UK Critics Consensus: Writers Warm to Madagascar 2; UK Critics Liked Lakeview Terrace

Plus, The Stath Stumbles In Transporter 3; The Children Chills

by | December 5, 2008 | Comments

With thirteen new releases in the UK cinemas this weekend, let Rotten Tomatoes help you sort the tinsel from the turkeys. We have animals on the loose in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and Samuel L Jackson on the loose as a crazed LA cop in Lakeview Terrace. Also out this week is Transporter 3 starring Britain’s favourite action export, Jason ‘The Stath’ Statham, and British winter horror flick, The Children, bringing scares aplenty to the UK screens. But what did the local critics have to say?

Despite only achieving a measly 55% on the Tomatometer, the first Madagascar film was a huge commercial success, and so paved the way for the inevitable sequel. But does the law of diminishing returns apply to the sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa? Currently standing at a Fresh 62% on the Tomatometer it would seem that the film has bucked the trend, with many critics succumbing to its improved animation and more consistent humour, though most of the scribes agreed the film will please more kids than adults. But hey, this is an animation, with zoo animals as the principal characters, so what did they expect?

Lakeview Terrace tells the story of a young middle class couple who move into a seemingly normal neighbourhood, only to be terrorised by their next door neighbour, who just happens to be the sociopathic racist cop Abel Turner, played with bristling menace by Samuel L Jackson. Released in the US back in September, the film was largely passed over by the critics, resulting in a lowly 44% on the Tomatometer. The films seems to have received a better response here in the UK, with 14 of the 17 reviews collated today being positive, meaning the UK-only Tomatometer rating would have been a much Fresher 82%.

Maybe the hard-hitting portrayal of interracial tension in middle-class Los Angeles was a little too close to the bone for the US critics to take Lakeview Terrace into their hearts? The UK critics all agreed that this was Samuel L Jackson’s best role for some time with Tim Evans of Sky Movies saying, “After multiplex clinkers like Jumper and Cleaner, Lakeview Terrace does give Jackson somewhere to move that actually brings the house down.” The film currently stands at a healthier, but still not Fresh, 49% on the Tomatometer.

With Madagascar 2 outshining its predecessor, does this week’s other sequel (or rather threequel) Transporter 3 also manage to outdo Frank Martin’s previous outings? Well, with each respective Transporter receiving 53%, 50% and now 36% for 3, even Jason Statham cannot save the latest from a Rotten rating, although, critical success is probably not something the makers of this franchise care too much for, as they still seem to make a boatload of cash regardless. The UK critics do love Statham though, with most praising his high octane action sequences and deadpan delivery with Rich Cline of Shadows On The Wall website summing it up by saying:

“Besson and Kamen somehow make a film that’s even dumber than part 2, which really takes some doing. But they’ve still got the superbly watchable Statham at the centre, so the script is fairly irrelevant.”

The Children is a home-grown British horror, in which Christmas holidays turn into a nightmare as all the children become infected with a virus turning them into blood thirsty terrors. The film currently stands at a Fresh 67% on the Tomatometer, with critics praising the chilling tension, killer set-pieces and effective suspense throughout, meaning The Children is worthy addition to the genre, and marks director Tom Shankland out as a future star of the UK film industry.

Quote Of The Week

“Tragedies strike and life lessons are learnt, homespun wisdom is dispensed. It’s simplistic to the point of total idiocy.”

The Secret Life Of Bees. Wendy Ide, The Times.

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