(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

All Morgan Freeman Movies Ranked By Tomatometer

Morgan Freeman. Read this sentence in his voice. That familiar sound of authoritative benevolence, that could make an intro paragraph soar like a songbird with world-weariest wings. Freeman has lent his sonorous gift for narration to dozens of documentaries, including March of the Penguins, and to several of his narrative films, like Million Dollar Baby and, to lasting generational effect, in The Shawshank Redemption.

But before the voice of God got to play God (see: Bruce and Evan Almighty), Freeman had to humbly serve the silver screen in bit and seriously secondary parts for two decades. He got his big break performing the the lead villain in Christopher Reeve’s journalism thriller Street Smart, for which he was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. That was released in 1987 and is where we’ll start Freeman’s filmography for this guide. Just two years later, he was on the national radar with the Best Picture-winning Driving Miss Daisy, for which he was once more nominated. The Academy has recognized his work three times since: Shawshank, Million Dollar Baby (for which he won), and Invictus.

The Daisy prestige brought in a raft of memorable roles for Freeman, including in Glory, Unforgiven, and Seven. He also seems to have a knack for being in the right comic book movie at the right time: see Red, Wanted, and his turn as Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy. We’re taking a look back on a celebrated career with this list of all Morgan Freeman movies ranked by Tomatometer!

#68

The Poison Rose (2019)
0%

#68
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A hard-drinking detective takes on what looks to be a routine missing person case, only to be drawn into a... [More]

#67

The Contract (2006)
0%

#67
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Frank Carden (Morgan Freeman), one of the world's greatest assassins, is handed a lucrative contract to kill a highly secretive... [More]
Directed By: Bruce Beresford

#66
#66
Adjusted Score: 4807%
Critics Consensus: A thoroughly unfunny misfire, Just Getting Started manages the incredible feat of wasting more than a century of combined acting experience from its three talented leads.
Synopsis: Duke Diver is living the high life as the freewheeling manager of a luxurious resort in Palm Springs, Calif. He... [More]
Directed By: Ron Shelton

#65

Vanquish (2021)
5%

#65
Adjusted Score: 6664%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: From the director of Double Take, Middle Men, and The Poison Rose comes this stylish, glossy action-thriller starring Morgan Freeman... [More]
Directed By: George Gallo

#64

Edison (2005)
13%

#64
Adjusted Score: 4573%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ambitious young reporter Pollack (Justin Timberlake) suspects insidious corruption in his town's elite police unit, known as F.R.A.T., and finds... [More]
Directed By: David J. Burke

#63

Last Knights (2015)
16%

#63
Adjusted Score: 16389%
Critics Consensus: As blandly unimaginative as its title, Last Knights revisits well-worn sword-and-sandal tropes without adding anything new -- or interesting -- to the genre.
Synopsis: A fallen swordsman (Clive Owen) leads a small army against a sadistic ruler to avenge his dishonored master (Morgan Freeman).... [More]
Directed By: Kaz I Kiriya

#62

The Big Bounce (2004)
15%

#62
Adjusted Score: 19622%
Critics Consensus: Lazily crafted and light on substance, The Big Bounce takes few chances and strands its promising cast in a subpar adaptation that fails to do its source material justice.
Synopsis: Beach bum and petty criminal Jack Ryan (Owen Wilson) gets into a fight while working at a construction site owned... [More]
Directed By: George Armitage

#61
Adjusted Score: 18444%
Critics Consensus: The Bonfire of the Vanities is a vapid adaptation of a thoughtful book, fatally miscast and shorn of the source material's crucial sense of irony. Add it to the pyre of Hollywood's ambitious failures.
Synopsis: In this adaptation of the Tom Wolfe novel, powerful Wall Street executive Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) is riding with his... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#60

Chain Reaction (1996)
18%

#60
Adjusted Score: 18434%
Critics Consensus: Ironic given the scientific breakthrough at the story's core, Chain Reaction is a man-on-the-run thriller that mostly sticks to generic formula.
Synopsis: At a Chicago university, a research team that includes brilliant Eddie Kasalivich (Keanu Reeves) experiences a breakthrough: a stable form... [More]
Directed By: Andrew Davis

#59

Transcendence (2014)
19%

#59
Adjusted Score: 28761%
Critics Consensus: In his directorial debut, ace cinematographer Wally Pfister remains a distinctive visual stylist, but Transcendence's thought-provoking themes exceed the movie's narrative grasp.
Synopsis: Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the world's foremost authority on artificial intelligence, is conducting highly controversial experiments to create a... [More]
Directed By: Wally Pfister

#58

Evan Almighty (2007)
23%

#58
Adjusted Score: 31336%
Critics Consensus: Big on special effects but short on laughs, Evan Almighty underutilizes a star-studded cast that includes Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman.
Synopsis: Newscaster Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) leaves Buffalo behind when he wins a seat in Congress. Moving his wife (Lauren Graham)... [More]
Directed By: Tom Shadyac

#57

Ben-Hur (2016)
25%

#57
Adjusted Score: 35703%
Critics Consensus: How do you fight an idea? By filming a remake that has too few of its own, and tries to cover it up with choppy editing and CGI.
Synopsis: Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) loses everything after his adopted brother Messala (Toby Kebbell), now an officer in the Roman army,... [More]
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov

#56
#56
Adjusted Score: 39094%
Critics Consensus: London Has Fallen traps a talented cast -- and all who dare to see it -- in a mid-1990s basic-cable nightmare of a film loaded with xenophobia and threadbare action-thriller clichés.
Synopsis: After the death of the British prime minister, the world's most powerful leaders gather in London to pay their respects.... [More]
Directed By: Babak Najafi

#55

Dreamcatcher (2003)
28%

#55
Adjusted Score: 34186%
Critics Consensus: An incoherent and overly long creature feature.
Synopsis: "Dreamcatcher" tells of four young friends who perform a heroic act -- and are changed forever by the uncanny powers... [More]
Directed By: Lawrence Kasdan

#54
#54
Adjusted Score: 29600%
Critics Consensus: Neither Rob Reiner nor Morgan Freeman are able to conjure up their old magic in this dull trifle, with both director and star appearing content to tread through the paces of the saccharine script.
Synopsis: An alcoholic, disabled novelist (Morgan Freeman) finds his muse again after he moves into a lakeside cabin and meets a... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#53

Hard Rain (1998)
31%

#53
Adjusted Score: 32911%
Critics Consensus: Hard Rain is an implausible heist movie soaked in disaster movie trappings.
Synopsis: The small town of Huntingburg is forced to evacuate when torrential rains bring rising flood waters. The local sheriff (Randy... [More]
Directed By: Mikael Salomon

