Critics Consensus

Happy Death Day Is Familiar but Fun

Plus, The Foreigner is moderately thrilling, and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women and Marshall are enlightening biopics.

by | October 12, 2017 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we have a horror movie cousin to a Bill Murray classic (Happy Death Day, starring Jessica Rothe and Ruby Modine), Jackie Chan versus James Bond (The Foreigner, co-starring Pierce Brosnan), a the incredible real-world origins of a comics icon (Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, starring Luke Evans and Rebecca Hall), and the beginnings of a future Supreme Court justice (Marshall, starring Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad). What are the critics saying?


Happy Death Day (2017) 71%


If you’ve ever gotten to the end of Groundhog Day and wished there’d just been more blood, then this is finally your weekend: Happy Death Day, starring Jessica Rothe as a college student trapped in a gruesome time loop, takes the comedy-rich premise of a fundamentally flawed person forced to relive a single day and combines it with repeated murder. As obvious riffs on an original idea go, this one offers its own unique rewards — and critics say it pretty much delivers, with director/co-writer Christopher Landon managing to split the difference between serving up some mindlessly entertaining scares and offering up some darkly funny commentary on the slasher genre in general. Its solid reviews are impressive of the context of the genre rather than outright amazing, but if you’re in the mood to see a horror movie at your local cineplex this Friday the 13th, Happy Death Day looks likely to scratch — or stab — that itch.

The Foreigner (2017) 65%


The action thriller genre isn’t usually the first place we think to look for examples of actors playing against type, but there are exceptions to every rule — and with this weekend’s The Foreigner, a couple of seasoned pros get to shrug off their typecasting a bit. In one corner, we have Jackie Chan, beloved veteran of a thousand set pieces, as Quan, a man searching for answers after his daughter is killed in a terrorist attack; in the other, we have ex-007 Pierce Brosnan as Liam Hennessy, a British bureaucrat Quan’s convinced is covering up for his former associates. It’s a premise loaded with potential for plenty of the stuff people have come to expect from both stars, but with some twists: Brosnan has an opportunity here to play a morally ambiguous character who might or might not be a bad guy, while Chan, who’s rarely been called upon to flex his dramatic chops in his U.S. features, gets to showcase his range as the grieving dad with a special set of skills. It all adds up to just about enough for critics — although the praise for The Foreigner is about as tempered as you might expect for an autumn action thriller starring two old pros in the post-Taken era, most of the pundits say it’s a pretty good time, with the added benefit of some impressive stunt work from the still impossibly agile Chan. If you’re the target audience for this kind of thing, it should pack plenty of punch.

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women (2017) 87%


Any comic book character that sticks around for more than a few issues tends to build up a pretty interesting backstory, and Wonder Woman — one of the medium’s longest-lasting and most beloved heroes — certainly fits that description. But as this weekend’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women illustrates, the lasso-wielding defender of justice has a real-life history that’s every bit as interesting — and occasionally just about as colorful — as anything she’s gotten up to on the printed page. Starring Luke Evans as Wonder Woman creator Dr. William Marston, this biopic depicts the forward-thinking views that helped Marston mold the character — and, more importantly, details the many ways in which her development was strongly influenced by the polyamorous relationship between Marston, his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), and their lover Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). It’s the type of story that could have been given a luridly shallow treatment under different circumstances, but critics say writer-director Angela Robinson has assembled an appropriately thoughtful ode to the behind-the-scenes life of a wonderfully complicated superhero.

