(Photo by Open Roadt/courtesy Everett Collection)

All Liam Neeson Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

After a major film debut with 1981’s Excalibur, Liam Neeson spent the rest of that swingin’ decade slowly climbing the acting ladder. (See him randomly in Krull, The MissionThe Dead Pool, and more, for example.) But after holding his own opposite Patrick Swayze in 1989’s Next of Kin, Neeson was at last upgraded to star for Sam Raimi’s dark superhero movie Darkman…where he spends most of the movie disfigured and fully covered in bandages. Still, Darkman was a financial success, especially for an original superhero IP in this era, and Neeson carried on with lending his baritone gravitas in dramas like the Certified Fresh Husbands and Wives.

In 1994, Neeson nabbed his only Oscar acting nomination with the monumental Schindler’s List, which would go on to win Best Picture for producer Steven Spielberg, who of course also got Best Director. Neeson took on another significant title historical role a few years later with Michael Collins, before entering the pop cultural fray as the decidedly unhistorical (though we suppose it depends on who you ask) Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. And after that, just into the 21st century, Neeson appeared in Gangs of New York, Kingdom of Heaven, and Batman Begins. A resume that includes working with Raimi, Spielberg, Allen, Lucas, Scorsese, Scott, and Nolan? Sounds like that’d be a career peak for most…

And yet 2008’s Taken was still to come, which would transform Neeson into the go-to mid-budget action guy, create a cottage industry of similar flicks to follow in its wake. Some were pretty good (Cold Pursuit, A Walk Among The Tombstones), others came out decent (The Commuter, Non-Stop), a few were god-awful (Taken 2, Taken 3), and some were one was amazing (The Grey).

We also recently saw Neeson’s softer side resurface with Ordinary Love, his first romantic film since 2003’s Love Actually and one of the best-reviewed films of his career, proving he remains as versatile as ever. To celebrate his birthday, we take a look back on all Liam Neeson movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#72

The Nut Job (2014)
12%

#72
Adjusted Score: 15558%
Critics Consensus: Hampered by an unlikable central character and source material stretched too thin to cover its brief running time, The Nut Job will provoke an allergic reaction in all but the least demanding moviegoers.
Synopsis: After he accidentally destroys the winter food supply of his fellow Liberty Park residents, Surly (Will Arnett), a squirrel, is... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lepeniotis

#71

Taken 3 (2014)
13%

#71
Adjusted Score: 17468%
Critics Consensus: Hampered by toothless PG-13 action sequences, incoherent direction, and a hackneyed plot, Taken 3 serves as a clear signal that it's well past time to retire this franchise.
Synopsis: Ex-covert operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), are enjoying a reconciliation when Lenore is brutally... [More]
Directed By: Olivier Megaton

#70

The Other Man (2008)
15%

#70
Adjusted Score: 15749%
Critics Consensus: Despite the best efforts of a talented cast, The Other Man is talky, witless, and tension-free.
Synopsis: When his shoe-designer wife, Lisa (Laura Linney), disappears while on one of her frequent business trips, computer executive Peter (Liam... [More]
Directed By: Richard Eyre

#69

The Haunting (1999)
17%

#69
Adjusted Score: 20198%
Critics Consensus: Sophisticated visual effects fail to offset awkward performances and an uneven script.
Synopsis: This horror tale focuses on visitors to the secluded mansion of Hill House who have been called to the isolated... [More]
Directed By: Jan de Bont

#68
#68
Adjusted Score: 3927%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Scottish miner Danny Scoular (Liam Neeson) loses his job, and, when his past as a political activist prevents him from... [More]
Directed By: David Leland

#67

Taken 2 (2012)
22%

#67
Adjusted Score: 29094%
Critics Consensus: Taken 2 is largely bereft of the kinetic thrills -- and surprises -- that made the original a hit.
Synopsis: Two years ago, retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) used his "particular set of skills" to rescue his daughter,... [More]
Directed By: Olivier Megaton

#66
Adjusted Score: 42856%
Critics Consensus: Amiable yet forgettable, MiB International grinds its stars' substantial chemistry through the gears of a franchise running low on reasons to continue.
Synopsis: The Men in Black have expanded to cover the globe but so have the villains of the universe. To keep... [More]
Directed By: F. Gary Gray

#65

Under Suspicion (1991)
25%

#65
Adjusted Score: 8860%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the late 1950s, British police officer Tony Aaron (Liam Neeson) resigns from the force after sleeping with Hazel (Maggie... [More]
Directed By: Simon Moore

#64

After.Life (2009)
25%

#64
Adjusted Score: 26380%
Critics Consensus: It has an interesting premise and admirable ambitions, but After.Life fails to deliver enough twists or thrills to sustain its creepy atmosphere.
Synopsis: Following a terrible car crash, a woman (Christina Ricci) awakes to find an enigmatic mortician (Liam Neeson) preparing her for... [More]

#63

Third Person (2013)
25%

#63
Adjusted Score: 29028%
Critics Consensus: Third Person finds writer-director Paul Haggis working with a stellar cast and a worthy premise; unfortunately, he fails to fashion a consistently compelling movie out of the intriguing ingredients at his disposal.
Synopsis: An acclaimed novelist (Liam Neeson) struggles to write an analysis of love in one of three stories, each set in... [More]
Directed By: Paul Haggis

#62

Gun Shy (2000)
26%

#62
Adjusted Score: 25906%
Critics Consensus: A dark comedy of the low brow nature -- filled with fart and gay jokes. Even Liam Neeson and Sandra Bullock cannot save this failure.
Synopsis: Legendary undercover DEA agent Charlie Mayough (Liam Neeson) has suddenly lost his nerves of steel. On the verge of a... [More]
Directed By: Eric Blakeney

#61
#61
Adjusted Score: 33186%
Critics Consensus: Its 3D effects are an improvement over its predecessor's, but in nearly every other respect, Wrath of the Titans fails to improve upon the stilted acting, wooden dialogue, and chaos-driven plot of the franchise's first installment.
Synopsis: Ten years after defeating the Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is living a quieter life as a fisherman and sole parent... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman

#60
#60
Adjusted Score: 37291%
Critics Consensus: An obviously affectionate remake of the 1981 original, Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans doesn't offer enough visual thrills to offset the deficiencies of its script.
Synopsis: Perseus (Sam Worthington), the son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), is caught in a war between gods and is helpless to... [More]
Directed By: Louis Leterrier

#59

High Spirits (1988)
27%

#59
Adjusted Score: 26344%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Irish hotelier Peter Plunkett (Peter O'Toole) attempts to fill the chronic vacancies at his castle by launching an advertising campaign... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#58

Before and After (1996)
32%

#58
Adjusted Score: 31360%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The lives of Carolyn Ryan (Meryl Streep), a small-town doctor, and her artist husband, Ben (Liam Neeson), are shaken up... [More]
Directed By: Barbet Schroeder

#57

Krull (1983)
32%

#57
Adjusted Score: 32329%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: On the planet of Krull, an evil creature called the Beast decimates the world's army and kidnaps the lovely Princess... [More]
Directed By: Peter Yates

#56
Adjusted Score: 41962%
Critics Consensus: While it offers a few laughs and boasts a talented cast, Seth MacFarlane's overlong, aimless A Million Ways to Die in the West is a disappointingly scattershot affair.
Synopsis: Mild-mannered sheep farmer Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) feels certain that the Western frontier is trying to kill him, then he... [More]
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane

#55

Battleship (2012)
34%

#55
Adjusted Score: 42586%
Critics Consensus: It may offer energetic escapism for less demanding filmgoers, but Battleship is too loud, poorly written, and formulaic to justify its expense -- and a lot less fun than its source material.
Synopsis: Lt. Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch) is a weapons officer aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones, while his older brother,... [More]
Directed By: Peter Berg

