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I woke up this morning to Little Rotten Week’s 102 degree fever and the realization that today ends the regular season for baseball. Yup, it’s all bad around here. But at least we have some movies to discuss. That always helps. This week we’re hurtling through space and getting jobbed by online poker.
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.
Well if the trailer, or extended trailer are any indication, someone like me will probably die of asphyxiation while watching this movie, because even in the couple-of-minute teasers there were multiple moments where I completely forgot to breathe. I could almost feel myself tumbling through space with Sandra Bullock, considering the prospect of hurtling off into the great nothingness never to be seen again. And when she wasn’t listening to the rasp of her own breath, glancing around at infinite blackness, and half-heartedly calling for help that would probably never come, there were the moments of missing salvation by fingertips and scrambling for safety in zero gravity. I didn’t have a full blown panic attack, but man it was sure close. And that was just from a couple of clips on YouTube. What happens when I sit down in the theater? Do I expire right there in my seat?
Early reviews suggest that might just happen. Critics are raining down heaps of praise on Gravity, calling it a technical achievement, gripping, inspiring, visually-stunning, tense, awesome and some nobody named James Cameron said this about the film. Sitting at 95% through more than forty reviews, Gravity has the makings of a classic.
There aren’t many films I feel compelled to absolutely see on the big screen. The current state of movies means one is usually safe waiting until it comes into our own souped-up home theaters. But there are exceptions to be made. Gravity appears one of them. Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men-93%, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-91%) appears to have put a new spin on an old setting, giving us a space that isn’t filled with aliens or astronauts stuck in their broken ships, but rather a space that is a true blank wilderness. A space that we wouldn’t look to in awe, but rather in abject hopelessness. A space that we need to see on the twenty-two foot screen or in IMAX so he can set us adrift in that void, forgetting to breathe and dying right there in our theater seats. I can’t wait. The Rotten Watch for Gravity is
Ok, so let me get this straight, Justin Timberlake is a poker hotshot and math whiz (I surmised this with the trailer’s classic: protagonist surrounded by equations), a master gambler, who also just happens to not have enough money for college tuition. He goes busto online with all of his bros watching (because that’s what people in college do, watch their friends grind three tables online on a Saturday night). He analyzes the data, sees he’s been cheated, flies to Costa Rica, meets the CEO of the poker website, talks his way into a job with said site, gets a cool boat, bangs a bunch of hotties and becomes a snitch for the FBI. You know, just like all those Phil Ivey wannabes out there.
This movie was probably meant for a few years ago when people could actually play poker online, before the government shut it down. And on paper the flick should be a slam dunk (You thought I was going poker-speak there didn’t you?). Ben Affleck as a spray-tanned, smarmy villain, stealing money from the millions of n00bs out there playing poker. Affleck’s recent history would suggest that he alone should carry the film, but he’s really in his wheelhouse when he’s in full control as director (Argo-96%, The Town-94%). Here he’s not and is playing second fiddle to Justin Timberlake, a good actor but who, like Affleck in his early leading-man career, appears exposed when faced with too much camera time. Consider movies like In Time (36%) as opposed to his Sean Parker turn in The Social Network (96%), his young scout role in Trouble with the Curve (52%), and pretty much every Saturday Night Live sketch and digital short he’s ever done. Timberlake, for now, benefits from quick hits on the screen.
Finally, director Brad Furman’s resume would suggest another crime thriller win after helming The Lincoln Lawyer (83%) and The Take (85%). But early reviews have Runner Runner (23%) as a by-the-books, ho-hum flick heavily formulaic and light on any actual new, unexplored territory. It’s disappointing considering the players, but I’m sure critics are chomping at the bit, dusting off their old poker cliches to use in the reviews. They can’t wait to go all-in, push their chips to the middle, on a movie that wants to be Aces, but instead tilted off its big stack when it should have folded. See how easy that is? The Rotten Watch for Runner Runner is
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping last week:
Oof, not a great week with a couple of mistakes but one near dead-on prediction that keeps it from a complete embarrassment. Don Jon (Predicted: 69% Actual: 87%) didn’t slip the way I thought it would this week. I based much of my slippage on Katey Rich’s initial thoughts on the flick. She hated it. Kristy doubled down on the hate by pretty much trashing it in her review. These two represented the clear minority though, because critics by and large think it’s a strong film.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Predicted: 39% Actual: 58%) was a big miss. I thought this was going to be a monumental error on my part when it came out of the critical gate like gangbusters, but the score dipped over the course of the week making it just a bad prediction. Eric’s review says it gets closer to the original than I thought and he enjoyed it for many of the reasons I thought it would suck (read: silly food/animal combinations).
Baggage Claim (Predicted: 13% Actual: 14%) was right on the money. According to critics, unoriginal and a retread of every bad rom-com that’s come down the pike in the last fifteen or so years. The score is close to a bottom feeder though Mack’s review at least gives it the cable TV go-ahead, meaning you’ll get sucked into it a few years from now. I won’t, but you might. This thing just looks dreadful.
Next time around we get attacked by pirates and killed by machetes. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!