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Criticwatch – Warner Bros. and the Big Bad Wolf Sucker Punch

by Erik Childress

A few weeks back we observed Warner Bros. overreliance on junket whores to praise their films. Granted, their track record with The Rite, Unknown and Hall Pass has hardly been stellar this year, but surely they could mix things up a little and dig into the well of so many other critics across the country. Even if only 1-in-3 likes their movie, any critic they choose is not going to reek of the stench of stale hyperbole and the rotten taste so ever present in the history Criticwatch has exposed time and time again. Therefore, we issued a challenge to the studio with their March releases of Red Riding Hood and Sucker Punch to ignore the whores and get some fresh blood in there. In doing so, not only have they failed us but also may be failing themselves as well.

Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood is a gigantic piece of crap. There is no reason to beat around the bush on that one. At present time it is garnering an 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 8%!!! Do you know how hard that is to do these days? With an ever-expanding acceptance of new (and somewhat green) critics into the Tomatometer and a shocking tendency to forgiving many a film’s flaws simply for being better than their weekly challengers, to not get at least a 1-in-4 positive-to-negative ratio means you have done something really wrong with your film. To only have 15 critics out of 126 say your film is of quality, you are in rarified territory that includes films like Jonah Hex, Yogi Bear and the A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. Though perhaps not so rare for Warner Bros. Nevertheless, the studio marketers found a way to double down on their positives by including the following in commercials this week.

"Bold" - Cindy Pearlman
"Amazing" - Mark S. Allen
"Sexy cool" - Shawn Edwards
"Haunting and mysterious" - Manny de la Rosa
"The ancient legend like you've never imagined" - Jeff Craig

While you may find a lot of critics on the negative side to agree with Jeff "No-Face" Craig's statement, those other adjectives have likely not found a positive spin in written reviews - if they were written at all. You certainly won't find them in anything written by Allen, Craig or 2010 Whore of the Year, Shawn Edwards. No, those words are ready at a moment's notice on the salivary glands they moisten up to give studios a big, sloppy blowjob. Warner Bros. has yet to crack the fresh tomato in 2011 with films like The Rite, Hall Pass and Unknown. And yet, Red Riding Hood (only The Roommate & Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son rank lower this year for wide releases) is the second film WB got praise from both Allen and de la Rosa and the third from Craig and Edwards. They must have the word "amazing" reserved for Mark as he has used some form of it to describe WB films, The Polar Express, Poseidon and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. And need we remind you of Shawn Edwards' affinity for calling things "sexy" or "cool"

"A cool sports movie for today’s generation." (Crossover)

"Hip, sexy and packed with laughs! (Deliver Us from Eva)

"A refreshingly cool, sophisticated and completely romantic film..." (Definitely, Maybe)

"****! The best romantic comedy of the year! A qitty, clever and sexy romp that both women and men will find incredibly enjoyable." (Little Black Book)

"**** A seriously irresistible romantic comedy! I loved every second of this crazy, sexy and cool flick. You won't see a movie with more style, verve and romance." (Alfie)

"The coolest! Combines romance, action and humor. You've never seen anything like it before!" (Mr. & Mrs. Smith)

"Refreshingly funny, super hip and the coolest flick you’ll see all year! DYN-O-MITE" (Starsky & Hutch)

"A perfect 10. Totally entertaining. The coolest movie of the summer. ****" (Surf’s Up)

"The coolest movie of the summer is one of the best of the year! A seriously sexy, action-packed and completely intriguing cinematic tour de force." (Miami Vice)

"The coolest movie of the year!" (Be Cool)

"One of the coolest movies you’ll ever see!" (Stomp the Yard)

"An ultra-cool masterpiece! The best film of the year!" (Kill Bill Vol. 1)

"An explosive masterpiece tailor-made for those who love ultra-cool high energy action!" (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)

"****! Swings with a swagger and maverick-like attitude that made flicks like The Breakfast Club and Risky Business so cool." (The Perfect Score)

"****. Stylish, sexy and riveting!...More intense and entertaining than The Departed." (We Own the Night)

"****! Epic! One of the best vampire movies ever. Sexy, stylish and altogether the coolest movie of the year." (Twilight)

This is who you are in bed with, WB. And still you continue to sleep tight as if we are not aware that these junketeers are about as reputable as Michael Palin trying to sell you a dead parrot. Admittedly, Red Riding Hood is so bad that you may have had no other choice than to un-cage your mooching tramps. But think of the mixed signals you send when you decide to use them on films that DO receive a 60% positive majority. In fact, let's jump to your next major release - Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch.

Warner Bros. has decided to screen the film for critics across the country at a blanket time of 10:00 PM on Wednesday, March 23. Time zones and some dedicated publicists may give certain markets a slight hourly advantage, but that is still a rather shocking directive for what is unmistakably their Spring tentpole picture. It's a screening time that screams "we are a bit itchy about the final product, but we'll give it just enough time to breathe so critics don't write that we are hiding it." Seriously, Adam Sandler's Just Go With It screened earlier in Chicago than this. Hell, Red Riding Hood screened a full 28 hours earlier. So why is WB so desperate to hide the film when the guy they labeled a "visionary" with their last collaboration has enjoyed a pretty decent track record with critics? Dawn of the Dead (76%), 300 (60%) and Watchmen (64%) are all in the fresh realm and even his weakest response (a 51% for his animated Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole) is higher than anything Catherine Hardwicke has made not written by a 13 year-old.

The fanboy factor alone should be enough to warrant Sucker Punch three times the rating of Red Riding Hood. Why not trust the collective critic body to make up our own minds without prefacing it with your hesitation to unleash it? Word of mouth can only queer it after the first weekend. Any dude watching the NCAA tournament this past weekend has already made up their mind to see cute chicks with guns at the first opportunity. Instead, you junket the film and show it to the whores. A 10 PM Wednesday screening is bad enough. But now that ol' Manny "The Movie Guy" de la Rosa has posted his meaningless positive thoughts on his blog, audiences should be more skeptical of this film than even the studio. Is that the way you really want to get the word out about your films, Warner Brothers?

UPDATE: 03/22
Well, Warner Bros. got their wish. The junket whores over the weekend have come through in going bonkers over a movie the studio itself is afraid to show to real critics. Here is what you can see on the TV ads a full 24 hours before any legitimate film critic gets a look at Sucker Punch:

"Explosive. It will blow your mind." - Rick Florino
"Sexy. Brilliant." - Carrie Keegan
"Kick-Ass" - Mary Diaz
"Kill Bill meets Inception." - Stuart Lee

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originally posted: 03/22/11 03:50:03
last updated: 10/18/18 06:37:20
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