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Criticwatch - You Will Believe Warner Bros. Will Use Junket Whores

by Erik Childress

We all knew it was coming. Many of us have been less-than-enthusiastic about the way the summer has played out so far. Critical reception has been pretty (kinda) positive with Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3 and Furious Six ranging from 72-87% at Rotten Tomatoes. (Epic barely skirts by at 62%.) Then you have The Great Gatsby, Now You See Me, The Purge, The Internship, The Hangover Part III and After Earth on the other side of 50%. (We've forgotten about Peeples too.) You will find a lot of disparity even amongst the big three though and a lot of disappointment, anger and confused indifference on social media. But hope was on the horizon. The film that was going to give summer that true boost. The one that was going to inspire millions and reinvigorate a legendary character lost to the Salkinds and Bryan Singer. The previews were promising. Early buzz was leaking it was everything we hoped for. Twitter waited until the official embargo was lifted the night of Monday, June 10 for those who had seen it to file their already-written reviews or, at least, get a taste of opinions in 140 letters or less. The veil was lifted...and...well, we all knew it was coming.

[big]Hyperbole was in the air; as big as the Man himself. "Best Superman Ever!" Either those three words were put together or some variation that alluded to it. You would think that certain people had divorced themselves from everything that made those first two Richard Donner films (and whatever Richard Lester contributed) so special. But wait just a moment. There were dissenters as well. Some with palpable hatred for what was done to the character and the lack of follow-through on the film's ideas. Were they trying to match the love with an equal exaggeration of hate? Hardly an argument when the reviews were dropping at the same time. Meanwhile some of us in major cities like Chicago were still being asked to keep a lid on our thoughts while other critics still had not been offered the opportunity to screen the film yet. As impressed as I was with the restraint in breaking the coastal embargo traveling by carrier pigeon towards the rest of the country, studios need to continue working towards a universal embargo. Just make it the Tuesday night before for a Friday release. All press should have seen it by then. Once we implement that then we can work towards further lead time to write those reviews. Baby steps for a still-behind-the-times industry.

But where were we? Oh yeah, the new Superman is the GREATEST and the latest Superman SUCKS. The general pattern most movies see on Rotten Tomatoes is to get your glowing UK critics on board, then a supplement of those with the greenlight ready to share their praise with the world. The key word being "praise." Scores start high at Rotten Tomatoes and, with rare exceptions, usually come back to Earth leveling off to a more reasonable number or exposing those early reviews as being overly enthusiastic. (See John Carter as an example.) With Man of Steel the Rotten Tomatoes score started with a pretty soft 70%. That's good enough to make the positive list on the summer, but with Iron Man 3 starting in the 90s and Furious Six in the 80s, this was a very disconcerting number for a film being teased as a slam dunk in some circles. At the Chicago screening I attended, there was a sense of shell shock that the film just didn't seem to work at all on multiple levels. It was as if Zack Snyder had assumed the role of Joel Goodsen and Christopher Nolan taking the role of his dad. He hands him and David Goyer an outline before walking out the door. Instead of staying the course they took the keys and put dad's car right into the lake.

A few days go by, more reviews come in and the film's score drops to as low as 56%. Even Singer's Superman Returns which gets written off before you can get out the "urns" scored 75% from critics back. 194 positive reviews out of 257 (with a 7/10 rating). Man of Steel currently ranks as 58% with 108 positive out of 182 (with a 6.3/10 rating). Not the worst reviews in the world but certainly far below the critical standards that have been very high for the majority of comic book/superhero films. To put it in perspective, here is the list of those that received a "fresh" rating:

The Dark Knight (94%), Iron Man (93%), The Avengers (92%), Spider-Man 2 (92%), Spider-Man (89%), X-Men: First Class (88%), The Dark Knight Rises (87%), X2: X-Men United (87%), Batman Begins (85%), X-Men (82%), Captain America: The First Avenger (79%), Iron Man 3 (78%), Thor (77%), The Amazing Spider-Man (73%), Iron Man 2 (73%), The Incredible Hulk (67%), Watchmen (64%), Spider-Man 3 (63%), Hulk (62%)

And here are those on the "rotten" side:

Blade II (59%), Man of Steel (59%), X-Men: The Last Stand (57%), Blade (55%), Daredevil (45%), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (38%), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (37%), The Punisher (29%), Punisher: War Zone (27%), Green Lantern (26%), Blade Trinity (26%), Fantastic Four (26%), Ghost Rider (26%), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (17%), Elektra (10%)

It is probably safe to say that four out of five critics, if asked to make a Top 5 list of the best films of this type ever made a spot would be reserved for either Superman: The Movie or Superman II, if not both. There are 20 movies on that list above that get more collective support than Man of Steel, so it is safe to say that the fifth critic ranking it as high is in a distinct minority. If you find one of them, ask to read their review. If they have one, please show it to the Warner Bros. marketing department. Otherwise you wind up with the first thing that flows off a non-critic's tongue or the first thing they point to on the pre-written quote list.