#52

Kiss the Girls (1997)
33%

#52
Adjusted Score: 34467%
Critics Consensus: Detective Alex Cross makes his inauspicious cinematic debut in Kiss the Girls, a clunky thriller that offers few surprises.
Synopsis: Successful forensic psychologist Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) discovers that his niece has gone missing. Once he consults with police Detective... [More]
Directed By: Gary Fleder

#51

High Crimes (2002)
31%

#51
Adjusted Score: 34043%
Critics Consensus: Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman make this predictable affair watchable.
Synopsis: A happily married, successful lawyer (Ashley Judd) is shocked to learn that her husband (Jim Caviezel) has a hidden past... [More]
Directed By: Carl Franklin

#50
#50
Adjusted Score: 35652%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and contains too many implausible situations.
Synopsis: A psychological suspense thriller adapted from James Patterson's first highly acclaimed novel in the Alex Cross series, Morgan Freeman reprises... [More]
Directed By: Lee Tamahori

#49
Adjusted Score: 44042%
Critics Consensus: Lacking a transporting yuletide story or dazzling dance routines, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a hollow holiday confection that's lovely to look at -- and easy to forget.
Synopsis: Young Clara needs a magical, one-of-a-kind key to unlock a box that contains a priceless gift. A golden thread leads... [More]

#48

Now You See Me 2 (2016)
34%

#48
Adjusted Score: 45094%
Critics Consensus: Now You See Me 2 packs in even more twists and turns than its predecessor, but in the end, it has even less hiding up its sleeve.
Synopsis: After fleeing from a stage show, the illusionists (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson) known as the Four Horsemen find themselves in... [More]
Directed By: Jon M. Chu

#47

Levity (2003)
34%

#47
Adjusted Score: 36574%
Critics Consensus: Levity could really use some, as it's weighted down by dour self-importance and a heavy-handed message.
Synopsis: Seeking redemption after his release from prison, a murderer (Billy Bob Thornton) meets a shady pastor (Morgan Freeman) and the... [More]
Directed By: Ed Solomon

#46

Angel Has Fallen (2019)
39%

#46
Adjusted Score: 49474%
Critics Consensus: Cut from the same rough cloth as its predecessors, Angel Has Fallen rounds out a mostly forgettable action trilogy in fittingly mediocre fashion.
Synopsis: Authorities take Secret Service agent Mike Banning into custody for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull. After... [More]
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh

#45

The Power of One (1992)
39%

#45
Adjusted Score: 38744%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It's the 1930s, and as the people he cares for die or leave his village, young South African P.K. bonds... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#44

Feast of Love (2007)
39%

#44
Adjusted Score: 43599%
Critics Consensus: Though beautifully photographed, Feast of Love offers little beyond a trite, melodramatic character drama.
Synopsis: The love lives of several people of various ages intersect when a young woman named Chloe (Alexa Davalos) comes to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Benton

#43

The Bucket List (2007)
41%

#43
Adjusted Score: 47981%
Critics Consensus: Not even the earnest performances of the two leads can rescue The Bucket List from its schmaltzy script.
Synopsis: Billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and car mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) are complete strangers, until fate lands them in... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#42

Moll Flanders (1996)
43%

#42
Adjusted Score: 43806%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: After her mother is executed as a thief, young Moll Flanders (Robin Wright) flees the orphanage in which she was... [More]
Directed By: Pen Densham

#41

Ted 2 (2015)
44%

#41
Adjusted Score: 52367%
Critics Consensus: Ted 2 reunites Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane for another round of sophomoric, scatological humor -- and just as before, your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for all of the above.
Synopsis: Life has changed drastically for thunder buddies John (Mark Wahlberg), now a bachelor, and best pal Ted (Seth MacFarlane), now... [More]
Directed By: Seth MacFarlane

#40

Deep Impact (1998)
45%

#40
Adjusted Score: 46597%
Critics Consensus: A tidal wave of melodrama sinks Deep Impact's chance at being the memorable disaster flick it aspires to be.
Synopsis: A comet is hurtling toward Earth and could mean the end of all human life. The U.S. government keeps the... [More]
Directed By: Mimi Leder

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 33558%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Indebted to the mob, two movie producers try to save themselves by setting up an aging actor for an insurance... [More]
Directed By: George Gallo

#38

5 Flights Up (2014)
46%

#38
Adjusted Score: 47823%
Critics Consensus: 5 Flights Up is a bit of a narrative fixer-upper, but when it comes to watching Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman share screen time, you really can't beat the view.
Synopsis: A husband (Morgan Freeman) and wife (Diane Keaton) spend a hectic weekend pondering the sale of the apartment they've shared... [More]
Directed By: Richard Loncraine

#37

Last Vegas (2013)
46%

#37
Adjusted Score: 50582%
Critics Consensus: The cast of Last Vegas keep things amiably watchable, but the film is mostly a mellower Hangover retread for the older set.
Synopsis: Aging pals Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) have been best friends... [More]
Directed By: Jon Turteltaub

#36

Going in Style (2017)
47%

#36
Adjusted Score: 58426%
Critics Consensus: Despite the considerable talent of its leads, Going in Style is light on laughs and plays it safe far too often.
Synopsis: Lifelong buddies Willie (Morgan Freeman), Joe (Michael Caine) and Albert (Alan Arkin) decide to buck retirement and step off the... [More]
Directed By: Zach Braff

#35

Bruce Almighty (2003)
48%

#35
Adjusted Score: 54579%
Critics Consensus: Carrey is hilarious in the slapstick scenes, but Bruce Almighty gets bogged down in treacle.
Synopsis: Bruce Nolan's (Jim Carrey) career in TV has been stalled for a while, and when he's passed over for a... [More]
Directed By: Tom Shadyac

#34

Under Suspicion (2000)
49%

#34
Adjusted Score: 48994%
Critics Consensus: Though Hackman and Freeman turn in solid performances, Under Suspicion moves at a plodding rate and has a disappointing ending.
Synopsis: "Under Suspicion" is an intense, psychological thriller, with veteran Police Captain Victor Benezet squaring off against prominent tax attorney Henry... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Hopkins

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 56955%
Critics Consensus: It's far from original, but Olympus Has Fallen benefits from Antoine Fuqua's tense direction and a strong performance from Gerard Butler -- which might just be enough for action junkies.
Synopsis: The unthinkable happens when heavily armed and highly trained terrorists launch a bold daytime attack on the White House. The... [More]
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua

