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This is a week all about friends on a mission. One group is trying to find a new tail for a melancholy donkey. The other group needs to stop the most evil wizard in history from taking over the world. Which one do you think I'm more excited about?
Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but rather predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at what This Rotten Week has to offer.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
Here is a list of the greatest human accomplishments since the dawn of the 20th century. (In no particular order). Neil Armstrong walks on the moon. Jonas Salk cures polio. Henry Ford invents the assembly line. Al Gore conceptualizes the internet. J.K. Rowling writes the Harry Potter series. That's it. Everything else is secondary.
And while the previous list is somewhat tongue-in-cheek (Al Gore? Please.) the Harry Potter series is most assuredly a cultural reference point. Its mass appeal, spanning from pre-teen kids to above middle aged adults, is something we may never see again. That it happened on both the literary and cinematic fronts is nothing short of extraordinary. And though people will always say “the movies don't hold a candle to the books” (do they ever?), the Harry Potter films work almost independently from the written word. That is, they work great on their own.
There's always a fear that what's put on screen won't live up to the images a reader has formed in their imagination, especially with something as umm, magical as a place like Hogwarts, as ominous as aspects of the Ministry of Magic, or even as slapstick as the Weasley home. But much like Peter Jackson's Middle Earth, director David Yates*** has almost defied the expectation of what Harry's world encompasses. That there remains a decidedly human element to the whole thing is accomplishing the near-impossible.
*** I only mention Yates, and none of the other directors for the series, here for a couple of reasons. One, and most obviously, he is directing the finale. But two, he took over the franchise when the tone of the series took a sharp turn after The Goblet of Fire and we were privy to much more of the wizardry world than just the confines of Harry's house and Hogwarts. The whole series has been fantastic, but Yates took over in the late innings when it was most important to get it right.
Critics have always enjoyed the Harry Potter movies and all have finished in roughly the same range (80-90%). But it seems Yates and company have saved the best for last because right now The Deathly Hallows: Part II is sitting at a cool 100% through twenty reviews. Only two movies with more than one hundred reviews have ever pitched the perfect game (Toy Story 2, Man on Wire), and I'd say this latest Potter installment stands a somewhat outside chance of pulling it off. The reviews are absolutely gushing with love for the flick. It'll be interesting to see who knocks it off its perfect perch and makes my prediction wrong. I'm going for it. The Rotten Watch for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part II is 100%.
Winnie the Pooh
Since having a new baby I'd like to think my heart has softened just a little, like going from a diamond to just regular plastic. The old me would have instantly written off a movie about an obese, honey-obsessed, mentally challenged bear and his group of loser friends including a severely depressed donkey, a tiger who'd benefit from a heavy dose of Ritalin and an overly didactic owl. And don't forget Christopher Robin, man that kid doesn't stand a chance does he? But that was the old Doug. The new Doug sees a timeless, heart-warming story about friendship and growing up. Oh my god, what's happening to me?
But in an age of Pixar driven CGI-based, 3D fare with movie studios constantly pushing the envelope of animation it's almost refreshing to see a movie retain a quasi-classic element in its production. Winnie the Pooh doesn't appear to have the frills or bells and whistles of the 21st century animated movie. Director Stephen J. Anderson's (Meet the Robinsons - 63%) adaptation of the A.A. Milne books appears to have eschewed the gloss in order to stay true to the original idea of the Hundred Acre Wood. And critics seem to appreciate the tact. At 73% through thirty reviews, the flick has some critical legs. Maybe I'm not the only one whose heart is softening a bit. The Rotten Watch for Winnie the Pooh is 71%.
Where will Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 end up on the Tomatometer?
Recapping last week…
A so-so week for the Rotten Watch with Zookeeper (Predicted: 27% Actual:15%) trailing my expectation slightly. Close to the ten percent mark. And while on the surface it seems I should have lowered my prediction from the outset, included with director Frank Coraci's s$%^y resume that I listed last week I put more credence into Kevin James's similar work of inanity, Paul Blart: Mall Cop (33%). That seemed the best comp for something like Zookeeper.
Meanwhile, Horrible Bosses (Predicted: 44% Actual: 74%) was a huge whiff. Comedies are hit or miss and I knew this prediction was a gamble. It didn't pay off, as the movie appears to hit many of the right notes.
Next week, Chris Evans dons the red, white and blue while Justin Timberlake makes an ill-fated career choice. It's going to be a Rotten Week!
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