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Critical Mass: What the critics are saying about The Shallows

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20th Century Fox; Vince Valitutti; Murray Close; Gunther Campine

Amid a crowded slate of new releases, deciding whether to see good fish (Finding Dory) or nefarious fish (The Shallows) can be a daunting task for any moviegoer. EW has your back, helping you make the right choice with a critical sampling of this weekend’s hottest theatrical titles.

See what the critics are saying about Independence Day: Resurgence, Free State of Jones, The Neon Demon, and more, below:

The Shallows

​Opens June 24.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

The Shallows wants to be the actress’ 127 Hours or All Is Lost, but it’s really just a goosed-up slice of drive-in exploitation about an easy-on-the-eyes woman in peril. It’s also unintentionally hilarious, as everything that can go wrong does, foiling Nancy’s MacGyver plans at every turn. You’re not exactly rooting for the shark, but you’re not really rooting against it either. Clocking in at a svelte 87 minutes, the film knows it audience and the limits of that audience’s patience with fare like this. Still, Collet-Serra and writer Anthony Jaswinski could have red-penciled some of Lively’s sillier lines while amping up the carnage. The film is so restrained that I wish they’d gone all-in and splurged for an R rating. At one point, a wino sleeping off a bender on the beach tries to swim out to steal her loose surfboard and instead of watching him get chomped into human chum, the camera lingers on Lively’s face for her reaction to the horror. She simply doesn’t have the skill to pull it off, and you end up feeling cheated. The sad part is, The Shallows could have been a really fun B-movie. And in a lot of ways, it is. There’s no denying that it has some great jump-scares and scratches a certain summer itch we all get this time of year. Too bad it’s a bit too watered down. B-

Read the full EW review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

Metacritic: 58

Independence Day: Resurgence

Opens June 24.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says: 

I realize we’re dealing in the realm of kill-crazy space monsters here, but Resurgence doesn’t make a friggin’ lick of sense. That, in and of itself, is not something I’m against. I’ll go with nonsense as long as there’s something else to hold onto – some shred or scintilla of smarts or spectacle to keep us entertained and distracted while we’re being condescended to. But Emmerich and his army of screenwriters (including original co-writer Dean Devlin) don’t even bother with that. Instead, what we get is a film whose idea of wit is having Liam Hemsworth take a leak on alien space ship while giving it the finger. Which, in a sense, is exactly what Independence Day does to its audience. F

Read the full EW review. 

Rotten Tomatoes: 34%

Metacritic: 32

Free State of Jones

​Opens June 24.

EW’s Joe McGovern says:

Free State of Jones is the least idiosyncratic film by Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games), whose askew view of the world is fogged by period-piece banalities, worst of all in easy-to-hate villains and Knight’s ex-slave sidekick named Moses (Mahershala Ali). Unlike 12 Years a Slave, which never flinched inside its antebellum horror house, the movie lacks brio. Ross wants to shake up the format­—notably with a few scenes set 85 years after the war—but like so many directors who have tackled ­historical social issues before him, he confuses noble, cornball sermonizing for art. C

Read the full EW review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 41%

Metacritic: 54

The Neon Demon

​Opens June 24.

EW’s Kevin Sullivan says:

Eventually (and far too late in the film) all of that muchness—the gore, the sex, the interesting stuff—floods onto the screen with sound and fury, as if the movie had fallen asleep and suddenly woke up, shouting to prove that it hadn’t been sleeping. There are some truly beautiful visuals—both ethereal and grotesque, but always provocative—that could be worth the price of admission if accessorized with a generous amount of patience. The ending will shock just about everyone, but to what end? Neon Demon is as beautiful and empty as the industry it sends up. D+

Read the full EW review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 48%

Metacritic: 52

Finding Dory

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

A lot of people who loved 2003’s Finding Nemo will pay to see this new follow-up and walk out feeling like they got their money’s worth. But it’s not Toy Story, Inside Out or even Nemo. What it is is a perfectly enjoyable family film that’s comforting, familiar, and a bit slight, like one of those serviceable Lion King spin-offs that Disney used to ship straight to DVD back in the ‘90s. B

Read the full EW review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Metacritic: 77

Central Intelligence

Now playing.

EW’s Joey Nolfi says:

The hows and whys of the quest at hand aren’t exactly important, as Central Intelligence is far more concerned with squeezing its leading men together—often literally—and kicking back to enjoy the juice, and that’s a wise move. Paired with the scrawny, squeaky-voiced Hart, Johnson feeds off the inherent comedy in the juxtaposition of their bodies, making the film’s well-timed gags and physical humor work better than they should, way more often than they should. C+

Read the full EW review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%

Metacritic: 52

The Conjuring 2

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

There are some solid scares (Wan is too gifted in the dark art of gotcha manipulation to not make you leap a few times), but there’s nothing on par with the first film’s brilliant hide-and-clap scene with Lili Taylor. If there’s going to be a Conjuring 3—and this movie is just decent enough to suggest there will be—our heroes should be a little choosier about which case they dust off next. B-

Read the full EW review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

Metacritic: 65

Now You See Me 2

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

The story catalyst is some very 2016-y fandango about data theft and a universal computer chip. Details are vague, and the dialogue is beyond clunky. Characters say things like “Seeing is believing” and “I’ll make you suffer” with straight faces and mean it. Ruffalo is also badly miscast as a mastermind; most of the time he just looks exhausted and confused, like a dad who can’t remember where he parked at a big-box store. But Jon M. Chu (several Step Up movies) has taken over directing duties from Louis Leterrier, and he has a lighter, goofier touch. He seems to get that the silliness is baked in. Pay no attention to the plot behind the curtain, Now You See Me 2says, because it barely registers and hardly matters. Just go with it and watch two hours—poof!—disappear. B

Read the full EW review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%

Metacritic: 48

Warcraft

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

Ay yi yi. Where to even begin? How about here: Sitting through Warcraft is like being bludgeoned on the head with a Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual for 123 minutes. The big hardcover one. Terrible even by the low standard of videogame-to-movie adaptations, Duncan Jones’ 3-D action-fantasy endurance test is a cautionary tale of what can happen when Hollywood blindly chases after popular properties in the hopes of minting the next blockbuster franchise. When it works, the studio gets rich and the fans are respected and rewarded. When it doesn’t, you get the next Speed Racer or Jonah Hex or Lone Ranger — which is exactly what Warcraft will end up becoming. It’s soulless, incoherent, Renaissance Faire hooey. And since the latest iteration of game series that inspired it, World of Warcraft, already peaked years ago, even the timing is off. D

Read the full EW review.

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%

Metacritic: 32

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