(Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

All Samuel L. Jackson Movies Ranked

After a number of character parts and bit roles in a swath of urban dramas at the start of his career, Jackson made his breakthrough statement as the fiery voice of reason in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing: DJ Mister Señor Love Daddy. Pulling off a character with a name like that should only lead to more success, and sure enough, then came the slapstick comedy (Loaded Weapon 1), a disarming role in Jurassic Park, and the ultimate ’90s character: hitman Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction.

From there, Jackson has only cemented his rep as Hollywood’s versatile king of volatile cool, partnering with John McClane (Die Hard With a Vengeance), feelin’ the Force in the Star Wars prequels, starring as the sexy spawn of Shaft, and making his mark in original meme movie Snakes on a Plane.

And as, of course, the linchpin of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Nick Fury, whose movie appearances (brief or significant) are all included here in the greater interest of the general public, i.e. you’re going to complain if we didn’t. With that said, hold on to your butts for Samuel L. Jackson movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#97

Kite (2014)
0%

#97
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: With the help of her father's ex-partner (Samuel L. Jackson) and a friend (Callan McAuliffe) from her past, an orphaned... [More]
Directed By: Ralph Ziman

#96

Twisted (2004)
1%

#96
Adjusted Score: 5579%
Critics Consensus: An implausible, overheated potboiler that squanders a stellar cast, Twisted is a clichéd, risible whodunit.
Synopsis: Recently promoted and transferred to the homicide division, Inspector Jessica Shepard (Ashley Judd) feels pressure to prove herself -- and... [More]
Directed By: Philip Kaufman

#95
#95
Adjusted Score: 8953%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Waymon (Joseph C. Phillips) has a great job in real estate and a promising future, but he's also trapped in... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Hooks

#94

Sphere (1998)
11%

#94
Adjusted Score: 13428%
Critics Consensus: Sphere features an A-level cast working with B-grade material, with a story seen previously in superior science-fiction films.
Synopsis: When psychologist Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman) wrote a report for the government on how to deal with extraterrestrial life forces,... [More]
Directed By: Barry Levinson

#93

Cell (2016)
11%

#93
Adjusted Score: 12657%
Critics Consensus: Shoddily crafted and devoid of suspense, Cell squanders a capable cast and Stephen King's once-prescient source material on a bland rehash of zombie cliches.
Synopsis: A graphic novelist (John Cusack) begins a desperate search for his estranged wife (Clark Sarullo) and son (Ethan Andrew Casto)... [More]
Directed By: Tod Williams

#92

The Spirit (2008)
14%

#92
Adjusted Score: 17156%
Critics Consensus: Though its visuals are unique, The Spirit's plot is almost incomprehensible, the dialogue is ludicrously mannered, and the characters are unmemorable.
Synopsis: Apparently murdered cop Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht) returns as the Spirit, dedicated to protecting Central City from crime. His archenemy,... [More]
Directed By: Frank Miller

#91

Jumper (2008)
15%

#91
Adjusted Score: 20622%
Critics Consensus: Featuring uninvolving characters and loose narrative, Jumper is an erratic action pic with little coherence and lackluster special effects.
Synopsis: Aimless David Rice (Hayden Christensen) has the ability to instantly transport himself to any place he can imagine. He uses... [More]
Directed By: Doug Liman

#90

Cleaner (2007)
17%

#90
Adjusted Score: 8608%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Retired policeman Tom Cutler (Samuel L. Jackson) works as a crime-scene cleaner to support his young daughter. Cutler's quiet life... [More]
Directed By: Renny Harlin

#89

Amos & Andrew (1993)
17%

#89
Adjusted Score: 17326%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When erudite black playwright Andrew Sterling (Samuel L. Jackson) moves to a predominantly white suburb, the buffoonish local police surround... [More]
Directed By: E. Max Frye

#88
#88
Adjusted Score: 21212%
Critics Consensus: Even more absurd and implausible than the first XXX movie, State of the Union is less inspired and technically competent than its predecessor.
Synopsis: When the government finds out that a group of terrorists has infiltrated its ranks, and the group is being trained... [More]
Directed By: Lee Tamahori

#87
#87
Adjusted Score: 24712%
Critics Consensus: Mechanical animation and a less-than stellar script make The Clone Wars a pale shadow of George Lucas' once great franchise.
Synopsis: As more star systems get swept into the Clone Wars, the valiant Jedi knights struggle to maintain order. Anakin Skywalker... [More]
Directed By: Dave Filoni

#86
Adjusted Score: 22295%
Critics Consensus: Loaded Weapon 1 hits all the routine targets with soft squibs, yielding a tired parody that cycles through its laundry list of references with little comedic verve.
Synopsis: This "Lethal Weapon" spoof follows Los Angeles police officers Wes Luger (Samuel L. Jackson) and Jack Colt (Emilio Estevez) as... [More]
Directed By: Gene Quintano

#85

Basic (2003)
21%

#85
Adjusted Score: 24615%
Critics Consensus: Basic gets so needlessly convoluted in its plot twists that the viewer eventually loses interest.
Synopsis: During a special operations training mission in Panama, four U.S. soldiers are killed mysteriously, and their leader, Sgt. Nathan West... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#84

Reasonable Doubt (2014)
22%

#84
Adjusted Score: 9300%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A prosecutor (Dominic Cooper) commits a fatal hit-and-run, then manipulates the case so that the man who was arrested for... [More]
Directed By: Peter P. Croudins

#83

Meeting Evil (2011)
22%

#83
Adjusted Score: 9315%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An unwitting family man (Luke Wilson) takes a joy ride from hell with an insane killer (Samuel L. Jackson).... [More]
Directed By: Chris Fisher

#82
#82
Adjusted Score: 23763%
Critics Consensus: The ensemble cast works hard, but hammy direction and a script lacking in nuance ruins this movie's noble intentions.
Synopsis: Following a lengthy tour of duty in Iraq, three soldiers find that readjusting to life at home is not as... [More]
Directed By: Irwin Winkler

#81

Freedomland (2006)
23%

#81
Adjusted Score: 29193%
Critics Consensus: Poorly directed and overacted, Freedomland attempts to address sensitive race and class issues but its overzealousness misses the mark.
Synopsis: A mother blames the disappearance of her child on a black man from the projects after she reports a carjacking.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Roth

#80
#80
Adjusted Score: 25663%
Critics Consensus: A well-intentioned but melodramatic look at post-Apartheid South Africa.
Synopsis: An American reporter (Samuel L. Jackson) and an Afrikaans poet (Juliette Binoche) meet and fall in love while covering South... [More]
Directed By: John Boorman

#79

Zambezia (2012)
25%

#79
Adjusted Score: 8950%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Kai (Jeremy Suarez), a high-spirited falcon, travels to the bird city of Zambezia and discovers the truth about his origins.... [More]
Directed By: Wayne Thornley

