All Christian Bale Movies Ranked

Welcome to Rotten Tomatoes, where we’ve got Bale by the barrel! There’s skinny Bale (The Machinist) and big Bale (American Hustle), edgy Bale (The Fighter) and business Bale (American Psycho). Not to mention two varieties of P.O.W. Bale (Empire of the Sun, Rescue Dawn)! We’ve got cowl Bale (The Dark Knight) if that’s your fever, along with cool Bale (Equilibrium) and magic Bale (The Prestige). Then there’s bard Bale (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) if you’re a person of letters, which we suggest pairing with a biblical Bale (Exodus: Gods and Kings). A Christian Bale, if you please.

Bale’s been nominated for an Oscar four times (winning in 2011 for The Fighter), with the latest in 2019 for Vice. Ford v Ferrari wasn’t nominated for any of its performances, though it did land one for Best Picture. And now he’s in talks to jump from the world of DC to Marvel for a role in Thor: Love and Thunder. Come what may in 2021: First, we’re ranking the best Christian Bale movies (and the worst) by Tomatometer!

#42
Adjusted Score: 31336%
Critics Consensus: The cinematography is gorgeous, but the movie plays it fast and loose with history and the novel it was adapted from. Mostly, the movie fails because the romance between the leads strains credulity and the story is largely uninvolving.
Synopsis: An epic tale about the enduring hope of love and the devastating brutality of war, set amid the Italian occupation... [More]
Directed By: John Madden

#41
#41
Adjusted Score: 38870%
Critics Consensus: While sporadically stirring, and suitably epic in its ambitions, Exodus: Gods and Kings can't quite live up to its classic source material.
Synopsis: Egyptian Princes Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) are raised together as brothers. When Ramses becomes pharaoh, Moses is... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 43830%
Critics Consensus: With storytelling as robotic as the film's iconic villains, Terminator Salvation offers plenty of great effects but lacks the heart of the original films.
Synopsis: Although Judgment Day has in fact occurred, the future for which John Connor (Christian Bale) was prepared has been partly... [More]
Directed By: McG

#39

Newsies (1992)
39%

#39
Adjusted Score: 41683%
Critics Consensus: Extra! Extra! Read all about Newsies instead of suffering through its underwhelming musical interludes, although Christian Bale makes for a spirited hero.
Synopsis: In this musical, homeless New York City newsboy Jack "Cowboy" Kelly (Christian Bale) befriends two newcomers to his trade, brothers... [More]
Directed By: Kenny Ortega

#38

Equilibrium (2002)
41%

#38
Adjusted Score: 42450%
Critics Consensus: Equilibrium is a reheated mishmash of other sci-fi movies.
Synopsis: In a futuristic world, a regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and... [More]
Directed By: Kurt Wimmer

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 42729%
Critics Consensus: Zhang Yimou's stylistic flair is in full bloom during The Flowers of War, but his colorful treatment of a historical genocide ultimately does a disservice to the horrifying events' inherent drama.
Synopsis: An American (Christian Bale) tries to protect a group of Chinese students and prostitutes from Japanese soldiers in 1937 Nanjing.... [More]
Directed By: Zhang Yimou

#36

Reign of Fire (2002)
42%

#36
Adjusted Score: 46560%
Critics Consensus: Reign of Fire gains some altitude with its pyrotechnic action and a smolderingly campy Matthew McConaughey, but the feature's wings are clipped by a derivative script and visual effects that fizzle out.
Synopsis: In present-day London, 12-year-old Quinn watches as his mother wakes an enormous fire-breathing beast from its centuries-long slumber. Twenty years... [More]
Directed By: Rob Bowman

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 49154%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful, indulgently heady, and pretentious, The Portrait of a Lady paints Campion's directorial shortcomings in too bright a light.
Synopsis: Ms. Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) isn't afraid to challenge societal norms. Impressed by her free spirit, her kindhearted cousin writes... [More]
Directed By: Jane Campion

#34

Knight of Cups (2015)
47%

#34
Adjusted Score: 57171%
Critics Consensus: Knight of Cups finds Terrence Malick delving deeper into the painterly visual milieu he's explored in recent efforts, but even hardcore fans may struggle with the diminishing narrative returns.
Synopsis: A Los Angeles screenwriter (Christian Bale) indulges his wild side with a stripper (Teresa Palmer), a model (Freida Pinto) and... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#33

