Critics Consensus

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens: Believe the Hype

Plus, Sisters provides some laughs, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is a dead end, and Son of Saul and Transparent are Certified Fresh.

by and | December 17, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got the most anticipated film of the year: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Harrison Ford). In addition, we’ve got party-hearty siblings (Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) and traveling rodents (Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, starring Jason Lee and Justin Long). What do the critics have to say?

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) 93%

Star Wars casts such a powerful shadow over the pop cultural landscape that it’s difficult to evaluate any of the films without nostalgia or prejudice. That said, critics say Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens both affectionately recalls the franchise’s best moments and promises an auspicious future. Daisy Ridley stars as Rey, a capable scavenger who teams up with disgraced soldier Finn (John Boyega) to help locate Luke Skwalker before the First Order, a new evil empire, can track him down. Along the way, they run into some formidable foes and friendly faces. The pundits say the Certified Fresh The Force Awakens successfully evokes the familiar wonder of its predecessors, introduces engaging new characters, and offers appropriately thrilling action in a worthy addition to the Star Wars saga.

Sisters (2015) 60%

The comedic chemistry between Tina Fey and Amy Poehler is so infectious, critics say, that it can carry viewers through some of the rougher patches of Sisters, a comedy that balances its gross-out humor with some big laughs and a surprising amount of heart. Fey and Poehler star as thirtysomething wild child Kate Ellis and her frumpy divorcee sister Maura, who fly home to Orlando when they discover their parents have sold their childhood house. Faced with the impending loss, they decide to let loose and throw one last raging party. The pundits say Sisters benefits from some solid gags and the inherent likability of its leads, even if it doesn’t offer many surprises.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015) 15%

Say what you will about Alvin and the Chipmunks, but they’ve made one indelible contribution to seasonal merriment with “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).” Critics say Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is much more ephemeral — little kids will probably be mildly amused, their guardians will not, and all will forget about it hours later. This time out, Dave (Jason Lee) is planning to propose to his girlfriend, and Alvin, Simon, and Theodore think he’s going to give them the heave-ho, so they hit the road in an attempt to change his mind. The pundits say The Road Chip is, at best, a moderately inoffensive time-waster.

 What’s Hot on TV

Transparent: Season 2 (2015) 98%

Transparent‘s second season ups its dramatic stakes while retaining the poignancy and humor that have made the series such a consistently entertaining example of the best that modern serial drama has to offer.

The Expanse: Season 1 (2015) 77%

The Expanse blends sci-fi elements and detective noir into a visually compelling whole, though it takes a few episodes for the story to capture viewers’ intrigue.

Childhood's End: Season 1 (2015) 70%

While it doesn’t quite live up to the book that inspired it, Childhood’s End has a balanced narrative and sympathetic performances.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Son of Saul (2015) , a drama about a prisoner of Auschwitz who attempts to arrange a proper Jewish burial for a dead child, is Certified Fresh at 92 percent.
  • He Never Died (2015) , starring Henry Rollins in a horror comedy about a grizzled depressive who literally cannot expire, is at 71 percent.
  • Dreams Rewired (2015) , an essay film about the collective response to technological advances, is at 63 percent.
  • The Emperor's New Clothes (2015) , a documentary in which Russell Brand examines the causes and effects of income inequality, is at 64 percent.
  • Noma: My Perfect Storm (2015) , a documentary portrait of celebrity chef René Redzepi and his innovative restaurants, is at 33 percent.
  • Extraction (2015) , starring Kellan Lutz and Bruce Willis in a thriller about a man who puts together a plan to rescue his ex-CIA agent father from the terrorists who kidnapped him, is at zero percent.

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