Critics Consensus

Happy Death Day Is Familiar but Fun

Plus, The Foreigner is moderately thrilling, and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women and Marshall are enlightening biopics.

by | October 12, 2017 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we have a horror movie cousin to a Bill Murray classic (Happy Death Day, starring Jessica Rothe and Ruby Modine), Jackie Chan versus James Bond (The Foreigner, co-starring Pierce Brosnan), a the incredible real-world origins of a comics icon (Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, starring Luke Evans and Rebecca Hall), and the beginnings of a future Supreme Court justice (Marshall, starring Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad). What are the critics saying?


Happy Death Day (2017) 71%


If you’ve ever gotten to the end of Groundhog Day and wished there’d just been more blood, then this is finally your weekend: Happy Death Day, starring Jessica Rothe as a college student trapped in a gruesome time loop, takes the comedy-rich premise of a fundamentally flawed person forced to relive a single day and combines it with repeated murder. As obvious riffs on an original idea go, this one offers its own unique rewards — and critics say it pretty much delivers, with director/co-writer Christopher Landon managing to split the difference between serving up some mindlessly entertaining scares and offering up some darkly funny commentary on the slasher genre in general. Its solid reviews are impressive of the context of the genre rather than outright amazing, but if you’re in the mood to see a horror movie at your local cineplex this Friday the 13th, Happy Death Day looks likely to scratch — or stab — that itch.

The Foreigner (2017) 65%


The action thriller genre isn’t usually the first place we think to look for examples of actors playing against type, but there are exceptions to every rule — and with this weekend’s The Foreigner, a couple of seasoned pros get to shrug off their typecasting a bit. In one corner, we have Jackie Chan, beloved veteran of a thousand set pieces, as Quan, a man searching for answers after his daughter is killed in a terrorist attack; in the other, we have ex-007 Pierce Brosnan as Liam Hennessy, a British bureaucrat Quan’s convinced is covering up for his former associates. It’s a premise loaded with potential for plenty of the stuff people have come to expect from both stars, but with some twists: Brosnan has an opportunity here to play a morally ambiguous character who might or might not be a bad guy, while Chan, who’s rarely been called upon to flex his dramatic chops in his U.S. features, gets to showcase his range as the grieving dad with a special set of skills. It all adds up to just about enough for critics — although the praise for The Foreigner is about as tempered as you might expect for an autumn action thriller starring two old pros in the post-Taken era, most of the pundits say it’s a pretty good time, with the added benefit of some impressive stunt work from the still impossibly agile Chan. If you’re the target audience for this kind of thing, it should pack plenty of punch.

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women (2017) 87%


Any comic book character that sticks around for more than a few issues tends to build up a pretty interesting backstory, and Wonder Woman — one of the medium’s longest-lasting and most beloved heroes — certainly fits that description. But as this weekend’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women illustrates, the lasso-wielding defender of justice has a real-life history that’s every bit as interesting — and occasionally just about as colorful — as anything she’s gotten up to on the printed page. Starring Luke Evans as Wonder Woman creator Dr. William Marston, this biopic depicts the forward-thinking views that helped Marston mold the character — and, more importantly, details the many ways in which her development was strongly influenced by the polyamorous relationship between Marston, his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), and their lover Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). It’s the type of story that could have been given a luridly shallow treatment under different circumstances, but critics say writer-director Angela Robinson has assembled an appropriately thoughtful ode to the behind-the-scenes life of a wonderfully complicated superhero.

Marshall (2017) 80%


During his relatively brief career, Chadwick Boseman has had the opportunity to play some incredible people, real as well as fictional. MCU viewers know him as Black Panther, the Wakandan hero who’ll be getting his own standalone adventure next year, but he’s also starred in films dedicated to Jackie Robinson and James Brown — and he hits the biopic trifecta with Marshall, in which he helps dramatize a chapter in the incredible legacy of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Instead of offering a life-spanning overview, director Reginald Hudlin‘s picture focuses on one early case that found him forced to rely on a young assistant (Josh Gad) as his courtroom mouthpiece after being silenced by a segregationist judge (James Cromwell). If that makes for a somewhat surprisingly narrow approach, critics say it’s also fairly effective: instead of being forced to make the case for its protagonist as a future great man, Marshall is free to be simply an engrossing legal drama, and as an added bonus, we all know our hero has plenty of future cases left on his docket after the closing credits roll. Perhaps Black Panther isn’t the only potential franchise beckoning on Boseman’s horizon.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (2017) , a documentary featuring celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali explaining widespread efforts to cut down on food waste, is at 100 percent
  • The Departure (2017) , a documentary about a Japanese priest whose job counseling the suicidal makes him more mindful of his own mortality, is at 100 percent.
  • Human Flow (2017) , in which director Ai Weiwei offers a worldwide survey of multiple modern refugee crises, is at 94 percent.
  • The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (2017) , starring Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, and Adam Sandler in the latest from director Noah Baumbach, is Certified Fresh at 90 percent.
  • 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) , a documentary look at the making of the titular Psycho scene and its wide-ranging cinematic legacy, is at 90 percent.
  • Tom of Finland (2017) , a biopic look at the life and groundbreaking work of Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, is at 89 percent.
  • For Ahkeem (2017) , a documentary following the experiences of — and challenges facing — a teenage girl in St. Louis, is at 88 percent.
  • Sylvio (2017) , a comedy about a gorilla’s efforts to fit in with human society, is at 82 percent.
  • Alex & Eve (2017) , about a couple worried that their budding love affair will be undone by culture clashes between their families, is at 80 percent.
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) , a biopic dramatizing the way Winnie the Pooh was inspired by the relationship between author A.A. Milne and his son, is at 65 percent.
  • M.F.A. (2017) , about a student’s increasingly grim quest to come to grips with her sexual assault, is at 60 percent.
  • Breathe (2017) , an Andy Serkis-directed drama inspired by the real-life love story between polio survivor Robin Cavendish and his wife Diana, is at 58 percent.
  • The Secret Scripture (2017) , a drama about the unknown past of a patient in a mental institution, is at 31 percent.

Tag Cloud

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