2017 In Film: The Bad

Okay, the title is oversimplifying it a lot. These are just films I didn’t like, some aren’t necessarily bad, but were more a victim of hype. There’s going to be a few (and I can guess which ones) which a lot of people will disagree with, but taste is subjective so here goes, if you disagree, let us know with which ones. How I chose what to go in this was simple: these are the films that even if they were on tv and I had nothing to watch, I’d unplug my television and leave the house just so I don’t accidentally watch it. Oh, and there’s plenty of spoilers, so, be wary of that. In alphabetical order because, well how the darn else would I do it?

CHiPs.

Why does this exist? Seriously, was anybody calling out for a remake of a pretty forgettable tv show? Doesn’t really work, at all. I think it’s because the show itself doesn’t have a massive fanbase, it hasn’t really entered the popular culture that much. Also, the film itself is bad. Not just bad, kind of problematic too. I don’t want to get all “SJW” here but one of the female characters in this film is basically just a vagina that rewards the main character with sex. She starts off hating him then grows to like him because, well, because the script tells her to.  It’s not just her, most of the female characters are written as trophies for people to attain.

+ At least the cast look like they’re enjoying themselves.

-Almost everything else.

Fist Fight

Genuinely thought this came out a few years ago. Would not have guessed this came out in 2017, I’d have guessed 2015 or something like that. Pretty much the film equivalent of a cheap cheeseburger, disposable, and you won’t remember it a few minutes after you finish it.

+Kumail Nanjiani is really funny in it. Not his best work this year, but he provides the best work in this film. Also, the story itself actually works. Characters motivations make sense.

-Doesn’t have enough jokes that land to really be effective.

Geostorm

Again, and this will come up a lot for this year (this blog in particular); why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science (as my GCSE results show) but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens (not as bad as the complete abomination that was After Earth, but still). Oh, and the ending was a fucking cop-out. Did one of those “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending” endings so they can have both the emotional climax and the happy ending instead of actually having to risk anything. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

+The action set pieces work and look good.

-Ed Harris turns out to be the bad guy, I think we were supposed to be surprised by that but it just seemed really obvious.

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And some films were never meant to be made

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

This is what happens when you write a film with the sole intention of setting up a franchise and deliberately hold back so much for sequels that you don’t put enough in it. The story and the style of directing didn’t mesh well together, it would be like directing Halloween using lots of bright colours and a spice girls soundtrack.

+Technically well directed.

-The box office returns have pretty much killed all hopes for it to be a franchise, so this story will forever be incomplete.

Shut In

On rotten tomatoes this film has a score of 8%, I think that’s too high. Overly earnest and with a twist that’s so obvious I’m not sure it’s really a twist. A complete waste of both the audiences time and the actor’s talents. Everyone involved is much too good to be in this film.

+Very well directed, the story isn’t great but Farren Blackburn at least made it look good.

-Predictable as hell.

Sleepless

I’ve seen quite a few bad films at the cinema, but rarely are they as tedious as this was. You’d think a 90-minute action film set in Las Vegas would be exciting, you’d be wrong.  The only reason certain things happen is because characters are idiots, for example at one point the villain points a loaded gun at the main character, now instead of shooting him, he takes a few steps backwards and gets run over a van (which he somehow didn’t hear coming, in an empty parking lot, the emptiness of which I have a problem with also). I’ve seen defences of this say “yeah but as long as you don’t think too hard about it it works. It’s just dumb fun”. And they’re half right, it’s dumb. It’s not nitpicking to point out that someone who has been stabbed (and for whom the wound continues bleeding for 4 hours) should be weakened by that. But nope, the only indication of it is that he occasionally stops and goes “ah”. A stab wound has the same effect as an ice cream headache. It’s a shame as the cast do their job well, it’s just the script is kinda dumb. There are some odd choices when it comes to directing too. You know that “shaky cam fight scene” that the Bourne movies use? They do that here, only they do it for EVERYTHING in the fight. Someone walks away after the fight; Shaky Bourne Camera, someone gets their phone out to phone someone: Shaky Bourne Camera. It also ends with the most obvious sequel hook in a long time, yet considering everybody in the cinema stood up the very second the credits started, I don’t think it’s going to be looked forward to that much. Maybe I’m spoiled by John Wick, which set my standards unbelievably high, but still, not a great film, it’s not even a good one. Which is a shame as it should be good, the story is at its base a very compelling one; a severely injured person in an action movie in a city that never sleeps. Opportunities for lots of good set pieces and should look superb. But nope, just dull.

