Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Godzilla is Certified Fresh

Plus, Million Dollar Arm is likeable but very predictable.

by | May 16, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got the king of the monsters (Godzilla, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) and an ambitious sports agent (Million Dollar Arm, starring Jon Hamm and Aasif Mandvi). What do the critics have to say?



Poor Godzilla. Decades of campy stomp-fests have transformed the once-mighty king of the monsters into a cuddly oaf. This new Godzilla is an attempt to imbue the franchise with more weight than the typical creature feature, and critics say the result is mostly successful, with fine performances and visually striking effects making up for a tendency toward ponderousness. When a nuclear power plant near Tokyo is damaged by a series of tremors, scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) believes the cause is something more ominous than an earthquake. Years later, Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) realizes his father was right — a terrifying beast called the Muto has been causing the tremors, and only one giant lizard can stop it. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Godzilla takes a while to get going, but if you want to watch oversized creatures wreak havoc on big cities, the movie delivers the goods in a reasonably imaginative fashion. (Check out our video interview with Cranston, as well as this week’s Total Recall, in which we present a field guide to giant movie monsters.)

Million Dollar Arm


Who doesn’t love an underdog sports story — especially one that’s based on true events? Critics say Million Dollar Arm is as pleasant as a day at the ballpark, but don’t expect any curveballs or changeups from the script. Jon Hamm stars as J.B. Bernstein, a sports agent whose clientele is short on major league stars. SSo he travels to India and holds a contest to find two strong-armed cricket bowlers who have the stuff to become big-league pitchers. The pundits say Million Dollar Arm is well-crafted and likeable, but it’s pretty predictable, and the film makes only limited use of its setting. (Watch our video interview with the stars, and flip through our gallery of big stars in baseball uniforms.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, a documentary about the celebrated Chinese artist and political activist, is at 100 percent.
  • The American Nurse, a doc that profiles a diverse range of healthcare workers, is at 100 percent.
  • God’s Horses, a drama about a group of childhood friends who are recruited by a terrorist organization, is at 100 percent.
  • A People Uncounted, a drama about a group of childhood friends who are recruited by a terrorist organization, is at 100 percent.
  • The Immigrant, starring Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix in a period drama about a young Polish woman seeking a fresh start in New York City who’s forced into prostitution, is at 83 percent.
  • Chinese Puzzle, starring Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou in a dramedy about a Frenchman who becomes lonely when his wife goes to New York for work, is at 83 percent.
  • The Discoverers, starring Griffin Dunne in a comedy about a dysfunctional family that finds itself in the midst of a Lewis and Clark historical reenactment, is at 82 percent.
  • A Short History Of Decay, a comedy about an aimless writer who returns to his hometown to care for his ailing parents, is at 75 percent.
  • Half of a Yellow Sun, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton in a drama about two sisters whose lives take very different paths in the early years of Nigerian independence, is at 58 percent.
  • Wolf Creek 2, a slasher sequel in which tourists are terrorized by a psychopath on the Australian Outback, is at 47 percent.
  • A Night In Old Mexico, starring Robert Duvall in a drama about an elderly rancher who makes a run for the border with his grandson in tow, is at 36 percent.
  • Don Peyote, starring Dan Fogler in a comedy about a soon-to-be-married-guy who goes on a drug-fueled investigation into doomsday prophesies, is at zero percent.