#54
Adjusted Score: 41389%
Critics Consensus: Mark Felt may dramatize the man behind Deep Throat, but its stodgy treatment of history offers little insight into the famous whistleblower.
Synopsis: Lifelong G-Man Mark Felt, aka "Deep Throat," leaks information to the press that helps to uncover the Watergate scandal of... [More]
Directed By: Peter Landesman

#53

The Marksman (2021)
39%

#53
Adjusted Score: 44157%
Critics Consensus: The Marksman benefits from having Liam Neeson in the lead, but this formulaic action thriller should have aimed higher.
Synopsis: Hardened Arizona rancher Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) simply wants to be left alone as he fends off eviction notices and... [More]
Directed By: Robert Lorenz

#52

Honest Thief (2020)
40%

#52
Adjusted Score: 45868%
Critics Consensus: Guilty of first-degree squandering, Honest Thief returns Liam Neeson to late-period action thriller mode but neglects to supply much of a story.
Synopsis: Hoping to cut a deal, a professional bank robber agrees to return all the money he stole in exchange for... [More]
Directed By: Mark Williams

#51
#51
Adjusted Score: 46536%
Critics Consensus: Although it's an objective and handsomely presented take on the Crusades, Kingdom of Heaven lacks depth.
Synopsis: Still in grief over his wife's sudden death, village blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) joins his long-estranged father, Baron Godfrey (Liam... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 40570%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Liam Neeson) conducts a covert operation behind enemy lines to infiltrate North Korean headquarters.... [More]
Directed By: John H. Lee

#49

Khumba (2013)
44%

#49
Adjusted Score: 37217%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After his herd rejects him for having only half his stripes, a young zebra (Jake T. Austin) sets out on... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Silverston

#48

Shining Through (1992)
41%

#48
Adjusted Score: 31151%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Spirited New Yorker Linda Voss (Melanie Griffith) goes to work for international lawyer and secret Office of Strategic Services operative... [More]
Directed By: David Seltzer

#47

Made in Italy (2020)
45%

#47
Adjusted Score: 50085%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A London artist and his estranged son try to mend their relationship as they work together to repair a dilapidated... [More]
Directed By: James D'Arcy

#46

The A-Team (2010)
49%

#46
Adjusted Score: 56211%
Critics Consensus: The A-Team assembles a top-rate cast only to ditch the show's appealingly silly premise for explosive yet muddled blockbuster filmmaking.
Synopsis: A man who loves when a plan comes together, Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) leads a close-knit team of elite operatives.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Carnahan

#45

The Good Mother (1988)
50%

#45
Adjusted Score: 50074%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Boston woman's (Diane Keaton) ex-husband sues for custody of their daughter after an incident over her live-in lover (Liam... [More]
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy

#44
Adjusted Score: 56089%
Critics Consensus: Its leisurely, businesslike pace won't win the franchise many new fans, but Voyage of the Dawn Treader restores some of the Narnia franchise's lost luster with strong performances and impressive special effects.
Synopsis: Visiting their annoying cousin, Eustace, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund Pevensie (Skandar Keynes) come across a painting of a majestic... [More]
Directed By: Michael Apted

#43
#43
Adjusted Score: 56174%
Critics Consensus: Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks give it their all, but their solid performances aren't quite enough to compensate for The Next Three Days' uneven pace and implausible plot.
Synopsis: Life for John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks) is miserable after she is convicted of a murder she... [More]
Directed By: Paul Haggis

#42

Chloe (2009)
51%

#42
Adjusted Score: 55919%
Critics Consensus: Despite its promising pedigree and a titillating premise, Chloe ultimately fails to deliver the heat -- or the thrills -- expected of a sexual thriller.
Synopsis: Catherine and David Stewart (Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson) are a well-to-do couple living in a posh area of Toronto, but... [More]
Directed By: Atom Egoyan

#41
Adjusted Score: 62039%
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

#40

Ethan Frome (1993)
50%

#40
Adjusted Score: 50163%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A farmer (Liam Neeson) with an invalid wife (Joan Allen) falls in love with her cousin (Patricia Arquette) in snowy... [More]
Directed By: John Madden

#39

Nell (1994)
55%

#39
Adjusted Score: 55613%
Critics Consensus: Despite a committed performance by Jodie Foster, Nell opts for ponderous melodrama instead of engaging with the ethical dilemmas of socializing its titular wild child.
Synopsis: Cut off from the modern world, Nell (Jodie Foster) is a wild child, who has lived her entire life with... [More]
Directed By: Michael Apted

#38

Seraphim Falls (2006)
55%

#38
Adjusted Score: 58067%
Critics Consensus: A brutal, slow-moving drama that unfolds among some great-looking scenery.
Synopsis: Gideon (Pierce Brosnan), a former Union officer, finds himself the prey of a manhunt led by Carver (Liam Neeson), Gideon's... [More]
Directed By: David Von Ancken

#37

Unknown (2011)
55%

#37
Adjusted Score: 61875%
Critics Consensus: Liam Neeson elevates the proceedings considerably, but Unknown is ultimately too derivative -- and implausible -- to take advantage of its intriguing premise.
Synopsis: After a serious car accident in Berlin, Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) awakes to find his world in utter chaos.... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#36

The Commuter (2018)
55%

#36
Adjusted Score: 67878%
Critics Consensus: The Commuter's cast is better than its workmanlike script - which helps make this reasonably diverting Liam Neeson action thriller worth the price of a matinee ticket or rental, if not a full-price ticket.
Synopsis: Insurance salesman Michael is on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#35

The Dead Pool (1988)
55%

#35
Adjusted Score: 55954%
Critics Consensus: While it offers its fair share of violent thrills and tough wit, The Dead Pool ends the Dirty Harry series on an uninspired note.
Synopsis: In the fifth installment of the Dirty Harry series, gritty cop Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) is fresh off the conviction... [More]
Directed By: Buddy Van Horn

#34

Next of Kin (1989)
56%

#34
Adjusted Score: 48024%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When their brother Gerald (Bill Paxton) is murdered by a Chicago mobster (Adam Baldwin), Truman (Patrick Swayze) and Briar Gates... [More]
Directed By: John Irvin

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 61450%
Critics Consensus: Well-acted if monotonous drama about a transvestite prostitute in London during the 1970s.
Synopsis: As a baby, Patrick (Cillian Murphy) is left by his mother on the steps of the rectory in their small... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#32

Taken (2008)
59%

#32
Adjusted Score: 65056%
Critics Consensus: Taken is undeniably fun with slick action, but is largely a brainless exercise.
Synopsis: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), a former government operative, is trying to reconnect with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). Then his... [More]
Directed By: Pierre Morel

#31

Run All Night (2015)
59%

#31
Adjusted Score: 66336%
Critics Consensus: Liam Neeson is in typically fine form, but Run All Night suffers from a convoluted plot and workmanlike execution.
Synopsis: Longtime hit man Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson), best friend of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), has seen better days.... [More]
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 65446%
Critics Consensus: A gripping drama even though the filmmakers have taken liberties with the facts.
Synopsis: Follows Captain Alexi Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) who, at the height of the Cold War, is ordered to take over command... [More]
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow

#29

Leap of Faith (1992)
64%

#29
Adjusted Score: 64132%
Critics Consensus: Steve Martin's layered performance transcends the somewhat undercooked narrative of Leap of Faith.
Synopsis: Touring Christian evangelist Jonas Nightengale (Steve Martin) and his cohorts tend to put on their bogus faith-healing revivals in major... [More]
Directed By: Richard Pearce

#28

The Mission (1986)
67%

#28
Adjusted Score: 67929%
Critics Consensus: The Mission is a well-meaning epic given delicate heft by its sumptuous visuals and a standout score by Ennio Morricone, but its staid presentation never stirs an emotional investment in its characters.
Synopsis: Jesuit priest Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) enters the Guarani lands in South America with the purpose of converting the natives... [More]
Directed By: Roland Joffé

