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

43%

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

50%

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

40%

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

social media CW Seed slashers cancelled television Anna Paquin Sneak Peek rotten movies we love 71st Emmy Awards Apple TV Plus Film travel Sundance Brie Larson screenings cults news Food Network Emmys harry potter Mary poppins teaser YouTube Premium satire First Look CNN BET child's play Countdown Red Carpet GoT Acorn TV docudrama Disney Channel TNT OWN Britbox Photos canceled Comedy halloween Sony Pictures PaleyFest talk show Shudder sequel Trivia series movies Pop TV Comic Book Nat Geo President facebook Travel Channel 20th Century Fox psychological thriller Pop Columbia Pictures Ovation ratings BAFTA Academy Awards Trophy Talk RT History E! quibi CBS All Access TCA Winter 2020 Winners cancelled Nominations DirecTV Teen Arrowverse TBS true crime Family Set visit Christmas The Walking Dead stand-up comedy Funimation werewolf MCU spanish language Fox News toy story TV best Crackle Polls and Games casting BBC One south america YouTube Red Binge Guide aliens New York Comic Con Bravo cars anime elevated horror television Walt Disney Pictures Animation PlayStation Fall TV Amazon Prime Sundance Now critics Video Games Song of Ice and Fire HBO Go Star Trek The Witch Masterpiece adventure cops all-time Music Netflix Christmas movies scary movies Disney streaming service NBC Discovery Channel technology Baby Yoda Mary Poppins Returns Schedule vampires Spring TV comic VOD The CW Quiz BET Awards composers indiana jones DGA Elton John science fiction ESPN Awards Tour The Purge award winner YA Opinion National Geographic Valentine's Day Endgame Pride Month Premiere Dates spider-man Black Mirror latino SDCC Amazon Prime Video GLAAD psycho boxoffice VH1 Epix concert richard e. Grant finale Comedy Central Nickelodeon dogs documentaries Creative Arts Emmys DC Comics Showtime cinemax Pixar Netflix IFC Films TIFF BBC America Comics on TV batman Holidays comics Calendar criterion WGN MSNBC dark Dark Horse Comics Best and Worst Superheroes cartoon dragons HBO animated Women's History Month cancelled TV shows spain TLC book films romance name the review breaking bad mission: impossible TruTV hist foreign revenge robots spinoff a nightmare on elm street E3 TV renewals First Reviews Film Festival doctor who Peacock Lifetime Christmas movies 2015 Black History Month miniseries Cosplay natural history indie space Reality Competition Country Reality festivals Pirates USA Infographic golden globes 2019 Avengers parents joker zombie crime thriller Rom-Com chucky GIFs comiccon Character Guide Shondaland Trailer TCA 2017 Disney+ Disney Plus Paramount blockbuster reviews biography Interview Lucasfilm police drama A24 Spectrum Originals HBO Max Thanksgiving Drama binge video 2016 USA Network Captain marvel Super Bowl Rocky Podcast game of thrones BBC Box Office LGBTQ RT21 OneApp franchise Tomatazos witnail game show Certified Fresh romantic comedy Heroines DC streaming service Hulu Horror CMT 2018 serial killer Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vudu LGBT Ghostbusters Marvel Television TCA Freeform streaming Star Wars CBS die hard crossover discovery Toys twilight tv talk TCM Tarantino blaxploitation Holiday dramedy DC Universe Year in Review sitcom Mindy Kaling Spike Emmy Nominations Disney Western anthology VICE Disney Plus Awards Musicals transformers Ellie Kemper Fantasy American Society of Cinematographers asian-american unscripted Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Watching Series justice league mutant Rock Hallmark adaptation Kids & Family sag awards supernatural free movies crime spy thriller Musical FXX Paramount Network Hallmark Christmas movies Extras Grammys directors cancelled TV series ABC singing competition mockumentary MTV war Rocketman thriller Mystery Turner A&E Martial Arts Universal comedies Cannes hispanic Oscars dc Amazon Studios sports SXSW christmas movies X-Men Marvel based on movie WarnerMedia theme song Adult Swim 21st Century Fox medical drama Summer ghosts canceled TV shows FOX kids children's TV Chernobyl Marvel Studios Tubi Syfy Apple See It Skip It cats SundanceTV Biopics what to watch San Diego Comic-Con cooking Warner Bros. APB Mudbound jamie lee curtis period drama TV Land video on demand Winter TV Lifetime YouTube Turner Classic Movies Writers Guild of America Mary Tyler Moore strong female leads crime drama 4/20 Starz Sci-Fi Pet Sematary Sundance TV 45 Tumblr El Rey historical drama PBS politics The Arrangement 2020 zero dark thirty Crunchyroll political drama ABC Family Television Academy green book nature FX versus Superheroe zombies Classic Film Stephen King stoner renewed TV shows Amazon 24 frames Action Esquire Apple TV+ Cartoon Network screen actors guild independent universal monsters dceu disaster NYCC movie FX on Hulu History 2017 documentary Hear Us Out 007 diversity Election IFC Logo reboot AMC Marathons Lionsgate ITV