Movies That Were Doomed To Fail

In the past 40 or so years, movies have generally been pretty successful.  While a lot of them tend to just break even, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  But there a number of movies each year that just fail in nearly every department or fail to get off the ground.  Sometimes you can tell that a movie is just not going to work or not going to find an audience.  These are the kinds of movies that I want to talk about.  Not all of them are awful movies.  Some of them are quite enjoyable, but a good chunk of them have failed for pretty specific reasons:  Studio interference, distribution problems, bad marketing, or just lousy concepts to begin with.  There is always a reason why a movie will crash before it leaves the runway.  Now, a good chunk of the movies that I’m going to list here are fairly recent, going back at least 15 years.  The reason I chose this particular time period is because a good number of movies over the past few years have been fairly massive failures.  I’m going to start with the most recent ones.  So….let’s dive in, shall we?

The Mummy(2017)

This was a result of some REALLY stupid decision-making.  When The Mummy was announced, it was announced as the beginning of a new cinematic universe known as the “Dark Universe.”  That was the moment the movie failed.  The concept wasn’t awful, but the execution was.  You don’t announce a new cinematic universe until you are absolutely CERTAIN that the first movie is going to be a success.  I’ve said that time and time again.  Marvel knew what they were doing with Iron Man.  I’m sure they had an idea for a cinematic universe, but they kept that part under wraps until they knew that Iron Man was going to succeed.  The folks behind The Mummy didn’t take that to heart.  Besides, if you’re going to do a new cinematic universe with the Classic Monsters from Universal, you don’t start with The Mummy.  In my opinion, The Mummy was always the weakest of the classic monsters.  So, yeah, Universal and director Alex Kurtzman managed to kill the Dark Universe before it even had a chance to get off the ground.

Gods of Egypt

This one had the potential to be an Egyptian Clash of the Titans.  It’s not a bad idea, but again, the execution was sloppy.  I knew from the moment the first trailer hit, that this movie was going to fail miserably.  The blatantly obvious green-screen effects and terrible CGI animation was compounded by some highly questionable casting choices.  Whitewashing issues aside, the movie was doomed because of some seriously questionable directing, acting and possible studio interference.  Alex Proyas is generally a pretty good director, but Gods of Egypt needed a few more months on the writing board before heading into production.

Terminator: Genisys

This was a movie that was doomed from the beginning because of shit marketing.  The second trailer of Terminator: Genisys spoiled a twist that could have thrown audiences for a loop.  Seriously.  It would have worked had those idiots at the marketing firm not spoiled the whole thing.  They did the same thing with the previous film, spoiling a major plot point.  Genisys was going to be a reboot of the franchise, but because of the lousy marketing, it won’t happen.  The rights are returning to James Cameron next year, and he has plans for the next film.  The next film is supposed to be a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  Genisys wasn’t a bad movie.  It had some really audacious ideas in place for the franchise.  They screwed up, royally.

Ghostbusters 2016

This is a movie that never had a chance.  Not one.  Between the years of not being able to get a third Ghostbusters film off the ground, to Bill Murray not wanting a part of it and finally to Harold Ramis passing away a few years ago, this movie was NEVER going to measure up.  The original film is one of the most beloved comedy/horror movies ever made and audiences had certain expectations for a movie like this.  Even if you don’t factor in the horrible marketing and PR screw-ups, the 2016 Ghostbusters had a huge legacy to live up to, and with everything stacked against it, it was never going to work.  I didn’t hate the film, but it was marred by questionable decisions.  Even if the film was firing on all cylinders and was one of the best comedies of the year, it still would have failed in the eyes of a lot of fans.

