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EW Critical Mass: Arrival movie reviews

See what the critics are saying about this week’s hottest new releases

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Jan Thijs; Guy Ferrandis; Quantrell D. Colbert; Mary Cybulski

Awards season heats up with three potential Oscar contenders hitting theaters this weekend. The critics have spoken, and EW’s Critical Mass guide will help you decide which of them to see in the coming days. Read on for reviews of Arrival, Elle, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime WalkAlmost Christmas, and the hottest holdover titles now playing. 

Arrival

Opens Nov. 11.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Arrival’s endgame can seem obtuse and its emotions submerged, suggesting a film as chilly as its palette of Pantone blues and grays. But it’s all in the service of building to its final revelation — and also of conveying Louise’s enormous loss. She’s her own kind of lonely astronaut, set adrift from everything that once defined her: parent, partner, teacher. With these creatures at least she’s needed; in fact, the fate of the world may rest on it. That’s the movie’s greatest feint, though: Ultimately, it’s far less interested in galactic destiny than the infinite, uncharted landscape of the human heart. A– 

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%

Metacritic: 81

Almost Christmas

Opens Nov. 11.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

The story focuses on Walter’s four children — Jessie T. Usher as a college football player with a secret, Gabrielle Union as a recently divorced law student, Romany Malco as an aspiring congressman, and Kimberly Elise as a dentist with a boneheaded husband (JB Smoove) — as the siblings try to cope with their wacky relatives, appease their father, and deal with the still-painful loss of their mother. Like most holiday comedies of its kind, Almost Christmas oscillates between rapid-fire jokes and schmaltzy, occasionally heartwarming lessons about the importance of family. Mo’Nique is responsible for most of the laughs as the wisecracking, kimchi-eating aunt who spent the past few decades on the road as a backup singer and has the wild anecdotes to prove it. (In case there weren’t already enough chairs at the Christmas dinner table, there’s also a couple of precocious children, a sexy and single next-door neighbor, a meddling campaign manager, and a seductive grocery-store clerk.) In all, it’s a pleasant enough way to spend two quiet hours with the extended family, but Almost Christmas probably won’t be your next holiday tradition. B–

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 39%

Metacritic: 52

Elle

Opens Nov. 11 in limited release.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

Verhoeven can’t seem to decide whether he’s trying to make a bold feminist statement with Elle, or a pervy, button-pushing exploitation flick classed up with subtitles (I’d argue the latter). Either way, we get to watch another unforgettable and incomparable Huppert performance while he figures it out. B

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Metacritic: 86

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Opens Nov. 11 in limited release.

EW’s Joe McGovern says:

But despite the weakness of its satire, Billy Lynn’s would be nothing more than a disposable folly on Lee’s resume if not for the director’s bizarre, inexplicable decision to shoot the movie in Hobbit-esque high-definition. The technical details of this are actually quite uninteresting—think of it the camera cranked up to ludicrous speed for maximum clarity and  supposed lifelikeness—and the results are as uneasy on the eyes as convenience store surveillance footage. The thought of a visual masterpiece like Life of Pi being shot in this format instantly ruins the movie in your mind. The format offers astonishing depth of field (while presenting poor Steve Martin’s face like a topographical moon map), but to what end? So that we can see even the tiniest detail—of a big ugly football stadium? As it stands, the only sharp thing about the film is its pixelsC-

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%

Metacritic: 56

Doctor Strange

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

When you strip away the Secrets of the East mumbo jumbo and psychedelic special effects, Doctor Strange is a formulaic Marvel origin story, but it’s done with high-IQ wit, all but name-checking the myth of Sisyphus and the kaleidoscopic architectural origami of M.C. Escher. (We’re a long way from the blunt-force shenanigans of HYDRA here.) Doctor Strange is thrilling in the way a lot of other Marvel movies are. But what makes it unique is that it’s also heady in a way most Marvel movies don’t dare to be. It’s eye candy and brain candy. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Metacritic: 72

Trolls

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Chef’s surprise raid forces Poppy to enlist Branch (Justin Timberlake), the only naturally unjolly Troll she knows, to get her friends back — he’s been predicting the Bergens’ deadly return, and pessimism comes as naturally to him as not singing. (At least initially; three guesses how that plot twist turns out.) Their plan isn’t exactly Argo, but it does offer excellent showcases for supporting characters, including Zooey Deschanel’s dreamy, snaggletoothed scullery maid, Russell Brand’s droll Creek, and a high-fiving cumulus called Cloud Guy. Trolls doesn’t reach for the emotional resonance of DreamWorks’ more ambitious efforts; its lessons of loyalty and kindness are standard-issue, and tear ducts remain untapped. Still, the movie’s serotonin pumps like a fire hose. It’s almost impossible not to surrender to the bliss. B+ 

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

Metacritic: 56

Hacksaw Ridge

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Comparisons are already being made to American Sniper, another treatise on the trade-off between a war hero’s glory and what it costs his soul. But despite its promise, Hacksaw never really delves into the moral grays; it’s just black and white and red all over. B

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

Metacritic: 71

Inferno

Now playing.

PEOPLE’s Simon Perry says:

The always likable Hanks is still the perfect professor with the charming touch—and don’t expect a single bead of sweat to pollute his brow as he races through steamy southern Europe. But it is the early scenes with rising star Jones, playing the bright young doctor Brooks, that are the most intriguing. Bourne it is not, but the twists come with enough regularity to keep the squishier parts of the plot from mucking up the works. Inferno may not have the zeitgeisty draw of its predecessors, but for those who haven’t read the book, it’s a diverting caper with a familiar face. B 

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 20%

Metacritic: 42

The Accountant

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) seems to know at some level that it’s all camp, though it’s unclear where he picked up certain elements of his medical definition of autism, or why Wolff’s military-officer dad decides that the best response to his son’s diagnosis is to train him to be a sharpshooting, Muay Thai-kicking assassin — aside from the fact that it works out super well for the plot. The whole thing’s ludicrous, down to the last loony twist, but it’s also a lot more fun than Batman v Superman. C+

Read the full EW review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%

Metacritic: 51

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