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

screenings natural history Heroines ratings Hear Us Out Thanksgiving Chernobyl Marvel Television BAFTA anime spider-man foreign American Society of Cinematographers game show monster movies screen actors guild romantic comedy Chilling Adventures of Sabrina E! 2020 breaking bad slasher Tags: Comedy Netflix Disney streaming service SXSW 2022 Baby Yoda dark HBO Go laika debate Crackle Box Office Winter TV Black History Month hist unscripted Marvel Studios dogs cops diversity Amazon chucky kaiju Dark Horse Comics Set visit streamig concert MSNBC trailers ViacomCBS Spring TV Lifetime Animation dexter canceled TV shows Schedule Shudder Tomatazos HBO ID biopic Fox Searchlight south america sag awards Bravo 2018 Pirates target National Geographic renewed TV shows ESPN nfl USA Network new star wars movies rt archives Awards Tour toy story animated Ghostbusters genre The CW parents video Quiz obi wan asian-american Paramount Network rotten movies we love streaming Tumblr Musical Comic-Con@Home 2021 anthology police drama australia scary Star Wars comiccon streaming movies emmy awards TLC Hollywood Foreign Press Association TV One Comic Book Film Binge Guide cults Nominations MTV adventure quibi TruTV universal monsters festival YouTube name the review First Look boxoffice Geeked Week sopranos Rock Best and Worst heist movie Starz Disney Plus Discovery Channel marvel cinematic universe Freeform Star Trek prank Biopics game of thrones crime Adult Swim aapi Emmy Nominations Pet Sematary SundanceTV Paramount Plus Character Guide TCA Awards discovery fast and furious TV Land crime thriller aliens Rom-Com New York Comic Con FX 72 Emmy Awards Turner Classic Movies women VOD OWN Elton John biography Lionsgate Martial Arts Extras Pride Month Grammys AMC indiana jones young adult PlayStation ABC Family 2017 spanish language blockbusters suspense Amazon Prime Video cancelled television Marathons worst movies basketball french Pacific Islander video on demand President Logo dreamworks 93rd Oscars tv talk Alien teaser book adaptation Fall TV Lifetime Christmas movies psychological thriller Endgame 2016 Cartoon Network dragons GIFs Hallmark Christmas movies SXSW finale Television Academy Hallmark Paramount Pictures feel good Instagram Live FOX criterion OneApp facebook Trophy Talk Mudbound movie BET werewolf art house 2021 Mary Tyler Moore DC Comics Sundance Now Pop TV stand-up comedy political drama child's play christmas movies Britbox 1990s Funimation gangster social media Tokyo Olympics halloween tv posters Women's History Month 90s 4/20 award winner green book Spectrum Originals Horror festivals indie Masterpiece Tubi Classic Film Crunchyroll IFC Films series psycho 21st Century Fox Best Picture Country Year in Review mutant 71st Emmy Awards Family independent movies FX on Hulu Disney Channel Valentine's Day nature Best Director DGA NYCC Song of Ice and Fire Sneak Peek zombie CNN television binge Amazon Studios classics USA fresh supernatural versus comic books rotten Music obituary Stephen King lord of the rings GLAAD canceled Musicals japanese TCA 2017 Fantasy Legendary 007 Superheroe transformers Nickelodeon E3 ITV Ellie Kemper Photos disaster spinoff WarnerMedia science fiction ABC Signature RT History Opinion marvel comics worst football Film Festival Universal Avengers Ovation Sundance TV Broadway Exclusive Video wonder woman blockbuster cancelled TV shows news summer preview sports golden globes Columbia Pictures cats cinemax singing competition comics spy thriller Sundance scene in color film series Toys Tarantino theme song Spike witnail Super Bowl Holidays docudrama japan Holiday robots adaptation Indigenous RT21 TCA Kids & Family sequels TCM elevated horror Epix casting latino TV renewals saw Video Games popular strong female leads twilight Fargo hispanic Wes Anderson Rocky A24 halloween scary movies Action cartoon mob crime drama rt labs Christmas free movies docuseries TCA Winter 2020 mockumentary Red Carpet First Reviews historical drama Emmys 99% Arrowverse Comics on TV Anna Paquin Pixar doctor who films 79th Golden Globes Awards kids stop motion Captain marvel Amazon Prime Focus Features vampires BBC America ghosts Sony Pictures Television Critics Association Creative Arts Emmys legend royal family telelvision medical drama TNT The Witch miniseries vs. mcc LGBT travel cancelled TV series Apple TV Plus politics rom-coms Disney+ Disney Plus comedies scorecard Interview TV movies Oscars The Walt Disney Company GoT VICE what to watch Fox News Sci-Fi BBC true crime Calendar Neflix Brie Larson 73rd Emmy Awards black comedy Winners PBS The Walking Dead Best Actress TBS FXX Nat Geo directors superhero dramedy satire YouTube Premium BBC One Cosplay war jamie lee curtis target scene in color joker scene in color series interviews comic book movies Summer Shondaland 2015 period drama History james bond Walt Disney Pictures documentaries all-time action-comedy Turner hispanic heritage month slashers Comedy Academy Awards based on movie hollywood summer TV new zealand zero dark thirty international italian summer TV preview mission: impossible composers Podcast Teen razzies Syfy The Arrangement crossover revenge deadpool talk show MGM boxing BET Awards Awards A&E Premiere Dates IFC Pop Election Black Mirror Netflix Christmas movies Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt dceu reboot Mary Poppins Returns TIFF book Best Actor MCU El Rey documentary 24 frames Mary poppins DC streaming service Cannes 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards CBS All Access Showtime critic resources Paramount know your critic San Diego Comic-Con toronto new york The Purge children's TV justice league a nightmare on elm street Rocketman Western Apple TV+ SDCC serial killer CMT Universal Pictures jurassic park Trivia AMC Plus live event venice Travel Channel HBO Max high school comic 2019 LGBTQ comic book movie Drama CW Seed sequel critics See It Skip It cancelled Mindy Kaling spanish leaderboard Lucasfilm olympics YouTube Red live action Star Wars Celebration Certified Fresh superman Native Polls and Games Countdown black WGN cooking adenture Disney broadcast spider-verse South by Southwest Film Festival blaxploitation VH1 Watching Series best archives Esquire X-Men Food Network 20th Century Fox The Academy DirecTV reviews cars Apple Acorn TV hidden camera Infographic trophy batman godzilla technology Marvel ABC 94th Oscars sitcom franchise pirates of the caribbean NBC Sony Superheroes Peacock kong spain Oscar TV DC Universe Comedy Central Warner Bros. richard e. Grant king kong romance HFPA zombies CBS 45 APB Vudu Mystery stoner YA remakes thriller Writers Guild of America dc IMDb TV Image Comics scene in color nbcuniversal Hulu Trailer rt labs critics edition PaleyFest golden globe awards Reality harry potter Prime Video die hard king arthur Reality Competition NBA space