Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Frozen is Certified Fresh

Plus, Black Nativity is heartfelt but uneven; Homefront is mostly generic; and Oldboy is intriguing but not quite successful.

by | November 27, 2013 | Comments

Happy Thanksgiving! This week at the movies, we’ve got a frigid fairy tale (Frozen, featuring voice performances by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel); a small-town drug war (Homefront, starring Jason Statham and James Franco); a holiday musical (Black Nativity, starring Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett); a quest for vengeance (Oldboy, starring Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen); a mother’s search (Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan); and a troubled childhood (The Book Thief, starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson). What do the critics have to say?



Frozen

90%

Any film released under the banner of Walt Disney Animation has a lot to live up to. Happily, critics say Frozen acquits itself quite well: it’s got toe-tapping tunes, crisp visuals, and a sensibility that’s at once classic and au courant. Like a blustery King Midas, Elsa (Idina Menzel) is cursed with the power to turn everything she touches to ice. She’s forced into exile after plunging the kingdom into a deep freeze; it’s up to her sister Anna (Kristen Bell) and some newfound friends to rescue her. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Frozen is beautifully animated, consistently inventive, and intelligently written — in other words, it’s a solid entry into the Disney pantheon.



Homefront

42%

Homefront boasts an intriguing pedigree: it’s an action flick starring Jason Statham and James Franco (as a bad guy!) with a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone. Unfortunately, critics say the end result is pretty generic, with a few decent thrills and a whole lotta clichés. Statham stars as an ex-DEA agent who has relocated to a small rural community in order to put the past behind him. Soon, however, he’s pulled into a conflict with a local meth kingpin (Franco) and must defend his home against an army of thugs. The pundits say Homefront offers the dependable sight of Statham cleaning house, but it’s essentially a thin genre exercise with a better-than-average-cast.



Black Nativity

51%

em>Black Nativity would seem to have everything needed for uplifting holiday entertainment, including an all-star cast, powerful music, and warm messages about faith and family. And while some critics think it’s a winning formula, others feel the film is weighted down by sappiness and heavy-handed sermonizing. A loose adaptation of Langston Hughes’ play, Black Nativity is the story of a teenager (Jacob Latimore) who is sent by his mother to spend Christmas with grandparents he’s never met; while he initially chafes under their austere morality, he eventually learns a thing or two about life and love from the people he meets on his travels. The pundits say Black Nativity is undeniably warm-hearted and well-acted, but it’s hamstrung by its preachiness and contrived plot.



Oldboy

39%

Spike Lee has never been one to play things safe, which is why critics are all the more surprised that his remake of Chan-wook Park?s cult classic Oldboy is disappointingly straightforward — a competent, occasionally stylish thriller that fails to replicate the gonzo panache or moral weightiness of its predecessor. Josh Brolin stars as a man who’s abducted and confined for 20 years — until he’s mysteriously released, at which point he goes on a mission to enact revenge against his captors. The pundits say Oldboy is sufficiently grim and violent, but it lacks the freshness that made the original such a punch to the gut.



Philomena

90%

Based on a remarkable true story, Philomena won raves in limited release last week; now, this Certified Fresh drama goes wide, and critics say it’s witty, deeply moving, and terrifically acted. Judi Dench stars as a woman who was forced to give up her son for adoption years ago after getting pregnant out of wedlock. In order to find her child, she enlists the aid of an investigative reporter (Steve Coogan). The pundits say Philomena is a bittersweet, inspiring tear-jerker that benefits from Dench’s typically outstanding work.



The Book Thief

47%

The Book Thief expands into wide release this week, and critics say it’s a handsome and well-acted drama that’s a bit too facile and syrupy to fully convince. Based on Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel, the film stars Sophie Nelisse as a girl who learns to read while living with foster parents (played by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in a German town on the cusp of World War II. The pundits say the film is well-intentioned and occasionally touching, but it tiptoes around its incendiary setting.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

2017 Pixar Mindy Kaling Emmys vampires hist transformers GLAAD Epix Elton John cats Emmy Nominations Premiere Dates Musical spinoff Marathons anime Animation Amazon Brie Larson Horror Netflix DC Comics Rocky OWN E3 zero dark thirty Sundance Now streaming See It Skip It Masterpiece Walt Disney Pictures Red Carpet Election Winter TV comiccon Certified Fresh Schedule unscripted composers sitcom Best and Worst YA Video Games TruTV Spring TV Teen President Sundance USA Thanksgiving spy thriller green book Toys Spectrum Originals jamie lee curtis DGA Watching Series Nominations Set visit spider-man Rocketman PBS RT History Paramount MSNBC what to watch children's TV discovery thriller Christmas RT21 Tarantino crime drama PaleyFest Musicals zombies TCM miniseries Box Office Fall TV Apple Sci-Fi Cartoon Network medical drama cops CMT Pirates 2016 Syfy 007 Britbox Film Festival Music Comedy award winner disaster Opinion Bravo aliens Acorn TV comic Disney Writers Guild of America space Tumblr HBO Max ghosts BBC America Kids & Family adaptation Mary Tyler Moore Cannes television robots APB TCA Paramount Network AMC Trailer talk show A&E ABC DC Universe Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Universal travel doctor who Year in Review Lucasfilm witnail political drama 24 frames science fiction YouTube Red Star Trek Cosplay theme song book The Arrangement Lifetime Martial Arts FX SDCC WarnerMedia Holidays TV Land History crime thriller WGN revenge FOX animated American Society of Cinematographers ITV Infographic Super Bowl 2019 war Mudbound Nat Geo TIFF quibi Reality Competition E! HBO Valentine's Day harry potter Adult Swim IFC historical drama Reality GIFs Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Anna Paquin Captain marvel Comic Book Superheroes psycho Shondaland Black Mirror Pride Month Rom-Com tv talk finale Extras TCA 2017 TNT Spike Binge Guide Pet Sematary Comedy Central serial killer Mystery police drama justice league docudrama CBS All Access Action Women's History Month cinemax Oscars Mary poppins politics casting Photos Showtime VICE cults BBC First Look psychological thriller dragons NBC Sony Pictures Logo boxoffice Marvel Lionsgate El Rey FXX Awards dc BET Interview ABC Family Amazon Prime elevated horror crime CBS Film dceu movies ratings CW Seed DC streaming service Starz cooking Ghostbusters Crackle ESPN singing competition toy story GoT MCU SXSW Stephen King SundanceTV romance blaxploitation Ellie Kemper sports biography Biopics Nickelodeon Chernobyl cars game show crossover Ovation Esquire diversity technology Trivia Warner Bros. zombie Mary Poppins Returns Shudder Calendar social media Podcast 2015 supernatural Winners LGBTQ Superheroe Freeform Disney Channel adventure Pop natural history Awards Tour New York Comic Con VH1 NYCC sequel facebook golden globes IFC Films Grammys Family 2018 Vudu Trophy Talk true crime Western Dark Horse Comics San Diego Comic-Con festivals The CW dramedy Polls and Games nature Character Guide anthology Drama DirecTV 45 series Fantasy YouTube Premium TLC 20th Century Fox CNN Tomatazos based on movie National Geographic strong female leads Country MTV LGBT richard e. Grant Food Network teaser Quiz Countdown Summer Sneak Peek Disney streaming service X-Men Hulu Heroines USA Network mutant Comics on TV mockumentary Creative Arts Emmys binge The Witch Fox News 21st Century Fox Columbia Pictures Amazon Prime Video TBS TV Song of Ice and Fire Rock period drama Star Wars kids