This week at the movies, we’ve got a zombie rom-com (Warm Bodies, starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer), an aging hit man (Bullet to the Head, starring Sylvester Stallone), and aging ex-cons (Stand Up Guys, starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.) What do the critics have to say?
It can’t be easy putting a fresh spin on something as well-trod as the zombie genre, but this week’s Warm Bodies — starring Nicholas Hoult as an undead teen who falls for Teresa Palmer’s human survivor — gives it a shot, mixing horror and romance in a way that might befit Shakespeare (if the Bard had grown up watching Dawn of the Dead, perhaps.) And for the most part, critics have warmed to Jonathan Levine’s zom-com, suggesting the movie gets its balance of horror, romance and comedy pretty right — even if it doesn’t exactly maximize the potential of a rich premise. Currently, Warm Bodies is Certified Fresh at 78%.
It seems the march of time shall not weary Sylvester Stallone, who keeps cranking out the action movies like a star half his age. This week the Italian Stallion returns in Walter Hill’s Bullet to the Head, playing a New Orleans hit man who partners with a DC cop (Sung Kang) to bring down a crime boss. Unfortunately the critics aren’t terribly impressed with Sly’s latest, saying that — despite some deliberately trashy fun — the movie suffers by comparison with Hill’s classic buddy actioner, 48 HRS. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames, in which we take a look at Stallone’s career on the big screen.)
Take three Oscar-winning acting greats and put them in a crime comedy about an ex-con and his two old pals and you’d think it’d be a recipe for a winner. Not so, say the critics. Stand Up Guys features Al Pacino as a recently-released mob veteran who reconnects with his best friend (Christopher Walken) and their associate (Alan Arkin), yet despite the presence of such screen legends, reviews are largely dismissive, suggesting that the movie is a mediocre waste of its talented cast.
(For Pacino on better days, check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down the actor’s ten best-reviewed movies.)
Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers, which features interviews with the retired heads of the Israeli secret service, is at 90 percent.
Sound City, musician-turned-filmmaker Dave Grohl’s documentary about the legendary Los Angeles recording studio, is at 100 percent.
Girls Against Boys, a gory revenge thriller with Danielle Panabaker, is at 14 percent.
Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary, a documentary about incarcerated journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, is at 33 percent.
As Luck Would Have It, Álex de la Iglesia’s relationship drama starring Salma Hayek and José Mota, is at 89 percent.
This week is also a chance to catch the year’s Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts, (67 percent), Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films (100 percent), and the Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films (100 percent).
And finally, The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, a horror sequel starring Chad Michael Murray and Abigail Spencer, wasn’t screened for critics — which brings us to our last item: congratulations to RT user George Patchell, whose guess of 19 percent for last week’s unscreened Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was closest to the movie’s eventual 18 percent Tomatometer.