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We are now a week into October, a month known for launching awards-hungry titles, auteur projects, and horror movies, and this week we have all three. We take a walk on the moon, visit a motel that isn't what it seems, and dive back into the world of R.L. Stine books. Get ready for First Man, Bad Times At The El Royale and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.
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 pretty crazy that about 50 years after the moon landing First Man is the first big-budget Hollywood film made about what is arguably the most iconic and historical event of the 20th century. Here we get Ryan Gosling portraying Neil Armstrong in the lead up and execution of the Apollo 11 space mission. It details the stress, unknowns and danger involved with the first mission to have a man walk on the moon, and also has the backdrop of how it played within the Armstrong family. It's easy to think about this mission as a breezy, easy success now, but at the time it seemed impossible.
Damien Chazelle directs after working with Gosling on La La Land 91%) , which was his second Best Picture nominated feature after his directorial debut, Whiplash (94%). His latest is garnering a fair amount of critical acclaim following festival premieres with the Tomatometer sitting at 89% with close to 80 reviews counted. Writers seem ti agree both the story and the lead carry the film, and I doubt we see the score drop all that much over the course of the week. It looks like a sure-fire winner.
Bad Times At The El Royale has all the makings of one of those "things aren't what they seem" films, where every character has ulterior motives and they aren't fully revealed until the last possible moment. The production looks slick, and with names like Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, and Cynthia Erivo it's ensemble is dynamic. In this one, we see seven strangers show up at a Lake Tahoe hotel with secrets and agendas all their own. What appears to go down is a bunch of who-dunnit narratives that converge as the flick barrels to its end.
Director Drew Goddard has plenty of critical success on his resume, helming The Cabin In The Woods (91%) and writing the Academy Award-nominated script for The Martian (91%). Early reviews on this one are very positive, with the Tomatometer at 79% with almost 40 reviews posted. We might see it drop a little over the course of the week, but not much.
The beloved Goosebumps books very much got the movie they deserved a couple years ago when the decision was made to go full meta and tell a story with Jack Black at its center playing author R.L. Stine - caught up in a bit of madness caused by all his creations coming to life. It was a post-modern approach that worked (resulting in a 77% Rotten Tomatoes score), and in the sequel they seem to continue the same approach, this time focusing on a Halloween story in Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. The big difference this time seems to be that Jack Black isn't back as Stine, and we have a whole new group of characters to follow.
Still, Goosebumps 2 seems to have the feel of the original Jumanji (same studio!) where terrifying and sometimes fictional things come to life to terrorize a town. It looks cute enough, but I can't imagine it finishes as high as the original. Director Ari Sandel has When We First Met (38%) and The DUFF (71%) under his belt so far. I think this one splits the difference on those two and doesn't quite get the fresh rating. It may wind up surprising, but I don't have much confidence in the critical reaction, particularly given the fact that the review embargo hasn't lifted yet.
We went 2-2 on the predictions from last week with the real win coming from going low on Venom (Predicted: 32% Actual: 31%). This movie looked like a true disaster from the trailers, and it didn't help that the first reactions didn't start to trickle in until just a few days before release. CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell summed it up rather well in his review with, "...the movie gets a metaphorical flat tire, and wrecks itself on the Hollywood superhero highway." It's a shame, because it is easily the worst reviewed of all the comic book movies we've seen so far in 2018, including Black Panther (97%), Avengers: Infinity War (84%), Deadpool 2 (82%), Ant-Man And The Wasp (88%) and Teen Titans Go! To The Movies (90%). We only have one of these blockbusters left in 2018 - James Wan's Aquaman - and we're sincerely hoping it does a lot better than Sony's Spider-Man-Without-Spider-Man movie.
Meanwhile, I had a head start on A Star is Born (Predicted: 95% Actual: 91%) so it's tough to take too much credit on this prediction considering over 100 reviews were already in before the article was posted. It did drop some over the course of the week (about three percent), but that will do nothing to get in the way of its potential Oscar chances. There are still a lot of movies left to come out in 2018, many of them not premiering at the big film festivals, but right now the movie looks right on target to get at least at a Best Picture nomination. And if the opinion found in the various write-ups is any indication, it sounds like there is a good chance that both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will be up for prizes in the performance categories as well.
Next time around we will only have one new movie going into wide release, but considering it's David Gordon Green's Halloween, there's enough excitement going around for three movies. It's gonna be a Rotten Week!