#78
#78
Adjusted Score: 11780%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Police Detective Jack Friar (Samuel L. Jackson) is searching for a runaway teen when he's taken hostage by a band... [More]
Directed By: Bob Rafelson

#77
Adjusted Score: 36103%
Critics Consensus: Despite the charms of its ensemble, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard fails to protect the audience from repetitive and tired genre tropes.
Synopsis: The world's most lethal odd couple -- bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) --... [More]
Directed By: Patrick Hughes

#76

Barely Lethal (2015)
26%

#76
Adjusted Score: 25569%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Seeking a normal adolescence, a special-operations agent (Hailee Steinfeld) fakes her own death and enrolls in high school as an... [More]
Directed By: Kyle Newman

#75

The Samaritan (2012)
26%

#75
Adjusted Score: 25647%
Critics Consensus: The Samaritan is a ludicrous neo-noir starring a seemingly bored Samuel L. Jackson.
Synopsis: After many years in prison, a former grifter (Samuel L. Jackson) tries to go straight, but the son (Luke Kirby)... [More]
Directed By: David Weaver

#74

The 51st State (2001)
26%

#74
Adjusted Score: 28905%
Critics Consensus: Filled with profanities, Formula 51 is a stylized and incoherent mess that doesn't add up to much.
Synopsis: "The 51st State" is the story of Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson), a streetwise American master chemist, who heads to... [More]
Directed By: Ronny Yu

#73

Fluke (1995)
27%

#73
Adjusted Score: 13324%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Workaholic Thomas P. Johnson (Matthew Modine) has achieved professional success at the expense of his family life, having neglected his... [More]
Directed By: Carlo Carlei

#72

One Eight Seven (1997)
30%

#72
Adjusted Score: 30019%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a student writes the police code for homicide, 187, inside a textbook owned by teacher Trevor Garfield (Samuel L.... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Reynolds

#71

Shaft (2019)
34%

#71
Adjusted Score: 40533%
Critics Consensus: Decades removed from the original, this multi-generational Shaft struggles to keep its characters interesting -- or anything other than uncomfortably outdated.
Synopsis: John Shaft Jr. may be an FBI cyber security expert, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend's untimely... [More]
Directed By: Tim Story

#70
#70
Adjusted Score: 51092%
Critics Consensus: The Legend of Tarzan has more on its mind than many movies starring the classic character, but that isn't enough to make up for its generic plot or sluggish pace.
Synopsis: It's been nearly a decade since Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård), also known as John Clayton III, left Africa to live in... [More]
Directed By: David Yates

#69
#69
Adjusted Score: 39342%
Critics Consensus: The script is unconvincing and the courtroom action is unegaging.
Synopsis: Col. Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) is a 30-year Marine veteran: a decorated officer with combat experience in Vietnam, Beirut... [More]
Directed By: William Friedkin

#68
Adjusted Score: 47822%
Critics Consensus: Spiral: From the Book of Saw suggests an interesting new direction for the Saw franchise, even if the gory sum is rather less than its parts.
Synopsis: A criminal mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice in Spiral, the terrifying new chapter from the book of Saw.... [More]
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman

#67

Oldboy (2013)
39%

#67
Adjusted Score: 44761%
Critics Consensus: Suitably grim and bloody yet disappointingly safe and shallow, Spike Lee's Oldboy remake neither surpasses the original nor adds anything new to its impressive legacy.
Synopsis: Although his life is already in a downward spiral, things get much worse for advertising executive Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin)... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#66

Death to 2020 (2020)
40%

#66
Adjusted Score: 40485%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: 2020: A year so [insert adjective of choice here], even the creators of Black Mirror couldn't make it up... but... [More]
Directed By: Al Campbell, Alice Mathias

#65
#65
Adjusted Score: 59825%
Critics Consensus: The Hitman's Bodyguard coasts on Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds' banter -- but doesn't get enough mileage to power past an overabundance of action-comedy clichés.
Synopsis: The world's top protection agent is called upon to guard the life of his mortal enemy, one of the world's... [More]
Directed By: Patrick Hughes

#64

Lakeview Terrace (2008)
44%

#64
Adjusted Score: 50488%
Critics Consensus: This thriller about a menacing cop wreaking havoc on his neighbors is tense enough but threatens absurdity when it enters into excessive potboiler territory.
Synopsis: An uptight cop (Samuel L. Jackson), the self-appointed watchdog of his neighborhood, strongly disapproves of the interracial newlyweds (Patrick Wilson,... [More]
Directed By: Neil LaBute

#63
Adjusted Score: 54777%
Critics Consensus: xXx: Return of Xander Cage should satisfy fans of the first two installments, but its preponderance of set pieces can't quite make up for a tired storyline that fails to take the franchise -- or action fans -- anywhere new.
Synopsis: After coming out of self-imposed exile, daredevil operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) must race against time to recover a sinister... [More]
Directed By: D.J. Caruso

#62
#62
Adjusted Score: 45575%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Boxing promoter the Rev. Fred Sultan (Samuel L. Jackson) decides the best way to revive public interest in his top... [More]
Directed By: Reginald Hudlin

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 47768%
Critics Consensus: The Caveman's Valentine has an intriguing premise, but the film falls flat under the weight of its ambition.
Synopsis: Romulus (Samuel L. Jackson) is a homeless man who dwells in a cave in one of New York City's parks,... [More]
Directed By: Kasi Lemmons

#60

Soul Men (2008)
45%

#60
Adjusted Score: 48439%
Critics Consensus: Soul Men features lively performances from Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson and some hilarious moments, but ultimately suffers from an unoriginal script.
Synopsis: Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd (Bernie Mac) used to be one of the country's top musical duos, until they... [More]
Directed By: Malcolm D. Lee

#59

S.W.A.T. (2003)
48%

#59
Adjusted Score: 52597%
Critics Consensus: A competent, but routine police thriller.
Synopsis: Hondo Harrelson (Samuel L. Jackson) recruits Jim Street (Colin Farrell) to join an elite unit of the Los Angeles Police... [More]
Directed By: Clark Johnson

#58

RoboCop (2014)
48%

#58
Adjusted Score: 57427%
Critics Consensus: While it's far better than it could have been, José Padilha's RoboCop remake fails to offer a significant improvement over the original.
Synopsis: In 2028, OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. While its drones have long been used by the military... [More]
Directed By: José Padilha

#57

XXX (2002)
49%

#57
Adjusted Score: 53782%
Critics Consensus: It has an endearing lack of seriousness, and Vin Diesel has more than enough muscle for the starring role, but ultimately, XXX is a missed opportunity to breathe new life into the spy thriller genre.
Synopsis: Vin Diesel stars as former extreme sports athlete Xander "XXX" Cage, notorious for his death-defying public stunts. Betting he can... [More]
Directed By: Rob Cohen

