Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Dark Knight Is One Of The Year's Best-Reviewed

Plus, Mamma Mia! is not a super trouper; Chimps is lost in Space.

by | July 17, 2008 | Comments

This week, we’ve got the Caped Crusader (The Dark Knight, starring
Christian Bale and
Heath Ledger), ABBA aficionados (Mamma Mia!, starring
Meryl Streep and
Amanda Seyfried), and space-bound simians (Space Chimps, with voice work by
Andy Samberg and
Jeff Daniels). What do the critics have to say?

The wait is over, Batfans. And the word is good. Critics are calling The Dark Knight one of the year’s best, a brooding, complex, emotionally wrenching film that plumbs the emotional depths of the Batman mythos. The sequel to the series reboot
Batman Begins, TDK finds Bruce Wayne/ Batman (Christian Bale) tangling with his most iconic archenemy, the Joker (Heath Ledger) — while finding the two have more in common than they’d like to admit. The pundits give kudos all around, from
Christopher Nolan‘s white-knuckle direction and provocative script to the able cast that includes
Michael Caine,
Maggie Gyllenhaal, and
Aaron Eckhart. But much of the critical gushing is reserved for the late Ledger, who plays the Joker like a man possessed (some suggest the Academy should take notice of his performance). At 93 percent on the Tomatometer, The Dark Knight isn’t just Certified Fresh. It’s also the best-reviewed Batman movie of all time, and the third best-reviewed wide release of the year, trailing only
WALL-E at (97 percent) and
Iron Man (at 93 percent). (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we revisit all the Batman movies.)

“If only getting the Time Warner cable guy were this easy.”

It is a fact that you can dance. It is also true that you can jive. However, will you have the time of your life at Mamma Mia? Critics aren’t quite going that far. Meryl Streep stars as a single mother whose daughter (Amanda Seyfried) is about to get married, and has invited three men to her wedding in Greece, trying to determine which is her real father; romance and renditions of “S.O.S.” and “Waterloo” ensue. Nobody denies ABBA’s tunes are darned infections (noted fans include
Sid Vicious and
John McCain), and some pundits concede Mamma Mia! has moments of frothy fun. However, others say the movie is ultimately way too sugary, sentimental, and lightweight to truly satisfy, and though Streep is in fine form, others in the cast don’t fare as well with the musical numbers. At 47 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes aren’t falling “Head Over Heels” for Mamma Mia!

“Let me show you a fast way to wax the banister.”

Monkeys and chimps were some of the earliest space travelers, so an animated take on their exploits would seem like a sure bet for the kiddies, right? Well, critics aren’t going bananas for the CGI feature
Space Chimps
. Ham III (voiced by Andy Samberg) is the good-for-nothing grandson of a space pioneer who finds himself part of team of chimps who have been blasted through a black hole, where they find a planet ruled by and evil monarch. The pundits say Space Chimps is bland and dull, featuring indifferent animation and a tired storyline that may please really little kids but virtually no one else. At
21 percent on the Tomatometer, these Chimps are lost in space.

The mission: Research the effects of zero gravity on the Tomatometer.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Batman Movies:
84% — Batman Begins (2005)
12% — Batman & Robin (1997)
43% — Batman Forever (1995)
87% — Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
79% — Batman Returns (1992)
69% — Batman (1989)
80% — Batman: The Movie (1966)

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