"Brilliant! An unforgettable experience." - Sasha Perl-Raver, NBCLA
"The Superman we've been waiting for." - Viviana Vigil, REELZ Channel
"Phenomenal. One of the best films of the year." - Steve Weintraub,
"The blockbuster movie of the summer." - Terry Moran, Nightline

If you want a little taste of Miss Perl-Raver's (pictured above left) television reviews you can go to her barely-updated blog and see where she suggests Terrence Malick's latest film may have killed Roger Ebert.

The last time we heard from Viviana Vigil (pictured above right) she was calling Dark Shadows (another WB film) "a masterpiece" and "a Tim Burton classic." Seeing her again gives us the opportunity to again bring up the "couldn't-make-this-up" listing on her IMDB resume as an actress in the film Hollywood Whores. I shit you not.

You can go to and read Matt Goldberg's more grounded "B-" review of the film. Steve Weintraub, on the other hand, is strictly a junket interviewer. He was seen last year calling John Carter both "awesome" and "stunning." More recently, he was seen just last week calling The Internship the "laugh-out-loud, feel good comedy of the summer." Not even Google feels good about that movie.

And Terry Moran - are you serious with that statement? Don't try taking the position that "blockbuster" means a "big", "epic" or "expected to have wide popular appeal" film either. Blockbuster in Hollywood terms refers to financial success, plain and simple. Not the fact that Superman and Zod lay waste to Metropolis that would have survivors of the London Blitz going "damn, we had it easy." Why is Terry Moran, a Nightline anchor, being quoted in a movie ad anyway? From now on, I'm going to take Terry's research with a grain of salt since (A) it's hard to call a movie not just "a" blockbuster, but "THE" blockbuster before its made a single dime.

This is known now as pulling a "Dean Richards." If you're a critic of any kind and you use the word "blockbuster" to describe a movie in a critical fashion, you are no longer a critic but an extended branch of the studio PR department. Mr. Moran is not a film critic, so we can forgive him the general use of the word. However we move on to (B) which is the fact that Iron Man 3 has already laid claim to nearly $1.2 BILLION worldwide, good enough to be the fifth highest-grossing film of ALL TIME. If Man of Steel surpasses that, Terry, I'll buy you a new car. If not, I become Nightline's official movie critic. Deal? (I wrote that before discovering Man of Steel outdid Iron Man 3's midnight show tally of $15.6 million with $21 million - and I still feel confident.) We're not done yet, though.

[bigger]"An amazing epic!" - Josh Horowitz, MTV
"Epic and thrilling. This Superman soars above the rest." - Cindy Pearlman
"A visual and epic masterpiece." - Kevin McCarthy

Did Warner Bros. really need four separate junketeers to use the word "epic?"

Horowitz was seen last year calling The Cabin in the Woods "One of the most entertaining horror films I've seen in years." But who didn't? As the lesser known amongst the group, he becomes the lesser evil and by process of elimination becomes the most trustworthy. So, congratulations Josh!

If you haven't seen Cindy Pearlman's Twitter feed, you should be aware that this is the person that Warner Bros. is constantly using on their ads. Cindy is all WB, all the time. 22 WB quotes since 2009. Man of Steel is her 7th WB recommendation this year (out of nine studio releases); only one of which ("42") registered as "fresh" amongst critics. Someone should tell this dim bulb that the word "epic" loses its meaning when you use it to describe both The Dark Knight Rises AND The Hangover Part III. Same goes for the word "classic."

"An instant classic!" (Gangster Squad)
"The first great comedy of the year. An instant classic. Nonstop funny" (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone)
"An all-American classic. Harrison Ford is at his finest." (42)
"An instant classic. Leonardo DiCaprio has never been better." (The Great Gatsby)

You are not a movie critic, Cindy. Go away. Go away now.

Here is Kevin McCarthy interviewing the cast & crew of Man of Steel. Kevin is due for a little singling out. The guy who called The Fighter "hard-hitting" and said Water for Elephants was "a beautiful and captivating film that you will never forget" is really making a play to make the 2013 Quote Whores of the Year list. It is only mid-June and he has already matched his highest yearly total from 2011 with six. Here are his last four contributions to ad hyperbole.

"Epic! Intense! That will leave you cheering! Action-packed!" (Olympus Has Fallen)
"A masterpiece" (The Great Gatsby)
"Hilarious" (The Hangover Part III)
"Hilarious with a ton of heart." (The Internship)

So he got both "epic" and "masterpiece" into his Superman quote. Just as he did with last year with...

"A brilliant and epic masterpiece of cinema." (Prometheus)

He gave The Hobbit the "epic" tag as well in 2012 in an effort perhaps to out-"epic"

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 06/15/13 02:29:43
last updated: 09/22/18 03:15:51
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