There was very little surprise in what topped the box-office charts this weekend. There wasn’t even that much surprise with how much it made ($83 million), which had the unofficial effect of moving up the summer blockbuster season yet another week. What’s surprising is not the financial success of Fast Five, which opened with its largest weekend gross of the entire series, but that Fast 5 scored 79 percent with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Is Fast 5 honestly a 79 percent movie? It is the best film of the series, and it does have a few nifty action sequences, including one final sequence that blows the doors off the vault, but does half an hour of well-shot action sequences merit overlooking a bad script, bad acting, stereotypical characters, and a complete absence of plot?
Maybe? I guess? I don’t know. It’s a good popcorn movie, but is that what critics have been reduced to? Rewarding films because they make the fake butter go down easy? It’s not that Fast 5 didn’t have its moments, but if you give that a 79 percent, where have you set the bar? If Super 8, for instance, is as good as people think it might be, will the Tomatometer have to allow for extra percentage points (120 percent!) in order to afford it the appropriate distance between itself and Fast 5. Are we simply asking too little now of action films? Was Fast 5 honestly 52 percent better than The Fast and Furious, as suggested by their Tomatometer ratings? Or were expectations simply set so low that critics were too easily impressed? Is Fast 5 really the fourth best wide release of 2011 so far? Is it really “five times the action, excitement and fun. A non-stop thrill ride! [That] will make your jaw drop and heart pound,” as Shawn Edwards suggested? Or, as Pete Hammond is quoted, does Fast 5 have the “most spectacular and exhilarating action sequences the screen has seen in years”?
Or maybe after five months of mediocrity, critics gave it decent to good reviews because they’re hyperbole was getting rusty. Or perhaps critics have just decided to rate films based on the number of brain cells killed. “I lost short-term memory and control of my bowels! Fast Five is that good.”
Whatever the reason, I find it troubling.
Rio dropped to number two this weekend, adding another $14 million and crossing the $100 million mark. Last week’s number two film, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family dropped one spot to number three, accumulating another $10 million. Water for Elephants was number four with $9 million, and the Disney high-school excretion, Prom opened with a weak $5 million, good for number five, one spot ahead of the another debut film this weekend, Hoodwinked Too! Good vs. Evil, which made $4.1 million.
What about the other wide opener? Dylan Dog: Dead of the Night? Never heard of it? It opened on 1,000 screens, stars Brandon Routh, and landed at number 16 with $885,000. Prisco will have a review of that up today, in case you want to catch it before it leaves thea … oh, damn. Too late.