4 Biggest Blockbuster Disappointments Of 2017

 

We’re approaching the halfway mark through the year so I thought it would be appropriate to review the blockbusters that have been released in 2017, sadly it hasn’t been a great year. 2017 isn’t over yet so we still have some potential saving graces in the form of Wonder Woman, Justice League, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok etc. however I have to say that certain blockbusters that I have seen have not lived up to the hype.

If you want to look at 2017 UK film releases then you would include the multiple award winning films which have been my favourite films of the year, such as: La La Land, Moonlight, Lion, Jackie, Manchester By The Sea, Hidden Figures etc. and thank goodness for these beautiful films as I am starting to lose hope for big budgeted releases. I hope by the end of the year I am proven wrong and can say that great storytelling can be seen in all type of films.

Boring and the Beast

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Let’s start off with one of the most underwhelming and highly overrated release: Beauty and the Beast. Firstly let me state that I am supportive of Disney giving their animated classics the live action treatment (as discussed in my previous post)however with the release of Beauty and the Beast; originality and creativity died and instead it assured Disney to play it safe with their upcoming live action releases. I was excited for the film before its release and I was rooting for Emma Watson as I thought she’d be perfect as Belle, however because the live action took no chances there was no room for mystery and excitement of what was to come in the film.

Interestingly enough the film has become a huge success, which sadly gives Disney permission to keep on playing it safe. The film has revived positive reviews (71% from Rotten Tomatoes) and the film has grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide making it the 10th highest grossing films of all time. Obviously the film has resonated with audiences, so I will respect those who loved the film however I can’t understand how this film has entered the top 10 of the most successful films of all time. I think I’ll stick to the original 1991 animation.

The NOT So Awesome Mix-Tape

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I loved Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and so did everyone else as the film became a fan favourite and raked in $773 million worldwide. It was unapologetic in how it delivered on the fun and it was an antidote to the ‘serious superhero film’. The sequel had a lot to live up to following the surprise smash hit first film.

After an exhaustive marketing campaign for the sequel the hype and excitement to see the film wore off, but I still wanted to see the film and I really wanted to enjoy it…yet it failed to deliver on the fun and thrills. It went down the cliche route that sequels tend to go down, take what was funny in the first film and crank it up to the highest volume. The comedy was too obvious and stupid at times. I liked Groot in the first film but did I really need to see a baby Groot figure out how to play music against the backdrop of a potentially cool action sequence? and the story was pretty underwhelming. That being said, there were some good some small moments between Gamora and Nebula as well as Yondu and Rocket, these moments allowed for some character development and appreciation. Also I think that Ayesha the Golden Priestess was underused and could have been the main villain.

Of course the film has become a huge success and has grossed over $799 million worldwide (and counting) as well as receiving positive reviews (81% from Rotten Toamtoes)so again there has been a disconnect from what audiences have felt and how I have responded to the film. However despite the fact the sequel wasn’t my favourite Marvel film I am excited for the third film and it will be interesting to see the characters in the upcoming Avengers films, so I haven’t given up on the Guardians of the Galaxy just yet.

Alien: The Pretend Sequel To Prometheus

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I will hold my hands up and say I am not a die hard Alien fan, however I have seen Alien (1979), Aliens (1986) and Prometheus (2012) so I am familiar with the franchise. With Covenant promising to return to the horror element I was interested to see how this film would continue on with what was set out from Prometheus and how it would adopt a grittier and darker style from the previous Alien films. That was the problem, Ridley Scott has openly admitted that Covenant was addressing what die hard Alien fans disliked about Prometheus, basically because there was no huge weird alien lurking round a spaceship. When I watched Prometheus I hadn’t seen any Alien film and that was the time when marketing was saying how the film was not meant to be a direct prequel but a standalone film in the same universe, so I thought I was safe in watching it without feeling left out. Then all of a sudden it WAS part of the Alien franchise, meaning Covenant had to make some major changed to please Alien fans.

Covenant was released 5 years after Prometheus because they were trying to figure out whether to make a direct sequel to Prometheus or give in and be openly part of the Alien world. I was really looking forward to see Dr. Elizabeth Shaw meet the Engineers and find out questions that were posed in Prometheus, the tone of Prometheus was slick and futuristic but no without it’s shocking moments. All I got was some 5 minute YouTube video featuring Shaw and David and limp references to the “failed Prometheus trip”. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I didn’t love Covenant, because it tried to jump full throttle ahead of what was started in Prometheus and tried to connect this film to the Alien universe. However, I enjoyed some moments and Katherine Waterston was the best part about Covenant, and with THAT ending I’m definitely interested to see what Ridley Scott has planned for future instalments.

