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Critical Mass: Critics clobber Fist Fight, The Great Wall

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Warner Bros.

What does it take to scale The Great Wall? A little patience, apparently, as critics haven’t taken kindly to the Matt Damon monster movie. Its box office competition — Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness and the Charlie Day/Ice Cube comedy Fist Fight — haven’t exactly rubbed film journalists the right way, either. Still, EW wants you to make good choices at the movies, so consult our Critical Mass reviews guide below before heading to the multiplex this weekend.

The Great Wall

Opens Feb. 17 in theaters nationwide.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Renowned director Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers, Hero) has placed Westerners at the center of a fundamentally Chinese narrative before, notably with Christian Bale in 2011’s The Flowers of War, and he is clearly no stranger to the scope of scale of historical epics. But The Great Wall struggles mightily to transcend its two-dimensional storyline, a dull roteness not much helped by its zoological villains. The Tao Tie, which we are told are some sort of physical manifestation of human greed, snarl and snap and inhale hapless bystanders like stoners ripping into a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, but their reported intelligence never feels like more than hearsay; they can dig a tunnel and follow their queen’s orders in tail-swishing lockstep, but really, they’re just big nasty lizards. Zhang allows for a few small moments of buddy-cop comedy between Damon and Pascal (two dudes with no shortage of lethal weapons between them) and a whisper of implied romance with the sleek, high-ponied Tian. But the film’s CGI magic stays flatly on the screen, lit less by the bright flame of a true creative vision than the dull gleam in an international marketing executive’s eye. C+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 34%

Metacritic: 34

A Cure for Wellness

Opens Feb. 17 in theaters nationwide.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

The only good thing to be said about this bonkers psychological chiller is that it has a cool, Corman-does-Poe gothic look. No question about it, Verbinski has a great eye. He’s just lost all of his other senses. C–

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 42%

Metacritic: 47

Fist Fight

Opens Feb. 17 in theaters nationwide.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

The movie is called Fist Fight, so—spoiler alert, I guess—that fist fight actually happens. Things pick up by the time Campbell and Strickland finally face off in a hyper-violent, madcap brawl, but otherwise, Fist Fight sticks to the conventional comedy formula: mediocre jokes sprinkled with life lessons about the importance of family and standing up for yourself. Or, as Campbell puts it: “Something occurred to me while I was being dragged down a flight of stairs by a horse on meth.” Fist Fight doesn’t get an outright failing grade, but it’s still a long way from making honor roll. C

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 31%

Metacritic: 37

In Dubious Battle

Opens Feb. 17 in limited release.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

As a director, at least, he has the advantage of maxing out his iPhone contacts list, stacking the supporting cast with the likes of Ed Harris, Vincent D’Onofrio, Robert Duvall, Sam Shepard, Selena Gomez, Nat Wolff, and Josh Hutcherson. (Blink fast and you’ll miss Zach Braff.) For all its noble intentions, though, the movie struggles to transcend broad outlines: Its characters are strictly symbols, timeworn archetypes of good and evil as threadbare and familiar as the artfully faded calicos and denim on their backs. B–

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 23%

Metacritic: 45

The LEGO Batman Movie

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

Seventy-five percent of the film’s carpet-­bomb campaign of pop culture meta punchlines will ricochet over the target audience’s head, but parents dragged along for the ride will no doubt be grateful for Arnett’s rat-a-tat send-ups of Adam West and superhero clichés. Directed by Robot Chicken’s Chris McKay and produced in part by the first film’s dynamic duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, LEGO Batman revs so fast and moves so frenetically that 
it becomes a little exhausting by the end. It flirts with being too much of a good thing. But rarely has corporate brainwashing been so much fun and gone down with such a delightful aftertaste. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Metacritic: 75

Fifty Shades Darker

Now playing.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

Poor Dornan still isn’t given much to work with, except this time, his abs are a little more defined and he’s grown some stubble to show just how heartbroken he’s been without Ana in his life. Johnson gets to have a little more fun, actually cracking jokes and acknowledging the humor in some of Christian’s more ridiculous requests. Still, they’re both hampered by James’ nonsensical dialogue, as Dornan is stuck saying things like, “I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank you.” Worst of all, Darker commits what might be the most punishable offense: just being boring. C–

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 9%

Metacritic: 33

John Wick: Chapter 2

Now playing.

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

Reeves is like a haunted (and largely speechless) ronin living by the 21st-century code of the samurai. If that all sounds too highfalutin by half, well, there’s also a bunch of tire-squealing car chases, countless point-blank kills, and scenic bone-crunching brawls in Rome’s ancient catacombs. And there’s a laundry list of interesting character actors who keep dropping by to spice up the bloodbath, like Laurence Fishburne, Common, and Ian McShane, who purrs bespoke menace as the grandmaster of the whole masonic order. But it’s Reeves, with his natty suits and icy stare, who grabs you by the throat — figuratively and literally. Killing is John Wick’s business…and business is good. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Metacritic: 75

Split

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Split’s giddy nonsense ultimately dissolves in a scrum
of half-realized ideas, but maybe that’s ­exactly Shyamalan’s goal: tipping his final scene with a perfect tease, to be continued. B

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%

Metacritic: 62

Hidden Figures

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Charged with streamlining Figures’ knotty real-life histories, director Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) tends to paint too much in the broad, amiable strokes of a triumph-of-the-week TV movie. But even his earthbound execution can’t dim the sheer magnetic pull of an extraordinary story. B+

Read the full review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Metacritic: 74

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