Boom, Bust, or Meh: December 2016 – Geeks Under Grace

Merry Christmas, GUG fans and followers! The holidays are finally here and so is our Boom, Bust, or Meh list for December! For those that are unfamiliar with BBoM, this monthly article focuses on five various films each month and what our predictions as movie lovers are! As with every BBoM article, each film receives one of the following scores:
Boom: A wonderful film you’ll remember each holiday season.
Bust: A terrible film that will keep you awake at night.
Meh: An average film that you might be unsure about.
Before we take a look at our results for November’s BBoM, I have a few things to say: 1.) It has been a great year predicting films for you all in 2016, and we certainly cannot wait for what is in store for the 2017 year! 2.) We just want to say how proud we are about how our November predictions were correct for all five chosen films! With that introduction, let’s crank open the December vault!

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The Results

Before we get to our film predictions, let us take a look at the outcome of our September predictions!

1. Doctor Strange – BOOM!

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 91%
Audience Score: 90%
Box Office
Production Budget: $ 165 million
Worldwide: $619 million
Trey: Certainly one of the better origin stories of Marvel with countless philosophical and theological components. 
Our Review!

2. Hacksaw Ridge – BOOM!

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 86%
Audience Score: 95%
Box Office
Production Budget: $40 million
Worldwide: $71 million
Trey: A very compelling war story about faith, courage, and conviction.
Our Review!

3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – BOOM!

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 75%
Audience Score: 83%
Box Office Production
Budget: $180 million
Worldwide: $507 million 
Trey: An interesting new take and story from J.K Rowling herself about the Harry Potter Universe. 

4. Arrival – BOOM! 

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 93%
Audience Score: 82%
Box Office
Production Budget: $47 million
Worldwide: $97 million
Trey: A reminder for audiences what the science-fiction roots were really all about. 
Our Review!

5. Moana – BOOM!

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 97%
Audience Score: 93%
Box Office Production
Budget: $150 million
Worldwide: $106 million 
Trey: Disney does it again with creative and authentic storytelling!
Our Review!
Each “Boom, Bust, or Meh” article will include each writer’s current record next to their name. My current record is (35-27) and Jonathan is at (11-7). 

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 screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-12-52-24-pmLa La Land

Rating: PG-13
Release Date: December 9, 2016
Synopsis: La La Land tells the story of Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams (Rotten Tomatoes).
Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend

The Prediction

Trey Soto (35-27): BOOM! – I cannot tell you how excited I am for this movie. Although there are only limited screenings for now, critics are claiming that it is a must-see. I am a huge sucker for musicals, but beyond that, it is a great cast with strong chemistry and a very interesting setting regarding the LA night life. Furthermore, the trailers have not spoiled much in regards to the plot which has made it even more interesting as the wait comes to an end. Further, it has a great director who gave us Whiplash (2014) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).  A couple of friends were able to see it nearly a year in advance and claimed that it was spectacular and a must-see as well. Cannot wait!
Jonathan Tefft (11-7): BOOM! – December is a very packed month this year with movies that have huge potential. I only fear that at least one of these movies will be buried because of the competition. I don’t think this will happen with La La Land. I’ve heard nothing but praise for this movie, and it is much different than the other movies coming out. I greatly enjoy a good musical or romance movie and Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are one of the best on-screen couples in recent memory. Not only does the music and actors’ chemistry look great but the whole visual style of this movie also looks great. All of this is brought together by Damien Chazelle, director of the Oscar-nominated movie Whiplash. The movie is also created on a small budget of only $20 million, which I believe will be easily surpassed.
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Passengers

Rating: PG-13
Release Date: December 21, 2016
Synopsis: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in an exciting action-thriller about two passengers who are on a 120-year journey to another planet when their hibernation pods wake them 90 years too early. Jim and Aurora are forced to unravel the mystery behind the malfunction as the ship teeters on the brink of collapse, with the lives of thousands of passengers in jeopardy (Rotten Tomatoes).
Director: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Mark Strong, Forest Whitaker

