the movie plays it fast and loose with history and the novel it was adapted from. Mostly, the movie fails because the romance between the leads strains credulity and the story is largely uninvolving.
Synopsis: An epic tale about the enduring hope of love and the devastating brutality of war, set amid the Italian occupation... [More]
Critics Consensus: Zhang Yimou's stylistic flair is in full bloom during The Flowers of War, but his colorful treatment of a historical genocide ultimately does a disservice to the horrifying events' inherent drama.
Synopsis: An American (Christian Bale) tries to protect a group of Chinese students and prostitutes from Japanese soldiers in 1937 Nanjing.... [More]
Critics Consensus:Reign of Fire gains some altitude with its pyrotechnic action and a smolderingly campy Matthew McConaughey, but the feature's wings are clipped by a derivative script and visual effects that fizzle out.
Synopsis: In present-day London, 12-year-old Quinn watches as his mother wakes an enormous fire-breathing beast from its centuries-long slumber. Twenty years... [More]
Critics Consensus:Knight of Cups finds Terrence Malick delving deeper into the painterly visual milieu he's explored in recent efforts, but even hardcore fans may struggle with the diminishing narrative returns.
Synopsis: A Los Angeles screenwriter (Christian Bale) indulges his wild side with a stripper (Teresa Palmer), a model (Freida Pinto) and... [More]
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Critics Consensus:I'm Not There's unique editing, visuals, and multiple talented actors portraying Bob Dylan make for a deliciously unconventional experience. Each segment brings a new and fresh take on Dylan's life.
Synopsis: Several actors portray legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan at different stages in his personal life and career. In 1959 a guitar-strumming... [More]
Critics Consensus:The Big Short approaches a serious, complicated subject with an impressive attention to detail -- and manages to deliver a well-acted, scathingly funny indictment of its real-life villains in the bargain.
Synopsis: In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting.... [More]
Critics Consensus: Director Werner Herzog has once again made a compelling tale of man versus nature, and Christian Bale completely immerses himself in the role of fighter pilot (and prisoner of war) Dieter Dengler.
Synopsis: During the Vietnam War, Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a U.S. fighter pilot, is shot down over Laos and taken captive... [More]
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
Synopsis: For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a powerhouse lineup of talented actresses, Gillian Armstrong's take on Louisa May Alcott's Little Women proves that a timeless story can succeed no matter how many times it's told.
Synopsis: In this 1994 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic, the March sisters confront growing pains, financial shortages, family tragedies and... [More]
He’s taken us to Gotham, inside the human subconscious, and to the furthest reaches of time and space — and this weekend, Christopher Nolan‘s putting us in the trenches with Dunkirk, about the heroic efforts of real-life British citizens to rescue stranded Allied troops during World War II. Clearly, this is the perfect time to take stock of his filmography, offering an overview of an acclaimed career’s brightest critical highlights while giving you the chance to make a ranking of your own. It’s time for Total Recall!
Use the up and down arrows to rank the movies, or click here to see them ranked by Tomatometer!
Pickings are somewhat slim this week on streaming, but we still have some good choices, including an inspirational drama from Disney, a fun animated film, some noteworthy new TV, and a Christopher Nolan thriller. See below for the full list.
Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart lead an ensemble voice cast in this animated tale about a jealous Jack Russell terrier who must befriend his owner’s new dog when the two of them find themselves stuck in the streets.
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star in the second installment of the Fifty Shades series, which finds Christian attempting to compromise in order to continue his relationship with Anastasia. For those of you looking for an extra steamy evening, there’s also an unrated version available.
Samara and her evil videotape are back to terrorize a new group of unfortunate victims, but this time, one of them discovers that there is a movie inside the cursed movie that nobody’s seen before. Yikes?
After nearly 20 years and a slew of X-Men franchise installments, Hugh Jackman walked away from Wolverine (presumably) with this past weekend’s Logan. In celebration of his impressive run as one of comics’ most popular characters, we decided to devote this week’s list to a fond look back at some of the brightest critical highlights from a wonderfully eclectic filmography that looks like it’s only begun to tap into his prodigious potential. Snikt! It’s time for Total Recall!
