This week at the movies, we’ve got a martial arts extravaganza (The
Forbidden Kingdom, starring
Jackie Chan and
Jet Li), a painful breakup (Forgetting
Sarah Marshall, starring
Jason Segel and
Kristen Bell), and a race against
time (88 Minutes, starring
Al Pacino and
Alicia Witt). What do the
critics have to say?
Martial arts fans have long dreamed of the day
Jackie Chan and
Jet Li would team
up. Well, the wait is over, and critics say
Forbidden Kingdom, while
not perfect, is solid matinee fare, with top-notch performances from the stars.
Kingdom tells the story of Jason (Michael Angarano), the target of
bullies who is magically transported to ancient China, where he joins Chan and
Li on a mission to save the Monkey King (Li again) and defeat and evil warlord.
The pundits say Kingdom isn’t perfect; the plot sags a bit between action
scenes. But they also note that the action scenes are exhilarating, filled with
staggering athleticism and more than a little humor, with Chan and Li in fine
form as usual. At 53 percent on the Tomatometer, this Kingdom may not be
heavenly, but it’s certainly not forbidding. (Check out our interview with
here, and take a look at
this week’s Total Recall, in which we count
down the 20 greatest fight scenes of all time.)
After the disappointing
Drillbit Taylor, the
Judd Apatow comedy machine
is back on track with
Jason Segel stars as a
musician who goes off the rails after his TV star girlfriend (Kristen Bell)
dumps him; to clear his mind, he flees with friends to Oahu — and runs into his
ex. The critics say Sarah Marshall is a cut below
Knocked Up and
40-Year-Old Virgin, but it contains Apatow’s patented mix of gross-out gags
and sweetness, and features strong performances throughout. At 82 percent on the
Tomatometer, Forgetting Sarah Marshall isn’t just Certified Fresh, it’s
one of the best-reviewed wide releases of the year so far. (And check out our
Sarah Marshall field guide, complete with photo gallery and quotes
direct from the stars.)
There can be little doubt that
Al Pacino is one of American cinema’s greatest
performers. However, even legends can have off-days. And, boy oh boy, do the
critics think 88 Minutes is off. Pacino plays a college professor/
forensics expert who receives a death threat informing him he has — you guessed
it! — 88 minutes to live. As a result, he must use his wits to narrow down the
possible suspects who might want to take his life. The pundits say Pacino is
fine, but with preposterous plotting and poorly-staged action sequences, 88
Minutes is loaded with unintentional comedy. At 15 percent on the
Tomatometer, this one’s out of time. And it’s Pacino’s second-worst-reviewed
topliner ever, behind only the notorious
Revolution (eight percent).
Also opening this week in limited release:
First Saturday in May, a documentary about the Kentucky Derby, is at 80 percent.
The German import
Four Minutes, a drama about a bond between a female
prisoner and older piano teacher, is at 73 percent.
Beyond the Call, a doc about three men who deliver humanitarian aid to
some of the world’s most dangerous places, is at 50 percent.
Zombie Strippers, a story of a deadly virus infiltrating a strip club
starring Jenna Jameson and
Robert Englund, is at 45 percent.
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, gonzo documentarian
Spurlock‘s examination of Middle Eastern politics, is at 40 percent.
The Life Before Her Eyes, starring Uma Thurman as the survivor of a
school shooting, is at 39 percent.
Willem Dafoe as a detective who’s investigating an
art-obsessed serial killer, is at 20 percent.
And the doc
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,
Ben Stein‘s attack on
opponents of Intelligent Design, is at nine percent.