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Criticwatch - A Summer of Mediocre Movies & Worse Hyperbole
by Erik Childress

We are a few weeks past summer already and boy did we need the break. It certainly was a helluva summer, wasn't it? Actually it was a summer of hell. Possibly the worst summer movie season most of us have ever seen. Don't really care what the collective says; a lot of passes were given in a sea of some pretty second-rate blockbuster wannabes. Was World War Z really worth 67% of positive favors from critics or was that simply a reaction that it wasn't as bad as people expected from the buzz? How desperate are we for some quality animation that Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 skirted by with 77% & 76% approval? In the hearts of the 68th percentile they know Elysium really wasn't that good, right? No matter as we're picking at straws here. Makes you wonder if Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer had any validity to the claim that the nation's critics had a death wish against The Lone Ranger to offer so much passing praise to mediocrity. Lest we worry about credibility, there was certainly plenty of hate to go around this summer. And plenty of hyperbole by our favorite junket whores to convince you otherwise.

These were the best reviewed releases of the summer that played in at least 500 screens. Half of them played on less than 2000. Feel that cheats some of the true seasonal releases? Fine, here are the next five.

Yeah, it is pretty depressing out there. Personally I gave positive reviews to seven of the top ten films (you can see my full summer rankings HERE) and just one of the next five. They are all films that had 69% support from critics (who posted reviews) and yet we still saw names like Joel Amos and Larry Freakin' King in the ads recommending them to the public. Can the studios still not find critics whose praise comes equipped with a pull-string on their back? Or are they just lazy? We have asked these questions too many times and, frankly, we're getting as sick of typing it as you are of reading it. Criticwatch actually began to bore itself this year, but that does not mean the problem has gone away. Even if it has seemingly gotten better.

Matt Singer wrote a well-researched article about the theory that film critics go a bit softer during the summer; accepting that many of these films are more distraction-oriented excursions rather than high art. And as we begin to get wearier as the summer goes on, the worse the reviews get. Out of 49 wide releases from May to Labor Day this year, 25 of them ended up with 60% or greater approval. Compare that with January to April when 42 wide releases only registered 10 films with a "fresh" rating.

As we have noted several times this year, studios have begun to take our advice to seek out new critics for their ads. Unfortunately that has involved just finding different junket whores, entertainment reporters and a variety of other names we have never heard of. It doesn't make for a fun feature when there is not a history we can call into question with each willy-nilly adjective from a worthless junketeer. What were the worst-reviewed films of the summer?

Notice that The Lone Ranger didn't make that list? OK, if we extended the list to 12 it would have. If you add up the Rotten Tomatoes scores of those bottom seven titles they would not equal a single "fresh" score at the aggregate site. As it is very hard to find a film without a single supporter, the studios still had no problem gathering some praise for the very worst this summer had to offer.

For example, consider Jobs, the misguided, uninspirational movie that was more suited for a TV movie of the week rather than cinematic release got a 26% rating from critics. On the ads you may have seen:

"****" - Seth Kinkaid, Gizmodo
"****! Phenomenal." - Maria Salas
"Inspiring" - Rex McGee, ABC-TV
"Terrifically entertaining." - Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
"A breakthrough performance for Ashton Kutcher." - Peter Travers
"Sensational. A must see." - Pete Hammond
"One of the best pictures of the year!" - Tim Sika, KGO San Francisco

Perhaps that four-star review from Gizmodo was an apology for the iPhone 4 scandal of 2010. Though Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, Turbo and Epic all received generally positive reviews from most critics, there were certainly other options at the bottom of the spectrum for families late this summer.

"Book yourself for a great family adventure!" (Planes) - Jorge Carreon, Desde Hollywood
"Great fun." (Planes) - Danny Miller, MSN Movies
"Planes real engine is its huge heart." (Planes) - Alynda Wheat, People
"Get ready to reach for the sky!" (Planes) - Kylie Erica Mar, Made in Hollywood

"Smurfs 2 is even more fun than the original." (The Smurfs 2) - Jill Radsken, Boston Herald
"Smurftacular! Blue has never looked better!" (The Smurfs 2) - Teri Harl, TMN/The Family Channel
"If you have kids this is the family movie to see this summer!" (The Smurfs 2) - Rusty Gatenby, KSTP-ABC Minneapolis

Another 26% for Planes. Just 12% for The Smurfs 2. On the Midnight Movie Reviews segment on WGN Radio with Nick Digilio, my colleague Collin Souter said that if you take your child to see The Smurfs 2 you are a bad parent. Now there is a review you can trust. Unlike anyone who tried to recommend The Hangover Part III to you.

