If you need proof that the movie calendar is starting to get more eclectic in all of the months in the year, then you need look no further than the crop of films Hollywood has coming your way this weekend. How many times are we going to see the Coen brothers face off against Nicholas Sparks and period drama spliced with horror? The season is definitely picking up, as three flicks are coming your way in the form of Hail, Caesar!, The Choice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

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 This Rotten Week has to offer.

Hail, Caesar!
Rotten Watch Prediction
A couple of years ago I went about the process of trying to watch (or rewatch) the top 100 list of all-time classic movies. My plan was to view them, do a running diary entry of the experience and talk about (in general) whether they "held up". I never made it past Ben Hur. I found it laughable at best, unwatchable at worst. If it hadn’t been already labeled "not a joke" I wouldn’t have been convinced otherwise. And I love that the latest Coen brothers flick, Hail, Caesar! seems to, among other things, be sending up this era of filmmaking with all its pomp and unintentional silliness.

Here, see for yourself in the trailer for Hail, Caesar!:
I don’t usually get enamored with a cast for a movie, but this one is really something. It’s a who’s who ensemble with each name making us more excited than the last. In a macro sense it makes sense. A lot of these players (led by Josh Brolin and George Clooney) are meant to be a group of Hollywood something-or-others back in the day who are tasked with finding one of their own after he’s been kidnapped.

The Coen brothers’ track record in the last few years is nearly spotless, and have been raved about by critics. Flicks like Inside Llewyn Davis (94%), True Grit (96%) and No Country for Old Men (93%) are just a few of their recent run that is among the best in the industry over their careers. It sure is something. I suspect this one falls in line. The only thing scaring me off a top end score is no reviews are out yet, which isn’t always the best sign. But you can’t argue with the filmmaking history from these cats and a lot of A-listers jumped on board for the chance to work on the movie.
The Choice
Rotten Watch Prediction
Anytime you can set a love story around two people whose dogs screwed around once and had puppies, you just have to do it right? Well, no you don’t, but Nicholas Sparks thinks you do because he may have just right up and run out of ideas for stories. There doesn’t seem any other explanation for this mess.

See what I mean in the trailer for The Choice:
Nicholas Sparks is on a pretty epic run of his books being turned into critical messes on the big screen. I’ve been down this road before (having written this column for what feels like forever), but here’s a quick hit list of what you get when Sparks hits theaters.

The Longest Ride (31%)
The Best of Me (8%)
Safe Haven (12%)
The Lucky One (20%)

And those are just some of the recent ones. This guy puts out schmaltz early and often. This latest looks no different. In another movie with little-to-no stakes, The Choice tells the story of a guy and girl who don’t like each other at first. Then they like each other. Then the girl has another interest. Then they like each other again. Then they like each some more. Then she gets in an accident. Then things that are supposed to make you cry, but really seem just silly, happen.

After watching trailer, I’m not even totally positive what "choice" any of the characters need to make. Maybe that reveals itself to whoever subjects themselves to the film. It won’t be me, but maybe you can let me know.

I’m using history to inform the prediction here. This guy’s books-turned-movies just don’t perform well with certain discerning film eyes and this one won’t either.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Rotten Watch Prediction
The zombie epidemic has hit critical mass around the world. I’m not talking about the actual apocalypse of the walking undead roaming through our world and disrupting human civilization to alarming heights. No I mean it’s reached critical zeitgeist mass, with no end to what we can add zombies (or vampires for that matter) to. And here is just another example. Zombies have invaded every form of entertainment and story, and this time have taken over a Jane Austen classic.

See what I mean in the trailer for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:
The premise is cute enough. Adapted from the Seth Grahame-Smith book of the same name, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies sets itself in Jane Austen’s classic novel though makes a few (major) tweaks. Namely, now the central antagonists are the monsters shuffling around the castle walls looking to eat the brains of anything living. It’s admittedly silly, and strips down literary classic into a modern-day version of the story.

Look, I understand that everything (including art) is derivative. I hold no grudge (as if it would matter anyway) against folks taking a story and pumping new life (pun intended) into it for a group of readers. No one would argue Grahame-Smith and company see this as a reimagining of the classic in anything but a tongue-in-cheek way. That being said, the movie looks pretty forgettable, and I suspect it struggles to find an audience either at the box office or among the critical crowd.

Part of the problem, I think, is the zombie wars have been fought long and hard in the media already. We may be reaching the burnout point. This means that if Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (which looks rather sleek) came out five years ago there may have been something fresh and new about the concept. But this isn’t five years ago, and we’ve spent the last half decade or more with more zombies than we can handle. This is death by exposure. The flick won’t bomb, but I think it struggles to really gain a critical following.
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Which of my predictions do you think will be closest?
RESULTS


last rotten week A clean sweep for the Rotten Watch last week, as I went three for three in the predictions. Not a bad run at all. First off, Fifty Shades of Black (Predicted: 2% Actual: 0%) was a rare feat. Snagging a 0% from even a smattering of critics isn’t the easiest. One must work at this kind of hatred and negativity. And the Wayans did it. As my prediction indicates, though, there was no surprise considering how their other movies in the same vein turned out. The spoof genre, like I said last week, is pigeon-holed into one demo: the early teen, underdeveloped brain crowd. And no one else. Especially not the critics who hated it with a lack of fiery passion.

Meanwhile, The Finest Hours (Predicted: 54% Actual: 59%) was also predictable in a super vanilla, nothing that good or bad kind of way. Like I said in my write-up, this film had limited stakes even with the amount of life and death it had going. It just looked like your clichéd All-American film. Good guys need to go out and save other good guys from a storm. Critics thought it good in a forgettable kind of way.

And finally, Kung Fu Panda 3 (Predicted: 85% Actual: 79%) finished right in line with the rest of the franchise. DreamWorks continues a rather steady run of solid animated flicks and the Po stories stand to be around for a long time. They crush the box office and critics continue getting laughs. That’s basically the full recipe when it comes to this demographic and we can gear up for Kung Fu Panda for the considerable future.

Next time around it’s a big one with Deadpool, Zoolander 2 and How to Be Single. It’s gonna be a Rotten Week!

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