Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Conan the Barbarian is a Bloody Mess

Plus, Fright Night scares up some laughs and chills, but Spy Kids and One Day strike out.

by | August 19, 2011 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a heroic strongman (Conan the Barbarian, starring Jason Momoa and Rachel Nichols), pint-sized agents (Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D, starring Jessica Alba and Joel McHale), scary neighbors (Fright Night, starring Anton Yelchin and Colin Farrell), and part-time lovers (One Day, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess). What do the critics have to say?

Conan the Barbarian


The 1982 Conan the Barbarian became a seminal entry in the sword-and-sorcery subgenre, maiking Arnold Schwarzenegger a star in the process. And although critics say Jason Momoa does his best with the title role, this new Conan the Barbarian eschews pulpy swashbuckling for non-stop action, and the result is a numbing barrage of blood, guts, and noise. The titular warrior is out for vengeance against the warlord who killed his family. On the trail of his foe, he encounters the beautiful Tamara (Rachel Nichols), and together, they leave a mountain of dead bodies strewn about the countryside. The pundits say Conan the Barbarian has a decent look and some thrills, but it’s mostly just a brutal, hyperactively-edited gore-fest that barely pauses to develop the characters or the plot. (Check out co-star Rose McGowan’s Five Favorite Films here.)

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D


Throughout his career, director Robert Rodriguez has led a seemingly incongruous double life: when he’s not making stylistically bold neo-grindhouse films, he’s helming impish adventure tales for the kiddies. Unfortunately, critics say the fourth installment of his venerable Spy Kids franchise, All the Time in the World in 4D, is tired, juvenile stuff that isn’t improved by gimmicky 3D and scratch ‘n’ sniff cards. Jessica Alba stars as retired spy who’s lured back into action when a maniacal super villain threatens the free world. She’s joined in her mission by some newly recruited spy kids. The pundits say Spy Kids 4 is almost entirely bereft of the charm and excitement of the series’ first two entries, with mediocre special effects and an overabundance of sophomoric humor. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Rodriguez’s best-reviewed movies.)

Fright Night


On paper, a remake of Fright Night sounds like an opportunistic attempt to cash in on the current vampire craze — especially since the original, a minor genre classic that deftly (and self-referentially) mixed laughs and scares, still holds up pretty well. However, critics say this new Fright Night is surprisingly effective, thanks to some terrific performances and a solid script that captures — and occasionally expands upon — what worked the first time around. Anton Yelchin stars as Charley, a too-cool-for-school teen who notices that something’s not quite right about Jerry (Colin Farrell), the guy who moved in next door. As it turns out, Jerry’s a vampire who’s preying on the neighborhood, and it’s up to Charley to stop him. The pundits say that while Fright Night doesn’t always match the mischievous appeal of its source material, the script is sharp and clever, and the cast — particularly Farrell, who oozes sly menace — is uniformly excellent.

One Day


The premise of One Day is undeniably intriguing: it’s a romantic dramedy featuring two mismatched would-be lovers whose tentative relationship stretches for decades. Unfortunately, critics say the execution is a bit off; we’re never quite convinced our heroes are meant to be together, and the annual check-in conceit alluded to in the title seems contrived after a while. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are the couple, who meet at the end of college and are attracted to one another despite class and personality differences. Every subsequent June 15, we get glimpses of their lives, loves, and careers, as the pair maintains a friendship that might someday become something more. The pundits say One Day deserves credit for attempting to upend the traditional structure of the movie romance, and the stars’ repartee is fitfully amusing, but the characters are too ill-defined to make much of an impression.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Summer Pasture, a documentary about the harsh lives of Tibetan nomads, is at 100 percent.
  • The Last Circus, a dramedy about a clown whose life is upended by the rise of Fascism in Spain, is at 92 percent.
  • The Hedgehog, a drama about a morose 12-year-old who befriends the grumpy concierge in her apartment building, is at 83 percent.
  • Mozart’s Sister, a historical drama about the great composer’s talented older sibling, is at 80 percent.
  • Griff the Invisible, a comedy/romance about a shy working stiff who moonlights as a superhero, is at 78 percent.
  • Atrocious, a lo-fi horror film about a family that films its investigation into a terrifying urban legend, is at 67 percent.
  • The Journals Of Musan, a drama about a North Korean defector awkwardly adjusting to his new life in South Korea, is at 60 percent.
  • John Sayles‘s Amigo, a drama about a village torn apart by the Philippine-American War, is at 59 percent.
  • 5 Days Of War, starring Rupert Friend and Emmanuelle Chriqui in a drama about an American reporter caught in the crossfire of the 2008 Georgian conflict with Russia, is at 55 percent.
  • A Horrible Way to Die, an indie thriller about an escaped serial killer who’s looking for his ex-girlfriend, is at 40 percent.
  • Flypaper, starring Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd in a crime comedy about a would-be bank robber who develops a bond with a teller, is at 22 percent.
  • Programming The Nation?, a documentary about subliminal messages in politics and advertising, is at 14 percent.

Tag Cloud

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