From 'Detective Pikachu' to 'Poms,' here's what THR critics thought about this weekend's lineup.
Kenneth Branagh displays a mix of his acting and acting chops in All Is True.
During the final three years of his life William Shakespeare (Branagh) retires from the stage and returns to a family that feels abandoned by the famed playwright. In addition to Branagh, the All Is True boasts the star power of Anne Hathaway, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.
Todd McCarthy, a critic for THR, writes that the film presents a narrative plainly laid out without subtext or the need for background.
Though not extraordinary, All Is True is a "serviceable" take on the writer's final days.
The film, though it covers an author whose influence spans generations of students and scholars, mainly appeals to "older-skewing art house habituees," McCarthy writes.
A couple of folk trade the city life for the farm in The Biggest Little Farm.
The autobiographical documentary follows John and Molly Chester as they build an entire farm just outside of Los Angeles.
THR critic Todd McCarthy writes that The Biggest Little Farm, which made its debut at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival "inspires by virtue" and doesn't require the over-sentimental bells and whistles, like a dramatic score, to up its optimistic qualities.
"As such, it will edify the curious and instruct the dreamers who have ever considered a back-to-the-land life, even if the couple represents something of a special case," he writes.
Charlie Says uses the infamous Manson murders to critique and discuss violence, abuse and feminism, THR critic David Rooney writes.
"Charlie Says is very much a movie for the Time’s Up era, questioning, as it does and not for the first time, whether Van Houten, Krenwinkel and Atkins were victims as much as cold-blooded killers of blameless people chosen as random representatives of toxic privilege," Rooney writes.
The film explores Manson's manipulative actions and the consequences that follow the murderer's victims. Matt Smith stars as the notorious killer as Game of Thrones' Hannah Murray plays Leslie Van Houten.
Rooney also praises Keegan DeWitt's score that underlies the drastically different scenes of celebration and death throughout the film.
"Charlie Says is not going to pull off a preemptive heist of the Tarantino audience, but as a portrait of bogus revolutionary rhetoric used to undermine and control women, it’s thoughtful and provocative," he writes.
Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway make for a clever and conniving dynamic duo in The Hustle.
The two join forces to get back at the men who have wronged them in the past. The 2019 remake of 1964's Bedtime Story and 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels features Hathaway as a high-class British con artis who takes it upon herself to refine the combat and deceptive skills of Wilson's lower-class character.
In his review, THR critic John DeFore said that the gender-flipped remake falls flat.
"Those looking for a sharply feminist reinvention of this tale will have to wait another couple of decades," he said.
DeFore also notes that the film, which markets itself with a feminist message, contradicts itself with some of its characters quips. The Hustle also fails to bring anything new to the familiar narrative.
"Moviegoers hoping for a mercilessly funny post-Weinstein revenge fantasy walk away feeling conned," he writes.
My Son (Mon Garcon) from Joyeux Noel director Christian Carion adds to another list of generic kidnap movies THR critic Jordan Mintzer writes.
Following an weary and exhausted mold, My Son shows the lengths a father (Guillame Canet) will go to find his son who disappears in the woods.
Though the film follows a generic plot line it employs a clean aesthetic, filled with snow-capped settings thanks to DP Eric Dumont, that raises the stakes and tensions.
Mintzer also lauds Canet's ability to keep the film together, in all its 84-minute glory.
"My Son is less about narrative consistency than about plunging its hero into a white-knuckle situation and letting him run with it to the end," he writes. "In that sense, Canet really holds the movie together."
Ryan Reynolds voicing the small, canary-yellow Pokemon icon may be unexpected, but it's what helps tie Detective Pikachu together, writes THR critic Michael Rechtshaffen.
The live-action adaptation of the 2016 Detective Pikachu Pokemon game follows the franchise's icon as he helps Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) solve the mystery behind his father's disappearance.
The two, accompanied by Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) and her duck-like Pokemon Psyduck, explore an intimidating battle arena and the outskirts of Rime City to close the case.
Though the film caters to audiences familiar with the video game franchise, Detective Pikachu can be for everyone, Rechtshaffen writes.
"Still, there’s enough here to please both Pokemaniacs and the Poke-non, which should translate into a nice chunk of Pokemon-ey (sorry) for Warner Bros," he said.
And while Reynolds' voice provides the edge that makes this live-adaptation of the iconic character entertaining, other performances make the film enjoyable.
"Providing a sturdy throughline is Reynolds, who imbues his world-weary Pikachu with the right balance of pith and pathos, while Justice does justice to his necessarily reactive performance, proving adept at both tears and pratfalls."
Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver and Pam Grier star in an unconventional cheerleader movie.
Poms, directed by Zara Hayes, follows Martha (Diane Keaton) who checks herself in at a retirement home and restarts her love for cheerleading.
With the help of Sheryl (Jacki Weaver) and Olive (Pam Grier), Martha builds a team of senior cheerleaders to bring it on against groups of younger girls.
Beandra July, a film critic with THR, said the movie said misses its motivational aim and reduces its accomplished actresses down to archetypes.
"Poms is equal parts boring and infuriating, especially when you consider the actresses made to perform caricatures of old age," July writes. "It lands as voyeuristic condescension and flattens the presumably full lives of women elders into hollow inspiration fodder."
This weekend audiences can dive into the world of J.R.R. Tolkien with the Nicholas Hoult-led biopic, Tolkien.
The biopic, which stars Hoult as the famed author himself, follows Tolkien's childhood, his time in the English forces during WWI, and the the creation of the legendary The Lord of the Rings series.
THR film critic Todd McCarthy said Fox Searchlight rung in success with its latest biopic."Handsomely made in the customarily fastidious style of most period biographical dramas, Tolkien is strongly served by Hoult, who, after four X-Men outings (and a supporting role in last year's The Favourite), demonstrates that it's high time he moved on from that sort of thing to more interesting and challenging dramatic characterizations," McCarthy writes.McCarthy also lauds Collins for her work as Tolkien's wife Edith Bratt writing, "Collins also comports herself extremely well here in making Edith seem a perfect match for the brainy luminary-to-be."