Independence Day: Resurgence

This was a movie that was a victim of being made and released a decade too late.  Independence Day: Resurgence was released almost 20 years to the day that the original film came out.  The original Independence Day was an awesome alien invasion flick that was peppered with fantastic performances, great visual effects and a degree of levity that made the whole experience so much fun to watch.  This follow-up fails to be anywhere near as compelling.  The effects are mostly CG, and it’s missing one of the things that made the original film so awesome: Will Smith.  Instead, the film has to ride on the shoulders of Jeff Goldblum.  He’s not a bad actor, but he can’t really carry a movie like this.  Had this movie come out back in 2006, it would have been better received, I think.  As it stands, the film ends on a cliffhanger waiting for a sequel that may not happen.

Suicide Squad

This is one of those bizarre cases of a movie being completely oversold to the audience.  Suicide Squad had some of the best marketing in the world, but the movie still ended up sucking.  Why?  The marketing was trying to hide the problems that were happening behind the scenes.  Between the re-shoots that were designed to bring more levity to the film and studio interference, Suicide Squad ended up collapsing in on itself.  The writing was substandard and with the exception of Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jai Courtney, the acting was really poor.  The Joker’s limited presence in the film was also a major detriment, especially after he was featured so prominently in the trailers.  Suicide Squad is a perfect example of over-hyping a movie.  Of the two DC films that were released in 2016, this was the worst of the two.

Dune(1984)

Going back to the early 80s, Dune was a movie that failed to take off, for a lot of reasons.  It wasn’t because it was a bad movie, far from it.  It’s an incredible film in so many ways.  It failed because Universal Pictures wanted to condense Frank Herbert’s story into a two and a half hour film.  For a story that has so much in terms of content, there was no absolutely no way in hell that a two and a half hour film could possibly address it all.  The fans of the book were pissed at how much the film cut out and audiences were generally confused about what was going on.  This is essentially studio interference at its worst.  It’s too bad, because visually, it’s an absolutely astonishing film with an equally outstanding soundtrack.  David Lynch was not happy about what happened with the film and has distanced himself from it.  The film has developed a cult following since its initial release, but the film still just couldn’t connect with audiences.

While there are other films that never took off, these are the ones that stuck out the most for me.  Sometimes a good movie fails to find an audience in theaters, but it may find it on home video.  Other times, a bad movie deserves to not take off and ends up being forgotten.  How a film survives depends a lot on the circumstances of its release.  Sometimes movies succeed and others don’t.  It’s the nature of the business, I guess.

Stephen King’s It(2017)

Released: September 2017

Director: Andy Muschietti

Rated R

Run Time: 135 Minutes

Distributor: Warner Bros/New Line

Genre: Horror

Cast:
Bill Skarsgard: Pennywise
Jaeden Lieberher: Bill Denbrough
Jeremy Ray Taylor: Ben Hanscom
Sophia Lillis: Beverly Marsh
Finn Wolfhard: Richie Tozier
Chosen Jacobs: Mike Hanlon
Wyatt Oleff: Stanley Uris
Nicholas Hamilton: Henry Bowers

Stephen King is one of the most well-known horror novelists in the world today.  He has a particularly nifty eye for detail and character development that you generally don’t see in horror novels.  That being said, his stuff can be hit-and-miss for people like me.  While you have absolute classics like Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, Pet Semetary and It, he’s also given us some pretty substandard stuff like Needful Things, Desperation, and Dreamcatcher.  The one thing that a lot of these books have in common, is that they’ve mostly been adapted into either movies or TV mini-series.  Some were quite excellent like The Shining, Carrie and Pet Semetary, some adaptations were almost as bad as the book like Dreamcatcher.  That’s one of the few Stephen King books and adaptions that I can genuinely say that I hate.  One of the most interesting books that King has written and I consider to be one of his best is It.  It was a pretty grim story.  The mini-series that it was adapted into in the early 90s was a bit of a mixed bag.  In 2017, Warner Bros and New Line would take another stab at the character of Pennywise and the group known as the Losers’ Club for a new adaptation for Stephen King’s It.

