Here we go again folks! Welcome once again to my stalwart coverage of The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as C2E2. Now in its fifth year, C2E2 is held on the last weekend in April at McCormick Place in Chicago, and it's a popular event once again this year. As a matter of fact, I just saw them hosing off Chuck Heston on the Main Floor…
This convention has grown in popularity with each passing year, particularly as August's Wizard World Chicago has begun to wane. Cancelled guests, overpriced tickets, and poor layout have caused Wizard World to take a backseat to C2E2, which was moved to a larger part of McCormick Place this year to accommodate its growth.
This year I was able to attend a panel titled "Your Opinion Sucks! Rotten Tomatoes Critics vs. Fans," hosted by rottentomatoes.com Editor-in-Chief Matt Atchity & Senior Editor Grae Drake. It featured efilmcritic.com's Erik Childress, rogerebert.com's Peter Sobczynski, thedissolve.com's Nathan Rabin & Keith Phipps, and Chicago Sun-Times film critic, and former co-host of Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper.
(l-r Atchity, Ryan Fujitani, Roeper, Rabin, Phipps)
The format for the panel was fairly simple. Attendees were invited to offer up a one-minute defense or takedown of a film, and then the panel would discuss the film's merits, or lack thereof. Everyone in the audience was provided with a two-sided paddle with a "Fresh" tomato on one side and "Rotten" splatter on the other, which we held up to indicate our personal opinion of the film.
Some of the choicest bits from the critics follow:
Pacific Rim: General consensus was Fresh, though Childress said the film was no more than "tin cans punching one another," and that "none of the stars registered as characters." Phipps also added that while he liked the film, he wished that he "cared about the characters as much as (he) cared about the monsters."
Iron Man 3: This one was divisive, though it seemed that most of the critics liked it. Roeper expounded on how Tony Stark is the most interesting civilian in all of the comic book films, but he can see how fans desiring lots of Iron Man would be disappointed for him to spend so much time out of the suit. Childress complained that while the Mandarin twist was clever, they didn't do anything interesting with it, and Sobczynski summed it up best by saying, "it wasn't the worst superhero movie I saw. Even that week."
The Wolf of Wall Street: Most of the critics were positive about the film, with Sobczynski calling it one of Scorsese's best and that it doesn't glorify the terrible behavior because it's "seen through the eyes of a terrible person who doesn't think that anything he does is bad." Childress also said that if the person who proffered that question was expecting a room full of critics to "break bad" on Scorsese, it wasn't going to happen.
Pain & Gain: All but Roeper rated it rotten, with Rabin saying that it was "a satire of stupidity made by stupid people." Phipps said, "I wanted to like it, but I always want to like Michael Bay." He suggested that with a different director, that cast & script could have made a great film rather than just a film that says drugs and whores are great.
Some of my favorite out-of-context quotes include:
Roeper: "Everyone hold up your rotten sign… That's exactly how I feel about Transcendence."
Rabin: "The Rock is a genius who will win an Oscar one day."
Roeper: "Saying Southland Tales is good because it's bad is like saying, 'I stubbed my toe so now I'd like to break my ankle.'"
Rabin: "Jason Lee is like a human Rosetta Stone for Kevin Smith's dialogue."
Roeper: "Please don't ever use the phrase Timothy Olyphantastic ever again."
Overall, this was a fun, light, breezy panel with a group of critics that had a great rapport with one another and the audience. While some of the audience members were fighting a losing battle trying to defend films like Speed Racer, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and even the recent 300: Rise of an Empire, everyone seemed to have a great time. Nathan Rabin even signed my copy of his book The Big Rewind for me, and he, Phipps, and Sobczynski hung around and chatted up fans before and after the panel. And Richard Roeper has tattoos! Who would've guessed?
(l-r Rabin, Phipps, Childress, Sobczynski)
(Grae Drake, wearing Empire Strikes Back stockings, with a young woman making a passionate defense of Pacific Rim)
That's it for today. I'll be back tomorrow with even more fun and some exclusive first looks at X-Men: Days of Future Past and Pulp Fiction action figures being released this summer and fall by Diamond Select.