Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Who's Better, Who's Best; Never Goes Down; Guess Doomsday's Tomatometer!

Summarizing the critical voice on this week's movies.

by | March 13, 2008 | Comments

This week
at the movies, we’ve Seussian silliness (Dr.
Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!
, starring
and Steve Carrell), mixed martial arts madness (Never Back Down,
starring Sean Faris and
Djimon Hounsou), and apocalyptic action (Doomsday,
Rhona Mitra). What do the critics have to

Virtually no one denies the
genius of Dr. Seuss’ books, but it’s been an open question whether their
compact, staccato whimsy could be translated into feature-length films; the
results thus far have been middling (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 52
percent on the Tomatometer) to poor (The Cat in the Hat, 12 percent).
However, critics say the CG Horton Hears a Who is easily the most
Seussian Seuss feature, and therefore the best. Horton (Jim
) is an
elephant who stumbles across the microscopic Who-ville; he promises to protect
the tiny inhabitants, despite ridicule from his fellow pachyderms. The pundits
say Horton is filled with deft animation, solid voice work, valuable life
lessons, and good cheer — and if the runtime is a little padded, the movie
still maintains the enchanting, thoughtful spirit of Seuss’ books. At 74 percent
on the Tomatometer, Horton may be a cut below the animated
How the
Grinch Stole Christmas
(100 percent), but it’s still cause for Who-bilation.
(Check out co-director Jimmy
Hayward’s favorite animated films

“…And this is our lolcat wing.”

Never Back Down

is yet
another film in which a wayward teen learns about martial arts — and life —
from a stern-but-caring teacher. Wasn’t Ralph Macchio in a movie like this a few
years back? Perhaps, but critics say NBD is still a reasonably involving
take on old material. The movie stars
Sean Faris as an unmoored, ill-tempered
youngster who, after being humiliated in a fight with a classmate, learns mixed
martial arts under the tutelage of
Djimon Hounsou
and, in the process, how to better focus his bluster. Pundits say Never Back
‘s premise may be old as the hills, but pundits say it’s made with more
skill and panache than the material would indicate. At 36 percent on the
Tomatometer, the critical reception to Never Back Down puts the “mixed”
into mixed martial arts. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, where we take a
fond look at movies in which people get punched in the face.)

“Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind.”

The folks behind
must have feared a critical apocalypse. Why else wouldn’t they screen their film
for the scribes before its release? Directed by
Neil Marshall, the film tells
the story of a group of scientists who’ve been dispatched to a country where a
deadly virus has broken out. A note of interest: Marshall’s previous movie was
modern horror masterpiece The Descent,
likely marking the first time a
director has gone from Certified Fresh on one movie to not-screened on the
next. Kids, climb out of that fallout shelter in your backyard and guess that

Party dudettes looking for Morpheus’s sweaty cave rave.

Also opening this week in
limited release:

“We were wondering if we could borrow some brown sugar…?”

Jim Carrey Movies:
8% — The Number 23 (2007)
28% — Fun With Dick and Jane (2005)
70% — Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
94% —
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
49% — Bruce Almighty (2003)