Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Battleship Is All Wet

Plus, What to Expect When You're Expecting does the expected, and The Dictator generates vicious laughs.

by | May 17, 2012 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got nautical combat (Battleship, starring Taylor Kitsch and Rihanna), pregnancy tribulations (What to Expect When You’re Expecting, starring Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz), and a displaced despot (The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Anna Faris). What do the critics have to say?



A big-budget blockbuster based upon a board game, Battleship all but promises empty-headed thrills. On that count, critics say, it succeeds, though they also note that a few mindlessly awesome set pieces can’t totally compensate for the film’s thuddingly silly script. Years after NASA has sent a message to a nearby planet, a group of alien ships visit earth — and they do not come in peace. A group of naval officers leads the charge against the invading armada, and explosions ensue. The pundits say Battleship is about as absurd as it sounds, and although some of the battles are pretty cool, the fun to be had here is of the guilty pleasure variety. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down memorable examples of cinematic naval triumphs..)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting


Since it was first published in 1984, the popular self-help book What to Expect When You’re Expecting has helped to guide women through the turbulent months of pregnancy. Unfortunately, the big screen version lacks the unpredictability of real life, stranding its talented cast in a sitcommy plot. Starring Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Dennis Quaid, and Chris Rock, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the story of five interconnected couples dealing with a variety of pregnancy and childbirth-related issues, and it features plenty of spirited discussions from both male and female perspectives. The pundits say What to Expect contains occasional laughs fleeting moments of insight, but mostly, this all-star ensemble piece is strictly by-the-book.

The Dictator


With the gonzo documentaries Borat and Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen established himself as one of contemporary cinema’s most merciless satirists. Now he’s graduated to scripted comedy, and critics say that while The Dictator isn’t as outrageous or as teeth-clenchingly funny as Borat, it’s just funny and un-P.C. enough to prove that Cohen hasn’t gone soft. This loose remake of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator is the tale of an oppressive, buffoonish North African despot who survives a coup attempt that leaves him wandering the streets of New York City until a kindly hippie grocer (Anna Faris) takes a shine to him. The pundits say that not every joke in The Dictator works (and a few fall flat), but overall, the film provides enough gleeful tastelessness and sharp political observations to satisfy Cohen’s fans.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Elena, a Russian thriller about an estranged family plotting to take control of a large inheritance, is at 100 percent.
  • Indie Game: The Movie, a documentary about the development process behind independent video games, is at 100 percent.
  • Polisse, a drama about the professional and personal trials of Paris’ Child Protection Unit, is at 90 percent.
  • Beyond The Black Rainbow, a sci-fi/horror hybrid about a mute girl with psychic powers, is at 88 percent.
  • American Animal, a dramedy about two roommates whose friendship is tested when one decides to get a job, is at 83 percent.
  • Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog, a drama that follows a Labrador retriever from puppyhood to his days as a blind man’s companion, is at 77 percent.
  • Lovely Molly, a horror film about a recently married woman who discovers malevolent forces in her childhood home, is at 57 percent.
  • The Color Wheel, a road trip comedy about a pair of feuding siblings, is at 50 percent.
  • Hysteria, starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal in a period piece about the invention of the vibrator during the prudish Victorian era, is at 45 percent.
  • The Samaritan, starring Samuel L. Jackson in a thriller about an ex-con who finds the past difficult to shake, is at 35 percent.
  • Mansome, a documentary by Morgan Spurlock about men’s grooming habits, is at 20 percent.
  • Virginia, starring Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly in a drama about a single mother and her long-term extramarital affair with the town sheriff, is at zero percent.

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