Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Longest Ride Is a Bumpy Journey

Plus, Danny Collins is elevated by its fine cast, and Game of Thrones is back with a vengence.

by | April 9, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a rodeo star (The Longest Ride, starring Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson) and a veteran rocker (Danny Collins, starring Al Pacino and Annette Bening). What do the critics have to say?

The Longest Ride


Films based on Nicholas Sparks novels are reliable fodder for critical brickbats — and reliably strong performers at the box office. Critics say the latest Sparks adaptation, The Longest Ride, is somewhat better than most, thanks to its appealing leads and director George Tillman Jr.s’ assured direction; otherwise, it’s sappy, weepy business as usual. Luke (Scott Eastwood) is a bull rider who lives on the edge, while Sophia (Britt Robertson) is an artsy gal who dreams of the big city. Their budding relationship is solidified when they meet an older man (Alan Alda) with a heartbreaking past that makes our young heroes reflect on what they want in their lives. The pundits say The Longest Ride is the cinematic equivalent of a beach read: heavy-handed, occasionally diverting, and ultimately forgettable. (Check out Sparks’ Five Favorite Films here.)

Danny Collins


Even if his recent track record has been spotty, no one would argue that Al Pacino ranks among the finest actors in cinema history. Critics say Pacino is the main reason to see Danny Collins, but a fine supporting cast also helps to elevate this likeable dramedy above its relatively predictable plotting. Pacino stars as Collins, an aging pop star on the downside of his career whose life is changed when he discovers a long-lost letter sent to him by John Lennon. His spirit reinvigorated, Collins attempts to mend his frayed relationships with family and friends. The pundits say Danny Collins occasionally veers into schmaltzy territory, but Pacino and his co-stars are so compelling that it’s hard to resist.

What’s On TV:

Bloody action and extreme power plays return full throttle, as Game of Thrones (100 percent) enjoys a new-found liberation from the world of the source material, resulting in more unexpected thrills.

“Severance” (98 percent), presents the age-old dilemma of human fulfillment, setting the stage for a final season layered with the big questions asked by Mad Men‘s beloved characters.

The finale to the first season of Better Call Saul (86 percent) delivers a payoff that is at once comic and tragic, as Jimmy’s conversion to Saul nears completion.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Iranian import About Elly, a tense drama in which a woman mysteriously disappears during a vacation on the Caspian Sea, is at 100 percent.
  • Black Souls, an Italian drama about long-simmering conflicts between family members involved in organized crime, is at 92 percent.
  • Ex Machina, starring Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander in a sci-fi thriller about a computer wiz who’s tasked with testing the artificial intelligence of a remarkably lifelike robot, is Certified Fresh at 88 percent.
  • The Sisterhood Of Night, a drama about a group of teenage girls who get caught up in a community-wide witch hunt, is at 88 percent.
  • Clouds of Sils Maria, starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart in a drama about an actress struggling with constant reminders of her advanced age, is Certified Fresh at 87 percent.
  • Dior and I, a documentary about the fashion brand and its transition to a new artistic director, is at 81 percent.
  • Desert Dancer, starring Freida Pinto in a drama based on the true story of an underground dance troupe that formed during the strife that followed 2009 Iranian election, is at 44 percent.
  • Broken Horses, starring Anton Yelchin as a man trying to rescue his brother from the clutches of a drug gang, is at 29 percent.
  • Ryan Gosling‘s Lost River, starring Christina Hendricks and Saoirse Ronan in a drama/fantasy about a financially strapped family trying to survive in magic realist Detroit, is at 23 percent.
  • Kill Me Three Times, starring Simon Pegg and Alice Braga in a comedy/thriller about an assassin who gets caught up in a series of convoluted criminal plots, is at eight percent.

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