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Criticwatch - Pete Hammond: The Biggest Whore In Years

by Erik Childress

Whether the review is positive or negative, one thing you are going to hear a lot of critics saying this weekend is that Fast Five is the best of the series. This is not that far of a stretch considering that each entry since 2001 has dropped a bit on the Tomatometer. From 52% for the original down to 36%, 35% and 27%, respectively for each new chapter. As of Friday at 8:40 AM Central time with 98 reviews on the board, Fast Five had already generated more positive reviews than any of the preceding films and currently sits at a whopping 77% in the red. Only Source Code, Rango and The Lincoln Lawyer have scored higher amongst wide releases in 2011. That is a lot of critics to choose from for the Universal marketing team. And yet with so many posting early reviews even before the embargo was lifted, who did they decide to go with to sell their movie? Pete G.D. Hammond!

Have we not proven that this is a bad idea? OK, so nobody is paying attention to his quote and the film is still liable to make $75 million in its opening weekend, but so what? Why put any doubt in the minds of those on the fence? Better question - why double down by using Shawn G.D. Edwards, a guy who has reportedly been seen not even paying attention at screenings to either answer text messages or make out with whatever chick he's brought that night? On the commercials you have him saying:

"An adrenaline fueled thrill ride with 5x the action and 5x the excitement." - Shawn Edwards

Then in the newspaper it says:

"Five times the action, excitement and fun. A non-stop thrill ride! It will make your jaw drop and heart pound." - Shawn Edwards

Adrenaline-fueled or non-stop? Just precisely what kind of "thrill ride" is this, Shawn? Do you say one on your way out the theater and then e-mail the publicist the next day changing your mind? You don't write reviews, so how would you know anyway? Maybe you just closed your eyes and pointed to the list provided to you by Universal. Maybe a list of your own quotes?

"The Rock puts the smack down in this adrenaline-pumping, high-octane adventure!" (The Rundown)

That WAS the last time you used the word "adrenaline" and it just happened to be for a film featuring Dwayne Johnson and released by Universal.

"A high-energy thrill ride!" (Ghost Rider)
"100% Exciting! Edge-of-your-seat thrill ride that’s a total blast." (The Core)
"Electrifying! The most exhilarating movie of this year! Eagle Eye is an action packed thrill ride that puts the pedal to the metal." (Eagle Eye)

Shouldn't you save those car metaphors for films that are actually about automobiles, Shawn? That's the kind of far-reaching connection that we depend on from guys like you. After all, Universal has been as loyal to you as you have to this series, even when it sucked.

"The best action movie of the year." (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift)
"Turbo-Charged." (Fast & Furious)
"The best Scary Movie yet! The laughs come fast and are furiously funny!" (Scary Movie 4)

You just couldn't wait to use that could you, Shawn? Tokyo Drift was only two months away when Scary Movie 4 opened. You're not the only one, pal. The close proximity of these two F-words that you can print in a family paper have inspired so many reviewers to use it in their praise of everything but the Fast and Furious series. Here is a brief tribute to the inspired:

"Will better my life forever. Everything about this movie just works. Every shot, every scene. I love the film. Fast and furious and breathtaking." (The Social Network) - Harry Knowles

"Fast and furious action-adventure." (The Italian Job) – Kevin Thomas

"Fast and furious." (Mr. Untouchable) - Stephen Hunter

“Fast, funny, furious fun.” (The Longest Yard) - David Sheehan

"A fast and furious and sublime comedy!" (Balls of Fury) - Thelma Adams

"The jokes fly fast and furious." (Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore) - Christy Lemire

"The laughs come fast and furious and they’re sharp enough to draw blood…" (Margot at the Wedding) - Peter Travers

"It…just may kill you with laughs. A fast, furious and riotously funny farce in the tradition of Monty Python and Peter Sellers." (Death at a Funeral (2007)) - Pete Hammond

And so, like NASCAR we come back full circle to where we started. The only question now is where to begin on Pete Hammond. Again. I suppose we should start with his big quote, stretched out over a full commercial and then extended even further in the papers:

"A hard driving adrenaline pumping blast that leaves everything else in its dust. The most spectacular and exhilarating action sequences the screen has seen in years. The best one yet." - Pete Hammond

Can anyone even count the number of hyperbolic superlatives in that? It's the kind of thing that the IRS puts up red flags for and precisely the kind of Hammond-ian text that Criticwatch must audit. There is so much material to sift through when Pete's name comes up, so let's start simple.

"Mega-tons of fun. This super-powered summer movie adrenaline blast will have you leaping out of your seat. This time the Hulk really IS incredible." (The Incredible Hulk)

Like Shawn Edwards, you save the word "adrenaline" for your friends over at Universal. Fast Five "leaves everything in the dust" though? Everything?