Harsh Times (2005)
48%

#33
Adjusted Score: 51716%
Critics Consensus: Despite a dedicated performance by Christian Bale, Harsh Times suffers from a heavy-handed and overly bleak plot.
Synopsis: Jim (Christian Bale) is a Gulf War veteran and he believes it is his sworn duty to protect Americans by... [More]
Directed By: David Ayer

#32

The Promise (2016)
51%

#32
Adjusted Score: 61641%
Critics Consensus: The Promise wastes an outstanding cast and powerful real-life story on a love triangle that frustratingly fails to engage.
Synopsis: Brilliant medical student Michael (Oscar Isaac) meets beautiful dance instructor Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) in late 1914. Their shared Armenian... [More]
Directed By: Terry George

#31
Adjusted Score: 35797%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1880s London, pornographic bookseller Verloc (Bob Hoskins) is a double agent for the Russian government, providing information to Chief... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Hampton

#30
Adjusted Score: 57812%
Critics Consensus: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle brings impressive special effects to bear on the darker side of its classic source material, but loses track of the story's heart along the way.
Synopsis: Human child Mowgli is raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh... [More]
Directed By: Andy Serkis

#29

Swing Kids (1993)
56%

#29
Adjusted Score: 55745%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: American big-band jazz beats in the hearts of young German friends (Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, Frank Whaley) confronted by... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 60866%
Critics Consensus: While it may not make the most of its incredible cast, Out of the Furnace is still so packed with talent that it's hard to turn away.
Synopsis: Steelworker Russell Baze (Christian Bale) works a dead-end job and holds tight to his sense of family, duty and loyalty.... [More]
Directed By: Scott Cooper

#27

Pocahontas (1995)
55%

#27
Adjusted Score: 58350%
Critics Consensus: Pocahontas means well, and has moments of startling beauty, but it's largely a bland, uninspired effort, with uneven plotting and an unfortunate lack of fun.
Synopsis: This is the Disney animated tale of the romance between a young American Indian woman named Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) and... [More]

#26

Velvet Goldmine (1998)
59%

#26
Adjusted Score: 59975%
Critics Consensus: Velvet Goldmine takes a visual and narrative approach befitting its larger-than-life subject, although it's still disappointingly less than the sum of its parts.
Synopsis: Glam rock star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Myers) plays a character on stage named Maxwell Demon who predicts his death... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

#25

The New World (2005)
63%

#25
Adjusted Score: 69488%
Critics Consensus: Despite arresting visuals and strong lead performances, The New World suffers from an unfocused narrative that will challenge viewers' attention spans over its 2 1/2 hours.
Synopsis: Arriving with a British expedition in Virginia in 1607, Capt. John Smith (Colin Farrell) is captured by Native Americans. His... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick

#24

Metroland (1997)
64%

#24
Adjusted Score: 65094%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In late-1970s suburban London, Chris (Christian Bale) and Marion (Emily Watson) have settled into a comfortable yet all-too-predictable middle-class existence.... [More]
Directed By: Philip Saville

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 65488%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Bobby (Christian Bale) is a mentally handicapped young man with an affinity for animals. He runs away from home after... [More]
Directed By: Jeremy Thomas

#22

Vice (2018)
65%

#22
Adjusted Score: 87578%
Critics Consensus: Vice takes scattershot aim at its targets, but writer-director Adam McKay hits some satisfying bullseyes -- and Christian Bale's transformation is a sight to behold.
Synopsis: Gov. George W. Bush of Texas picks Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton Co., to be his Republican running mate... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#21
Adjusted Score: 70062%
Critics Consensus: Faultless production and shining performances display the Bard's talent propitiously.
Synopsis: This version of the renowned comedic play finds the world of humans intersecting with the realm of magic. The lovely... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman

#20

Shaft (2000)
67%

#20
Adjusted Score: 70184%
Critics Consensus: With a charismatic lead, this new Shaft knows how to push the right buttons.
Synopsis: Crooked cops on the take -- small-time drug lords -- sleazy informers and sadistic rich kids ready to kill ---... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton

#19

Public Enemies (2009)
68%

#19
Adjusted Score: 78785%
Critics Consensus: Michael Mann's latest is a competent and technically impressive gangster flick with charismatic lead performances, but some may find the film lacks truly compelling drama.
Synopsis: Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger's (Johnny Depp) charm and audacity endear him to much of America's downtrodden public, but he's... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann

#18

Laurel Canyon (2002)
69%

#18
Adjusted Score: 71398%
Critics Consensus: Though the movie itself is flawed, McDormand is fantastic as Jane.
Synopsis: Sam (Christian Bale) and his fiancée, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), move to Los Angeles for the summer to stay at the... [More]
Directed By: Lisa Cholodenko

#17

American Psycho (2000)
69%

#17
Adjusted Score: 74646%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron

#16

Hostiles (2017)
71%

#16
Adjusted Score: 83456%
Critics Consensus: Hostiles benefits from stunning visuals and a solid central performance from Christian Bale, both of which help elevate its uneven story.
Synopsis: In 1892, legendary Army Capt. Joseph Blocker reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back... [More]
Directed By: Scott Cooper

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 79377%
Critics Consensus: One of Steven Spielberg's most ambitious efforts of the 1980s, Empire of the Sun remains an underrated gem in the director's distinguished filmography.
Synopsis: Jamie Graham (Christian Bale), a privileged English boy, is living in Shanghai when the Japanese invade and force all foreigners... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg

#14

The Prestige (2006)
76%

#14
Adjusted Score: 83670%
Critics Consensus: Full of twists and turns, The Prestige is a dazzling period piece that never stops challenging the audience.
Synopsis: An illusion gone horribly wrong pits two 19th-century magicians, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman), against each... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

#13

I'm Not There (2007)
77%

#13
Adjusted Score: 83263%
Critics Consensus: I'm Not There's unique editing, visuals, and multiple talented actors portraying Bob Dylan make for a deliciously unconventional experience. Each segment brings a new and fresh take on Dylan's life.
Synopsis: Several actors portray legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan at different stages in his personal life and career. In 1959 a guitar-strumming... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

#12

The Machinist (2004)
77%

#12
Adjusted Score: 80907%
Critics Consensus: Brad Anderson's dark psychological thriller about a sleepless factory worker is elevated by Christian Bale astonishingly committed performance.
Synopsis: Factory worker Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) suffers from insomnia so severe that his condition has taken its toll on his... [More]
Directed By: Brad Anderson

#11

Batman Begins (2005)
84%

#11
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

#10
#10
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

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 92524%
Critics Consensus: Exquisitely illustrated by master animator Miyazaki, Howl's Moving Castle will delight children with its fantastical story and touch the hearts and minds of older viewers as well.
Synopsis: Sophie (Emily Mortimer) has an uneventful life at her late father's hat shop, but all that changes when she befriends... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki

#8

The Big Short (2015)
89%

#8
Adjusted Score: 101774%
Critics Consensus: The Big Short approaches a serious, complicated subject with an impressive attention to detail -- and manages to deliver a well-acted, scathingly funny indictment of its real-life villains in the bargain.
Synopsis: In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting.... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

#7

3:10 to Yuma (2007)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 97719%
Critics Consensus: This remake of a classic Western improves on the original, thanks to fiery performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as well as sharp direction from James Mangold.
Synopsis: Outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) terrorizes 1800s Arizona, especially the Southern Railroad, until he is finally captured. Wade must be... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#6

Rescue Dawn (2006)
90%

#6
Adjusted Score: 94180%
Critics Consensus: Director Werner Herzog has once again made a compelling tale of man versus nature, and Christian Bale completely immerses himself in the role of fighter pilot (and prisoner of war) Dieter Dengler.
Synopsis: During the Vietnam War, Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a U.S. fighter pilot, is shot down over Laos and taken captive... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#5

The Fighter (2010)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 99782%
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
Synopsis: For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#4

