It’s Friday, which means it’s time for The Review Report, our weekly roundup of notable reviews for new films opening in theaters. Clicking on any title will take you to that movie’s page on our Criticwire Network, where you can find lots more reviews and grades from all your favorite film critics.
First up, we have “Warm Bodies,” the zombie-comedy from “50/50” director Jonathan Levine:
“Picture a zombie shuffling around a post-apocalyptic society, mumbling not ‘Brainssssss,’ but ‘Heartsssss.’ Not because he prefers to eat hearts, but because he wants to revive his own… the funny, endearing ‘Bodies’ chronicles an awkward, lonely guy with a crush and a determination not to seem creepy.”
“The pic keeps the horror quotient in check while focusing on the femme-friendly comedy and romance angles, offsetting the plentiful moments of suspense with cutesy scenes.”
“Speaking of Bella and Edward, it’s possible to read ‘Warm Bodies’ as a darkly comic spin on the Stephenie Meyer franchise. (Palmer is a dead ringer for Kristen Stewart.) Then again, good luck ascribing a clear satirical agenda to Jonathan Levine’s tonally uneven zom-com, which suffers an identity crisis nearly as severe as its protagonist’s.”
If you’re more in the mood for thrills than laughs, your best bet might be “Bullet to the Head,” from action director extraordinaire Walter Hill. Or, then again, maybe not:
“But despite the film’s utterly gratuitous violence (no sex, though!), there’s a strange kind of innocence on display here. We’re not anywhere real, we’re in ’80s-action-movie-land — bad guys cackle, take cocaine, and throw masked parties where naked girls tango with each other.”
“Hill works his usual magic on the big confrontations — the punches hit so hard that the sound of ax handles clacking isn’t much blunter — but elevating a generic piece of future cable-filler isn’t the same as salvaging it.”
“A retro actioner, but not in a cool way, the new picture feels as if nothing had happened to this popular movie genre for decades.”
Neither sounds right for you? Maybe check out “The Gatekeepers,” a documentary about the role of the Israel Security Agency during the Six Day War. The film has been garnering critical acclaim since its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival last year:
“Most of the confessions in ‘The Gatekeepers’ are not necessarily shocking, but the film is frequently unsettling and provocative, and it’s nothing short of riveting to hear previously dedicated government men sigh and admit to finding their views going to the side of leftism in their waning days.”
“The film shows photos taken by reporters, shifting and animated, or stark and still, hinting at the changing of stories and the ways that history is constructed.”
Last but not least, “Koch” is a comprehensive look at the eccentric, quintessential New York City mayor, who, coincidentally, passed away this morning:
“While Barsky examines his legacy warts-and-all, his documentary will easily convince viewers Koch was the right no-nonsense man for the job, like a pre-Giuliani Giuliani. ‘Koch’ is funnier, though. Shrewdly, Barsky emphasizes his humor whenever possible. The results, gently prodded along by Mark Degli Antoni’s peppy underscore, are compulsively watchable.”
“Barsky may be a little dazzled by his subject matter, but admittedly it’s hard not to be. Koch could be a borderline-racist crabapple one minute, but the next he’d be taking swift action to build affordable housing, or jovially falling into step with cranky New Yorkers forced to hoof it to work during the painful transit workers strike of 1980.”
What are you looking forward to watching this weekend? Let us know in the comments section below.