"Hilarious" - Kevin McCarthy
"Surprising" - Silas Lesnick,
"Rockin" - Kourosh Taj, NGTV
"Outrageous. Wild" - Maria Salas
"Hysterical. Fantastic. Action packed" - Jacki Jing, FOX-TV
"The wildest ride yet" - Bonnie Laufer
"Ridiculously funny, The best Hangover yet" - Jami Philbrick
"An epic ending" - Cindy Pearlman
"The perfect ending." - Steve Samblis, The Hollywood Fast Lane
"The funniest trilogy ever comes to a glorious end." - Shawn Edwards

Where do they find these people? Oh right, junkets. You'll notice three-time Quote Whore of the Year winner, Shawn Edwards, amongst the crowd there. If anyone's participation on the movie review scene needs to be put to a glorious end it is most certainly him. Then again, as always, he had company this summer on the worst of the worst, starting with his favorite person - himself.

"Brilliant. Intense." (After Earth) - Shawn Edwards

"More exciting than The Hunger Games" (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) - Shawn Edwards
"Don't miss this ride." (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) - Mark S. Allen

Those two box office bombs registered at 11% & 12%, respectively, on the Tomatometer and a score of 33 each at Metacritic. But those look like monster recommendations compared to the 3% that Robert Luketic's abysmal Paranoia got. Or was it?

"Riveting!" - Shelli Sonstein, Q104.3
"Slick, savvy, with a top drawer cast." - Jeffrey Lyons
"A taut, tense thriller." - Debbie Lynn Elias
"Paranoia is a smart and quick-paced thriller." - Kylie Mar, Made In Hollywood

That is better than the two positive reviews it got at Rotten Tomatoes; one of them by the abysmal Pete Hammond. That is one more positive review than one of the last gasps of the summer season got (at least of this writing.) Getaway, from the director of Dungeons & Dragons and An American Haunting got the very rare 2% approval rating at the site. TWO. PERCENT. But there it was right there on the ad.

"Taken meets Drive." - Bill Bregoli

If you scowl through the press notes given to junketeers about Getaway, there is surely a greater than one percent chance that is the very description of the movie. A kidnapping plus a race car driver. Bregoli could have gone with Ransom meets The Driver or Commando meets Gone in Sixty Seconds or Labyrinth meets Speed Racer. No, that would just be silly. Bregoli probably would have referenced the Nicolas Cage film rather than the H.B. Halicki film anyway. As for the rest of the summer, even films with "rotten" ratings get their support in the ads.

"Hilarious!" (Peeples) - Maria Salas
"Hilarious." (We're the Millers) - Cosmopolitan
"Hilarious with a ton of heart." (The Internship) - Kevin McCarthy
"Laugh-out-loud, feel good comedy of the summer." (The Internship) - Steven Weintraub, Collider
"Vince and Owen are comic gold." (The Internship) - Jacquelyn Simone, Self Magazine
"Ridiculously funny." (We're the Millers) - Shelli Sonstein, Q104.3
Full of non-stop laughs! (Peeples) - Leslie "Big Lez" Segar, Radio Xpress
"An uproarious, crowd-pleasing comedy! (Peeples) - In Touch Magazine
"A laugh a minute amid all the mayhem." (Red 2) - Roger Moore, Movie Nation / McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"The best action comedy of the year." (Red 2) - Maria Salas
"A must-see. Funniest movie of the summer." (We're the Millers) - Juliann Carey (Marie Claire)
"Finally, the comedy you've waited for all summer." (We're the Millers) - Karen Butler, UPI
"The Superman we've been waiting for." (Man of Steel) - Viviana Vigil, REELZ Channel

Meanwhile we await the day when Warner Bros. stops relying so heavy on junket whores. Until then, enjoy the ride.

"The ride of the summer" (The Lone Ranger) - Melissa Hernandez, Generation N
"...Action-riddled joy ride that's as funny as it is fun." (White House Down) - Miri Jedeikin, Electric Playground
"Ultimate summer thrill ride." (Man of Steel) - Chris Parente
"The magical thrill ride of the summer!" (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) - Greg Russell
"Funniest film of the summer." (We're the Millers) - Greg Russell

At least Greg Russell waited until August to make his claims for the best of the summer. He must have been holding his wad like a tantric horse cause he did it on two films opening the same week as if to say Remember Me (like the Robert Pattinson film with the 9/11 ending he called "a sweeping romantic masterpiece."

