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

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