This week at the movies, we’ve got ping pong (Balls of Fury, starring Dan Fogler and Christopher Walken); revenge (Death Sentence, starring Kevin Bacon); and the return of Michael Myers (Rob Zombie’s Halloween). What do the critics have to say?
It’s been a good couple years for sophomoric sports comedy; Dodgeball and Blades of Glory each earned cackles by taking the seriousness of athletic competition to absurd heights — and throwing in plenty of raunch. But juvenilia only goes so far; you need a little something more to generate laughs… And critics say laughs are in short supply in Balls of Fury. Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is a washed-up pro table tennis player recruited to infiltrate the deadly world of underground extreme ping pong, in which the diabolical Feng (Christopher Walken) oversees a deadly tournament of serve-and-volley. It’s a funny premise, but critics say despite some yucks, Balls runs out of steam pretty quickly, and lacks the sharp comic edge of other sports comedies. At 28 percent on the Tomatometer, Balls of Fury is getting paddled. (Read our interview with Fogler here.)
One can’t fault James Wan for trying to branch out a little. With Death Sentence, the man behind Saw and Dead Silence moves from straight horror to the realm of the psychological thriller. After his child is brutally murdered, devoted family man Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) aims for revenge, and goes gunning for a violent gang that committed the crime. It’s not a bad premise; heck, it worked pretty well in Death Wish, and A History of Violence ventured into the darker realms of an everyman’s outwardly placid façade. But critics say as Death Sentence goes along, it slides into the land of unintentional comedy, gruesome violence, and a mixed message about the nature of vigilantism. At nine percent on the Tomatometer, Death Sentence is facing the critical firing squad. (Check out our interview with Wan from Comic-Con here.)
There can be only two reasons for the fact that the folks behind Halloween didn’t screen the film before its release. Either it’s so scary that movie critics wouldn’t be able to handle it, or they don’t think the pundits will dig it at all. Rob Zombie takes a look at the origins of one of cinema’s greatest psychopaths, Michael Myers, in this remake of the 1978 classic. Kids, Guess that Tomatometer! (Also, check out our rundown of Rob Zombie’s sources of inspiration here.)
Also opening this week in limited release: Quiet City, Aaron Katz’ atmospheric film about a chance meeting in New York City, is at 86 percent; The Nines, a Lynchian, numerological mind-bender starring Ryan Reynolds and Hope Davis, is at 71 percent (check out our review from Sundance here); Exiled, Johnny To‘s tale of conflicted hit men, is at 69 percent; Freshman Orientation, the story of a college student who pretends to be gay to attract a girl, is at 60 percent; Self-Medicated, a semi-autobiographical account of a young man’s battle with addiction, is at 55 percent; and the heist flick Ladron que roba a ladron, about two expert thieves who plan to rob an infomercial host, is at 50 percent.
Finally, props to our homie unbreakable_samurai for coming the closest to guessing War‘s 18 percent Tomatometer. U_s is currently one of RT’s favorite U.S. Americans.
89% — Halloween (1978)
19% — Halloween II (1981)
33% — Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)
14% — Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
10% — Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
4% — Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1996)
49% — Halloween: H20 (1998)
11% — Halloween: Resurrection (2002)