The film opens in Derry, Maine in 1988.  We see young Georgie Denbrough as he takes his new paper boat and plays with it in the streets as it’s raining.  When the boat flows into a drain, Georgie attempts to retrieve it when he’s confronted by a mysterious clown with yellow eyes.  After a brief conversation, the mysterious clown pulls young Georgie into the drain.  A year later, Bill Denbrough and his friends are still haunted by the disappearance of Bill’s younger brother.  As summer begins to set in, the boys learn of more disappearances, until one of the boys discovers a disturbing pattern that features a devastating event that’s been happening every 27 years in Derry.  As time goes on, the boys begin to see visions of a disturbing clown by the name of Pennywise.  Realizing that this…clown may be responsible not only for the disappearance of random children, but also Georgie as well.  The story of It is one of my personal favorites that Stephen King ever wrote.  It really didn’t pull any punches as to what happened to the kids that disappeared, but it also gave us one of the most unique and diabolical villains in modern literature: Pennywise.  This new film is essentially the first half of the actual story with Chapter II coming next year.  I can’t wait.

When one is discussing Stephen King’s It, one always has to mention the story’s primary villain, Pennywise.  The mini-series that debuted back in the early 90s featured an iconic performance by Tim Curry as the evil clown.  It was one of those performances that really lifted Mr. Curry to legendary status.  His take on the character was funny but also terrifying at the same time.  For the 2017 film, we have young Bill Skarsgard take on the iconic role.  You want to know something?  He’s really, really creepy.  Bill can do this thing with his smile that really gets under your skin.  He really steals the show as any good villain should, but Bill throws everything into his performance.  He does most of his own stunts and scares the hell out of the kids on the set.  I refuse to say which performance is better, Curry’s or Skarsgard’s.  In my opinion, they are both excellent takes on the same character.  The kids that play the…well…kids in the film are really good.  You really do believe that Bill, Richie, Mike, Eddie and Stan are the best of friends.  The acting is absolutely phenomenal.

From a visual standpoint, this is an absolutely stunning film.  The set designs are extremely large and at the same time claustrophobic.  Like-wise the city of Derry just feels like one of those old-fashioned cities that you see in some of those old movies.  The sewers are wonderfully grotesque and Pennywise’s lair is massive.  Yeah, there definitely is CGI being used in the film, but it’s really done in a way to really capture the scale of certain scenes.  The actual blood effects are mostly practical.  There’s a scene in Beverly Marsh’s bathroom that gets covered in blood when the red stuff comes out of the drain.  It’s pretty freakin’ awesome, actually.  Like-wise the costumes are very much like the clothes that came out of the late 80s.  Pennywise himself is pretty creepy.  You’ve got the make-up obviously and the red hair, but it would mean nothing if Bill Skarsgard wasn’t up for it.  Overall, the look of It was very impressive.

The film runs at a pretty good pace, despite its run-time.  If you’re at all familiar with the book or mini-series, then a lot of what you see here is going to be very familiar.  Obviously, it’s not necessarily a straight remake of the mini-series, as certain characters and situations are dealt with in different ways.  But the overall spirit and story remain intact.  There was a part in the book that was wisely left out of the mini-series and this film.  It involved Beverly Marsh and how she decided to….”connect” with the boys of the Losers’ Club.  It was very wise of the film-makers to leave that aspect of the story out of the film.  But overall, I would have to say that It is still a very compelling and really great story.  My only “gripe” is that we don’t really learn who or what Pennywise really is, although there references in the book to the character being an ancient entity from the dawn of time.  But you know what they say: A mystery once solved is never quite as interesting.

Honestly, I was really worried about how Bill Skarsgard was going to portray Pennywise, but I found myself really intrigued by his performance.  It’s very different than what Tim Curry did back in the early 90s.  Also, setting the film in the late 80s instead of the 50s makes a lot of sense.  Overall, I would have to say that the 2017 version of It is a very strong movie.  Now, if they can make Chapter II just as awesome, I’ll be in 7th Heaven.  The one thing they need to do in Chapter II is to not turn Pennywise into a fucking spider like they did in the mini-series.  If you’re going to reveal his true form, it really needs to be something big and terrifying.  But yeah, overall:  This is a damn good movie.

