Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Hits the Skids

Plus, This Means War fights a losing battle, and The Secret World of Arrietty is Certified Fresh.

by | February 17, 2012 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a combustible biker (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, starring Nicolas Cage and Idris Elba), lovestruck spies (This Means War, starring Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine), and a very little girl (The Secret World of Arrietty, with voice work from Bridgit Mendler and Amy Poehler). What do the critics have to say?

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance


It appears the Ghost Rider franchise may be in desperate need of a tune up: Spirit of Vengeance wasn’t screened for American critics prior to its release, and the UK scribes who’ve seen it say it lacks the gonzo panache of its predecessor, 2007’s Ghost Rider. Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) returns as a stuntman-cum-satanic bounty hunter who teams up with a group of rebel monks in an attempt to end his tenure in the employ of the Prince of Darkness. The pundits say Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is chaotic, disjointed, and desperately short on trashy thrills.

This Means War


What if the characters in Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy duked it out over a woman? That’s the basic premise of This Means War, but unfortunately, critics say its blend of screwball comedy and action is surprisingly flat. Chris Pine and Tom Hardy star as a pair of CIA operatives who discover that they’re both dating the same woman (Reese Witherspoon). Soon, they’re each using their espionage skills to learn as much as they can about her in order to win her heart. The pundits say This Means War strands its talented stars in unlikeable roles, and its script lacks both coherence and mirth.

The Secret World of Arrietty


For the last quarter century, Studio Ghibli’s animated features have bewitched and inspired kids and grownups alike, and the critics say they’ve got another winner with The Secret World of Arrietty, an exquisitely beautiful, whimsically charming fairy tale. Arrietty is the story of a family of tiny people who live quietly under the floorboards of a country home, occasionally borrowing various household items from the normal-sized humans without attracting notice. One day, however, teenaged Arrietty is discovered by a 12-year-old boy staying at the house, and their ensuing friendship threatens to undermine her family’s way of life. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Secret World of Arrietty is more modest in scope than such Ghibli classics as Spirited Away or Kiki’s Delivery Service, but its boundless imagination and careful attention to detail make for a sweet, inspiring film for all ages. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down the best of Studio Ghibli.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Oscar-nominated documentary Undefeated, about a perennially mediocre high school football team’s push for its first ever playoff spot, is at 91 percent.
  • Best Foreign Language Film nominee Bullhead, a drama about a cattle farmer who runs afoul of the mafia, is at 85 percent.
  • Thin Ice, starring Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin in a black comedy about an insurance salesman who tries to con an old farmer out of a potentially valuable violin, is at 83 percent.
  • The Forgotten Space, a doc about the downside of global trade, is at 80 percent.
  • Michael, a drama about an outwardly mild-mannered man who’s secretly keeping a 10-year-old boy captive in his basement, is at 69 percent.
  • On the Ice, a thriller about a pair of Alaskan teenagers who share a dark secret, is at 57 percent.
  • Putin’s Kiss, a doc about a member of a Kremlin-approved youth organization who begins to question her allegiances, is at 50 percent.

Tag Cloud

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