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

46%

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

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