#56

Astro Boy (2009)
50%

#56
Adjusted Score: 55326%
Critics Consensus: While it isn't terribly original, and it seems to have a political agenda that may rankle some viewers, Astro Boy boasts enough visual thrills to please its target demographic.
Synopsis: In futuristic Metro City, a brilliant scientist named Tenma builds Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore), a robotic child with superstrength, X-ray... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers

#55
Adjusted Score: 62032%
Critics Consensus: Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy -- albeit visually dazzling -- start.
Synopsis: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) ; Anakin... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#54

Deep Blue Sea (1999)
59%

#54
Adjusted Score: 63810%
Critics Consensus: Deep Blue Sea is no Jaws, but action fans seeking some toothy action can certainly do -- and almost certainly have done -- far worse for B-movie thrills.
Synopsis: On an island research facility, Dr. Susan McAlester (Saffron Burrows) is harvesting the brain tissue of DNA-altered sharks as a... [More]
Directed By: Renny Harlin

#53
#53
Adjusted Score: 63902%
Critics Consensus: Die Hard with a Vengeance benefits from Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson's barbed interplay, but clatters to a bombastic finish in a vain effort to cover for an overall lack of fresh ideas.
Synopsis: Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is now divorced, alcoholic and jobless after getting fired for his reckless behavior and bad... [More]
Directed By: John McTiernan

#52
#52
Adjusted Score: 64565%
Critics Consensus: The Last Full Measure struggles to capture the incidents that inspired it, but ultimately prevails thanks to strong performances in service of a remarkable true story.
Synopsis: Airman William H. Pitsenbarger Jr. is awarded the Medal of Honor for his service and actions on the battlefield.... [More]
Directed By: Todd Robinson

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 64742%
Critics Consensus: While sluggish in spots, Resurrecting the Champ is a sports/newsroom drama elevated by high-caliber performances by Samuel Jackson, Josh Hartnet, and Alan Alda.
Synopsis: Things are not going well for Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett). Erik, a sports reporter, is stuck covering the bush leagues... [More]
Directed By: Rod Lurie

#50

Coach Carter (2005)
64%

#50
Adjusted Score: 69704%
Critics Consensus: Even though it's based on a true story, Coach Carter is pretty formulaic stuff, but it's effective and energetic, thanks to a strong central performance from Samuel L. Jackson.
Synopsis: In 1999, Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson) returns to his old high school in Richmond, California, to get the basketball... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

#49
Adjusted Score: 79958%
Critics Consensus: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children proves a suitable match for Tim Burton's distinctive style, even if it's on stronger footing as a visual experience than a narrative one.
Synopsis: When his beloved grandfather leaves Jake clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#48
Adjusted Score: 73554%
Critics Consensus: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones benefits from an increased emphasis on thrilling action, although they're once again undercut by ponderous plot points and underdeveloped characters.
Synopsis: Set ten years after the events of "The Phantom Menace," the Republic continues to be mired in strife and chaos.... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#47

Black Snake Moan (2007)
66%

#47
Adjusted Score: 71871%
Critics Consensus: Uninhibited performances, skillful direction, and a killer blues soundtrack elevate Black Snake Moan beyond its outlandish premise.
Synopsis: After her lover (Justin Timberlake) leaves to serve in the military, Rae (Christina Ricci) gives in to her raging libido... [More]
Directed By: Craig Brewer

#46

Shaft (2000)
67%

#46
Adjusted Score: 70184%
Critics Consensus: With a charismatic lead, this new Shaft knows how to push the right buttons.
Synopsis: Crooked cops on the take -- small-time drug lords -- sleazy informers and sadistic rich kids ready to kill ---... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton

#45

Turbo (2013)
67%

#45
Adjusted Score: 70146%
Critics Consensus: It's nowhere near as inventive as its off-the-wall premise might suggest, but Turbo boasts just enough colorful visual thrills and sharp voice acting to recommend as undemanding family-friendly fare.
Synopsis: Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) is a speed-obsessed snail with an unusual dream: to become the world's greatest racer. This odd snail... [More]
Directed By: David Soren

#44

A Time to Kill (1996)
68%

#44
Adjusted Score: 70005%
Critics Consensus: Overlong and superficial, A Time to Kill nonetheless succeeds on the strength of its skillful craftsmanship and top-notch performances.
Synopsis: Carl Lee Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson) is a heartbroken black father who avenges his daughter's brutal rape by shooting the... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#43

Kiss of Death (1995)
67%

#43
Adjusted Score: 68029%
Critics Consensus: An outstanding ensemble cast propels Kiss of Death, a noir-ish crime thriller that's slick and big on atmosphere, even if its script may only provide sporadic bursts of tension.
Synopsis: After his time in prison, Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso) keeps his head down and provides for his wife and kids,... [More]
Directed By: Barbet Schroeder

#42
#42
Adjusted Score: 75479%
Critics Consensus: Snakes on a Plane lives up to its title, featuring snakes on a plane. It isn't perfect, but then again, it doesn't need to be.
Synopsis: FBI agent Nelville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) boards a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles, escorting a witness to trial.... [More]
Directed By: David R. Ellis

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 70199%
Critics Consensus: Smart, sharp-witted, and fueled by enjoyably over-the-top action, The Long Kiss Goodnight makes up in impact what it lacks in consistent aim.
Synopsis: Schoolteacher and single mother Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) lives an average suburban life -- until she begins having strange memories... [More]
Directed By: Renny Harlin

#40

Unbreakable (2000)
70%

#40
Adjusted Score: 76710%
Critics Consensus: With a weaker ending, Unbreakable is not as a good as The Sixth Sense. However, it is a quietly suspenseful film that intrigues and engages, taking the audience through unpredictable twists and turns along the way.
Synopsis: David Dunn (Bruce Willis) is the sole survivor of a devastating train wreck. Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is a... [More]
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

#39

Mo' Better Blues (1990)
71%

#39
Adjusted Score: 71957%
Critics Consensus: Mo' Better Blues is rich with vibrant hues and Denzel Washington's impassioned performance, although its straightforward telling lacks the political punch fans expect from a Spike Lee joint.
Synopsis: Financially irresponsible Giant (Spike Lee) manages a jazz group, but his sax player, Shadow (Wesley Snipes), wants to replace him... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#38

Iron Man 2 (2010)
72%

#38
Adjusted Score: 83904%
Critics Consensus: It isn't quite the breath of fresh air that Iron Man was, but this sequel comes close with solid performances and an action-packed plot.
Synopsis: With the world now aware that he is Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure from... [More]
Directed By: Jon Favreau

#37

The Red Violin (1998)
74%

#37
Adjusted Score: 74716%
Critics Consensus: A symphony of storytelling whose lulls lead to satisfying crescendos, The Red Violin weaves a centuries-long saga with the journey of a single instrument.
Synopsis: The intricate history of a beautiful antique violin is traced from its creation in Cremona, Italy, in 1681, where a... [More]
Directed By: François Girard

