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

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