Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a Solid Sendoff

Plus, Night at the Museum is so-so, Annie hits a sour note, and Wild is Certified Fresh.

by | December 19, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got Middle-earth warriors (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, starring Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen), a world-travelling night watchman (Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams), a streetwise orphan (Annie, starring Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx), and a determined hiker (Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern). What do the critics have to say?

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

59%

It would be nearly impossible for director Peter Jackson to top — or even equal — the sweep and grandeur of the Lord of the Rings movies, and while the reviews for the first two Hobbit films were generally positive, many found something lacking. Critics say The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings this trilogy to a close in reasonably rousing fashion, but while the battle scenes are visually striking, the story is more than a little thin. After going up against the fire-breathing dragon Smaug, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and makeshift battalions of men, elves, and dwarfs must join forces to fight off an onslaught of orcs and restore order to Middle-earth. The pundits say that Jackson’s visual sense is as strong as ever, but this conclusion to The Hobbit saga lacks the human touch and weightiness that made the Lord of the Rings films such revered classics. (Check out our Hobbit Headquarters for much more on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, including features, interviews, and countdowns.)

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

47%

At this point, you pretty much know what you’re getting with a Night at the Museum movie: a few good laughs, a bunch of famous people playing historical figures, and little to offend — or stir — anyone in your family. Critics say that’s basically the deal with Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which offers up some decent slapstick and a few new faces but never quite coalesces into anything truly enchanting. This time out, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) finally ventures outside the stuffy confines of those crazy museums; instead, he goes on a globe-trotting mission to preserve the magic that animates the museum’s historical populace. The pundits say Secret of the Tomb will probably please the kiddies, and Robin Williams shines in one of his last performances, but it’s largely a slack, so-so affair. (Take a look at this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Stiller’s best-reviewed movies.)

Annie

28%

Annie is one of Broadway’s most durable and beloved productions, but it hasn’t fared nearly as well on the big screen. John Huston’s 1982 version drew decidedly mixed reviews, but critics say this update is even more of a misfire, a surprisingly tuneless, left-footed affair in which a number of big names deliver performances of wildly varying quality. Quvenzhané Wallis stars as the titular orphan, who lives with a mean foster mom until Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), a businessman with political ambitions, takes her in. The pundits say that while Wallis is charming, the biggest problem is that this Annie is a musical starring talented people who, with a few exceptions, aren’t necessarily the best singers or dancers. (Watch our interviews with Wallis, Foxx, and co-stars Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz, and Bobby Cannavale.)

Wild

88%

After winning strong reviews in limited release, Wild is going wide this weekend, and it’s already generating Oscar buzz for the strength of Reese Witherspoon’s lead performance. Based upon the bestselling memoir from Cheryl Strayed, Wild is the story of a woman reeling from the death of her mother and her recent divorce who decides to walk the entire Pacific Crest Trail by herself in an attempt to get back on track. The critics say this Certified Fresh drama is a thoughtful, emotionally potent character study with strong performances and beautiful natural locations.

What’s Hot on TV:

Homeland (Certified Fresh at 81 percent) wraps up its fourth season Sunday night, and critics say the show has had been smart, tense, and focused, making for the strongest iteration since its hard-hitting first season.

Thanks to some smart, creative storytelling and spectacular performances, The Affair (Certified Fresh at 94 percent), which has its season finale on Sunday night, is a somber, bewitching exploration of truth and desire.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

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