2017 in Cinema – Part 3 – 90-81

Two lists down, eight (and this one) to go in my look at the year in cinema and we’re still in the region of films that were bad. As I said in the Bottom Ten article, this has been a bad year for films. By the time I got onto the third list in 2016 I was starting to get to the point where they weren’t great, but they weren’t overly bad, but looking ahead to what is coming in the next article, we’ll still be in that area for a while.

So yeah, here we go again (and again, I apologise if the formatting is odd on your browser)….

90) Geostorm

Cast : Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Robert Sheehan, Andy Garcia and Ed Harris

Plot : After the environment gets out of control the future Jake (Butler) builds a space station that can control the weather and prevent natural disasters. Several years later he is fired by his brother Max (Sturgess) and this causes his marriage to fall apart. Skip forward a few years and the United Nations finds an Afghan village where the residents have been frozen in place.

Everyone just writes it off as an accident until Hong Kong suffers numerous underground explosions. Jake is rehired to fix the issue but when he gets up there he uncovers a conspiracy theory.

Why in the position? : I was never convinced that “Geostorm” would be a good film. Even the trailer made it sound ridiculously generic, but I still thought maybe it was like similar films (such as “2012” and “Day After Tomorrow”) and at least be passable. I was wrong.

There were so many silly moments throughout this movie that I was beginning to be convinced that this was a comedy rather than the serious, sci-fi film it was desperately attempting to be. Even the conspiracy theory that they try to present in a gripping way is somewhat misplaced and doesn’t actually add that much to the story.

With bad acting, a silly storyline and visuals that wouldn’t look out of places in the 1990s, it is really hard to think of any positives.

 

 

89) Battle of the Sexes

Cast : Emma Stone, Steve Carrell, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Austin Stowell, Elizabeth Shue, Sarah Silverman and Bill Pullman

Plot : Billie Jean King (Stone) is the best female tennis player in the world but she soon takes exception to the fact that she gets paid eight times less than the male stars, even though they pull in the same crowds. She approaches Jack Kramer (Pullman) about this and is dismissed. She eventually organises her own tennis tour with several other female stars, forcing them out of the lawn tennis association.

She is soon approached by serial gambler Bobby Riggs (Carrell), a former world number one himself, and he suggests that they look into doing a male-vs-female match for publicity, but King is not interested, but her form takes a nose dive as she starts a romantic relationship with hairdresser Marilyn (Barnett)

Why in this position? : The problem with “Battle of the Sexes” is that it was exceptionally predictable in nature. I didn’t know the story of Bobby Riggs vs Billie Jean King rivalry from back in the day, mainly because I’m not into tennis, but let me put it this way, had it been Riggs beating King then this film wouldn’t have been made. There’s not a film to be made from a man beating a woman in sports where they have a significant physical advantage (on paper anyway). They also never made Riggs feel like someone who could be a genuine rival to King given their vastly different ages. Even when Riggs beat Margaret Court I was not even remotely convinced he would beat King.

This wouldn’t be so bad if there was actually something exciting going on, or at least something that was noteworthy. I watched this a few weeks after “Borg vs McEnroe” and the two couldn’t be further apart in terms of their quality. That film has you constantly guessing, and you constantly feel engaged with the characters, becoming emotionally invested, but I didn’t get that with “Battle of the Sexes”.

There is nothing that kept me gripped to what I was watching. The acting is fine, which is why it isn’t in my bottom ten, with the exception of Andrea Riseborough, who had the charisma and likability of a dead fish that has been left to cook on a radiator.

 

 

88) IT

Cast : Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Bill Skarsgard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleef, Chosen Jacobs and Nicholas Hamilton

Plot : A year after his brother disappeared Billy (Lieberher) and his friends, nicknamed The Losers Club, accept a new member, Bev (Lillis), who has a reputation as a slut. They all start getting unusual horrific visions and the one common aspect is the presence of a clown (Skarsgard).

As times goes on they begin to realise that maybe the clown is more than just a vision in their nightmares and they all try to find a way to rid the world of this growing danger.

Why in this position? : “IT” gained praise from a lot of people upon the release and I get the strong feeling that I am very much in the minority when I say that I hated this remake. In my opinion “IT” is everything that is wrong with horror films. Firstly Pennywise is poorly built, there is precisely no background to the character other than that he only attacks once every twenty-odd years.

All of the main characters are ridiculously one-dimensional, well, I say that, some of the main seven characters don’t actually have any time to develop at all. Other than not knowing his Bar Mitzvah stuff, Stanley has precisely nothing about him at all, he barely speaks compared to the others, and the same with Mike….what do either of them actually add to the film other than another potential dead body (more on that in a minute). There isn’t a single multi-dimensional character in this entire film and it is ridiculously hard to get behind any of them. Then there is Richie, who seemingly can’t go five minutes without making a sex joke.

