Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: "Flags" Flies High; "The Prestige" Is Magic; "Flicka" Is A Pretty Good Ride; "Marie Antoinette" Spared Critical Guillotine

by | October 19, 2006 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a complex tale of heroism (Clint Eastwood‘s "Flags of Our Fathers," starring Ryan Phillippe), a story of dueling magicians (Christopher Nolan‘s "The Prestige," starring Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, and Hugh Jackman), a yarn about a girl and her horse ("Flicka," starring Alison Lohman and Tim McGraw), and a post-punk-scored period piece about the least punk human being ever (Sofia Coppola‘s "Marie Antoinette," starring Kirsten Dunst). What do the critics have to say?

Is America a great country? Yes. Do the soldiers who fought in WWII, the Greatest Generation, deserve our utmost praise for their sacrifices? Without a doubt. Is the truth often more complicated than the myth? Definitely. Clint Eastwood‘s latest, "Flags of Our Fathers," tells the story of that famous photo of the servicemen raising the flag atop Iwo Jima, and the trials and tribulations their celebrity caused. Critics say the film is so rich with historical information and inherent drama that it’s occasionally a little too much, but strong performances and Eastwood’s sure directorial hand keep things on track. At 69 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flags" may not reach the heights of Eastwood’s last film, "Million Dollar Baby" (92 percent), but it’s still flying pretty high. (Check out our feature on Clint’s filmography here.)


Clint Eastwood pays tribute to the Greatest Generation.

With "Memento," Christopher Nolan made a name for himself by holding his secrets close to the vest to the bitter end. Now comes "The Prestige," in which the director again serves up a brain-teaser, this time involving a pair of public manipulators in their own right. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman star as bitterly competitive magicians in turn-of- the-century London who play a deadly game of one-upmanship. While some scribes say the movie is uneven in spots, "The Prestige" is winning praise for its remarkable production design, sharp performances, and more than enough cinematic sleight-of-hand to keep audiences interested. At 68 percent, this is Nolan’s worst reviewed film, and it’s still getting its share of prestige.


"Headlines don’t sell papes. Newsies sell papes."

There is no shortage of stories involving adolescents and their beloved equine friends, from Steinbeck‘s "The Red Pony" to "The Black Stallion" to last year’s "Dreamer." Critics say "Flicka," itself a remake, is a strong and affecting entry into this sub-genre. The film stars Alison Lohman as a 16-year-old who loves her untamed horse and the freedom of the open range, and Tim McGraw as her father, a man with different ideas about her future. Some critics say "Flicka" is an old-fashioned, solid family drama with a notable lack of schmaltz, but others say the material is too well-trodden to really hit home. At 60 percent on the Tomatometer, "Flicka" ain’t Secretariat, but it’s not ready for the glue factory, either.


"Flicka": Full of horsing around!

In the song "Natural’s Not In It," the socialist British post-punk band Gang of Four sarcastically lamented "the problem of leisure / what to do for pleasure," words that are especially resonant if you’re a teenage monarch ruling a country you know little about, and your subjects are calling for your head. Sofia Coppola‘s long-awaited (and already controversial) "Marie Antoinette" tells the story of the queen (Kirsten Dunst), her inattentive husband, Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman), her gossipy, silver-tongued court, and all the empty fun she had before she gets her head chopped off. Critics say Coppola’s film offers a wealth of visual riches and makes Marie’s hardships somewhat empathetic, but they’re split over its apparent lack of substance, as well as the anachronistic use of music by the likes of New Order, the Strokes, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. At 64 percent on the Tomatometer, this is definitely a cut (pun intended) below Coppola’s last feature, "Lost in Translation" (95 percent), but it’s still a pretty tasty piece of cake.


"A new royal family / A wild nobility / We are the family."

Also opening this week in limited release: "51 Birch Street," a documentary exploring the hidden lives of the filmmaker Doug Block’s parents, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; "Requiem," a German tale of epilepsy/demonic possession, is at 100 percent; Tim Burton‘s stop motion anti-holiday classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas," getting a re-release, is at 96 percent; "Sweet Land," a sweeping tale of the American immigrant experience, is at 93 percent; "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple," a documentary about cult leader Jim Jones and his flock, is at 92 percent; "Hair High," a perverse animated comedy about a strange high school, is at 63 percent; "Sleeping Dogs Lie," Bobcat Goldthwait‘s sweet, taboo-busting rom-com, is at 59 percent; and "Running with Scissors," a tale of therapy and growing pains starring Annette Bening and Gwyneth Paltrow, is at 17 percent.