Little Women (1994)
93%

#4
Adjusted Score: 94168%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a powerhouse lineup of talented actresses, Gillian Armstrong's take on Louisa May Alcott's Little Women proves that a timeless story can succeed no matter how many times it's told.
Synopsis: In this 1994 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic, the March sisters confront growing pains, financial shortages, family tragedies and... [More]
Directed By: Gillian Armstrong

#3

American Hustle (2013)
92%

#3
Adjusted Score: 103254%
Critics Consensus: Riotously funny and impeccably cast, American Hustle compensates for its flaws with unbridled energy and some of David O. Russell's most irrepressibly vibrant direction.
Synopsis: Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) dabbles in forgery and loan-sharking, but when he falls for fellow grifter Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams),... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell

#2

Ford v Ferrari (2019)
92%

#2
Adjusted Score: 114308%
Critics Consensus: Ford v Ferrari delivers all the polished auto action audiences will expect -- and balances it with enough gripping human drama to satisfy non-racing enthusiasts.
Synopsis: American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold

#1

The Dark Knight (2008)
94%

#1
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

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Friday’s Gods of Egypt may have drawn early criticism for its mostly white cast, but moviemakers have always viewed the country with a fantastical bent. From biblical stories to historic archaeological delights to springboards into tall science fiction tales, this week’s 24 Frames takes a look at all that, along with modern and true-to-life depictions of Egypt as it is today.



Insurgent

28%

Rating: PG-13, for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language.

The sequel to last year’s Divergent might be even more violent and intense than its predecessor. It’s also oppressively dour. But because the film carries a PG-13 rating — to make it accessible to the tweens and young teens who also were the target audience for the YA novel source material — there’s minimal bloodshed accompanying the massive gunfire. This time, the rebellious Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her boyfriend, Four (Theo James), are hiding out with some other folks, trying to figure out how best to take down the totalitarian dictator Jeanine (Kate Winslet). But Jeanine is after Tris, too, to put her through a series of simulations which will open a magical box that contains an important message, or something. This sometimes means Tris must endure harrowing imagery and fight dangerous battles. In real life, she and Four also have sex, but we don’t really see anything; the act is implied through kissing and naked backs. If your kids have seen the first film, they’re in for a lot of the same here.

New On DVD:



Penguins of Madagascar

73%

Rating: PG, for mild action and some rude humor.

The playful penguins who stole every scene in the Madagascar series have gotten a movie of their own. Part origin story and part spin-off, it explains how Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private became globetrotting super spies and it follows them on an all-new adventure. John Malkovich lends his rich voice to the shape-shifting bad guy they’re after: an angry octopus who’s pretending to be a mad scientist. He kidnaps penguins from zoos and aquariums around the world with plans to inject them with a serum that will turn them into hideous versions of themselves. He hopes they’ll seem less appealing to the masses, but they actually become more silly than frightening. The penguins end up in several dangerous situations but they always find a way to escape. There’s a lot of silly spanking among the animals as well as some fart jokes and flatulence puns, but it’s the kind of harmless, puerile humor that routinely cracks kids up. Nothing here is shocking or inappropriate. This is totally suitable for all ages, although a lot of the pop-culture gags are just for us grown-ups.



Annie

28%

Rating: PG, for some mild language and rude humor.

This movie is terrible. But if it’s the only family-friendly film available for rental… well, it’s still terrible. It’s a modern-day version of the enduring stage musical, which has been moved from the Great Depression to present day Manhattan. This time, the plucky orphan Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) moves in with a billionaire cell-phone mogul (Jamie Foxx) and melts his heart… in song! The celebration of materialism is seriously amped up here, which is sort of depressing. Annie enjoys a helicopter ride around New York City and hands out free phones to her foster-kid friends. Cameron Diaz is rather shrill and inept as Miss Hannigan but she’s not as intimidating as she’s been in previous versions; she’s more pathetic than anything else. And Annie briefly finds herself in danger when she goes off with a couple who pretend to be her birth parents, but she’s not hurt in any way. Suitable for all ages.



Exodus: Gods and Kings

30%

Rating: PG, for violence including battle sequences and intense images.