#27

Love Actually (2003)
64%

#27
Adjusted Score: 71836%
Critics Consensus: A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms.
Synopsis: Nine intertwined stories examine the complexities of the one emotion that connects us all: love. Among the characters explored are... [More]
Directed By: Richard Curtis

#26
Adjusted Score: 68852%
Critics Consensus: Kahlil Gibran's the Prophet is a thrillingly lovely adaptation of the classic text, albeit one that doesn't quite capture the magic of its source material.
Synopsis: A dissident being kept under house arrest recounts valuable lessons in a series of vignettes while a mischievous young woman... [More]
Directed By: Roger Allers

#25
Adjusted Score: 73698%
Critics Consensus: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is an entertaining family adventure worthy of the standard set by its predecessor.
Synopsis: One year after their previous adventure, the Pevensie children (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell) return to the... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Adamson

#24

Suspect (1987)
67%

#24
Adjusted Score: 66731%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Carl Anderson (Liam Neeson), a deaf, mute and homeless war veteran, is arrested for the murder of a prominent judge's... [More]
Directed By: Peter Yates

#23
Adjusted Score: 73753%
Critics Consensus: A Walk Among the Tombstones doesn't entirely transcend its genre clichés, but it does offer Liam Neeson one of his more compelling roles in recent memory, and that's often enough.
Synopsis: Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson), formerly part of the NYPD, now works as an unlicensed private detective. His latest client is... [More]
Directed By: Scott Frank

#22

Cold Pursuit (2019)
68%

#22
Adjusted Score: 79212%
Critics Consensus: Cold Pursuit delivers the action audiences expect from a Liam Neeson thriller -- along with humor and a sophisticated streak that make this an uncommonly effective remake.
Synopsis: Nels Coxman's quiet life as a snowplow driver comes crashing down when his beloved son dies under mysterious circumstances. His... [More]
Directed By: Hans Petter Moland

#21

Rob Roy (1995)
73%

#21
Adjusted Score: 74417%
Critics Consensus: Rob Roy is an old-fashioned swashbuckler that benefits greatly from fine performances by Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, and Tim Roth.
Synopsis: In 18th century Scotland, Robert Roy MacGregor (Liam Neeson) is the head of a proud Highlands clan that herds cattle.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 79190%
Critics Consensus: Though flawed, the sprawling, messy Gangs of New York is redeemed by impressive production design and Day-Lewis's electrifying performance.
Synopsis: Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young Irish immigrant released from prison. He returns to the Five Points seeking revenge... [More]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#19

The Bounty (1984)
74%

#19
Adjusted Score: 73806%
Critics Consensus: Thanks in large part to its cast, and Anthony Hopkins in particular, The Bounty's retelling of the mutiny on the HMS Bounty is an intelligent, engaging adventure saga.
Synopsis: Captain Bligh (Anthony Hopkins) struggles to restore discipline among the crew of the HMS Bounty after the ship has an... [More]
Directed By: Roger Donaldson

#18

Les Miserables (1998)
75%

#18
Adjusted Score: 76846%
Critics Consensus: This intelligent, handsomely crafted adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel condenses the story's developments without blunting its emotional impact.
Synopsis: After serving a lengthy prison sentence, Jean Valjean (Liam Neeson) turns his life around after an act of kindness opens... [More]
Directed By: Bille August

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 75999%
Critics Consensus: Oliver Hirschbiegel's dramatic take on "The Troubles" is an actor's showcase -- and Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt are more than up to the challenge.
Synopsis: In 1970s Northern Ireland, young Joe Griffin watches in horror as the teenage leader of a UVF cell shoots Joe's... [More]
Directed By: Oliver Hirschbiegel

#16
Adjusted Score: 83788%
Critics Consensus: With first-rate special effects and compelling storytelling, this adaptation stays faithful to its source material and will please moviegoers of all ages.
Synopsis: During the World War II bombings of London, four English siblings are sent to a country house where they will... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Adamson

#15

Michael Collins (1996)
78%

#15
Adjusted Score: 79508%
Critics Consensus: As impressively ambitious as it is satisfyingly impactful, Michael Collins honors its subject's remarkable achievements with a magnetic performance from Liam Neeson in the title role.
Synopsis: In the early 20th century, Michael Collins (Liam Neeson) leads the Irish Republican Army with the help of his friends... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#14

The Grey (2012)
79%

#14
Adjusted Score: 86833%
Critics Consensus: The Grey is an exciting tale of survival, populated with fleshed-out characters and a surprising philosophical agenda.
Synopsis: Following a grueling five-week shift at an Alaskan oil refinery, workers led by sharpshooter John Ottway (Liam Neeson) are flying... [More]
Directed By: Joe Carnahan

#13

Excalibur (1981)
74%

#13
Adjusted Score: 80415%
Critics Consensus: John Boorman's operatic, opulent take on the legend of King Arthur is visually remarkable, and features strong performances from an all-star lineup of British thespians.
Synopsis: The magical sword of Excalibur starts off in the hands of British lord Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne) and then, years... [More]
Directed By: John Boorman

#12

Silence (2016)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 103532%
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]
Directed By: Martin Scorsese

#11

Darkman (1990)
83%

#11
Adjusted Score: 87218%
Critics Consensus: Gruesome and deliciously broad, Sam Raimi's Darkman bears the haunted soulfulness of gothic tragedy while packing the stylistic verve of onomatopoeia springing off a comic strip page.
Synopsis: When thugs employed by a crime boss lead a vicious assault on Dr. Peyton Wilder (Liam Neeson), leaving him literally... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#10

Batman Begins (2005)
84%

#10
Adjusted Score: 95916%
Critics Consensus: Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes.
Synopsis: A young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels to the Far East, where he's trained in the martial arts by Henri... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#9

A Monster Calls (2016)
86%

#9
Adjusted Score: 105983%
Critics Consensus: A Monster Calls deftly balances dark themes and fantastical elements to deliver an engrossing and uncommonly moving entry in the crowded coming-of-age genre.
Synopsis: Conor (Lewis MacDougall) is dealing with far more than other boys his age. His beloved and devoted mother (Felicity Jones)... [More]
Directed By: J.A. Bayona

#8
Adjusted Score: 103035%
Critics Consensus: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs avoids anthology pitfalls with a consistent collection tied together by the Coen brothers' signature blend of dark drama and black humor.
Synopsis: An anthology of six short films that take place in 19th-century post-Civil War era during the settling of the Old... [More]
Directed By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

#7

Kinsey (2004)
90%

#7
Adjusted Score: 96185%
Critics Consensus: A biopic of the sex researcher is hailed as adventurous, clever, and subversive, with fine performances by Liam Neeson and Laura Linney.
Synopsis: Biology professor Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) has a perfectly respectable life teaching and doing research at Indiana University along with... [More]
Directed By: Bill Condon

#6

Widows (2018)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 116985%
Critics Consensus: Widows rounds up a stellar ensemble for a heist thriller that mixes popcorn entertainment with a message - and marks another artistic leap for director Steve McQueen.
Synopsis: A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows -- Veronica, Linda,... [More]
Directed By: Steve McQueen

#5

Ponyo (2008)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 96828%
Critics Consensus: While not Miyazaki's best film, Ponyo is a visually stunning fairy tale that's a sweetly poetic treat for children of all ages.
Synopsis: During a forbidden excursion to see the surface world, a goldfish princess encounters a human boy named Sosuke, who gives... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki

#4

Ordinary Love (2019)
93%

#4
Adjusted Score: 100529%
Critics Consensus: Led by strong performances from Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson, Ordinary Love wrings heartrending drama out of one couple's medical travails.
Synopsis: Joan and Tom have been married for many years. An everyday couple with a remarkable love, there is an ease... [More]

