Critical Consensus: "Gardener" Reaps Praise

by | September 1, 2005 | Comments

This week we have a movie about international intrigue ("The Constant Gardener"), a mercenary ("The Transporter 2"), the problems of time travel ("A Sound of Thunder"), and a cop who goes back to school "Underclassman").Which one will get the best marks from the critics?

Director Fernando Meirelles‘ first film, "City of God," was a marvel, as it examined the lives of the poor in Rio de Janeiro while simultaneously being exhilarating entertainment. So what does he do for an encore? "The Constant Gardener," a film that critics say manages to be both exiting and a thoughtful, angry diatribe against neo-colonialism in Africa. The film, starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, tells the story of a mild-mannered British diplomat who finds himself in the midst of an international conspiracy. If, at 79 percent on the Tomatometer, it falls a tad below "City of God" (93 percent), the scribes still think it’s one of the smartest films of the summer.

Jason Statham is back in his signature role, as "The Transporter 2" continues the story of the ex-special-forces-agent-turned-mercenary, and the critics are as divided on the sequel as they were on the original. While some say the latest installment is absurd and riddled with plot holes, others say it’s got enough excitement to keep action fans satisfied. It’s currently at 50 percent on the Tomatometer; the original was a shade better, at 51 percent.

The sound you hear may be thunder, or it may be the pounding of critics’ keyboards to pan "A Sound of Thunder," a new science fiction film based on a short story by Ray Bradbury. Starring Edward Burns and Ben Kingsley, the movie examines the potentially devastating effects of time travel on the course of history. The critics say the film has all the negative trappings of 1950s B-movies; with cheesy dialogue and way more fi than sci, "A Sound of Thunder" is at nine percent on the Tomatometer.

What was high school like for you? At my school, there was a car theft ring, and all of a sudden there was this new, popular guy at my school, who I was stunned to find out later was an undercover cop. As you may have guessed, "Underclassman," starring the very likable Nick Cannon, is not the height of realism, critics say. But, even worse, it is not original at all, copping riffs from "Beverly Hills Cop" and "21 Jump Street." The critics are giving this one a flunking grade; at zero on the Tomatometer, "Underclassman" won’t make it out of summer school.

Recent Luc Besson Productions:
66% — Unleashed (2005)
42% — High Tension (2005)
10% — Taxi (2004)
51% — The Transporter (2002)
46% — Wasabi (2002)
48% — Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

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