Mature tweens and older will probably be fine watching this massive biblical epic from director Ridley Scott, which makes his Oscar-winning Gladiator look like a tiny indie by comparison. With the use of massive visual effects, Scott tells the Old Testament story of Moses leading hundreds of thousands of Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to freedom. That means plagues — lots and lots of plagues — from frogs to locusts to boils. (The boils are especially gross.) And because everything has gotten so chaotic and overpopulated under the reign of the inept Ramses (Joel Edgerton), slaves are thrown into enormous fires to thin out the city. There are also several elaborate battle scenes, perilous chariot chases and a pummeling wall of water once Moses (Christian Bale) has finished parting the Red Sea. And be warned: besides the violence and the subject matter, the film runs nearly two and a half hours, which might be quite a slog for younger viewers.

This week on home video, we’ve got an Oscar nominee, a surprisingly successful animated spinoff, a Biblical epic, and an ill-advised remake. Then we’ve got a few decent choices in the smaller releases, including Chris Rock’s Certified Fresh comedy and a couple of selections from the Criterion Collection. Read on for details:


Annie (2014) 28%

First it was a comic strip, then it was a musical, and then it was a film (twice), so it’s sort of understandable that the makers of 2014’s Annie — whose producers include such names as Will Smith and Jay-Z — would want to do things a little differently this time. Plus, they hired a few talented actors and the adorable star of Beasts of the Southern Wild to play the titular orphan. What could go wrong? A lot, according to the critics, who saddled the film with a 28 percent Tomatometer score for its reliance on clichés, syrupy sweetness, oddly staged musical numbers, and crass messaging. Quvenzhané Wallis is as charismatic as ever as the little girl who’s swept into the political machinations of wealthy mayoral candidate Benjamin Stacks (Jamie Foxx), who initially uses Annie for her PR value but ultimately falls for her charm. But essentially everything else about this production rubbed critics the wrong way, which renders this remake a missed opportunity.


Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) 28%

Speaking of missed opportunities, who could have predicted a biblical epic directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale would have misfired as badly as Exodus: Gods and Kings did? Maybe people were burnt out on Old Testament stories by high profile directors, having already witnessed what Darren Aronofsky did with Noah back in March. Whatever the case, Scott’s retelling of Moses’ (Bale) journey was poorly received by both critics and audiences alike, earning a lukewarm box office total and earning a 28 percent score to match Annie‘s. Exodus has its moments, critics said, but the updated visual effects and few story embellishments (Moses as a sword-wielding general?) weren’t quite enough to erase memories of The Ten Commandments, and the newer film suffered from the comparison. For those who are interested, however, the Blu-ray release features a historical guide, a number of deleted or extended scenes, and few featurettes exclusive to the 3D release if you decide to go that route.


Song of the Sea (2014) 98%

Back in 2009, director Tomm Moore’s film The Secret of Kells earned an Oscar nod for Best Animated Feature, thanks to an enchanting mythological tale and its unique, hand-drawn art style. Earlier this year, he repeated the feat with Song of the Sea, which employed those same signature elements en route to an impressive Certified Fresh 98 percent on the Tomatometer and another Academy Award nomination. Song explores the Celtic myth of the selkie, a creature that takes the form of a seal underwater and that of a human on land, as told through the story of a young boy named Ben and his young sister Saoirse, who live in a lighthouse with their father. When Saoirse discovers a shell flute that plays a mystical tune, they learn a magical secret about their mother, who passed away years earlier. Song of the Sea is visually spectacular and rich in story, which makes it both an artful film and an excellent choice for family viewing.


Penguins of Madagascar (2014) 72%

DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar franchise is one of the rare few that has gotten better with each installment, and it’s been so successful that a few of the side characters — The Penguins of Madagascar — got their own TV show on Nickelodeon. In 2014, those pesky penguins even got their own movie, and it turned out pretty good. Unrelated in plot to the TV series, Penguins of Madagascar follows Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private as they attempt to thwart the nefarious plans of Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), an octopus with an anti-penguin vendetta, after a dashing wolf (Benedict Cumberbatch) recruits them into his super-secret spy organization. Thanks to its vibrant colors, brisk pacing, and manic silliness, Penguins of Madagascar entertained most critics and earned a 72 percent on the Tomatometer. Its constant, frantic energy might be a bit too much for some adults to handle, but it’s harmless fun that will certainly keep the kids occupied for a while.