My final recommendation: We all float down here. 9/10

The Best and Worst Movies of 2017

I realize that this list is a little late as we are 4 days into the new year, but better late than never, right?  While 2017 was generally a mixed bag when it came to movies, it still gave us some of the best movies I’ve seen in years.  But it also gave us some of the worst movies I’ve seen in years.  There a some things that I want to mention before I begin.  One: Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not going to be on this list.  I’ll tell you why.  Disney has made the decision to release a Star Wars movie, spin-off or otherwise, every single year for the next 20 or so years.  That’s the plan, anyway.  As a result, I don’t think it feels right to put a Star Wars film on my Best list every year.  I loved the last movie, but quite frankly, there were much better films that came out in 2017.  With that in mind: Let’g get into the best and worst that 2017 had to offer.

THE BEST

Wind River:

This is one of the best thrillers that I’ve seen in a long time.  It’s a murder mystery that takes place on an Indian Reservation, involving the rape and murder of a young woman.  A big-game hunter played by Jeremy Renner, with the assistance of a lone FBI agent played by Elizabeth Olsen attempt to track down how the girl ended up where she did and who killed her.  It’s a fantastic murder mystery for many reasons, but one of the most obvious reasons is that it places a focus on a Native American community in Wyoming.  It’s a very isolated group which makes some of the events in the film even more tragic.  Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen give the best performances of their careers and even the supporting actors like Gil Birmingham are extremely compelling.  It’s an intense little thriller that I can’t recommend enough.

mother!

Darren Aranofsky is probably one of the most polarizing directors I’ve ever heard of.  That’s one of the reasons why I love his movies.  He doesn’t play by the roles as his movies are some of the most unconventional I’ve ever seen.  mother! is his latest effort and it’s probably his most bat-shit crazy film he’s made yet.  It involves a couple whose idyllic life is upended when strangers come knocking at their door.  I’m not going to get into spoilers here, but let’s just say that mother! is a film that must be seen and experienced.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.  Strong performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeifer and Ed Harris complement a film that is so unique that it kind of requires multiple viewings.  This is also one of the most divisive movies of the year because of the subject matter.  People are either going to love it or flat-out hate it.  Thankfully, I loved it and found it worthy of being one of the best movies of the year.

Logan

I’ve been a huge fan of the X-Men films since the beginning and Hugh Jackman has been a large part of that.  His performances as Wolverine have been really top-notch.  Logan is Hugh Jackman’s final outing as the adamantium-clawed character and it’s his best performance yet as a physically and emotionally broken Wolverine struggling to survive in a world where mutants are dying off.  Patrick Stewart also turns in a heartbreaking, yet compelling performance as the aging Charles Xavier.  When young Laura enters the picture, however, things really get thrown into a tailspin as Laura is a mutant very much like Logan with the same healing capabilities and adamantium skeleton.  She’s also inherited his blood-rage.  For fans waiting for the Wolverine to finally go berserk, this is that movie.  It’s extremely violent and has some pretty shocking moments.  But it’s all tied together by a story that is essentially about family.  I would not characterize Logan as a superhero movie, because it really isn’t.  It’s more of a Western/Road Movie in the style of The Unforgiven.  It’s one of the best comic-book based movies in recent years and I highly recommend it.

Split

I never thought that I would ever consider putting an M. Night Shyamalan film on any of my Best Films of the year lists, yet here we are.  Split is a true return to form for the director as he delivers a compelling and tightly woven thriller about a man who suffers from having more than 20 personalities in his head.  James McAvoy’s performance really helps elevate the film to the level that it needed to be.  It’s definitely one of those movies that really needs to be seen to be believed.

Brawl In Cell Block 99

This is one of those big surprises of the year.  Vince Vaughn delivers one of his best performances in a very compelling yet extremely violent film.  His character, Bradley Thomas, is forced to find and kill a particular inmate otherwise bad things will happen to his wife and unborn child.  The resulting film is extremely fast-paced despite its length and absolutely intense.  S. Craig Zahler, who wrote and directed Bone Tomahawk delivers another solid film.

