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This week we have a couple of sequels that are targeting very different audiences. An evil queen is back for another dose of fairy tale adventures, and there’s a crew of zombie hunters still fighting for survival. Get ready for Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil and Zombieland: Double Tap.
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.
This has been a huge year for remakes of classic Disney properties, and now following in the footsteps of Dumbo, Aladdin, and Lion King, this week we are seeing the return of one of the brand's great evil villains. 2014’s Maleficent (53%) retold the story of the antagonist in the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale with a twist, focusing on Angelina Jolie bringing the creepy, and it fared really well at the box office ($750 million total) even though critics thought it pretty meh. Because money talks, however, we are now getting Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
This sequel is helmed by Joachim Ronning, who previously co-directed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (30%) as well as the Marco Polo television series on Netflix. This latest looks like an uninspiring follow up to an uninspiring original. The cast is strong, and I suppose it’s riding high on the money made from the original, but I can’t imagine it scores all that well considering the lack of critical success the first one had, and really no additional intrigue added here.
When we last left the funniest group of apocalypse survivors around in the first Zombieland, Columbus, Tallahassee, Little Rock and Wichita had hung out with Bill Murray (only to kill him) and then escaped a group of zombies in an amusement park standoff. The film (90%) was an excellent adventure, both hilarious and oddly heartwarming, and it brought a fresh take on a somewhat saturated genre. Now, 10 years later, the group is back.
In Zombieland: Double Tap, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin are all back making their way across America again, and meeting up with all the other survivors out there in what looks to be a humorous film... though perhaps without the surprises and originality of the first. This one looks like a similar story but loaded with cameos that could possibly take the place of a solid script. I’m a little skeptical about this one following up the first’s critical success. Director Ruben Fleischer is back, though, it should be said that the first Zombieland is the only “fresh” movie on his resume. His others include 30 Minutes or Less (44%), Gangster Squad (32%) and Venom (29%). That’s an rough run and I think this latest falls in line with those films. It will have an audience, but critics won't think much of it.
There were three movies out in wide release last week, and I came within 10% for two of them, with the third missing by a lousy single percentage point. I’ll take this a winning week for sure, though. Starting with the miss, Gemini Man (Predicted: 37% Actual: 26%) continued Will Smith’s subpar run of movies over the last decade or so. It’s really something, but this guy has had exactly one “fresh” film in the last twelve years. That’s a brutal stretch for such a huge name, and at this point I just want the bleeding to stop. He’s too good of an actor to continually running out there in lesser films. I don’t know if it’s bad luck, bad choices or both, but since Hancock (41%) it’s kind of all been downhill.
Meanwhile, The Addams Family (Predicted: 35% Actual: 44%) just scraped within ten percent as well. One could see from the trailer that the story looked stale and predictable with a bunch of canned jokes and possibly a lazy script. That ended up being in line with the critical response.
And finally, Jexi (Predicted: 20% Actual: 15%) was a disaster that wasn’t tough to see coming. The trailer looked like an absolute mess with nary a single laugh to be found in what should have been some of the film’s highlights. I suppose there’s a funny premise in there somewhere, but they really missed the mark with this film. I felt very confident with this prediction.