+Good idea

-So dumb and flawed that it’s impossible to look past them.

Snatched

Not bad, just disappointing. Very bland, the kind of film you see and then immediately forget. Shame as it has some very good moments in it, but some of the jokes fall flat and land not with raucous laughter, but with silence. Same with directing too, a lot of the visual and editing decisions are kind of strange. All in all, it seems like every part of it was the first draft, every shot closing not with “perfect, one more for safety” but “that will do for now”. Same with the script, entire scenes seem like bits which should have been taken out in a second draft.

+Joan Cusack is brilliant.

-The sense of disappointment that this is Goldie Hawn’s first film in over a decade.

The Belko Experiment

Not really a fan of it. For this film to work you need it to be one of two things:

  1. Really stylish and brutal.
  2. Really clever.

This is neither. It seems to run out of ideas by the end of the trailer. It would be a really good short film, but for it to be a full-length feature it needs something else, it needs a twist, it needs to amaze and surprise you in the final third, it needs something, ANYTHING that you didn’t see coming. As it is….nothing. It doesn’t say or do anything really unique and fresh.

+Good performances in it. John Gallagher Jr. is particularly impressive.

-Pointless

The Bye Bye Man

A film that really earnt the bad reviews it got. This film fails because of one thing; it does a TERRIBLE job of mythology setting. It doesn’t build up the villain at all really. As such you don’t really know much about the motivations, powers, etc. It also did something that way too many horror movies do lately that I detest: hallucinations as scares (seriously, that’s happened in a ridiculously high amount of films lately). Basically “argh, scary thing, oh wait it’s not real, OR IS IT? no, it’s not, OR IS IT?” repeated ad nauseam.

+Would be a good first draft.

-A lot of things are bad about this film, but the worst is still the title.

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Don’t Watch It (and with that this film wins Easiest Diss Of The Year award)

The Dark Tower

It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more. Really, he deserves better than this, actually, he deserves better than most films he’s in. A shame as he is good, he just seems to pick bad roles when it comes to film. Very disappointed with this as I was intrigued by the trailers, I thought all the bad reviews were wrong, but nope, they were accurate. It’s just as bad as the reviews say. I read a review that summed it up well:

“Elba’s a good Roland in a movie that doesn’t allow him to actually embody the character in any meaningful way. He’s undercut at every turn. The strongest stuff in the film is when Roland and Jake are bonding, but that relationship is so accelerated that there’s no room for an arc.”

I don’t say this often for terrible films, but this really could have benefited from being longer. 95 minutes is waaaaaay too short to delve into the mythology the books created.

+Matthew McConaughey is compelling as hell as the villain.

-A PG-13 adaptation of a Stephen King book that’s also really short. No way in hell this would work.

The Emoji Movie

So bland. Not even bad enough for me to say anything funny about it. Despite what some reviewers may say it’s not proof of all that is wrong with society, it’s not entirely evil, it’s just shit. Product placement was so blatant that it is slightly uncomfortable though.

+The non Emoji bits are actually pretty good and tell a good story. If this was done by Pixar it could have worked.

-This movie exists. This is like if you made a Tetris or Minecraft movie. Oh, wait, what’s that? Both of those are happening? F*ck you Hollywood.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

A very Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller movie, for better and for worse (mostly worse). I don’t think I like Noah Baumbach as a writer. Nothing personal it’s just his stuff kind of grates with me for some reason. Basing this entirely on this and While We’re Young, but they both seemed very similar to me. Uncompelling characters talking way too much and being way too old to be acting like they are. Also, it’s the sense of false cosiness, it’s like a fake fireplace in a chain restaurant. You get what they’re going for but didn’t really hit it.

