Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: The Book of Eli Is a So-So Read

Plus, The Spy Next Door gets razed, and The Lovely Bones misfires.

by | January 14, 2010 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got Biblical bloodshed (The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman); neighborhood intrigue (The Spy Next Door, starring Jackie Chan and George Lopez); and life after death (The Lovely Bones, starring Saoirse Ronan and Mark Wahlberg). What do the critics have to say?


The Book of Eli

For those who like their religious parables with plenty of fire and brimstone, The Book of Eli should be up your alley. That said, most critics say Eli is a bit of a muddle. Denzel Washington stars as the title character who, even though he walks through a post-apocalyptic, illiterate wasteland, will fear no man, for he carries the last known copy of the Good Book — as well as plenty of deadly weaponry. Standing in his way is the frontier-town despot Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who wants to get his hand on the book. The pundits say The Book of Eli has its moments, adding some originality to the recent glut of cinematic dystopias. However, others say it’s awfully inconsistent, and never quite achieves the gradeur it’s aiming for. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Washington’s best-reviewed films.)


The Spy Next Door

Not since the days of Buster Keaton has anyone combined slapstick comedy with astonishing stunt work quite like Jackie Chan. However, critics say his talents are risibly misused in The Spy Next Door, a flat, witless family action/comedy. Chan stars as a former CIA agent who retires after marrying a widow with three kids, but is forced back into action when he and the little urchins are threatened by evil spies who are hell-bent on world destabilization. The pundits say The Spy Next Door is one of Chan’s worst ever, a juvenile, generic, sticommy mess that utterly fails to thrill or amuse.


The Lovely Bones

With the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson proved he could adapt complex literary material for the screen with aplomb. However, critics say he’s on much shakier ground with his latest, based on Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Saoirse Ronan plays Susie, a 15-year-old who explores the afterlife after being murdered by a neighbor; Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play her grieving parents, who try to pick up the pieces in the wake of Susie’s death. The pundits say The Lovely Bones marks an odd miscalculation on Jackson’s part — the special effects overwhelm the humanity of the story, and the film fails to find a consistent tone. (Check out Jackson’s Five Favorite Films, as well as our interview with star Susan Sarandon.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

political drama miniseries zombies cinemax TCM The Arrangement WGN Sony Pictures Fall TV spinoff 71st Emmy Awards tv talk IFC Films vampires video romance E3 adaptation HBO Max social media zombie New York Comic Con RT21 Video Games composers war crime thriller Animation CNN Cartoon Network Adult Swim APB Marathons spy thriller Teen 2017 San Diego Comic-Con Toys Reality Competition serial killer south america politics Lucasfilm YouTube Red Reality BBC America American Society of Cinematographers LGBTQ The Walking Dead hist Grammys Pride Month Song of Ice and Fire mutant Vudu ITV facebook canceled TV shows ratings Britbox Mary Poppins Returns green book CW Seed Bravo Western YouTube cancelled TV series Brie Larson TCA 2017 thriller Awards TNT breaking bad Valentine's Day X-Men Mary poppins robots game show dc VH1 cars Podcast Amazon mockumentary PaleyFest YA technology richard e. Grant binge Awards Tour Lifetime Christmas Starz Winners Set visit slashers Spike space Epix DGA Horror Premiere Dates NYCC Food Network 2016 Fox News Drama Crackle Mindy Kaling Peacock Pop The Witch cooking TCA Quiz award winner Spectrum Originals Fantasy Star Trek justice league foreign Dark Horse Comics WarnerMedia Women's History Month kids Pirates Columbia Pictures supernatural Mary Tyler Moore sitcom CBS All Access dceu Paramount Emmy Nominations natural history BBC CMT comiccon golden globes Trophy Talk stand-up comedy teaser cults 24 frames Universal revenge Sci-Fi Acorn TV Photos crossover hispanic batman RT History cats finale NBC GoT travel casting TruTV Anna Paquin nature docudrama dramedy Polls and Games Freeform Martial Arts MTV TIFF based on movie Syfy biography festivals comic Tomatazos GIFs Sundance Now DirecTV Television Academy cops Thanksgiving Ghostbusters The CW A&E streaming History Musicals Extras psycho Schedule Lionsgate Holidays theme song Summer Ellie Kemper Apple Masterpiece HBO Emmys canceled 2019 halloween book Paramount Network Kids & Family movies boxoffice Marvel Stephen King 007 Music Pet Sematary what to watch medical drama First Reviews series children's TV Hulu USA Network Apple TV+ 2015 TV Land El Rey ABC Family Shudder DC streaming service TV renewals Super Bowl joker spain Film E! sequel dragons crime Mudbound spider-man Opinion Disney Channel period drama Tarantino Nat Geo Rom-Com Superheroes Trivia Ovation quibi talk show Sundance Cosplay Mystery police drama FX historical drama Nominations GLAAD free movies anime game of thrones Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt spanish language Writers Guild of America SDCC Tumblr DC Universe Oscars VICE SXSW Logo MSNBC true crime Family Rocketman psychological thriller Disney LGBT President Black Mirror Shondaland Binge Guide Star Wars Disney streaming service Netflix Amazon Prime Video 21st Century Fox Disney Plus adventure Calendar ESPN FOX Film Festival jamie lee curtis Spring TV Pixar Superheroe Amazon Prime Interview First Look Comedy Central IFC 45 doctor who Character Guide National Geographic YouTube Premium Country Biopics blaxploitation Showtime Year in Review 2018 Rock Box Office Comics on TV TV PBS Comic Book sports AMC Captain marvel Infographic CBS Sneak Peek Action TBS unscripted toy story disaster elevated horror singing competition Arrowverse latino animated anthology cancelled zero dark thirty ghosts transformers discovery OWN cancelled television Nickelodeon Cannes cancelled TV shows USA Election science fiction Watching Series aliens witnail television Heroines Esquire Trailer crime drama Countdown MCU 20th Century Fox Musical ABC Creative Arts Emmys TLC BET Rocky Chernobyl harry potter Walt Disney Pictures Warner Bros. See It Skip It renewed TV shows strong female leads Certified Fresh SundanceTV The Purge diversity Elton John Best and Worst Red Carpet Comedy Winter TV FXX DC Comics