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

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