2017 in Cinema : Part 5 – 70-61

So we’re here, almost half way through the countdown and we’re now onto movies that are certainly watchable, but all have something that stop them from falling into the category of being good for me.

None of the films are bad, at least in my opinion, but they’re not great for a variety of reasons.

70) Daddy’s Home 2

Cast : Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow and John Cena

Plot : Following on from the events of the last movie Brad (Ferrell) and Dusty (Wahlberg) are practically best friends and share the duties of fatherhood. One day it is suggested that they do a joint Christmas so that their kids aren’t pulled apart on the day and they agree, although both of their respective fathers are coming in.

Dusty’s dad Kurt (Gibson) is constantly on at his son and how he allows his kids to be raised in a non-manly way, whereas Brad and his father Jonah (Lithgow) share an exceptionally close relationship. As the whole family gather at a log cabin for the holidays, tensions start to rise, especially as one of the children develops their first crush.

Why in this position? “Daddy’s Home” was an ok comedy, but that’s it really, ok. The sequel is pretty much exactly the same. It’s ok, it’s there and generally non-offensive comedy. It doesn’t really stand out. There are some reasonable laughs in there, but then are few and far between as many moments go by with nothing happening.

The characters are mostly one dimensional and predictable, and the problem is that none of them are memorable. I write that two or three weeks after seeing the film and I’m struggling to remember what half of them actually did during the movie.

It’s there, that’s about it.



69) Blade Runner 2049

Cast : Ryan Gosling, Ana De Armas, Harrison Ford and Jared Leto

Plot : K (Gosling) is a blade runner for the police and lives a low key life due to being a replicant. He lives with a holographic girlfriend named Joi (Armas), but is shocked after he finds a box containing the remains of a replicant who appears to have been pregnant at some point close to the time of their death, something that is seemingly impossible.

Despite his boss telling him to end the investigation, K continues to find a lot of evidence that leads him to believe that the replicant did indeed give birth, and he begins to suspect that maybe he hasn’t been told the truth about his own origins.

Why in this position? : Well I had only watched the original “Blade Runner” for the first time a few days prior to watching this so I wasn’t convinced that I would like this as I didn’t enjoy that, but I will admit that I found this to be more enjoyable than the original….but it still wasn’t great.

Much like the original film it is visually stunning and will look astonishing on Blu-Ray, but there is something missing from the story for me. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a bad film at all and it was easy to follow, but there is something distinctively uninteresting about this movie. Not to forget that there are a few actors that are advertised as main stars of the movie and yet are barely in it.

Again, it isn’t a bad film, but it was somewhat lifeless.



68) The Space Between Us

Cast : Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino

Plot : Gardner (Butterfield) was the first human to be born on Mars, but as his mother died in childbirth he is keen to meet his father, but realistically he knows it will never happen as his body would never be able to adapt to Earth’s atmosphere and gravity. He does have regular video chats with Tulsa (Robertson), a girl in the foster system. One day Gardner receives the news that he will get to go to Earth temporarily, but he quickly escapes and goes to meet Tulsa.

She is initially shocked to see him as he had claimed he had a rare bone disease to hide where he really was, but she eventually agrees to help him find his father, even though she doesn’t believe him when he says where he is really from.

Why in this position? : So let’s start with what I liked and that is that some thought has actually gone into the film, even as much as Gardner having a strange walk due to struggling to adapt to Earth’s gravity. I saw an interview with Butterfield on the “Graham Norton Show” in which he attached weights to achieve the odd walk, and I really liked that….and that’s about it.

“The Space Between Us” is a completely forgettable sci-fi movie and come to the end of the year (I am literally writing this just a few hours after watching it on February 12th, it took too long to write these reviews last year so I wanted to get them out of the way) I will struggle to remember much about this film.

It tries to invoke feelings of trying to appreciate the small things, and that is something that I like when it is done right and well, but this certainly wasn’t one of those times. Everything feels a bit forced and generic. There is nothing that makes this film even remotely stand out and other than ever so lightly reminding me of one of my favourite films from 2015, “Tomorrowland” (also starring Robertson, which might explain why).



67) The Mummy

Cast : Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Russell Crowe and Jake Johnson

Plot : Princess Ahmanet (Boutella) is the first in line to her father’s throne before he gives birth to a son, who takes priority. She decides to summon the God Set to kill her family, but soon after she is captured by the priests and is mummified alive. Several millennia later her tomb is discovered by Nick (Cruise) and Chris (Johnson), and they are soon joined by acclaimed archaeologist Jennifer (Wallis). The three remove the sarcophagus from the mercury pool it is in, but on the way home Chris is zombified and is forced to be killed by Nick, only for the plane to then crash, killing everyone on board.