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 96167%
Critics Consensus: Husbands and Wives is a blistering, emotionally raw snapshot of two marriages self-destructing.
Synopsis: Gabe (Woody Allen) and his wife, Judy (Mia Farrow), are shocked to discover that their best friends, Sally (Judy Davis)... [More]
Directed By: Woody Allen

#2

The LEGO Movie (2014)
96%

#2
Adjusted Score: 105889%
Critics Consensus: Boasting beautiful animation, a charming voice cast, laugh-a-minute gags, and a surprisingly thoughtful story, The Lego Movie is colorful fun for all ages.
Synopsis: Emmet (Chris Pratt), an ordinary LEGO figurine who always follows the rules, is mistakenly identified as the Special -- an... [More]

#1

Schindler's List (1993)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 108406%
Critics Consensus: Schindler's List blends the abject horror of the Holocaust with Steven Spielberg's signature tender humanism to create the director's dramatic masterpiece.
Synopsis: Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

Hey, kids! Ya like superheroes? Toys? Then has Hollywood got your taste quadrant covered with this week’s release of Max Steel, based on the action figure line first introduced by Mattel in 1997. Youth-focused cross-media filmmaking has been a thing since the early 1980s, and in this week’s gallery we cover every theatrical movie based on toys, cards, and board games that got a Tomatometer!

The Razzie Awards, in their 33rd year of “incinerating cinema sins,” announced the recipients of the worst film achievements in 2012 on Oscar Eve, Saturday, February 23, 2013. This year, the winner of the Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel category was chosen by our devoted Rotten Tomatoes readers by online ballot.

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 swept the evening, “winning” Worst Picture, Worst Actress (Kristen Stewart) Worst Supporting Actor (Taylor Lautner) Worst Screen Couple (Lautner and 12 year-old Mackenzie Foy), Worst Screen Ensemble, Worst Remake/Rip-Off or Sequel and Worst Director (Bill Condon).

Earning his second consecutive Worst Actor award is Adam Sandler for That’s My Boy. Here is the full list of recipients:

This week’s Ketchup includes movie development news for three toy/game adaptations from Hasbro, movies based on Little House on the Prairie and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and new movies for Amy Adams, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Renner, Sam Rockwell, and Meryl Streep.


This Week’s Top Story

MORE TOY MOVIES COMING: MONOPOLY, ACTION MAN, AND… HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS?

In recent years, whenever there was some ridiculous movie development story for a non-narrative toy like View-Master or Candyland, a popular joking remark by online commenters involved the toy game Hungry Hungry Hippos. Well, laugh on, fanboys, because Hasbro is going for it. After many of their efforts (except Battleship and the upcoming Ouija) at Universal Pictures were eventually shelved, the toy company has locked up a new deal with the Emmet/Furla production company, best known for star-driven action/thriller movies like Rambo, the upcoming Schwarzenegger/Stallone project The Tomb, and the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man (yes, that one). The deal covers three game/toy properties, the first of which to be filmed will be based on the board game Monopoly. Hasbro has been trying to get the Monopoly movie going for years now, including a time when Ridley Scott (who will now just produce) was going to be the director. The second is a toy, not a game, and it’s called Action Man. Action Man isn’t that well known in the USA, because we have G.I. Joe, which Action Man was basically a British clone of, back in the 1960s. And then, finally, there’s the toy game Hungry Hungry Hippos, where players try to make their little plastic hippos swallow marbles. Hungry Hungry Hippos will be an animated children’s movie, but even so, that still doesn’t explain why anyone thinks an 80+ minute feature film can be built up around a non-narrative toy from back in 1978. As for the snark, movie fans will just have to come up with a new joke. Say, there hasn’t been a Fruit of the Looms movie announced yet…

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 LET ME IN/CLOVERFIELD DIRECTOR GETS UP EARLY FOR THE DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

A little over two weeks ago, fans of Rise of the Planet of the Apes were disappointed to hear that the film’s director Rupert Wyatt had dropped out of also directing the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The reason given was that Wyatt was uncomfortable with guaranteeing completion in time for 20th Century Fox’s planned release date of May 23, 2014. Fox was able to quickly replace Rupert Wyatt, however, with another rising star director. Matt Reeves has been writing and directing since the 1990s and the David Schwimmer comedy The Pallbearer. Reeves’ second film was the shaky-cam monster movie Cloverfield, but it was in his third film, the remake of Let the Right One In called Let Me In, that Reeves’ directorial style seemed to emerge. Since that film, Reeves has been in discussions for various movies, including, until recently, Warner Bros’ plans for a new movie based on The Twilight Zone. The script that Reeves will be working from is by the same screenwriting team as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, continuing on following that film’s cliffhanger ending.

#2 WHO KNEW LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE WAS ON THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS?

It’s pretty much de rigeur in Hollywood to pigeonhole directors into specific genres and styles. There are some, however, that either bounce around from film to film, or make a drastic shift at some point in their careers. David Gordon Green is one such director, starting off with three indie dramas (George Washington, All the Real Girls, and Undertow), befor switching to wacky comedies like Pineapple Express, Your Highness, and The Sitter. That introduction is really required to understand why the following story is not a “Rotten Idea.” David Gordon Green is in talks with Sony Pictures to direct a big screen feature film based upon Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Obviously (super obviously, let’s accentuate), the idea of the Pineapple Express guy directing Little House on the Prairie seems bizarre wrong, but if you ignore his recent comedies and describe him as the Sundance darling that he properly is/was, then this seems like a pretty awesome and appropriate project, a return to Green’s roots. The seriousness of this new Little House on the Prairie is driven home a bit by the addition that the script is being adapted by Abi Morgan, the writer of the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, and Steve McQueen’s cowriter on the NC-17 sexual addiction drama Shame. Anyway, Little House on the Prairie was, as most people know, previously adapted as a 1974-1983 TV series (among other adaptations), and was the third novel in a series of twelve by Laura Ingalls Wilder, about her youth in the American Midwest frontiers. The fact that there are so many other books in the series, just waiting to become a new Harry Potter/Hunger Games-style movie franchise, is probably also appealing to Sony Pictures.

#3 MERYL STREEP’S MUSICAL RETURN MAY TAKE HER INTO THE WOODS

One of the key films in Meryl Streep’s recent streak of box office successes was the adaptation of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia. Streep’s performance in that film made it seem likely that she would eventually do another musical, and this week, we found out what that film might be. Chicago director Rob Marshall has been considering a few different projects after last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and he appears to have settled upon the adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods. The timing couldn’t be much better, either, as Into the Woods predicted by about 25 years the current fascination in both television (Grimm, Once Upon a Time) and film (the list is too long) with fairy tale characters. To get things going, Rob Marshall recently staged a script reading, and the participants included both Broadway favorites, and a few movie stars that the rest of us (let’s be honest) might actually recognize. That list includes Christine Baranski as the Stepmother, Allison Janney as Jack’s Mother, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, and Patrick Wilson as Cinderella’s Prince. Meryl Streep was not there for the reading, but she’s reportedly in talks for the lead role as The Witch. As for the other names on that list, it should be stated that just because they were at the reading, not all of those performers will necessarily end up being in the movie.

#4 AMY ADAMS AND JEREMY RENNER JOIN DAVID O. RUSSELL’S NEXT MOVIE

This story concerns an untitled project from director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings) which was formerly known by two words, the first of which was American, and the second was what B.S. stands for. This untitled drama is based on a true story of a financial con artist and his mistress who are forced to work with an “out of control” federal agent to turn the tables on other con artists, mobsters, and politicians, including a New Jersey state assembly member. Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper have been signed on for a while now to play the financial con artist and the federal agent, respectively. This week, we found out that Amy Adams has been cast as the mistress, and that Jeremy Renner has landed the role of the New Jersey politician. This will be David O. Russell’s first time working with Jeremy Renner, but second time with each of the other stars (Adams and Bale in The Fighter, Bradley Cooper in the upcoming The Silver Linings Playbook). Filming begins at various locations in the NY/NJ area in February, with Columbia Pictures expecting to release the film in late 2013.