"A masterpiece" (The Great Gatsby) - Kevin McCarthy
"A visual and epic masterpiece." (Man of Steel) - Kevin McCarthy
"Stunning! A groundbreaking, visionary and stylistic masterpiece. Baz Luhrmann has outdone himself." (The Great Gatsby) - Shawn Edwards

Also, both films from Warner Bros.

"An amazing epic!" (Man of Steel) - Josh Horowitz, MTV
"Epic and thrilling. This Superman soars above the rest." (Man of Steel) - Cindy Pearlman

OK, we get it, WB. Anything else qualify as "epic" for God's sake this summer?

"Epic fun" (The Lone Ranger) - Nancy Jay, Daybreak USA

Yeah, thank you, Nancy. I liked it too, but you're not a movie critic.

"Non-stop fantasy action." (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) - Nancy Jay, Daybreak USA


"Phenomenal. One of the best films of the year." (Man of Steel) - Steve Weintraub,
"Brilliant! An unforgettable experience." (Man of Steel) - Sasha Perl-Raver, NBCLA
"Monumental. Sensational." (Man of Steel) - Mike Androsky, Entertainers

OK, I see too. You're all part of the 56% who loved Man of Steel. Maybe if any of you wrote reviews you could have pushed it into the positive at Rotten Tomatoes. But you don't.

"A lot of action, a lot of laughs and a lot of fun!" (Red 2) - Greg Russell
"Red 2 not only delivers the action, laughs and thrills of the original - in many ways it surpasses it. The perfect cast! Even better than the original and Red was terrific!" (Red 2) - Bill Zwecker
"Bruce Willis is still the ultimate tough guy. John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are funny and fabulous." (Red 2) - Jacki King, KDVR (Fox)
'Red'-hot summer flick fun. One of the most enjoyable sequels in recent memory. (Red 2) - Robert Levin, AM New York
"Red 2 is red hot! Watch out superheroes, this gang is where the real action is." (Red 2) - Pete Hammond

(NOTE: According to Robert Levin, he never wrote the words "Red-hot summer flick fun" to describe Red 2. Something you can see from his written review. Nor did he speak those words to a representative of the studio, simply saying it was just "a lot of fun." He was unaware the above quote even existed and was attributed to him. In fact, it was actually the headline put atop his review by the editors of AM New York)

I believe a bill is being worked on in Congress that anyone who liked either of the Red films is to be immediately deported. Relax, Red lovers, we all know they don't pass bills these days. Then again, it is just stupid enough to get support. Speaking of which, let's get the rest of these out of the way.

"Hugely entertaining." (The Lone Ranger) - Silas Lesnick.
"Wildly entertaining." (Now You See Me) - Manny dela Rosa
"A must-see! Action-packed fun for the whole family!" (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) - Kidsday, Newsday
"Spectacular...Packs more entertainment in two hours than any three films you'll see this summer." (White House Down) - Mike Sargent, WBAI
"The most original movie this summer." (Now You See Me) - Gary Susman, Rolling Stone
"Original" (Now You See Me) - Fred Topel,
"Sensational fun." (Now You See Me) - Patrick Stoner, WHYY-TV (PBS)
"Mesmerizing." (Now You See Me) - Mose Persico
"Johnny Depp is show stopping" (The Lone Ranger) - Kim Holcomb, NBC/Seattle / KING-TV, NBC
"Another winner from the guys who brought you Wedding Crashers." (The Internship) - Entertainment Weekly

If we may now, we will wrap up this summer with our usual focus. Names that Criticwatch never wants to see on ads ever again. Do you think we want to continue writing articles like this?


