Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tomato Soup

Ah Rotten Tomatoes, what would I do without you? Rottentomatoes.com is, of course, the unfortunately named movie themed website best known for collecting movie reviews from all across the country and telling us the percentage of good reviews a movie has through what they call the Tomatometer. The Tomatometer usually makes pretty good calls as to a movie's quality and has helped me on numerous occasions where I have to make a decision as to which comic book adaptation I should go see in any given week. So, what does the Tomatometer have to say about this week's upcoming releases? Mind you, these are all from early reviews and the numbers could change dramatically in the days ahead.

Well, so far it looks like a pretty tepid holiday weekend, movie-wise. The best reviewed movie so far is Australia, a movie that in no way whatsoever rips off the Humphrey Bogart/Katherine Hepburn classic The African Queen. It's about a refined woman played by Nicole Kidman who must work together with a gruff, brash, working class loner played by Hugh Jackman, just like Hepburn and Bogart had to do in The African Queen. They end up overcoming their class restrictions and falling in love in way not at all unlike the way the folks in The African Queen did. Australia, however, takes place during World War II. The African Queen was set during World War I. So there. Right now, Australia has a rating of 58% and is receiving the very definition of "mixed reviews". I heard it was one of the most expensive movies ever made so the only way I see it being a mega-hit is if it was based on a book about vampires that has a rabid teenage girl following. At least this is an Australian movie about something other than gangs riding around a post-apocalyptic Outback looking for gasoline.

Transporter 3 is currently at 43%, not that anyone who was a fan of the other 2 will give a damn. From the ads, it looks pretty much like the other Transporter films in that it will have that cheesy, European action movie look that all cheesy, European action movies have, hence the name. One thing I love is that the director's name is Olivier Megaton. Mr. Megaton was kind enough to take a break from his plot to kill the Justice League and take over the world to direct this movie and we should all thank him for it.

Todd McCarthy of Variety
described Four Christmases this way:
[An] oddly misanthropic, occasionally amusing but thoroughly cheerless holiday attraction.

That's pretty much the way I see it. My guess is all the laughs are in the TV ads and they aren't that funny. I do have to give kudos to Vince Vaughn for daring to stretch himself as an actor by playing a shiftless, self-centered guy who mainly tries to hustle his way through life and spends most of his time mocking and being condescending to all people, places and things around him. Come Oscar time, I'm betting the Academy won't need much in the way of con-Vince-ing. Four Christmases currently stands at 22% and I don't see it going much higher.

Milk, the lovely, sensitive and dramatic story of Harvey Milk, America's first openly gay politician, has a rating of 100%. Sean Penn is being hailed as delivering some of the best work of his illustrious career and Gus Van Sant is said to have done an amazing job at capturing one of the most important chapters in the history of civil rights for homosexuals. It looks like a wonderful film that expands your worldview and elevates the human spirit itself. This, of course, means that no one will see it.

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