Boom, Bust, or Meh: January 2018

Welcome to the new year, GUG fans! And welcome to the BBoM of January, where we focus on five films of the month and the predictions we have for them! As with every BBoM article, each film receives one of the following scores:

Boom: Like a fireworks show featuring the latest advancements in pyrotechnics, this film is not only a crowd pleaser but is also a memorable moment.

Bust: Like a firework that never soars through the air and only fizzles on the ground. This type of film only embodies disappointment.

Meh: Like a fireworks show that utilizes the same plan as last year, and the year before that… and the year before that. These types of films do the job, but it’s nothing to rave about.

With that introduction, let’s crank open the month of January vault!

The Results

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

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – BOOM!

Rotten Tomatoes

Critic Score: 91%

Audience Score: 51%

Box Office

Production Budget: $200 million

Worldwide: Over $1 billion

Juliana: The critics loved it, though audiences were clearly divided. Yet that didn’t stop people from seeing this movie twice or more at the cinema regardless of their feelings. Despite the haters, it’s a BOOM!

Our review!

2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – BOOM!

Rotten Tomatoes

Critic Score: 77%

Audience Score: 90%

Box Office

Production Budget: $90 million

Worldwide: $320+ million

Juliana: Critics enjoyed it, while audiences loved it, despite the film just being a wonderful bit of fun. It also performed nicely at the box office. It’s good to see this sequel BOOM!

3. Ferdinand – Meh

Rotten Tomatoes

Critic Score: 72%

Audience Score: 46%

Box Office

Production Budget: $111 million

Worldwide: $125 million

Juliana: This movie has underperformed at the box office, then again it had some tough competition. Yet it’s still a decent, passable film though ultimately not too memorable.

Our review!

4. The Greatest Showman – Meh

Rotten Tomatoes

Critic Score: 55%

Audience Score: 90%

Box Office

Production Budget: $84 million

Worldwide: $83 million

Juliana: Audiences have been razzle-dazzled by this musical, though critics hoped for something deeper. Yet despite it being a hit with the everyman, it seems that Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle have stolen the crowds, proving this isn’t the greatest show in town.

Our Review!

5. Downsizing – Bust

Rotten Tomatoes

Critic Score: 51%

Audience Score: 25%

Box Office

Production Budget: $68 million

Domestic: $17 million

Juliana: Downsizing is yet to be released overseas, which may help to recover its abysmal box office earnings. Though judging from the reaction from both critics and audiences alike, it’s still a bust.

Each “Boom, Bust, or Meh” article will include each writer’s current record next to their name. My current prediction record is (28-13) and Sarah Bennett’s is (17-18). Entering the fray for the first time this month is GUG’s newest member to the movie team, Tyler Hummel, who will have the fresh fishy score of (0-0)!

Molly’s Game

Rating: R

Release Date: January 5, 2018

Synopsis: The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target. (IMDB)

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera

The Predictions 

Juliana Purnell (28-13): BOOM! – This is a tough one. I have no doubt this will be a good film. While this is Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, he is one of Hollywood’s most prestigious writers. Jessica Chastain is also one who is unlikely to disappoint–this movie is a vehicle for her to be in the running for a long-deserved Academy Award. The problem is that I’ve barely seen any advertising for this film. The R-rating certainly isn’t doing the movie any favors in this regard. However, the chatter in the streets proclaims this film is brilliant.

Essentially, if this were released sometime else in the year, I would predict a “meh.” While fantastic, it just would be overlooked at the cinema. But since the nominees for the Academy Awards will be announced during its run (which Molly’s Game will no doubt garner a nod), and the initial reviews are already phenomenal, I sense Molly’s Game will be a belated boom, particularly for those willing to watch all Oscar contenders.

Sarah Bennett (17-18): BOOM! – Aaron Sorkin and Jessica Chastain? Yes, please. Based on a true story of a one-time Olympian hopeful, I predict this story will be furious and fast, cramming in the Russian mob with well-known celebrities dropping more money than I’d earn in years on a single game of poker. Chastain seems to get better and better with each film, and although Sorkin is one of the best writers in Hollywood, I believe his directorial debut will far outpace the rest of the January box office offerings.

Tyler Hummel (0-0): Meh – Aaron Sorkin is a very hit or miss sort of writer. When he’s on point there’s nobody better in the business. When he’s off his game his work comes off as pretentious, preachy, and showy. I suspect his transition to writer AND director may turn out as one of his weaker films.

The Post

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: January 12, 2018

Synopsis: A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government. (IMDB)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (28-13): Meh – Another hard one to predict. If it’s a boom, then it’s purely based on its star power–Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, both under the direction of Steven Spielberg. The Post is Oscar bait for them. It’ll be a critically-acclaimed film. However, will it be a hit with audiences? The trouble with true stories is that, while usually competent pieces of filmmaking, the majority of the time viewers leave the cinema feeling like they’ve learned another factoid of history, and although it’s interesting in itself, there’s nothing deeper there. Modern cinema is awash with biographical narratives, where for one to stand out, it needs to be exceptional.

I don’t believe that will be the case with The Post. It’ll be a well-crafted film, but it’s no Schindler’s List. Like Bridge of Spies, while still technically brilliant, it’ll fly under the radar for audiences. Given the subject matter, it may also prove to be a hard sell to the international community; I’m not sure the interest is there, unlike Molly’s Game, which seems to have more “oomph” or “pizazz” in its delivery. So despite all the Oscar buzz, The Post will attract, I’m ultimately predicting a “meh.”