"An absolutely spellbinding, dazzling film that leaves you breathless." (The Great Gatsby)
- "Superbly acted. Spellbinding!" (Beautiful Creatures)
- "...quite possibly the first perfect action movie! Awesome, fun, funny with action sequences that will leave you breathless, but gasping for more. (The Rundown)

"Brilliant. An epic adventure that will be watched for generations." (Star Trek Into Darkness)
- "The best Pirates yet! Epic and amazing!" (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End)
- "An epic and awesome experience." (300)
- An epic 'Journey' for everyone. (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island)
- "Epic. Glorious. Unforgettable." (Australia)

"Bold, brilliant, beautiful!" (Monsters University)
- "Smart, sexy, sensational." (Sherlock Holmes)

"An instant classic" (The Lone Ranger)
- "An instant classic." (Identity)
- "An instant classic." (Flipped)
- "The heart and soul of Rocky and The instant classic." (Real Steel)

"Don't miss this ride." (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones)
- A thrill ride! (Edge of Darkness)
- The summer’s biggest thrill ride! (Terminator: Salvation)


"Brilliant. Intense." (After Earth)
- "Intense! Samuel L. Jackson is brilliant." (Lakeview Terrace)

"Jaw-dropping. Out of this world action." (Pacific Rim)
- "It will make your jaw drop and heart pound." (Fast Five)
- "Jaw-dropping. Kick-ass 3-D." (Immortals)
- "A first-rate edge-of-your-seat thriller loaded with suspense, whiz-bang action and creepy excitement" (Dreamcatcher)
- "A big adventure full of major league action and clever surprises. It's Indiana Jones and James Bond rolled into one incredibly fun film to watch." (Sahara)
- "It's Kill Bill meets ER in this brilliantly stylistic, ultra cool action thriller!" (Repo Men)
- "An explosive masterpiece tailor-made for those who love ultra-cool high energy action!" (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)

"The most exciting thriller of the year. A terrific heist movie." (Now You See Me)
- "If you take the best parts of Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects and The Professional, this is what you get. The best thriller of the year." (Lucky Number Slevin)
- "Unlock the secret of the best thriller of the year." (The Skeleton Key)

"Hilarious. Funnier than American Pie!" (The To-Do List)
"More exciting than The Hunger Games" (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones)
- "More compelling than Saving Private Ryan." (The Great Raid)
- "More intense and entertaining than The Departed." (We Own the Night)
- "It's Superbadder than any comedy this year." (Sex Drive)

"The funniest trilogy ever comes to a glorious end." (The Hangover Part III)
- "The Funniest Movie Ever!" (Bridesmaids)
- "The funniest, craziest and zaniest teen movie ever." (Fired Up)
- "The most dazzling animated feature ever made." (Robots)
- "One of the most creative, original and visionary movies ever made." (Where the Wild Things Are)
- "One of the most entertaining, exciting and intense movies ever made." (I Am Legend)
- "One of the best sci-fi films ever!" (The Chronicles of Riddick)
- "One of the most epic love stories ever." (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1)
- "Epic! One of the best vampire movies ever." (Twilight)
- "One of the coolest vampire movies ever!" (Priest)
- "One of the coolest movies you’ll ever see!" (Stomp the Yard)
- "A magical experience unlike anything you have ever seen." (Idlewild)

"Stunning! A groundbreaking, visionary and stylistic masterpiece. Baz Luhrmann has outdone himself." (The Great Gatsby)
- "A masterpiece!" (Crash)
- "A masterpiece!" (The Manchurian Candidate)
- "A 100% certified masterpiece." (Sin City)
- "An undeniable masterpiece!" (Grindhouse)
- "A true masterpiece." (Where the Wild Things Are)
- "A true masterpiece! A crowning achievement in American cinema." (The Beaver)
- "An electrifying cinematic achievement! A modern-day masterpiece." (American Gangster)
- "Brilliant! A contemporary masterpiece." (Stranger Than Fiction)
- "A masterpiece, absolutely brilliant." (Tsotsi)
- "A visually stunning masterpiece!" (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
- "Electrifying. A masterpiece!" (The Grey)
- "A truly haunting and mesmerizing masterpiece!" (Let Me In)
- "A flat-out masterpiece! A mesmerizing and haunting film that soars with creativity, stylistic genius and amazing battle scenes." (Snow White and the Huntsman)
- "A visually stunning masterpiece!" (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
- "An ultra-cool masterpiece!" (Kill Bill Vol. 1)
- "An explosive masterpiece tailor-made for those who love ultra-cool high energy action!" (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)
- "A stunning masterpiece that is destined to become a timeless classic." (Ray)
- "A masterpiece destined to become a timeless classic. Movies don't get much better than this." (Cinderella Man)


"Hilarious. A sizzling summer smash." (The Heat)
- "A 100% unqualified summer smash!" (Hairspray)

