What’s Seattle Saying – March 1, 2013

WhatsSeattleSayingLogoEach week, Should I See It will be looking to its left and to its right, collating the thoughts of many of the film reviewers and writers located in and around the Seattle community.

OPENING IN SEATTLE THIS WEEKEND (March 1, 2013):

    • 21 & Over
    • Jack The Giant Slayer
    • The Last Exorcism Part II
    • Phantom

See what the Seattle critics say about these films…after the cut!

 

21AndOver21 & OVER
Starring: Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, Justin Chon
Rating: R (for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs and drinking.)
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Straight-A college student Jeff Chang has always done what he was supposed to do. But when his two best friends Casey and Miller surprise him with a visit for his 21st birthday, Jeff Chang decides to do everything he wants to do for a change, even though his important medical school interview is early the next morning. What was supposed to be one beer becomes a night of humiliation, over indulgence and utter debauchery in this coming-of-drinking-age-comedy, from the writers of THE HANGOVER. – Relativity Media.

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT 21 & Over?

Check - YesErik Samdahl, FilmJabber.com
“…the breakneck pace and lighthearted story are what makes the movie work.”

With a rather unprecedented THREE new release films not screened for local critics in advance of their big theatrical release last week, Erik Samdahl becomes our lone voice on 21 & Over, the raunchy teen-comedy from the creators of The Hangover franchise. and he tilts his thumb upward on the film. Curiously, Relativity Media, who have had a pretty terrible 2013 thus far (Movie 43, Safe Haven) selectively screened the film for critics in select cities around the country. Turns out, they picked wrong as nationally, critics have tagged the film with a 30% score at Rotten Tomatoes and a MetaCritic score of 33. Proceed with caution.

JackGiantSlayerJACK THE GIANT SLAYER
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan MacGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson
Rating: PG-13 (for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language.)
Genre: Fantasy
Running Time: 114 Minutes
Director: Bryan Singer

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
“Jack the Giant Slayer” tells the story of an ancient war that is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom, its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend-and gets the chance to become a legend himself. – Warner Bros.

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT Jack The Giant Slayer?

Check - YesAdam Gehrke, Adamgehrke.com
“Basically the story of Jack and the Beanstalk with a few tweaks here and there right? Yep, and that’s okay if that’s all you’re looking for.”

X - NoBrian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio.Star 101.5 FM/Brianthemovieguy.com
“…a handsomely envisioned, neatly manufactured, anticlimactic mess.  Not awful mind you, but awfully bland…”

Check - YesSpencer Fornaciari, The MacGuffin
“…if people are actually willing to give it a chance, they will like it. It might be mindless fun, but it still is fun.”

Check - YesSara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
“…a rollicking good time sure to put a smile on the majority of the faces it plays for.

Tim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
X - No“Jack the Giant Slayer is the perfect movie for 8-10 year old boys. Anybody outside that demographic is going to wish they had a giant beanstalk so they could climb out the theater.”

X - NoBrad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
“…acceptably entertaining though not in the least a must see.”

Check - YesMoira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
“…the talented cast keeps things watchable, as do a few randomly goofy moments…and “Jack the Giant Slayer” eventually emerges as a just-good-enough diversion.”

X - NoMichael Ward, Should I See It (review forthcoming)
“Here we have a movie that I could not care less about. For all the visual effects, grand scope and expansive vision, I was yawning, struggling to stay awake, and desperately trying to care about anything happening in front of me.”

Jack The Giant Slayer divided our panel 50/50. Those who liked the film seem to do so begrudgingly and those who do not like the film, vary in their degree of dislike. Clearly, I disliked the film more than anyone, so general consensus finds most folks essentially converging around the same set of pros and cons. Nationally critics match our Seattle panel with a 53% TomatoMeter and a 50 from MetaCritic. Essentially, Jack The Giant Slayer is a flip the coin kind of movie.

LastExorcism2THE LAST EXORCISM PART II
Starring: Ashley Bell.
Rating: PG-13 (for horror violence, terror and brief language.)
Genre: Horror
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Continuing where the first film left off, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found terrified and alone in rural Louisiana. Back in the relative safety of New Orleans, Nell realizes that she can’t remember entire portions of the previous months only that she is the last surviving member of her family. Just as Nell begins the difficult process of starting a new life, the evil force that once possessed her is back with other, unimaginably horrific plans that mean her last exorcism was just the beginning. – CBS Films.


WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT The Last Exorcism Part II?