Headshot

When it comes to straight-up action movies, I have to hand it to folks from Indonesia: They know what they’re doing.  Headshot is one of the most intense action films I’ve ever seen.  Yet, for all that action, it’s the performances that really stand out.  Iko Uwais is constantly proving that not only is he a great martial artists, but he’s becoming a great actor as well.  The violence is pretty visceral but it’s also very satisfying.  The story is actually quite interesting with Iko’s character suffering from bit of amnesia.  It adds a very interesting dynamic to what happens in the film.

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan has done it again.  The director of movies such The Dark Knight and Inception directs this story about the evacuation of nearly 400,000 soldiers from Dunkirk.  From the moment the film starts to the moment that it ends, you’re thrown into a very chaotic and intense situation.  The whole movie is about that situation and while it doesn’t really have much in the way of characterization, it really doesn’t need to, especially when you understand how important this evacuation was.  For a war movie that is rated PG-13, it’s terrifying.  It’s not about the gore or any of that, it’s more psychological.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Blade Runner 2049

Of all the movies that came out in 2017, Blade Runner 2049 had me worried the most.  How can you craft a sequel to one of the most beloved cult classics of all time?  It shouldn’t have worked, and in the hands of lesser directors and film-makers, it wouldn’t have.  Thankfully, Denis Villaneuve was more than up to the task for really expanding on the world of Blade Runner.  Visually, this is one of the most stunning films I’ve ever seen.  The landscapes and the desolation that you see when get out of the main cities is beautifully bleak.  While the performances from Ryan Gosling and Jerod Leto are really good, it’s Harrison Ford that really steals the show.  He delivers his best performance in years.  Like the original Blade Runner, this one is also a neo-noir detective thriller, and as such, it didn’t get the exposure that it deserved.  It’s the kind of detective movie that we don’t see very often.  While the other movies that I mentioned were amazing, I would have to say that Blade Runner 2049 is my favorite movie of the year.

WORST

Well, we gotta have a worst list, so here we go.  There really weren’t a whole lot of movies that I can say I truly hated, but there were a few, so here they are.

The Emoji Movie

Fuck this movie.  Fuck it sideways.  As bad as movies have gotten in 2017, I was NEVER insulted the way this movie insulted me. It is a cheap, weak-ass knock off of better films like Inside Out.  The animation is highly dubious and quite frankly cheap-looking(50 million dollar budget).  The story is poorly written and highly predictable with characters that are extremely annoying.  Quite frankly the concept was doomed from day one.  I don’t who the idiot was that thought that making a movie about a smartphone function was good idea, but they needed to have their heads smashed against a wall.  This was absolutely one of the worst movies in the last few years.  EASILY.

Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire

Dragonheart was a fun little fantasy flick that came out back in 1996.  It worked because it focused on the characters and it treated the dragon like an actual character.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for an hour and a half.  The second film was a direct-to-video clunker that was really bad.  Dragonheart 3while not a classic by any stretch, was a much better follow-up to the original than it had any right to be.  It actually had some really solid CGI and decent acting.  I liked it.  Dragonheart 4 is even worse than the second film.  I didn’t think that was possible.  I wasn’t expecting the dragon to be like Game of Thrones-quality, but it could’ve been at least as decent as the third film, but it’s not.  Patrick Stewart replaces Ben Kingsley as the voice of the dragon, and honestly, it’s not quite the same.  That’s not a strike against Mr. Stewart, but it is a very different kind of voice-acting.  The acting is generally awful, the action scenes are poorly choreographed and the story is just WEAK.  Direct-to-video films have come a long way since the early 2000’s, but this is a HUGE step backwards.