The Prediction

Trey Soto (35-27): Meh – Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely enjoy Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence’s work and seeing them in a movie together is great. Problem? A sci-fi plot such as this is nothing where “there’s a reason so and so and this happens.” When that line was said at the end of the trailer, I was let down and this hurt even more as the theaters replayed the same trailer over and over again. Due to the competition it has this holiday season especially with Rogue One and Arrival already setting the standard of sci-fi this year, Passengers may not stand as tall as I hoped it would. I hope to be proven wrong, but I really cannot give a “BOOM” for this one.
Jonathan Tefft (11-7): Meh – This is a movie that I am very torn about. The first announcement of Passengers instantly excited me. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are two of the most popular actors working today, and two of my favorites as well. I also love movies that have a limited number of stars and locations. Movies like Buried and Locke come to mind. These kinds of movies force the actors to do their best because the whole movie hinges on their performances being great or else the movie falls flat.
But then the poster came out and it’s one of the blandest posters I’ve ever seen. It tells you nothing about the movie and solely relies on you liking Pratt and Lawrence. When I saw the trailer it left me feeling underwhelmed, and I don’t know if I buy the chemistry between Pratt and Lawrence. I do believe that Passengers will be buried by the competition. People wanting to see a romance movie will probably choose La La Land and those wanting to see a sci-fi movie will go see Rogue One. This should have come out during a month like October that didn’t have as many high profile movies. The main reason I didn’t give this movie a Bust is because Pratt and Lawrence are such big names and are sure to draw enough people to make this not a total bomb.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rating: PG-13
Release Date: December 16, 2016
Synopsis: In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves (Rotten Tomatoes).
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, James Earl Jones

The Predictions

Trey Soto (35-27): BOOM! – Let me be clear that I am jumping on the Star Wars bandwagon. While I did grow up with the original trilogy and was excited for Episode VII, I thought The Force Awakens was all right for a lot of reasons. That being said, I am excited more for Rogue One because … 1.) It is not about the Jedis, it is about the ground troops aka the one’s that make the real sacrifices. 2.) It holds a more darker realistic tone. This is not to say that Star Wars has to be dark, but when you are at war and are the underdogs, of course it’s going to get dark as you watched your friends and colleagues die and make the sacrifice on the battlefield. 3.) Darth Vader is returning! I say this because we will get to see a more fierce Darth Vader, hopefully similar to what was seen in the novels and comic books. No doubt Rogue One will take December by storm.
Jonathan Tefft (11-7):BOOM! – We all know that Rogue Once is going to do really well at the box office simply because it’s Star Wars. However, I’m really curious to see just how well it does. This will be the first spin-off movie, and if it doesn’t do the numbers that Disney wants it to do, then they may scrap the whole idea of spin-offs. I doubt this will happen, but I do know a lot of my friends who are just casual fans of Star Wars have said that they’re not that interested in seeing Rogue One.
I, on the other hand, am very excited to see a Star Wars movie in a different style than what we are used to. It will be cool to see an edition that actually feels like a war movie. I’m also really excited to see Vader again even if it’s only for a couple scenes. Also, I’m really interested to know how they explain why we’ve never heard of these characters in The Original Trilogy. I keep thinking that it would be heartbreaking if they finish their mission and head off to Alderaan to celebrate. That would give a certain scene in A New Hope a whole new meaning. Ultimately, I have zero doubt that Rogue One will have the biggest box office of December and will be received well by critics. The big wild card will be if casual fans will like seeing a Star Wars spin-off movie, and if they are excited to see more of them.