+Dustin Hoffman is delightful.

-During way too many moments did the thought “Stop whining and just move on already” enter my head.

The Mummy

You know what I said earlier about CHiPs having no reason to exist? Yup, same here. You know what I said earlier about King Arthur showing how it’s a bad idea to make a film with the intention of setting up a franchise? Yup, same here. You know what I said earlier about Geostorm attempting an emotional ending that backs away at the last minute? Yup, same here. And if you think this entry was repetitious, just try watching this fucking film.

+Sofia Boutella is really good in it and her character is actually very well done.

-Can be best summed up in two reviews I read: “The film delivers all the chases, explosions, zombies and ghosts you could ask for, and there are a few amusing lines and creepy moments, but, between the headache-inducing flashbacks and hallucinations, the narrative would be easier to follow if it were written in hieroglyphics”. and “some nice moments but is basically a mess. The plot sags like an aeon-old decaying limb, a jumble of ideas and scenes from what looks like different screenplay drafts”

The Space Between Us

I was actually looking forward to this. But no, just no. Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, and Gary Oldman do the best with what they can, but what they’re given was not great. My main issue is the obvious lack of scientific accuracy. May seem a bit nerdy, but it’s not high-level science they fail, what they do is the equivalent of a medical TV show saying “she got pregnant because she held hands with a man”. You wouldn’t see that on a TV show as it’s obviously false and only belongs in Alabama sex education classes.

+An interesting story underneath it all.

-Albeit very badly told.

 

Wish Upon

A really good idea; a box that grants wishes but needs blood sacrifice to work. Could be a really compelling script about the moral quandary that goes on with an item like this. But nope, the main character is never bothered by what she did. She seems selfish and hateful to the point where when (spoilers) she dies at the end you don’t really care, you just think “okay, the villain’s dead now, good”. Shame as Joey King was REALLY good in other films but now I don’t trust her as an actress. The film itself also is kind of bland,  Every idea it has comes from a better film.

+Shannon Purser is fantastic in this.

-Slightly racist in parts, really badly developed characters, a main character it’s impossible to root for.

How We Got Through….November 2017

Brooklyn

Really wish I saw this when it came out. Very sweet, very funny, just kind of charming. Shame I didn’t get a chance to see it until just before it got taken off netflix, but that just means I’m now more likely to buy it on DVD.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Any TV show which ends a series with the phrase “fuck you, you car wash cunt” yet also have a genuinely heartwarming ending is okay with me. A bigger review will be going up at the end of the series.

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This is also my starbucks order.

Death Note

More like “Death No”, amirite? But yeah this was not a good film. Quite annoyed actually as I wanted this to be good. If only to prove people wrong. This had people against it from the start just because it was a remake. So when bad reviews came in I thought “that’s just idiot fanboys who can’t let go and see objectively, I’m going to watch it and I’m going to like it”. I was wrong, it was bad. The characterisation is completely wrong, they made Light average. There’s no sense of a tense cat and mouse game between Light and L, and a lot of the rules from the book have actually been changed for the sake of the film for seemingly no reason at all. On the plus side the music is superb, and it looks fantastic.

Geostorm

Why does this film exist? Is it the 90’s again? I don’t know too much about science but this film still set off my “that seems like bullshit” sirens. And the ending was a fucking cop out. “the hero sacrifices himself for the greater good, everybody cry. Oh wait, nevermind, they got saved so the death doesn’t happen and meant nothing just for the sake of a happy ending”. Which reminds me, fuck Iron Man 3, I like that film more than most people but they should have had the guts to kill Paltrow in it.

Glory Daze

You know how you sometimes read of small gigs by bands where it turns out everyone in the audience became a member of another band later down the line? This is like the film equivalent of that. Has early appearances by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Alyssa Milano etc in it before they broke. So 90’s, so, so 90’s. Has a pop punk soundtrack, uncomfortably high usage of “fag”, and the main characters have a black friend. Very flawed, kind of shit, but endearing in it’s own way. (that should totally be my About Me if I did online dating)

Happy Death Day

This was just a lot of fun. Very, very, funny, and really well written. Some films you watch and you think “”this is so meh, I can’t imagine a writer thinking “I have to write this film”. You do with this, you can just imagine someone toiling over this night and day, a true passion project. One of the funniest films I’ve seen all year with a genuinely great story.