Marshall (2017) 80%


During his relatively brief career, Chadwick Boseman has had the opportunity to play some incredible people, real as well as fictional. MCU viewers know him as Black Panther, the Wakandan hero who’ll be getting his own standalone adventure next year, but he’s also starred in films dedicated to Jackie Robinson and James Brown — and he hits the biopic trifecta with Marshall, in which he helps dramatize a chapter in the incredible legacy of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Instead of offering a life-spanning overview, director Reginald Hudlin‘s picture focuses on one early case that found him forced to rely on a young assistant (Josh Gad) as his courtroom mouthpiece after being silenced by a segregationist judge (James Cromwell). If that makes for a somewhat surprisingly narrow approach, critics say it’s also fairly effective: instead of being forced to make the case for its protagonist as a future great man, Marshall is free to be simply an engrossing legal drama, and as an added bonus, we all know our hero has plenty of future cases left on his docket after the closing credits roll. Perhaps Black Panther isn’t the only potential franchise beckoning on Boseman’s horizon.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (2017) , a documentary featuring celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali explaining widespread efforts to cut down on food waste, is at 100 percent
  • The Departure (2017) , a documentary about a Japanese priest whose job counseling the suicidal makes him more mindful of his own mortality, is at 100 percent.
  • Human Flow (2017) , in which director Ai Weiwei offers a worldwide survey of multiple modern refugee crises, is at 94 percent.
  • The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017) , starring Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, and Adam Sandler in the latest from director Noah Baumbach, is Certified Fresh at 90 percent.
  • 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) , a documentary look at the making of the titular Psycho scene and its wide-ranging cinematic legacy, is at 90 percent.
  • Tom of Finland (2017) , a biopic look at the life and groundbreaking work of Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, is at 89 percent.
  • For Ahkeem (2017) , a documentary following the experiences of — and challenges facing — a teenage girl in St. Louis, is at 88 percent.
  • Sylvio (2017) , a comedy about a gorilla’s efforts to fit in with human society, is at 82 percent.
  • Alex & Eve (2017) , about a couple worried that their budding love affair will be undone by culture clashes between their families, is at 80 percent.
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) , a biopic dramatizing the way Winnie the Pooh was inspired by the relationship between author A.A. Milne and his son, is at 65 percent.
  • M.F.A. (2017) , about a student’s increasingly grim quest to come to grips with her sexual assault, is at 60 percent.
  • Breathe (2017) , an Andy Serkis-directed drama inspired by the real-life love story between polio survivor Robin Cavendish and his wife Diana, is at 58 percent.
  • The Secret Scripture (2017) , a drama about the unknown past of a patient in a mental institution, is at 31 percent.

