Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: Enchanted Bewitches, Hitman Misses, No Country is Certified Fresh

Plus: The Mist shines through, August Rush hits a sweet note, and This Christmas is a gift.

by | November 20, 2007 | Comments

Every year, movie studios get a jump start on turkey Thursday and black Friday by giving audiences a taste of the good stuff two days earlier than usual. This week, we’ve got real-life fairy tales (Enchanted,
starring Amy Adams and
Patrick Dempsey), a deadly fog (The Mist, starring
Thomas Jane and
Marcia Gay Harden), loads of gunplay (Hitman, starring
Timothy Olyphant), musical families
(August Rush,
starring
Freddie
Highmore
and
Keri Russell), yuletide conflict (This Christmas,
starring Delroy Lindo), and the latest from
the Coen Brothers
(No Country for Old Men, starring
Javier Bardem and
Josh Brolin).
What do the critics have to say?

Sort of a Wizard of Oz in reverse,
Enchanted is the story of
Giselle (Amy Adams), a princess in an animated magical kingdom who’s transported to the
streets of Manhattan by an evil queen (Susan Sarandon). There, she meets a
kindly lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) and attempts to negotiate the line between
fantasy and reality. The pundits say Enchanted lives up to its title,
featuring sharp gags, excellent animation, and a smart re-imagining of
fairy-tale tropes. But they hold out the highest praise for Adams, a sharp scene
stealer who makes the most of her top billing here. At 89 percent on the
Tomatometer, Enchanted is bewitching.



James Marsden challenges Dempsey for Sexiest Man Alive Runner-Up
title.

The Mist
springs forth from the collective minds of author
Stephen King and
director Frank Darabont, the winning
combination that’s previously brought us
The Shawshank Redemption
and
The Green Mile. But
in their latest collaboration the two take a decidedly horrific bent: A small
town is terrorized by a group of deadly creatures lurking in a particularly
thick fog. Could a top-secret experiment at a nearby military base have anything
to do with it? Critics are less ecstatic with The Mist than previous King/Darabont
joints: they say the chills and thrills are there, and Darabont valiantly
attempts for a psychological depth rarely seen in horror, but he frequently
comes off as didactic and heavy-handed. At 69 percent Tomatometer, the gold shines through in The Mist. (Read our interview with the Mist cast and crew here.)



"That’s no moon, that’s a giant bug monster with pseudo-Biblical
overtones."

Hitman stars
Timothy Olyphant as an accomplished assassin named 47 who
stumbles into the midst of some political intrigue and goes on the run.
Considering the well-publicized news of Hitman’s reshoots and its origin
as a video game, it’s no surprise that the movie isn’t sitting well
with the critics. They call it vulgar, gratuitously violent, too reliant on CG
to propel the action, and just an overall dizzying blur of explosions and
bullets — the usual barbs critics reserve for video game adaptations, and
exactly the
stuff that gets gamers off the couch and into the theaters. At 14 percent on the Tomatometer, looks like it’s game over,
Hitman.



"Don’t worry. I did the Konami Code before this mission."

In August Rush, an orphan (Freddie
Highmore
) runs away to New York,
where an overseer of young musicians (Robin Williams) recognizes
his guitar skills. As it turns out, the orphan was the product of a one-night
stand between a cellist (Keri Russell) and a singer-songwriter (Jonathan Rhys
Meyers
), whom he now hopes to reunite. It’s a fairly absurd premise but the
performers give it their all, and goes a long way to overcome
Kristen Sheridan‘s
sentimental and cloying direction. At 58 percent on the Tomatometer, August
Rush
hits a sickly sweet note. (Read our interview with Freddie Highmore here.)




"It’s agreed. No ‘Stairway.’"

It’s time for another Christmas movie in which each member of a dysfunctional family brings
plenty of baggage with them to the yuletide festivities. Bah, humbug, right? Not
so fast. Critics say
This Christmas
is a delightful surprise, a solid
dramedy that, in lesser hands, could have been chaotic and mawkish. In Christmas
the members of the Whitfield clan returns home, setting off a maelstrom of
unresolved tensions and revelations. The pundits say director
Preston A.
Whitmore II
takes a variety of contrived plotines and deftly weaves them together with wit and
finesse, and the cast, which features such excellent thespians as
Delroy Lindo,
Regina King,
Idris Elba, and
Mekhi Phifer, is never less than stellar. At 65
percent on the Tomatometer, This Christmas is a pleasant gift.




"I hope it’s the Little Golden Book adaptation of Bioshock."

With No Country for Old Men, the
Coen Brothers return to the moral
ambiguity, black humor, and horrifying violence that reverberated throughout
some of their best work, movies like
Blood Simple
and
Fargo
. And critics say
that’s a very, very good thing.
Javier Bardem
stars as a psychopathic killer on the trail of an average Joe (Josh Brolin) who stumbles
across a huge sum of money. The pundits say No Country is a triumph:
grim, suspenseful, frightening, and loaded with pitch-perfect performances. At
96 percent on the No Country for Old Men is not only Certified Fresh, it’s one
of the best-reviewed films of the year and trails only Blood Simple
within the brothers’ filmography. (Check out our Total Recall feature on the Coens’ filmography
here.)



“You don’t want to know what I’ll do if that Tomatometer drops below 90.”

Also opening this week in limited release:
The Red Balloon
,
Albert
Lamorisse
‘s French children’s classic, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer;
Starting
Out in the Evening
, about a relationship between a solitary novelist and a
grad student starring
Frank Langella and
Lauren Ambrose, is at 93 percent;
Todd
Haynes

I’m Not There
, an unconventional biopic of Bob Dylan starring
Cate Blanchett,
Christian Bale,
Heath Ledger, and
Richard Gere, is at 76 percent; Everything’s Cool, a personal documentary about global warming, is at 60 percent;
and Nina’s Heavenly Delights, a culture-clash rom-com, is at zero
percent.




"I also think Robbe-Grillet is vastly overrated. Want to make out?”

Recent Timothy Olyphant Movies:
—————————————
22% —
Catch and Release
(2007)
80% —
Live Free or Die Hard
(2006)
74% —
Coastlines
(2006)
41% —
The Girl
Next Door
(2006)
23% —
Dreamcatcher
(2006)

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