 

ALSO AVAILABLE THIS WEEK:

The Way He Looks (2014) (91 percent), a Brazilian coming-of-age story about the struggles of a blind teenager.
Top Five (2014) (88 percent), Chris Rock’s Certified Fresh comedy about a comedian (Rock) who reflects on his life as he’s being interviewed by a journalist (Rosario Dawson).
Son of a Gun (2014) (60 percent), starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites in an Australian crime thriller about a petty criminal on the run with a notorious armed robber after the pair break out of jail.
Vice (2015) (0 percent), starring Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane in a futuristic thriller about a lifelike robot who becomes self-aware and escapes from a pleasure resort.
The Soft Skin (1964) (91 percent), François Truffaut’s 1964 drama about a married literary scholar who engages in an affair with a stewardess, gets a new Criterion Blu-ray this week.

Ridley Scott’s latest historical epic – the Moses tale Exodus: Gods and Kings – opened at number one at the North American box office topping another sluggish frame. The Fox release debuted to an estimated $24.5M from 3,503 locations for a good $6,994 average. It was a nice start for a non-franchise film debuting in mid-December, a typically slow period when Christmas shopping distracts a large number of adults.

Reviews were generally negative for the Christian Bale-led pic which had 3D and premium large format options. The opening was about even with the $25.7M of 2007’s The Golden Compass, another effects-heavy adventure film released in the first half of December. That big-budget movie finished with a domestic total less than three times its opening weekend figure. Older males made up the primary audience for Exodus, as expected. Studio research showed that 54% of the audience was male and 65% was over 25. 44% of the gross came from the 3D screens.

The ancient Egypt-set film opened well behind the $43.7M of March’s Biblical adventure Noah starring Russell Crowe, however it was never expected to reach that level due in part to a slower play period and harsher reviews. The opening weekend of Exodus accounted for 30% of all ticket sales across the entire Top 20 compared to 32% for Noah’s debut.

The road ahead for Moses could be troubling for two main reasons. First, paying audiences are not exactly liking what Scott has put together. The CinemaScore grade was a lackluster B- and the audience score from Flixster users is a weak 40%. Secondly, direct competition comes in the form of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies which will steal away moviegoers looking for epic effects-driven adventure on the big screen when it unspools on Tuesday night with 7pm shows. International markets will be key for a film like Exodus which already began to open in overseas territories a week before North America. Those markets grossed $18.8M this weekend with many more key debuts to still come from now through late January.

After ruling the box office for three weeks, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 fell to the runner-up spot and took in an estimated $13.2M which was roughly the same as what Catching Fire collected in its fourth frame last year. Off 40%, Mockingjay bumped its domestic cume up to $277.4M which is still 22% behind the pace of Fire at the same point in its run. Overseas sales for the latest Katniss pic rose to $334M putting the worldwide tally at an impressive $611.4M with China still to open in February.

Dropping 33% to an estimated $7.3M was the DreamWorks Animation offering Penguins of Madagascar which has done $58.8M to date. The spinoff released by Fox is now running 5% behind the toon studio’s Rise of the Guardians from this same time period two years ago which stood at a better $61.8M on its way to a disappointing $103.4M final.

Opening close behind in fourth place was Chris Rock’s acclaimed comedy Top Five with an estimated $7.2M from just 979 theaters for a strong $7,365 average. Paramount bought the rights for $12.5M at the Toronto International Film Festival just a few months ago and put the theatrical release plan on the fast track. The R-rated pic features many popular comedians in supporting roles and cameos giving it an ample amount of starpower. With stellar reviews and a wider expansion planned, Top Five could have a bright future over the weeks ahead during the holidays.

Disney’s animated hit Big Hero 6 held up well again dipping 24% to an estimated $6.1M in its sixth weekend for a new cume of $185.3M. With fantastic word-of-mouth and no new toons opening until January, look for Baymax to enjoy a lucrative run through the Christmas holidays.

Also in its sixth round, the sci-fi epic Interstellar grossed an estimated $5.5M, off 29%, for a new total of $166.8M for Paramount. Crude comedy sequels followed. Horrible Bosses 2 fell 45% to an estimated $4.6M for Warner Bros. while Dumb and Dumber To dropped 35% to an estimated $2.8M for Universal. New sums are $43.6M and $82.1M, respectively.