But the main reason that I hated this film was that it has all of the generic and bland horror tropes, such as unnecessary and predictable jump-scares, spending too much time trying to scare you rather than actually building the characters and making a really sharp noise when a jump scare happens in order to try and increase the tension. There is a distinct lack of any originality in this movie.

And finally some spoilers for this little bit so if you haven’t seen it and for some reason still want to then you have no excuses. Basically at no point did I feel that the main characters were in any genuine danger. All of them do survive to the end, every single one of them and all they have to show for it is the odd bite mark here and there and a broken arm. Pennywise ultimately didn’t actually do much harm.

 

 

87) King Arthur : Legend of the Sword

Cast : Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Geoff Bell and Eric Bana

Plot : Following on from the defeat of Mordred, Uther (Bana) is betrayed by his brother Vortigern (Law), who assumes the throne of England. Uther’s son Arthur (Bana) escapes and spends his childhood and teens living in a brothel, eventually forgetting who he is. When Excalibur re-emerges in the stone, Arthur is summoned, along with many others, to try and pull it free and he succeeds.

Vortigern goes to kill Arthur, but he escapes with the help of a female mage (Berges-Frisbey), Bedivere (Hounsou) and Bill (Gillen), who conspire to kill Vortigern and take back the kingdom.

Why in this position? When it was due to come out I heard nothing but negative things about KALOTS, but then I was convinced to see it when Chris Stuckmann gave it a B ranking on his website, but I fall very much in the camp to which Chris does not belong.

Starting with the way the film is shot. Whilst the character narrating how they’ll approach something and you seeing it as it happens it quite entertaining, the film is a general mess. Pacing is all over the place, the plot of contrived and the action is uninteresting. The acting is wooden, especially from Berges-Frisbey, and the film long outstays its welcome.

The film tries to have emotional depth by showing you all of the people that Arthur cares about, such as the woman who adopted him….but the relationship isn’t built at all, nor is Vortigern’s relationship with his daughter (seriously, not even slightly), and yet the deaths of both are treated as though they’re tragic. I get why the characters are upset, but why aren’t we given those relationships as an audience member? It is sloppy story telling.

 

 

86) Power Rangers

Cast : Darce Montgomery, Becky G, Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin, RJ Cyler, Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks

Plot : Several teens with seemingly nothing in common are drawn together one nice in the middle of the woods. Over the next few days they all start exhibiting various powers and they are then all drawn to a cave that contains the being known as Zordon (Cranston), the last of a powerful race from many millions of years ago.

He reveals that he was once part of a team known as the Power Rangers and that they defeated the evil Rita (Banks), but not she is on the rise again and the teens now must become the new team.

Why in this position? : As far as blockbuster films have gone this year, “Power Rangers” is quite generic to say the least. The thing that saves this from being a bit lower in the list is that some of the characters are quite likable, such as Ludi’s Zack, but notice that I only said “some”, as the rest are tedious and one dimensional.;

Everything about the plight of the characters, especially how it takes them so long to actually get to the point where they get their suits, feels forced and a bit tedious, not to forget that Banks’ Rita is somewhat dull as a main antagonist. Don’t get me wrong, Banks is her usually reliable self and puts in a decent show, but it is the actual character that is terrible.

The best part about the TV show that this is based on is that it was cheesey fun, but this contains neither of those elements and feels largely generic.

 

 

85) Breathe

Cast : Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville

Plot : Robin (Garfield) is a highly successful businessman who is very satisfied with life. He eventually meets and marries Diana (Foy). He takes her to Africa, where his business is, but he soon becomes very ill. After a few hours his body overheats and he is put on ice. It turns out that he has contracted polio and is now paralysed from the neck down.

He initially wants to die but is forced to live by Diana and he doctors, who obviously won’t do it for him. Eventually he convinces Diana to move him out of the hospital and through the help of Teddy (Bonneville) he is able to pioneer a chair that will include his ventilator, making him more agile. However, he becomes determined to help all those with his condition.

Why in this position? : “Breathe” was a film that I had high hopes for for a while, but then my heart sank as soon as I saw the words “BBC Films” as their films are often terribly formulaic. Infact, I can only think of one that I actually like and it will feature considerably higher up in the list, but yeah, they are often horrendously predictable, devoid of any real quality and emotion.

Andrew Garfield has a stupid look on his face for the majority of the movie and Claire Foy is emotionally constipated and I didn’t buy them as a couple for a single minute. Fortunately Tom Hollander is mildly amusing in his double role as a pair of twins.

So yeah, I don’t really have a lot to say about this boring film.

 

 

84) The Party

Cast : Kristin Scott-Thomas, Cillian Murphy, Patricia Clarkson, Timothy Spall, Emily Mortimor, Cherry Jones and Bruno Ganz

Plot : Janet (Scott-Thomas) has been promoted to a minister and decides to host a party to celebrate. Whilst she is trying to keep a secret lover from disturbing the evening, her husband Bill (Spall) is also being oddly quiet. The guests soon start arriving, including banker Tom (Murphy).

