Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Wolf of Wall Street is Certified Fresh

Plus, Walter Mitty is sincere but uneven, Grudge Match and 47 Ronin lose the battle, Mandela is well-acted, and Believe was not screened for critics.

by | December 23, 2013 | Comments

Merry Christmas! This week at the movies, we’ve got a financial fraudster (The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill); a timid daydreamer (The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig); a pair of aging prizefighters (Grudge Match, starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro); a legendary warrior (47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves and Hiroyuki Sanada); a pop music sensation (the documentary Justin Bieber’s Believe); and a human rights hero (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris). What do the critics have to say?

The Wolf of Wall Street


Martin Scorsese knows how to capture the vicarious allure of criminality better than just about any other filmmaker. Critics say he’s in fine form with The Wolf of Wall Street, a slick, sleek, and surprisingly funny tale of financial fraud that features a riveting performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. The film follows the rise of Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio), the founder of a boiler room that sold worthless stocks to naïve customers. Belfort’s ill-gotten gains finance a staggering level of conspicuous debauchery, but he’s shrewd enough to stay one step ahead of the government — for a while, anyway. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Wolf of Wall Street has the hyperkinetic energy you’d expect from Scorsese, but what distinguishes it from past triumphs is its wild, ribald sense of humor.

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty


For all its evocative detail, James Thurber’s 1939 short story The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is pretty brief, so it takes an imagination worthy of the title character to extend it to feature film length. Critics say Ben Stiller’s fantasy world looks great and has an optimistic tone, but its story often feels episodic and tonally uneven. Stiller stars as a reverie-prone Life magazine photo editor with problems at work: he’s derided by his boss, he’s got an unrequited crush on a co-worker (Kristen Wiig), and he can’t find an image that’s set to run in the next issue. He escapes into a globe-spanning fantasyland of his own creation — which might be just the thing that snaps him out of his rut. The pundits say that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is well-meaning and ambitious, but it pushes its emotional buttons too hard to make up for a slight story.

Grudge Match


Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro played two of cinema’s most iconic boxers, and Grudge Match purports to be a lighthearted fantasy bout between Rocky Balboa and Jake “The Raging Bull” LaMotta. Unfortunately, critics say it’s more tomato can than contender — a film with a promising premise that rarely punches above its weight. Thirty years after hanging up the gloves after splitting their two matchups, bitter rivals Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) have a fisticuffs-filled reunion while performing motion capture for a video game. When news of their punch-up spreads, the two fighters agree to a long-delayed rubber match — and a lot more than pride is on the line. The pundits say Grudge Match is sporadically funny but surprisingly lumbering, its strong cast largely mired in a plot that’s overrun with clichés.

47 Ronin


From the silent era to the present, the tale of the 47 Ronin has inspired some of Japan’s greatest filmmakers. Now it gets a big-budget Western adaptation, but unfortunately, critics say the human element gets lost under a barrage of overblown CGI effects. When a disgraced feudal lord is compelled to commit suicide after a confrontation with a corrupt official, his disgraced followers (a group that includes an orphaned swashbuckler played by Keanu Reeves). The pundits say 47 Ronin is a surprisingly dull fantasy adventure, one that leaves its talented international cast stranded within one dimensional roles.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom goes into wide release this week, and critics say it’s a decent if not always inspired look at Nelson Mandela’s life that’s bolstered by a terrific central performance by Idris Elba in the title role. Based upon Mandela’s autobiography, the film follows the South African political leader’s life from his early activism to his time in prison to his election to president in the first post-Apartheid elections. The pundits say the Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom tries to cover too much ground in the great man’s life, but it’s a sincere and powerfully acted biopic that serves as a good first step for those who want to learn more about one of the great human rights champions or our era.

Justin Bieber’s Believe


Sorry, Beliebers: we’d love to tell you what the critics thought of Justin Bieber’s Believe, but it wasn’t screened for critics prior to its release in theaters. If Bieber’s previous doc, Never Say Never, captured the rise of the pop star, Believe purports to show how his world has changed now that he’s on the cusp of adulthood. Hey everybody, take a break from yuletide festivities and guess the Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

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