Nick soon wakes up without a scratch on his and they theorise that Ahmanet has plans for him. First she has to regain her strength and she consumes the lifeforce from a variety of people before she regains full strength. Meanwhile, Nick meets Henry Jekyll (Crowe), the leader of a group called Prodigium, and he believes that Ahmanet wants to us Nick’s body to resurrect Set.

Why in this position? : Whilst watching it I didn’t actually mind “The Mummy”, that despite all the criticism it got. Admittedly it was nowhere near as enjoyable as the Brendan Fraser version in the later 90s, but it was still pretty good, but as time went on I began to see the problems with it, most importantly that I write this less than three months after seeing the film and I could barely remember the plot, it’s that forgettable. I only remembered when watching it again in mid-September onine.

The main problems stem from it trying to be a decent film and establish a new cinematic universe at the same time, but the problem is that it is trying so hard to do the latter that it forgot to do the former. Every single thing that happens seems to simply be a case of doing it for the sake of setting up a franchise, not for telling a good story.

It’s ok in places, but there are some big errors that need fixing if they are going to do this universe.



66) The Great Wall

Cast : Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau and Lu Han

Plot : William (Damon) is a mercenary who is only interested in money. One day he and fellow mercenary Pero (Pascal) and pursued by some bandits that have killed the rest of their group. They are soon captured by the Chinese after stumbling across the Great Wall.

A large military presence is there and they reveal that they are there to withhold creatures. Despite thinking it was a while away, a group suddenly attacks and kill a large number of the army, but William successfully kills several of the creatures and this could prove the beginning of the end for the battle against the monsters.

Why in this position? : If there was an award for the most generic film on this list then there is a good chance that “The Great Wall” would win it. It is so generic that other than the colourful uniforms and the absolute basic outline of the plot, I can’t recall pretty much anything about this film and it’s only a few months since I saw it.

Visually the film looked great, but the problem is that it takes more than good looks to actually be worthwhile and this film fails miserably in that sense.

No-one is particularly bad in terms of their performance, but no-one is overly good or memorable either.



65) Raw

Cast : Garance Mariller, Rabah Nait Oufella and Ella Rumpf

Plot : Justine (Mariller) starts at veterinary school in the year behind her older sister Alex (Rumpf). She is roomed with openly gay Adrien (Oufella), but they struggle to cope with the near year long induction of the above them. One of the first trials is to eat a raw rabbit kidney, and vegetarian Justine severely objects to this, but does it anyway. She soon breaks out in a horror rash.

She suddenly finds herself craving flesh and when she accidentally severs Alex’s finger, she eats it. As time goes on her hunger becomes more uncontrollable, but she isn’t the only one trying to hide her true nature.

Why in this position? : This French language film came to the UK with a huge amount of controversy given the plot. Many were calling it the “Serbian Film” or “Human Centipede” of 2017, but for me I couldn’t really see it and whilst I was never bored, I found myself struggling to get into it. Maybe it is because I am now de-sensitised to this sort of thing, but other than being quite visceral, I didn’t see anything that I hadn’t seen before in film.

The plot itself is quite easy to follow, but the problem is that it seems directionless for the majority of the near one-hundred minute run time, and I’m not entirely sure of what the point of the film actually was. It just seemed to be giving shock value for the sake of having it, rather than actually trying to actually do anything with it.

It’s not awful, and the cast is decent enough, but the story just isn’t that exciting in my opinion.



64) Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Cast : Dane De Haan, Cara Delavigne, Clive Owen, Rihanna and Ethan Hawke

Plot : Several hundred years into the future the International Space Station grew so large that they cast it off into space and renamed it Alpha. Valerian (De Haan) and Laureline (Delavigne) are hired to retrieve a Mul (a creature that can replicate anything it eats several hundred times over). They are successful after a mission that has stuttered and return to Alpha, only to find out when they get there that an unknown force has caused the centre of Alpha to become incredibly toxic and it is expanding.

The group are suddenly attacked by a group of aliens who head for the affected area and take the Mul, so Valerian and Laureline are sent in to retrieve it again, but what is causing the toxic readings?

Why in this position? : “Valerian” (for short) was one of those films that was always going to struggle because of its similarities to Luc Besson’s most famous work, “The Fifth Element”. In many ways that is unfortunately because I certainly didn’t hate “Valerian” it isn’t that bad. It tries very hard to universe build and for that I commend it, the only problem is that trying too hard meant that there was a LOT of exposition.

For example, when they arrive at Alpha they want a description read to them by the computer, but they’ve been there before so they already know what it’s like, so it is purely for the audience and is blatant exposition. This, along with the predictable nature of the plot, made me really struggle to come up with anything positive about the film, even if I did enjoy it somewhat.

The film, whilst beautiful in places, does look exceptionally fake and relied far too heavily on CGI, but the problem is that it all looks fake. I’d be genuinely surprised if more than 25% of this movie wasn’t set against a green screen of some variety.

