This week at the movies, we’ve got elite mercenaries (The Expendables, starring Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham), a journey of self-discovery (Eat, Pray, Love, starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem), and a geek-turned-hero (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, starring Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead). What do the critics have to say?
Sly Stallone directs and stars in The Expendables, and he’s got a veritable army of your favorite action stars along for the ride, including Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, and Terry Crews. Sounds like a rip-roaring good time, right? Well, critics say that while this old-school action flick is jam-packed with star power and explosions, it’s sadly short on imagination and decent plotting. Stallone stars as the leader of a band of mercenaries who’ve been hired to take out the puppet dictator of a fictional rogue nation. The pundits say The Expendables delivers some impressive, impossibly over-the-top action that harkens back to Sly’s 1980s heyday, but it’s a stale, humorless affair. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down Stallone’s best-reviewed movies.)
Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love made her the darling of book clubs across the nation, for obvious reasons: her witty travelogue acted as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for readers longing for globe-trotting, tasty meals, and a little amore. However, critics are less than enchanted by the movie, which, despite the luminous presence of Julia Roberts, is skin-deep and cliché-ridden. Roberts stars as a well-to-do woman who, after a painful divorce, travels the world in search of spiritual actualization and — of course — romance. The pundits say Roberts is magnetic, and the scenery is often breathtaking, but Eat, Pray, Love is short on profound insights despite its overextended runtime.
Is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a comic book movie? Is it a video game movie? It’s both, and much more, say critics, who find this irrepressible action/comedy tough to resist. Michael Cera stars as Scott, an unemployed layabout whose life changes when he meets Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) the girl of his dreams. However, in order to win her, he must defeat her seven evil exes. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Scott Pilgrim sometimes suffers from excess, but what glorious excess it is — director Edgar Wright has fashioned a fast-and-furious miasma of pop culture references that’s heartfelt and very funny, sure to delight geeks and non-fanboys (and girls) alike with its manic, inspired sense of fun.
Also opening this week in limited release:
Animal Kingdom, a drama about the fall of an Aussie crime family, is Certified Fresh at 93 percent.
Neshoba, a documentary about the murders of three Civil Rights workers in 1964, is at 88 percent.
Peepli Live, a satire of contemporary Indian politics and media, is at 75 percent.
Tales from Earthsea, a fantasy anime feature from Goro Miyazaki (the son of the legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki), is at 48 percent.
Salt of This Sea, a drama about an American woman who attempts to find her Palestinian roots, is at 33 percent.
La Soga, a drama about a secret police hitman who has a crisis of confidence, is at 25 percent.