Jonathan Olley; Disney; Michele K. Short
Joey Nolfi
June 30, 2016 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Are you spending the holiday weekend with a tanned-and-toned ape-man, a band of giants, or in a world where all crime is legal (including murder!) for one day? EW wants you to make good choices at the movies this Fourth of July, so we’re helping you sift through the clutter with a critical sampling of this weekend’s hottest theatrical titles.

See what the critics are saying about The Legend of Tarzan, The BFG, The Purge: Election Year, and more, below:

The Legend of Tarzan

Opens July 1. 

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says: 

And how is Skarsgård? All sad eyes and fiberglass abs, he hardly speaks; there’s more dialogue implied by his deltoids than the scant mutterings the script allows him. But he does look fantastic, and the equally pretty Robbie works hard to bring some feminist nerve to her handcuffed-damsel role. Though the film was shot almost entirely on a London soundstage, it rarely misses a chance to pan a sweeping shot across lush forests and glistening waterfalls and amber waves of Congolese grain; there’s a whole lot of post-production magic here—especially in the Noah’s Ark of exotic animals that stand by ready to heed Tarzan’s beck and call, like eager extras on the set of Madagascar. The audience will eventually get more than one bellowing dose of that trademark yodel, plus multiple scenes of gymnastic vine-swinging. You just wish—after two solid but oddly joyless hours—that Legend strained less to hit its marks, and swung a little more. B–

Read the full EW review

Rotten Tomatoes: 35%

Metacritic: 43

The Purge: Election Year 

Opens July 1. 

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says: 

Since we’re smack dab in the middle of a very surreal and polarizing race for the Oval Office, there’s a temptation to look to The Purge: Election Year for timely metaphorical resonance. You’ll find it. It’s so simplistic and heavy-handed that it’s impossible to miss, but to be honest, it’s the least interesting thing about the film. If, on the other hand, it’s sleazy kicks you’re after, you’ll be in exploitation heaven. Because writer-director James DeMonaco’s third chapter in the thrill-kill vigilante franchise is the best and pulpiest Purge yet. B

Read the full EW review

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%

Metacritic: 55

The BFG

Opens July 1. 

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says: 

The “BFG” in The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant, and as conjured by pixie-dust maestro Steven Spielberg and embodied by Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance, he’s a stunning creature to behold. Lanky, long-limbed, and five stories tall, this gentle behemoth with jug-ears and a vocabulary of gibberish malapropisms is the main reason to see this sweet kiddie fantasia. It certainly isn’t for the meandering story. Based on one of Roald Dahl’s lesser children’s books, The BFG doesn’t share the twisted, subversive sensibility of the author’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s an innocuous bedtime tale about a young girl (played by 12-year-old Ruby Barnhill) who’s swiped from her orphanage by the BFG late one night and whisked off to his homeland, where she discovers a world of strange wonders and learns not to judge a book by its imposing cover. Parents looking for a 21st-century E.T. to share with their kids are bound to be a bit disappointed even as their eyes are dazzled. B–

Read the full EW review. 

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Metacritic: 66

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

Independence Day: Resurgence 

Now playing.

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: 32%

Metacritic: 32

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: 66%

Metacritic: 52

The Shallows

Now playing.

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: 74%

Metacritic: 58

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: 79%

Metacritic: 65

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