Sarah Bennett (17-18): BOOM! – How have Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks never been on the silver screen together?! I believe Meryl Streep will slip into Kay Graham’s shoes and her performance will brilliantly show us a “real woman” who fought past insults, sexism, and stereotypes. Steven Spielberg cast his long-time friend as the male lead on purpose—to showcase Hanks’ amazing dramatic acting. It’ll be an amazing ride of free speech versus political sway.

Tyler Hummel (0-0): BOOM! – Steven Spielberg’s recent morality play films like Lincoln and Bridge of Spies have been among his best films ever. I suspect that he may very well be able to keep his streak going and give us another excellent drama.

The Commuter

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: January 12, 2018

Synopsis: A businessman is caught up in a criminal conspiracy during his daily commute home. (IMDB)

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Neill

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (28-13): Meh – I get the sense that audiences want another Taken, but yet they don’t actually want another Taken entry added to the franchise. So The Commuter is essentially where we see Liam Neeson’s typical action persona come forth and wallop bad guys on the confines of a train. Sounds fun. But will it offer anything other than mild entertainment?

Casting Liam Neeson in an action movie was a genius idea at first, while Taken in particular captured that illustrious lightning in a bottle. We’ve seen it. It was phenomenal. But how many times do we need to see the same sort of thing before it starts to get old? It’s becoming a joke now, and personally, I’d like to see Liam Neeson in a more varied role. Unless the third act is terrible, I can’t foresee this film being a dud, but I don’t see it attaining the same favorable attention as Neeson’s previous works either.

Sarah Bennett (17-18): Meh – Box office totals will be decent. The plot will be basic and unpredictable, unfortunately. I’m thinking Non-Stop, only on a train. It’ll be tragically similar to every other Liam Neeson action flick that ends up calling itself a “blockbuster.”

Tyler Hummel (0-0): Meh – Jaume Collet-Serra is one of the great-underrated gems of modern cinema. His work rarely excels into excellence territory but he’s consistent and his work with Liam Neeson ranks among some of his best non-Taken action films. Given how bombastic the trailers are this time around though I suspect he may have jumped the shark a bit.

Paddington 2

Rating: PG

Release Date: January 12, 2018

Synopsis: Paddington, now happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community, picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen. (IMDB)

Director: Paul King

Starring: Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (28-13): Meh – This pains me. Paddington, whilst too scary for the really little kids, was actually a surprisingly charming and sweet film filled with wholesome values. It was a great movie for children and adults alike. Yet either barely anyone saw it, or it just didn’t gain the attention it deserved. This means that this follow up has an uphill battle right from the start, not only to gain audiences, particularly if they hadn’t seen the first, but it also has to combat the curse of sequels not living up to the original.

I believe Paddington 2 will be just as charming as the first, if not more since it doesn’t have to bother with the origin tale. This film will be a safe bet for families wanting to have a lovely time at the cinema. Yet while this will get wonderful reviews with critics and decent box office returns, it’s sadly going to be overlooked and largely forgotten once again. Maybe American films fair better overseas than vice versa? I’m not too sure of the reason, but while it should be a boom, it’ll be a meh.

Sarah Bennett (17-18): Meh – It looks cute! There are even funny laundry references with convicts in the trailer. But if this movie does well financially, it’s because parents/guardians/siblings stuck on babysitting duty are looking for a clean flick for the little ones or a great family movie. It’ll be crammed with slapstick comedy, danger, and a little bear who saves the day.

Tyler Hummel (0-0): Meh – The first Paddington movie flew widely under the radar (so much so I still haven’t gotten around to catching it after two years even though the reviews were overall positive). I don’t suspect they’ll be able to keep up what momentum the first film had.

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Rating: Not yet rated (PG-13 expected)

Release Date: January 26, 2018

Synopsis: Young hero Thomas embarks on a mission to find a cure for a deadly disease known as the “Flare.” (IMDB)

Director: Wes Ball

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Brodie-Sangster

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (28-13): Bust – I haven’t read the books. I don’t care to either, given the track record of this trilogy. The first movie had an interesting concept but no payoff. Whereas the second film changed genres completely, providing audiences with a sub-standard zombie plot. I’ll watch this purely because I’ve already invested my time into the first two films; gotta love that sunk cost fallacy! But I predict that this Hunger Games wannabe will instead go the way of the Divergent series–lackluster and boring, as it slowly fizzles to its conclusion.

Sarah Bennett (17-18): Meh – I started this trilogy backwards—watched the films first and then read the books. The latest installment will be closer to The Hunger Games than Mad Max, with more guns and explosions, while the government works on finding a cure. Most book readers have been disappointed with the progress of the films, but will probably tune in just to see the culmination of Thomas and his crew in their final maze.

Tyler Hummel (0-0): Bust – The first film in this franchise was a moderate surprise. Considering how popular adaptions of young adult-dystopian novels have been in the past few years what made it stand apart was it’s surprisingly stronger-than-average storytelling that set it above dystopians like the Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Giver to some degree. From what it appears the sequels haven’t really held up, and I suspect we’ll be seeing some negative reactions to the third film.

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 your predictions? What film are you looking forward to most in January?

Juliana Purnell

After obtaining a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts, Juliana Purnell has enjoyed a successful acting career, working within theme parks, businesses, and on film sets. She has also taken on crew roles, both in film and theatrical productions. When Juliana isn't working, she enjoys watching movies of all genres at the cinema, writing, and playing with Samson, her pomeranian.

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