#32

Coming 2 America (2021)
49%

#32
Adjusted Score: 62577%
Critics Consensus: Decades after its predecessor joked about the fine line between love and nausea, Coming 2 America reminds audiences that there's an equally fine line between sequel and retread.
Synopsis: Set in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, newly-crowned King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi(Arsenio Hall)... [More]
Directed By: Craig Brewer

#31

Now You See Me (2013)
50%

#31
Adjusted Score: 56567%
Critics Consensus: Now You See Me's thinly sketched characters and scattered plot rely on sleight of hand from the director to distract audiences.
Synopsis: Charismatic magician Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) leads a team of talented illusionists called the Four Horsemen. Atlas and his comrades mesmerize... [More]
Directed By: Louis Leterrier

#30
Adjusted Score: 55019%
Critics Consensus: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves brings a wonderfully villainous Alan Rickman to this oft-adapted tale, but he's robbed by big-budget bombast and a muddled screenplay.
Synopsis: Nobleman crusader Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner) breaks out of a Jerusalem prison with the help of Moorish fellow prisoner... [More]
Directed By: Kevin Reynolds

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 57288%
Critics Consensus: Trying too hard to be clever in a Pulp Fiction kind of way, this film succumbs to a convoluted plot, overly stylized characters, and dizzying set design.
Synopsis: A case of mistaken identity puts a man named Slevin (Josh Hartnett) in the middle of a war between two... [More]
Directed By: Paul McGuigan

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 57344%
Critics Consensus: A story of disjointed family members yearning for true emotional depth, An Unfinished Life teeters between overtly saccharine sentiments and moments of real intimacy.
Synopsis: Einar (Robert Redford), a recovering alcoholic rancher who lives with his loyal pal Mitch (Morgan Freeman), gets an unexpected visit... [More]
Directed By: Lasse Hallström

#27

Outbreak (1995)
59%

#27
Adjusted Score: 61711%
Critics Consensus: A frustratingly uneven all-star disaster drama, Outbreak ultimately proves only mildly contagious and leaves few lasting side effects.
Synopsis: A dangerous airborne virus threatens civilization in this tense thriller. After an African monkey carrying a lethal virus is smuggled... [More]
Directed By: Wolfgang Petersen

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 64597%
Critics Consensus: A slick and well-made thriller that takes on new weight due to the current political climate.
Synopsis: Based on Tom Clancy's novel, this espionage thriller tracks a sinister plot to draw the United States and Russia into... [More]
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson

#25

Clean and Sober (1988)
57%

#25
Adjusted Score: 57253%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Hotshot real estate salesman Daryl (Michael Keaton) has a bad cocaine habit. After embezzling his company's money, he wakes up... [More]
Directed By: Glenn Gordon Caron

#24

Johnny Handsome (1989)
62%

#24
Adjusted Score: 61261%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A crook, given a new identity by reconstructive surgery, plots revenge against the gangsters who double-crossed him.... [More]
Directed By: Walter Hill

#23

10 Items or Less (2006)
63%

#23
Adjusted Score: 64873%
Critics Consensus: A small film that relies too heavily on the charm of its big actors.
Synopsis: An actor (Morgan Freeman) who is considering the role of a supermarket manager arrives at a grocery store on the... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#22

Street Smart (1987)
64%

#22
Adjusted Score: 64344%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Jonathan Fisher (Christopher Reeve) is a reporter struggling to keep his job at a magazine. Assigned to write a real-life... [More]
Directed By: Jerry Schatzberg

#21

Unleashed (2005)
66%

#21
Adjusted Score: 70031%
Critics Consensus: Jet Li gets to emote in some emotionally awkward scenes, but the gritty fight sequences come through in what is Li's best English language film.
Synopsis: Crime boss Bart raises orphan Danny with no knowledge of anything other than how to fight, using him as an... [More]
Directed By: Louis Leterrier

#20

Dolphin Tale 2 (2014)
66%

#20
Adjusted Score: 68136%
Critics Consensus: Much like its predecessor, Dolphin Tale 2 offers animal antics and sweet, old-fashioned drama that the whole family can enjoy.
Synopsis: Several years have passed since Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) and the team at Clearwater Marine Hospital gave Winter the dolphin... [More]
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith

#19

Lucy (2014)
67%

#19
Adjusted Score: 76231%
Critics Consensus: Enthusiastic and silly, Lucy powers through the movie's logic gaps with cheesy thrills plus Scarlett Johansson's charm -- and mostly succeeds at it.
Synopsis: When a boyfriend tricks Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) into delivering a briefcase to a supposed business contact, the once-carefree student is... [More]
Directed By: Luc Besson

#18

Lean on Me (1989)
65%

#18
Adjusted Score: 64652%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this fact-based film, a New Jersey superintendent, Dr. Frank Napier (Robert Guillaume), watches helplessly as East Side High becomes... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#17

Wanted (2008)
71%

#17
Adjusted Score: 79371%
Critics Consensus: Wanted is stylish, energetic popcorn fare with witty performances from Angelina Jolie (playing an expert assassin), James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman that help to distract from its absurdly over-the-top plot.
Synopsis: Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is an office worker whose life is going nowhere. After his estranged father is murdered, he... [More]
Directed By: Timur Bekmambetov

#16

Red (2010)
72%

#16
Adjusted Score: 78999%
Critics Consensus: It may not be the killer thrill ride you'd expect from an action movie with a cast of this caliber, but Red still thoroughly outshines most of its big-budget counterparts with its wit and style.
Synopsis: After surviving an assault from a squad of hit men, retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reassembles his old... [More]
Directed By: Robert Schwentke

#15

Invictus (2009)
76%

#15
Adjusted Score: 85442%
Critics Consensus: Delivered with typically stately precision by director Clint Eastwood, Invictus may not be rousing enough for some viewers, but Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman inhabit their real-life characters with admirable conviction.
Synopsis: Following the fall of apartheid, newly elected President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) faces a South Africa that is racially and... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#14

Amistad (1997)
77%

#14
Adjusted Score: 79861%
Critics Consensus: Heartfelt without resorting to preachiness, Amistad tells an important story with engaging sensitivity and absorbing skill.
Synopsis: In 1839, the slave ship Amistad set sail from Cuba to America. During the long trip, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#13

Seven (1995)
82%

#13
Adjusted Score: 86447%
Critics Consensus: A brutal, relentlessly grimy shocker with taut performances, slick gore effects, and a haunting finale.
Synopsis: When retiring police Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) tackles a final case with the aid of newly transferred David Mills... [More]
Directed By: David Fincher

