It sometimes can feel rare to get weeks where movies are coming out for all different kinds of cinema fans, but weirdly we are now looking at our second week in a row of just that. We're getting mutant animals terrorizing a city, a historical sports drama, an animated feature, and a horror film. It's a little something for everyone. Get ready for Rampage, Borg vs. McEnroe, Sgt Stubby: An American Hero and Truth or Dare.
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.
I doubt there will ever be an end to the "animals are big and destroying everything" run of movies, and it seems like recent years have just meant more of these things. In Rampage, Dwayne Johnson plays the most ripped primatologist in the world who tries to stop a trio of mutant beasts running amok through Chicago. The film is based on the video game series, though in those games you controlled the monsters and worked to wreak havoc on cities and other areas before getting captured by the military. It's a lot more fun playing the big bad, but in this we need to root for Johnson to stop the animals before they do all of the damage.
Director Brad Peyton has worked with Johnson twice before, with San Andreas (50%) and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (43%). Rampage seems like it follows the same sort of playbook: make a movie with a whole lot of boom-boom and very little plot. It's not to say movies like this can't be fun at the theaters. There's definitely a place for them. It's just hard to imagine critics wanting much part in it. It looks watchable enough, but won't be anything close to a critical success.
Back in 1980, when people really cared about tennis, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe squared off in the Wimbledon finals. It pitted two diametrically opposed players: Borg, a quiet and subdued workaholic who took a patient approach to the game; and McEnroe, the loudmouth American who transformed tennis with his Rock-and-Roll-esque attitude. This movie, appropriately titled Borg vs. McEnroe, details the time leading up to the match and how both men approached the game to which they dedicated their lives.
Early takes on Borg vs. McEnroe are quite positive, with the Tomatometer sitting at 78% through more than 70 reviews. Critics are praising the casting of the two players (Shai Leboeuf and Sverrir Gudnason), and most think the suspense leading up to the match and the match itself is surprising. I suspect it stays in this range simply because it seems that we already have a strong critical consensus.
This week we get one set of animals running amok all over Chicago, while on the opposite side of the spectrum here's a dog who becomes the most decorated military canine in history. Man, animals have range. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero is based on the true story of the titular character, a dog who joined a U.S. infantry division in World War I and became their mascot.
The flick looks cute enough, a story about men and the dog they loved while fighting a horrible war (which I'm sure is underplayed considering the audience). The studio and director don't have much of a track record, so it's hard to get a read on Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero. But considering the nature of the story, I think it scores fine enough with critics.
This one has that Final Destination feel to it, in that we have a "Ten Little Indians" type of vibe that comes with friends being picked off one by one. In Truth or Dare we have a group of twenty-somethings caught in a twisted version of the titular game in which not playing correctly gets you a creepy smile and then a ticket to a quick death. This is clearly a "Hey, I have a cool title, now let's write a movie" situation, and the studio ran with it.
I suppose the scares look, well, scary, and Blumhouse Productions (the studio behind the film) does have some critical successes under their belt recently (Get Out - 99%, Happy Death Day - 71%, and Sleight - 74%). That said, Truth or Dare looks just too stupid to really rate well with critics, especially with such a great horror movie coming out last week.
It was an uninspiring showing last time around, with two of the four new releases falling in range - though I admittedly had significant head starts on their reviews. First, I mentioned how Blockers (Predicted: 87% Actual: 83%) would never have been anywhere close had there not been a bunch of reviews already counted at the time of the post. I just wouldn't have anticipated a comedy like this scoring so well with critics considering just how silly it looked. But director Kay Cannon had folks laughing, and that's worth a lot.
Meanwhile, A Quiet Place (Predicted: 99% Actual: 97%) will end up as one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, and had a great opening weekend at the box office to boot. John Krasinski's flick could be back around come awards' season with critics just loving the new take on horror and family.
Chappaquiddick (Predicted: 65% Actual: 79%) ended up out of range, as I thought the score would drop much more over the course of the week. That wasn't the case, as its score actually improved with more reviews being written. The look back at Ted Kennedy's controversial accident that killed a young woman had critics praising the performances, and many wrote that it paints the issues with the appropriate brushes.
And finally, The Miracle Season (Predicted: 49% Actual: 36%) was just a little worse than I thought it would be. I suspected the finish to come closer to the middle considering the subject matter and the general "feel good" nature of the story. But the script and performances weren't enough to keep it even as an adequate film. Critics thought it was just too bland and corny.