I’m coming in a day later than usual, but I’m hoping my fans didn’t get too crazy in the interim. The summer season in winding down. How can I tell? It’s feeling just a bit cooler in the air, the Back To School commercials are in full force, and the movies look a few degrees worse. That’s last one is the real barometer. When the flicks start looking rough, fall is officially on its way. This week we’ve got Sin City, teenagers deciding to stay and some high school football.
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.
Rotten Watch Prediction
See what I mean in the trailer for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For below:
It has been nine years since Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez put out the first Sin City (78%), and in some ways began to revolutionize the way we "pictured" movies. Now they are back for a sequel – a return to paradise if you will. The neo-noir style, visual effects, story arcs, violence and general disposition of the original aren’t for everyone (not by a longshot), but it holds up over time thanks to it being one of the first to do something so visually distinctive and groundbreaking.
The sequel looks like more of the same (in a good way), and even watching the trailers its crazy how starkly this type of movie stands out from the rest of the landscape. Even a quick two-and-a-half minute look back into this world is almost jarring. It separates itself from everything else that is put on the big screen. Robert Rodriguez has never been one to get complacent with his filmmaking (for better or only occasionally worse) and he isn’t afraid to push the envelope. I respect that, even if I don’t love all of his films. I at least get why others do. I’d be shocked if Sin City: A Dame to Kill For outpaced the original, but because it’s been so long since the original it doesn’t run the risk of generating style fatigue. Because it is rather contrarian in its approach, I predict critics will generally like it. Not as much as the first, but close.
Rotten Watch Prediction
See a little of what I’m talking about in the trailer for If I Stay,
There’s probably a really great movie somewhere in this thing, I just kind of doubt this film pulls it off. The subject matter is super heavy - young and in love teenager (Chloe Grace Moretz) on her way to a bright cello career loses her whole family in a car accident. She is left in a coma and the movie plays out in her out of body experience. But it looks overly dramatic and squishy, most likely too reliant on extracting every little bit of emotion and gravity (with a cool soundtrack of course) on its way to making Moretz decide if she should live or die. Again, it seems like it could be interesting, but I don’t see it being universally accepted as a quality film.
The story is based on the book of the same title by Gayle Forman. Director R.J. Cutler has made a name for himself in the industry with documentary-style work both on the big screen and in television shows. He’s put together a solid resume when the subjects are "real". I don’t know if it’s going to translate completely here in the adaptation. When you try too hard to be dramatic, it can fall flat. I’m struggling to see how it all comes together with Moretz’s possibly overlong out of body experience and the source material. It won’t finish in the basement, but I don’t predict critics will be kind.
Rotten Watch Prediction
1. Friday Night Lights (T.V. Show) - So good it counts as a movie
2. Remember the Titans - cheesy but eminently re-watchable
2A. Friday Night Lights (Movie) - Only seems worse because show was so good.
4. All the Right Moves - Doesn’t exactly hold up, but whatever. It’s still good.
5. Varsity Blues - A lesser American classic.
These rankings are absolute and irrefutable. Will this newest high school football film crack the top five? I think we can come to a pretty quick conclusion by watching the trailer for When the Game Stands Tall below:
The answer is "No". If the trailer is to be believed, When the Game Stands Tall appears more an ABC Family movie than a film with any real stakes. I’m sure the filmmakers work to provide healthy doses of drama in and around the story of De La Salle High School’s epic winning streak through the ‘90s and early ‘00s. But this drama appears artificial and stale. Again, a trailer does not a movie make, but if it’s supposed to tell the story of the film’s major beats then we are looking at a football flick that could become instantly forgettable.
Director Thomas Carter has some experience in the "undefeated high school sports team" realm, having previously made Coach Carter (65%). It’s not a bad film, but it could lay the groundwork for how we perceive his latest. Coach Carter was a safe, albeit fine, fine movie that stuck to the sports drama playbook with more than its share of "feel good" to it. When the Game Stands Tall feels like it will cram a lot in without ever really getting anywhere.
Because I’m the definitive voice on high school football movies, I’ll be forced to see it and properly rank it’s slot in movie history. But the odds aren’t great. There’s too much drama, not enough at stake, and no Coach Taylor.
Which of my predictions do you think will be closest?
Last week was not exactly my best effort. There were three movies on the docket and only one was a solid prediction. Saving the best for first, The Expendable 3 (Predicted: 28% Actual: 35%) landed within range. I had a glimpse into some reviews at the time of post, so it was a bit easier to see how the opinions were flowing. CB’s Gabe Toro called the flick "barely a movie" and gave it one and a half stars out of five. Some critics had kinder things to say, but not by much. The Expendables franchise might be petering out here.
Meanwhile Lets Be Cops (Predicted: 39% Actual: 11%) stunk. Bad. Dipping the Tomatometer score into this territory means the film is just plain awful. I didn’t think it’d score off the charts or anything, but from the trailer I hoped there’d be enough laughs and cheap jokes to keep it out of the critical basement. Nope. Mike Reyes gave it one star in his review. What a shame. Was looking forward to a decent laugh.
Finally, The Giver (Predicted: 53% Actual: 30%) finished significantly under the mark. I thought the tweenager flick would hold up moderately well with critics based on the source material and a strong (supporting) cast. This score is a disappointment, as Lowry’s book and its sequel, The Messenger, deserved better. I can’t say for the future is for the latter, but The Giver missed the mark.
Next time around go above or below and meet the November Man. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!