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 86306%
Critics Consensus: While it's fueled in part by outdated stereotypes, Driving Miss Daisy takes audiences on a heartwarming journey with a pair of outstanding actors.
Synopsis: Daisy Werthan (Jessica Tandy), an elderly Jewish widow living in Atlanta, is determined to maintain her independence. However, when she... [More]
Directed By: Bruce Beresford

#11

Dolphin Tale (2011)
82%

#11
Adjusted Score: 84911%
Critics Consensus: Wisely dialing down the schmaltz, Dolphin Tale is earnest, sweet, and well-told, a rare family film that both kids and parents can enjoy.
Synopsis: While swimming free in the ocean, a young dolphin gets caught in a trap and severely damages her tail. Though... [More]
Directed By: Charles Martin Smith

#10

Nurse Betty (2000)
83%

#10
Adjusted Score: 87760%
Critics Consensus: Quirky in the best sense of the word, Nurse Betty finds director Neil LaBute corralling a talented cast in service of a sharp, imaginative script.
Synopsis: What happens when a person decides that life is merely a state of mind? If you're Betty, a small-town waitress... [More]
Directed By: Neil LaBute

#9

Batman Begins (2005)
84%

#9
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

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 103502%
Critics Consensus: The Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious, thoughtful, and potent action film that concludes Christopher Nolan's franchise in spectacular fashion.
Synopsis: It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 100203%
Critics Consensus: Clint Eastwood's assured direction - combined with knockout performances from Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman - help Million Dollar Baby to transcend its clichés, and the result is deeply heartfelt and moving.
Synopsis: Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran Los Angeles boxing trainer who keeps almost everyone at arm's length, except his... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 96496%
Critics Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is an uplifting, deeply satisfying prison drama with sensitive direction and fine performances.
Synopsis: Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and... [More]
Directed By: Frank Darabont

#5

Glory (1989)
93%

#5
Adjusted Score: 96270%
Critics Consensus: Bolstered by exceptional cinematography, powerful storytelling, and an Oscar-winning performance by Denzel Washington, Glory remains one of the finest Civil War movies ever made.
Synopsis: Following the Battle of Antietam, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is offered command of the United States' first all-African-American... [More]
Directed By: Edward Zwick

#4

Gone Baby Gone (2007)
94%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101661%
Critics Consensus: Ben Affleck proves his directing credentials in this gripping dramatic thriller, drawing strong performances from the excellent cast and bringing working-class Boston to the screen.
Synopsis: Along with his girlfriend (Michelle Monaghan), a private detective (Casey Affleck) takes on the difficult task of searching for a... [More]
Directed By: Ben Affleck

#3

The Dark Knight (2008)
94%

#3
Adjusted Score: 107468%
Critics Consensus: Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.
Synopsis: With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) has... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#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

Unforgiven (1992)
96%

#1
Adjusted Score: 105273%
Critics Consensus: As both director and star, Clint Eastwood strips away decades of Hollywood varnish applied to the Wild West, and emerges with a series of harshly eloquent statements about the nature of violence.
Synopsis: When prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald (Anna Thomson) is disfigured by a pair of cowboys in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, her fellow brothel... [More]
Directed By: Clint Eastwood

This week at the movies, we’ve got an urban jungle (Zootopia, with voice performances by Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman), a city under siege (London Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart), and a reporter under fire (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, starring Tina Fey and Margot Robbie). What do the critics have to say?


Zootopia (2016) 98%

“Talking animals learning how to accept one another’s differences and get along” might sound like a storyline for the worst kind of lowest-common-denominator family-friendly fare, but for Disney’s Zootopia, it’s the springboard into one of the best-reviewed movies of the year — animated or otherwise. Ginnifer Goodwin stars as Judy Hopps, a bunny (don’t call her cute) whose dreams of a fulfilling career on the police force are foiled by a narrow-minded chief (Idris Elba) and an aggravating con artist fox (Jason Bateman). Judy finds herself embroiled in a missing-animals case that sends Zootopia bounding into noir territory, all while imparting an inclusive message in an admirably non-didactic way. The pundits say this Certified Fresh film is worlds deeper than your typical family film, and it’s sure to delight children and adults alike.


London Has Fallen (2016) 28%

Olympus Has Fallen might not be a masterpiece, but it was a better-than-average president-in-peril action flick with a terrific cast. Well, many of the principal stars — including Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, and Melissa Leo — are back for London Has Fallen, but critics say this middling sequel distinguishes itself mostly with absurd plotting and excessive jingoism. This time out, a terrorist group has mounted an attack on Britain’s  landmarks, and it’s up to Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Butler) to protect an assemblage of world leaders. The pundits say London has Fallen is preposterous, cliched, and excessively brutal, but fans of 1980s grade-B action films might find it passable.


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016) 67%

In Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Tina Fey plays an inexperienced war correspondent embedded in Afghanistan. It’s a setup that promises sharp satire, but critics say that despite a hilarious performance from its star, the film is sometimes a bit too glib for its own good. Loosely based upon a memoir by journalist Kim Barker, the film follows Fey’s misadventures through a war zone, in which she deals with culture shock, sexism, and ever-present danger. The pundits say Fey’s portrait of an intelligent woman dealing with self doubt helps ground a film that too often suffers from tonal uncertainty.


What’s Hot on TV

Hap and Leonard: Season 1 (2016) 88%

While the plot could be more concise, Hap and Leonard benefits from engaging characters and an absorbing, offbeat atmosphere.


The Real O'Neals: Season 1 (2016) 67%

Funny writing and a solid cast save The Real O’Neals from traditional sitcom perils.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Cemetery of Splendor (2015) , Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s drama about a military hospital that’s the site of otherworldly activity, is at 100 percent.
  • They Will Have to Kill Us First (2015) , a documentary about seven Malian musicians who fled from a jihadist takeover in the north of the country, is at 100 percent.
  • Trapped (2016) , a documentary about efforts by anti-abortion legislators to profoundly inconvenience providers and patients, is at 100 percent.
  • Road Games (2015) , a thriller about a Brit who encounters danger while hitchhiking in the French countryside, is at 100 percent.
  • Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015) , an observational drama about a young man who dreams of leaving his hometown but fears for his younger brother, is at 93 percent.
  • The Wave (2015) , a Norwegian thriller about a fjord collapse and the subsequent danger to a sleepy tourist town, is at 83 percent.
  • Emelie (2015) , a thriller about a babysitter who is not what she seems, is at 83 percent.
  • Colliding Dreams (2015) , a documentary about the history of Zionism, is at 83 percent.
  • The Boy and the Beast (2015) , an animated film about an orphan who becomes the apprentice of a fantastical beast, is at 82 percent.
  • Ava's Possessions (2015) , starring Louisa Krause and Jemima Kirke in a horror/comedy about a woman recovering from demonic possession, is at 75 percent.
  • Mekong Hotel (2012) , another drama from Apichatpong Weerasethakul, in which a young woman is visited by her vampire-like mother, is at 67 percent.
  • Knight of Cups (2015) , starring Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett in Terrence Malick‘s moody drama about a beleaguered Hollywood screenwriter, is at 53 percent.
  • The Other Side of the Door (2016) , starring Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sisto in a horror film about a family haunted by the spirit of a deceased child, is at 43 percent.
  • Hunted (2015) , starring Zoe Bell in the tale of a photographer who stumbles into the crossfire of a dangerous conflict, is at 40 percent.

