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

ITV ABC Family Pixar Drama TLC GoT Quiz Paramount Network Lionsgate AMC Schedule jamie lee curtis ABC SXSW Spike Song of Ice and Fire Nickelodeon vampires Reality Starz FX TIFF zombies Universal BBC America crossover DirecTV President mutant Box Office Nominations Acorn TV Trivia science fiction 2015 Oscars Food Network VICE YA ESPN Rocky Fall TV FXX MSNBC period drama Ellie Kemper A&E MTV miniseries Kids & Family Video Games IFC Ovation social media Emmys First Look talk show BET Creative Arts Emmys NYCC Cartoon Network Nat Geo El Rey X-Men psycho cults BBC hist Spring TV dceu Comics on TV Lifetime Lucasfilm Apple SundanceTV political drama Sundance Fox News cops Reality Competition MCU CW Seed CMT Sneak Peek award winner CBS National Geographic zombie golden globes Super Bowl Logo Brie Larson Podcast 45 Masterpiece YouTube Premium based on movie Pirates Trophy Talk Mary Poppins Returns TBS 21st Century Fox SDCC serial killer comiccon Crackle singing competition Mary poppins Captain marvel Biopics WGN Showtime Character Guide Mary Tyler Moore travel boxoffice DC Universe Comedy Central Action Winter TV Red Carpet Shondaland USA Winners Walt Disney Pictures politics Hulu crime thriller binge Animation TCA technology Infographic historical drama streaming war supernatural USA Network unscripted discovery Awards 007 Mystery IFC Films sports Watching Series transformers E3 Epix festivals Tomatazos Sci-Fi adventure what to watch GLAAD justice league Musical Christmas Premiere Dates blaxploitation television Tumblr Adult Swim GIFs Netflix DC streaming service green book Comedy crime dramedy Interview Toys comic The CW aliens TV Certified Fresh Ghostbusters facebook Fantasy cooking Amazon 2017 Photos TNT Shudder Esquire Mindy Kaling sitcom ratings Countdown 20th Century Fox Disney Channel Teen DC Comics See It Skip It Country Superheroes Amazon Prime History Opinion 2016 E! docudrama Columbia Pictures Writers Guild of America Calendar casting Trailer police drama Dark Horse Comics Paramount TV Land Set visit Comic Book Summer 24 frames NBC Star Trek Britbox crime drama Chilling Adventures of Sabrina LGBTQ Martial Arts Sony Pictures American Society of Cinematographers anime Warner Bros. APB cats doctor who diversity PBS Superheroe Pop Syfy dc OWN finale Cosplay 2019 Grammys Awards Tour Black Mirror Best and Worst HBO Marvel Freeform biography TCA 2017 Polls and Games Bravo Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt CNN The Arrangement Music spy thriller Holidays DGA romance harry potter FOX VH1 Horror robots TCM Disney San Diego Comic-Con YouTube Red spider-man CBS All Access Western Rock Rom-Com Extras New York Comic Con Valentine's Day Musicals Year in Review cinemax composers Marathons Election RT History Thanksgiving TruTV Sundance Now Star Wars PaleyFest medical drama thriller 2018