#5 THE “MOBY DICK IN SPACE” MOVIE WILL PROBABLY BE A LOT SMARTER THAN ITS LOGLINE SUGGESTS

There are two sides to this story, one of which has been greatly overshadowed online this week by the first. Mobius is the title of a science fiction thriller that has been described as Moby Dick in outer space, as a spaceship captain becomes obsessed with controlling a mysterious alien of great girth and power. That part alone could be perceived as potentially being really, really silly, or pretty awesome. Here’s the awesome part. Mobius (which may get a title change to avoid confusion with another Mobius) will be directed by Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin). Clearly, Mobius will be a huge departure for Ramsay, who is known for small indie character piece dramas, which this writer thinks sounds very intriguing. However, we will have to wait a while, because first, Lynne Ramsay will be directing the western Jane Got a Gun, starring Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender.

#6 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY TO STAR IN THE AIDS DRAMA THE DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB

Matthew McConaughey and Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien) will star in the independent drama The Dallas Buyer’s Club. The film will tell the true story of a Texas electrician (McConaughey) diagnosed with AIDS who started a smuggling ring to bring alternative AIDS medicines into the USA, putting him at odds with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hilary Swank was previously attached to costar in an unknown role, but she has since dropped out, and the role is being recast. The Dallas Buyer’s Club will be directed by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee (The Young Victoria), with filming scheduled to start in New Orleans in November.

#7 SAM ROCKWELL AND OTHERS JOIN AGENT COULSON IN TRUST ME

Although most people know him as Agent Coulson from The Avengers and other Marvel movies, actor Clark Gregg also directed the 2008 Chuck Palahniuk adaptation Choke, starring Sam Rockwell. (Just as a footnote, it’s interesting that none of the online articles about this story mentioned that fact.) For his second film, Clark Gregg also wrote the script called Trust Me, in which Gregg will star as an unsuccessful entertainment agent (and former child star) who stumbles upon a new 13-year-old client who is a brilliant acting prodigy (played by newcomer Saxon Sharbino). Sam Rockwell will have one of the other larger roles in the independent ensemble comedy (possibly as the boy’s abusive father, but that’s not confirmed yet). Other cast members will include Alison Janney, Niecy Nash, Amanda Peet, Molly Shannon, and real life couple Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy. In closing, this article really shouldn’t go without mentioning that the lead character sounds a lot like the Michael J. Fox character in the 1993 comedy Life with Mikey. As for the Fresh rating… yes, the RT Tomatometer scored Choke a Rotten 54%, but this writer is just going to over rule that; Choke was pretty great. But, in fairness to the RT Tomatometer, let’s just go ahead and call it “borderline Fresh.”

#8 EMILIA CLARKE FROM GAME OF THRONES JOINS JUDE LAW IN DOM HEMINGWAY

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) and Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life) have signed on to join Jude Law in the independent black comedy Dom Hemingway. Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park, Withnail and I), Jumayn Hunter and Madalina Ghenea will also costar in the story of a recently released ex-con safecracker (Law) who travels to the south of France to claim what he’s owed for the crime that sent him to prison. Dom Hemingway will be directed by Richard Shepard (The Matador, The Hunting Party), whose RT Tomatometer scores are split right in the middle, so let’s call this film a borderline Fresh Development. Going back to Emilia Clarke, she’s one of several actresses revealed this week to be testing for the role of Steve Rogers’ 21st century love interest in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#2 SACHA BARON COHEN DOING A COMEDY CALLED THE LESBIAN… OKAY, STOP IT, SBC, RIGHT THERE. STOP IT!

You may have heard or seen the story last week about Hong Kong billionaire Cecil Chao Sze-Tsung, who offered $65 million to any man who could woo and marry his recently eloped lesbian daughter, and basically, “turn her straight.” Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t let that story sit around very long, because this week, he and Paramount Pictures are now developing a comedy called The Lesbian, about… exactly that story. The Lesbian will be a starring vehicle for Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Bruno, The Dictator), probably as a man who attempts to claim the $65 million (and hopefully not as the Chinese billionaire himself). The Lesbian is one of this week’s Rotten Ideas because… it just feels wrong. Will this story even be remembered by the this movie gets made?

#1 SEE TOP STORY.

For more Weekly Ketchup columns by Greg Dean Schmitz, check out the WK archive, and you can contact GDS via Facebook.

The biggest movies available on home video this week aren’t exactly critical darlings, but to balance out the big robots and formulaic romances, we’ve got a couple of acclaimed indies, a new Criterion, and a ton of 100th anniversary Blu-rays from Universal. See below for the full list!



Battleship

34%

A lot of people cracked jokes when it was announced that Universal would be crafting a big budget action movie based on the popular board game Battleship; as it turns out, those people probably had the right idea. As the game itself lacked any sort of inherent narrative, the film finds its conflict in an alien invasion and (of course) the human effort to repel said invasion. Starring Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Rihanna, and Alexander Skarsgard, Battleship was ultimately too loud, too poorly written, and too formulaic to win over many critics, resulting in a 34% Tomatometer. If you’re into big, special-effects driven spectacles a la Transformers, this might be for you.



Think Like a Man

54%

Mainstream romantic comedies have recently been a breeding ground for Rotten reviews, and while Think Like a Man is also technically Rotten, critics say it’s not all bad. Based on the relationship advice book by comedian and media personality Steve Harvey, Think Like a Man follows the love lives of four friends whose relationships are all adversely affected when their significant others begin taking the advice of the titular book. With a game cast and some truly funny bits, the film manages to rise above most standard rom-coms, though not quite enough to earn any higher than its 54% Tomatometer. In other words, a relatively tolerable date-night movie.



The Lucky One

20%

Speaking of clichéd romances, The Lucky One bore all the trappings of a Nicholas Sparks novel without actually being based on one. Zac Efron plays an Iraq war vet who tracks down an anonymous woman (Taylor Schilling) pictured in a photograph he found while overseas, only to (surprise!) fall in love with her before revealing his stalker-ish secret. Critics, unfortunately, didn’t really buy it; at 20% on the Tomatometer, The Lucky One is simply too formulaic and too typically melodramatic to appeal to anyone not already familiar with the genre. In other words, if you’re looking for a predictable yet weepy romance, feel free to indulge yourself; if not, you might want to find your entertainment elsewhere.



The Pirates! Band of Misfits

86%

The Aardman Animations company is most famous for their stop-motion work in the Wallace & Gromit series, as well as acclaimed films like Chicken Run and last year’s Arthur Christmas. Their latest feature project centers on — you guessed it — a misfit band of pirates led by the aptly named Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant), who embarks on an epic adventure to win the coveted Pirate of the Year award. Thanks to Aardman’s typically fantastic animation work, a smart and funny script, and voice work from folks like Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Piven, and Salma Hayek, Pirates managed to go Certified Fresh with an 86% Tomatometer. If you’re looking for something that’ll entertain you as well as the kiddies, this is probably your best bet this week.



Darling Companion

21%

It’s been a while since director Lawrence Kasdan (The Accidental Tourist, The Big Chill) had a hit, so it’s a bit unfortunate that his first film in nine years ended up earning the lowest Tomatometer score of his career thus far. Diane Keaton plays Beth, cast aside wife to Joseph (Kevin Kline), who finds a new BFF in the stray dog she rescues from the side of the road. When Joseph loses the dog after their daughter’s wedding, Beth organizes a search party to find the pooch. While some critics praised the chemistry between Keaton and Kline, most took issue with the slack pacing, extraneous characters, and muddled messages, resulting in a disappointing 21% Tomatometer score.



