Half Year Movie Roundup

In January I wrote a preview of what movies were coming in 2011, with a genre slant.  Quite what genre means is open to debate, but probably translates to ‘stuff that I think I might enjoy’.  We’re about to saunter into July so I thought I’d look back, see how we fared in the first six months and then in a later post, look at what the rest of the year has in store for us and how it’s changed from the January outlook.  Caveat: I have seen very few of these movies, and I’m basing these comments on reviews, reports, financial statements and stuff that I read elsewhere.

To be fair, although we’re half way through the year it’s likely that more movies will be released in the second half than than the first, so this might turn into an awfully short article.  So in no particular order (or rather, in the same order they showed up in the original post).

Sucker Punch – Miss

The critics hated it and the fans were pretty disinterested.  Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rotten 22% (fan rating 53%) while Metacritic gives it 33%.  In the US it only managed second place to Diary of a Wimpy Kid in its opening weekend (~$19m).  It’s grossed around $89m against an estimated $81m budget so with DVD/Blu-ray sales it will make a profit (that was probably never in doubt).  Much of the negative criticism revolved around the lack of characters and plot along with the misogynistic imagery.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – Hit

Critic proof and proving it.  Much of the critical response was highly negative – flabby, too long, lacklustre, and yet the fans flocked to it and drove it to a $90m opening weekend in America and £11.6m in the UK.  Worldwide it’s now taken $986m, putting it ahead of The Curse of the Black Pearl ($654m) and At World’s End ($963m).  RT (Rotten Tomatoes) gave it a rotten 33% (fans rated it 63%) and Metacritic 45%.  Despite being too long it looks like Johnny Depp saved this outing, and until he signs on to #5 we might still be saved from yet more buck swashling and rum jokes.

Fast Five – Hit

A clear surprise, Fast Five had the potential to be the worst sequel to date of any franchise but somehow it managed to dig deep and give audiences something worth getting behind.  Even the critics liked it with an (essentially) unbelievable fresh 78% on RT, 67% at Metacritic and an opening weekend in the US of $86m.  It’s now grossed over $590m worldwide, making it the most successful of the franchise to date by a significant margin.  Bucking the trend in the industry, Fast Five shows you can make a movie part of a franchise and still pull in people and give them something to enjoy.

Thor – Hit

I’ll be honest – I was dubious.  Doubtful.  Maybe even negative.  I was also dead wrong.  Delivering an entertaining and eye blisteringly impressive movie, Thor was proof that you can deliver dramatic action while dressed like a dork.  RT loved it (78% fresh), Metacritic thought it wasn’t bad (58%) and critical reception was generally positive.  Despite opening very early in the year Thor pulled in respectable box office cash ($64m opening weekend in the US, $436m to date worldwide against a budget of $150m estimated).  Get a quality director and a half decent script, and even super heroes can be believable.

The Green Hornet – Miss

It opened strongly ($33m in the US) and it’s easily covered its budget with a worldwide gross of $227m, but The Green Hornet is average at best.  Even the RT critics and RT fans agree giving it a rotten 44% and fan score of 49%.  The score seems to boil down to the movie not knowing what it was meant to be and falling squarely between serious and slapstick giving that terrible serious-stick kind of performance that makes us all cringe.

Drive Angry – Miss

Having made about $28m worldwide, I think we can safely say this movie flopped.  Although flopped suggests that it was alive with a chance in the first place, where-as we know better.  This fish was dead in the water at inception.  It garnered a surprising 45% on RT which I put down to excessive drug use to be frank, Metacritic gives it 44% based clearly on equally absurd chemically induced insanity.  Fans on RT were more sensible giving it only 40%.  If you need any more evidence, it opened with a $5m box office weekend in the US, dismal.

Hanna – Hit

I thought maybe the world wouldn’t quite be ready for 2 kick-ass kids so close together.  But apparently, they were.  Hanna did okay, not brilliantly, but definitely okay.  RT rated it fresh (71%), it opened in the US to a $12m weekend and has grossed $56m worldwide against what is probably quite a small budget (estimated $30m).  Although on average the movie scores well, it certainly wasn’t universally loved and many critics complained it was vacant, meaningless and without soul.  Since many critics are vacant, meaningless and without soul I’ll consider us even on that point.

The Hangover Part II – Hit

Fair to say the critics disliked it (RT 35%) but the fans came out, supported it and for the most part enjoyed it (RT Fans 62%).  The critics disliked that it was the first movie all over again while the fans seemed to be happy to accept exactly that.  Opened to another whopping $85m in the US (£10m in the UK), and has so far sucked in over $527m globally.  Undeniably financially sound, but not necessarily a winning movie.

Your Highness – Miss

I had high hopes but apparently, too high.  Looks like the puerile humour didn’t hold up in this gross out fantasy comedy.  With the notable exception of The Princess Bride, fantasy comedy never works – don’t they know that!  Murdered more thoroughly than a Dragon at a Knights and Wizards convention, Your Highness dredged up a terrible 26% at RT, with even the usually lenient fan reviews only getting up to 45%.  I’m sure it has moments of hilarity but the critics weren’t falling for it.  Opened to a semi respectable $9m in the US, but has grossed only $24m worldwide to date.  A royal flop.  Not even shots of Natalie Portman’s naked arse could save this script.

