The first weekend of June 2019 delivers two high-profile movies on the opposite end of the theatrical spectrum. One film is a much-anticipated and much-delayed comic book project, and the other is an animated sequel about talking animals. Get ready for the X-Men franchise's Dark Phoenix and The Secret Life of Pets 2.
Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but rather predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at This Rotten Week has to offer.
The Dark Phoenix saga, is one of the most popular comic book storylines ever, and its movie treatment is finally hitting the big screen. X-Men: The Last Stand nodded to the arc tethered to an ever-powerful and unhinged Jean Grey who becomes at odds with the X-Men, but that one fell kinda flat. This latest effort from director Simon Kinberg at least pays more tribute to parts of the original storyline, with Jean’s powers coming from a cosmic force and something resembling Emma Frost (though she’s different) taking part in Grey’s corruption.
The rest of Dark Phoenix's plot is very much taking liberties with the original saga in order to contain and connect the narrative, for better or worse. This is the latest movie in Fox's quasi-rebooted X-Men franchise, with the prior effort, Apocalypse(47%), representing a major dud after the critical successes of First Class (86%) and Days of Future Past (90%).
I think Dark Phoenix will finish somewhere in between, though on the lower end. It doesn’t necessarily look amazing or terrible, but I think there’s enough meat to the source material to at least land Simon Kinberg's film on the positive side of the Tomatometer.
What would happen if your pets lived a double life? Sure, they put on all of the airs of standard pet living when their owners are around, but when left to their own devices, stuff just gets weird and wild. That idea was the basis for the original Secret Life of Pets (73%), and now audiences get to run it back a second time, seemingly without many changes at all. The Secret Life of Pets 2 looks nearly identical to the first.
That’s not always the worst thing in the world, to be sure. After all, it’s a kids’ movie with a built-in audience, and the little ones don’t often need a ton of variation. Illumination Entertainment clearly isn’t in Pixar or DreamWorks' class of animation studios, but their celebrity-filled films generally land in the positive zone. Their last few, in addition to the original Pets movie, include Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (58%), Despicable Me 3 (59%) and Sing (72%). The Secret Life of Pets 2 is sitting at 71% through 31 reviews, but I think it drops over the course of the week.
The Rotten Watch scored two for three the last time around. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Predicted: 45% Actual: 39%) landed within range, though that score kept dropping over the course of the week. Critics mostly agreed the movie’s visuals were on point, and the negative takes almost all stemmed from what many agreed was an utter lack of a storyline. Many agreed the script and characters needed plenty of work and ultimately failed the film, which is the first negatively reviewed flick in the Monster-verse franchise.
I admittedly missed the mark on the Ma (Predicted: 41% Actual: 61%) score, mostly because I failed to understand how critics would view the movie. Most agreed that Octavio Spencer really carried the show, while the positive-minded critics appreciating the film’s rather campy style and over-the-top take on the violence and gore. It didn't land for every critic out there, obviously, but it was enough to keep the score in the positive range.
And finally, the Elton John biopic Rocketman (Predicted: 87% Actual: 90%) was the other win, though truth be told, I had a head start on this score. In any case, critics have adored the glossed-up and pointedly sensational (but apparently accurate) take on the rise of the legendary musician through the early years of his accession into pop music's orbit.