Looking at its premise on paper — giant robots boxing! — you might expect Real Steel would be the sort of critic-proof flick that takes a tumble on the Tomatometer while luring action enthusiasts to the cineplex in blockbuster-sized droves. The reality, however, was surprisingly complex; it’s actually a family drama with sci-fi overtones, starring Hugh Jackman as a washed-up boxer who becomes a promoter after robot boxers take over, and Dakota Goyo as the estranged son who helps him build a pugilistic machine that’ll rule the ring. Laced with enough grit to keep from becoming a total CGI fest while still making room for a handful of adrenaline-inducing set pieces, Steel earned a somewhat muted response from audiences, who turned out in respectable but not spectacular numbers — and a surprising amount of admiration from critics like NPR’s Linda Holmes, who argued, “Real Steel is ridiculous, but it is not dispiriting. If you’re going to make this movie, it should be made just this way, with commitment, verve and a complete disregard for physics, robotics and environmentalism.”
Round up a bunch of dramatic actors, hand them a classic musical, and ask them to sing — live in front of the camera, no less — and if nothing else, you’re bound to get points for audacity. Les Miserables director Tom Hooper courted disaster with this approach to his 2012 adaptation of the Broadway favorite, but emerged largely unscathed, winning a pile of Golden Globes and picking up eight Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) while racking up more than $440 million in worldwide grosses. Not bad for yet another version of a story just about everyone had already seen, and although a number of critics were unmoved by the movie’s unabashed efforts to wring tears from the audience, the majority found all that huge drama impossible to resist. An acknowledged singing talent in a cast notably short on them, Jackman earned an Academy Award nomination for his work as the long-suffering Jean Valjean — but Glenn Kenny of MSN Movies thought he “should get a Nobel Prize for the way he carries pretty much the whole undertaking on his shoulders, so protean and virile is his singing and acting throughout.”
The homicidal streak that makes Wolverine such a fascinating character in the comics is also what’s made him relatively problematic on the big screen, and its PG-13 neutering is part of what rendered Hugh Jackman’s previous solo outing as the clawed superhero, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, such a disappointment for longtime fans. Director James Mangold had the benefit of lowered expectations when it came time to helm the follow-up, The Wolverine, but the end result — which drew inspiration from a beloved ‘80s comics story that sent the character to Japan — earned more than a slow clap from critics; as Mick LaSalle enthused for the San Francisco Chronicle, “Somewhere along the line somebody must have had a crazy idea, that The Wolverine required a decent script, and shouldn’t rely only on action, audience goodwill and the sight of Hugh Jackman with his shirt off. The team delivers with this one.”
After Batman Begins hit big, Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale had their pick of projects to choose from — and they opted to reunite for The Prestige, a film Nolan had been eyeing since his post-Memento days. In this adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel, Bale stars opposite Jackman in the tale of two early 20th century magicians driven to dangerous lengths in their personal and professional feud. With a plot hinging on a series of progressively more unpredictable twists and turns, The Prestige was bound to provoke a number of divergent responses, but with gross receipts over $100 million and a Certified Fresh 76 percent Tomatometer, it packed enough of a suspenseful flourish to earn praise from scribes such as Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, who observed, “there are nifty tricks galore up the sumptuous sleeve of this offbeat and wildly entertaining thriller.”
An inspirational sports dramedy about a Winter Olympics hopeful with slim chances of success and a coach who also happens to be a disgraced former competitor, Eddie the Eagle has some obvious similarities to Cool Runnings — and in fact its protagonist, real-life British ski jumper Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, competed at the same Olympics that hosted Runnings‘ Jamaican bobsled team. But no sports movie is purely original anyway, and beyond those undeniable similarities to stories we’ve heard before, this good-natured dramatization of Edwards’ story — starring Taron Egerton in the title role and Jackman as his hard-drinking coach Bronson Peary — has no shortage of individual charm. “A tad sugary sweet,” admitted the Toronto Sun’s Liz Braun, “but thanks to the performances of Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton, the end result is a family film that’s highly entertaining.”
