Critics Consensus

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Feels Perfunctory but Gets the Job Done

Plus, Cats is utterly baffling and Bombshell expands into wide release.

by | December 19, 2019 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a saga finale (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, starring Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver), a musical adaptation (Cats, starring Jennifer Hudson and James Corden), and a real-life scandal (Bombshell, starring Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman). What are the critics saying?


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) 52%

When you’re tasked with wrapping up a widely beloved film franchise that spans almost half a century and has inspired a uniquely passionate fanbase unrivaled by any other, you kind of have to accept the fact that you are likely not going to please everyone with the final result. In other words, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was almost guaranteed to be divisive, even with J.J. Abrams back in the director’s chair. The story here picks up some time after the events of The Last Jedi, as Poe (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and the rest of the Resistance rally to take out the remnants of the First Order. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has been training in the ways of the Jedi, but finds that her fate is intertwined with that of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), and the pair must figure out what that means for them and for the future of the galaxy. Critics say that The Rise of Skywalker is an earnest effort to tie up loose ends and close the book on the Skywalker Saga, but its plotting is somewhat basic and uninspired, and at times, it feels as though the film is going out of its way to undo any perceived wrongs committed by its predecessor. That said, it’s still a briskly paced adventure that smartly relies on the talents of Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, introduces some fun new characters, and offers enough fan service to tickle most fans’ nostalgia bones. There’s no guarantee that you’ll love this or hate this if you’re a Star Wars fan, but taken on its own merits, it’s still a reasonably entertaining spectacle.


Cats (2019) 20%

And speaking of reasonably entertaining spectacles, that’s pretty much been the one-line assessment of the stage musical Cats for almost 40 years (it’s one of the longest-running Broadway shows ever). Devoid of any real plot, the episodic story ostensibly centers on a tribe of cats who gather for a sacrificial ceremony, culminating in the show-stopping number “Memory.” This week’s new film adaptation of the musical, directed and co-written by Tom Hooper (The King’s SpeechLes Misérables), essentially follows the same template, with the likes of James Corden, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson, and Ian McKellen filling various feline roles. The final result, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your specific proclivities), has become the latest film to inspire critics to whip out their most scathing zingers and metaphors. Thanks to a number of bizarre storytelling choices, a hodgepodge of cut-rate CGI, and a fatal lack of imagination, Cats is being savaged by the critics. This isn’t to say the film is completely without merit — some are quick to point to the catchy songs and impressive dancing as positives — but most everyone seems baffled by the film, more than anything else. In other words, enter at your own risk.


 

Bombshell (2019) 68%

Director Jay Roach is nothing if not experienced in relaying timely stories about hot-button topics to the general moviegoing public, having helmed films like Recount and Game Change, so this week’s Bombshell thus falls squarely within his wheelhouse. He’s also got a ridiculously talented roster of actors at his disposal for the film, from stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie to supporting characters played by the likes of John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, and Allison Janney, as well as a script by The Big Short screenwriter Charles Randolph, so it’s slightly disappointing that the film isn’t doing better with critics. The ripped-from-the-headlines story retraces the scandal that brought down Fox News chief Roger Ailes (Lithgow), who was accused by Megyn Kelly (Theron), Gretchen Carlson (Kidman), and other women (represented by Robbie, playing a composite character) of sexual harassment. Reviews have been quick to sing the praises of the three luminous women in the lead roles — all of whom have secured SAG Award nominations — and most critics have been satisfied by the film’s entertaining treatment of the subject matter, though some lament its reluctance to delve deeper into the culture at large surrounding the scandal. It’s not quite a scathing indictment, and those familiar with the story won’t necessarily learn anything new, but it’s presented entertainingly enough to warrant a watch. [Note: This film opened in limited release last week, but expands into wide release this week.]


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Invisible Life (A vida invisível de Eurídice Gusmão) (2019) , a period drama about two sisters in 1950s Brazil who are separated by their father and grow up trying to reconnect with each other, is at 89%.
  • The Europeans (2019) , a re-release of the 1979 Merchant Ivory adaptation of the eponymous Henry James novel about two expatriate siblings who return to 19th century New England in hopes of marrying into a wealthy family, is at 75%.
  • She's Missing (2019) , about a young woman tho sets out to discover what happened to her best friend, who disappeared in the desert, is at 56%.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

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