Twenty-three years ago, Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" finished third at the weekend box office, losing out to "Throw Momma From the Train" and "Three Men and a Baby."

Times, and tastes, have changed. Stone's sequel, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," is likely to nab this weekend's top box office slot. No matter that critics have not exactly been kind to the film since its Cannes opening in May, after which Stone was said to have headed back into the edit room in search of a new cut. What he found there should be enough to dispatch the animated owls of "Legend of the Guardians" and secure Stone his first #1 opener since 1999's "Any Given Sunday."

Here's what the critics are saying:

The Story "Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas, sly and purry as ever) walks away from jail in the movie's 2001 opening scene, brick-like cellphone in hand. Seven years pass and he's back on top, with a new book ('Is Greed Good?') and untold millions. But the money can't buy what he wants: a relationship with his estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan). She lives with her boyfriend Jake (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-coming young trader who hears Gekko speak and is enamored by his message. Drawn into Gekko's orbit — the older man hopes to use the younger as a conduit to Winnie — Jake gets caught up in the world of deal making, not necessarily to his benefit." — Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times

The Performances "Douglas is terrific, and he's joined by fellow heavyweights Josh Brolin, Eli Wallach and Frank Langella as rival financial titans. But the movie belongs to LaBeouf. Stone loves to show us the convoluted world through the lens of a young striver still clinging to antiquated ideals. LaBeouf's shark-in-training manages to keep all of the balls in the air with a winning performance that balances moral wranglings with love and ambition." — Clint O'Connor, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

The Director "Using an ingeniously layered visual design, split screens and sinuous mobile cameras that move through scenes like the human sharks who inhabit them, Stone here proves that he's still a director of bold muscularity. If some of his references hit too squarely on the nose — the shot of a child's soap bubble standing in for the metaphoric financial version, for example, or the vaguely fascist corporate insignia of a malign CEO played by Josh Brolin — Stone has a knack for pacing, detail and atmosphere that manages to feel authentic and fancifully allegorical at the same time." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

The Dissenters "This time around, the team does show occasional flourishes of the original's snap and urgency. However, it's nearly impossible to stay invested in a narrative stuffed with pliable characters whose actions fail to stay true to their natures. That's particularly glaring in a climax that ties everything up with a hunky-doryness that should have been liquidated faster than a risky hedge fund." — Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News

The Final Word "The movie's punch-drunk energy can't quite make up for what, without giving away any plot points, I can only describe as a third-act lapse into maudlin sentimentality. By the film's last frame, Gordon Gekko has gone from evil to sympathetic to ambiguous so many times that we no longer trust any twist involving him. But thanks in no small part to Michael Douglas' evident joy in playing the role, Gekko has now become one of those characters, like 'The Big Lebowski' 's Dude, who no longer needs a movie to sustain him. Oliver Stone's account of the events of 2008 is as unsubtle in its charms as Gordon Gekko himself. But like Gekko, the film also feels urgent and strangely necessary." — Dana Stevens, Slate

Check out everything we've got on "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps."

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