Every year in November, the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California, attracts movie producers and distributors from all over the world. And in the week before the AFM, the Internet gets deluged with dozens of movie development stories. This was that week, and so, this week’s Ketchup is here to filter through all the noise (and a few Halloween-themed announcements, too). Included in the mix are a few sequels, and three different celebrity biopics.


This Week’s Top Story

LONDON HAS FALLEN: HOW CAN THE SAME STUFF HAPPEN TO THE SAME PRESIDENT TWICE?

There are (many) movies that, when you see them, or even just hear about them, you figure, “they want to franchise that.” Then, there are movies that seem pretty clearly to be “onesies.” Of course, such guesses can eventually be proven very wrong (for example, John Carter in the first case, and The Godfather in the second). When our year of White House invasion movies started with Olympus Has Fallen, this writer thought it was probably just a one time story. This writer was wrong. Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett and Radha Mitchell will reprise their roles in the sequel London Has Fallen. This time, the President of the United States (Eckhart) travels to London for the funeral of a prime minister, where he teams up with the head of the Secret Service (Butler) and an MI6 agent (to be cast) to fight the latest wave of evil terrorists. The scenario is ridiculous (you think?) but it does raise the question of whether world leaders would decline visits from the POTUS, or welcome him, in the hopes that while he’s there, he can fight off their local villains. Filming of London Has Fallen will start in London on May 5, 2014. The screenwriters of Olympus Has Fallen (Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger) are currently working on London Has Fallen (and also worked together on the upcoming The Expendables 3). Worldwide, Olympus Has Fallen has earned a box office total of $160 million from a filming budget of $70 million, and a RT Tomatometer “Rotten” score of 48%.

Fresh Developments This Week

#1 KICK-ASS STAR AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON CONFIRMED TO PLAY QUICKSILVER IN THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

It was nearly five months ago now that we first heard that Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson might be playing Quicksilver in the upcoming Marvel sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron. That casting, however, was never confirmed until this week. Quicksilver and his sister Scarlet Witch have been Avengers members (on and off) since the early 1960s, but they mostly remain fairly obscure to non comics fans. Their situation is also complicated by the fact that their father is Magneto, and 20th Century Fox is including Quicksilver in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (as one of several new movie mutants, including Bishop, Blink, Sunspot, and Warpath), to be played by Evan Peters. Quicksilver is a super speedster, and his sister has “hex spell powers,” but as part of their inclusion, the fact that they are mutants (or related to Magneto) will not be mentioned in the movie. Scarlet Witch will be played by Elizabeth Olsen when the movie opens in theaters on May 1, 2015.

#2 DIRECT-TO-VIDEO HORROR ANTHOLOGY TRICK ‘R TREAT TO GET DIRECT-TO-THEATERS SEQUEL

Usually, this goes the other way. Nothing about the release of the 2007 horror anthology Trick ‘r Treat really went the way it was supposed to. Produced by Bryan Singer, the movie was well received at a variety of horror-friendly festivals in 2007 and 2008, and then in 2009, Warner Premiere released Trick ‘r Treat direct-to-DVD in October, 2009. In the age of horror movies frequently opening to fairly significant box office numbers, the decision to have Trick ‘r Treat bypass theaters entirely boggled many minds. It’s not like it was an awful movie, with a “Fresh” RT Tomatometer score of 85%. Director Michael Dougherty never gave up, however, on the idea of Trick ‘r Treat 2, and this week, in the days leading up to Halloween, he announced that just such a movie is indeed in the works. The anthology sequel will tackle “classic movie monster” types not seen in the first movie. The movie still has a lot of steps to get through in the development process, but the goal is to release Trick ‘r Treat 2, in theaters, in October (which year it will be is the question).

#3 EMILE HIRSCH CAST TO PLAY SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE STAR JOHN BELUSHI

When people are trying to play “casting game” with real life figures like John Belushi (who progressively gained weight), there seems to be a tendency for people to want to pick a “fat guy.” That’s a little odd, because it’s not like gaining weight is really that difficult. There are also fun solutions like “fat suits” and belly pads. The producers of the long-in-development John Belushi biopic went this route this week with their announcement that Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) has been cast. This still-untitled film will be the second John Belushi biopic after Wired in 1989, which was surrounded by controversy, and featured Michael Chiklis (who eventually went on to play another comedian, Curly of the Three Stooges). The producers of this Belushi movie will include his widow Judy Belushi and his comedy and singing partner Dan Aykroyd (whose role is now being cast). Dan Aykroyd also made other biopic news this week by joining the James Brown movie Get On Up, which will be directed by Tate Taylor (The Help) and feature Chadwick Boseman as the Godfather of Soul. Don Cheadle is also looking to get into this burgeoning celebrity biopic resurgence, by making his directorial debut with Kill the Trumpet Player, which is described by some sources as being like a period “gangster movie” in which jazz musician Miles Davis is a character. Don Cheadle will also play Miles Davis, and Ewan McGregor and Zoe Saldana are reportedly in talks for supporting roles.

#4 CHANNING TATUM MAY STAR IN BAD ROMANCE FOR THE DIRECTOR OF 50/50 AND WARM BODIES

Channing Tatum is in talks to produce and star in a movie called Bad Romance. That title is pretty much all we know about the movie itself, so this is going to be a fairly slim story. But, you know, it involves Channing Tatum and a director with a good streak going right now, so the story still makes the cut in a busy week, regardless. That director (who will also write) is Jonathan Levine, whose last three films were The Wackness, 50/50, and Warm Bodies, the latter two of which were both Certified Fresh. Channing Tatum is also producing (and will star in) a biopic about 1970s daredevil stunt motorcyclist Evel Knievel.

