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We have a big week of flicks coming. And by "big" I mean there are a lot of crappy-looking films hitting the big screen. Hollywood is taking a quantity over quality approach this Friday as we zero in on the end of the summer season. This time we’ve got ninja turtles, French cuisine, tornadoes and dancing.

Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but instead predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at what This Rotten Week has to offer.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Rotten Watch Prediction
Having spent a childhood absorbing "the arts" and exploring "high culture," I think it safe to say I’ve become somewhat of an expert on the artists of the Renaissance period. This came rather easily through an exploration of media and text that helped formulate an over-arching "understanding" of how these artists operated and tackled their craft. For instance, Leonardo was a leader. Donatello worked on machinery. Rafael was cool and yet often crude. And finally, Michelangelo was of course a partying dude (so to speak). I’d be happy to tackle on questions you have on this period in the comments section and always enjoy a lively conversation about one of the great periods in the history of art.

Want some of that source material I’m talking about? Check out the trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,



Well, I never thought we’d head back to the sewers for any hot turtle action, and yet here we are back in New York fighting Shredder and the Foot Clan. Oh boy. You excited? Me neither. Along the lines of The Smurfs, there are some bits of the Eighties (or earlier) cartoon canon we need not resurrect. This is one of them. The first TMNT all the way back in the 1990s was a stretch even to my ten-year-old brain., and though I can distinctly remember seeing TMNT 2 (Vanilla Ice and all) in the theaters, I don’t remember walking out of there thinking, "You know what we need? More of that!" And remember - I was only around ten. Though this film is definitely not intended for my demographic, and it isn’t made for critics (unless they are preteen), it just seems to me that some concepts should remain in the past. Radioactive, martial artist turtles and all. But again, the cartoon is back on the air, so what do I know?

Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles-35%) is helping bring TMNT back into the collective consciousness beyond the Nickelodeon-revived cartoon. Putting the quartet (with a little Splinter add-on) back up there on the big screen only serves to accentuate what a crazy idea the basic thought behind the franchise (chelonian black belts living below New York fight a dude covered in metal spikes) really is. This is me being a party-pooper. I just find the whole thing silly, in an innocent kind of way.

There is almost no possible way this scores well with critics - but again, I doubt that’s the goal. Instead it’s an educational piece, reintroducing a new generation to the arts. Enjoy kids. I learned a lot, and hopefully you will too.
Into the Storm
Rotten Watch Prediction
Man, tornadoes are just so hot right now. They are like the new vampires. Or dragons. Whether they’re bringing a deadly wave of sharks to a city near you, or just simply leveling your entire town, never have tornadoes been a bigger draw in media. Don’t worry hurricanes, you’ll have your time too. It might just take a little while. Tornadoes are where it’s at.

Take a look at another sexy tornado in Into the Storm,



Steven Quale (Final Destination 5-65%) directs a found footage take on the destruction of these dangerous storms. In many ways this doesn’t look too different from his other film - just replacing the unseen force of "death" with tornadoes as the primary antagonist. The Final Destination movies made their bones on ever-escalating forces conspiring to put the protagonists in stickier and more deadly situations. This film looks about the same, with storms growing stronger across a small town and threatening the lives of everyone within the vicinity. Having strong winds operate as the primary bad guy seems like it would make for a better short film than a full-length feature (Twister folks shrug their shoulders and grin), and yet here we are gearing up for ninety minutes of "Phew, that tornado passed. But uh-oh, here comes an even bigger tornado!"

Offering the allure of found footage to detail the devastation of the storms seems a little too device-y; like it’s a way to add a new twist (like that?) on a storm chaser film. Part horror film, part thriller, I would suspect Into the Storm runs a bit too long. If not, then this is probably some expert filmmaking because watching bigger and bigger tornados sucking bigger and bigger things into the sky just seems like it’d grow old after a while. But man it’s a good time to be a tornado in media.
Step Up: All-In
Rotten Watch Prediction
There’s nothing better than watching two rivals getting up into each other’s faces, acting hard, and then deciding to let their feet and pop-locking settle the score instead of good, old fashioned fisticuffs. We can, as a society, probably learn a thing or two from this kind of peacekeeping. If we could only resolve our differences and end our conflicts by taking it to the stage we’d reach a higher plain of existence, operating in a quasi-utopia of gyrations and acrobatics. Thank you Step Up series, you’re an inspiration.

