Critics Consensus

Rampage Is Exactly What You Think It Is

Plus, Truth or Dare is too safe, Isle of Dogs goes wide, and Killing Eve, Howards End, and Borg vs. McEnroe are all Certified Fresh.

by | April 12, 2018 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we have Dwayne Johnson saving the world from giant monsters (Rampage, co-starring Naomie Harris), Blumhouse’s latest spine-tingling franchise in waiting (Truth or Dare, starring Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey), another acclaimed stop-motion effort from Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs, featuring the voices of Bryan Cranston and Liev Schreiber), the animated adventures of a real-life canine war vet (Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Gérard Depardieu), and a political thriller in Lebanon (Beirut, starring Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike). What are the critics saying?


Rampage (2018) 51%

It really wasn’t all that long ago that the idea of making a movie out of an arcade game about giant monsters smashing buildings (and/or each other) would have seemed preposterous, if not completely beyond the range of special effects technology. Times have changed in a multitude of ways, however, and modern Hollywood is all about finding franchises even if you have to look in the unlikeliest of places — or turn the wildest of scenarios into lifelike blockbuster entertainment. Case in point: Rampage, a Dwayne Johnson-led adaptation of the coin-op classic that asked players to smash cities to rubble as a giant lizard, gorilla, or werewolf. Obviously, that setup is a little light on the narrative side, so a team of screenwriters have conspired to imagine a scenario in which a trio of innocent animals are embiggened and embark on a spree of destruction that can only be stopped by a kind-hearted primatologist (Johnson) and a genetic engineer (Naomie Harris). Pretty much par for the course with Johnson, in other words — and the critical response is more or less also what you’d expect, with reviews running the gamut between “big dumb fun” and just “dumb.” If you were waiting to see what the critics thought about Rampage before buying a ticket, then you may want to steer clear… but who are we kidding? You almost definitely weren’t.


Blumhouse's Truth or Dare (2018) 16%


Add up the grosses and average out the Tomatometers for Blumhouse’s latest handful of low-budget horror outings, and it’s clear that they’re on a pretty incredible tear: Split, Get Out, and Happy Death Day all hit paydirt last year, and that winning streak continued with the box office success of Insidious: The Last Key in January. The studio rides that hot hand into this weekend’s Truth or Dare, about a group of college seniors (including Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey) who make the ill-fated decision to engage in a round of the titular game… with freaky supernatural results. When all else fails, “kill a bunch of pretty young people” is always a reliable fallback setup for a horror movie, so genre enthusiasts may get a few thrills out of the end results; unfortunately, critics are typically harder to impress, and they say this is all standard stuff — neither inventive nor scary enough to set Truth or Dare apart from the decades of dreary slashers that came before it. If you’re really in the mood to listen to people scream in the dark for an hour and a half, go for it — but all things considered, the box office fate suffered by Battleship is still probably a scarier game-related Hollywood story.


Isle of Dogs (2018) 90%


Wes Anderson has never made what most people would consider children’s movies, so when he ventured into the traditionally kid-friendly arena of stop-motion animation with 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, it came as something of a surprise. As it turns out, the medium is a perfect fit for the writer-director’s gentle whimsy and attention to detail — and he’s back with Isle of Dogs, now entering wide release. Anderson’s latest outing tells the story of Atari (Koyu Rankin), a Japanese boy determined to rescue his dog (voiced by Liev Schreiber) from an island where the animals have been quarantined during an outbreak of canine flu — again, not your average setup for an animated movie, but one that critics say provides rich creative ground for a cinematic experience that’s deeply enjoyable on a number of levels. Another acclaimed addition to Anderson’s filmography, Isle ranks among 2018’s best-reviewed movies thus far, and offers one of your safest destinations at theaters this weekend.


Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero (2018) 88%


If you’re like most people, then an animated movie about a dog who served with honor in the trenches during World War I probably doesn’t rank high on your cinematic wish list — but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make a good one, and Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is here to offer proof. Although a good many filmgoers are likely unfamiliar with the real-life Stubby’s military exploits, his story is legitimately incredible, and critics say it’s been told here with sensitivity and charm by director/co-writer Richard Lanni. Viewers with young children may balk at the prospect of taking the family to see a movie about a dog whose life was repeatedly in mortal danger — or raise a skeptical eyebrow at the notion of a well-reviewed animated release from a studio that isn’t one of the usual suspects — but if you’re looking for a worthy cartoon diversion, it looks like this Stubby stands tall.