Monsieur Lazhar

97%

Another week, another Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. That’s not to say Monsieur Lazhar, the French Canadian import, doesn’t deserve the recognition; at a Certified Fresh 97%, it’s the highest-rated new release out this week. The story focuses on an elementary school teacher (Mohamed Said Fellag) who replaces another teacher who has committed suicide, even as he’s battling his own demons after losing his family to a politically charged tragedy. Making the most of its teacher-student dynamic and benefiting from powerful characterization and strong performances, Monsieur Lazhar is a tender and thoughtful film about grief and the power to overcome it.



Quadrophenia – Criterion Collection

100%

In 1973, The Who released their second rock opera, a double album titled Quadrophenia, a portrait of the early ’60s Mod lifestyle as depicted by a young man named Jimmy Cooper with alternating personalities. In 1979, Franc Roddam translated the album into a big screen narrative feature with the help of Phil Daniels (as Jimmy), Sting, and a young Ray Winstone, among others. Whether you enjoy the band’s music or not (and, to be clear, this film is not a musical), most agree that this angst-ridden portrayal of British subculture is a raw and effective document of the times, and it arrives in a Criterion edition this week. Special features include new commentary with Roddam, snippets from news programs of the ’60s and ’70s, and a handful of new interviews.



Universal 100th Anniversary Blu-Rays

Since Universal has been releasing a slew of reissues on Blu-ray to celebrate their 100th anniversary, we thought it would be easier simply to list the notable ones in a single entry. This week, you’ll be treated to new editions of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds and Vertigo (you know, the movie recently deemed the greatest film ever by Sight & Sound), Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, the “early disaster film” Airport, multiple Oscar-winner (including Best Picture) Out of Africa, the Jimmy Stewart imaginary rabbit movie Harvey, Brian De Palma’s Scarface, the Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman collaboration Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and last but certainly not least, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Whew! If there isn’t something in there for you, I don’t even know what to say.

Dominating the box office for a third weekend in a row and turning all competitors into casualties of war, The Avengers held on firmly to the number one spot breaking more records in the process. Audiences were not very excited about the new releases as the big-budget action tentpole Battleship suffered a poor opening in second place, the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator failed to match the raunchy funnyman’s past performances, and the all-star pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting debuted in fifth with weak results. It was the first time in fourteen years that the normally-busy weekend before the Memorial Day holiday frame failed to deliver any $35M+ openings causing the top ten to fall below both last year’s and 2010’s levels.

The shawarma-loving super heroes continued to rule the box office as The Avengers grossed an estimated $55.1M in its third weekend on top, dropping a reasonable 47%. Disney’s Marvel juggernaut has now amassed an eye-popping $457.1M in 17 days and broke two more speed records breaking $400M in 14 days and $450M after 17. The Dark Knight held both of those milestones before with 18 and 27 days, respectively. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team zoomed up to number six on the list of all-time-domestic blockbusters sitting right behind the $461M lifetime of Star Wars with a final North American take of near $600M likely.

Moviegoers have been loving Avengers and really have not been moved by all the other offerings that Hollywood has programmed into May. Studios knew that it would be a heavy hitter so they avoided slotting in any high-profile sequels into the first three weeks of its run for fear of being crushed. But the Iron Man-led film opened much stronger than expected and has been holding up very well utterly dominating the movie conversation and reaching beyond the core fan base of comic book geeks.

Avengers enjoyed the second largest third weekend gross in history trailing only the $68.5M of Avatar which had help from the New Year’s holiday that frame. Both films enjoyed a boost from 3D surcharges although more of those screens are installed now. 2002’s Spider-Man grossed $45M ten years ago this weekend while in its third session but actually sold about 30% more tickets than Avengers. 2008’s The Dark Knight grossed $42.7M which was about even with Avengers in terms of tickets sold on the third weekend. The Batpic enjoyed a slightly better hold with its 43% decline.

With Avengers grossing so much, industry eyes will shift to the highly-anticipated The Dark Knight Rises which opens July 20. Being a 2D film, it’s not expected to break the $207.4M record opening of Avengers. However, with stronger midweek grosses when students are out of school in July, its final tally could challenge the Marvel team’s especially if it can hold up like its predecessor. While the gross is unprecedented, the Avengers audience size is not record-setting. Four years ago, Dark Knight pulled in $393.8M in its first 17 days which would equate to roughly $440M at today’s 2D prices. Factor in 3D surcharges and the rough admissions totals would be 55 million for Dark Knight and 50 million for Avengers. Of course, Rises will not have the Heath Ledger factor but the good will created by the last Knight will certainly pay dividends this July.

Overseas, The Avengers banked another $56M in its fourth round for a $111.1M global weekend. The international cume has rocketed to $723.3M bringing the worldwide tally to a staggering $1.18 billion putting it at number four on the all-time global list right behind Avatar, Titanic, and the final Harry Potter. In another week or so, Nick Fury and pals will beat the Hogwarts clan and settle into what should be its final resting place with a bronze box office medal. Leading markets continue to be the U.K. ($72.3M), China ($69.3M), Mexico ($56.2M), and Brazil ($51.9M). Avengers has become the top-grossing movie of all-time for Disney which expects more cash to come from future films from Marvel which it owns.

Universal suffered a pricey misfire with the big-budget action film Battleship which just didn’t connect with moviegoers. Costing at least $209M to produce with no other studios sharing the financial risk, the PG-13 naval adventure opened to only $25.4M, according to estimates, with an average of only $6,870 from 3,690 theaters. It would barely be a respectable performance for a film costing half as much. Audiences in the mood for a large-scale effects-driven action picture had Avengers to see – even if it was for a second time – and Battleship just did not stand out as a must-see film.

Critics and audiences were not too thrilled with what Battleship delivered. Reviews were mixed but more on the downbeat side while patrons polled by CinemaScore gave the film a mediocre B grade. As expected, the alien attack film loosely based on the alien-less board game skewed towards men as studio research showed that 57% of the crowd was male while 55% was 30 or older. An aggressive marketing campaign including Super Bowl spots failed to excite audiences who felt that the pic basically looked like Transformers at sea without Michael Bay at the helm. The cast included Liam Neeson, pop singer Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, and Taylor Kitsch who after John Carter now enjoys the distinction of starring in the year’s two biggest flops. The more expensive Carter opened to $30.2M including 3D surcharges and has stalled at $283M worldwide for Disney.

Battleship set sail over a month ago in international waters where it found more success. Entering most markets at least two weeks before Avengers it was able to scoop up a decent amount of cash before getting pummeled by a superior action film. This weekend saw an estimated $6.5M bumping the offshore take to $226.8M and the global sum to $252.1M. But given its current grosses and the calendar ahead, the worldwide figure looks to finish in the neighborhood of $325M which will be a big disappointment given the massive production and marketing investments which add up to nearly the same amount.

Also underperforming and costing a lot (for its genre) was Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comedy vehicle The Dictator which bowed to an estimated $17.4M over the weekend and $24.5M since debuting on Wednesday. The three-day average was $5,790 from 3,008 locations. Over five days, the R-rated film grossed less than the three-day openings of the last two films the funnyman anchored. 2006’s sleeper hit Borat opened to $26.5M from just 837 theaters while 2009’s Brüno bowed to $30.6M from 2,756 locations. Both R-rated comedies landed at number one and were based on popular characters that Cohen had developed on his television series. Dictator brought some of the same brand of raunchy satire to a new character, an eccentric tyrant that ruled a fictitious North African oil-rich nation.

Reviews were generally good, however audiences were not pleased with what they paid for as the Paramount release earned a troubling C grade from CinemaScore. Brüno scored the same grade and quickly eroded away at the box office tumbling 73% in its sophomore frame. Cohen has been promoting his film in character on numerous talk shows and at prestigious film events like the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards in an attempt to make his product stand out as something buzzworthy. But American audiences may be getting tired of the same humor from the British comedian. And the budget of $65M was high for a comedy not driven by special effects or having a proven star like Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell.