Recent Clint Eastwood-Directed Movies:
————————————————-
92% — Million Dollar Baby (2004)
86% — Mystic River (2003)
56% — Blood Work (2002)
78% — Space Cowboys (2000)
50% — True Crime (1999)

Recent Kirsten Dunst Movies:
————————————–
28% — Elizabethtown (2005)
62% — Wimbledon (2004)
7% — Kaena: The Prophesy (2004)
93% — Spider Man 2 (2004)
93% — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Recent Christian Bale Movies:
————————————
59% — The New World (2005)
84% — Batman Begins (2005)
85% — Howl’s Moving Castle (2005)
72% — The Machinist (2004)
68% — Laurel Canyon (2003)

Tag Cloud

Grammys Animation Elton John Mindy Kaling finale Comic Book Star Trek IFC Watching Series President Family Extras Comics on TV TNT Toys Spectrum Originals crime thriller Nat Geo tv talk Video Games witnail streaming Acorn TV composers 2015 Tumblr free movies serial killer game show sitcom Dark Horse Comics Shondaland El Rey Schedule Fantasy Rom-Com E! Box Office theme song Valentine's Day USA docudrama YouTube Premium Universal Stephen King sequel quibi E3 GIFs Warner Bros. Television Academy TruTV Apple RT21 Superheroes thriller talk show DGA Masterpiece anthology Film Festival canceled hispanic GoT mutant revenge zombies Winners Apple TV+ Emmys Red Carpet CNN Mary Tyler Moore Writers Guild of America 20th Century Fox crossover Opinion historical drama See It Skip It National Geographic spain cars Pop adventure Britbox Year in Review spy thriller halloween social media NYCC Spring TV DirecTV Fox News Reality Competition psycho Syfy transformers Lucasfilm Ovation Paramount Columbia Pictures Black Mirror 2016 Teen Epix Hulu Summer HBO Max travel Chernobyl Best and Worst kids YouTube Red The Walking Dead Mudbound Superheroe boxoffice disaster Awards Tour BBC America Character Guide Cosplay Kids & Family aliens 71st Emmy Awards spinoff Crackle Interview Fall TV Pride Month Comedy Bravo Pet Sematary facebook TBS space game of thrones canceled TV shows Adult Swim war dragons ABC cancelled TV series Freeform period drama LGBTQ richard e. Grant south america harry potter Amazon Infographic spider-man based on movie ABC Family SDCC USA Network slashers Lionsgate 2019 Ellie Kemper cinemax blaxploitation Calendar Podcast Mystery police drama green book OWN stand-up comedy WGN science fiction unscripted MSNBC Rock WarnerMedia Lifetime CMT award winner movies Musical FXX cancelled The CW Arrowverse Super Bowl Western Set visit mockumentary VH1 Song of Ice and Fire Food Network Shudder jamie lee curtis Sundance Now CBS 2018 MTV American Society of Cinematographers psychological thriller true crime San Diego Comic-Con animated Disney streaming service cops festivals Marvel cooking Reality Sony Pictures justice league Mary poppins comic series The Arrangement TCM miniseries Countdown Awards Premiere Dates strong female leads anime doctor who adaptation Vudu Martial Arts Nominations Star Wars cults TLC Oscars Women's History Month dramedy Rocketman New York Comic Con CW Seed Sci-Fi politics ITV children's TV Disney Ghostbusters cancelled television Music Netflix Amazon Prime Video First Reviews AMC TCA 2017 21st Century Fox dceu crime Action what to watch Biopics video cancelled TV shows NBC IFC Films Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Holidays HBO FX Film Drama Polls and Games Nickelodeon book singing competition spanish language Anna Paquin biography golden globes Tomatazos First Look ratings toy story Starz BBC Emmy Nominations Pirates diversity zombie Amazon Prime SundanceTV Christmas Trophy Talk BET joker YA sports Logo Esquire 45 Mary Poppins Returns Sneak Peek technology Winter TV ESPN The Witch SXSW Thanksgiving Creative Arts Emmys vampires PBS Disney Channel Pixar Peacock renewed TV shows elevated horror batman dc PaleyFest romance Comedy Central DC streaming service hist Horror casting VICE APB RT History GLAAD MCU Showtime Marathons FOX nature TIFF Walt Disney Pictures TV Land latino Sundance Election television Binge Guide Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Heroines 007 Musicals political drama Trailer cats zero dark thirty Photos A&E robots teaser DC Comics Disney Plus natural history Captain marvel Cannes discovery 24 frames History foreign ghosts Paramount Network Certified Fresh Tarantino Brie Larson Cartoon Network CBS All Access Rocky supernatural 2017 Spike LGBT TV X-Men TV renewals binge Quiz Trivia Country crime drama YouTube DC Universe comiccon TCA medical drama