Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: John Carter Gets Lost in Space

Plus, Silent House is spooky but uneven, and A Thousand Words has little to say.

by | March 9, 2012 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a swashbuckler on Mars (John Carter, starring Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins), a sinister dwelling (Silent House, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Adam Trese), and a man left speechless (A Thousand Words, starring Eddie Murphy and Kerry Washington). What do the critics have to say?

John Carter


After earning near-universal acclaim for Finding Nemo and WALL-E, Pixar wiz Andrew Stanton takes a big leap into live action filmmaking with the much-ballyhooed John Carter. The result, critics say, is something of a mixed bag: while John Carter looks terrific and delivers its share of pulpy thrills, it also suffers from uneven pacing and occasionally incomprehensible plotting and characterization. Taylor Kitsch plays the title character, a Civil War vet who finds himself teleported to Mars and in the midst of a conflict between warring tribes. Can he save the Red Planet and get back to Earth? The pundits say John Carter‘s retro-futurist look is cool, and several action set-pieces deliver the goods, but those unfamiliar with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ source novels may have trouble keeping track of everything that’s happening.(Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Willem Dafoe’s best-reviewed movies.)

Silent House


Right off the bat, Silent House has two intriguing points in its favor: the whole film is one long unbroken shot, and it stars the excellent Elizabeth Olsen. But while critics say the movie is atmospheric and often quite chilling, its climax is a big letdown. During a weekend stay at her family’s lake house, Sarah (Olsen) becomes trapped by menacing intruders and ominous noises. For the next hour and a half, Sarah tries to uncover the true nature of this malevolent force — and escape with her life. The pundits say Silent House is more technically proficient and ambitious than most fright-fests, but it also suffers from a disappointing payoff. (Check out Olsen’s Five Favorite Films here.)

A Thousand Words


In last year’s Tower Heist, Eddie Murphy reminded critics that his rapid-fire comedic talent is still very much intact. Unfortunately, critics say those attributes are in short supply in A Thousand Words, an oddly sour, desperate comedy that robs its star of his most valuable asset: his way with words. Murphy plays Jack, a slick, occasionally unscrupulous literary agent who finds a magic tree in his backyard. The tree sheds a leaf every time Jack speaks, and he soon realizes that both he and the tree will die unless he learns to express himself differently. The pundits say A Thousand Words is hyperactive and obvious, with Murphy flailing about in order to wring laughs out of subpar material.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about the octogenarian that’s considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef, is at 100 percent.
  • The Oscar-nominated Israeli drama Footnote, about a professional conflict between father-and-son Talmudic scholars, is at 88 percent.
  • Shakespeare High, a doc about California high schoolers performing some of the Bard’s greatest works in a prestigious regional competition, is at 88 percent.
  • Sound of Noise, a comedy/thriller about a music-averse cop who must thwart a gang of criminal musicians, is at 88 percent.
  • Attenberg, a coming-of-age dramedy about a young Greek woman dealing with both her father’s impending death and her own romantic awakening, is at 76 percent.
  • The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, a doc about the literally transformative love affair between the Psychic TV frontman and his bandmate, is at 73 percent.
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in a dramedy about a fisheries expert tasked with bringing fly fishing to a desert nation, is at 66 percent (check out Blunt’s Five Favorite Films here).
  • Friends With Kids, starring Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm in a comedy about a group of close friends dealing with the effects of familial responsibility on their love lives, is at 57 percent (check out co-star Megan Fox’s Five Favorite Films here).
  • Good for Nothing, a parody of macho old-school Westerns, is at 40 percent.
  • The Decoy Bride, starring Kelly Macdonald and Alice Eve in a romantic comedy about a movie star who hastily assembles a fake wedding to ward off paparazzi interest in her nuptials, is at 25 percent.

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