"One of the year's best films! A movie that grabs the heart." (The Way, Way Back)
- "Grabs you by the heart in unexpected and wonderful ways." (Akeelah and the Bee)
- "Grabs you with its epic scope and richly human story." (Jet Li's Fearless)

"Washington & Wahlberg are at their very best." (2 Guns)
- "Harrelson at his very best!" (Defendor)
- "A timeless classic that ranks with the very best of animated films." (The Tale of Despereaux)
- "Don't miss it...engrossing, intelligent storytelling at its very best. The ensemble cast is superb." (The Words)
- "Totally delivers with lots of laughs, heart and a terrific ensemble of actors at their best." (What To Expect When You're Expecting)

"There's never been a film like this. The 3-D is stunning" (The Great Gatsby)
- "A startling original film! One surprise after another! You have never seen a movie quite like Brick. A terrific story." (Brick)
- "Awesome! You have never seen anything like it before!" (Steep)
- "Tyler Perry like we have never seen him before." (Alex Cross)
- " A great story that takes us to places we've never been before." (Tron: Legacy)
- "A 3-D experience like we've never seen onscreen before." (Step Up 3-D)

"Extraordinary! Original! A magical and wondrous movie experience for everyone. A truly epic film that becomes the family event of the summer." (Epic)
- "The most wondrous film of its kind since E.T." (The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep)
- "Fantastic movie fun for everyone." (Dr. Seuss' The Lorax)
- "Hilarious and lots of fun for everyone." (Enchanted)
- "A great time at the movies for everyone! Huge laughs, spectacular special effects and the pure animal magnetism of Steve Carell make this the summer movie comedy event that proves to be every bit as much fun as it's meant to be - times two!" (Evan Almighty)
- "The must-see movie event of 2011." (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2)
- "A 3-D event." (Kung Fu Panda 2)
- "...Thrilling...A major movie event! Rosario Dawson will knock you out!" (Rent)
- "Megamind soars! A hilarious comedy event. A mega-funny movie loaded with laughs, action and heart." (Megamind)

"Pure summer movie magic! Sensational fun that outdoes Ocean's 11, 12 & 13." (Now You See Me)
- "Inspiring and heartwarming. A whale of a great tale." (Big Miracle)
- "It's the fairest family entertainment of all." (Mirror Mirror)
- "People Like Us is for people who love great movies." (People Like Us)
- "One film hits it out of the park. Filled with heart, humor and fantastic acting." (Trouble with the Curve)
- "This summer's great escape!" (Hit & Run)
- "A treasure chest full of laughs!" (The Pirates!: Band of Misfits)
- "Totally delivers with lots of laughs, heart and a terrific ensemble of actors at their best." (What To Expect When You're Expecting)

All those puns were just in 2012, too. How about some more?

"Red 2 is red hot! Watch out superheroes, this gang is where the real action is." (Red 2)
- "Bow down to the master and accept no substitutions. Star Wars, Batman and the others better watch out! This is the movie we've been waiting for!" (Land of the Dead)
- "Sizzling hot! It's an explosive, nail-biting ride that doesn't slow down." (Salt)
- "It's hot stuff. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony set off fireworks." (El Cantante)
Maria Bello is sizzlingly hot!" (A History of Violence)
- "It packs enough red-hot fiery action for six movies." (The Condemned)
- "Whimsical, funny and moving…This is the real deal!" (Lars and the Real Girl)
- "A total knockout! The real deal." (Fighting)
- "Real Steel is the real deal. Exciting, funny, and heartwarming...A huge winner!" (Real Steel)

"A rocking good time at the movies." (20 Feet from Stardom)
- "These boots are made for rocking." (Puss In Boots)
- "A rollicking good time…guaranteed! Pure entertainment with great music, wit and a dream cast!" (A Prairie Home Companion)
- "A high octane, revved up southern fried good time with an irresistible cast." (The Dukes of Hazzard)
- "This summer's freshest, raunchiest, smartest comedy surprise. A movie fully charged with huge booming laughs and a big heart. Wanna have a good time, DO NOT MISS THIS MOVIE!" (The Change-Up)