Rounding out the top ten were awards contenders gunning for acting kudos. The Mr. and Mrs. Hawking pic The Theory of Everything expanded and boosted its theater count by 48% allowing the weekend gross to ease by just 5% to an estimated $2.5M. Focus has collected a solid $17.1M for the Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture – Drama. Reese Witherspoon earned a Globe nod for Best Actress for her new film Wild which expanded from 21 to 116 locations and entered the top ten with an estimated $1.6M. Averaging a solid $13,362 per site, the Fox Searchlight release will continue to roll out widening to over 850 locations nationwide next weekend.

In specialty release, Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Imitation Game expanded from eight to 25 locations and remained very strong with an estimated $875,000 for a sturdy $35,000 average. The Weinstein Co. has taken in $2M and is slowly rolling the acclaimed awards contender out. Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film Inherent Vice got off to a stellar platform start with an estimated $330,000 from just five theaters for a sensational $66,000 average. The results were half of what the director’s last film The Master did in its platform launch two years ago – $147,262 average also in five sites. Still, hardcore fans came out and the weeks ahead will see it compete with several other awards contenders in major markets in a crowded marketplace for prestige films.

Overseas this weekend, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies got its international run started with a powerful launch in 37 markets leading to a stellar $117.6M debut. The third and final chapter of the trilogy opened better than the first two installments in all key markets indicating heavy fan interest in taking the journey to Middle Earth one last time. 160 IMAX screens averaged a sturdy $40,000 each and that count will jump to 579 global screens next weekend including 360 from North America. The leading markets this weekend were Germany ($19.5M), the United Kingdom ($15.2M), and France ($14.5M) with Italy, Spain and Korea opening on Wednesday followed by Australia on Boxing Day and China on January 23.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $75.4M which was down 46% from last year when The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opened at number one with $73.6M; and down 41% from 2012 when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey debuted in the top spot with $84.6M. The absence of a Middle Earth tentpole accounted for much of the difference this weekend.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got a Biblical epic (Exodus: Gods and Kings, starring Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton) and a conflicted comedian (Top Five, starring Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson). What do the critics have to say?


Exodus: Gods and Kings

30%

It’s got a daring escape from slavery, the parting of the Red Sea, the unveiling of the Ten Commandments, and a literal river of blood — yep, the Book of Exodus is certainly one of the Old Testament’s most action-packed installments. Unfortunately, critics say that while Exodus: Gods and Kings director Ridley Scott mostly succeeds in crafting an eye-popping spectacle, he fails to bring the story’s legendary people to vivid life. You probably know the story, but if not, here goes: the orphaned Moses (Christian Bale) was raised by the Pharaoh, but he’s cast out when it’s discovered that his parents were Jewish. God reveals to Moses that he’s been chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but first he must free his people before undertaking an epic trek across the desert. The pundits say Exodus: Gods and Kings mostly avoids taking a theological stand on the story, but as a result the film’s spectacular visuals overwhelm the heat and passion this oft-told tale continues to evoke. (Watch our video interviews with Scott and stars Bale, Joel Edgerton, and Aaron Paul, and check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Sigourney Weaver’s best-reviewed films.)



Top Five

86%

Few would deny that Chris Rock is one of the best standup comedians of his generation — or that, for the most part, his movie career has left something to be desired. That’s about to change, as critics say Top Five represents a career peak for Rock as a director and actor — it’s a semi-autobiographical portrait of the artist as a neurotic that recalls Woody Allen at his best. Rock plays Andre Allen, a popular comic actor who’s about to be married to a famous reality TV star. He agrees to be profiled by a New York Times reporter (Rosario Dawson), and as they stroll about the city, Allen begins to question the decisions he’s made in his life and career. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Top Five is blessed with palpable chemistry between its leads, and the result is timely, insightful, and often hilarious. (Watch our video interviews with Rock and co-stars Anders Holm, Ben Vereen, and JB Smoove.)

What’s Hot on TV:


Critics say the final episode of Sons of Anarchy is, like the series itself, both twisty and turbulent, but ultimately, “Papa’s Goods” (87 percent) is a fitting farewell to the SAMCRO gang that ties up loose ends in an involving, poetic fashion.