Kong: The Unnecessary Remake

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For me the ultimate King Kong film is the 2005 remake directed by Oscar winning director Peter Jackson. I remember seeing that film in the cinemas when I was 12 and being blown away, scared and emotionally invested in what was happening in the film. I had to except that a new King Kong was inevitable as it’s not restricted to the 1933 classic nor the 2005 remake but it is a cultural pop icon meaning each generation will revisit the character. That being said I still didn’t see the point of a new Kong film, but that’s just my personal opinion.

I have to give credit to the 2017 film as it was doing its own thing and it wasn’t a remake of any Kong film, that at least allows itself to be set apart and judged on its own merit. The other factor which excited me was how it was set against the backdrop of 1970’s Vietnam war meaning it would be a colourful and vibrant take on the classic monster character. Not to mention a great cast consisting of Oscar winner Brie Larson, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston John C. Reilley etc. However what also retracted me from being full on excited for the film was how it was intended to be part of yet another cinematic universe.

Despite my reservations I have to say I was willing to go in with an open mind and enjoy the film, sadly I was right in not believing in the film. The script was so weak and it was painful seeing brilliant actors deliver superficial and unimagined lines, the story wasn’t engaging and the characters weren’t exactly three dimensional. Yes it’s not a type of film where it requires deep exploration of character however even if it’s up to a popcorn film level standard there has to be some reason to invest and care for any character, sadly I could not have cared less about the fate of the characters. I was most disappointed in Brie Larson as it was such a superficial role that it didn’t live up to the whole ‘having a three dimensional female character in a blockbuster film’, of course it was sad to see them all play uninspired characters.

Again, a blockbuster I didn’t like made money and critics had good things to say about the film; grossing $565 million worldwide and received a 77% rating 77% rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

The only thing I took away from the 2017 version was to watch the Oscar winning 2005 version.

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Hopefully with the release of the already positively reviewed Wonder Woman and future releases in the form of Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi we can reflect upon the year and say there were some standout blockbusters in 2017.

For the next blog post I’ll be writing about the few blockbusters that have actually caught my interest, there’ll be a few surprises in there for you of which blockbusters I loved this year.

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Doctor Strange (2016) Film Review

3/5 stars

Marvel needs no introduction. Pioneering the whole cinematic universe concept they have managed to create one of the most successful franchises of all time. Now Marvel returns with its 14th cinematic outing with Doctor Strange feating Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous character. The premise of the film is that Doctor Stephen Strange is a highly talented yet arrogant neurosurgeon who learns the ways of a sorcerer after trying to find healing. Does Doctor Strange live up to the hype? no.

I really wanted to like this film as Marvel has an impressive track record with producing quality blockbusters (with some blemishes). However the film didn’t quite have the emotional punch it needed for the audience to root for Strange and to ultimately care what happens to him over the course of the film. Speaking of Strange we need to talk about Benedict Cumberbatch; overall he played the part well yet there were moments where it didn’t feel authentic and at times felt forced. However by the end of the film he comes into his own and despite some rough patches in the development of his character he emerges the hero Marvel were trying to create.

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Doctor Strange boats an impressive cast: Oscar winner Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One), Oscar nominees Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams as well as Hannibal’s Mads Mikkelsen. There was controversy with the casting of Tilda Swinton with many accusing Marvel of whitewashing the character, whilst this is a problem with Hollywood at the moment I think the decision to make The Ancient One a woman was a great move. It’s refreshing to see a prominent female led character be treated equally alongside the rest of the male cast members (we’re waiting for that Black Widow movie Marvel) and of course Tilda Swinton was incredible.

Speaking of female representation in Marvel films we have to look at Rachel McAdams who was sorely underused in the role of Christine Palmer. Fresh from her Oscar nominated role in Spotlight (2015) and with more of a decade of acting under her belt she was resorted to a forgettable role which could have been played by anyone. It was also frustrating to see her portrayed as quite a weak doctor and being told what to do all the time, Rachel McAdams is capable of so much more which is why it was frustrating to see her in this role.

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The one thing I have to applaud Marvel with is making one of the most “standalone” films in quite a while, rarely relying on numerous mentions of the Avengers to keep audiences interested. Many people complain about origin stories yet I have no issue with them, however Doctor Strange at times felt rushed. We’re first introduced to Strange in the operating theatre and in all honesty he wasn’t as arrogant as other characters tried to highlight, and then in what felt like minutes later he is involved in a fatal car accident changing his destiny forever. It didn’t have the impact it should have had because it just felt like a sequence of events; then after an outburst of not getting his way he logically heads to the mountains in Nepal only to mock the concept of healing and spirit when he arrives. I won’t go on as I don’t want to spoil the film but in short, it felt very underwhelming for what it should have been.