Limitless – Hit

Proving Bradley Cooper is hot property, Limitless did well enough with the critics and very well with the punters.  On a reasonably low key release it pulled in $18m in the US on it’s opening weekend and has grossed $145m to date.  RT gives is an impressive 70% (fans 74%) and Metacritic 59%.  In general it seems Bradley manages to smooth over some of the weaker elements of the script to give this franchise-free action-thriller a good run for your money.

X-Men: First Class – Hit

Another surprise in the first half of the year for me – X-Men: First Class had so much potential to fall flat on its face that it could have been known as the ‘flat on its face movie’.  Okay, that didn’t sound as smooth as I thought it might.  Despite the fears, the script (by the excellent Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz), the choice of time period and stand-out performances from McAvoy and Fassbender seem to have wowed crowds and critics alike.  RT gives it 87%, Metacritic 65% and it pulled in an impressive $55m on it’s US opening weekend (already up to $321m worldwide).

Paul – Hit

Well, I loved it.  Although it wasn’t trumpeted as an outstanding success, Paul is sucking in money, making people laugh and has more than easily covered it’s budget.  Despite some negative reviews, the overall RT score of 71% is solid, while the Metacritic score of 57% seems harsh.  In the US it only opened to $13m, ranking 5th that weekend (against Sucker Punch and Diary of a Wimpy Kid), but in the UK it pulled in a respectable £5.5m (~$8.9m).  Globally it’s now done okay at $94m, easily covering the estimated budget.  It’s a sleeper of a movie, and I’m hopeful DVD/Blu-ray sales will do it proud.

Green Lantern – Miss

I don’t think Rotten Tomatoes alone is a good measure of a film.  The rotten/fresh scores are sometimes out of kilter with the movie going public, and critic proof blockbusters can easily get 20% on RT and still make a billion dollars.  What I do think is an interesting measure is when the critics hate something (27% on RT in this case) and the fans don’t mind it so much (56% fan score on RT).  Despite that, I’m still rating Green Lantern as an overall miss.  That’s even with a friend saying she really enjoyed it – she was pretty much hypnotised by Ryan Reynolds’ ass, and so I’m discounting her view.  It’s early days, but Green Lantern opened to a decent $53m and has grossed $122m worldwide.  Why then a miss?  Because it could and should have been more.  It should be scoring like X-Men: First Class on RT, it should be raking in $80m on the opening weekend, and it should have grossed $300m worldwide by now.

I Am Number Four – Hit

Haven’t heard much about this, so basing this commentary solely on the numbers.  Disliked by critics but reasonably enjoyed by the target audience, I Am Number Four made a wedge of cash ($19m opening weekend, $144 globally) and probably kick started a franchise.

Red Riding Hood – Miss

At 11% on RT and 29% on Metacritic, Red Riding Hood is the worst performing movie out of the bunch this year.  It’s empty, vacant, banal and a failure according to the critics.  The potential fans weren’t wowed either with a 44% fan score on RT.  Financially it didn’t do too badly, a half decent opening weekend of $14m in the States and $89m worldwide so far mean it’s paid for itself, but I think it would be disingenuous to describe it as anything other than a miss.

Battle: Los Angeles – Miss

Title confusions aside (was it ever called World Invasion: Battle LA?), it appears as though Battle: Los Angeles was a missed opportunity.  Rotten at RT (35%) and equally weak at Metacritic (37%), reviews suggest the movie could have delivered much more than it did.  On the other hand, it apparently appeals to fans of Killzone, Crysis and other similar games and may just be too narrow for a general audience to appreciate.  Opened to a good $35m, and has easily earned back the budget with $202m worldwide so it can’t be considered anything other than a critical failure but a financial success.

Source Code – Hit

A half decent year for original thrillers with a near-future theme, Source Code impressed the critics and entertained people who actually pay for their tickets.  An out of this world 91% at RT puts this near the top of this years genre movies to date, and with fans agreeing (82% on RT) and the box office backing it up ($14m opening weekend, $112m worldwide vs. a low $32m budget).

Unknown – Hit

Although it just barely scrapes in, Unknown was probably a hit.  Average scores on RT and Metacritic, and an okay performance in the box office mean we probably won’t see a sequel (Also Unknown, Mostly Unknown, What do I know Unknown) but it won’t offend and it might just pass the 113 minutes in a sort of enjoyable haze.  Another soft script saved by a hard Neeson performance.

Priest – Miss

The critics were never going to love it were they?  It’s not their thing.  But the studio never gave me a chance to like it either because they only opened it in 3D.  No 2D showings anywhere near me (where there any at all)?  As expected it got panned (17% on RT), and the fans didn’t like it that much better (40%).  It opened reasonably well ($14m in the US) but is only just beginning to struggle past its budget (only $75m worldwide so far).  The editing seems to be the biggest issue and the movie is very short (these days) at 87 minutes.  Many people wonder what’s on the floor and if it could have been even better with a little more work.

The Adjustment Bureau – Hit

Turning Philip K. Dick stories into movies is notoriously hit and miss, but this effort seems to have found the right audience.  Described as intelligent, romantic and imaginative, the movie scores 72% fresh at RT (although fans gave it 68%).  Considering the budget (estimated $50) the $21m opening weekend was very healthy and the worldwide gross of $123m assures us that in 15 years someone will try a remake.  Matt Damon will have been a big draw, but people must have found something enjoyable once they arrived.

Overall then, a bit of a mixed bag.  The stand out winners so far are Fast Five and X-Men: First Class.  Thor and Paul get honourable mentions, while Drive Angry and Red Riding Hood take home wooden spoons.  Seriously, did any of you think Drive Angry would be good?  Really?