#36

The Negotiator (1998)
74%

#36
Adjusted Score: 75687%
Critics Consensus: The Negotiator's battle of wits doesn't wholly justify its excessive length, but confident direction by F. Gary Gray and formidable performances makes this a situation audiences won't mind being hostage to.
Synopsis: Danny Roman (Samuel L. Jackson) is considered the best police hostage negotiator in Chicago. After a friend warns him that... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 88107%
Critics Consensus: The Hateful Eight offers another well-aimed round from Quentin Tarantino's signature blend of action, humor, and over-the-top violence -- all while demonstrating an even stronger grip on his filmmaking craft.
Synopsis: While racing toward the town of Red Rock in post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunter John "The Hangman" Ruth (Kurt Russell)... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#34
Adjusted Score: 84834%
Critics Consensus: Stylish, subversive, and above all fun, Kingsman: The Secret Service finds director Matthew Vaughn sending up the spy genre with gleeful abandon.
Synopsis: Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), whose late father secretly worked for a spy organization, lives in a South London housing... [More]
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 104540%
Critics Consensus: Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster's mythos without ever matching up to the classic original.
Synopsis: Scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Cut off from everything they... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

#32
#32
Adjusted Score: 90810%
Critics Consensus: Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor's unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe.
Synopsis: When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) jump-starts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go terribly awry, forcing him, Thor (Chris Hemsworth),... [More]
Directed By: Joss Whedon

#31

Changing Lanes (2002)
77%

#31
Adjusted Score: 80763%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find its conclusion unsatisfying, Changing Lanes is a tense, well-crafted exploration of meaty ethical dilemmas.
Synopsis: A rush-hour fender-bender on New York City's crowded FDR Drive, under most circumstances, wouldn't set off a chain reaction that... [More]
Directed By: Roger Michell

#30

Thor (2011)
77%

#30
Adjusted Score: 87536%
Critics Consensus: A dazzling blockbuster that tempers its sweeping scope with wit, humor, and human drama, Thor is mighty Marvel entertainment.
Synopsis: As the son of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of the Norse gods, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) will soon inherit the throne... [More]
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

#29

Big Game (2014)
78%

#29
Adjusted Score: 79990%
Critics Consensus: Big Game's enthusiastic throwback vibe will appeal to fans of low-budget '80s action movies, but co-writer/director Jalmari Helander adds a level of smarts and skill that make it more than just an homage.
Synopsis: The U.S. president (Samuel L. Jackson) must rely on a 13-year-old boy (Onni Tommila) to get him out alive after... [More]
Directed By: Jalmari Helander

#28

Mother and Child (2009)
78%

#28
Adjusted Score: 82433%
Critics Consensus: Though it occasionally veers into unnecessary melodrama, Mother and Child benefits from a stellar cast and writer-director Rodrigo Garcia's finely detailed, bravely unsentimental script.
Synopsis: The lives of three women have a commonality: adoption. Karen (Annette Bening) is a physical therapist who regrets that, as... [More]
Directed By: Rodrigo Garcia

#27

The Other Guys (2010)
79%

#27
Adjusted Score: 85914%
Critics Consensus: A clever parody of cop-buddy action-comedies, The Other Guys delivers several impressive action set pieces and lots of big laughs, thanks to the assured comic chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.
Synopsis: Unlike their heroic counterparts on the force, desk-bound NYPD detectives Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) garner no headlines... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#26

Captain Marvel (2019)
79%

#26
Adjusted Score: 113649%
Critics Consensus: Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU's latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise's signature formula.
Synopsis: Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who finds herself caught in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her... [More]
Directed By: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

#25

1408 (2007)
79%

#25
Adjusted Score: 86378%
Critics Consensus: Relying on psychological tension rather than overt violence and gore, 1408 is a genuinely creepy thriller with a strong lead performance by John Cusack.
Synopsis: Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a successful author who enjoys worldwide acclaim debunking supernatural phenomena -- before he checks into... [More]
Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom

#24

The Banker (2020)
79%

#24
Adjusted Score: 83712%
Critics Consensus: The Banker's timid approach to dramatizing its fact-based story is often outweighed by the trio of strong performances at its core.
Synopsis: In the 1960s, two entrepreneurs hatch an ingenious business plan to fight for housing integration and equal access to the... [More]
Directed By: George Nolfi

#23
Adjusted Score: 89804%
Critics Consensus: With plenty of pulpy action, a pleasantly retro vibe, and a handful of fine performances, Captain America is solidly old-fashioned blockbuster entertainment.
Synopsis: It is 1941 and the world is in the throes of war. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants to do his... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#22
Adjusted Score: 91497%
Critics Consensus: With Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas brings his second Star Wars trilogy to a suitably thrilling and often poignant -- if still a bit uneven -- conclusion.
Synopsis: It has been three years since the Clone Wars began. Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jedi Knight Anakin... [More]
Directed By: George Lucas

#21

Hard Eight (1996)
81%

#21
Adjusted Score: 82364%
Critics Consensus: An absorbing showcase for Philip Baker Hall, Paul Thomason Anderson's feature debut is a gamble that pays off handsomely.
Synopsis: A stranger (Philip Baker Hall) mentors a young Reno gambler (John C. Reilly) who weds a hooker (Gwyneth Paltrow) and... [More]
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson

#20

Trees Lounge (1996)
81%

#20
Adjusted Score: 80861%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Long Island loser Tommy (Steve Buscemi) is a hopeless alcoholic who loses his job for stealing from his boss, Rob... [More]
Directed By: Steve Buscemi

#19

Jungle Fever (1991)
82%

#19
Adjusted Score: 84389%
Critics Consensus: Jungle Fever finds Spike Lee tackling timely sociopolitical themes in typically provocative style, even if the result is sometimes ambitious to a fault.
Synopsis: A married black lawyer named Flipper (Wesley Snipes) begins an affair with Angie (Annabella Sciorra), his white secretary. When the... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#18

Eve's Bayou (1997)
82%

#18
Adjusted Score: 85261%
Critics Consensus: Eve's Bayou marks a striking feature debut for director Kasi Lemmons, layering terrific performances and Southern mysticism into a measured meditation on disillusionment and forgiveness.
Synopsis: Over the course of a long, hot Louisiana summer, a 10-year-old black girl, Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), discovers that her... [More]
Directed By: Kasi Lemmons

