TAGGED AS: Certified Fresh
This week at the movies, we’ve got a sensitive villain (Wreck-it Ralph, with voice work by John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman), a troubled pilot (Flight, starring Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle), and a fighting blacksmith (The Man With the Iron Fists, starring Russell Crowe and RZA). What do the critics have to say?
What do video game characters do when the lights go off at the arcade? That’s the inspired premise of Wreck-it Ralph, which critics say is a visual phantasmagoria with a clever story and heartfelt characters that should appeal to kids and their parents. Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the bad guy in a retro arcade game, but he longs for acceptance and love from his fellow video game characters. So he ventures out of his game in search of adventure and respect — a trek that could have devastating consequences for his pixelated peers. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Wreck-it Ralph falls a little short of the Toy Story movies, but it’s a deft mix of strong storytelling and sensorial ingenuity. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down memorable video game movies.)
Flight is the tale of the flawed man behind a great act of courage, and critics say it features a terrific performance from Denzel Washington, while director Robert Zemeckis successfully balances white-knuckle action with a perceptive look at a vulnerable, troubled man. Washington stars as Whip Whitaker, a commercial airline pilot whose mid-air heroics help to avert a catastrophic crash. Soon, however, his halo is tarnished, as investigators examine whether Whip was under the influence while flying. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Flight is effectively unsettling, a smart, surprisingly entertaining film about addiction that never lets its message overwhelm its narrative.
As the mastermind of the Wu-Tang Clan’s sound, RZA famously sampled dialogue and sound effects from classic martial arts films. And he basically does the same thing in his directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists, which critics say is a disjointed but spirited and exciting pastiche of movie styles. RZA stars as a blacksmith who tries to defend his village against a bloodthirsty clan that descends on the town in search of gold. The pundits say The Man With the Iron Fists overcomes its narrative flaws to deliver an action-packed spectacle that brims with over-the-top exuberance. (Check out 24 Frames for a crash course in martial arts movies.)
High Ground, a documentary about a group of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who attempt to climb a mountain in the Himalayas, is at 100 percent.
A Late Quartet, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken in a drama about a group of musicians who must overcome personal struggles, is at 88 percent.
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, a doc about a group of skateboarding pioneers, is at 83 percent.
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters, a documentary showing the working methods of a celebrated photographer, is at 80 percent.
This Must Be The Place, starring Sean Penn as a washed-up rock star who goes on a road trip to find a man who humiliated his late father, is at 76 percent.
The Bay, a found-footage horror film about the fallout from an ecological disaster, is at 76 percent.
North Sea Texas, a coming-of-age drama about a love affair between two teenage boys, is at 75 percent.
Café de Flore, starring Vanessa Paradis in a drama about the mysterious link between a present day DJ and a single mother in 1969, is at 71 percent.
The Details, starring Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks in a comedy about a man who becomes obsessed with stopping raccoons from destroying his backyard, is at 56 percent.
A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, an animated documentary about of the late, great Monty Python cast member, is at 50 percent.
Vamps, starring Alicia Silverstone in a horror comedy about a vampire woman who falls in love with the son of a vampire slayer, is at 50 percent.
A Man’s Story, a documentary profile of British fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, is at 25 percent.
Jack and Diane, a horror comedy about two girls whose passionate romance leaves them cursed, is at nine percent.
Finally, props to Linda Burke for coming the closest to guessing Silent Hill: Revelation 3D‘s five percent Tomatometer.