See what I’m talking about in the trailer for Step Up: All In,



To be honest, I’m a fan of movies just sticking in their lanes, not worrying about muddying up the waters with silly things like "plots" or "acting". The Step Up series understands what people came to see: dancing. By offering only the faintest sliver of dramatic structure, the filmmakers can spend the rest of the time focusing on the important things - stuff like guys and gals contorting and throwing their bodies in ways that appear to defy gravity (and basic muscle movement), while making sure the proper amount of pyrotechnics are applied to the stage. These are the elements that matter. I’m sure there’s a conflict (rag-tag bunch of dancers want to defeat the champs) and a love story (two dance leaders fall for each other), but that’s thrown into the margins where they should be.

Choreographer Trish Sie directs her first feature film after making name for herself developing the awesome OK Go videos for "Here it Goes Again" and ""White Knuckles." Now she’s *ahem* stepping up to the big time with a story that brings together the "stories" from the rest of this dance hit series. Early reviews are generally positive, which is what happens when critics understand the basic concept of a niche film when they walk through the door. And honestly, these critics also understand that dancing can save the world, bringing about lasting peace and tranquility. That’s the big takeaway.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Rotten Watch Prediction
I’ve watched multiple seasons of Top Chef, so I like to think I’m pretty well versed in the world of the kitchen. I understand words like "pallet" and "reduction" when it comes to cooking. Or I at least understand that people use those terms when talking about cooking. So if someone is going to be a solid judge on movies involving the culinary arts, you’ve come to the right place. I think I know what I’m talking about.

See how the French and Indians do their cooking in the trailer for The Hundred-Foot Journey,



Based on the novel by Richard C. Morais, The Hundred-Foot Journey tells the story of a Indian family who open a restaurant across the street from a famous French establishment run by Helen Mirren. It also offers critics a chance to use endless food puns in their reviews. I’m not immune to this kind of writing (see: basically everything I ever put in print), but I would suspect the percentage of critics who use some kind of food reference in either praising or panning (see what I mean) the film to be around 100%.

The movie looks fine enough, tugging at some heart strings in how these two dissimilar restaurants and their proprietors coexist in close proximity, and eventually influence each other across cuisines. Director Lasse Hallstrom has experience adapting best-sellers into movies. He’s helmed a few Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations in Safe Haven (12%) and Dear John (28%) to less-than-stellar receptions. But it’s not all bad for the dude. He’s put together some quality flicks in the past as well, including Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (67%) and Chocolat (63%). Judging from a few early looks at the movie, The Hundred-Foot Journey will fall somewhere in between all of those titles. Opinions range from "good not great" to "overly sentimental". It won’t blow it out of the water, though the safety of the story and quality acting probably save it from the bottom. And of course, if you need a food opinion, just ask. I’m happy to help.
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Which of my estimates do you think will be closest?
RESULTS


last rotten week Guardians of the Galaxy (Predicted: 96% Actual: 92%) was a win, though to be fair, I had a head start on that one. A bunch of reviews were already in at the time of my write-up, and they were blowing up expectations. I’d still count this film as one of the surprises of the summer. A huge hit with critics and at the box office, Guardians of the Galaxy continues a run of comic book films that continue to push the envelope in the genre. Taking even B-level heroes and storylines can prove a winner when tackled the right way. James Gunn proves as much. Having sci-fi, comic book-sourced flicks with cross-generational appeal crush in this kind of way should be the goal of everyone venturing into the arena. When I first heard about Guardians of the Galaxy hitting the screens I was dubious. What an error. Thankfully early reviews helped me nail the prediction.

Meanwhile, Get on Up (Predicted: 50% Actual: 77%) was a miss. What I thought would be a safe, by-the-books biopic does appear to venture into some grittier turf, playing both sides of the James Brown coin (both his rise and eventual fall). Gabe Toro’s excellent review details a flick unapologetic in the way it represents the later version of Brown, on the down side of his career. This was a big miss by me.

Next time around we get expendable, meet the giver and become cops It’s going to be a Rotten Week!
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