Studio research showed that a steep 65% of the crowd was male and 56% was under 25. The Dictator had extremely limited female appeal and males had two huge effects-driven action films to go and see so competition took its toll. Political comedies usually skew older but Cohen’s bold humor led to a young adult crowd taking interest. But with low customer satisfaction ratings and Men in Black 3 opening Friday, the domestic road ahead looks grim.

However, The Dictator fared well elsewhere in the world. The Wadiya pic debuted to an estimated $30.3M overseas from 29 markets – most of which are not among the world’s top-grossing territories – taking the number one spot in 25 of them. Cohen’s home market of the U.K. led with $7.2M over five days followed by Australia with $5.7M in five days. Both opened smaller than Brüno, though. Germany debuted to $4.5M which was bigger than the fashionista pic. The underwhelming American response may end up meaning little in the long run if international markets continue to embrace the film and perform well. With $54.8M globally in its first extended weekend, and France, Italy and Japan still to come over the months ahead, The Dictator seems positioned to recover its costs.

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton saw their fans flee this weekend as their latest project Dark Shadows tumbled 57% in its sophomore round to an estimated $12.8M. Word-of-mouth has not been very good for the pricey film which cost an estimated $150M+ to produce. Warner Bros. has collected a disappointing $50.9M in ten days and looks headed for a $70-75M domestic finish putting tremendous pressure on international markets to deliver. Overseas, Shadows grossed an estimated $30.4M this weekend from 52 markets including a $5M debut in Japan boosting the international cume to $81.3M and the worldwide gross to $132.2M.

Lionsgate tried to offer counter-programming for adult women not interested in testosterone action tentpoles by releasing the all-star pregnancy comedy What to Expect When You’re Expecting but was met with modest results. The PG-13 film starring Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock, Dennis Quaid, and Brooklyn Decker in her second new film of the weekend bowed to an estimated $10.5M from 3,021 theaters for a sluggish $3,476 average. Reviews were more negative than positive but often times with these comedies starpower can trump bad buzz from critics. That wasn’t the case here. With men being repelled by the subject matter, Johnny Depp taking in more money from adult women, and Avengers still sucking up all business from broad audiences, What to Expect failed to generate much excitement with its intended audience despite being based on a best-selling book. A B- CinemaScore for the $30M film indicates that the film should exit theaters soon.

The indie comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel expanded once again by doubling its run from 178 to 354 theaters and climbed up two spots to number six with an estimated $3.3M. The Fox Searchlight release averaged a solid $9,181 per location raising its total to $8.2M. Hotel is connecting with a crowd not interested in big studio tentpoles (all films above it on the chart are playing in 3000+ theaters) and is carving out its own piece of the box office pie. The ensemble hit will go nationwide on Friday for the long Memorial Day holiday frame reaching more than 1,100 playdates.

Lionsgate’s franchise flick The Hunger Games held up well again dropping only 33% to an estimated $3M putting the stellar cume at $391.6M as it inches closer to the quadruple-century mark. Sony’s hit comedy Think Like a Man followed with an estimated $2.7M, off 54%, for a $85.9M cume.

Falling 57% was the romance The Lucky One with an estimated $1.8M while Sony’s 3D toon The Pirates! Band of Misfits dropped 54% to an estimated $1.5M. Totals stand at $56.9M and $25.4M, respectively.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $133.3M which was down 15% from last year when Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides opened at number one with $90.2M; and down 6% from 2010 when Shrek Forever After debuted on top with $70.8M.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got nautical combat (Battleship, starring Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna), pregnancy tribulations (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, starring Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz), and a displaced despot (The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Anna Faris). What do the critics have to say?



Battleship

34%

A big-budget blockbuster based upon a board game, Battleship all but promises empty-headed thrills. On that count, critics say, it succeeds, though they also note that a few mindlessly awesome set pieces can’t totally compensate for the film’s thuddingly silly script. Years after NASA has sent a message to a nearby planet, a group of alien ships visit earth — and they do not come in peace. A group of naval officers leads the charge against the invading armada, and explosions ensue. The pundits say Battleship is about as absurd as it sounds, and although some of the battles are pretty cool, the fun to be had here is of the guilty pleasure variety. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down memorable examples of cinematic naval triumphs..)



What to Expect When You’re Expecting

23%

Since it was first published in 1984, the popular self-help book What to Expect When You’re Expecting has helped to guide women through the turbulent months of pregnancy. Unfortunately, the big screen version lacks the unpredictability of real life, stranding its talented cast in a sitcommy plot. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Dennis Quaid, and Chris Rock, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the story of five interconnected couples dealing with a variety of pregnancy and childbirth-related issues, and it features plenty of spirited discussions from both male and female perspectives. The pundits say What to Expect contains occasional laughs fleeting moments of insight, but mostly, this all-star ensemble piece is strictly by-the-book.



The Dictator

57%

With the gonzo documentaries Borat and Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen established himself as one of contemporary cinema’s most merciless satirists. Now he’s graduated to scripted comedy, and critics say that while The Dictator isn’t as outrageous or as teeth-clenchingly funny as Borat, it’s just funny and un-P.C. enough to prove that Cohen hasn’t gone soft. This loose remake of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator is the tale of an oppressive, buffoonish North African despot who survives a coup attempt that leaves him wandering the streets of New York City until a kindly hippie grocer (Anna Faris) takes a shine to him. The pundits say that not every joke in The Dictator works (and a few fall flat), but overall, the film provides enough gleeful tastelessness and sharp political observations to satisfy Cohen’s fans.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Elena, a Russian thriller about an estranged family plotting to take control of a large inheritance, is at 100 percent.
  • Indie Game: The Movie, a documentary about the development process behind independent video games, is at 100 percent.
  • Polisse, a drama about the professional and personal trials of Paris’ Child Protection Unit, is at 90 percent.
  • Beyond The Black Rainbow, a sci-fi/horror hybrid about a mute girl with psychic powers, is at 88 percent.
  • American Animal, a dramedy about two roommates whose friendship is tested when one decides to get a job, is at 83 percent.
  • Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog, a drama that follows a Labrador retriever from puppyhood to his days as a blind man’s companion, is at 77 percent.
  • Lovely Molly, a horror film about a recently married woman who discovers malevolent forces in her childhood home, is at 57 percent.
  • The Color Wheel, a road trip comedy about a pair of feuding siblings, is at 50 percent.
  • Hysteria, starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a period piece about the invention of the vibrator during the prudish Victorian era, is at 45 percent.
  • The Samaritan, starring Samuel L. Jackson in a thriller about an ex-con who finds the past difficult to shake, is at 35 percent.
  • Mansome, a documentary by Morgan Spurlock about men’s grooming habits, is at 20 percent.
  • Virginia, starring Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly in a drama about a single mother and her long-term extramarital affair with the town sheriff, is at zero percent.
  • Victory at Sea

    Summer’s almost here, and you know what that means — from now until Labor Day, the Earth will be in near-constant danger of utter destruction every single weekend. At the box office, anyway. This week, we’re under attack from a crew of nasty aliens, and only Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna stand between us and certain doom. We’re talking about Battleship, of course, and all that aquatic derring-do got us thinking about other movies featuring thrilling peril, men and women of valor, and lots and lots of water. It’s time to celebrate some Victory at Sea — the Total Recall way!

