This week at the movies, we’ve got a kidnapping plot (Taken, starring Liam Neeson and Famke Janssen); haunted teens (The Uninvited, starring Emily Browning and Elizabeth Banks); and cold comfort (New in Town, starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr.). What do the critics have to say?
Taken is an action flick that’s both efficient and absurd, critics say, and so it’s often entertaining — but only up to a point. The film stars Liam Neeson as a retired CIA agent who learns his daughter has been abducted in Paris; upon receiving a frantic phone call from her, he tracks her down — and finds himself on the trail of a massive criminal enterprise. The pundits say Taken is a sprightly piece of work, and Neeson is compelling in the lead role, but the film is weighted down by contrivances and leaps in logic.
Another Asian horror remake getting released in January? While the critics say The Uninvited may not live up to the standard set by its source material (2003’s A Tale of Two Sisters), it’s a reasonably involving thriller– though not an entirely successful one. Emily Browning plays a young woman with a history of mental problems who, upon meeting her father’s new fiancée (Elizabeth Banks), is immediately suspicious; creepy goings-on ensue. The pundits say The Uninvited is moody and well acted, but it also contains plenty of haunted house conventions and telegraphed plot twists.
It may be cold in Minnesota this time of year, but that’s nothing compared to the chilly reception the critics have given New in Town. In this fish-out-of-water romantic comedy, Renee Zellweger stars as a hotshot executive who’s sent to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to oversee layoffs at one of her company’s factories; there, she falls for the local union rep (Harry Connick Jr.) and learns about the strange customs of small-town Americans. The pundits say New in Town‘s timely premise and winning leads are no match for the film’s weather-beaten, clichéd script, which tries way too hard to be uplifting.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Finally, props to AnthonyDidge, who came the closest to guessing Underworld: Rise of the Lycans‘ 34 percent Tomatometer.