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Coming off a strong week, three for three, we’ve got a full docket this time around. G.I. Joe under attack, Stephenie Meyer getting out of vampires and into aliens, Tyler Perry with another “movie” and Gosling heading out beyond the pines.
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 what This Rotten Week has to offer.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Venture into my parent’s dusty attic, wander to the back corner, open the large cardboard box and you’ll find a treasure trove of heroes. Dudes like Leatherneck, Roadblock, Bazooka, Gung-Ho, Dusty, and Crazylegs. You’ll also find those sons of bitches Storm Shadow, Serpentor, Zartan and Zandar. Hell there’s even a B.A.T. or two. In fact, I’m heading to the ‘rents for Easter. Good chance I break the whole gang out and relive the glory days, making sure the good guys upset Cobra’s plan to take over the world (on the living room floor).
So I was of course pumped for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (34%) and then immediately disappointed because it, you know, stunk. Granted, my expectations weren’t set on any kind of cinematic art, but still ratcheted up because, hell, it was the Joe’s. But the whole thing came off as a farce, almost more of a hokey cartoon than the Saturday morning fare I vegged out on back in the day.
I’m considering this second installment a reset. Strictly from the surface level, this latest feels more aligned with G.I. Joe universe (assuming such a thing exists). While also coming off more as an actual action movie rather than a means to a Hasbro end, or excuse to get a movie out there on the big screen with few other considerations. Hell, The Rock and Bruce Willis are in this one, that has to mean something right?
Directed by Jon Chu (Justin Bieber: Never Say Never-64%, Step Up 2 The Streets-27%, and not to be confused with John Woo which I did for half a second), this movie just looks like more the real thing. And early reviews are generally positive without going gaga. After all, at its core it is still a silly action movie. But that’s fine. G.I. Joes are silly action figures. I just wanted someone to do them an iota of justice. Mostly for my inner child. The Rotten Watch for G.I. Joe: Retaliation is
A quick personal history with the book The Host:
I thought the cover looked intriguing.
I had no idea it was written by the same author who wrote the Twilight series, even though it said it right on the aforementioned cover.
The first two-thirds or so was fairly gripping, an interesting take on an the alien-invasion theme.
It got increasingly schmaltzy and sappy, devolving into a Nicholas Sparks (or Stephenie Meyer book)
I stopped reading it about fifty pages from the end because it was horrible and I wanted every character to die.
Now its a movie. Awesome.
I held out a sliver of hope the film makers would turn this into something watchable, but alas, its looks like a lot of “Melanie, I love you!” and “Jared I love you so much, let’s make sure we kiss in the rain!” and “I love you but I can’t love you, but still, I love you, let’s be in love!” You get the point. In other words, it’s the Twilight novels with aliens.
Directed by Andrew Niccol (In Time-36%, Lord of War-61%), The Host appears the kind of film that has redeemable qualities (aspects of the premise, some neat action scenes, a special effect or two), but never gets out of its own way and lets a compromised story dictate a shaky path toward whatever cheesy thing happens in the end (again, I couldn’t finish the book). The Rotten Watch for The Host is
Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
At what point do we just assume Tyler Perry is punking/trolling all of us? When does he come out and say, “For the last decade or so I’ve been just trying to push the envelope further and further to see how terrible a flick I can get financed and into theaters.” There’s really no other explanation, and for his latest he’s pulled out all the stops. Now I’m just waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out.
I don’t have unlimited space here so we’ll need to hit the major beats pretty quickly. It has “Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” in the title. No, it’s not a rom-com, but a drama-thriller. And though “marriage counselor” figures prominently in the title, I see no real explanation for why that is central to the rest of the movie. Yes, the main character appears to be a marriage counselor (Right? It was hard to tell), but her client comes in alone. And who is she confessing to? He makes the antagonist/love interest a social media mogul probably because he wanted it to be symbolic of something, but it just sounds so contrived. And finally, he doubles everything down by casting Kim Kardashian and tasking her with acting. Bravo Tyler, bravo.
We’re all well-acquainted with Perry’s resume. He’s directed Piece of Garbage (32%), Unwatchable [email protected]#$storm (21%), Hack Writing Job (12%), How Did this Get Made (26%). Perry has two kinds of movies: Bad and Really Awful. About four years ago he fell ass backwards into “Meh” with I Can Do Bad All By Myself (62%), but that’s an outlier. Tyler Perry continues to have the last laugh. And don’t worry he’s got two more flicks in the pipeline after this one. The big joke continues. The Rotten Watch for Tyler Perry's Temptation is
The Place Beyond the Pines
So Ryan Gosling is a good actor. That isn’t exactly news. Ryan Gosling is also really good at picking movies. This is somewhat more important than being a good actor. One thing I’ve noticed from writing this column the last few years is actors and actresses rarely play a big part in the overall predictive measure of a movie. That is to say, even the “best” actors get involved in bad flicks. The general measure of a movie is the script and the direction, which means good acting can only go so far. (Consider a singer with a phenomenal voice who also sucks at writing lyrics and chooses a terrible backing band. The ceiling is fairly low, though the floor is pretty high.)
Let’s take a look at some of the “best” actors of the last decade. For this exercise I came up with a quick list of names, asked Katey Rich her expert opinion, and went through movies back to 2004 that gave the actor a prominent or starring role. Let’s look at the numbers (number of movies in parentheses, sorted by median high-to-low):
Christian Bale (12) Mean 75%, Median 81%
Ryan Gosling (10) Mean 70% Median 80%
Brad Pitt (12) Mean 73%, Median 75%
George Clooney (13) Mean 71% Median 72%
Matt Damon (16) Mean 68%, Median 71%
Leonardo DiCaprio (9) Mean 65%, Median 68%
Joaquin Phoenix (9) Mean 54% Median 57%
Daniel Day-Lewis (5) Mean 59%, Median 46%
That means, if The Place Beyond the Pines can stick above 82%, Ryan Gosling could be considered, by this metric, the most critically acclaimed actor of the last decade. (I tend to think median is the best score here, as it tends to negate the highest of highs and the lowest of lows giving a truer sense of the actor’s body of work, though I’m no economist.)
So I’m rooting for Derek Cianfrance’s (Blue Valentine-88%) movie to score well with critics. I find myself cheering for Gosling and not just because Mrs. Rotten Week inexplicably has this book on our living room shelf. I like actors who make good choices, and by early accounts his latest is another win. Critics, by and large, are loving the flick’s tone, style, direction and drama. Another win for Gosling. The Rotten Watch for The Place Beyond the Pines is
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping last week:
Wow. Hit the trifecta. First, Olympus Has Fallen (Predicted: 49% Actual: 51%) had me a little concerned right after making the prediction. I watched the trailer again and thought finishing down the middle with critics could prove a tall order. Especially considering Gerard Butler’s track record. But he stunned the world. It wasn’t an epic critical failure. Congrats Gerry.
Meanwhile, Admission (Predicted: 51% Actual: 44%) disappointed relative to its comedic star power. Saw this one coming as some early reviews weren’t head over heels. Another week, another underwhelming comedy from seasoned veterans. Where’s the funny?
And finally, The Croods (Predicted: 74% Actual: 64%) just snuck in under the mark. Getting a handle on the animated stuff ain’t easy. It’s been a weak point for the Rotten Watch so here’s to hoping this score stays within range.
Next time around Evil Dead is back. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!