Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: Brave One Isn't Tops, Mr. Woodcock is Flaccid, Hunting Party is Busted

And guess Dragon Wars' Tomatometer!

by | September 13, 2007 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got vigilantes (The Brave One, starring
Jodie Foster), gym teachers (Mr. Woodcock, starring
Billy Bob Thornton and
Susan Sarandon), war correspondents (The Hunting Party, starring
Richard Gere and
Terrence Howard), and
flying menaces (Dragon Wars, starring
). What do the critics have to say?

In Taxi Driver,
Robert DeNiro played a cabbie that went on a killing
spree to "protect" a teenage hooker played by Jodie Foster. Now, with
The Brave One, it’s Foster’s turn to take the law into her own hands. She plays
a talk radio host whose significant other is killed in a random attack,
triggering an impulse to arm herself and "avenge" her husband’s killing.
Terrence Howard plays a detective who’s on the trail of this vigilante. Critics
say The Brave One‘s an-eye-for-an-eye message is problematic, but the
material is slightly elevated by
Neil Jordan‘s direction and strong performances from Foster
and Howard. At 43 percent on the Tomatometer, Brave may not be one to watch.
(Check out our review from the Toronto Film Festival


"Hi, can you guys tell me where the frozen banana stand is?"

Some couldn’t climb a rope, others got pelted with dodge balls: It’s safe to say
a lot of us have negative associations with gym class, the most Darwinian of
middle school educational pursuits.
Mr. Woodcock
taps into that feeling,
but not quite successfully, say the pundits. The movie stars
Seann William Scott
as a self-help author who’s never quite gotten over the ritual abuse he suffered
at the hands of his P.E. teacher, the sadistic Mr. Woodcock (Billy Bob
Thornton); the trauma continues when he learns his mom (Susan Sarandon) is
dating his old nemesis. Critics say Woodcock lacks the energy to make the
most of its intriguing premise, and underutilizes a talented cast. At 18 percent
on the Tomatometer, Mr. Woodcock isn’t in very good shape.

"Remember when I gave your son an atomic wedgie in the locker

The Hunting Party
tells the story of two veteran war correspondents
(Richard Gere and Terrence Howard) on the trail of a Bosnian war criminal — and
the story that could make their careers. The Hunting Party isn’t the
first movie to attempt to mine bleak humor from the Bosnian conflict (the
Oscar-winning No Man’s Land also found some grim laughs in the midst of
that bitter war). But critics say director
Richard Shepard‘s follow-up to
is awkward at a tonal level, shifting from dark satire to serious
discussions of international politics to create an uneven film, despite the best
efforts of its game leads. At 46 percent, this Party isn’t quite as
swinging as it should be. (Check out our interview with Shepard


Don’t hold your breath for this one.

Far be it from us to question the collective taste of the good folks in South
Korea. It’s just that Dragon Wars, which made out like gangbusters at the
Korean box office, wasn’t screened for critics in the U.S. of A. Dragon
tells the story of a TV reporter (Jason Behr) who discovers that
earthquakes around Los Angeles are not the work of plate tectonics but a dragon
possessed with the spirit of a 500-year-old warrior. No, it’s not a documentary.
Yes, you should attempt to Guess the Tomatometer.

Also opening this week in limited release:
The Great World of Sound,
drama about a pair of traveling music producers, is at 82 percent;
a documentary about Paris’s famed Pere-Lachaise cemetery, is at 80 percent;
Eastern Promises
, starring
Viggo Mortensen as a member
of London’s underworld, is at 79 percent (check out our interview with Cronenberg and Mortensen
King of California, starring
Evan Rachel Wood as a father and daughter on a quest for gold, is at
75 percent; Paul Haggis
In the Valley of Elah, starring
Tommy Lee Jones
and Charlize Theron, about a war vet’s search for his missing son who recently
returned from Iraq, is at 63 percent;
Ira & Abby
, a rom-com about a
whirlwind courtship that takes a dark turn, is at 50 percent;
Across the
Julie Taymor‘s ambitions musical that chronicles the 1960s through
the music of the Beatles, is at 45 percent (check out our Beatles movie feature
December Boys, a story of orphaned teenagers in Australia starring
Daniel Radcliffe, is at 43 percent; and
Silk, a period romance starring
Keira Knightley and Michael Pitt, is at zero percent.

"Who are we?" "The Wildcats!" "Who are we gonna beat?" "The

Recent Jodie Foster Movies:
87% — Inside Man (2006)
38% — Flightplan (2005)
77% — A Very Long Engagement (2004)
76% — Panic Room (2002)
51% — Anna and the King (1999)

Recent Billy Bob Thornton Movies:
59% — The Astronaut Farmer (2007)
25% — School for Scoundrels (2006)
45% — The Ice Harvest (2005)
46% — Bad News Bears (2005)
79% — Chrystal (2004)