<pTerrible, horrible, no good, and very bad? Or terrific, honest, noteworthy, and very good? Critics say Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day falls directly in the middle — it’s pleasant, charming, inoffensive, and a little tepid. Based upon Judith Viorst’s beloved children’s book, the movie stars Ed Oxenbould, who has a lousy day at school and subsequently wishes that his other family members are also stricken with bad luck as well. Hilarity and, ultimately, family bonding ensue. The pundits say Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is perfectly passable family entertainment — it’s well-meaning and reasonably funny, but nothing earth-shaking. (Watch our video interviews with stars Jennifer Garner, Steve Carrell, Ed Oxenbould, and more.)
It’s been a while since we’ve been treated to a weighty courtroom drama at the multiplex, so it’s not unreasonable to have high expectations for The Judge — especially since it stars Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. Unfortunately, critics say that despite its fine performances, the film is overlong and far too predictable. Hank Palmer (Downey) is a big-city attorney who returns to his hometown in Indiana for his mother’s funeral. His estranged father Joseph (Duvall), the town judge, is accused of murder, so Hank ends up defending him, while trying to make peace with the past. The pundits say The Judge is impeccably crafted, and the stars play off each other quite well, but it’s got too much melodrama and not enough suspense. (Check out our video interviews with Downey, Duvall, and more.)
You can drive a stake through his heart, expose him to sunlight, and come at him with a convent’s-worth of crucifixes, and still, Dracula will rise again — since the silent era, we’ve been treated to hundreds of cinematic depictions of Transylvania’s favorite son. That said, critics say Dracula Untold is visually striking but narratively shaky, borrowing heavily from a wide range of fantasy/adventure movies. In 15th Century Romania, Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) makes a deal with an old vampire in order to protect his kingdom from an invading army. He’s granted a variety of supernatural powers, but at the cost of developing a taste for blood. The pundits say Dracula Untold offers some fun battle scenes, but it’s a bit unclear on the rules of being a vampire. (See interviews with Evans, Sarah Gadon, and more.)
In Up in the Air and Young Adult, director Jason Reitman crafted witty, portraits of lonely people trying to connect with others. Unfortunately, critics say his latest, Men, Women & Children, jettisons the wit in favor of a more hectoring tone that’s only partially redeemed by the strong cast. It’s a multi-stranded ensemble piece set in a small town in Texas, in which adults and their teenage children are immersed in their phones and computers, but have difficulty communicating offline. The pundits say Men, Women & Children is ambitious and well-acted, but its message ultimately overrides its storytelling.