#17

Chi-Raq (2015)
82%

#17
Adjusted Score: 90973%
Critics Consensus: Chi-Raq is as urgently topical and satisfyingly ambitious as it is wildly uneven -- and it contains some of Spike Lee's smartest, sharpest, and all-around entertaining late-period work.
Synopsis: The girlfriend (Teyonah Parris) of a Chicago gang leader (Nick Cannon) persuades other frustrated women to abstain from sex until... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 87361%
Critics Consensus: Told with grit and verve by the Hughes brothers in their feature debut, Menace II Society is a gangland epic that breathes with authenticity while steeped in style.
Synopsis: After growing up in the gang lifestyle of the Los Angeles projects, 18-year-old Caine Lawson (Tyrin Turner) wants a way... [More]

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 92087%
Critics Consensus: Kill Bill: Volume 2 adds extra plot and dialogue to the action-heavy exploits of its predecessor, while still managing to deliver a suitably hard-hitting sequel.
Synopsis: The Bride (Uma Thurman) picks up where she left off in volume one with her quest to finish the hit... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 92345%
Critics Consensus: Kill Bill is admittedly little more than a stylish revenge thriller -- albeit one that benefits from a wildly inventive surfeit of style.
Synopsis: A former assassin, known simply as The Bride (Uma Thurman), wakes from a coma four years after her jealous ex-lover... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 114161%
Critics Consensus: Avengers: Infinity War ably juggles a dizzying array of MCU heroes in the fight against their gravest threat yet, and the result is a thrilling, emotionally resonant blockbuster that (mostly) realizes its gargantuan ambitions.
Synopsis: Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet --... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#12

Jackie Brown (1997)
87%

#12
Adjusted Score: 92479%
Critics Consensus: Although somewhat lackadaisical in pace, Jackie Brown proves to be an effective star-vehicle for Pam Grier while offering the usual Tarantino wit and charm.
Synopsis: When flight attendant Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is busted smuggling money for her arms dealer boss, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L.... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#11

Django Unchained (2012)
86%

#11
Adjusted Score: 98844%
Critics Consensus: Bold, bloody, and stylistically daring, Django Unchained is another incendiary masterpiece from Quentin Tarantino.
Synopsis: Two years before the Civil War, Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave, finds himself accompanying an unorthodox German bounty hunter named... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#10

Fresh (1994)
88%

#10
Adjusted Score: 89167%
Critics Consensus: Well cast and sharply directed, Fresh serves as an attention-getting calling card for writer-director Boaz Yakin as well as a gripping urban drama.
Synopsis: Fresh (Sean Nelson) is a 12-year-old drug dealer who finds himself trapped in a web of poverty, corruption and racial... [More]
Directed By: Boaz Yakin

#9
Adjusted Score: 102467%
Critics Consensus: Suspenseful and politically astute, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superior entry in the Avengers canon and is sure to thrill Marvel diehards.
Synopsis: After the cataclysmic events in New York with his fellow Avengers, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), lives in... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

#8
Adjusted Score: 118745%
Critics Consensus: A breezily unpredictable blend of teen romance and superhero action, Spider-Man: Far from Home stylishly sets the stage for the next era of the MCU.
Synopsis: Peter Parker's relaxing European vacation takes an unexpected turn when Nick Fury shows up in his hotel room to recruit... [More]
Directed By: Jon Watts

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 106046%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a script that emphasizes its heroes' humanity and a wealth of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies.
Synopsis: When Thor's evil brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract,... [More]
Directed By: Joss Whedon

#6

Jurassic Park (1993)
92%

#6
Adjusted Score: 102598%
Critics Consensus: Jurassic Park is a spectacle of special effects and life-like animatronics, with some of Spielberg's best sequences of sustained awe and sheer terror since Jaws.
Synopsis: In Steven Spielberg's massive blockbuster, paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#5

Pulp Fiction (1994)
92%

#5
Adjusted Score: 98550%
Critics Consensus: One of the most influential films of the 1990s, Pulp Fiction is a delirious post-modern mix of neo-noir thrills, pitch-black humor, and pop-culture touchstones.
Synopsis: Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) are hitmen with a penchant for philosophical discussions. In this... [More]
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

#4

True Romance (1993)
93%

#4
Adjusted Score: 96233%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by Quentin Tarantino's savvy screenplay and a gallery of oddball performances, Tony Scott's True Romance is a funny and violent action jaunt in the best sense.
Synopsis: A comic-book nerd and Elvis fanatic Clarence (Christian Slater) and a prostitute named Alabama (Patricia Arquette) fall in love. Clarence... [More]
Directed By: Tony Scott

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 100605%
Critics Consensus: Smart, vibrant, and urgent without being didactic, Do the Right Thing is one of Spike Lee's most fully realized efforts -- and one of the most important films of the 1980s.
Synopsis: Salvatore "Sal" Fragione (Danny Aiello) is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin' Out (Giancarlo... [More]
Directed By: Spike Lee

#2

Incredibles 2 (2018)
93%

#2
Adjusted Score: 116866%
Critics Consensus: Incredibles 2 reunites Pixar's family crimefighting team for a long-awaited follow-up that may not quite live up to the original, but comes close enough to earn its name.
Synopsis: Telecommunications guru Winston Deavor enlists Elastigirl to fight crime and make the public fall in love with superheroes once again.... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

#1

The Incredibles (2004)
97%

#1
Adjusted Score: 106293%
Critics Consensus: Bringing loads of wit and tons of fun to the animated superhero genre, The Incredibles easily lives up to its name.
Synopsis: In this lauded Pixar animated film, married superheroes Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) are forced to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Bird

It’s a bit of a slow week for home video releases, led by Eli Roth’s torture-for-hire gore fest (Hostel II) and Disney’s latest kid pic (Meet the Robinsons). Thankfully, those wonderful folks at Criterion have another wave of beautifully restored classics for us (Breathless, Days of Heaven, and Under the Volcano), all chock full of extra features!



Hostel Part II


Tomatometer: 45%

Writer-director Eli Roth has earned a bad rap for his gore-filled flicks, but we love a filmmaker who employs subversive themes and sly cinematic references in his works. (What up, Ruggero Deodato!) In this sequel to the 2005 hit, a trio of young coeds find that their European spa getaway is really pricey. As in, it’ll cost them their lives. Gruesome torture ensues, of course, but you might also like the commentary with Roth, his producer brother Gabe Roth, and Quentin Tarantino, four featurettes, a “Blood and Guts” montage, deleted scenes, and more.

 


Meet the Robinsons


Tomatometer: 64%

A charming CG-animated pic about a boy inventor seeking his birth mother with the help of a futuristic friend, Disney’s Meet the Robinsons is this week’s best new family-friendly release. The frenetic tale boasts the vocal talents of Angela Bassett, Tom Selleck and Adam West, with a features menu that includes a director commentary, deleted scenes, music videos and a kid’s character matching game.

 


Fido


Tomatometer: 65%
Andrew Currie. When the Robinson family buys a new household pet — a domesticated zombie named Fido — both young Timmy (K’Sun Ray) and his mother (Carrie-Ann Moss) develop a bond with their undead help. The DVD includes deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and commentary track.