#5 MICHAEL FASSBENDER TO STAR IN BRITISH GANGSTER MOVIE TRESPASS AGAINST US

Michael Fassbender continues to have an impressive career (let’s just ignore The Counselor). He’s currently in theaters with the critically acclaimed Twelve Years a Slave, and his half dozen movies awaiting release (or production) include the anticipated videogame adaptation Assassin’s Creed (which Fassbender is also producing), his second film as Magneto (X-Men: Days of Future Past), and a new version of William Shakespeare’s MacBeth. This week, Michael Fassbender added yet another project to the mix by starting negotiations to star in the British gangster movie Trespass Against Us, which will mark the feature debut of director Adam Smith, who does for 18th century economists what the director of Twelve Years a Slave did for, well, Steve McQueen. Trespass Against Us will span three generations of a British crime family, with Michael Fassbender basically being the “Michael” (Corleone) of the story: the son who wants get out of the family business. The British dance group The Chemical Brothers will be providing the film’s score.

#6 HOLLYWOOD’S MINING OF OLD TV SHOWS FINALLY GETS AROUND TO… IT TAKES A THIEF

As time continues on, old TV shows only get older, and if they didn’t get exposure through syndication or cable reruns, obscure titles are only likely to get more obscure. That is, of course, unless a Hollywood studio dusts off the property and turns it into the latest in the now long standing tradition of movies based on decades-old TV shows. The 1968-1970 ABC spy show It Takes a Thief definitely fits the bill. Robert Wagner starred in It Takes a Thief as a cat burglar (inspired by Cary Grant’s role in To Catch a Thief) who is recruited out of prison to come work for the “Secret Intelligence Agency.” And then he had 66 episodes of light-hearted adventure, with frequent guest appearances from old school Hollywood stars like Joesph Cotten, Bette Davis, and, for five episodes as his father, Fred Astaire. Universal Pictures is the studio starting development on a movie update for It Takes a Thief. It’s possible that this renewed interest in It Takes a Thief was inspired by the currently filming movie version of another 1960s spy TV show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., in which Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer are starring for Warner Bros.

#7 NOOMI RAPACE TO COSTAR WITH HERSELF, HERSELF, HERSELF, HERSELF, HERSELF, AND HERSELF

There might be something in the water in Norway that inspires bizarre genre movies. In recent years, Norway has given us both Trollhunter and director Tommy Wirkola, whose career started with the Nazi zombie movie Dead Snow, and continued with Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. For the sake of calling this story “Fresh,” we’re going to just ignore the really “Rotten” score of 15% for that one, because this film’s premise gets points for “ambition.” Wirkola’s next film will be in the “dystopian sci fi” genre, and will be called What Happened to Monday? Swedish actress Noomi Rapace will play all seven parts of a group of septuplets who have to struggle to hide themselves from detection in a future of “one child laws,” in which their very existence is a huge crime. Rapace’s previous roles include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and its two sequels), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Prometheus. The role was originally going to be male, but director Tommy Wirkola says, “I was struck by the complexities of having an actor portray seven characters and immediately knew Noomi was the ideal actor — male or female — to bring them to life.”

Rotten Ideas of the Week

#2 MERYL STREEP, CAMERON DIAZ, AND MILLA JOVOVICH IN… THE EXPENDABELLES?

It’s been about a year now since we first heard about plans for a “female version” of The Expendables. Speaking to Bulgarian press (where the movie is planned to be filmed), producer Avi Lerner revealed three of the actresses that he is currently negotiating with to potentially star in the movie. But, first, we must really adress the name of the movie, which ascends (or descends, depending upon your opinion) to heights of ridiculousness: The ExpendaBelles. Got that title in your mind? Okay, now imagine Meryl Streep agreeing to star in that movie. The other two names are Cameron Diaz and Milla Jovovich (who one has to guess is probably the most likely to actually sign, since she does already work in Europe on action movies a lot, anyway). The script for The ExpendaBelles was written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, who worked together before on Legally Blonde.

#1 DREAMWORKS PICKS UP THE MOVIE RIGHTS TO AN EIGHTH GRADER’S JOURNAL

Hollywood has spent a lot of time and energy in recent years trying to make movies out of things read by 8th grade girls, with a lot of the eventual movies not actually doing that well at the box office. This week, someone at DreamWorks hit upon the idea that maybe they were approaching this all the way around the wrong way. DreamWorks has instead picked up the movie rights to something that was *written* by an eighth grade girl. Now fifteen, Maya Van Wagenen was in eighth grade when she wrote a journal which is now being published as a “book” called Popular: One Geek’s Quest for the Impossible. The journal was themed around old magazine articles and books from the 1950s like Betty Cornell’s Glamour Guide for Teens, and attempted to apply their advice to her life in the early 2010s. To adapt Van Wagenen’s journal into a movie script, DreamWorks has hired TV showrunner and screenwriter Amy B. Harris, whose work has included both Sex and the City and the spinoff series The Carrie Diaries.

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

This week on home video, we’ve got a shootout at the White House and a couple of star-studded films — one of which did okay, and the other… not so much. Then we’ve got a little-seen indie film, a historical drama, and a handful of reissues. Read on for the full list:



Olympus Has Fallen

50%

The first of two similarly themed White House siege films to hit theaters this year, Olympus Has Fallen was also cheaper to make, scored just a hair better on the Tomatometer, and earned about $40 million more at the box office. Gerard Butler headlines the film as traumatized former Army Ranger and Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who springs into action when terrorist forces with ties to North Korea storm the White House and take the president (Aaron Eckhart) hostage. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Olympus features an impressive supporting cast that includes Ashley Judd, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, and Melissa Leo, among others, but it split critics, who all mostly agreed that the film was derivative and absurdly plotted, but some of whom admitted it was surprisingly entertaining. At 48% on the Tomatometer, Olympus Has Fallen isn’t so bad, as far as Die Hard action clones go, but don’t get your hopes up too high.



The Big Wedding

7%

Though their careers aren’t what they once were, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams still find ways to remind folks how talented they are from time to time. The Big Wedding, unfortunately, is not one of those times. Written and directed by Justin Zackham, whose most notable credit to date is the script for The Bucket List, The Big Wedding is a broad romantic comedy about a gaggle of relatives — blood and otherwise — trying to make nice for a weekend wedding between an adopted son (Ben Barnes) and his bride-to-be (Amanda Seyfried). Critics say the film tries to get some mileage out of its R rating, but its esteemed cast can only do so much with its contrived script. At 7% on the Tomatometer, The Big Wedding appears to have been a big mistake for all involved.