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Actually love this image

Jigsaw

Well it’s better than the last one, I’ll give it that. Trouble with these films is all the crimes exist on their own, there’s no investigation into the crimes effect on the outside world. Is crime going down because people are scared of being punished? Are there a lot of copycat killers? Do people see him as a hero or a villain? This is never touched upon, except in some of the posters for the one before this. Very disappointing.

Justice League

Solid. That’s all I can say about it. It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done. You do have to sit back and just watch it whilst not thinking, but occasionally that’s all you want. It’s not as good as Wonder Woman, but then again few films are. Bigger review will be up soon.

Kung Fury

Hilarious. I thank the person who recommended this to me as it’s simply bonkers (well some people say it’s bonkers, I just say it’s free). It has Hitler as a kung fu master, and a dinosaur cop shooting nazis in the balls, what more do you want from a film?

Mindhorn

Very British, I can’t imagine this playing well in other countries.

Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. I can’t see her winning an Oscar for it, but she could definitely get an Emmy if she moved to TV. Clooney is great as well.

Moonlight

Read a review of this which sums up my feelings on it completely “is more personal and important than it is great”. I appreciated it more than I loved it.

Murder On The Orient Express

A lot better than I thought it would be. The biggest surprise is that it’s not Ewan McGregor as the lead role, a fact I didn’t find out until about a week after I saw the film.

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You can definitely see why I was mistaken though, right?

 

Suburbicon

Disappointing. Has a sub-plot which goes absolutely nowhere. It keeps seeming like it’s going to interact with the main story but never does, it could be cut entirely and the film wouldn’t change. It seems like it’s just there to say “people used to be racist”, and then does nothing else other than that.

The Book Of Henry

Read this was the worst film of the year, and responsible for director losing Star Wars job. I actually kind of liked it. I never need to see it again but it wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen. I mean, yeah it does seem like two different films awkwardly put together but the performances are compelling enough.

The Crane Wife

Patrick Ness is a weird writer, he seems to write updated fairy tales, kind of like a Neil Gaiman type, but not quite as magical (because few people are). This book takes a while to get going but has some great lines and the final section really becomes something else brilliant.

The Dark Tower

Finally a film as bad as everybody said. Fed up with people saying “oh my God, this film is awful, worst ever” and the film is mediocre at worst. Finally, this is a film that I feel deserves its bad reviews. It’s very, very bad. Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent, out of a cannon, into a brick wall so he can’t convince him what roles to take any more.

The Death Of Stalin

Incredibly funny and biting satire, which seems mostly historically accurate too. And it almost got banned in Russia, which is a bonus. Caused a Russian politician to describe it as a plot aimed at discrediting the figure of Stalin. Yeah, damn those films and their “anti-genocide” blinkered viewpoints.

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Plus, look at that cast

The Eyes Of My Mother

I didn’t like it. Seemed a bit too film student-ey for my liking. I didn’t get the hype, I think it’s just because it seems like a middle eastern horror film that’s too incomprehensible for Westerners to understand, but nope, it’s American. Just didn’t click with me at all.

The Hippopotamus

Very Stephen Fry. In both a good and a bad way. Although it has to be said that “now will you all kindly fuck off?” is a great closing line.

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Doesn’t seem to be done with as much love for the subject matter as the original lego movies. The Lego Batman movie was obviously done by someone who loved Batman (or at the very least knew a lot about it), this isn’t. There’s no subtle references to films of the genre, it’s just a standard boring film with the only lego-ness being a villain who’s a cat.

Why we love Session 9 (and why you should see it)

Well as my colleague continues to beat on with his more relatable posts about films and TV shows normal people actually watch. I’ll cover our indie quota (aka I might have a pretentious taste in movies) and talk about the, should be better known stuff.

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Now with that said, welcome to our belated horror special, to celebrate this month of horror we call October. On today’s menu the 2001 psychological horror, Session 9, and why I love it, and you should see it. I didn’t really need to repeat that, as the title already says it.