Today, Hugh Jackman is pretty much synonymous with the role of Wolverine, but he wasn’t Bryan Singer’s first — or second — choice for the part; in fact, it only fell to him after Russell Crowe’s salary demands and Dougray Scott’s scheduling conflicts kept both of them from bringing the clawed, cigar-chomping antihero to the screen. Jackman, an unknown at the time, represented a bit of a gamble for the long-in-development X-Men adaptation, but with an ensemble cast that included Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, and Halle Berry as Storm, the summer of 2000 brought Marvel’s favorite mutants to the big screen in style, racking up almost $300 million in worldwide grosses and a healthy stack of positive reviews from critics like New York Magazine’s Peter Rainer, who deemed it “A rarity: a comic-book movie with a satisfying cinematic design and protagonists you want to watch.”
How far would you go to find — or find justice for — your child? That dark dilemma sits at the heart of Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, a taut 2013 drama starring Jackman as Keller Dover, a father frantic with worry after his daughter disappears. When the police release their first suspect, Dover abducts the man (Paul Dano) and holds him captive, intent on gathering information by any means necessary — even though his prisoner has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old and might not even be responsible for the crime. Surrounded by a stellar cast that included Jake Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, Jackman anchored this unflinching descent into every parent’s nightmare with the palpable anguish needed to make the story tick. “The plot raises complicated moral questions about how far an anguished person will go for the love of a child,” wrote Claudia Puig for USA Today. “At the same time, it sets up an intricate, horrifying mystery with breathtaking skill.”
Given the long odds it faced just getting to the screen, let alone pulling off the transition so successfully, it seemed altogether unlikely that X-Men’s inevitable sequel would be able to achieve the same standard, let alone exceed it – but that’s exactly what 2003’s X2: X-Men United did, both at the box office, where it grossed over $400 million, and among critics, who praised it even more highly than its predecessor. This was, appropriately, accomplished two ways: One, the screenplay satisfied critics and longtime fans by tackling the comic’s long-running sociological themes, most explicitly the fear of “outside” elements (in this case, sexy super-powered mutants) and how that fear is channeled by xenophobic authority figures; two, the sequel ramped up the original’s gee-whiz factor by introducing characters like the teleporting, prehensile-tailed Nightcrawler – and daring to tease at the Marvel title’s Phoenix storyline, one of the most beloved, brain-bending plots in the publisher’s history. The result was a film that remains both a fan favorite and a critical benchmark for writers like Variety’s Todd McCarthy, who lauded X2 as “bigger and more ambitious in every respect, from its action and visceral qualities to its themes.”
Unlike the majority of film franchises that reboot themselves with younger casts, the X-Men series has the built-in advantage of drawing from comics mythology that makes room for time travel as well as superhumanly slow-aging mutants — which is how Jackman found himself called upon to once again do battle as Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The plot, which involves Wolverine going back in time to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from carrying out a political assassination that spells certain doom for mutantkind, includes all manner of tangled threads that could have sent the movie tumbling into the weeds, but director Bryan Singer tied it all nimbly together in his triumphant return to helming the franchise, uniting the OG X-Men with their younger counterparts in a blockbuster extravaganza that even managed to retcon the much-maligned X-Men: The Last Stand out of the official timeline. “Everything is of a piece,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern, “and it’s dazzling.”
Third time’s the charm. After whiffing on their first opportunity to give Wolverine a compelling solo outing with the calamitous Origins, then inching a little closer to snikt-worthy cinema with The Wolverine, Fox finally gave fans a properly grim and gritty third installment. Logan peers into a dark future for our favorite mutants, with most of the X-Men dead after a mysterious tragedy and Wolverine reduced to working as a driver while caring for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and saving up enough money to buy a boat and sail off into aquatic exile. Fate has less peaceful plans for our heroes, of course; in short order, Logan finds himself embroiled in a dangerous plot involving a mysterious lab and a young girl on the run (Dafne Keen). It’s a classic Wolverine caper, loosely inspired by the Old Man Logan comics arc, and delivered with all the hard-hitting, hard-R panache fans waited patiently to see — not to mention the vast majority of critics. “Entertaining as they are, Marvel movies aren’t expected to be this mature, this dark or this human,” wrote Colin Covert for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This is a bold, coherent story inspired by a comic book, not slavishly based on it.”