"Rules over all the others." (King Kong)
"The best action film in decades. A two hour high-tech chase around the world that surpasses everything that’s come before it, including Oscar-winning classics like The French Connection and Bullitt." (The Bourne Ultimatum)
"The best action movie since The Bourne Ultimatum. Get ready for the ride of your life. Move over Bourne." (Taken)

So let's look at this transitively, OK? In 2005, Peter Jackson's King Kong rules over all the others. Either Hammond meant that it's the best movie ever made, or at the bare minimum (not his style), that it's the best King Kong film ever made. Two years later, the third Bourne film is "the best action film in decades." 17 months later, Taken is the best movie SINCE that one which he then tells to move over. But no matter because those are all in the dust anyway. Hence, The French Connection, Bullitt and two King Kong movies would place behind Fast Five on Hammond's Flickchart. For those counting, that is two more Universal films. But Hammond is not beholden to them when it comes to overshooting.

"It packs enough red-hot fiery action for six movies." (The Condemned)
"Heart-stopping action! If you’re looking for pure screen excitement look no further." (The Guardian)
"A non-stop action film that doesn’t come up for air." (Poseidon)
"Wow! Stealth takes your breath away. For sheer non-stop action and aerial thrills this movie just soars above the rest!" (Stealth)

Wow indeed. So does that make Stealth better than anything before July of 2005 or just Iron Eagle? What else you got, Hammond?

"Heart-pounding action! Total entertainment from start to finish!" (National Treasure: Book of Secrets)
"Pulse-pounding. Heart-racing excitement from start to finish." (Valkyrie)
"A high-octane-action suspense thriller!" (Déjà vu)
"Arrives just in time to turn the summer heat way up. An explosive action-drama with a top-notch cast that ignites the screen." (Four Brothers)
"One wild, super-kinetic ride! Loaded with laughs, action, excitement, twists, attitude – you name it.!" (Smokin’ Aces)
The heart-stopping, extreme summer action movie of your dreams." (Wanted)
"From its supercharged action-packed opening...(it) winds you up and doesn't let go. Paul Walker's best performance. A mind-bending, extreme movie experience." (Running Scared)
"Strap yourself in for a blistering, super-charged ride. This time around the fast and furious action is simply off the charts!" (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift)

But, as Pete would tell you - Fast Five IS "the best one yet." That limb is already pretty full with people saying the same thing, but he rarely misses an opportunity to tell you that the latest one is already the best.

"If you think you’ve seen Kong, you ain’t seen nothing yet!" (King Kong)
They’ve saved the best ‘X’ for last. Awesome! This one’s got it all – and then some! Great action, great actors, the greatest X-Men movie yet." (X-Men: The Last Stand)
"The biggest and best of the series. Sensational! Pure entertainment from start to finish." (High School Musical 3)
"Ranks with The Shining as one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever! A smart, highly entertaining non-stop shocker!" (1408)
"A timeless classic that ranks with the very best of animated films." (The Tale of Despereaux)

Remember, this is the guy who recently said that Rio was "the biggest animated triumph since Toy Story 3" from the way-back setting of ten months ago. But Hammond is happy to throw years of cinema under the bus too.

"As big, breathtakingly exciting and relentlessly thrilling as any epic adventure the screen has seen in many years!" (King Kong)
"One of the funniest films in many years." (Borat)
"A winning combination of sex, mystery, brilliant writing and first-rate acting that all adds up to one of the most erotic and exhilarating movies in years." (Match Point)
"Woody Allen is back in style with his funniest movie in many years." (Scoop)
"One of the best American comedies in years." (The Break-Up)
"One of the most powerful films in years." (Reign Over Me)
"The best action film in years!" (The A-Team)
"The most visually inventive, trailblazing film of its kind in light years." (Wanted)

Naturally, light years measures distance and not time. If Ben Lyons' I Am Legend quote is, arguably, Criticwatch's favorite, then Hammond's scientifically-challenged piece of duncical idiocy is a real close second. Perhaps someone with a perfect SAT score can sort through Hammond's maniacal hyperbole over the years and try to determine precisely what his best-list should look like. If Fast Five has "the most spectacular action the screen has seen in years" and The A-Team is "the best action film in years" and The Bourne Ultimatum is "the best action film in decades" the qualitative property equals that Pete Hammond cannot possibly qualify himself as a critic/reviewer/columnist worth taking seriously. And Universal should seriously considering putting a few light years between their movies and him.

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originally posted: 04/30/11 01:36:25
last updated: 04/30/11 01:55:49
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