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Criticwatch - X-Out Shawn Edwards: Low-Class

by Erik Childress

It is probably the height of hubris to suggest that Criticwatch is actually looking out for the studios. Critical as we are of them from the movies they put out to certain imbalanced screening practices, the underlying fact that gets lost in all the cliches about critics is that we love movies. And the good men and women in this profession know the difference between what makes a good movie and a bad one. Just as it is clear who those good ones are and who will say whatever they need to get on a poster. Say it big, say it loud, say it like nobody else is and chances are you will have the magic adjective that the studio marketers will want to promote it. But what happens when everyone is saying it? You get one moronic jackass calling The Hangover Part II "the best sequel ever" you are going to use him. When, at least twenty times that are calling X-Men: First Class the best of a series that already has four previous features under its belt, why would Fox use a two-time Whore of the Year and purposely bring a sense of pause to the perceived quality of their product? That is what we would like to know.

Fox was more than happy to show its latest franchise reboot to select critics weeks ago. Reviews were appearing online as early as May 24, at least a full week before the majority of the nation's press. The reviews were beyond glowing. "The best Marvel movie ever," said one overly enthusiastic critic. Comparisons to James Bond were made by others. It wasn't until May 31 that a negative review first appeared. And boy do the Rotten Tomatoes commenters hate the guy that busts the 100% bubble. In this case, it was Simon Miraudo from Quickflix who also disagreed with the RT consensus by giving positive reviews for Sucker Punch, the Arthur remake and Justin Bieber's Never Say Never. That was enough for readers not to give much weight to his contrary opinion here.

Up until this past Wednesday night, Miraudo's review was the only negative on the books for X-Men: First Class putting the score at a lofty 98% with over fifty positives. By Friday morning (10:14 AM Central), the numbers were 124-19 positive-to-negative, good enough to bet the fourth best wide release of the year behind Source Code, Bridesmaids and Rango. Even if the numbers drop, as they did for rival comic book film, Thor, to 79% after a similar early screening strategy, that is still going to put X-Men in the top seven of 2011. So many critics to choose from. Known or unknown it hardly matters from the early batch. A studio just wants the appropriate words and phrasing to promote the film before they can get the big guns from the dying print industry who either haven't seen it yet or are embargoed from noting their written reaction. Instead, with all that positive gravy in the pot, Fox decided to go with this on the commercials:

"Amazing. Fantastic." - Maria Salas
"The best X-Men movie yet. Spectacular." - Shawn Edwards

And then with more reviews added this:

"Biggest, best surprise of the summer." - Carrie Keagan

And then the Friday papers hit and they go with:

"Enormously entertaining. Superb special effects." - Jeffrey Lyons
"A fireworks display of action, smarts and fun, plus a touch of class from actors who can really act. Irresistible. Go mutants! You just made this summer movie the badass place to be." - Peter Travers

Over 120 positive reviews. At least 25 to choose from before the first commercial was cut. Some of those same critics at the very screening that Shawn Edwards was at. And yet Fox ignores all of their praise and goes with three junket whores and two of the least respected quote sluts in the business. Peter Travers has his own special column now, so we will get back to the four quotes he get this very weekend soon enough. (Stay tuned.) Here is what you have brought to the table with Jeffrey Lyons, Fox.

"Enormously funny!" (Over the Hedge)
"Enormously funny, with side splitting laughs." (Elf)
"Enormously funny! Mike Myersí talent is endless. He will have parents in stitches!" (The Cat in the Hat)
"Enormously touching and genuinely poignant." (My Sisterís Keeper)
"A poignant love story. Enormously entertaining." (Last Chance Harvey)
"Enticing, exhilarating and enormously entertaining." (Take the Lead)
"An enormously entertaining thriller." (The Island)
"An enormously entertaining film. Intelligently written, directed and acted." (Nola)
"Lots of fun; inventive and enormously entertaining. You and your family will be hooked!" (Shark Tale)

Yes, there are some good films in there. Maybe not enormously so, but you take the good with the bad and decide for yourself whether Lyons Sr. is the guy you want calling your film "enormously entertaining." He also referred to Crossing Over, Lions for Lambs and In the Land of Women are "superb" and that Nola film you probably don't recognize on the list currently is batting 0-for-13 on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fox also borrowed one of Warner Bros. bought-and-paid for whores of 2011 in Carrie Keagan:

"An instant classic. Hopkins is mesmerizing." (The Rite)
"It's Taken Meets The Bourne Identity. Liam Neeson at his finest." (Unknown)
"... the funniest movie of the year." (Hall Pass)
"Sexy. Brilliant." (Sucker Punch)

As for a sampling of her quotes since 2008:

