Thursday, April 29, 2010

Futures Market 2010, Part 1

We've few traditions in The Middle Room, but trying to foretell the future has become one.  Every year, we consider the upcoming releases and try to predict, based on trailers and word of mouth, which will be worthy of our money.  As always, our gauge shall be Rotten Tomatoes, the most scientific appraisal available for critical reaction.

In the interest of fair play, we promise to make use of no time travel devices or divination in our attempts.

Here then, are the films for May:

Iron Man 2
(May 7)
Estimated Tomatometer: 90%
The first installment achieved a 93%.  While we expect the sequel to be, if anything, slightly better than the original, we suspect a small number of critics who embraced Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance the first time to betray the series, complaining that they've seen it before.  Regardless what the critics think, we expect we'll see this movie.

However, based on the trailers, we anticipate those of us who are connoisseurs of geek entertainment will be very pleased with this picture.  It is hard to watch previews without thinking of Spider-Man 2, which managed to exceed the first.

Robin Hood (May 14)
Estimated Tomatometer: 75%
In his prime, Ridley Scott directed some of our favorite films.  However, most of those came out in the seventies and eighties.  In truth, we've been less than thrilled with his post-Blade Runner work.  Our hope for Robin Hood is not bolstered by the casting of Russell Crowe.  It's not that we consider Crowe a bad actor, rather that we find him a good actor who usually stars in bad films.  We believe Gladiator, the film Robin Hood most resembles, to be one of the most overrated movies we've ever seen.

The situation is not helped by the fact this is both an origin story and an attempt at realism.  Robin Hood is a figure of myth, not history.  Tell the myth within it's historical context, by all means, but please, tell the myth.  We've had enough "realistic" interpretations of Robin Hood and King Arthur.

Nonetheless, we will likely give this a chance, if for no other reason than Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea was cast as Alan A'Dayle.  Even so, we have more faith critics will respond favorably to this than we will.  Only if critical response is overwhelmingly negative would we rethink our plans.

MacGruber (May 21)
Estimated Tomatometer: 50%
Truth be told, we find extremely unlikely that we'll see this movie.  We've included it on our list because it is, on some level, an 80's action pastiche.  In a summer that will see the release of the A-Team and The Expendables, a clear theme is developing.  Unless we hear very positive recommendations, we'll likely save our money rather than go see a Saturday Night Live spin-off.

Shrek Forever After (May 21)
Estimated Tomatometer: 65%
The original Shrek was a mediocre film, a flawed comedy with enough good moments to make it worth a viewing.  We consider its status as a classic undeserved.  Its sequel was a bit better.  Still far from brilliant, it was at least a solid comedy/adventure.  We never saw the third, but by all indications, there's little reason to do so.

It's difficult to speculate whether the fourth will be at all worthwhile.  Our guess is that it won't be, but then our faith in Dreamworks' animation is less than high.  If, say, ninety percent of critics praise this, we'll likely check it out.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (May 28)
Estimated Tomatometer: 60%
While we have little time for most video games, the one this movie is based on happens to be an exception.  We have, in fact, played through Prince of Persia, and found it an enjoyable experience.  Judging by the trailers, the filmmakers seem to have gone with a campy interpretation, a decision we're not too thrilled by.  This is clearly an attempt to recreate the success of Pirates of the Caribbean, and we will sing their praises if they succeed.  If they falter, however, they will have squandered a great opportunity.  Sands of Time is one the rare video games whose premise includes real potential to be taken seriously.

Micmacs (May 28)
Estimated Tomatometer: NA (Current: 79%)
We've yet to decide whether to see Jean-Pierre Jeunet's new film.  While Amelie is one of our favorite foreign films, it cannot be overlooked that Jeunet did, in fact, direct Alien: Resurrection.  While it's yet to be released in the United States, Micmacs came out in France last year, so a number of critics have chimed in.  Whether its score rises or lowers is of little interest to us: in truth, whether we see this in the theater or on DVD has more to do with where it ends up playing than anything else.

Next time, we shall delve further into the summer, gazing into the eye of that enigmatic month known as "June." We may also consider some of July, as time permits.

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