TAGGED AS: Certified Fresh, Marvel, Superheroes
This week at the movies, we’ve got a ragtag superhero team (Guardians of the Galaxy, starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana) and the Godfather of Soul (Get On Up, starring Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis). What do the critics have to say?
How strong is the Marvel juggernaut right now? It’s so strong it’s making movie stars out of even its second and third string superheroes. The critics say Guardians of the Galaxy, with its fast-paced thrills, eye-popping special effects, and playful sense of humor, is one of the most purely enjoyable comic book adaptations in a while. Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a devil-may-care space adventurer, teams with a group of oddballs to transport and sell a mysterious and valuable orb. However, the evil Ronan the Accuser wants to harness the orb for his own nefarious purposes, so it’s up to our heroes to save the universe. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Guardians of the Galaxy exudes the giddy swagger of old-school swashbucklers within its slick packaging, making for a funny, exciting night at the movies for comics buffs and neophytes alike. (Check out this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of great movie spaceships, and watch our interviews with Pratt and co-stars Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, and Dave Bautista.)
James Brown was such an electrifying performer — and his life was so colorful — that you’d be forgiven for thinking that no biopic could possibly do him justice. But critics say Get On Up comes close, thanks to a dynamite performance by Chadwick Boseman that captures the great soul singer’s onstage magnetism and offstage complexities. The film doesn’t proceed chronologically; instead, it jumps around to depict key moments in Brown’s life, from his hardscrabble childhood to his legendary Apollo concerts, from his famously rigorous work habits to his problems with the law. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Get On Up occasionally falls prey to standard biopic elements, but mostly, it’s an energetic portrait of a fascinating, often difficult man, and Boseman is simply out of sight. (Check out this week’s Total Recall for a list of some of cinema’s funkiest movies, and watch our interviews with Boseman and co-stars Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis, and Jill Scott.)
Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd in a drama about a country priest who struggles to continue his work after receiving a death threat during a confessional, is Certified Fresh at 88 percent.
Finding Fela!, a documentary about the life and music of the great Nigerian Afrobeat star, is at 77 percent.
Moebius, a South Korean drama about the twisted relationship between a family and another woman, is at 75 percent.
Rich Hill, a documentary about three teenagers growing up in an economically depressed town in the Midwest, is at 77 percent.
The Strange Little Cat, a closely-observed dramedy about a middle-class family in a Berlin apartment, is at 70 percent.
The Almost Man, a Norwegian comedy about a 30-something man-child whose life is upended when his girlfriend announces that she’s pregnant, is at 67 percent.
Around the Block, starring Christina Ricci in a coming-of-age drama about a troubled 16-year-old torn between the theater and a life of crime, is at 50 percent.
War Story, starring Catherine Keener and Ben Kingsley in a drama about a photojournalist attempting to help a refugee escape a war zone, is at 43 percent.
Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero, a horror film about group of vacationers who find themselves in the midst of a terrifying viral outbreak, is at 38 percent.
James Franco‘s Child Of God, a period drama about a troubled cave-dweller in rural Tennessee, is at 35 percent.
4 Minute Mile, starring Richard Jenkins in a drama about a high school runner attempting to turn his life around with the help of a gruff track coach, is at 29 percent.
Louder Than Words, starring David Duchovny and Hope Davis in a drama about a grieving couple who work to help establish a hospital for their community, is at 14 percent.
Behaving Badly, starring Nat Wolff and Selena Gomez in a comedy about a guy who makes a bet that he can win the girl of his dreams, is at zero percent.