Tom seems particularly uneasy and is carrying a gun. His odd behaviour worries Jinny (Mortimer), who is celebrating successful IVF treatment with her lover Martha (Jones). As the evening goes on the relationships between the characters become increasingly strained, especially after Bill reveals why he is so quiet.

Why in this position? : I was excited for “The Party” from the trailer. It was the 99th movie I watched during the year and this was a potential dark horse for the top ten, but what I got was something that long outstayed its very modest 70 minute run time. I was bored and looking at how long was left after twenty minutes.

The problem is that there are no relatable or even believable characters, for example, you’re supposed to feel sorry for Janet when she finds out that Bill has been cheating on her, but it feels so false because the film clearly establishes that she was seeing someone as well, meaning that she is a hypocrite, how can you fe;el sorry for that? To be fair, there are some good characters in this, but I genuinely couldn’t care less about the majority of them.

Everything feels so inconsequential, the pacing is completely off and the only saving grace is the ever reliable Cillian Murphy.

 

 

83) Viceroy’s House

Cast : Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Michael Gambon, Huma Qureshi, Om Puri and Simon Callow

Plot : Lord and Lady Mountbatten (Bonneville and Anderson) are sent to be the new viceroys to India with the goal to ultimately hand over the power of the country back to the Indians, however, the issue comes with who will be placed in charge once it is over as there are various religious groups that think that they should be running things. The disagreements soon turn violent.

Lord Mountbatten tries his best but there seems to be no easy solution, but they do all eventually come to a comprise that will see India divide into two, the Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. However, this itself causes issues due to borders and people deciding which country that want to be recognised as, causing more violence.

Why in this position? : “Viceroy’s House” isn’t a bad film, but on the flip side it isn’t that good either. It’s just sort of there. It is completely forgettable as a movie. With this mini-reviews I like to usually come up with three paragraphs about it, whether they been good or bad, but I genuinely can’t think of anything that would fill that, it is that irrelevant.

As a history lesson it probably has some merits as it is quite informative, but as a film that is designed purely to try and make you feel one way or another about the situation the non-English characters find themselves in, but nothing feels genuine and therefore it becomes hard to become invested.

 

 

82) Flatliners

Cast : Ellen Page, Diego Luna, James Norton, Nina Dobrev and Kiersey Clemons

Plot : Trainee doctor Courtney (Page) is consumed by the query about what happens after we die after she accidentally killed her sister in a car accident several years later. She successfully convinces Jamie (Norton) and Sophia (Clemons) to stop her heart and recover her a few minutes later. Whilst she is officially dead she experiences something that she describes as pure energy. Eventually Sophia, Jamie and Marlo (Dobrev) do the same, but they all experience far different afterlife moments.

Soon after the four of them start experiencing visions of the dead, with Courtney is eventually killed by the ghost of her sister. With one down and the other three to go, can they figure out how to survive?

Why in this position? : “Flatliners” started off very well and had an initial story that I found quite engaging. I have been fascinated with potential afterlife for a few years and I was excited to see where they would go with it and what effects it would have on them after they had experienced it, even briefly…..but that doesn’t really happen.

For example, Sophia’s afterlife is purely negative, almost like a form of hell, but she seemingly isn’t even remotely affected by this after coming back to life, and Marlo’s is somewhat similar. Sophie’s afterlife and her curse are barely mentioned until the final few minutes of the film. Her and Marlo’s storylines feel forced and the one dimensional nature of their character arcs is tedious beyond belief.

That being said, they have more purpose than the character of Ray. Whilst Diego Luna is fairly decent in his role of Ray, the character is completely irrelevant to the story. You could take him out and nothing really changes. He is the only one of the group that doesn’t flat-line, doesn’t really have an impact the conclusion and barely contributes at all, other than to have sex with Marlo. He’s just sort of there.

 

 

81) Jigsaw

Cast : Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Cle Bennett, Hannah Anderson, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles, Laura Vandervoort and Tobin Bell

Plot : Ten years after the Jigsaw killings stopped there have been numerous new homicides that seem to have been done by a copycat killer, but the odd thing is that they all seem to be matched very well and even the tapes have a seemingly fresh voice from John Kramer (Bell), even though he had died long before.

Meanwhile, a game starts in a barn type structure and one by one a new group of victims are put to the test, but there is something very amiss about the entire situation.

Why in this position? : “Jigsaw” is the eighth film in the Saw franchise and basically acts as a “Best of” of the rest of the series. There is precisely nothing original in this entry and there are so many elements that are quite clearly taken from other films. Some examples of this *SPOILERS* include that they borrow the game you see actually taking place in the distant past from Saw 2, the character in the trap at the end realises that he now can’t escape as the key is no longer in tact, just like the first film, and I could go on, but I don’t really want to.

The problem with “Jigsaw” is not that it is an awful film because ultimately it isn’t, but it means it doesn’t actually leave an impression of any variety. It is just kind of there. It’s not the worst movie in the franchise, but if I was to rank all eight it would probably only be fourth or fifth in terms of quality.

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