Another week of very uninspiring major releases. This has been a dull winter. Nothing on this docket suggests we are pulling out of the cinematic doldrums with time travel, lofts and Kevin Costner hitting the screen.

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.

Project Almanac
Rotten Watch Prediction
If I had the ability to time travel and head back to the past I would change these two major world events: The time when I was 13 and went to Tina Carsillo’s house thinking she liked me only to find out the hard way that in fact she didn’t. The time at Le Bernadin I ordered the Monkfish instead of the Merluza and then doubled down on that mistake by pairing it with the 2010 Marcassin Estate Chardonnay like a [email protected]#$ing noob.

So do I wish time travel was real? Of course. Would be the best way to cure these injustices I committed and potentially save the world in the process. I mean, who wouldn’t want this ability? What would you change about your life?

Movies about time travel are extremely tricky territory. There are a lot of mechanics involved and tons of ways for it to go wrong. There are a couple of different approaches. The first kind is how Looper rolled by basically glossing over the technicalities and getting right to business. The other is somewhat like Butterfly Effect in how time traveling (to some extent) ends in a constant devolving of a situation, essentially making things worse and worse as you go. Project Almanac appears to take the latter approach. A group of kids find a time travel gizmo, use it to their own gain until they realize, "Oops, there are some unintended consequences going down here." This second way lends itself to a lot of problems.

And those might not be the only issues going on. The film is in the "found footage" realm which is another thing I might time travel for. To eliminate this genre completely. (This would be a good example of irony.) A lot needs to go right for a found footage movie to work. I doubt they click on all cylinders here because this movie was supposed to be released a year ago until it was pushed back. The basic math being that if a movie is good the studio wouldn’t want to wait for you to see it. If it is bad? What’s the rush? It’ll be just as bad a year later.

Director Dean Israelite is light on the old resume and this is his first major production. I don’t think it ends well. Time travel + found footage + delayed release schedule have this thing headed for the gutter.
The Loft
Rotten Watch Prediction
So let me get this straight, a group of guys are so intent on cheating on their wives and performing other acts of debauchery that they’re willing to pay for a secret high end loft where they can act all kinds of depraved, no questions asked. And then when someone turns up dead in some loft, are we supposed to feel bad for these guys at all as they sort out the mystery? Seems like the worst group of dudes in movie history to be honest. I hope they all go down.

See what I mean in the trailer for The Loft
This group of guys find a dead body in the Loft one day and all of sudden their worlds (which usually just involved them sneaking around and sleeping with random women on the sly) are now placed in a state of flux. The premise is ridiculous and though I suppose there might be a sense of moral comeuppance attached to the group, what exact buy in are we hoping for? Who cares who did it? They all seem like dicks.

The Loft has many of the same "uh oh" factors as Project Almanac in that this thing was filmed an eternity ago (2011) and is hitting the screen only a mere four years later. Again, at the risk of sounding repetitive, this just doesn’t happen with good movies. It happens with pieces of crap that tested poorly, had to make significant changes, or simply couldn’t find anyone to distribute it because it, well, sucks. Director Erik Van Looy directed this same film in Dutch a few years back and is now Americanizing it. I don’t think it goes well.

Again, it’s not like we can’t have movies with morally ambiguous main characters. This happens all the time. But those same dudes tend to fall back on a do-goodedness that drives us (hopefully) rooting for them in some way. I very much doubt The Loft accomplishes this.
Black or White
Rotten Watch Prediction
It was interesting looking back through Kevin Costner’s movie roles. He has some great ones in there, along with many a dud. But as I looked at the titles and thought about Costner in each of them, I began to realize that he’s basically played the same character in all of them. A rather vanilla, subdued, at times introspective, serious type that rarely gets too high or low on screen. This isn’t a knock. I’m a Costner fan. But he seems to have just played himself no matter the scenario. Now it helps that this version of himself turns out to be a pretty good actor. The movies aren’t always the best, but in those down times it’s hard to put the blame directly on Costner. Typically something else around him falters.

Take a look at Costner playing Costner in the trailer for Black or White
We can’t give the actor a pass for bad movies because the guy agreed to be in those movies. Costner’s had some epic duds along the way. But again, it rarely seems like he was the thing dragging a flick down. Bad stories, ridiculous premises, shallow plot lines, (or maybe even Costner’s general lack of emotion) was the death knell for some of his bombs. And it’s interesting because this latest film is trending downward with the reviews, but even the negative ones seem to follow a certain theme. i.e. The movie stunk, but Costner gives a solid performance.

The story centers on a widowed Costner raising his granddaughter until her paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) comes looking for shared custody. Many critics felt the racial tones of the movies were hackneyed and contrived, doing a disservice to everyone in the process. But those same folks are quick to not blame it on the lead.

Director Mike Binder has been down the Costner path before with The Upside of Anger (74%) and dealth with his fair share of melodrama in Reign Over Me (64%). I suspect this latest trends lower than those two with the story playing it very safe along the racial lines. In what will probably be a watchable, but very forgettable film, I think this finishes lower than 50%. But don’t blame Kevin. Dude’s just being himself.
How Do You Think Project Almanac Will Do With Critics?

last rotten week It’s not often that you’ll see three movies come out in one week with a combined Tomatometer score of 36%. That’s got to be a record low. Not to say I’m stunned necessarily considering I thought at least two of the three flicks looked like trash. But to pull the trifecta is something else. Let’s take a look. First off, I missed with Mortdecai (Predicted: 48% Actual: 12%), though in retrospect I don’t know exactly why I scored this thing so high to begin with. The trailer was nearly unwatchable. I think I was swayed by the cast in that there were some auxiliary parts that don’t often show up in bad flicks. But this thing got skunked early and often. Mike Reyes gave it one star in his review. He trashed it. I’ve been writing for CB for quite some time. One star reviews are rare. This one appears to have deserved it.

Meanwhile, I scored on The Boy Next Door (Predicted: 23% Actual: 13%). It just squeaked in under the ten percent mark for my guess but we’ll take it. Gregory Wakeman fell in the minority with his review, actually liking the flick. He was one of the few. Critics by and large crushed this film really taking pleasure in skewering J-Lo’s performance, the story and really anything they could get their hands on. It was a critical bloodbath.

And finally I was right on with Strange Magic (Predicted: 19% Actual: 11%) as well. My biggest concern with the flick was that I watched the trailer twice and had absolutely no idea what the movie was about. Then I read the synopsis and was even more confused. Not a good sign and it played out with a horrendous score. About as low as you’ll ever see from an animated film.

Next time around Jupiter ascends, a seventh son comes around and SpongeBob is on the big screen. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!
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