UPDATE! Scroll to the bottom to read more about Inception‘s first
“From the director of The Dark Knight.” Those words impart some serious expectations for Christopher Nolan’s Inception, not just in commercial terms (the Bat-sequel took $533 million in the US alone) but also critical stature — 2008’s Knight earned a lofty 94% “Fresh” rating on RT; the kind of numbers usually unheard of for a superhero film.
In fact, Nolan’s got a track record beyond the Bat that’s going to be just as tough to measure himself against. Consider the stats: his 1998 debut, Following, is at 80% (with 20 reviews counted); 2001’s breakthrough Memento at 93% (134 reviews); 2002’s thriller Insomnia 92% (166 reviews); and 2005’s Batman Begins boasts an 85% fresh score (254 reviews). Even the critical runt of Nolan’s litter, 2006’s duel of the magicians The Prestige, is sitting on Certified Fresh with 75% from 187 reviews.
Plenty to live up to, sure — but if the early, ecstatic reviews arriving for the film are any indication, Inception just might turn out to be Christopher Nolan’s best-reviewed film yet.
Justin Chang at Variety writes that, “If movies are shared dreams, then Christopher Nolan is surely one of Hollywood’s most inventive dreamers, given the evidence of his commandingly clever Inception.” He goes on to call Nolan’s filmmaking “an activity devoted to constructing a simulacrum of reality, intended to seduce us, mess with our heads and leave a lasting impression,” and concludes, simply, “Mission accomplished.”
Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt declares the movie, “A devilishly complicated, fiendishly enjoyable sci-fi voyage across a dreamscape that is thoroughly compelling.” Seems Inception had some major impact on the critic, too. “Sometimes originality comes at a cost though,” Honeycutt writes. “At the end, you may find yourself utterly exhausted.”
If those reviews aren’t rapturous enough, Techland‘s Steven James Snyder awards Inception his, “Best of 2010 thus far.” And he went in with heightened anticipation: “I expected a lot, but still walked out hypnotized,” Snyder says. “Here’s a movie that’s 3 steps ahead of you, on 4 different levels, at 5 blinding speeds.”
UPDATE: The first Rotten review came in Monday morning, with #18
breaking Inception‘s 100% streak early (comparatively, Toy Story 3
had over 100 reviews before its first Rotten). Top Critic David Edelstein of New York Magazine took umbrage with Nolan’s downbeat demeanor,
claiming him “too literal-minded, too caught up in ticktock logistics, to make a
great, untethered dream movie.” Edelstein, who also panned the other two Nolan
movies he reviewed (The Dark Knightand The Prestige), is among the critics who
recognize Inception as one more from the head than the heart, but takes
it all the way by calling it out as a movie of “brontosaurean effects [with a]
tone is so solemn [he] felt out of line even cracking a smile.”
The news that one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time was to get a full-fat reboot predictably sent cyborg fanboys into paroxysms of joy. For about 10 minutes. That Arnie, otherwise engaged running the world’s fourth largest economy, wouldn’t be back was partly compensated for by the casting of Christian Bale. But the revelation that McG was to be at the helm put an abrupt stop to the celebrations. Recently, though, the tide’s been turning with trailers and longer assemblages revealing a gritty war movie with more in common with Mad Max and Children of Men than Charlie’s Angels. RT talked exclusively to the much-maligned McG about the rise of his machines…
McG: The whole idea for doing this movie is to honour the first three movies but begin again. The big difference is we’re post-Judgement Day, whereas the other pictures were all contemporary, with Terminators coming back in time. It’s deep post-Judgement Day, it’s a new beginning, and because the future is malleable, there are a great many places to go.
One of the joys of this picture is it explores the space between Judgement Day and the becoming of the T800. So we get to see all the research and development that went into the proficiency of the T800. It’s like an Apple computer; the first ones you got 15 years ago had 2 megs of memory, and they weren’t so fast. And now today it’s the Macbook air and it does back flips. You know, it’s the same thing with the Machine world. And it suggests a world that’s less based in science fiction than it was when Jim Cameron was making the movies.
How do you mean?