"Loads of laughs and heart. Pixar does it again!" (Monsters University)
- "Insanely funny! The Coen Brothers have done it again." (Burn After Reading)
- "It's the…prescription for what ails you: loads of laughs!" (Charlie Bartlett)
- "A hilarious comedy event. A mega-funny movie loaded with laughs, action and heart." (Megamind)
- "Awesome! Hilarious! More laughs, excitement and heart than any other comedy this year. The perfect holiday film." (Bolt)
- "Hilarious! Pure family fun: Action, laughs and heart." (G-Force)
- "You will be standing and cheering. Real Steel is the real deal. Exciting, funny, and heartwarming...A huge winner!" (Real Steel)

"Absolutely wonderful! The Kings of Summer is a welcome gift for moviegoers, A true gem in a season of non-stop mayhem. Don't miss it!" (The Kings of Summer)
- "Flipped is a true gem." (Flipped)
- "Triumphant! A true gem of a film." (Is Anybody There?)
- "A gift for moviegoers, the year's most unexpected and profoundly moving love story." (Seven Pounds)
- "A true gem! A rich entertainment, the kind of smart, sophisticated adult comedy that rarely comes along these days. A must see for people who love movies." (Darling Companion)

"Sensational. A must see." (Jobs)
- "Sensational." (The Informant)
- "Sensational. Gripping and powerful." (Contagion)
- "Sensationally entertaining! You'll definitely want to stand up and cheer for Charlie Wilson." (Charlie Wilson's War)
- "Outstanding. Sensationally entertaining in every way." (The Devil Wears Prada)
- "Sensational! Crackling good entertainment that also stands out as one of the year's most important movies." (North Country)
- "Spellbinding! Spectacular! Sensationally acted and brilliantly directed, this Potter tops them all!" (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)
- "A spellbinding, real-life suspense thriller. Chris Cooper, in a career-best performance, is sensational." (Breach)
- "The biggest and best of the series. Sensational! Pure entertainment from start to finish." (High School Musical 3)

"Compelling, surprising, unforgettable...A must-see!" (Copperhead)
- "Unforgettable…Sure to be one of the year's most controversial films." (The Stoning of Soraya M.)
- "Riveting, exciting, emotional and unforgettable! This is one to see!" (End of Watch)
- "Riveting. A must-see! Packs the kind of punch-to-the-gut wallop the screen hasn't seen in years. An unforgettable experience!" (Warrior)
- "Heart-stopping action! If you're looking for pure screen excitement look no further. Dives into the heart of a true hero. An unforgettable motion picture experience." (The Guardian)
- "An unforgettable cinematic experience." (Into the Wild)
- "A vibrant, funny, moving, highly entertaining and richly rewarding movie experience! Unforgettable." (Talk to Me)
- "One of the year's most satisfying and rewarding motion picture experiences. Clive Owen delivers a moving and unforgettable portrayal." (The Boys Are Back)
- "A remarkably accomplished and moving film. An unforgettable experience you don't want to miss." (Fugitive Pieces)
- "An unforgettable motion picture experience. Powerful and moving beyond words." (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)
- "An unforgettable movie experience. An outstanding all-star cast shines brightly right down to the smallest part." (Bobby)
- "Miley Cyrus shines in a breakout role. An unforgettable, touching and wonderful movie." (The Last Song)
- "Beautifully written, directed and acted - This is a film you won't forget." (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
- "A film you won't forget anytime soon. A terrific coming-of-age movie with an extraordinary and talented ensemble cast of hot new stars. It reminded me of classics like The Last Picture Show and American Graffiti." (Skateland)
- "A must see! A towering, unforgettable epic...Director Roland Joffe returns to the stirring tradition of his greatest films, The Killing Fields and The Mission." (There Be Dragons)
- "The perfect summer film. 'The Magic Of Belle Isle' is one of Rob Reiner's best. A wonderful family story you won't soon forget" (The Magic of Belle Isle)
- "A wonderful, entertaining and unforgettable movie. Truly inspiring." (Dolphin Tale)
- "Truly magnificent! An inspiring, stirring, unforgettable human drama." (The Flowers of War)
- "Magnificent! An incredible, heartwarming and 100% thrilling action/adventure you won't forget." (Eight Below)
- "Beyond spectacular! Transports you to an alternate world of jaw-dropping awe and unforgettable adventure." (The Golden Compass)
- "Ben Stiller's funniest film. Brace yourself for an outrageously hilarious comedy. This kid hits the comic bullseye!…a honeymoon you won't soon forget." (The Heartbreak Kid)