The Company You Keep

54%

Robert Redford directs and stars in this adaptation of the 2003 Neil Gordon novel of the same name, about a former militant activist who goes on the run when a young journalist discovers his true identity. Jim Grant (Redford), once a member of the anti-Vietnam War group the Weather Underground, has been dodging the FBI for 30 years following a bank robbery gone wrong, and he’s now a single father to an 11-year-old girl. When another former radical (Susan Sarandon) is arrested, an ambitious reporter (Shia LaBeouf) digs a little too deep into her past, forcing Jim to seek out the one person who can clear his name. The Company You Keep‘s supporting cast is chock full of amazing actors (Julie Christie, Richard Jenkins, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Elliott, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper, and more), but critics felt this political thriller could have been just a tad more thrilling. Redford’s assured directorial hand is certainly at work here, but many felt the story might have benefitted from a more powerful punch. At 56%, The Company You Keep isn’t exactly riveting stuff, but it pushes along by the strength of its cast.



What Maisie Knew

87%

The first Certified Fresh film to show up on this week’s list is an adaptation of a Henry James novel set in contemporary times; the fact that its themes are still quite relevant is a bit sad, maybe, but at least we get a pretty good movie out of it. What Maisie Knew stars Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as a middle-aged couple whose marriage is on the rocks. When the inevitable divorce occurs and both parents take new lovers, their young daughter Maisie (Onata Aprile) is caught in the middle, used by both parties as a bargaining chip. Considering its source material, it’s not surprising that the film’s script was one of the high points for critics; combine that with some solid acting and confident direction, and this underseen drama sits comfortably at 88% on the Tomatometer. It might be difficult to watch at times, but What Maisie Knew might be worth a viewing for its thoughtful portrayal of damaging relationships.



A Band Called Death

94%

If you’ve done any crate-digging in your time, you know there are mountains upon mountains of old singles and albums that were recorded by hopeful musicians that nobody remembers. The subjects of A Band Called Death would have been resigned to the same fate, had a 1974 demo tape not serendipitously found its way into the hands of the right people. This documentary profiles the history of the titular band, which began when three black teenage brothers in the early 1970s dared to pick up guitars and play hard rock when Motown was all the rage and disco was coming of age. From there, documentarians Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett go on to show how this band called Death experienced a revival when hordes of young listeners rediscovered their music. Subsequently, Death has been dubbed the first black punk band — and possibly the first punk band ever. A Band Called Death is Certified Fresh at 96% on the Tomatometer, with critics calling it both a fascinating portrait of the band and a testimony to the power of perseverance and family ties.

Also available this week:

  • Historical drama Emperor (30%), starring Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox in a portrayal of General Douglas MacArthur’s time in Japan following the end of Emperor Hirohito’s reign.
  • The classic Western Shane (97%), is newly available on Blu-ray.
  • A “Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition” of The Muppet Movie (90%) is available on DVD and Blu-ray, with a handful of bonus features.
  • John Frankenheimer’s disorienting 1966 paranoid thriller Seconds (88%), starring Rock Hudson as a man who undergoes a transformation in order to experience a “fresh start” in life, is newly available from the Criterion Collection.
  • Seminal ’80s film Flashdance (30%) is also available on Blu-ray.

This week in streaming video, we have a fresh horror/comedy available both in theaters and online on the same day, an award winning Australian musical dramedy, a straight-to-dvd animated movie, and a few good flicks from the 1980s, plus more. Read on to find out what’s available to watch right now.


Cockneys vs Zombies
76%

This still-in-theaters horror/comedy stars Harry Treadaway and Honor Blackman in the tale of a motley crew of working-class Brits working together to stave off a zombie attack.

Available now on: Amazon, Vudu


The Sapphires
91%

Based on a true story, this musical dramedy about a Australian Aboriginal soul group stars Chris O’Dowd as a boozy talent scout.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


What Maisie Knew
87%

Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan star in this modern-day adaptation of a Henry James novel about the effects of divorce on a seven-year-old girl.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Adventures in Zambezia

Jeff Goldblum, Abigail Breslin, Leonard Nimoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Richard E. Grant lend their vocal talents to this straight-to-DVD animated adventure about an adventurous young falcon.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Olympus Has Fallen
50%

Gerard Butler stars as a disgraced secret service agent who’s called into action when the president (Aaron Eckhart) is held hostage in the White House by a group of ruthless terrorists.

Available now on: iTunes, Vudu


Do the Right Thing
93%

A landmark of 1980s cinema, Do the Right Thing is a tale of passion and and anger that comes to a boil on a very hot summer’s day in New York City.

Available now on: Netflix


The Breakfast Club
89%

John Hughes directs the Brat Pack in the definitive 1980s coming-of-age comedy, about a mismatched group of high school students who bond in detention.

Available now on: Netflix


Born on the Fourth of July
85%

Oliver Stone’s searing biopic of Vietnam War vet-turned-antiwar activist Ron Kovic garnered an Oscar nomination for Tom Cruise.

Available now on: Netflix


Down the Delta
79%

The great poet Maya Angelou directs an all star cast that includes Alfre Woodard, Esther Rolle, Loretta Devine, and Wesley Snipes in this drama about familial trials and tribulations in Mississippi.

Available now on: Netflix


Clockers
72%

Spike Lee’s Clockers is a neo-noir/crime procedural about a murder suspect (Mekhi Phifer) and the detective (Harvey Keitel) who thinks there’s more to the story than the kid is telling him.

Available now on: Netflix

This week at the movies, we’ve got a stone-age family (The Croods, with voice work by Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone); secret servicemen (Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart); an Ivy League application reader (Admission, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd); and girls gone wild (Spring Breakers, starring Selena Gomez and James Franco). What do the critics have to say?



The Croods

72%

Picking up where The Flintstones left off, The Croods is a comedy adventure about a Stone Age family. And critics say that while the storytelling in this animated feature isn’t highly evolved, it’s sweet, funny, and visually inventive. After the cave they call home is destroyed, a stone-age family journeys across its pre-historic environs, encountering wild beasts and learning to love and trust each other along the way. The pundits say The Croods lacks sharply-drawn characters, but it’s charming and exciting enough to delight both kids and their parents. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a look at the history of DreamWorks animation, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Nicolas Cage’s best-reviewed movies.)



Olympus Has Fallen

50%

Is Olympus Has Fallen an enjoyable, over-the-top action flick or a jingoistic Die Hard ripoff? Well, it depends on which critic you ask. Gerard Butler stars as a disgraced secret service agent who’s called into action when the president (Aaron Eckhart) is held hostage in the White House by a group of ruthless terrorists. The pundits are pretty split on Olympus Has Fallen: some say it’s action-packed escapist fun, while others find it to be an excessively violent, by-the-numbers thriller. (Check out director Antoine Fuqua’s Five Favorite Films.)