The penultimate episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, “Oh Shenandoah,” stirred up a lot of internet chatter this week, and much of it was negative; critics objected to everything from a subplot on campus rape to the unprompted death of a major character.

Also opening this week in limited release:

In Theaters This Week:



Exodus: Gods and Kings

30%

Rating: PG-13, for violence including battle sequences and intense images.

This massive biblical epic from director Ridley Scott makes his Oscar-winning Gladiator look like an independent film by comparison. Presented in 3-D and heavy on the visual effects, it’s the Old Testament story of Moses leading hundreds of thousands of Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to freedom. That means plagues — lots of em — from frogs to locusts to boils. (The boils are especially gnarly.) And because everything has gotten so out of control and overpopulated under the reign of the inept Ramses (Joel Edgerton), slaves are thrown into enormous fires to thin out the city. There are also several major battle scenes, perilous chariot chases and a pummeling wall of water once Moses (Christian Bale) has finished parting the Red Sea. Between the violence, the subject matter and the running time of nearly two and a half hours, this is probably best suited only for the most mature tweens and older.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

92%

Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.

The cheekiest, wackiest blockbuster of the past summer, but it also features all the massive violence and destruction you’d expect from a movie of this genre. Based on the Marvel Comics series about a rag-tag group of misfits who band together to save the galaxy, it begins with a child witnessing a parent’s death, followed by his abduction by otherworldly beings. That child grows up to be the brash space scavenger Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who refers to himself as Star-Lord and becomes an unlikely hero. Among the other characters are the muscular, brutish Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and a talking, gun-toting raccoon named Rocket voiced hilariously by Bradley Cooper. Guardians also features a couple of dark and intimidating villains, and everyone’s after a powerful, mystical orb that’s capable of causing some major damage. The spectacle is massive in director James Gunn’s film but cartoonishly so. My son was almost 5 when he attended the screening with me and wasn’t frightened by anything, but some of the seriously traumatic stuff might have gone over his head. If your child has seen this sort of comics-inspired movie before, he or she will probably be OK.



Dolphin Tale 2

66%

Rating: PG, for some mild thematic elements.

This is a sequel to the 2011 family film Dolphin Tale and, like its predecessor, it’s exceedingly earnest and harmless entertainment. There’s something sort of sweet and quaint about that, though. Winter, the dolphin who was rescued in the first movie, now lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida and is learning to function with a high-tech prosthetic tail. But her status there is in jeopardy when — spoiler alert! — her elderly companion dolphin dies. My son was not quite 5 years old when I brought him with me to the screening and the dolphin’s death — as well as the devastated reactions from the teens who worked with her — upset him. But mostly, this is a film that’s all about teamwork and uplift. Fine for the whole family.



When the Game Stands Tall

20%

Rating: PG, for thematic material, a scene of violence and brief smoking.

Based on a true story, this inspirational drama is suitable for viewers around age 8 or 9 and up. It’s about the De La Salle High School Spartans of Concord, Calif., a football team that enjoyed a historic 151-game winning streak in the 1990s and early 2000s. Director Thomas Carter’s film reveals how the players respond when they finally do lose a game, and how they bounce back from a series of traumas on and off the field. A star player is shot to death outside a party and another player loses his mother to cancer. A wide receiver on the verge of breaking a touchdown record endures physical and emotional abuse from his demanding father. And head coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), a longtime smoker, suffers from heart trouble. But the film’s messages about teamwork, dedication and sacrifice are worthwhile.

In Exodus: Gods and Kings, Seti, played by John Turturro, is a very superstitious man. Grae Drake asked director Ridley Scott and stars Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, and Aaron Paul what their real life superstitions were. Ridley Scott and Christian Bale also talk about the famous story behind the film.


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    Ep. 072 – Holiday Movie Preview
    Welcome to the Rotten Tomatoes podcast with Editor in Chief Matt Atchity and Senior Editor Grae Drake. This week they are joined by Senior Editor Tim Ryan and Editor Ryan Fujitani aka The Velvet Smog to talk about the most important movies coming in the Fall and Winter season all the way from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar to Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.

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