Critics Consensus

Critical Consensus: Night Doesn't Shine, Rendition Unextraordinary, Gone Baby Gone is Certified Fresh

Fire is lukewarm, Commandments not a ten. Plus, guess the Comebacks and Sarah Landon Tomatometer!

by | October 18, 2007 | Comments

This week at the movies we have Alaskan vamps (30
Days of Night
, starring
Josh Hartnett
and Melissa
), imprisoned citizens (Rendition,
starring Jake
), private eyes (Gone
Baby Gone
, starring
Casey Affleck
Michelle Monaghan
), grieving adults (Things
We Lost in the Fire
, starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro),
biblical figures (The
Ten Commandments
), athletes (The
), and teen detectives of the supernatural (Sarah
Landon and the Paranormal Hour
). What do the critics have to say?

Many horror films go to great lengths to create a dark atmosphere. 30
Days of Night
does them all one better, venturing to a place where it’s night for
a month: Barrow, AK, the northernmost point in the U.S. Unfortunately, critics
are left cold by this one. Night stars Josh Hartnett and Melissa George
as an estranged couple defending their town against a horde of bloodthirsty
vampires. Critics say the film has some frightful moments that should please
gorehounds, but overall, the film lacks the nuance and sustained tension to
really put this kind of genre exercise over. At 39 percent on the Tomatometer, Night
doesn’t shine.

Hartnett and company check for undead termites.

Reese Witherspoon stars in Rendition as a housewife whose husband is imprisoned
and tortured by the U.S. for his suspected involvement with terrorists. Jake Gyllenhaal co-stars as a government employee trying to set him free, with
as a bureaucrat intent on keeping him there. While critics commended the
film for exploring the issue of torture within the context of combating
terrorism, they say the plot is spread thinly across an abundance of characters
and doesn’t give the film the emotional drive it needs, while arriving at an
oversimplified conclusion of this very complex subject. At 39 percent, this
Rendition is less than extraordinary.

Who needs work when you have Snood?

Ben Affleck has had a rollercoaster career, but critics say his feature
directorial debut, Gone
Baby Gone
, is one of the high points. Treading
the same rough Boston streets as
Mystic River
(also adapted from one of
source writer Dennis
‘s novels), Gone Baby Gone tells the story of
a pair of private eyes (Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) searching for a
lost four-year-old, a quest that delves into the dark shadows of the city, from
the criminal underworld to corrupt cops. Critics say Baby is grim, but
also deliciously noirish and morally complex, featuring standout performances
from its leads, as well as
Morgan Freeman and
Ed Harris. With a score of 89
percent on the Tomatometer, Gone Baby Gone‘s critical reaction should
assuage Ben’s depression over the current state of his beloved Red Sox. (Check
out this week’s Total Recall, where we examine some of Affleck’s notable

Affleck ponders another imminent Red Sox defeat.

Susanne Bier, famed in her native Denmark for her dark and complex melodramas,
makes her American debut this week with Things
We Lost in the Fire
. Halle Berry
stars as a grieving widow who invites Benicio Del Toro’s character, her
husband’s childhood friend and heroin addict, to move in with her and her
children. Though it frequently drips into maudlin territory (something Bier
avoided with her previous effort, the Certified Fresh
After the Wedding
critics recognize it as at least a sincere tearjerker, and an honest and
emotionally raw portrayal of two tortured people. At 64 percent, Fire isn’t
red-hot but should appease viewers out for a soapy drama.

A therapeutic game of thumb war.
Movie lovers who lack the patience to sit through the
The Decalogue
in luck:
The Ten Commandments
tells the story of Moses in less than an
hour and a half, and in animated form, no less. But is it any good? Well,
critics are forbidden to bear false witness, and they say it isn’t. The Ten
follows Moses’ journey from infancy to the point where he leads
the Chosen People to the Promised Land, and features voice work from the likes
of Ben Kingsley and
Christian Slater. But critics say the film’s middling
animation and lack of nuance make for a dull take on one of the Bible’s most
rousing tales. At 20 percent on the Tomatometer, critics say thou shall not
enjoy The Ten Commandments.

This week, the folks behind both The
and Sarah
Landon and the Paranormal Hour
declined to screen their films for pundits. The
spoofs inspirational sports movies, while Sarah Landon is
about a 17-year-old who discovers spectral activity in her hometown. Our only
guess is that it was assumed each film would receive a critical (buzzer)
beating, or wouldn’t stand a ghost of a chance with the scribes. (Thank you.
I’ll be here all week.) Guess those Tomatometers.

"I’ve got a bad case of athlete’s spoof."
Also opening this week in limited release:
Meeting Resistance
, a doc
about Iraqi insurgents, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer;
Trigger Man
an indie about a harrowing hunting trip, is at 100 percent;
Wristcutters: A
Love Story
, a dramedy about the afterlife starring
Patrick Fugit, is at 71
percent; the Spanish import
, about the familial
responsibilities of a young janitor, is at 67 percent;
Out of the Blue
, a
fictional retelling of New Zealand’s largest mass-murder, is at 67 percent;
, a Polish take on the spaghetti western genre, is at 60 percent;
a wacky tale of stoners and satanic cults, is at 58
The Girl Next Door
, a tale of torture beneath the placid façade
of 1950s suburbia, is at 58 percent;
Reservation Road
, a tale of familial
grief starring
Joaquin Phoenix,
Jennifer Connelly, and
Mark Ruffalo, is at 37
percent (check out our interview with director Terry George
here); and
starring John Malkovich in a biopic of the great painter, is at 30 percent.

"You have a beard but you’re not the bad guy? That’s weird."
Finally, props to Bloody Mathias for coming the closest to guessing
Perry’s Why Did I Get Married
‘s 48 percent Tomatometer. Try putting a
bandage on it, and perhaps then you won’t be bloody, Mathias.

Recent Ben Affleck Movies:
26% — Smokin’ Aces (2007)
38% — Man About Town (2006)
63% — Clerks II (2006)
70% — Hollywoodland (2006)
7% — Surviving Christmas (2004)

Recent Casey Affleck Movies:
73% —
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
69% — Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
46% — The Last Kiss (2006)
55% — Lonesome Jim (2006)
55% — Ocean’s

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