The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'G.I. Joe': Will it really get better reviews than 'The Hangover'?

Give Paramount credit: The studio hasn't exactly been coy about the prospects of dismal reviews for "G.I. Joe," this weekend's special-effects action extravaganza that is expected to be about as aesthetically satisfying as "The Mummy," "Van Helsing" and all of the other delightful fare brought to us by director Stephen Sommers. As Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore bluntly told the Associated Press, the studio wants to avoid all the critical sniping it endured with its recent "Transformers" release, which was eviscerated by critics yet has earned untold hundreds of millions around the world.

Gi-joe-char-poster-3 So Paramount isn't screening "G.I. Joe" for critics, with Moore telling AP that "we want audiences to define this film." As my colleagues Ben Fritz and Claudia Eller pointed out the other day, the studio has entirely sidestepped the Hollywood press, preferring to go directly to the heartland -- advertising the movie at the Country Music Television Awards and staging its premiere at Andrews Air Force Base before 1,000 service members and their families.

But the studio has shown the film to a carefully selected scrum of fanboy reviewers, including the King of All Geeks, Aint it Cool News' Harry Knowles, who -- big surprise! -- have fallen head over heels in love with the film. Or as HitFix's Drew McWeeny  put it: "[It's] one of the most successful little-boy adventure movies in a long time." It's unlikely that their gushy enthusiasm will change the mind of any serious critics (though as a fan of demolition derbies, I'm hoping the New York Times assigns Manohla Dargis to review the picture).

But it has totally thrown a monkey wrench into Rotten Tomatoes, the critical aggregation site that prides itself on providing an accurate barometer for film critic opinion. With only fanboy reviews to pick from, Rotten Tomatoes is now giving "G.I.Joe" a comically elevated 80 score, a higher rating than even the beloved "The Hangover" earned earlier this summer. There's nothing Rotten Tomatoes can do until more reviews come in, but I think it will be fun to follow the film's score as it descends from such rarefied heights into the critical netherworld.

How low can it go? Will "G.I. Joe" end up with an even worse score than such dreck as "I Love You, Beth Cooper" or "The Ugly Truth"? Stay tuned: We'll be providing periodic updates as the steep plunge begins.

Comments () | Archives (9)

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Patrick, I know you haven't seen the film but why is that stopping you from running a review? You seem to already have your position on it well staked out.

Professional film criticism is a dinosaur. I, for one, base my DVD purchases on ratings from Amazon - I never visit RottenTomatoes or any other print critic's blog.

I value the opinions of my peers, not the scatter-shot pining's of the old, or the boring ramblings of university film educated wannabes.

People not Professionals.

p.s. I don't include Harry Knowles as 'people.' His ilk are akin to the entertainment reporters on tee-vee.

Mate, I was lucky enough to go to an advance screening in Australia, and I have to disagree with your poorly informed, and judgmental take on a movie you are yet to see. By the sounds of your pompous preachings you probably won't even bother going to the movie, just sit on your ivory tower and rehash the words of other know-it-alls like yourself. As a serious movie critic I pride myself on giving an informed judgment and to be honest this movie definitely parallels the quality of the lack-luster, Hangover.

WOW! This is really interesting, thanks! Also wanted to note that the film currently has a 91% critic rating on Facebook.

So much for plunge, it's up to 91% now xD

Why do you place so much import on Rotten Tomatoes? Most reviews are irrelevant for films aimed at mainstream audiences, especially the younger ones who most likely to see it in a theater than wait for the video release. Very few so-called critics are really qualified to do so, especially when compared to art, music, and literary critics who are usually far more educated in their field. Cinemascore sounds like a better guide to a film's potential success.

Rick Mitchell
Film Editor/Film Historian

From the screenwriter of COLLATERAL, so maybe it'll be great?

- Bill

I agree with Patrick Goldstein. These early "G.I.Joe" reviews were bought by Paramount, by picking underpaid fanboy hacks who want to get special favors, like all-expense-paid trips and other perks paid for by the movie studios . These fanboy types know that if they give a negative review to whatever film the studio wants them to pimp, these fanboy blogger hacks won't get any more of these kinds of special perks.

Devin Faraci of even admitted in an AP article that Paramount contacted him while he was in Toronto to fly him to Los Angeles on the same day to watch "G.I. Joe" at the Paramount lot. Who do you think paid for the trip? Trips like that are not allowed at mainstream media outlets because they're unethical and compromise journalistic standards, so that's why Paramount bypassed mainstream media to screen "G.I. Joe." Everyone knows that trips like that are for one reason only: to pay for positive editorial coverage.

It just goes to show that rave reviews can be bought from so-called "critics" who are really leeches willing to sell whatever integrity they have if the studio pays for it.

I'm as skeptical about this as the next man, but does all this whining about being excluded come across any better than those journalists you claim are loving it simply because they were included?

It might be terrible. It might be good. More than likely it will be neither. I'm not happy that the film wasn't screened to critics, but there's a hugely condescending attitude being adopted by professional critics. I always assumed it was the job of critics to keep and open mind, rather than pan movies they haven't seen?


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