"Man of Steel soars high." (Man of Steel)
- "The best and boldest Hollywood musical in years soars!" (Les Miserables)
- "A movie miracle! It soars! You feel privileged!" (Winged Migration)
- "Leaves you moved like no film in years and then lifts you up in ways you don't see coming. It has a spirit that soars." (Precious)
- "Just sit back and behold. The movie rises and, at times, even soars." (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)
- "Awesome…Soars on the imagination of its creators." (District 9)
- "The haunting and visionary Dark Knight soars on the wings of untamed imagination." (The Dark Knight)

"Sheer comic perfection!" (The World's End)
- "Catherine O'Hara is comic perfection" (For Your Consideration)

"Bracingly fresh and funny. I loved every minute of it." (The Way Way Back)
- "Fresh and funny. Inside Deep Throat is a wickedly probing documentary" (Inside Deep Throat)

"You will scream your head off." (The Conjuring)
- "A wicked invitation for the audience to scream its head off." (The Village)

"Woody Allen is working at the top of his game, sending out each laugh with a sting in its tail. Blue Jasmine is not to be missed." (Blue Jasmine)
- "This classic-in-the-making is the Coen Brothers at the peak of their powers! Tommy Lee Jones shows the kind of wit and assurance that reveals a master actor at the top of his game." (No Country for Old Men)
- "Harlan, played by Edward Norton at the top of his risk-taking game, is a cowboy with no O.K. Corral." (Down in the Valley)
- "David Mamet is on his game, and that is a sight to see." (Redbelt)
- "Ridley Scott is on the top of his game." (American Gangster)
- "Nicolas Cage is at the top of his game." (Matchstick Men)
- "Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are at the top of their game." (Duplicity)
- "Every actor brings his "A" game to show the lure of the dark side." (The Dark Knight)

"The director of District 9 has done it again. It sticks with you. Strap in for a wild ride." (Elysium)
- "A wild ride of a movie!" (The Motorcycle Diaries)
- "We've waited all summer for a wild ride to grab us with more than jolts. Now it's here. Hang on." (The Bourne Ultimatum)
- "A wild thing that sticks with you long after it's over." (Down in the Valley)
- "A potently acted powerhouse that sticks in the mind and the heart." (Appaloosa)
- "Downright breathtaking! A class act all the way…Pixar does it again!" (Cars)
- "Coppola works her magic again…Your eyes will be dazzled…" (Marie Antoinette)
- "A game-changer that gets you excited about movies again." (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
- "Gets you drunk on movies again." (The Social Network)
- "This tour-de-force gets you high on movies again!" (Grindhouse)

"The best movie at the Sundance film festival. An unstoppable cinematic force." (Fruitvale Station)
- "Cruz, never more voluptuous or vulnerable, is a force of nature." (Volver)
- "Molina is a comic force of nature." (An Education)
- "Charlize Theron is a comic force of nature." (Young Adult)
- "Zach Galifianakis is a comic force of nature!" (It's Kind of a Funny Story)

"Before Midnight is One of the Year's Best Movies. Full to the brim with humor, heartbreak, and ravishing romance, Richard Linklater directrs with Ardor and Artistry. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy Shine Brilliantly. Heads up, Oscar, This One's a Keeper." (Before Midnight)
- "Brims over with bracing humor and ravishing romance, but there are also haunting shadows. That alone makes it a keeper." (Midnight In Paris)
- "It's a keeper." (Outrage)
- "It's a keeper!" (I'm Not Scared)
- "The Eclipse is a keeper." (The Eclipse)
- "A playful comedy laced with heartbreak…" (Pieces of April)
- "An irresistible blend of humor and heartbreak." (Cemetery Junction)
- "A movie rich in hilarity, heartbreak and a sense of life in all its vibrant, messy sprawl." (Friends with Money)
- "Director Alexander Payne is a master of the human comedy. He walks the high wire between humor and heartbreak with unerring skill." (The Descendants)
- "Writer-Director Tod Williams catches the heartbreak and humor of the story that do John Irving proud." (The Door In The Floor)
- "Owen Wilson skillfully blends humor and heartbreak..." (The Darjeeling Limited)
- "Blending humor and heartbreak in a performance that makes Is Anybody There? A richly satisfying film, Caine truly is magic." (Is Anybody There?)
- "Downey gives a blazing performance that runs the gamut from humor to heartbreak." (Zodiac)
- "In a multiplex crowded with formula rom-coms divorced from genuine feeling, Cyrus brims over with hilarity and heartbreak." (Cyrus)
- " A near perfect blend of humor and heartbreak. That rare summer movie - one that matters." (Summer Hours)
- "An exhilarating gift filled with humor and heartbreak." (The Help)
- "John Hawkes and Helen Hunt give award-caliber performances that turn The Sessions into a unique film that brims over with humor and heartbreak. An exhilarating gift of a movie." (The Sessions)

