January has never been the greatest month for new releases, but we have an interesting lineup of flicks arriving in theaters this week, with a little precious metal, reincarnated canines, and the conclusion of a long-running video game-turned-movie franchise. Get ready for Gold, A Dog's Purpose, and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. It's gonna be a Rotten Week!
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.
It's one of the great American Dreams to find a gold mine in your own backyard; to go to sleep one night with nothing, and wake up the next morning set for life. And while the gold in this case isn't necessarily in Matthew McConaughey's own soil, it might as well be. Gold details his character's story going from have-nothing salesman to billionaire gold magnate just about overnight.
The central conceit of Gold seems interesting enough, and McConaughey has been on a notable cinematic tear in recent years. That being said, critics aren't in love with the newest film from director Stephen Gaghan (Syriana - 72%) The few reviews out there now are mixed, with some liking the fast-paced story and McConaughey's performance, while others think the film just misses all around. My guess is that it's entertaining without being great, taking into consideration the cast and plot. But these films can get a little too wide and that appears the case with the critics who gave it a thumbs down. It's likely destined to sit in the middle.
Based on the title of A Dog's Purpose, I'm assuming this flick is all about barking at random strangers on the street, chewing up every piece of nice furniture in sight, steeling food off the table, and bolting out the door into the neighborhood at every opportunity. I'm basing this off my sister and brother-in-law's dog of course. I'm not much of an animal lover myself.
Kidding aside, even the non-animal dude (like me) would have trouble not getting some chills from the trailer for A Dog's Purpose, which tells the story of a pup reincarnated multiple times to experience different lives with different owners). Not to get all sappy, but even with the direct expressed intent of making the theater a bit dusty, it stands to reason this film pulls it off. It really has all the pieces. Dog. Family. Memory. Smiles. A Love Story. I suspect that even with the schmaltzy overtones director Lasse Hallstrom (The Hundred-Foot Journey - 8%, Safe Haven - 12%, _Salmon Fishing in the Yemen _- 67%) pulls it off. Either that or I really got played by the trailer.
Mercifully, this is the final chapter of the Resident Evil franchise. At this point, you are likely only interested in The Final Chapter if you're a hardcore fan of the franchise. I can't imagine anyone is being newly converted this late in the game, especially considering the reception of the previous iterations has been underwhelming at best.
The first one, Resident Evil (34%), managed to stay out of the critical basement (though not by much), while the subsequent films, Apocalypse (21%), Extinction (22%), Afterlife (23%) and Retribution (31%) fared worse and established a critical baseline for the franchise as a whole. Now Milla Jovovich's Alice enters her ultimate battle against the Umbrella Corporation and it's tough to imagine the Rotten Tomatoes score for The Final Chapter being anywhere outside the range of the others. I'll go with a strict average of scores for this prediction and trust the filmmakers are being honest with their use of the word "Final" in the title.
I went two for four in predictions last week with half of my guesses missing by a wider margin than I'd like. Let's start with the wins first. The Founder (Predicted: 79% Actual: 82%) finished great with critics, particularly thanks to Keaton's performance and a story worthy of curiosity. The story of how McDonald's became a world-beater is interesting no matter where you sit on the food debate, and Keaton could be looking at an Oscar nod for this one.
Meanwhile, I think most would agree M. Night Shyamalan is fully back in the discussion as a twist-and-turn director with Split (Predicted: 74% Actual: 76%). Critics loved James McAvoy's performance as a man with multiple personalties, and mostly agreed the pacing and plotting were akin to old school M. Night stuff that made him famous from the beginning.
Where I started to go wrong were flicks that I didn't think had anywhere to shot at being anything but horrible. I'm legit shocked at the final score for _xXx: The Return of Xander Cage _(Predicted: 14% Actual: 42%) considering the second one in the series finished close to the basement. But this one scored closer to the original (48%) and it appears enough critics were just along for the ride rather than worrying about the finer details.
And finally, _The Resurrection of Gavin Stone _(Predicted: 12% Actual: 36%) was a miss, though I almost want to put an asterisk on this one. It finished with only 11 total reviews which just might not be a big enough sample size to make any meaningful judgments. But numbers are numbers and I missed this one by more than 20 percentage points with critics not downright hating it.