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


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


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 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.)



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

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