Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: No Debatin' Clayton, Night Almost Owns, Elizabeth Not Golden

Plus: Season Runs Foul, Universe Divided, and guess the Why Did I Get Married? Tomatometer

by | October 11, 2007 | Comments

This week at the movies we got lawyer types (Michael
, starring
George Clooney
and Tilda
), dueling brothers (We Own the Night,
starring Joaquin Phoenix and
Mark Wahlberg),
virgin queens (Elizabeth:
The Golden Age
, starring
Cate Blanchett),
baseball hopefuls (The
Final Season
, starring
Sean Astin and
Powers Boothe),
Beatles-inspired lovers (Across the Universe,
starring Evan Rachel
Jim Sturgess),
and reunited college friends (Tyler Perry’s Why Did I
Get Married?
). What say ye, critics?

Critics frequently bemoan the fact that movies are no
longer made for adults. Who better to come to their rescue than
George Clooney,
oft-called the Cary Grant of our generation? Clooney stars in
Michael Clayton
a washed-up legal consultant caught up in a pesticide case that isn’t quite what
it seems, with support from Tilda
Tom Wilkinson, and
Sydney Pollack.
With strong performances all around, critics call this a challenging but
rewarding movie that also doesn’t skimp out on the popcorn factor.
At a Certified Fresh 89 percent, critics sustain Michael Clayton‘s appeal.

Wilkinson preparing to celebrate Bastille Day for the next 17

Actors frequently re-team with directors they’ve worked with before. But two principal actors? Only once in a blue moon. Such an
event strikes for
We Own the Night
, a crime drama/thriller about two brothers on
opposite sides of the law. The film reunites
Joaquin Phoenix and
Mark Wahlberg
with director James Gray, who all previously created 2000’s
The Yards. But the
trio isn’t having as much luck the second time around: critics say Night cribs from
The Godfathers and
The Departed, while relying too heavily
on improbable plot turns to fuel the action.  But moviegoers who don’t expect
anything particularly original can have a reasonably good time. At 50 percent,
Night gets close, but doesn’t quite Own.

Who makes Mark Wahlberg a star? Who owns the night? We do, we do!

Cate Blanchett
is one of the best actresses on the planet today, and with
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
she revisits the role that made her a star. Big mistake, critics say. Age
picks up where its predecessor left off, with the Virgin Queen navigating the
rough waters of political unrest in 16th Century Europe, as well as palace
intrigue closer to home. The pundits say the costume and set design are
impeccable, but otherwise, this is a campy, bombastic flick, filled with silly
dialogue and featuring a script that’s more hysterical than historical. At 29 percent on the Tomatometer, this one ain’t golden. And it’s a steep drop from
the Certified Fresh
(at 79 percent).

Elizabeth contemplates conquering Narnia next.

It’s October, and that means it’s time for some
super-dramatic baseball action. Unfortunately, we’re talking about the MLB
playoffs, not
The Final Season
, which critics say is as predictable as
Alex Rodriguez failing in the clutch. Directed by
David Mickey Evans (who helmed
the cult-fave The Sandlot), Season is the story of a tiny Iowa
high school with a proud baseball tradition that may come to an end because of
redistricting. Season features a strong cast that includes
Sean Astin,
Powers Boothe, and
Rachael Leigh Cook, and the film oozes sincerity. But pundits
say it’s as safe as an intentional walk and as clichéd as a post-game interview.
At 11 percent on the Tomatometer, The Final Season is way below the
cinematic Mendoza line.

"11 percent?"

Is there anybody going to listen to this story, all about
Julie Taymor‘s attempt to capture the zeitgeist of the 1960s through the music
of the Beatles? As far as
Across the Universe
goes, some critics say
stop, others say go, go, go. Universe is the story of Lucy (Evan Rachel
) and Jude (Jim Sturgess), a young couple who stalk across the political and
social landscape of the tumultuous decade to the tune of such classics as "Come
Together," "Helter Skelter," and "All You Need is Love." The critics are pretty
split on Universe: some say the film is an audacious, beautiful movie
that will make you feel all right. But others say it’s all wrong (that is, they
think they disagree), calling the film an exercise in excess with bland
characters. We hope the film’s 52 percent Tomatometer will
you decide to see it or not.

An early incarnation of The Blue Man Group.

With his heartfelt domestic dramedies, Tyler Perry has
established himself as a commercial sure thing. But he’s yet to win over
critics, which may be why his latest,
Tyler Perry’s Why Did I
Get Married?
wasn’t screened before release. It’s the story of a reunion of college friends,
who, over the course of a long weekend together, begin to question their
marriages. Guess the Tomatometer.

"What happened to Steve Buscemi?"

Also opening this week in limited release:
biopic of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, is at 90 percent (check out our interview with director Anton Corbijn
Terror’s Advocate
‘s documentary portrait of an
attorney for the undefendable, is at 83 percent on the Tomatometer;
Lars and
the Real Girl
, starring
Ryan Gosling as a delusional guy dating a female doll, is at 78 percent (check out our review from Toronto
a drama about a family dealing with one member’s schizophrenia, is at 71
Golda’s Balcony
, about the Israeli prime minister, is at 64
percent; and Sleuth, an update of the 1972 murder mystery starring
Michael Caine and
Jude Law, is at 48 percent.

"We couldn’t quite afford Jessica Alba. But we got a good

Recent Cate Blanchett Movies:


69% —
I’m Not There
32% —
The Good German
87% —
Notes on a Scandal
68% — Babel (2006) 
85% —
Little Fish

Recent Mark Wahlberg Movies:


48% —
92% —
The Departed
70% —
52% —
Four Brothers
61% —
I Heart Huckabees