It's spring cleaning in Hollywood this month, as movie studios are dumping mediocre offerings onto the market and letting audiences root through the glut. So far, April's eight mainstream releases have sparked little interest in moviegoers, and have received an equally middling response from Christian critics.
Rules of Engagement ($15 million)
This courtroom drama took number one at the box office this weekend, but still performed below industry expectations. (Perhaps because the title sounds like a romantic comedy about proposing to a girlfriend.) What's more likely, as many Christian critics have suggested, is that the movie doesn't really deliver what it promises. The potential morality play tells of a U.S. marine (Samuel L. Jackson) charged with murder after a bloody conflict with Yemen demonstrators becomes a PR nightmare for the government, but the U.S. Catholic Conference says the film only "superficially explor[es] the harsh reality of life-and-death decision-making under fire." Michael Elliott of Crosswalk.com agrees, adding that the politician bad guys are flatly "portrayed as being either weak and cowardly or as evil and manipulating," and that any lesson is presented with "a heavy hand … instead of triggering our minds with its subtlety." The Phantom Tollbooth's J. Robert Parks offers a more upbeat take, writing that although "the script's resolution might leave you scratching your head," the film still makes for "an interesting diversion." John Adair of Preview gives an equally average report, noting that while "the story lacks originality … the battle scenes are quite compelling."
Erin Brockovich ($9.8 million)
New reviews of this smash hit, still number two in its third week, don't differ much from initial ...1
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