Well Rotten Week faithful, today is a special day. A glorious day in fact. It's the day we gather with friends, eat a smorgasbord of snacks, down a few beers, throw out a bet here or there, and just basically act like rabid fans. That's right folks, today is the one year anniversary of This Rotten Week!!! (The crowd goes wild, cheerleaders do backflips, fireworks go off and The Black Eyed Peas perform in my living room.)
It's been a good year. And though, of late, we've had a bit of a hit-or-miss streak going, this column has had its fair share of success. (Quick recap at the bottom of the year that was). Thanks for reading and commenting. 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!
The Eagle will be a case study in what happens when an accomplished director and middling actor team up to make a movie. Who will influence the Tomatometer the most? The guy in front of the camera or behind it? From the trailer, and a few early reviews, I'd say director Kevin MacDonald works his magic again, overcoming Channing Tatum's underwhelmingness.
MacDonald (Last King of Scotland - 87%, State of Play - 84%) obviously knows what he's doing and has a handle on this whole "movie making" venture. And I guess he figured he could take Tatum, whose underwhelming career has its fair share of stinkers (Dear John -28%, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - 34%), and put the kid in something of merit.
Coming along for the ride is my wild card in this equation, Dod Mantle, who handled the cinematography on Last King of Scotland in addition to 28 Days Later (88%), 127 Hours (94%), and Slumdog Millionaire (94%). That's just too good a body of work to ignore.
The Eagle tells the story of Marcus Aquila (Tatum) going off the Roman reservation along with a slave (Jamie Bell) to find Aquila's missing father. The scenes looking sweeping, at times stunning, the action appears to unfold in a pretty gripping way and Tatum thanks his lucky stars to be along for the ride (and probably drags the production down just a tad, I mean he's Channing Tatum). The Rotten Watch for The Eagle is 63%.
I went in to this trailer with the full intention of lambasting Gnomeo and Juliet strictly because I thought the name sounded cliche and unoriginal. But once again, the world teaches me to maybe not judge a book by its stupid cover. This movie doesn't look half bad.
Sure, it's about garden gnomes who come to life when their owners aren't looking (sounds vaguely familiar) and have crazy adventure after crazy adventure (a hallmark for animated flicks). Sure, the story looks a bit overlooked in favor of having the characters pull off hi-jinx and one-liners. But that's fine in this kind of movie, as long as there's broad appeal (children and adults). I think Gnomeo and Juliet has that base covered.
Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2 -89%, Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron - 69%) directs this Starz Animation (9 - 57%) retelling of Shakespeare through the eyes of kitschy, property devaluing gnomes. Makes sense I guess. The Rotten Watch for Gnomeo and Juliet is 64%.
Remember back in middle school algebra when the teacher blew your mind with a lesson about how multiplying two negative numbers would produce a positive product? I was thinking about using that mathematical rule for this movie equation until I remembered that multiplying three negatives together produces a number pretty far to the left of the zero on the old number line. And that's what we have here. Three people (Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston and Dennis Dugan) whose Tomatometer scores are about as inspiring as, well, your middle school math teacher.
Sandler and Aniston have been good at starring in bad movies. Sure, they've had an outlier here or there (Funny People - 67%, Marley and Me - 52%), but really their careers are marred with crappy film after crappy film. I even wrote about the Aniston phenomenon back in August.
I'd be able to look past most of this if it weren't for our third negative in Just Go With It director Dennis Dugan. This guy's list of credits is a true artistic apocalypse. Consider these titles: Grown Ups (10%), You Don't Mess With the Zohan (36%), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (14%), The Benchwarmers (12%), National Security (11%). And this is just in the last eight years or so. I don't want to go on listing them.
So can we really expect much out of this newest offering? Nope. The Rotten Watch for Just Go With It is 27%.
There is a clause in my fairly lucrative contract with Cinema Blend stating I need to cover every movie heading to wide release in any given week. So now we're getting Biebered the end of my one year anniversary spectacular. Not to worry, I'm renegotiating for next year and working diligently with my attorney to add a clause on avoiding self-serving documentaries involving already over-exposed teeny bop stars.
Does Bieber have an interesting not really rags-to-riches story? I suppose. But the documentary I want to see is the one twenty years from now when Justin is a middle-aged former pop star who has his own reality show in an effort to "Get back in the game." There's something we can sink our teeth into. This? Not so much. The Rotten Watch (assuming any critics actually go out and review it) for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never is 26%.
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Because of the anniversary I'm able to deflect some of the stink off the Sanctum (Predicted: 71 Actual: 30%) debacle. I knew the dialogue and storyline were a mess just from the trailer and yet I put too much faith in the James Cameron name and bunch of sharp looking visuals. Meanwhile, The Roommate (Predicted: 22% Actual: 9%) sucked as expected. We'll take that one as a predictable win.
This year I predicted Tomatometer scores for 121 movies. There were some high moments like Legend of the Guardians (50%) and Case 39 (23%) that I nailed exactly and some low moments. But all in all, it was a good year. 43% of my predictions landed within the ten percent mark while 26% were within five percent. We'll take that number to the bank and try to improve on it this year.
I've spent time evaluating the places I went really wrong (11% of my predictions missed by more than thirty five points). The two biggest disasters Piranha 3D (Predicted 18%, Actual: 75%) and My Soul to Take (Predicted 69% Actual: 9%) still are thorns in my side.
Thanks to everyone who's read, chimed in on what an idiot I am, disagreed with my predictions, pointed out the minor details I overlooked when evaluating a particular film, and just generally enjoyed the critical consensus game. It's been a fun ride. Let's keep it going. It's going to be a Rotten year.