Critics Consensus

A Quiet Place and Blockers Are Certified Fresh

Plus, Chappaquiddick and The Miracle Season prove not all true stories are adapted equally, and season 2 of Legion is also Certified Fresh.

by | April 5, 2018 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we have some uniquely taciturn horror (A Quiet Place, starring John Krasinski and Emily Blunt), parental prom panic (Blockers, starring Leslie Mann and John Cena), a serving of volleyball drama (The Miracle Season, starring Helen Hunt and William Hurt), and a Kennedy scandal revisited (Chappaquiddick, starring Jason Clarke and Kate Mara). What are the critics saying?

A Quiet Place (2018) 96%

Every discerning horror fan understands the key role sound plays in a great genre flick — although it’s usually pointed out as a way of highlighting a filmmaker’s lazy reliance on cheap jolts in place of true elemental dread. We get to see the opposite in action with A Quiet Place, the latest directorial outing from Office vet John Krasinski. Starring alongside real-life wife Emily Blunt, Krasinski (who also co-wrote the screenplay) plunges audiences into a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has been largely wiped out by a horde of insect-like aliens, and the last remaining stragglers must keep silent in order to remain undetected by the invaders. Our protagonists have managed to carve out a hardscrabble life for their family, but Blunt’s character is heavily pregnant — all of which lays the foundation for a movie that pretty much every critic has lauded as a smart, wickedly frightening good time at the movies. Filmgoers who are allergic to horror may want to steer clear, but for everyone else, A Quiet Place is shaping up to be one of the year’s best-reviewed wide releases, as well as yet another example of our ongoing genre renaissance. Get yourself a ticket, but you might want to skip the popcorn — the less sound you make during this movie, the better.

Blockers (2018) 84%

The post-Bridesmaids era has seen Hollywood awaken to the reality that women can carry a raunchy comedy just as well as men — yet while it’s hard to fault their belated enthusiasm for ribald female-led laughs, the results haven’t always been as easy to celebrate. Happily, that isn’t the case with Blockers, which finds Pitch Perfect screenwriter Kay Cannon moving behind the camera to direct the tale of three high school seniors (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon) determined to lose their virginity on prom night — and the increasingly desperate efforts of their parents (Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena) to stop the deflowering at all costs. In terms of setup, it’s little more than a gender-swapped take on the type of “losin’ it” teen comedies the industry has been cranking out for decades; fortunately, there’s a lot more to a movie than its setup, and critics say this is a very funny case in point. There’s plenty of gross-out humor, to be sure — audiences may never look at Cena’s rear end and/or beer bongs the same way ever again — but the gags are brought to life by an exceptionally talented cast, and balanced by the type of intelligence and empathy that aren’t often found in this genre.

The Miracle Season (2018) 52%

As we’ve discussed countless times in this space, a formula only becomes a formula because it works — and the inspirational sports drama is a perfect case in point. Once you’ve watched a few of them, it’s fairly easy to predict the storyline beats and when they’ll be hit, but no matter how many times we see people triumph over adversity through bonding over competitive games, it can still be powerfully effective when it’s done right. To its credit, The Miracle Season does a couple of things that suggest it’ll be a worthy and/or somewhat novel addition to the genre, including hiring Helen Hunt and William Hurt to star and centering the plot around girls’ high school volleyball; unfortunately, critics say none of it is enough to outweigh director Sean McNamara‘s overall failure to capture the heart-wrenching true story of a squad that bands together in pursuit of the state championship after the death of their star player. Reviews point to a movie that’s occasionally bluntly effective in its aggressive pursuit of the audience’s tear ducts, but unless you’re really into volleyball and/or hugely emotional final acts, consider yourself advised to stay on the sidelines for this one.

Chappaquiddick (2017) 80%

As a political dynasty as well as an American family, the Kennedys have weathered more than their share of stranger-than-fiction developments, enjoying generations of historic good fortune while also suffering searing tragedy and shame. One of the darker chapters gets its due with this weekend’s Chappaquiddick, which focuses on the scandal that erupted — and was ultimately quelled — when Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) drove off a bridge, killing his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). It’s obviously a sordid story, the truth of which remains beyond the grasp of any biopic, but critics say this one mostly hits the mark; Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan‘s screenplay takes a balanced approach to the tabloid-friendly details, while Jason Clarke’s performance as Kennedy artfully resists caricature on multiple levels. There’s certainly no shortage of movies about the members of this family, but Chappaquidick fits solidly into the oeuvre.

What’s New on TV

Legion: Season 2 (2018) 91%

Legion returns with a smart, strange second season that settles into a straighter narrative without sacrificing its unique sensibilities.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Endless (2017) , about two brothers who return to the site of their cult upbringing in a potentially misguided attempt to make peace with their childhood, is at 100%.
  • Lowlife (2017) , a dramedy using a cross-cutting narrative approach to the story of several people mixed up in an L.A. organ harvesting ring, is at 100%.
  • Pandas (2018) , an IMAX documentary about snakes — just kidding, it’s pandas — is at 100%.
  • Rogers Park (2017) , about the intertwining lives of people residing in the titular Chicago neighborhood, is at 100%.
  • The Heart of Nuba (2016) , a documentary about the heroic efforts of a lone doctor and his small staff in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, is at 100%.
  • Sweet Country (2017) , about an Australian aborigine who goes on the run after he’s forced to violently defend himself against his employer, is at 95%.
  • Lean on Pete (2017) , starring Charlie Plummer as a boy who finds companionship while caring for a horse at his local racetrack, is Certified Fresh at 89%.
  • You Were Never Really Here (2017) , starring Joaquin Phoenix as a veteran who channels his haunted past into tracking down missing girls, is Certified Fresh at 86%.
  • Big Fish & Begonia (2016) , an animated outing from Chinese filmmakers Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang, is at 78%.
  • Where Is Kyra? (2017) , starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a woman whose life is upended after the death of her mother, is at 74%.
  • Spinning Man (2018) , a twisty mystery starring Guy Pearce as a chief suspect in a young woman’s disappearance, is at 43%.
  • Shelter (2017) , a drama centering on a Mossad agent holed up with an informant who’s recovering from identity-concealing plastic surgery, is at 29%.

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