Admission

39%

Tina Fey and Paul Rudd in a romantic comedy? Sounds like a sure thing. Unfortunately, critics say the likable leads can only do so much with Admission‘s meandering script. Fey stars as a Princeton admissions officer burdened by the stresses of her romantic and professional life. She takes a road trip to see an old college classmate (Rudd) who’s now an unconventional teacher with a gifted but eccentric student who could use some help getting into college. The pundits say Admission is slight stuff, and though the fine cast keeps things watchable, the film veers unevenly between drama and comedy without finding a consistent tone.



Spring Breakers

67%

Director Harmony Korine (Gummo) is known for pushing boundaries, but with Spring Breakers, he’s made something approximating a mainstream movie. Critics say it’s a pretty good fit; Spring Breakers is often debauched and trashy, but it’s also visceral and hypnotic. Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens play members of a group of college girls who head to Florida to party but quickly get into trouble after meeting a rapper/criminal (James Franco). The pundits say Spring Breakers is undeniably lurid and occasionally monotonous, but it’s also thrilling and wildly unconventional. (Check out our interview with Korine here.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Gimme The Loot, a drama about a pair of graffiti artists looking to raise funds for a bold act of tagging, is at 100 percent.
  • My Brother The Devil, a drama about a pair of siblings who each find themselves drawn into the world of London’s street gangs, is at 100 percent.
  • 108 (Cuchillo de palo), a documentary about gay rights in Paraguay, is at 100 percent.
  • The Sapphires, a musical dramedy about a Australian Aboriginal soul group, is Certified Fresh at 92 percent.
  • Eden, starring Jamie Chung in a drama about a woman abducted into a human trafficking ring, is at 85 percent.
  • Starbuck, a comedy about a fourtysomething slacker who discovers he’s fathered hundreds of children through sperm back donations, is at 63 percent.
  • Hunky Dory, starring Minnie Driver in a comedy about a high school drama teacher who attempts to stage a glam rock version of The Tempest, is at 58 percent.
  • Come Out And Play, starring Vinessa Shaw in a horror film about a young couple on vacation who discover a band of possessed children, is at 50 percent.
  • Everybody Has a Plan, starring Viggo Mortensen in a drama about a man who assumes the identity of his dead brother and finds himself in the midst of criminality, is at 20 percent.
  • Love And Honor, starring Liam Hemsworth and Teresa Palmer in a drama about a soldier who goes AWOL to win back the girl who dumped him, is at 14 percent.

After rising through the ranks of music video auteurs in the 1990s, director Antoine Fuqua has carved out a feature career behind the camera on a series of tough action thrillers, including Brooklyn’s Finest, The Replacement Killers and 2001’s Training Day — for which Denzel Washington took home the Best Actor Oscar. This week he’s calling the shots on the year’s first White House invasion epic Olympus Has Fallen, a sort of Die Hard-in Washington actioner starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart. We caught up with Fuqua recently, where he talked about his five all-time favorite movies.

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972; 100% Tomatometer)



The Godfather was one of those movies where, you know, I didn’t realize what it meant back then when I was younger, and you love it because it’s so gangster, in a way — it’s just as gangster as it gets. But then as you get older you realize it’s about something bigger. The Godfather‘s about choosing business over family; you know [in Part II] when Michael kills his brother in the boat, and you realize what that choice was. It really stuck with me, you know, the bigger picture of what this country was built on and the choices that were made. So that movie I love. And obviously there’s the look of it and everything; that’s just a beautiful film in many ways.

Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979; 99% Tomatometer)



Apocalypse Now, to me, is one of those movies where visually, I still watch that now and go, “How did he pull that off?” I’ve heard all the stories — the heart attacks, the house up for sale, you know, them going into bankruptcy — all the craziness, and I still watch that movie and go, “How the f-ck did they do that?” I mean, you’ve got cows being pulled in the air, and the whole military, helicopters flying everywhere… it’s so amazing. It should be a complete disaster. It’s the best example of “Just stick to it, and keep going,” you know. I just love that movie, and some of the memorable performances were just amazing. And it’s still one of the most beautiful films ever shot — no CG; all real.

Scarface (Brian De Palma, 1983; 89% Tomatometer)



I love Scarface. First of all, it’s operatic and it’s funny, to me — Scarface is hilarious. It’s got amazing humor in it. I don’t know if everybody really got the humor when it first came out. It’s about the American Dream. I love the fact that it’s like, if they’re not gonna give it to you, you gotta take it. I’ve grown up watching all the gangster movies and that’s really the essence of all of them: if somebody’s not gonna give it to you, you’ve gotta kick the door down. That’s what that movie is really all about. Both of them [De Palma’s and Howard Hawks’ 1932 original] — both of them were about that. So that’s my love for Scarface; that’s the short answer.

The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966; 99% Tomatometer)



It’s another one of those movies that just feels so real. You watch those scenes and you’ve got tanks and armies, you know. It’s the first film I saw, as far as docudrama film style — you know, hand-held, very real, in the streets, in the world. And if I’m not mistaken, he only made a couple of films; the filmmaker made it and then he disappeared. He stopped making [fiction] movies. He made one with Marlon Brando and then that was kind of it. But the fact that he pulled off this movie — it’s a masterpiece. I remember watching the movie and feeling like it was a documentary, it felt so real. It’s so amazing. The performances of the actors, everything — it’s mind-blowing when you watch it.

Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973; 98% Tomatometer)



I just love Mean Streets, period. I grew up in my own version of that. Scorsese is a hero of mine. The movie’s really about him, you know, as a filmmaker — you watch Harvey’s performance when he goes to the church and he’s there on his knees in his version of praying, and you hear the voice-over. What’s amazing about that movie is — now that I’ve met Scorsese a few times — I can see that he was sort of in that world. He’s said it a few times: “I wasn’t sure if I was gonna become a priest or a gangster.” [Laughs] And when you see the movie, you see him, and you get that. You see Harvey’s character is a little bit of a priest, he’s trying to be a good guy but he’s in a world of mobsters and he needs to be accepted by that world. I love the elements that Scorsese captured. I love, again, that sort of brave filmmaking — they didn’t have any money to do a parade, but he just captured that ceremony, you know. They put cameras on the roof and shot down. They put you in the middle of a world and you felt like you were really in it. And De Niro, of course, is genius. It’s ridiculous how good he is. I could go on and on about why I love those movies, as far as technically, and performance-wise — but that’s the basic essence.


Olympus Has Fallen is in theaters this week.


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