 



Into Great Silence


Tomatometer: 86%

Director Philip Groening lived with and filmed the monks of the Roman Catholic Grand Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps for four months shooting this meditative documentary about daily life in the slow-moving religious order, where members live with their vows of silence. Look for extras like a making-of feature, scenes showing the monastery’s famous Chartreuse liquor distillation, and a guide to the silent lives of the Carthusian monks.

 




The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume One


Tomatometer: N/A

If you’re like us, you’ve been waiting over a decade for the George Lucas-produced Young Indiana Jones Chronicles to hit the home video circuit; if you’re really like us, the news of the series coming to DVD this week even brought a tear to your eye, out of sheer gratitude. Starring a dashing then-27-year-old Sean Patrick Flanery (playing a full decade-younger teen Indy), Chronicles showcased the early exploits of Indiana Jones as he traipsed the globe and encountered various historical figures in 44 hour-long episodes, written and directed by filmmakers like Lucas, Frank Darabont, Mike Newell, and Jonathan Hensleigh. In this first of three volumes, you’ll get 12 discs with episodes, historical documentaries, and a primer on being a real-life archaeologist.


Criterion Corner — Salivate, Cinephiles!

Breathless
Tomatometer: 96%

I know what you’re thinking: how have the folks at Criterion not yet released Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard‘s utterly groundbreaking noir homage about a wanted Parisian thug and his American girlfriend? Well, we say better late than never, because this two-disc release of the seminal French New Wave classic is predictably stuffed with all the Breathless goodies your heart could desire: archival interviews with Godard, his actors Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, and Godard mentor Jean-Pierre Melville (who appeared as a pompous author); a detailed roadmap explaining the pop culture references sprinkled throughout the film; and a 1959 short film by Godard, starring Breathless leading man Belmondo. Add to that a retrospective documentary about the making of Breathless, new crew interviews, the French theatrical trailer, an 80-page booklet, and more — not to mention a beautifully crisp new digital transfer — and this is a definite must-have for any cinephile.

Days of Heaven
Tomatometer: 91%

Thought by many to be one of the most beautiful films ever made, Terrence Malick‘s turn-of-the-century tragic tale has been newly restored under the supervision of the director himself. The 1978 film was only his second after making his debut with Badlands, and Malick took an infamous two decade break from filmmaking shortly thereafter, but his transcendental, poetic style affected here (and again in his later The New World) marked the hand of a visionary auteur. Pick up the Criterion edition for the new restoration print, a crew commentary track, and an interview featuring notoriously Oscar-snubbed cinematographer Haskell Wexler.




Under the Volcano

Tomatometer: 71%

John Huston‘s faithful adaptation of Malcolm Lowry’s 1947 novel covers a day in the life of Geoffrey Fermin (Albert Finney), a British ambassador in a small Mexican town who finds himself booze-soaked and self-destructing on the Day of the Dead. The film earned two Oscar nominations for Best Actor (Finney) and Original Score, and would be the great director’s antepenultimate film before his death three years later. Criterion’s gone and given the 1984 pic a new shine, and offer a 1984 audio interview with Huston, new interviews with star Jacqueline Bisset and screenwriter Guy Gallo, a 1984 on-set documentary, and more.

Knowing is Half the Battle




Mr. Brooks

Tomatometer: 55%

Kevin Costner stars in this split personality thriller about a family man and upstanding citizen who also happens to be a serial killer. While some critics thoroughly enjoyed Costner’s murderous star turn, others found the plot too full of twists. You be the judge!


Home of the Brave
Tomatometer: 24%

Four members of an army unit return from Iraq to deal with the repercussions of war in Irwin Winkler‘s film. While critics found its performances moving — including contributions from the likes of Samuel Jackson, Jessica Biel, and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson — overly hammy direction and an almost old-fashioned sensibility made this first mainstream film about the Iraq war an unfortunate misfire.


The Tripper
Tomatometer: 24%

From Hollywood’s wackiest real-life pairing — married couple David Arquette and Courteney Cox — comes this comic slasher flick about a bunch of hippies being stalked in the woods of Northern California by a staunchly anti-drug crusading Ronald Reagan-lookalike killer. Press notes call it the “perfect 4:20 AM cult horror-druggie-comedy film”; critics insisted otherwise.

Until next week, happy renting!

Much has been made lately of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan‘s demands to screen the Weinstein Co.’s upcoming Oscar hopeful, but it’s only the latest in a growing trend of troubling rumors surrounding the Edie Sedgwick biopic.

"Factory Girl" has been buzzed about as Sienna Miller‘s big break, the role that could send the British actress from "Layer Cake" eye-candy to breakout star. Distributor Weinstein Co. even pushed the flick towards a last-minute December 29 release to qualify for awards season; months ago, Hollywood Elsewhere‘s Jeffrey Wells rough cut rave hailed it as a contender (and suggested there’s Oscar potential in both Miller’s star turn and co-star Guy Pearce‘s portrayal of Andy Warhol).


Miller as Sedgwick in "Factory Girl"

The film, directed by documentarian George Hickenlooper ("Hearts of Darkness," "Mayor of the Sunset Strip"), chronicles the up-down trajectory of Warhol celebutante Sedgwick, the pixie-headed model-actress who was briefly a member of the Factory in the 1960s, dated Bob Dylan, and died of a drug overdose in 1971. Miller herself is a dead-on doppelganger for Sedgwick and stars alongside Pearce, Hayden Christensen, Ileana Douglas, Mary-Kate Olsen, Jimmy Fallon, Mena Suvari, and various members of Weezer.

It’s Christensen’s character, "Billy Quinn," that has drawn the ire of Dylan and his lawyers; though the name is different, the character bears enough resemblance to the folk legend and implies that their break-up inadvertently led to Sedgwick’s demise. From the LA Times: "[The character] has Dylan’s mannerisms and sports a checked scarf like the one Dylan sports on the cover of his classic "Blonde on Blonde" album — on which, legend has it, Sedgwick inspired two songs, "Just Like a Woman" and "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat."


Sedgwick (Miller) with Andy Warhol (Pearce)

Consequently, Dylan is demanding the film’s release and all early screenings be cancelled until he can view it and give his approval — or else producers Bob Yari and Holly Wiersma will be sued for defamation. (Coincidentally, Yari is the guy who was embroiled in a lawsuit around this time last year over snubbed producing credits for "Crash" and is currently in a public sparring match with Warner Bros. over what he considers a flawed Oscar campaign for his upcoming film, "The Painted Veil.")

Add that to recent rumors of Weinstein-mandated re-shoots and "Girl" champions might have cause to worry about the flick (and it’s stars’) chances come February. And then there’s the message board shouting match over at Cinematical about the Hickenlooper film, a failed competing Edie Sedgwick project, and a quite entertaining, if hard to follow, ensuing war of words from supporters of both camps (scroll down to the comments, it’s worth it!).

