Box Office

March 20, 2009

Race to Witch Mountain

*** ( 3 STARS)

$24.4

million

$24.4 million

1 week

Rated: PG

Running time: 96 minutes

What it's about: To ensure the survival of Earth as we know it, an unlikely trio (including Dwayne Johnson, above) must outmaneuver some grim avengers.

Our take: This is one kids' movie that doesn't go all gooey with "a sense of wonder" or all gaga with special effects. That's no small feat.

Watchmen

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$17.8

million

$85.8 million

2 weeks

Rated: R

Running time: 163 minutes

What it's about: A disbanded superhero team (including Billy Crudup, above) regroups when someone seems to be killing the members off in this adaptation that's 90 percent accurate and 100 percent lacking in originality.

Our take: The biggest torture is the running time.

Last House on the Left

No stars

$14.1

million

$14.1 million

1 week

Rated: R

Running time: 100 minutes

What it's about: A civilized mother and father come face to face with the brutes who assaulted, raped and shot their daughter and killed her best friend. Starring Spencer Treat Clark (above).

Our take: Vengeance porn meets the torture flick: It's a gore sundae with an S&M cherry on top.

Taken

** ( 2 STARS)

$6.6

million

$126.8 million

7 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 93 minutes

What it's about: An ex-CIA man (Liam Neeson, above) becomes an ear-witness, via cell phone, to the abduction of his daughter; he proceeds to chop, stab and shoot his way through France.

Our take: The smack-downs are notable for their ferocity rather than their athleticism.

Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail

** ( 2 STARS)

$5.1

million

$83.2 million

4 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 103 minutes

What it's about: The fallout over a high-speed chase lands the pistol-packing grandmother (Tyler Perry, above) behind bars.

Our take: The movie is a mess, but it's a purposeful mess. Perry cannily, if not artfully, pushes all the right buttons.

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