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Assassin’s Creed

Rating: PG-13
Release Date: December 21, 2016
Synopsis: Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day (Rotten Tomatoes).
Director: Justin Kerzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Ariane Labed, Jeremy Irons

The Prediction

Trey Soto (35-27): Meh – When this movie was announced and the first look of Michael Fassbender as an Assassin was released I was honestly really excited for this film. Unfortunately, the trailers came off as weak to me because of the soundtrack, the use of lighting, and the idea that it is another video game movie. I am hoping the film does add their own take on the franchise because a number of video game-based films tend to do terribly when they literally just try to be an adaption to the big screen. As said with other films, there is a lot of competition this month and to be honest, I am just unsure of how this film will do with audiences. As for critics, no doubt they will try to tear it apart.
Jonathan Tefft (11-7): Meh – Assassin’s Creed has two big things going against it. First, is the fact that it’s going up against Star Wars and there is just no way I see this movie being able to compete well with another big budget blockbuster the size of Star Wars. Second, it has to conquer the video game movie stigma. I personally don’t think that video games should be made into movies since they lose one of the main reasons we enjoy them, the interaction.
However, I do feel like Assassin’s Creed has a shot at being a good video game movie since it doesn’t have to rely on the story of one game in particular. Instead, it has the freedom to tell its own story that fits into the larger story of Assassins’s Creed. It also has a pretty great cast with Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons. Assassin’s Creed has lots of potential and has me interested, mostly because of the cast, but I also thought the same way about Warcraft earlier this year and that movie didn’t turn out as good as I, and many others hoped it would. I think Star Wars is going to hurt Assassin’s Creed a lot and it’s going to be a tough fight to beat the video game stigma.

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 screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-12-58-52-pmSilence

Rating: R
Release Date: December 23, 2015
Synopsis: Martin Scorsese’s Silence tells the story of two Christian missionaries who face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan in search of their missing mentor–at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden (Rotten Tomatoes).
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds, Tadanobu Asano, Nana Komatsu

The Predictions

Trey Soto (35-27): BOOM! – Director Martin Scorsese has been working on this project for over twenty years and now he finally is bringing it to the big screen. As far as I am concerned, this may be the last 2016 film that is going for the Oscar gold next year and no doubt looks incredible. Just by the trailer alone, I was more than intrigued or interested, but was excited.
I know a little about the history of missionaries coming to Japan and how harsh and enduring it was as they were tortured, persecuted, and executed after trying to spread the Gospel. This film looks like it will adapt the true story and time period excellently. The cast itself stands out significantly with Andrew Garfield starring in yet another 2016 film revolving around the Gospel, Adam Driver expanding his career choices both in films and method acting, and Liam Neeson himself making a new debut in a drama rather than a gun-slinging film. I have full faith in this movie and will definitely be watching it this holiday season.
Jonathan Tefft (11-7): BOOM! – I am so excited this movie is finally coming out! Silence could be similar to The Revenant last year: come out at the very end of the year and be the talk of the Oscars. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this movie and think it’s great that a faith-based film is getting so much positive attention from critics everywhere! I am most excited to see Andrew Garfield give another great performance in the same year, after Hacksaw Ridge. I think if he is as good in this movie as critics are saying then he will probably be nominated to win an Oscar for Silence than for Hacksaw Ridge.
Not only does Garfield have a good shot at winning an Oscar, Liam Neeson and Adam Driver both look great in the supporting cast and Martin Scorsese will almost certainly be nominated for best director. I hope that both this movie and Hacksaw Ridge really push the limits of what a faith-based film can be and open up that genre to the general public. I usually like the messages in a lot of faith based-films but I find that many of them fall flat in almost all other aspects. Silence and Hacksaw Ridge can encourage Christian film makers to put more effort into the writing, directing, and acting in their film to go with the message of their film. They also can encourage big studios to back films like these and give creators the budgets they need to make them.

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Thanks for reading this month’s edition! Let us know your predictions in the comment section. Join us next month for another edition of “Boom, Bust, or Meh!”

Are you looking forward to any of these films? What are you predictions? What film are you looking forward to most in December?

Trey Soto

Trey Soto holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from Biola University, emphasis in Interpersonal/Rhetorical Theory. He has been a Film Critic/Analysis for over a year at Geeks Under Grace and other websites such as Temple of Geek. In his spare time, he enjoys comic book literature, screenwriting, production assistant freelancing, photography, cosplay, and hosting his own film podcast T.V. Trey on Podbean and iTunes.

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