Elsewhere in Indie News

Sharon Stone To Play Jimmy Fallon’s MILF in Indie Pic


Stone in last year’s "Broken Flowers"

Jimmy Fallon and Sharon Stone are teaming up for the indie drama "Eliot Rockett." The film, which will begin shooting in February, tells the story of a workaholic/commitment-phobe man returning to his hometown due to a family illness; a reunion with his mother (Stone) rekindles his feelings of dysfunction. "Eliot Rockett" marks the directorial debut of co-screenwriter Patrick Sisam.

Lionsgate to Show Crowe’s "Tenderness"


Crowe earning his Golden Globe in "A Beautiful Mind"

The Russell Crowe-starrer "Tenderness" has been picked up by Lionsgate. The indie drama, which also features the talents of Laura Dern, Jon Foster, and Sophie Traub, tells the story of a cop on the trail of a serial killer, who’s become a bit too friendly with a local girl. The film is currently in post-production, and will likely hit theaters in late 2007.

Judge Unleashes "Alpha Dog"


"Alpha Dog": Coming to theaters before going to trial

It’s finally a go for teen crime flick "Alpha Dog," the Nick Cassavetes-helmed biopic based on the life of a young drug lord known as Jesse James Hollywood that premiered at Sundance nearly a year ago. Thanks to a federal judge’s ruling, Universal can release the film as planned this January; Hollywood’s defense attorney still maintains that releasing the flick will infringe upon his client’s right to a fair trial (to take place next year) and will continue to seek legal restraints.

The pic, starring Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis, and a lot more young Hollywood thesps, details the kidnapping and murder of a young man allegedly orchestrated by Hollywood, who consequently became the youngest person on the FBI’s most wanted list. The wealthy, fast-living criminal fled to Brazil, where he was apprehended in 2005.

Tomatometers for Last Week’s Limited Releases


Sarah Polley in Isabel Coixet’s "The Secret Life of Words"

Also playing this week in limited release: "The Secret Life of Words," starring Tim Robbins and Sarah Polley in a tale of high drama on an oil rig, is at 76 percent with 25 reviews; "Automatons," a zero-budget dystopian sci-fi flick, is at 67 percent with 6 reviews; "Breaking and Entering," a story of the tangled webs weaved after a burglary starring Jude Law and Juliette Binoche, is at 50 percent with 36 reviews; "The Good German," Steven Soderbergh‘s "Casablanca"-esque drama set in post-WWII Berlin starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, is at 33 percent with 70 reviews; and "Home of the Brave," about the trials of vets returning home from Iraq starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, and 50 Cent, is at 21 percent with 33 reviews.

Top Performing Limiteds



Penelope and Pedro, still going strong…

In the indie box office battle last week, Pedro Almodovar‘s "Volver" again claims the top spot, taking in a per screen average of $6,965 of 45 screens in its seventh week of release for a total of just under $2.9 million. The runner-up was the debut drama "The Secret Life of Words" starring Tim Robbins and Sarah Polley; it took in $5,309 in one theater. The suburban drama "Little Children" starring Kate Winslet came in third, claiming $3,695 on 21 screens in its 11th week of release (for a total of just over $2 million). The theatrical adaptation of "The History Boys" finished fourth, taking in $2,889 on 76 screens in its fourth week of release for a total of $795,000. Finally, the Bollywood drama/adventure, "Kabul Express," made $2,852 on 50 screens in its first week of release, for a total of $142,000.

Hollywood studios try to inject some juice into the North American box office this weekend by unleashing three big new releases aimed at getting people back into the habit of going to the movies.

Boys will be courted with the fantasy adventure pic "Eragon," girls will get to play with "Charlotte’s Web," and adults looking for a feel-good story to counter their holiday shopping blues will have the father-and-son Smith team in "The Pursuit of Happyness."

The dragon tale "Eragon" attacks the cinemas on Friday giving fantasy audiences the entertainment they’ve been missing this holiday season. Fox’s PG-rated actioner will try to fill a void in a season without a "Potter," "Narnia," or "Hobbit." Don’t expect grosses to come close to the numbers posted by those megahits, but if "Eragon" can still reach a portion of that huge audience, the studio will be happy. Ordinarily, the effects-driven film would probably have a tough time at the box office but thanks to a severe lack of competition, Fox has a golden opportunity. The marketing push has been strong and young males have little else to be excited by. Gamers might also be interested in seeing this adventure on the big screen and leave behind their new hardware for a couple of hours. A built-in audience of readers of the book will help too. Landing in 3,020 theaters, "Eragon" could open with around $23M this weekend.


The latest fantasy novel turned fantasy epic: "Eragon."

The beloved children’s story "Charlotte’s Web" hits the multiplexes with Hollywood’s favorite young girl Dakota Fanning in the lead role. Paramount’s G-rated tale will aim for family audiences and is using the starpower of voice actors Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, and John Cleese to connect with parents. With "Happy Feet" being the only major family film to do well over the past few weeks, kids should be ready to move on to something new. Girls will probably outnumber the boys here especially with "Eragon" opening at the same time. But the brand is known and the rating is tame so parents will look at this as a safe bet for their younger ones. Good reviews will help too. With children going on their school holidays soon, look for long-term strength as many will wait until Christmas week to go and see it. Opening in over 3,000 theaters, "Charlotte’s Web" might take in about $21M this weekend.


"Charlotte’s Web," no longer in animated form.

Will Smith and his real-life son Jaden Smith hit the big screen together in Sony’s uplifting drama "The Pursuit of Happyness" which aims to give adult moviegoers something to see this weekend. Based on the true story of Chris Gardner, the PG-13 film tells the story of a man who hits hard times and becomes homeless and moonlights during the day in a stock broker training program hoping for a new lease on life. "Pursuit" has gotten Smith some notice for his acting performance (including a Golden Globe nomination) and the novelty of seeing father and son in a movie together will certainly help sell tickets. The man in black has some of the strongest pull among Hollywood stars at the box office with appeal that transcends all age, race, and gender lines. It’s no wonder that he is now pursuing his tenth $100M blockbuster.

Reviews have been mixed for the film overall even though Smith is hearing buzz about a possible Oscar nomination. Sony must have been hoping for better reactions from critics though. Instead, the studio will appeal directly to adult moviegoers and their desire to see an uplifting feel-good story anchored by a popular star at this time of year. Don’t expect "Pursuit" to reach the levels of the actor’s last film "Hitch" which bowed to $43.1M from 3,575 theaters for a $12,068 average. But if good word-of-mouth circulates, it could stay in the top ten throughout the holiday season and go on to be a winner. Appeal looks solid with both men and women plus a strong turnout from African Americans will help to boost the grosses. Opening in 2,852 theaters, "The Pursuit of Happyness" might debut with around $19M.