Marvel do have their own “comedic” style which people seem to enjoy yet in this setting it felt out of place. This is a man who has had everything wrenched from him and is at the lowest point in his life so when he arrives Kamar-Taj you’d think he’d be a bit more desperate. At times it felt that the film sacrificed emotional and deep moments in favour of “comedic” efforts, preventing it having that emotional punch. However there is one scene between The Ancient One and Doctor Strange which was my favourite scene later on during the film which showcased what the whole film could have been.

There were some standout moments which were exciting: when Doctor Strange faces off against Kaecilus (Mads Mikkelsen) for the first time and when The Ancient One showed everyone up for example. The action and spectacle was present and great to look at which made the film enjoyable, yet as much as the visual effects were impressive please stop comparing it to Inception (2010) Doctor Strange is no Inception.

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It’s no secret that despite my love for the Marvel Cinematic Universe I have issues with the interweaving nature of it’s story lines and the film’s dependancy on each other. Yet Captain America: Civil War (2016) had impact in character development and narrative, so from that film to Doctor Strange was very much of a let down.

Overall whilst Doctor Strange had some flash and exciting moments with some good performances from its cast members; it didn’t delve deep enough in order for the audience to care for Doctor Strange and it felt very underwhelming in how it used some its characters and where it took the story.

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AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

Following up the $1.5 billion smash hit of Avengers Assemble (2012) was never going to be an easy task. This is the moment all comic book and movie fans had been waiting for, the uniting forces of these iconic superheroes that Marvel had been teasing about since 2008’s Iron Man. It may be the sequel to Avengers Assemble, but really it’s the sequel to all the Marvel films. It’s no secret that Marvel plant easter eggs throughout the film universe and the plots all link together. Age of Ultron is a worthy entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however it does have its flaws.

For once Loki isn’t the villain, which makes way for James Spader’s Ultron created by Tony Stark to prevent cosmic attacks. Ultron is a great villain and a worthy advisory to the Avengers, however his motives for the destruction of mankind felt fast tracked. Literally two seconds after he is created he goes on a rant about how he has to extinct the Avengers and mankind, it didn’t feel like a natural conclusion to the characters reasoning to cause havoc. That being said, James Spader really breathes life into the character with his distinctive voice and with such authority.

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Avengers Assemble was about….assembling the Avengers. This time we see the cracks starting to form within their team which is primarily thanks to Ultron. Themes which are no stranger to science fiction are explored here, about just because we can do something doesn’t make it right in most cases. Tony Stark has to deal with the consequences of building an artificial intelligence which is threatening the world with impending doom.

New entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe come from Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Both great editions to the Avengers, though they prove more of a threat to the Avengers at the beginning of the film. The stronger of the pair is Scarlet Witch, Elizabeth Olsen creates her own version of the character making her complex and allowing her to go on a journey to overcome her rocky upbringing. Aaron Taylor-Johnson does a good job with Quicksilver, but Evan Peters is a more exciting version of the comic book character.

One of Scarlet Witch’s abilities is being able to manipulate minds which allows us to go deeper into the psyche of the Avengers, seeing their past, fears and potential futures. This allows time for character exploration and that is a gift especially in a film with multiple leading roles.

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If there is a standout character in Age of Ultron it has to be Black Widow. It is criminal that she hasn’t been gifted with a solo film, however in this film we go deeper into her character than we’ve ever seen before. There is one moment where she shares something of her past to Bruce Banner, and it is the most heartfelt moment of the film. Scarlett Johansson really fleshes out her character and adds more depth so we can understand her character more. Please can we have a solo Black Widow film so all can be revealed! The first Avengers film was more fun, classic and exciting.

Age of Ultron is still a great superhero film, however the spark from the first film has fizzled away. The excitement of bringing all the heroes on screen for the first time is impossible to compete with, so with that in mind this is a great follow up. However, it felt like Marvel didn’t exactly deliver in what was promised through the marketing of the film. Yes there is impending doom and there is a darker tone, but it still felt like they were holding back and it could have been a lot more dramatic and impactful.

With Captain America: Civil War due out next year and is basically Avengers 2.5, there is still a lot more that Marvel wants to explore with these characters and this universe.

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