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This Rotten Week: Predicting Now You See Me And After Earth Reviews

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone. It’s a chance for us to reflect on those who have served (are serving) us and usher in the summer with barbecues, movies and, for this writer, trips to Monmouth Racetrack to bet on the ponies. Who could ask for anything more? And if you’re waiting for a snarky comment about Memorial Day, keep looking buster, I love this weekend. To help us kick it off we’ve got magicians and father-son duos.

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.

Now You See Me

If this trailer left you a little lost raise your hand. I get the basic premise: four magicians perform bank robberies during their shows and Robin Hood-style give all the money they take back to audience members. Except that the trick they’re doing with robberies isn’t really the trick at all. The trick they’re doing is something more than the really big trick and we don’t know exactly what it is, or what it’s about because the illusions they create are meant to hide the motivations behind whatever scheme they’re pulling off while robbing the banks. Confused yet? Me too. Oh and on top of that, wrap your mind around the roughly ten thousand other tricks and illusions this magician team is pulling off while all the rest of the sh#$ is going down. Plus, is their brand of magic actually magic (it sure freaking looks like it from the trailer) or is it all some grandiose scheme and diversion from their ultimate goal? I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

It doesn’t help the film’s Wikipedia page is the shortest and least detailed of any movie I’ve ever seen that only had a week until release. Getting info on this flick is surprisingly difficult and a testament to the secrecy behind magic that the filmmakers don’t want to give away anything *ahem* up their sleeve. In fact, the only productive research I was able to track down was this clip which I’ve been practicing all morning. My friends and family will be amazed!

If a movie can be judged on trailer alone, then director Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans-28%, The Incredible Hulk-67%) has put together a quality summer film. It looks sleek and entertaining with a killer ensemble cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Isla Fisher to name a few. Without too much else to go on except a few early reviews hidden deep in the internet, I’m tempted to say this strikes a chord with critics. It won’t crush it towards the top of the scale, but expect something well worth the watch. The Rotten Watch for Now You See Me is 70%

My pops coached my little league team, gave me “the talk” on two folding chairs in our garage (presumably to masculinely offset the awkwardness of the proceedings), taught me how to drive stick and showed me how to shave with a straight razor. All-in-all my dad did a pretty good job. All that being said though, if it was ever him and me crash-landing on a futuristic Earth populated with killer-evolved animals, aliens and suboptimal terrain for getting around, well we’d be pretty screwed. Poppa Norrie has a lot going for him, but survival instincts and rugged ferocity aren’t part of the package. And he didn’t exactly pass those traits down in any form to his kid. What Will and Jaden Smith go through in After Earth wouldn’t be for us. We’re more a John Irving novel and glass merlot kind of father-son team.

There are a couple of factors giving me pause about this flick. One is a feeling that while the Fresh Prince and the heir to his throne have been on the big screen together before (The Pursuit of Happiness-66%), this latest feels almost too much a family gig. It appears put together to ensure Will and Jaden could spend some quality time together, just the two of them. Without any other relevant humans on screen, I get the sense it’s some sort of weird, misguided Smith family home movie.

The other misgiving involves the directing situation. I wrote a few weeks ago about how Tyler Perry and M. Night Shyamalan were in a race to the critical bottom, how neither director conjured anything close to thoughts of critical acclaim. The difference between the two dudes is the former’s name gets attached to everything and the latter’s name can’t be found anywhere on this movie.

It’s a testament to how far Shyamalan has fallen out of favor with critics and fans alike. Sure he started off hot with The Sixth Sense (85%) and Unbreakable (68%), but the last few years have brought us The Last Airbender (6%), The Happening (17%) and Lady in the Water (24%). And now he’s relegated to the background in a movie he directed and co-wrote. I find this fascinating, though not necessarily encouraging for his latest.

Though After Earth appears to have the visual effects and requisite action for a summer blockbuster, I think it falls flat. I get the sense critics will be turned off by the father-son duo as it appears contrived and Shyamalan hasn’t done anything in the last decade that would boost any confidence in this film. Maybe the Smiths should have chosen a different kind of home movie to put on the big screen. The Rotten Watch for After Earth is 44%

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Recapping last week:

Overall, a strong weekend for the Rotten Watch. Fast & Furious 6 (Predicted: 72% Actual: 72%) was a direct hit. Of course, I had a healthy head start here with a bunch of reviews in at time of post, but hitting one right on the nose always feels good. Like I wrote last week, the Fast & Furious defies everything conceivable about long-running franchises and “success”. That the fifth and sixth movies in the run have blown away the early flicks in every conceivable metric is astounding. Instead of limping to the finish like the movie in the next paragraph, this one just keeps speeding along. It’s amazing.

As referenced above, The Hangover: Part III (Predicted: 35% Actual: 21%) is an example of exactly what you don’t want happening with your brand. Though my prediction missed the mark by just a few points, my feelings were on the money. The second two flicks about the Stu, Alan and Doug trio were perfect examples of why you shouldn’t pump out flicks strictly for the dollar bills.

And finally, Epic (Predicted: 65% Actual: 63%) was one of my best predictions of the year. No early reviews. Nothing but a feeling and some research into the Blue Sky Studio’s previous works. Animated flicks aren’t my cup of tea, but this prediction is a nice addition to the resume.

Next time around we start an internship and start to purge. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!

Doug began writing for CinemaBlend back when Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles actually existed. Since then he's been writing This Rotten Week, predicting RottenTomatoes scores for movies you don't even remember for the better part of a decade. He can be found re-watching The Office for the infinity time.