This week at the movies, we’ve got an aging baseball scout (Trouble with the Curve, starring Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams); a deadly judge (Dredd 3D, starring Karl Urban and Olivia Thirby); cartel-busting cops (End of Watch, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena); a religious leader (The Master, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman); and a creepy dwelling (House at the End of the Street, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue). What do the critics have to say?
Nobody plays a grizzled-but-secretly-lovable coot like Clint Eastwood. And critics say he and co-star Amy Adams are in fine form in Trouble with the Curve, even if the movie’s plot is as well-worn as an old catcher’s mitt. Gus Lobel (Eastwood) is an aging scout for the Atlanta Braves who’s losing both his sight and his preternatural gift for judging talent. When the team hopes to secure a hotshot prospect in the draft, Gus’ daughter Mickey (Adams) joins him on a trip to scout the player, mending their frayed relationship in the process. The pundits say Trouble With the Curve may not be a home run, but it’s a solid single: it’s warm, well-acted, and really predictable. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down the best movies starring Eastwood.)
Judge Dredd, from 1995, has long been a punchline for fans of comic book adaptations. So it’s a small miracle that critics are pretty psyched about the franchise’s reboot — they say Dredd 3D is tense, visceral, and visually dazzling. Karl Urban stars as the title character, a law-enforcement agent that acts as judge, jury, and executioner. Patrolling the streets of a dystopian megalopolis, Dredd battles a vicious drug syndicate that’s taken over a heavily fortified apartment building. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Dredd is ultra-violent (sometimes excessively so), but it’s also deftly paced, action packed, and surprisingly smart.
A buddy-cop movie shot in a found-footage style, End of Watch might initially look like a feature length episode of COPS. However, critics say this is a gritty take on well-trodden turf, and it benefits greatly from the chemistry between leads Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. They play partners in the LAPD – one of whom is shooting a few days on the beat for a film school project – and what a wild few days they are. Upon making what seems like a routine bust, our heroes become the targets of a ruthless drug cartel. The pundits say the Certified Fresh End of Watch is an immersive experience, putting audiences on a ride-along with two terrifically realized characters.
Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master opens in wide release this weekend, and critics say this tale of a troubled man who falls under the influence of a shadowy religious leader is immersive, expertly crafted, and wonderfully acted. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a navy vet in the midst of personal turmoil who turns to Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the charismatic leader of a group called the Cause; soon, the two men are locked in a test of wills. The pundits say Certified Fresh The Master is a challenging work, but it’s often hypnotic and elusive in the best sense. (Check out RT staffer Jeff Giles’ Paul Thomas Anderson watching series here.)
It appears the folks behind House at the End of the Street were afraid the film wasn’t built on the sturdiest of foundations, since reviews are currently unavailable. Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue star as a mother and daughter who move into a new neighborhood, only to learn that the house next door was the site of a gruesome double murder that remains shrouded in mystery. It’s time to guess the Tomatometer! (And check out RT 24 Frames, which delves into Lawrence’s life and career.)
How to Survive a Plague, a documentary about the early days of AIDS activism, is at 100 percent.
Knuckleball!, a doc about the practitioners of baseball’s most unpredictable pitch, is at 100 percent.
Radio Unnameable, a doc about influential radio personality Bob Fass, is at 100 percent.
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, a mixed-media doc about the legendary fashion editor, is at 87 percent.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson in a coming-of-age drama about an awkward teenager coming out of his shell, is at 75 percent.
17 Girls, a French drama about a group of teenage girls who make a pregnancy pact, is at 67 percent.
Head Games, a doc about the effects of football concussions, is at 64 percent.
The Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best, a musical comedy about a pair of bandmates who take their toy instrument act on the road, is at 30 percent.
Backwards, starring James Van Der Beek drama about a woman who becomes a high school rowing coach, is at 20 percent.
About Cherry, starring Dev Patel and Lili Taylor in a drama about a teenager girl who finds herself in the midst of the porn industry, is at 13 percent.
You May Not Kiss the Bride, starring Katharine McPhee in a comedy about a man who marries a mobster’s daughter because he needs a green card, is at zero percent.
Finally, props to Brian Clarkson and Simon Opitz for coming the closest to guessing Resident Evil: Retribution‘s 29 percent Tomatometer.