Critical Consensus: "Blue" Sinks, "Violence" Kills, "Serenity" Soars

by | September 29, 2005 | Comments

This week at the movies, we have sexy divers ("Into the Blue"), secretive family men ("A History of Violence"), space renegades ("Serenity"), streetwise scamps ("Oliver Twist") and sandtraps ("The Greatest Game Ever Played"). Who will survive the scrutiny of the scribes?

Is "Into the Blue" an action-packed thriller, or an excuse for Jessica Alba and Paul Walker to wear as little clothing as possible? More to the point, is this tale of attractive snorkelers who happen upon some dangerous treasure seaworthy? In a word, no, say the critics. Despite an attractive cast, the critics say this one is submarined by camp and unintentional laughs. At 23 percent on the Tomatometer, the scribes are definitely not "Into" this one.

Why do millions of people pay good money to see violent images on the screen week after week? What evil lurks in the hearts of men? Is it possible that perpetual outsider David Cronenberg has made — gasp! – a mainstream movie? These are some of the questions raised by "A History of Violence," the story of a small-town restaurant owner (Viggo Mortensen) with a secret or two. The critics are raising another question: Is this the best movie of the year so far? At 87 percent on the Tomatometer, it’s one of the best reviewed.

Fangirls and fanboys of the world, rejoice! Your beloved, swiftly cancelled TV series, "Firefly" is on the big screen, and it’s getting really good reviews! A tale of a ragtag bunch of space fugitives, "Serenity" is winning praise for its great ensemble chemistry, genre jumping audacity, and punchy dialogue. At 80 percent on the Tomatometer, Joss Whedon’s space opera will leave its cult following with a feeling of "Serenity."

Roman Polanski is one of those directors whose work is filled with touches so personal that every film is a window to his soul. Polanski has adapted classics before ("Tess," "Macbeth") and brought a heavy dose of autobiography to the table. While the critics aren’t completely opposed to his take on Dickens’ "Oliver Twist," they have collectively questioned why Polanski made such a faithful, surprisingly bloodless version of a story that’s been pretty well covered in cinematic history. At 53 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics are saying let’s not "Twist" again.

Feel-good sports stories never get old. Ever. That’s why so many of them get made. "The Greatest Game Ever Played," Bill Paxton‘s second film in the director’s chair, tells the story of blue collar Francis Ouimet, an amateur golfer who shocked the sports world by defeating British champion Harry Vardon at the 1913 U.S. Open. The critics say the movie is as predictable as they come, but it’s also heartfelt and absorbing. At 65 percent on the Tomatometer, this one’s got "Game."

Most Recent Jessica Alba Movies:
25% — Fantastic Four (2005)
78% — Sin City (2005)
16% — Honey (2003)
17% — Idle Hands (1999)
58% — Never Been Kissed (1999)

Most Recent David Cronenberg Movies:
85% — Spider (2003)
72% — eXistenZ (1999)
63% — Crash (1996)
47% — M Butterfly (1993)
64% — Naked Lunch (1991)

Notable TV Series to Film Adaptations with Principle Cast Members:
70% — X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)
74% — Mystery Science 3000: The Movie (1996)
58% — Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
92% — The Naked Gun – From the Files of Police Squad (1988)
53% — Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1980)