    The Battle of the River Plate

    82%

    Copious amounts of CGI definitely helped Peter Berg make it look like aliens were invading Earth in Battleship, but it doesn’t take fancy computers to approximate the thundering chaos of naval warfare. Case in point: 1956’s Battle of the River Plate (released in the U.S. as Pursuit of the Graf Spee), which earned bonus points for realism after directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger used actual American and British cruisers to relive the first naval battle of World War II. But more importantly, at least as far as most critics were concerned, the duo’s screenplay presented the war as a conflict between actual human beings rather than a cartoonish collision of good guys and bad guys. “Though it’s mostly a waiting game, the film is tense and involving, thanks to Powell’s fluid shifting of the point of view,” observed the Chicago Reader’s Dave Kehr. “You root for the Germans as much as for the Allies.”

    The Bedford Incident

    85%

    A sort of Moby Dick for the nuclear age, The Bedford Incident offers a poignant (and, at the time, rather terrifying) meditation on the cost of war. Sidney Poitier stars as a reporter who boards an American destroyer as part of a profile on its captain (Richard Widmark), only to find himself an unwilling participant in his increasingly dangerous pursuit of a Soviet submarine that has been detected nearby. With an amped-up ending that diverged from the Mark Rascovich novel that inspired it, Bedford offered something to enjoy even for critics like the New York Times’ Bosley Crowther, whose largely ambivalent review described the film as “a cinematic blooper” but admitted, “If you view it as straight, unchallenged fiction… you may find this austerely masculine picture of a maritime episode in the cold war a grimly absorbing speculation on how wrong one ship’s captain might be.”

    The Caine Mutiny

    92%

    Featuring a fine late-period performance from Humphrey Bogart and fleshed out by a solid cast that included Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson, and Fred MacMurray, 1954’s The Caine Mutiny adapted the Pulitzer-winning Herman Wouk novel that traced the deteriorating relationship between a hard-nosed Navy commander (Bogart) and his crew — some of whom suspect him of being genuinely mentally unfit to safely lead the ship. While it contains its fair share of naval warfare, Caine‘s most important battles are fought with low-key performances instead of torpedos; as Film4 put it, “The drama is compulsive and the starry cast make the most of a mountain of words.”

    Das Boot

    98%

    Das foregone conclusion for this list, yes? Wolfgang Petersen’s 1981 war epic is almost universally recognized as not only a classic naval drama, but one of the finer films of the 1980s as well as a towering classic of German cinema. Here in the States, Das Boot earned nearly $85 million (spread out over two theatrical runs spaced 16 years apart) and six Academy Award nominations — not bad for a World War II movie with zero American stars and long stretches without battle action. “It is unlike any other war film in that it confines the audience in a confined submarine where we digest the fear and panic of the human beings on screen,” enthused Cole Smithey. “In short, Das Boot is a religious experience.”

    The Final Countdown

    53%

    There have been any number of movies about Pearl Harbor, and quite a few films featuring modern-day nuclear wessels — but the only one that’s ever dared to combine the two of them is The Final Countdown, starring Kirk Douglas as the skipper of a supercarrier that somehow wanders through a time vortex and ends up traveling back in time from 1980 to 1941 — one day before the attack at Pearl Harbor. It’s an intriguingly silly premise, at the very least; sadly, audiences weren’t terribly interested in seeing how it all played out, and critics, for the most part, weren’t impressed. Calling the movie “utter nonsense,” Vincent Canby of the New York Times allowed, “In defense of Don Taylor, the director, I must say I don’t think there was any way in which he could have made sense out of the screenplay or could have directed the actors to speak this dialogue with conviction.”

    The Hunt for Red October

    88%

    Okay, so it’s technically more a film about the avoidance of naval warfare, but because we know we’ll get a bunch of “what about Hunt for Red October” comments if we leave it off the list, here’s the 1990 classic about a defecting Soviet submarine commander (Sean Connery) whose entry into U.S. waters puts the two nations on the brink of World War III, with only Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) standing between them. “The film is a piece of heightened prosaic suspense,” marveled Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman. “It comes at you in big, chewy gobs of exposition and dialogue.”

    Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

    85%

    Nominated for an impressive 10 Academy Awards, Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is an aquatic epic every bit as huge as its title, and a bid to launch a film franchise from Patrick O’Brian’s lengthy series of books about 19th century British Navy Captain Jack Aubrey (played by Russell Crowe) and his ship’s surgeon, Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany). Over two hours of ocean pursuit, cannon fire, and righteous fury from Crowe, Master and Commander pits Aubrey’s outmatched ship against a mysterious (and deadly) member of Napoleon’s fleet, with battles stretching halfway around the world (hence that unwieldy title). Though it only performed, in Weir’s words, “well…ish” at the box office, Master proved a sturdy critical vessel, earning praise from the likes of Cole Smithey, who called it “an expansive cinematic achievement that sits well against such adventure classics as Lawrence of Arabia, and a sure bet for fans of ocean-bound drama.”

    Operation Petticoat

    81%

    There aren’t too many comedies on this list, but we’ll make a happy exception for this 1959 hit starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis as quarrelling shipmates on a World War II submarine that suffers a string of indignities, including being sunk in a Philippine harbor, painted pink, and locked into combat with a friendly vessel — a battle brought to an end when Curtis suggests using a torpedo tube to fire a bra from one of the female nurses on board. Though it was one of the bigger box office hits of 1960, Operation Petticoat hasn’t aged particularly well with critics like Ken Hanke of the Asheville Mountain Xpress, who called this early effort from director Blake Edwards a “Splendid, if a little long, service comedy.”

    Tora! Tora! Tora!

    55%

    Long before Michael Bay took us to Pearl Harbor, this impressively ambitious collaboration between American and Japanese filmmakers offered its own sprawling, two hour-plus take on the attack that stunned the United States into entering World War II. Although some critics derided Tora! Tora! Tora!‘s occasionally dawdling pace — Roger Ebert called it “one of the deadest, dullest blockbusters ever made” — it marked an admirable attempt at presenting both sides of the infamous battle, earned five Oscar nominations, and won the admiration of critics like Filmcritic’s Christopher Null, who called it “A must-see for any war buff.”

    U-571

    67%

    The only film on this week’s list to feature the acting talents of Jon Bon Jovi, 2000’s U-571 wrings some surprisingly effective suspense from its overly familiar World War II plot framework, thanks to some sharp direction from Jonathan Mostow (who also came up with the story and co-wrote the screenplay) and a generally distinguished cast that included Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, and Harvey Keitel. Pitting Allies against Axis in a race to acquire top-secret technology from a sinking German sub, U-571 surfaced with more than $125 million in global grosses, as well as praise from critics like Robert Horton of Film.com, who said it “concocts just enough genuinely surprising moments to make its own satisfying niche amongst the other examples of the genre.”


    Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Battleship.

     

    People couldn’t believe the news when it was first announced but here we are: A movie adaptation of a Hasbro board game, Battleship, has an imminent American release. Jumping head first into international waters, Universal has already released the film in dozens of countries — in fact, the United States will be the last to host Battleship in theaters when it hits our shores May 18. For the critics who have seen it, what did they think?

    “Impressive visual effects and Berg’s epic set pieces fight against an armada of cinematic clichés and some truly awful dialogue,” from a Rotten Hollywood Reporter review by Megan Lehmann.

    “[Floats]…on the strength of its boyish, eager-to-please razzle-dazzle,” from a Fresh Variety review by Guy Lodge.

    “If you found Transformers just a touch too subtle, this is the film for you,” from a Rotten Guardian review by Catherine Shoard.

    “All you can do is raise the white flag and surrender to the film’s awesome silliness,” from a Fresh Movie Talk review by Jason Best.

    In a nutshell, critics are astonished by its pure blockbuster simplicity — whether that’s a good or bad thing falls squarely to individual interpretation. If the Tomatometer score holds, this will continue lead actor Taylor Kitsch’s Rotten streak (out of his 7 credited movies, none are Fresh). Director Peter Berg has not had a Fresh movie since 2004’s Friday Night Lights.

    What do you think? Will Battleship be Fresh or Rotten?

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