Barbershop: The Next Cut and The Jungle Book's great reviews

The fall of film criticism as we know it is finally upon us. I dreaded this day for a long time, as each and every one of the most literately intelligent films critics in the country kept getting laid off starting in -I'd say- 2005 or so, maybe 2006. I don't think there are many left anymore. There's Kenneth Turan and Manhola Dargis over at the L.A. Times, The N.Y. Times' A.O. Scott, The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy, N.Y. Post's Lou Lumenick and Rolling Stone's Peter Travers. These are the critics that I grew up reading that are still with us, the rest have either resorted to freelance journalism, opted to retire or passed away. I am of course not counting the Film Comment crew or some of the brilliant "alternative" writers that either write for alternative media outlets or barely survive through their own personal online ventures. This post is more about the major papers or print media writers.

The lack of these indelible voices is part of the reason why we have Barbershop: The Next Cut at 91% fresh on RottenTomatoes. There are too many run-of-the-mill fanboy-driven "critics" these days and not even mavericks with deep, personal and intelligent opinions. I will probably now have to go see Barbershop now, but my expectations are fairly low. I did, however, see Disney's live-action version of The Jungle Book and it is pretty good. Even though the predictability of the narrative is evident, there is still enough visual stimuli here to satisfy both the eyes and the mind. It currently stands at 94% on RT and I can kind of see why. It's beautiful directed by Jon Favreau who's turning out to be a pretty darn competent filmmaker with this, Chef, Iron Man and Elf all having their fair share of shining, mainstream moments. Reading some of these Jungle Book reviews you'd think the critics have seen the second-coming of cinema, which it is not the case. In fact, The Jungle Book is a safe, well-made, but still safe, mass-marketed product placement meant to rack in as much money as possible for the intention of a sequel. It's as simple as that, just like all the other comic book movies out there, that's what movies aim for these days, the chance to be successful and follow it up with a sequel. That's why Barbershop: The Next Cut exists and that's why The Jungle Book exists. Give me a hard-edged, nasty B-movie like Green Room any day of the week over these films.