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They look pretty guilt ridden. This wasn’t just a pointless image to pad out he words….promise…

Like with mysteries, I’ve always had a fascination with psychological horror. Starting from when I was a young teenager and got into the Silent Hill games (listen out for the coming static), and it mutated from there. But really, psychological is my favorite brand of horror, topping everything from the creature feature to slasher flicks. As I believe the scariest things always come from ourselves, and that’s what the genre reflects. Because what really keeps you up at night? The thoughts of a zombie munching its way through your abdomen, or the guilt over the bad things you’ve done?

Sequence 02To put it in movies, Session 9 is The Shining with a dash of Repulsion, but not as visually out there as either. Set over a week (and yes it even has the obligatory names of the week title cards) it follows a group of five asbestos removers as they work at a condemned Insane Asylum. Which is filmed at the real condemned Danvers State Asylum, where the majority of the film takes place. The work is hard, the personalities clash, and the weight of the place is suffocating. As in a much slower burn (yet much shorter film) than The Shining, our characters begin to crack and question what they’re doing there.

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Danvers State Asylum, classic.

Though still fairly obscure, what’s helped build Session 9’s cult film status (a status any fucking film can lay claim to now a days), is it retrospectively has a great cast. Helmed by Brad Anderson, who would go onto direct The Machinist (aka, HOLY SHIT Christian Bale is an insane method actor). And led by a pre-cheesy one liner spewing, shade darning David Caruso of CSI: Miami fame (or infamy depending on who you ask….infamy definitely infamy), and the genuinely amazing and underrated Peter Mullan.
They and their lesser known co-stars do a perfect job filling out their somewhat stock characters into a likeable bunch. From Mullan and Caruso’s hard-boiled boss and cool right hand dynamic, to the annoying young one, the fun sleazy one, and the smart one whose a bit too obsessed with the Asylum. No one you haven’t seen before, but no one you will forget.

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How is there no cast photo! This was the closest I could get. And it’s still missing the sleazy one!

The reason Session 9 wasn’t a hit is a simple one. It just doesn’t have much mass appeal (or at the time, even much niche appeal). It lacks the bloodiness for gore hounds, or the jump-a-minute scares for tweens. It even lacks the out-there bizarreness of other psycho -horrors like Jacob’s ladder, or the prestige of budding atmospheric driven horrors like The Others (released the same year). But what it lacks in prestige it makes up for in fledgling filmic style. The camera is always moving, and moving with a purpose, to show and to tell, and the editing is the same, carefully cutting with meaning to foreshadow the coming tragedy.

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Okay, it does have it’s speckles of bizarreness.

Walking the line between true film and a bit home movie-ey, it creates a vividly oppressive atmosphere, without losing its sense of realism. You can feel the dust in the air, the sprinkles of asbestos  , the crackle of old tape recordings, and the cold dark as it lurks round every corner. Though never hide-behind-your-hands scary, it’s a creepy film that rots in your stomach and leaves you infected. Even as the plot gets more ambiguous and the characters get crazier, it never loses the feeling of being just five guys doing this shitty job, just to scrape by and gets some cash. Unlike a lot of modern horror films, it never lacks or loses its human centre (cough cough Until Dawn, cough cough, I know it’s a game).

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Even if it wasn’t seen by many people, it has left a long and well warn impression on those who did. Going on to inspire imagery in Silent Hill 3, specifically the hospital level, and though far from a ‘classic’ is now a well-regarded for its atmosphere, story, and themes amongst horror aficionados. And is a personal favorite of mine in the horror genre, if I hadn’t mentioned. It also features one of my most beloved ending lines in cinema, quoted in the picture below, but without the context of the film holds little weight. So SEE IT, if you want to know what it means, and afflict this haunting picture onto yourself.

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It also left us with this; either a funny but completely out of place bit of over the top hilarity, or Brad Anderson can join the ranks of other great directors, like Tommy Wiseau, of unintentionally being funny when trying too hard. But I think it’s probably the former.

If you like Session 9, I also recommend.

recommended