Beirut (2018) 83%


It’s tough to jump from TV star to marquee idol, and even most of the Hollywood vets who’ve been lucky enough to make the leap — like George Clooney and Bruce Willis — needed a few mulligans before they really found their footing on the big screen. It’s far from unusual, in other words, that the film industry hasn’t really seemed to know what to do with Jon Hamm since he started focusing on movies after Mad Men went off the air; although he certainly looks like a movie star, he’s spent the last few years waiting for his breakout film role. The sober-minded and relatively complex Beirut may not be the project that truly marks that transition, but critics say this is the type of stuff Hamm really needs more of — a movie that takes advantage of his ability to play charismatic yet damaged individuals, set against the backdrop of a gripping conflict. He stars here as Mason Skiles, a former diplomat who’s lured back into his old trade as part of an operation to help save the life of a friend he left in the titular city, and reviews describe a Tony Gilroy-scripted drama that should satisfy fans of Tony Gilroy-scripted dramas — even if this one doesn’t quite do justice to the thorny real-life conflicts that fuel its plot. Absorbing despite its flaws and elevated by strong work from Hamm and Rosamund Pike, Beirut looks like the place to be for fans of grown-up political intrigue this weekend.


What’s New on TV

Killing Eve: Season 1 (2018) 96%

Seductive and surprising, Killing Eve‘s twist on the spy vs. spy conceit rewards viewers with an audaciously entertaining show that finally makes good use of Sandra Oh‘s talents.


Howards End: Miniseries (2018) 88%

A superbly-mounted adaptation of E.M. Forster’s tale of British class tension, with exceptional performances all round, Howards End ranks among the best of Merchant-Ivory’s work.


Lost in Space: Season 1 (2018) 68%

Lost in Space‘s production values are ambitious enough to attract sci-fi adventure fans, while the story’s large heart adds an emotional anchor to all the deep space derring-do.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Judge (2018) , a documentary about Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first female Sharia judge, is at 100%.
  • The Rider (2018) , based on the true story of a rodeo rider putting his life back together after a career-ending injury, is at 98%.
  • Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (2018) , a documentary about artist Grace Jones‘ life and singular career, is at 90%.
  • Hitler's Hollywood (2018) , a documentary look at the many varied films produced by the Nazi regime, is at 89%.
  • Zama (2018) , a drama about the travails of a bureaucrat hung out to dry in South America by the Spanish crown, is at 88%.
  • Bye Bye Germany (Es war einmal in Deutschland...) (2018) , a dramedy about the efforts of a group of Jewish friends to migrate out of Germany after World War II, is at 86%.
  • Wildling (2018) , a bit of werewolf horror starring Liv Tyler as a corrections officer who finds herself in the midst of some supernatural trouble after taking in a young girl, is at 82%.
  • Borg Vs. McEnroe (2018) , starring Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf as the titular tennis superstars whose 1980 Wimbledon match captivated fans around the world, is Certified Fresh at 81%.
  • Jet Trash (2018) , in which a pair of friends flee London for southern India in order to escape the homicidal attention of a gangster, is at 67%.
  • Flock of Four (2018) , a period drama about white 1950s teens on a pilgrimage to see a legendary jazz artist perform, is at 60%.
  • Marrowbone (2018) , about four siblings whose lives go from bad to worse when they seek refuge in the wrong house after the death of their mother, is at 44%.
  • An Ordinary Man (2018) , starring Ben Kingsley as a war criminal in hiding, is at 25%.
  • Submergence (2018) , starring James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander as star-crossed lovers who meet in Normandy, is at 17%.
  • Aardvark (2018) , starring Zachary Quinto as a man whose deep-seated sibling rivalry with his brother (Jon Hamm) leads him to seek the care of a therapist (Jenny Slate), is at 12%.
  • Krystal (2018) , starring Rosario Dawson as the unattainable fixation of a sheltered teen, is at 0%.

Tag Cloud

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