 X - NoSara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
“…wants to be the fiery conclusion to an epic tale but what it really ends up being is just another subpar horror effort wasting the time and talents of almost everyone involved.

Not screened for critics locally or nationally, The Last Exorcism Part II has a poorly chosen title and is apparently shaping up to be one of the year’s worst films. Sara, our resident horror maven, opted to see the film on her own time and found too many problems with it to give it a passing grade. Although MetaCritic assigns a higher score (38) to this film than 21 & Over, Rotten Tomatoes’ critics, who expensed the film to their bosses on Friday mornings around the country, detested the film. Only 12% of the RT panel like the film, making this film apparently a complete abomination.

PhantomPHANTOM
Starring: Ed Harris, David Duchovny
Rating: R (for violence.)
Genre: Action/Adventure
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Director: Todd Robinson

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Academy Award® nominee Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind, The Abyss), David Duchovny (“The X-Files,” “Californication”) and William Fichtner (The Dark Knight, Black Hawk Down) star in PHANTOM, a Cold War-era suspense thriller about a Soviet submarine captain, haunted by his past, who is forced to lead a covert mission that could spark a global nuclear war. Written and directed by Todd Robinson (Lonely Hearts, White Squall) and inspired by true events, PHANTOM is a riveting deep-sea adventure about extraordinary men facing impossible choices.- RCR Media Group.

WHAT DO WE THINK ABOUT Phantom?

X - NoLaremy Legel, Film.com
“Had “Phantom” had any measure of courage, it could have been an interesting take on the Cold War, on Soviet-US relations, or on the stalwart gentlemen who choose to live their life below the waterline.”

Check - YesSara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
For me, the inherent power of Harris’ performance and of the scenario itself overcomes the many of the issues that I had, and by the time it hits Blu-ray it wouldn’t take much prodding at all to get me to watch it again.

Again, two critics locally took time out of their busy Fridays to sit down before the quietly distributed Phantom. The first release from new film company RCR Media Group, Phantom was not screened for critics locally or nationally, which seems to be more a matter of lack of resources from the RCR folks as it speaks to the bad or good qualities of their product. Still, this is seemingly far too big a movie for them to tackle as they failure to market the film led it into the history books with one of the weakest wide-release openings of all time. Sara and Laremy split on the film but only about 1-in-4 critics (26%) liked the film on Rotten Tomatoes. MetaCritic scores averaged out to a 40.

FINAL CONSENSUS
Jack The Giant Slayer is the only film any significant members of the panel had the chance to review and we are seemingly split down the middle. But some editorializing if I may…

I am baffled at the increasing number of films released that have not been screened for critics in 2013. Clearly, a week where 3 of 4 big release films are not offered to critics is noteworthy. The list of films kept dark from advance critic screenings this year is as follows: Escape From Planet Earth, A Haunted House, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Parker, Dark Skies, 21 and Over, Movie 43, The Last Exorcism Part II, Top Gun 3D, and Phantom. 23 films have received a wide release in theaters so far this year and ten have been kept away. I normally do not make a big deal about this, because essentially I come off as a critic whining about missing the chance at watching a free movie. However, this speaks to a larger issue of the quality of films being put in theaters and the constant rip-and-pull between audiences wanting to know if a film is any good and the film reviewer’s inability to offer an opinion. Truthfully, I can almost complete a 10 Worst List of 2013 already and we are only into the first weekend in March.

While these restrictions will subside, for the most part during the remainder of 2013, we can add one additional film to that list – the wonderfully titled Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor, due at the end of the month. Other than Perry’s first film (as a screenwriter), Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, no Tyler Perry film, where Perry serves as writer and/or director, has ever been screened for press. Wonder why.

EXPECTED OPENINGS IN SEATTLE NEXT WEEK:

  • Dead Man Down
  • Emperor
  • Oz The Great And Powerful

What’s Seattle Saying surveyed critics include:

Adam Gehrke, AdamGehrke.com
Brian The Movie Guy, KOMO Radio/Star 101.5 FM/Brianthemovieguy.com
Robert Horton, Everett Herald
Brian Zitzelman, Examiner.com
Erik Samdahl, FilmJabber
Laremy Legel, Film.com/Rope Of Silicon
Staff Reviewers from The MacGuffin
Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
Tim Hall, The People’s Critic@SeattlePI.com
Brad Brevet, Rope Of Silicon
Staff Reviewers from The Seattle Times
Ian Dinsmore, Seattleite
Michael Ward, Should I See It