Will Smith and son, playing Chris Gardner and son, in "The Pursuit of Happyness."

Opening with special solo engagements in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco is the lavish musical "Dreamgirls" starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson. Paramount and DreamWorks are putting on a special live roadshow performance with these engageemnts for ten days before the film expands across the country on December 25. In New York City, "Dreamgirls" opens exclusively at the giant Ziegfeld theater which has already sold out its five weekend performances. With a giant auditorium of 1,200 seats and ticket prices of $25, look for this one theater to contribute over $100,000 to the weekend gross. West Coast venues hope to contribute similar numbers. Though the gross will be inflated by the ticket price, sky high demand thanks to critics awards, Globe nods, and Oscar buzz has already led to Friday’s opening night shows in California to sell out as well.


"Dreamgirls," opening in limited locations.

Other new films entering the marketplace in limited release include Steven Soderbergh‘s World War II drama "The Good German" starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire from Warner Bros. MGM counters with its Iraq War drama "Home of the Brave" starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, Christina Ricci, and 50 Cent. The Weinstein Company platforms the Jude Law thriller "Breaking and Entering" from director Anthony Minghella in an Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles.


Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson in "Home of the Brave."

Among holdovers, last weekend’s top film "Apocalypto" moves into its all-important second weekend which will indicate what type of staying power Mel Gibson‘s latest film has. Curiousity and media hype helped to bring out moviegoers on the first weekend, but will they keep coming? The Buena Vista release fared much better than expected on Sunday grossing $840,000 more than originally expected. The studio expected a Sunday drop of 38% but was pleased to see the bloody epic dip only 23%. This weekend’s three new offerings do not look to give too much of a direct threat to "Apocalypto" so a 35% drop may in order. That would give the Mayan adventure about $9M for the frame and $29M in ten days.

Warner Bros. will see some competition for its penguin blockbuster "Happy Feet," but its hit toon has been holding up quite well each week. A 35% fall would leave "Feet" with around $8.5M and allow it to flirt with the $150M mark. Sony’s "The Holiday" got off to a decent but not spectacular start with its $12.8M bow. The Cameron DiazKate Winslet starrer may slide 35% to roughly $8.5M pushing the total to $25M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Leaping into the number one spot, although with less muscle than expected, Peter Jackson‘s "King Kong" opened with $50.1M over the weekend and $66.2M over its five-day debut. Universal’s mega-budgeted ape flick went on to gross a commendable $218.1M domestically and $549M worldwide which fell a bit short of the film’s lofty expectations given its budget and filmmaker. "Kong" knocked fellow effects-driven actioner "The Chronicles of Narnia" to second place with $31.8M dropping 51% in its sophomore frame. "Narnia" would eventually climb back into the top spot. Debuting in third was the romantic comedy "The Family Stone" starring Sarah Jessica Parker with $12.5M on its way to $60.1M for Fox. Warner Bros. rounded out the top five with "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" which grossed $6M and "Syriana" which collected $5.6M. No other films dared to open against "King Kong," however the critically acclaimed "Brokeback Mountain" expanded to just 69 theaters in its second weekend and jumped into the top ten with $2.5M for a scorching $36,355 average.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week at the movies, we’ve got a barnyard full of talking animals ("Charlotte’s Web," starring Dakota Fanning and the voices of Julia Roberts and Robert Redford), a real-life rags-to-riches story ("The Pursuit of Happyness," starring Will Smith), and a tale of dragons and swordplay ("Eragon," starring Edward Speleers and Jeremy Irons). What do the critics have to say?

If there’s one thing critics can agree on with "Charlotte’s Web," it’s how much they all loved the children’s novel. If there’s another, it’s how much they like the big screen adaptation, about a bunch of talking farm animals and a pig saved by a very literate spider. Though some feared that the simple story would be modernized with the ironic and brash attitudes afflicting recent kid flicks, the pundits are in awe of the quiet, humble replication of E.B. White’s genteel and distinguished prose. Also, they really like Robert Redford doing the voice of Ike the wussy horse. At 89 percent Tomatometer, this is some movie, indeed.


"How about you and I cruise in my Power Wheels sometime?"

Will Smith has been in pursuit of an Oscar for a while, and with "The Pursuit of Happyness" the critics think this could be where he catches up with the Academy. Smith, as a homeless single father trying to climb the corporate ladder, is garnering widespread praise for his performance, though said praise isn’t quite being doled out upon the film itself. The critics are calling "Happyness" a slick Hallmark card of a movie, a bit too obsessed with the desire to inspire. At 56 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics are split on whether "Happyness" is worth it for Smith’s heartfelt presence alone.


"Once upon a time, in the Kingdom of Periodic Stock Dividends…"

Scribes have posited several excuses as to the overwhelming awfulness of "Eragon" (the movie’s source books were written by a teenager, it’s being directed by a first-timer, etc.), but few critics are terribly forgiving of the derivative plot. "Eragon" spins a tale of a peasant boy (Speleers) who is suddenly entrusted with a dragon and must, with the help of a mentor (Irons), train, grow strong, and defeat an evil emperor. The way the critics describe it, the makers of the "Star Wars"-esque"Eragon" should soon be expecting an annoyed phone call from George Lucas, though the movie’s current nine percent Tomatometer might be insult enough. (At the scene for "Eragon"’s London Premiere was RT-UK’s Joe Utichi; check out his writeup here.


"Wait, what movie are we from again?"

Also playing this week in limited release: Oscar hopeful "Dreamgirls," starring Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx, and Eddie Murphy in the tale of a Motown group’s rise and fall, is at 83 percent (check out RT’s interview with co-star Jennifer Hudson here); "The Secret Life of Words," starring Tim Robbins and Sarah Polley in a tale of high drama on an oil rig, is at 80 percent; "Automatons," a zero-budget dystopian sci-fi flick, is at 67 percent; "Breaking and Entering," a story of the tangled webs weaved after a burglary starring Jude Law and Juliette Binoche, is at 48 percent; "The Good German," Steven Soderbergh’s "Casablanca"-esque drama set in post-WWII Berlin starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett, is at 26 percent; and "Home of the Brave," about the trials of vets returning home from Iraq starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, and 50 Cent, is at 15 percent.


"I’m giving the wardrobe guy the evil eye."

Recent Will Smith Movies:
———————————
69% — Hitch (2005)
35% — Shark Tale (2004)
59% — I, Robot (2004)
25% — Bad Boys II (2003)
38% — Men in Black II (2002)

Recent Dakota Fanning Movies:
—————————————
63% — Dreamer (2005)
73% — Nine Lives (2005)
73% — War of the Worlds (2005)
13% — Hide and Seek (2005)
74% — In the Realms of the Unreal (2004)

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