Cara Delavigne was ok in this film and Dane De Haan wasn’t his typically terrible self, but unfortunately them not being terrible didn’t save this from being a very meh sci-fi film.



63) Pirates of the Caribbean : Salazar’s Revenge

Cast : Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario and Geoffrey Rush

Plot : Years ago a young Jack Sparrow (Depp) successfully defeated Captain Salazar (Bardem) and trapped his crew in the Devils Triangle, condemning them to spend eternity as members of the undead. However, when Jack loses his crew and decides to barter away his enchanted compass so that he can get some rum, and this releases Salazar and his crew on the world.

Meanwhile, the son of Will Turner (Bloom), Henry (Thwaites), is on a mission to find a way to release his father from serving upon the Dutchman, and his teams with Carina (Scodelario) who believes that finding Poseidon’s Trident will end any curses at sea. They reluctantly team up with Sparrow, who is now pursued by Salazar.

Why in this position? : Whilst better than the fourth entry into the franchise, which is faint praise given that isn’t the hardest task in the world, “Pirates of the Caribbean : Salazar’s Revenge” (or “Dead Men Tell No Tales” for my non-British readers) fails to deliver on quite a few levels, with the biggest one being that only one of the characters is actually interesting or remarkable.

Jack Sparrow is has become a parody of himself, Barbosa doesn’t really do anything during the run time of the movie until the final five or so minutes, Henry and Carina are just awful and completely inconsequential additions to the franchise. The only character worthy of time is Salazar, who is played very well by Javier Bardem. Infact, other than Jack, I can’t see any of the main characters of the film returning for any potential sequels.

The stakes don’t feel like that big and in many ways aren’t compelling.



62) It Comes at Night

Cast : Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Chris Abbott and Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Plot : Paul (Edgerton), Sarah (Ejogo) and Travis (Harrison) live in a house in the middle of the woods as they try to protect themselves from an airborne virus that has wiped out a significant part of the population. One day Will (Abbott) tries to break in, but is subsequently tortured by the family. He eventually reveals that his family are similar to Paul’s and are just looking for someone safe. After much deliberation, the two families move in together.

Everything seems fine at first, but soon tensions rise as Harrison finds Will’s son walking around at night with the barricaded door wide open. Travis reports back that the son might be sick with the illness that wiped out the population, and Will barricading the door to his family’s room certainly doesn’t help as the tension certainly rises.

Why in this position? : Had it not been for watching a Chris Stuckmann video about this film beforehand then there is a chance that this could have been much higher on the list, but Chris mentioned a certain stylistic choice that took a lot of tension and genuine feelings out of the movie. That choice is that when one of the characters is dreaming, the aspect ratio changes thanks to the black bars at the bottom and top of the screen.

If it wasn’t for that, or the dream sequences that seem to have been added simply to pad out the run time, this could have potentially been a top ten contender as I found myself engaged and drawn into the story, the characterisation and how you never truly know what is going to happen, but the stylistic choice and unnecessary dream sequences pushed this not only out of the top ten, but out of the top half, that’s how needless they are.

It’s such a shame.



61) Alien Covenant

Cast : Katherine Waterstone, Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride

Plot : The crew of the Covenant transport vessel are suddenly awoken when the ship encounters severe turbulence that android Walter (Fassbender) is unable to avoid. Due to the death of the captain, Chris (Crudup) takes command and up the discovery of a piece of Earth music call he decides to divert to discover the source, much to the anger of Daniels (Waterston).

They arrive at the planet to find it deserted, but strangely full of human vegetation. Meanwhile Hallett (Nathaniel Dean) and Ledward (Ben Rigby) become violently ill and eventually alien creatures burst out of them. The crew struggles to kill them until the appearance of David (also Fassbender) from the first movie.

Maybe this isn’t the blessing in disguise that they think it is.

Why in this position? : The problem with the Alien prequels (this and Prometheus for those who are unaware) is that they are trying so hard to build the alien universe before the events of the first film that they forget to focus on themselves somewhat. “Covenant” has several issues similar to this, such as Oram complaining that he wasn’t given any responsibility because he is religious, but the very fact he was placed as second in command, which is a position of power, negates this, and maybe the very fact that he sticks his face right next to an unknown object sort of backs up that maybe he isn’t the smartest.

Other than Fassbender no-one really does a good job here. Katherine Waterstone is such a lifeless actress that it is really hard to take her seriously as someone that I should get behind and not just consider her a low-budget and insufficient substitute for Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, which is what they were obviously going for. Don’t get me wrong, no-one other than her is bad, but no-one is that good, not even the normally reliable Billy Crudup.

The one major positive that I will give to the film is the soundtrack, which is haunting at points, especially when the alien bursts out of Ledward’s back, which is already a disturbing scene as it is.


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