McG: Well we live in a time where if you have an arthritic shoulder, they’ll give you a new one. We can make a 70-year-old woman pregnant, and deconstruct the human genome. And certainly the days of talking to a psychiatrist about your mommy and daddy issues are over — they just want to manipulate your serotonin levels. And therefore it’s real — it’s here. It’s now. That wasn’t the case when Ridley Scott made Blade Runner, or the first Terminator pictures, or even when the first Matrix came out. So in response our film was designed to have that tactile reality of Children of Men, or even the Bourne franchise.
Are there obvious elements in the previous movies that have to come back into play in yours?
McG: Certainly. We pay off a great many things that are established — particularly with Kyle Reese. We talk about the mythology of his shotgun strap, his proficiency for stealing cars, and we see where he learned a lot of these skills. And it wasn’t from Connor, it was from the Marcus character, which is one of the joys of the picture. We cite “Pain can be controlled, you just disconnect it,” you know, and we realise where he got that, and there’s a great many tidbits for the hard-core fans out there. But it’s designed as well for people who don’t know that much about the ins and outs of the first films.
Any “Hasta la vista, baby” moments?
McG: We’re working on a few. But I would never be so bold as to say we’ll have that good fortune of, you know, stuff sticking around to that degree. [Laughs]
You’ve got a really talented team of writers on board.
McG: Yeah, we wanted it to be written with the deftest pens possible. There’s a writing team called Ferris and Brancato that wrote the original draft. Then when I got involved, I brought in Paul Haggis, we worked for about 2 months on the script, with Christian as well. He taught us a great deal about character. Then we brought in Jonathan Nolan — who wrote the Batman pictures, Prestige, and largely Memento. So it’s a very cerebral bunch that’s here to make a film of the highest quality.
Continue onto the next page as McG talks about the challenges of shooting the film, his approach to CGI and whether he could take Linda Hamilton in a fight.
What were the most complicated scenes to shoot?
McG: Well a lot of the scenes take place in one shot, and figuring out places to hide the cuts… Again, I go to Children of Men — the car sequence, where the motorbikes come, and Julianne Moore is shot, and the whole thing plays in one shot. Figuring that out is very difficult, and you’ve got to figure out exactly where you’re going to have your blend points; you need to measure everything off, and consult with the visual effects people.
There’s a big gas station sequence that had that, and that was very, very tedious, and very, very technical filmmaking. And that’s why I love this film — one day we’re shooting a very intimate, character-driven scene, and there’s nothing going on but Connor and his wife in a room, and she’s the only one he can talk to about what’s on his mind. And then the next day we’re, you know, blowing up half of New Mexico, and going to a place of extraordinary action. So those are decidedly different hats to wear, day in, day out.
Do you deliberately do as much physically as you can? George Lucas would shoot the whole thing on a green screen, with guys wearing ping-pong balls…
McG: I say with respect to George Lucas, who I adore, I don’t like that at all. This is why Stan Winston‘s team is here. We do as much practically and in camera as possible. I want the machines to be real and we built all the machines. We built all the prosthetics. And then they’re accentuated and added to, certainly.
McG: I believe in visual effects completely. But I just don’t believe in saying, “throw up the green screen, and let’s make it happen.” I think the audience has become so skilled in recognising that – they sniff it out and it loses its potency. We’re going to have 800 CGI shots in this — I mean it’s a CG festival, that’s why I brought in the best minds in the business to come in and get it done – but we don’t just say, “put a blue sleeve on the Marcus character,” I mean — the guy spent six hours in make-up.
How do you inject humour and warmth into this universe?
McG: I don’t. There’s not a great deal of humour and warmth in this universe. It’s very largely influenced by the Cormac McCarthy novel The Road. It’s designed to feel that way — detached and existential, it’s got a great deal of Camus’ The Stranger in it. But there’s a gallows humour. We could all be in a bunker somewhere, and every now and again, you elbow the guy next to you and you make a wisecrack — what else are you going to do? It’s one of the defining characteristics of being human, even in the face of death. But the movie is designed to be very serious and very credible.
McG: Most certainly not. After those pull-ups in the psychiatric ward, I don’t think I could make that happen.
Terminator Salvation is released in the US on 21st May, in the UK on 3rd June and in Australia on 4th June.