Broken Sword Hero

When Ong-Bak came out back in 2003, it opened my eyes to the awesome potential of Thai action cinema.  Tony Jaa was the premier action star that brought attention to Thailand’s film industry.  When it comes to action, Thai film tend to hit very, very hard.  But in terms of story-telling, they miss the mark.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Westerner and I have no real knowledge of how Thailand does things as far stories go.  Broken Sword Hero is supposed to be the story of one of Thailand’s most legendary warriors, Thong Di.  However, the film is boring, the acting is bad and the action scenes are dull and uninteresting.  I was expecting a lot more, and it ended up pissing me off the longer it went on.  It’s not a good movie.

There we are, the best and worst movies of 2017.  Yeah, it’s a little late, but I assure you it’s been worth it.  I’m very curious to see what 2018 will bring as far as movies go, so I hope everybody had a great holiday and season, and I look forward to bring you more in 2018.

The Emoji Movie: What Have I Done?

Released: July 2017

Rated: Total Garbage

Director: Tony Leondis

Distributor: Sony Pictures Animation(if you call that animation)

Genre: Crap/Crap/Crap/Garbage/Abomination

Cast:….who cares?

Usually, in this part of the review, I do an introduction about the film I review, but in the case of The Emoji Movie, I’m going to do something VERY different here.  Since emojis are used to express people’s emotions via text messaging, allow me to express my feelings about this “film” through visual aids.

First Visual Aid: I’m using Return of the Jedi as my visual aid.  Imagine, if you will, that the Emperor is The Emoji Movie, Luke Skywalker is the audience, and Darth Vader as the end credits:

THAT’S what the movie is doing to the audience.  They’re getting bombarded by an ugly piece of crap and it isn’t until the credits that the audience is saved from slow and painful misery.  Again, as a visual aid, I’m referencing Return of the Jedi.  Now, imagine Darth Vader as The Emoji Movie with Luke Skywalker as the audience that had to sit through this pile of absolute stupidity:

The audiences were NOT happy with this.  The level of venom thrown at the film was extraordinary.  On Rotten Tomatoes, 60% of the people hated this thing.  The other 40 were clearly brainwashed or paid to say nice things about The Emoji Movie.  I’ve got one more visual aid to share with you before I give my final thoughts on this……pile of horse manure.  Return of the Jedi has been a wonderful boon for visual aids to describe how I feel about movies like The Emoji Movie.  Here we go:  Imagine film critics as the Rebel fleet and The Emoji Movie as the Death Star:

While the film did “meh” on the box-office front, it was savaged by critics the world over with a scathing 9% on Rotten Tomatoes.  This movie has gone down in flames.  In all seriousness and visual aids aside, The Emoji Movie is one of the worst movies ever made.  There were more times than I could count where I was rolling my eyes.  Who was this movie for?  If it was for the kids, it would have bored them.  If it was for adults, it would have pissed them off.  It pissed me off.  The fact that they roped poor Patrick Stewart into this is beyond my comprehension.  I would love to know who the ding dong was that thought that a movie about emojis was a good idea.  It clearly didn’t work.  The humor was flat(although TJ Miller tried his damndest as Gene), the visuals were third-rate and the story was a cheap knock-off of better films like Inside Out.  I generally try to give movies the benefit of the doubt, which is why I rarely deliver ratings less than 5 out of 10.  I can usually see what the intent behind the film was, even if the film-makers didn’t quite succeed.  There’s usually a nugget or two of interesting and entertaining stuff in movies of this caliber.  I really couldn’t find any of that here.  I knew going in that was going to be a bad movie, considering everything that I’ve heard.  Ultimately, it was worse than what I’ve heard.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but movies like Superman IV are far more entertaining than this.    It’s not a “so bad it’s good” kind of deal, it’s just plain awful.  I don’t think I’ve had a movie insult me the way this one did.  This post is as much a public service announcement as it is a review.  Stay away from The Emoji Movie, if you value your intelligence and your sanity.

My Final Conclusion: The Emoji Movie is a new definition of pain and suffering.  Burn it. 0.1/10(only because I have to give it a score)