"Horror has a new name, and itís Esther." (Orphan)
"The sexiest fun you'll have this summer!" (The A-Team)
"So hot, it hurts." (Zombie Strippers)
"It's the coolest thing I've seen." (Speed Racer)
"Itís Superbad meets School of Rock!" (The Rocker)
"Rocks from beginning to end." (Push)
"10,000 B.C. rocks!! Itís an adrenaline rush from start to finish." (10,000 B.C.)
"Edge of Darkness will keep you on the edge of your seat." (Edge of Darkness)
"27 more reasons to love Katherine Heigl!" (27 Dresses)
"X-cellent!" (The X-Files: I Want To Believe)

Actually, the biggest, best surprise of the summer was that Keagan didn't describe X-Men: First Class as "X-citing" or "X-traordinary." To hell with her anyway and to hell with Maria Salas too and her cheat sheet of one-word reviews. Since 2008, this twit has been quoted 21 times on movie ads and only once has that film been in the proverbial red at Rotten Tomatoes. The film? Red. And she said the same thing about that film ("laugh-out-loud") that she did about Due Date and Rumor Has It. Fox, what are you doing? Maria Salas is the name you put on your ads when you can't find anyone else. When your movie sucks. You put her on Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son, not X-Men: First Class. And we don't care if Shawn Edwards claims to work with one of your Kansas City affiliates, his name is among critics what Sarah Palin is to politics. And your affiliates.

Criticwatch has been doing this since 2002. Shawn Edwards has made the Top Ten Whores EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Nine years running. He was #2 in 2005 and was named Whore of the Year in 2007 and 2010. He is the REIGNING WHORE OF THE YEAR. The name is synonymous with the word. Again, perfect for Big Momma 3, not for your best reviewed film of the year. Has anyone at Fox bothered to look through the reviews? They are gathered nicely for you on Rotten Tomatoes. Ready-made quotes even. How many have said in those reviews or on podcasts or radio or Twitter that X-Men: First Class is the best film of the franchise? Whatever you want to call it - prequel, reboot, revitalization - you could have asked anyone but Shawn Edwards if they thought it was "The best X-Men movie yet" and you wouldn't have had the same guy who will say that about just any sequel or franchise out there.

"A classic!" (Kung Fu Panda 2)
"****" (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
"Hooray for the return of Zorro!" (The Legend of Zorro)
"Absolutely delightful! Reese Witherspoon has done it again." (Legally Blonde 2)
"The Wolfpack delivers again!" (The Hangover Part II)
"Better than the original." (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)
"Explosive entertainment!" (Underworld: Evolution)
"...a deliciously explosive thrill seeker's delight!" (XXX: State of the Union)
"Hysterical! The most enjoyable and entertaining movie of the season." (Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion)
"The best comedy of the year!" (Barbershop 2: Back In Business)
"The coolest movie of the year!" (Be Cool)
...Enormously entertaining... Definitely one of the best of 2003." (Once Upon a Time in Mexico)
"You won't have more fun at any other movie - period." (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle)
ÖYear's most action-packed and high-flying flick." (Bad Boys II)
"One of the best sci-fi films ever! Extraordinary! A true classic not to be missed! Vin Diesel is ecstatically superb." (The Chronicles of Riddick)

Sometimes he will even double or triple down on the same one.

"Unforgettable (The Matrix Reloaded)
"****! Remarkable. A mesmerizing conclusion to the best trilogy in cinematic history. (The Matrix Revolutions)

"A family film that's perfect for everyone. It will have you laughing from beginning to end. (Are We There Yet?)
"The funniest, craziest, wildest comedy of the year. Perfect family entertainment. (Are We Done Yet?)

"Perfect family entertainment! (Nanny McPhee)
"The perfect family movie! Wonderfully delightful! (Nanny McPhee Returns)

"The best action movie of the year." (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift)
"Turbo-Charged." (Fast & Furious)
"An adrenaline fueled thrill ride with 5x the action and 5x the excitement. A non-stop thrill ride! It will make your jaw drop and heart pound." (Fast Five)

"An explosive masterpiece tailor-made for those who love ultra-cool high energy action!" (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)
"****ÖThe most exciting movie of the year!" (Resident Evil: Extinction)

"****! Epic! One of the best vampire movies ever. Sexy, stylish and altogether the coolest movie of the year." (Twilight)
"The most romantic movie of the year!" (The Twilight Saga: New Moon)
"*****. Exhilarating!" (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse)

Or, he is going to lump your film in with films that probably nobody would associate as being superior to their predecessors:

"The best slice of pie yet! American Wedding is *!#/% funny!" (American Wedding)
"The best Scary Movie yet! The laughs come fast and are furiously funny!" (Scary Movie 4)
"Amazing! The best Resident Evil yet." (Resident Evil: Afterlife)
"The best X-Men movie yet. Spectacular." (X-Men: First Class)

Do you see what you have done, Fox? Please do not let this happen again.

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originally posted: 06/04/11 01:58:01
last updated: 06/04/11 02:07:51
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