Jigsaw’s twisted games return for another late-October round of torture fun with Saw IV which should allow the lucrative franchise to claim the biggest horror opening of the year for the second straight time. The R-rated gorefest follows last year’s Saw III which bowed to $33.6M this very weekend setting a new debut record for the series. Jigsaw’s death in that installment did not stop a fourth flick from being produced since the most popular horror movie villains never truly die anyway. Although III set a new opening weekend record for the Lionsgate series, it did not match Saw II‘s overall $87M gross and instead finished a bit behind with $80.2M. Still, with small budgets (Saw III was produced for $12M) this cash cow continues to churn out profits and shows no sign of stopping.
The audience for Saw IV is clearly defined and new fans are not likely to be generated. Competition will come primarily from last weekend’s number one opener 30 Days of Night which will suffer a sharp fall this weekend. Otherwise, there is not much to distract genre fans on the weekend before the pumpkin holiday. The marketing has been on par with previous films, but as the franchise ages it risks losing fans who may have had enough with three helpings already. Plus this year has seen a wide assortment of horror films crash and burn which has led to some fright fatigue. Another factor could be the World Series which last year only affected Saw III‘s Friday bow but this year will cut into both Saturday and Sunday business. Many young adults may opt for the torture that the Red Sox are inflicting on the Rockies instead. Saw IV opens on Friday in 3,183 locations and could take in about $29M over three days.
Steve Carell provides some laughs to those not interested in Halloween horror. Following the relatively disappointing $100.3M gross for his $175M budgeted comedy Evan Almighty, the funnyman returns in the dramedy Dan in Real Life playing a depressed widower who falls for his brother’s girlfriend during a family reunion weekend. Juliette Binoche and Dane Cook co-star. The PG-13 film is not a full-fledged comedy so it won’t attract the entire Carell fan base that has grown rapidly over the years thanks to The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the hit sitcom The Office. Also Buena Vista is not releasing the film too wide so the numbers will be kept to a manageable level. Dan should skew mostly to an adult audience so a cluttered marketplace filled with options for mature moviegoers will be a factor too. A poor title won’t help either. Though reviews have been generally positive for this lovable loser tale, a large number of moviegoers might just wait for the DVD on this one. Dan in Real Life stumbles into more than 1,700 theaters on Friday and could collect about $9M.
Steve Carell in Dan in Real Life
Last weekend vampires ruled the box office with 30 Days of Night, but this time a steep fall is guaranteed. Horror pics always drop hard on the second weekend and add in the arrival of Saw which will steal away the same audience, and a 55% decline could result. That would give Sony about $7M for the frame and a decent ten-day total of $27M. Tyler Perry‘s hit comedy Why Did I Get Married? has little in the way of new competition to deal with which means another good hold is likely. The Lionsgate pic may slide by 40% to around $7M as well and boost its 17-day total to $48M.
30 Days of Night
The Game Plan has been the fall season’s top grosser and Disney once again has no threats opening against it. The Rock‘s durable hit should dip by 30% to roughly $6M for a cume to date of $76M. George Clooney’s well-reviewed legal drama Michael Clayton will face some competition for adults from Steve Carell this weekend, but a solid hold does seem likely. A 30% drop would put the Warner Bros. title at $4.5M for the session and lift the sum to $28M.
LAST YEAR: Like clockwork, Saw III came in and dominated the pre-Halloween box office with a franchise-best $33.6M debut grossing more than the rest of the top five combined. The Jigsaw pic eroded fast and ended up trailing Saw II‘s total tally and finished with $80.2M. Holding tight in second place was Martin Scorsese‘s crime saga The Departed with $9.8M in its fourth assignment and the lowest drop in the top ten. The magician drama The Prestige followed closely in third with $9.6M. The war drama Flags of Our Fathers ranked fourth with $6.3M while the animated hit Open Season placed fifth with $5.9M. Opening to dismal results outside the top ten was the Tim Robbins drama Catch A Fire with only $2M on its way to a horrible $4.3M. Platforming in only seven sites was the ensemble drama Babel which went on to gross $34.3M and win the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama.
