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Getting a late start this week, but believe me it’s worth the wait. Well at least one of the movies is worth it. The other two? Not so much. This week Ender plays his game, old dudes go to Vegas and birds go free.
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.
A few year’s ago I read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and loved it. It was like Harry Potter, if the scarred-one was a military and strategic genius rather than a dopey kid who lucked his way into Hogwarts’ history (I kid, I kid). Scott Card created a character in Ender Wiggin much different than the standard child hero. First of all, the book retains elements of violence, especially on the part of the titular hero, not often seen with a child protagonist. Like the Harry Potter novels, Ender’s Game offers up the power of friendship and family as the constants by which we can ground ourselves in no matter the situation. But Scott Card also posited a world in which our children aren’t reluctantly thrust into situations of power but rather asked (begged really) by adults to lead humanity. As a bonus, though written in the eighties, it had some predictive power over the nature of our technological advances (the kids basically use iPads while training, there’s the internet as a global uniter). Like I said, I loved it.
And it’s taken absolutely forever for this thing to become a movie. That may have been for the best, as many of the technological advances in our real world have finally caught up with Scott Card’s ideas (though we haven’t faced global annihilation from an alien species...yet). With Asa Butterfield (Hugo-94%) as the reluctant leader, and ways to visually imagine (on screen) the intergalactic world in which Ender is thrust, we probably had to reach a point of consciousness in which our children are able to commit acts of egregious macro and micro violence on screen (thanks Hunger Games) without getting too prude about it. Because Ender is no saint, believe me.
Directed by Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine-38%, Rendition-47%), Ender’s Game is already receiving positive marks from critics. Though they are far from blown away by the movie, and most agree it misses a few chances at greatness, the collective body likes what they see. Sitting at 71% through almost twenty reviews (the earliest tending to be the kindest) I see this sitting above the halfway mark but maybe not by much. It took a while, but hopefully it’s worth the wait. The Rotten Watch for Ender’s Game is
Ah Las Vegas, where storied and successful acting careers go to die. Hey, what happens there, stays there right? Hopefully that’s the case with this flick, because it looks pretty meh. Why any of these guys thought this storyline was a good idea is beyond me. Maybe they owed John Turteltaub a favor? Or more likely, Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline all got drunk at Nobu one night, and talked themselves into a coming-of-old-age comedy as an excuse to hang out in Sin City together for an extended shoot.
However it came about, this a group sporting a combined fourteen Academy Award nominations and five wins. They’ve played Gordon Gekko, Travis Bickle, Vito Corleone, Red, Joe Clark, and President Dave Kovic (hey, some roles are meatier than others). They’ve covered the pantheon of Hollywood greatness, and at one time or another been considered some of the best in the industry. Now they are playing Billy, Paddy, Sam and Archie, four soon-to-be geriatrics off to Vegas to crack old people jokes (presumably involving Viagra/ needing sleep) and work on redefining the bounds of their long-running friendships.
Granted it might not be all awful. From the trailer, it looks like the flick has its moments. Though, even from the two minute snippet, there’s an over reliance on the circumstances that go along with becoming old. Most of it looks straight out of the senior citizen-cliche playbook. There was probably a chance to put together a winning comedy with the talent here, but I sincerely doubt it happened.
Turteltaub directs and his recent resume of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (41%), National Treasure (45%) and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (35%) does little to inspire any real confidence, and probably dictates a safe range for his latest. It’ll fall into that "not dreadful but far from good" area like his other work. And maybe these dudes do a sequel that has them sneaking out of the old folk’s home and heading back to the Vegas strip. The Rotten Watch for Last Vegas is
There’s something to be said for the themes set forth in this movie. An animal navigating the pitfalls of time travel in order to better their personal situation while influencing the cultural "value" of their particular species. Of course, not realizing the economic principle that implies if no one wants turkeys, there is less motivation to produce more turkeys. So effectively, by time traveling to "save turkeys from the dinner table" he’s possibly endangering his brothers and sisters in feathers. This is all while considering the national implications of taking the very symbol of "thanks" and creating a new cultural norm. So yeah, it’s this is one f#$%ing deep and philosophical animated buddy comedy about time-traveling turkeys. (Literal turkeys, not Ted "Theodore" Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq or anyone like that) Having exhausted the animated potential behind all major holidays, was there really anywhere for a studio (especially a relatively new one) to turn other than Thanksgiving? Everything else is covered. So Reel FX Creative Studios, gets into the big screen game after having pumped out a bunch of television work, direct-to-video flicks and Cirque du Soliel: Worlds Away (47%) with a story about ruining my favorite day of the year.
Directed by Jimmy Hayward has helmed the good (Horton Hears a Who-79%) and the comically bad (Jonah Hex-12%) so it’s hard to know how to gauge his newest. The trailer had a "smile" moments and a bit of comedic timing. But again, it’s about time traveling turkeys, so who knows. I’ll hedge a bit and hope for the best. There are simply too many implications in this movie to know exactly how to go. The Rotten Watch for Free Birds is
Which Rotten movie will have the highest final Tomatometer score?
Recapping last week:
Man, I completely reversed these predictions. Starting with the The Counselor (Predicted: 72% Actual: 35%), I was well off here as the whole thing appears quite the mess. Sean was nonplussed with his two and a half stars out of five. That might have been generous, as there are some out there who thought a great deal less of the production. Disappointing to say the least, especially considering the talent involved. And it wasted Javier Bardem’s killer 'do. A mess all around.
Meanwhile Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Predicted: 39% Actual: 63%) was another miss. If anything, I thought I might have gone too high as I felt the ceiling was awfully low with a basement of under 10% a complete possibility. Nope, critics like Kristy enjoyed it. While she didn’t think it was near perfect, the film had enough substance and comedy to trend positive. Not a great week for the Rotten Watch.
Next time around Thor enters a dark world. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!