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Following a week with Dwayne Johnson jumping off of exploding buildings and monsters on cruise ships, things calm down a bit this time around on the scale side of things - but there's still plenty to dive into. We have Denzel Washington helping getting vengeance, ABBA songs galore, and a trip to the seedier parts of the internet. Get ready for The Equalizer 2, _Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again _and _Unfriended: Dark Web_.
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.
In the first Equalizer (60%), Denzel Washington played a guy with a set of skills perfect for the revenge-type action film we've come to know and love - because they come out multiple times a year). It went over fine with critics, and to his credit, Washington's intensity works really well for this genre. Now he's back at it in the sequel, The Equalizer 2, which follows nice-guy vigilante Robert McCall as he protects the innocent and lays waste to neighborhood ruffians. It looks like a lot of fun.
Antoine Fuqua is back at the helm for the sequel after directing the first installment. His career really started (relatively speaking) working with Denzel Washington in Training Day (75%). He's had an interesting career that's seen him take on a number of different types of stories. Sure, there is Shooter (47%) and Olympus Has Fallen (48%) as examples of action-heavy fare, but then there's the boxing drama Southpaw (59%) and the western remake The Magnificent Seven (65%). I think The Equalizer falls in the range of those latter films, and its predecessor. It looks like your standard action flick that likely gets a boost because the star is so damn good.
Here we go again, indeed. After Mamma Mia (54%) scooped up $616 million at the box office a few years ago, it was only a matter of time before we got a sing-along sequel. And if you thought they might have run out of viable ABBA songs to fill the score, you're incorrect, as the soundtrack is once again filled with notable tracks. Mama Mia: Here We Go Again! skips back and forth between the events that led to Donna (Meryl Streep) having Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), and how the latter's life if playing out in the present. Mostly it just looks like a reason for them to don bell-bottoms half the time and burst out into song whenever the mood strikes.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! is director Ol Parker's first major release after helming some smaller films Imagine Me & You (33%) and Now is Good (58%). He also helped pen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Considering the first Mamma Mia! barely scraped by with a passable Tomatometer score, I can't imagine this one fares much better. It may do well at the box office, but from a critical perspective, I'm imagining it's a lot more of the same with diminishing returns.
The original Unfriended offered a modern take on the horror genre with the movie existing 100% in the space of online communication and on a collection of computer and phone screens. It's sort of a real-time found footage-style film, using the worlds of Skype, Facebook, Instagram, and Google etc to tell the story of online bullying as the premeditation for all-out gore and suspense. Now, we get the sequel, Unfriended: Dark Web, in which a group of friends log on to play a game, with one of the ensemble using a computer he found in a coffee shop. On it is an entrance to the dark web, and so begins another "pick'em off one-by-one" horror flick. Don't log off friends, or else you'll get iced.
Blumhouse Productions keeps churning out the scares. In 2018 alone they've had Insidious: The Last Key (32%), Truth or Dare (14%), and The First Purge (54%) as wide releases. The critical reception has been hit or miss, and Unfriended: Dark Web looks like it will finish better than average. The first in the series, Unfriended (63%) did fine enough and the new one is sitting at 64% with 11 reviews posted. I expect it to fall a bit over the course of the week, but not below the 50% mark.
It was a very strong week for the Rotten Watch last time around, with both of the movies in wide release falling with range of my predictions. Skyscraper (Predicted: 52% Actual: 51%) missed by just a single percentage point, basically splitting critics right down the middle. I suspected this would be the case because it seemed to check every box for your big-budget, low brains, summer popcorn movie. There's a place the cinematic universe for these fun films and that's why I expected this reaction. Some saw it for what it was, an action-laden blow-up fest, while others couldn't get on board. Either way, the prediction was just about on the money.
The other release, Hotel Transylvania: Summer Vacation (Predicted: 68% Actual: 62%) finished only a few percentage points off as well. Amazingly, this is now the best-rated movie of the franchise. The original came in at 44%, and Hotel Transylvania 2 sits at 55%. It's uncommon to see a franchise gain critical steam as it goes on, but then again we'll be discussing another series just like that in our next installment!