Competition, or a lack of it, will be the deciding factor at the North American box office this weekend for the half-dozen new releases that studios are packing into already overcrowded multiplexes. Leading the way is the horror film 30 Days of Night followed by the sports comedy The Comebacks which both will be targeting the teens and young adults that Hollywood has been ignoring in recent weeks. Mature adults who already have a wide selection of serious dramas to choose from will be served up three more – Reese Witherspoon‘s Rendition, Ben Affleck‘s Gone Baby Gone, and Halle Berry‘s Things We Lost in the Fire. With far too many films aiming for the same finite audience segment, some are sure to eat into the potential of others.
Sony will monopolize the horror crowd looking for a scare before Halloween with its gorefest 30 Days of Night which tells of vampires that attack a small town in northern Alaska during its annual sunless period. The R-rated film prominently informs moviegoers in its marketing that it is based on a graphic novel hoping to tap into a little bit of the excitement generated by 300 last spring. The first eight months of this year were brutal to R-rated horror films with none reaching number one and high-profile franchise flicks like Hostel II, 28 Weeks Later, and The Hills Have Eyes 2 all failing to reach $10M on opening weekend. But the Halloween remake over Labor Day weekend changed all that and was followed three weeks later by another top spot debut from horror-action hybrid Resident Evil: Extinction. But those have died out so 30 Days stands as the only creepfest at a time when scary movies are in demand. Attacking 2,700 theaters, 30 Days of Night should easily top the charts and could bite into around $19M over the weekend.
30 Days of Night
Fox spoofs the world of sports films with its new comedy The Comebacks which will target adolescents either too young for 30 Days or uninterested in scary movies. With so many mature stories hogging up screens, the market can certainly use a dose of immature humor right about now. The Comebacks is the first viable PG-13 comedy aimed at teens since fellow sports comedy Balls of Fury launched at the end of August. After a mid-week debut, that pic bowed to $11.4M over three days and Comebacks will play to many of the same folks. And with seventeen R-rated films opening wide over the last eight weeks, there has been little to celebrate for the under-17 crowd. Sure The Comebacks looks dumb, but dumb can sell. Add in a trim running time of under 90 minutes and commercial prospects are not bad. This is disposable entertainment for 14-year-olds. It will draw attention upfront, and be forgotten two weeks from now. Thanks to a lack of direct competition, The Comebacks could debut with about $11M from 2,800 sites.
Leading the charge for the 30-plus crowd this weekend is Reese Witherspoon who headlines the political thriller Rendition from New Line. The R-rated drama finds the Oscar winner playing a woman whose Egyptian-born husband is captured by the CIA after being suspected of being a terrorist. Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep add to the cast. Rendition follows The Kingdom and In the Valley of Elah as military-themed films this fall with connections to the Middle East. Audiences will want only so much of this content. Witherspoon will have her starpower put to the test since she is the only major commercial star here and she is outside of her safety zone of romantic comedies. The film will play to mature adults and will have to compete not only with this weekend’s other new dramas, but also with an assortment of holdovers already playing to the same audience. Reviews have been mixed which will also make things difficult. Debuting in roughly 2,200 locations, Rendition may capture about $9M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Reese Witherspoon and Peter Sarsgaard in Rendition
Ben Affleck makes his directorial debut with the crime thriller Gone Baby Gone which stars his brother Casey in the lead role. The Miramax release also stars Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Michelle Monaghan and carries a R rating. Reviews have been good which will come as a shocker to those that look at this movie as nothing more than Daredevil getting to hop into the director’s chair. Reese, Joaquin, George, Cate, and Halle will all be cutting into the adult pie which can only expand by a certain amount. The marketing push has been highlighting the film as being from the author of Mystic River in hopes of finding those who loved that other Boston-set fall crime drama. An invite to the top five may not arrive for Ben. Opening in approximately 1,500 theaters, Gone Baby Gone could collect about $6M this weekend.
Freeman, Affleck and Monaghan in Gone Baby Gone
Yet another new option for adults looking for serious fare is the Halle Berry–Benicio Del Toro starrer Things We Lost in the Fire. The Paramount release about a widow who seeks comfort from her dead husband’s drug-addicted friend will play to a mature audience and skew more female. The R-rated film has generated some good early reviews and both leads have Oscars on their shelves, but it will not be enough to compete with the other films targeting the same crowd. Berry showed in April that she can only open a picture so much when her thriller Perfect Stranger bowed to a $4,211 average even though A-lister Bruce Willis co-starred. With a not-so-wide release in about 1,000 theaters this weekend, Things We Lost in the Fire might debut with around $3M.
Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro in Things We Lost in the Fire
Freestyle Releasing has booked the few remaining empty screens out there for its teen thriller Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour. As one of the only PG-rated suspense pics ever made, the film will try to attract younger teenagers not interested in sports-themed comedies. With only 1,100 theaters, a quiet marketing campaign, no stars, and zero buzz, a weak debut of about $1M could result.
Disney’s The Game Plan once again has no new competition for the kiddie audience. Why studios have programmed so many serious adult dramas into this month and no other good family films is anyone’s guess. A 35% dip would leave The Rock with $7M and an impressive cume of $68M after 24 days.
Both Sony’s We Own the Night and the Warner Bros. thriller Michael Clayton will have to fight extra hard in order to compete with the new releases gunning for their customers. Night looks to slide more and fall by 45% while the strongly reviewed Clayton could ease by 40% with both films grossing roughly $6M over the weekend. That would lead to ten-day totals of $20M and $21M, respectively.
LAST YEAR: Just two months after the release of the similarly-themed magician pic The Illusionist, Buena Vista still managed to score a number one bow for The Prestige which opened with $14.8M on its way to $53.1M. Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed enjoyed a strong hold and ranked second with $13.5M in its third frame. Debuting in third was Clint Eastwood‘s war saga Flags of Our Fathers with $10.2M leading to a disappointing $33.6M final for Paramount. Sony’s animated hit Open Season ranked fourth with $8.2M. Rounding out the top five was rival family film Flicka with $7.7M for Fox on its way to only $21M. Also premiering in the top ten was Sony’s Marie Antoinette with $5.4M which led to a final tally of just $16M.
I’m not much for magicians, but apparently this Criss Angel guy is pretty famous, right? He’s got a TV series called "Mind Freak," so somebody out there knows who he is. Anyway, he’s turning an old comic book called "Mandrake the Magician" into a movie.
According to CinemaBlend.com, Mr. Angel will not only be starring in the "Mandrake" adaptation, but he’ll be working on the special effects, too: "I think with my show and how it’s based in reality it would be interesting to try and have that kind of transfer over into a movie. So that when you’re shooting this stuff it’s shot practical, and people can really get a sense of what’s happening and that it is really real. It has that quality about it, that spirit, you can’t get from CGI."
Created in 1934 by Lee Falk, Mandrake was turned into a 12-part movie serial in 1939. (Falk also created "The Phantom," which became a Billy Zane movie in 1996.)
A while back we heard that the Harvey Dent character would be appearing in "The Dark Knight" (he’ll be played by Aaron Eckhart) but that his villainous alter ego (Two-Face) would be saved for the NEXT sequel. Looks like we might have some confirmation on that…
Well, nothing concrete, but "Batman Begins" screenwriter David Goyer recently dropped a few hints like "Two-Face? Hmm, don’t think so…," which of course leads to all sorts of fan-frantic speculation. Regarding the possibility of there being two villains in the sequel, Mr. Goyer makes a good point: "Some people raised their eyebrows when they heard there were going to be two villains in the first film … but I think that one worked out just fine." (I’d call that an understatement … and there were definitely more than two villains in "Batman Begins.")
Furthermore, it looks like Goyer (who’s got his own movie, "The Invisible," coming real soon) will be receiving only a "story by" credit when "The Dark Knight" takes to the screen again. Official screenwriting duties now belong to the director Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan — who recently collaborated on "The Prestige," and rather well if you ask me.
According to an interview between Mr. Caine and Army Archerd, "The Dark Knight" will be shooting in London, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and … Baltimore, Maryland!
Regarding that remake of "Sleuth" (which Caine insists is not a true remake), Caine will co-star with Jude Law. Kenneth Branagh is directing from an adapted screenplay by Harold Pinter.
But back to the "Batman Begins" sequel again: Caine claims to have read the screenplay — but he was only allowed to do so with director Christopher Nolan hanging in the background. (Obviously the production team wants to keep the spoiler material under close guard.) That’s pretty much all we have for this update, but you can rest assured that we’ll be covering the heck out of "The Dark Knight" for the next several months.