Tag Cloud

Walt Disney Pictures Classic Film rt archives true crime cartoon series Rom-Com television aliens Lucasfilm IFC Films Disney Channel crime Sundance Now classics Netflix Christmas movies CBS robots binge Tumblr disaster IFC australia American Society of Cinematographers Comics on TV First Reviews WarnerMedia VOD Britbox Emmy Nominations Lionsgate The CW Song of Ice and Fire finale Pop TCA Winter 2020 Heroines MSNBC cults Sundance TV First Look The Witch children's TV best Box Office Marvel Television Interview chucky vampires thriller directors stop motion Masterpiece YouTube Red ID TV Family sequels italian Fox News Arrowverse Nat Geo USA PlayStation Quiz Reality Competition Chernobyl The Purge Tarantino Comedy Nickelodeon zero dark thirty technology sequel TV renewals police drama supernatural Disney Film Festival Action Alien free movies discovery cancelled television TV Land Epix Cosplay mutant Nominations Amazon Studios Rocky Academy Awards Red Carpet fast and furious medical drama SXSW halloween tv CW Seed Turner Classic Movies dark independent 2015 Marvel TCA 2017 Shudder werewolf TCM Amazon Prime Video news Lifetime Christmas movies Bravo DC Comics Apple TV Plus trailers Opinion Esquire Sony Pictures Stephen King sag awards 2017 PBS Fall TV Rocketman Thanksgiving criterion Premiere Dates Podcast Sneak Peek Rock theme song reboot TIFF See It Skip It docudrama USA Network screenings Hallmark Crunchyroll based on movie Toys Black Mirror adaptation cops jurassic park spain APB dc franchise cats golden globe awards scorecard NYCC elevated horror football Baby Yoda Mystery Marvel Studios breaking bad versus crime thriller cancelled TV shows hollywood BBC video a nightmare on elm street zombies war DC Universe spy thriller Columbia Pictures Showtime Apple TV+ rotten movies we love spider-man teaser space History latino game show Netflix talk show kids CNN Winter TV The Arrangement Paramount Network SDCC what to watch Country Syfy scary movies President Elton John GoT comic books Spike Creative Arts Emmys boxing 71st Emmy Awards TruTV Mary Tyler Moore Western festival Mary Poppins Returns jamie lee curtis Valentine's Day WGN Infographic Spring TV A24 Watching Series superhero comics Superheroes DirecTV strong female leads all-time Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt VICE romantic comedy Warner Bros. Discovery Channel 2016 toronto dogs HBO Max HBO anthology RT History Music canceled Winners Marathons Character Guide Mudbound Horror Black History Month Drama Hear Us Out comic composers Trivia Universal Musical Travel Channel New York Comic Con Awards Ovation natural history Women's History Month cooking Paramount DGA satire Holidays ABC Signature foreign Logo Christmas 007 Freeform mission: impossible PaleyFest E3 festivals animated blaxploitation facebook golden globes YouTube Premium Pixar TCA stoner Television Academy Binge Guide ghosts Endgame 4/20 richard e. Grant parents miniseries TBS The Academy TCA Awards diversity Ghostbusters 72 Emmy Awards dramedy Video Games Set visit sitcom AMC Election worst movies Best and Worst christmas movies movies cancelled game of thrones Trailer Animation Amazon Biopics Hulu nfl Trophy Talk Adult Swim SundanceTV documentaries 2018 24 frames Dark Horse Comics cancelled TV series Summer transformers BET Awards Pride Month LGBTQ twilight Spectrum Originals singing competition CBS All Access unscripted streaming asian-american pirates of the caribbean A&E travel Reality Writers Guild of America E! FX sports serial killer spinoff 45 Comic Book Mary poppins Photos FX on Hulu boxoffice dragons GIFs Film psychological thriller dceu joker BBC America Holiday universal monsters X-Men BET 20th Century Fox comiccon rom-coms harry potter Sundance NBC Pirates OneApp biography Martial Arts Schedule revenge screen actors guild Star Trek doctor who politics Cannes batman south america LGBT GLAAD crossover emmy awards Acorn TV Teen BBC One name the review cinemax justice league green book Turner child's play BAFTA critics The Walt Disney Company 2020 zombie spanish ABC worst award winner Tomatazos Crackle 99% reviews slashers Avengers Comedy Central documentary anime venice laika japanese nature black ratings nbcuniversal indiana jones Disney streaming service 2019 Tubi Musicals social media Starz National Geographic renewed TV shows TLC video on demand ABC Family FXX historical drama Chilling Adventures of Sabrina OWN films ESPN DC streaming service Certified Fresh crime drama casting Extras Grammys MTV Lifetime Shondaland rotten Awards Tour remakes deadpool Anna Paquin FOX archives Mindy Kaling canceled TV shows Year in Review tv talk Captain marvel Polls and Games Food Network VH1 San Diego Comic-Con die hard Super Bowl 21st Century Fox political drama ITV hispanic period drama The Walking Dead spanish language science fiction romance toy story witnail Sci-Fi Vudu Disney Plus YA french Countdown Oscars El Rey MCU stand-up comedy cars movie indie 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards hist book RT21 Pop TV Disney+ Disney Plus psycho Fantasy comedies Star Wars Pet Sematary TNT HBO Go Hallmark Christmas movies Fox Searchlight YouTube adventure Peacock concert Brie Larson fresh Emmys obituary Cartoon Network quibi Kids & Family TV One Calendar halloween blockbuster Apple james bond Superheroe CMT mockumentary Funimation Television Critics Association Ellie Kemper Amazon Prime