"A lyrical spellbinder. Affleck and Mara are vibrantly alive. Foster is briliant." (Ain't Them Bodies Saints)
"A lyrical masterwork. A near perfect blend of humor and heartbreak." (Summer Hours)
"Funky cool...lyrically funny." (Coffee and Cigarettes)
"A funny and touching tale. Lyrical and emotionally rigorous." (Quinceanera)
"Hero was just a warm-up for this martial arts fireball that throws in a lyrical love story and countless other ravishments and dazzling surprises. Prepare your eyes for popping!" (House of Flying Daggers)
"It's a spellbinder. Prepare to be wowed." (Let Me In)
"A spellbinder of breathtaking beauty and terror." (Sweeney Todd)
"…the effect of this mesmerizing mind teaser is spellbinding." (Match Point)
"Spellbinding…As timely as it is thrilling to watch." (Lady Chatterley)
"Sweeps you up on waves of ravishing romance. A potently erotic spellbinder. It speaks of what's timeless about passion, art and redemption." (Atonement)
"Spellbinding! A chillingly intense psychological thriller! Involves God, sex and murder! (Enduring Love)
"Ang Lee's potently erotic and suspenseful Lust, Caution casts a spell you won't want to break!" (Lust, Caution)
"This movie, a true beauty, will put a spell on you." (Super 8)
"…This film portrait casts a spell…" (Tupac Resurrection)
"It's a spellbinder. Prepare to be wowed." (Let Me In)
"What gives this spellbinder a similar raw power is the way Boyer reveals the parallels between DeLuca and Sutherland." (I Trust You to Kill Me)
"This is the bravest, riskiest role of Dench's film career. It's spellbinding to watch her blow the lid off." (Notes on a Scandal)
"Lou Pucci rides this spellbinder!" (Thumbsucker)
"A spellbinder of breathtaking beauty and terror." (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
"This you do not want to miss! A spellbinder that builds unbearable suspense without losing sight of the story's grieving heart. A spellbinder that builds unbearable suspense." (No Country for Old Men)
"A spellbinding true crime story. Potent and provocative. Gosling is terrific. Kirsten Dunst is heartbreakingly good." (All Good Things)
"There's more killer suspense in this one-of-a-kind film than you'll find in a dozen thrillers. You'll be talking about this spellbinder for weeks. It pushes every button. Don't let anyone spoil this story." (Catfish)
"A knockout! Spellbinding! It spins a web that will pull you in. A thriller that really thrills." (The Lookout)
"It pins you to your seat. A spellbinder! The stuff that dreams are made of!" (Brick)
"Holds you spellbound!" (Rachel Getting Married)
"A shockingly fierce and funny spell-binder that leaves your head spinning." (Crazy Love)
"A one-of-a-kind spellbinder that's not afraid to shock!" (The Libertine)
"This spellbinder will sneak up and floor you. It's that good. A supremely intelligent and deeply touching thriller." (The Secret In Their Eyes)
"Allen and Elliott perform acting miracles in this quietly devastating spellbinder. Scott has built a movie that sneaks up and knocks you flat." (Off the Map)

That's enough Peter Travers. Seriously, it's enough already. Seeing his name on a commercial or movie ad first means only one thing - that he was one of the first people to see it. That's it. His limited brain comes up with the first spark of hyperbole he can think of and it is just a variation of something he has said before. It happens when a critic speaks first before putting their thoughts into more carefully thought-out sentences. Trust me, I know.

We are headed into the home stretch of the movie year. More Oscar bait than ever this year and if there is ever a time that jackasses like Travers and Hammond think they are supposed to overpraise films, this is it. Do not take the easy bait, studios. You are actually doing a better job at finding new avenues of praise. Continue to do so. Once again, you are in position to limit Travers' perceived power as the arbiter of early hype. His name is met with groans, not anticipation. As are the other names seen throughout this past summer. It is not what you want for your films. It is not what WE want for your films.

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originally posted: 09/21/13 01:01:09
last updated: 09/22/18 03:12:19
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