The Verdict on This Weekend's Movies: "Green Zone" and More

  • Publish Date: March 11, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 2 user comments

Our weekly roundup offers a brief look at this week's new film releases. For a full selection of reviews for these and many more films, visit Metacritic Movies. [Updated 3/12 4:00p]

Not-so-green zone

In a week with four nationwide releases, is it too much to ask for one of them to have a "green" Metascore -- in other words, to have mostly positive reviews? The answer, apparently, is yes. The best of this week's bunch is the Iraq War thriller Green Zone, but even that movie marks a major disappointment given the previous record of director Paul Greengrass. [3/12: A few positive late reviews have pushed Green Zone's score into green territory.] Here's how the new movies stack up:

This Week's Major Releases, Head to Head
Movie Release Rating Genre Metascore Critic Grades Users
Green Zone WIDE R Action/Thriller 61 23,12,0 6.8
Our Family Wedding WIDE PG-13 Comedy 37 2,12,8 n/a
Remember Me WIDE PG-13 Romance 39 7,9,11 4.6
She's Out of My League WIDE R Comedy 48 9,12,5 n/a
Compare to the "best" wide releases from recent weeks:
Alice in Wonderland 3/5 PG Fantasy 53 18,16,4 5.1
The Crazies 2/26 R Horror 55 14,13,3 6.9
Shutter Island 2/19 R Thriller 63 26,7,4 6.9

Green Zone 61

Green Zone (2010) 61
Paul Greengrass' Last 5 Films
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) 85
United 93 (2006) 90
The Bourne Supremacy (2004) 73
Bloody Sunday (2002) 90

The director and star of two of the "Bourne" movies -- Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon -- re-team for an action-packed thriller about the search for WMD in Iraq early in the U.S. occupation. Although it draws on some actual events (and is loosely based on the nonfiction book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran), it is a fictional story. Like previous Greengrass film, it features handheld camerawork and quick cuts.

What the critics like: Many critics are enjoying the thriller as a well-made, often exciting piece of filmmaking, and especially appreciate its frenetic pacing and tension. "The movie is nonstop havoc," writes J. Hoberman in the Village Voice, adding that Greengrass "is the best action director working today." Damon and the rest of the cast (including Brendan Gleeson and Amy Ryan) are also drawing praise from most, though not all, critics. The film is unusually "thoughtful" for "a popcorn flick," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Calvin Wilson.

What they don't like: It isn't as good as The Hurt Locker (which uses the same setting and even the same cinematographer) or the Bourne films. Some critics feel that politics play too big a role; Greengrass' opinions don't always come across in a subtle manner. The characters lack depth, and the often revisionist story isn't always plausible -- especially the ending. The handheld camera is sometimes too jittery for some reviewers.

Our Family Wedding 37

A Latin-American woman (America Ferrera from "Ugly Betty") and an African-American man (Lance Gross from "House of Payne") plan their wedding with the help of their overbearing fathers (Carlos Mencia and Forest Whitaker). Wackiness ensues.

What the critics like: The pacing isn't bad, and the actors are likable -- especially Ferrera, and some of the supporting players. Despite its many faults, the film still has a "sweetness," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Sheri Linden.

What they don't like: It's broad, formulaic, cliched, forced, and not funny. There is way too much emphasis on slapstick and wackiness, and the screenplay is loaded with stereotypes. The critics aren't fond of Mencia's performance, and as Time Out New York points out, "It’ll take years of yeoman’s work for Forest Whitaker to repair his onscreen reputation after allowing himself to be humped by a runaway goat hopped up on Viagra."

Remember Me 39

A romance between NYU students Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin is threatened by tragedy in a film set during 2001. The film is directed by Allen Coulter (Hollywoodland).

What the critics like: The film is genuinely moving at times. The Austin Chronicle admires the film's "refreshing ordinariness" and emphasis on character development; Roger Ebert, too comes to care about the characters. The Hollywood Reporter finds the leads charming, and calls the film "a smart, engaging drama." Several other reviewers also are enjoying Pattinson's performance.

What they don't like: The film unnecessarily attempts to force emotion on what otherwise might be a solid story by tying the romance to weightier events. Some critics think "Remember Me" (and Pattinson himself) looks a lot better than it actually is. Several critics think it's flat-out bad; the Village Voice calls it "tacky and preposterous." Pacing is an issue for some reviewers. The script is too earnest and unoriginal, especially in the plot department; the Chicago Reader calls it "thunderously overwritten." Foreign leads Pattinson and de Ravin don't always sound like the native New Yorkers they are supposed to be. The ending is not only unnecessary, but even offensive to some critics.

She's Out of My League 48

A nerdy airport security agent (Jay Baruchel) can't believe his luck when a beautiful girl (Alice Eve) falls for him in this R-rated romantic comedy that marks the debut for director Jim Field Smith.

What the critics like: There are some funny moments, and Jay Baruchel delivers a strong performance. The film also has a likable sweetness and heart amidst the gross-out humor and raunchy sex jokes.

What they don't like: The plot manages to be both illogical and predictable. Not every critic found the film charming, and many weren't laughing at a lot of the jokes. Baruchel has been playing the same character since "Undeclared" to diminishing returns, and there isn't much chemistry between him and Eve. Judd Apatow does this sort of thing much, much better; as The Onion A.V. Club's Scott Tobias writes, "It’s as if the filmmakers learned all the wrong lessons from Apatow’s films and applied them to a There’s Something About Mary clone, circa 2001."

In limited release this week

The well-reviewed South Korean import Mother 77 is a thriller about a mother who tries to clear her son's name after he is convicted of a murder she thinks he did not commit.

Next week in Metacritic

Opening wide next Friday, March 19th, are the Gerard Butler-Jennifer Aniston action-comedy The Bounty Hunter, the kid-friendly Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the sci-fi thriller Repo Men. In addition, the Kristen Stewart-starring The Runaways opens in limited release, and Los Angeles and New York audiences will get Noah Baumbauch's new comedy Greenberg a week before the rest of the country. Here are the trailers:

Full Movie Release Calendar

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Comments (2)

  • Marc Doyle  

    The Runaways... yes. Hopefully it gives some love to Lita Ford. And Girl in a Coma in the soundtrack wouldn't hurt either.

  • Mitch Sloan  

    Wow. I'm disappointed by Roger Ebert. How could he have possibly given Green Zone a perfect score?? (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and not assume that his politics made him ignore the medicore-at-best materiall) It was billed as a Bourne-type action flick, when it's really just another left wing attack on the US for manufactuing intelligence about WMD. I checked my watch maybe 5 times in this sucker. Couldn't have ended soon enough.

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