Boom, Bust, or Meh: September 2015

Welcome back to another edition of “Boom, Bust, or Meh.”
If you are new to the series, “Boom, Bust, or Meh,” it is a monthly article that looks at five different theatrical releases, then our staff predicts how each film with perform, both financially, and critically.
Each film receives one of the following scores:
Boom: So good you can’t wait for the sequel.
Bust: So bad you can’t wait for a reboot.
Meh: So average you felt compelled to buy tickets to Fantastic Four.
This month, we welcome our new film critic, Trey Soto. Once more, Christian Living Editor, Nestor Arce, joins us.

The Results

Let’s review last month’s performance.

1. Fantastic Four – Bust

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 9%
Audience Score: 21%
Box Office
Production Budget: $120,000,000
Worldwide: $146,163,000
Chris: Fantastic Four was not fantastic and did not meet expectations. Rumors swirl of faulty handling of the story by greedy executives who lacked creative wisdom. An unfortunate boon to Marvel’s cinematic universe.

2. Underdogs – DELAYED

Chris: See, this is why the Weinstein’s can’t have nice things. This movie continues to experience delays and who knows if the new December 31 release date will hold. 

3. Ricki and the Flash – Meh…

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 61%
Audience Score: 54%
Box Office
Production Budget: $18,000,000
Domestic: $23,482,000
Chris: Meryl Streep strikes again. 

4. The Man from U.N.C.L.E – BOOM!

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 67%
Audience Score: 80%
Box Office
Production Budget: $75,000,000
Worldwide: $70,722,000
Chris: Guy Ritchie works his magic. The budget will be met and exceeded.

5. Hitman: Agent 47 – Bust

Rotten Tomatoes
Critic Score: 8%
Audience Score: 51%
Box Office
Production Budget: $35,000,000
Worldwide: $40,271,000
Chris: Hitman: Agent 47 has hit its budget, but for the moment, it has performed as expected.
Each “Boom, Bust, or Meh” article will include each writer’s current record next to their name. My current record is (9-5). Nestor is at (2-7).

Black MassBlack-Mass-Movie-Poster

Rating: R
Release Date: September 18
Synopsis: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf. (IMDB)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton
In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history. (Warner Bros)

The Prediction:

Chris Hecox (9-5) – BOOM!
I can’t express how much of a sucker I am for good crime films. Needless to say, I’m very excited for a Depp revival and the cast is packed full of talent. I hope things don’t devolve into meaningless violence, but I very much enjoy director Scott Cooper. 
Nestor Arce (2-7)  BOOM!
Depp is one of the best character actors in Hollywood and Black Mass is a film that I have been looking forward to for a while now. After all of the goofy roles and mediocre projects that have plagued his career as of late, a darker role is exactly what Depp needs to prove that he is still one of Hollywood’s undisputed performers. Whether it will be a commercial and critical success or not remains to be seen, but I’m willing to bet it will be. It’s gonna take a lot more than just Mortecai to take down this Hollywood bad boy.
Trey Soto (0-0) – BOOM!
It is not everyday that you get a film based on one of the United States most notorious gangsters. While the story is just about self-explanatory, the trailer itself keeps the audience in suspense and does not give away too much of the plot, which makes viewers as well as myself want to see it even more. Johnny Depp continues to take himself to new areas in his films, both in his acting and appearance on screen. If that’s not enough, a solid supporting cast is right behind him, making the film more credible and more interesting. A fantastic cast and a solid trailer are a good start for this film’s marketing. While gangster and mob films have not done too well in the past decade such as Public Enemies and Gangster Squad, this film will hopefully turn the tide.



Rating: PG-13
Release Date: September 25
Synopsis: A climbing expedition on Mt. Everest is devastated by a severe snow storm. (IMDB)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes
Two Guns director Baltasar Kormákur directs a huge cast of stars for a gritty, fear-inducing drama that covers the true story of a group of climbers who dared to face the deadliest and tallest of all the peaks.

The Prediction:

Chris Hecox (9-5) – BOOM!
If the editing of the trailer is at all indicative of how brutal the conditions of nature dictated the lives of the men who attempted the climb and descent, I’m nervous to watch. Seriously though. The trailer gives me chills.
Nestor Arce (2-7)  BOOM!
This looks like a sweeping and grand tale of survival that has the capacity to really drill an emotional punch to an audience. The cast looks promising with Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, and Keira Knightley, just to name a few. The visual effects look great and like they may be a treat watching on a big screen. The fact that this is supposed to be based on a true story will definitely add a heightened sense of dread to the film and its characters. 
Trey Soto (0-0) – Meh…
While the film does look suspenseful, it seems like it will be longer than it should be. You can only do so much about a group of mountain climbers trekking their way to the top of Mt. Everest. When a film like this is two hours long, the plot and execution begin to thin and the audience then becomes uninterested while staring at their watches and phones for the time. 


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Rating: PG-13
Release Date: September 11
Synopsis: A single mother finds that things in her family’s life go very wrong after her two young children visit their grandparents. (IMDB)
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
The terrifying story of a brother and sister who are sent to their grandparents’ remote Pennsylvania farm for a week-long trip. Once the children discover that the elderly couple is involved in something deeply disturbing, they see their chances of getting back home are growing smaller every day.

The Prediction:

Chris Hecox (9-5) – Meh…
So it’s been a long time since M. Night Shyamalan has done something with an admirable box office performance, and viewers can’t always believe the crazy twists and turns he drops into his films, in a very auteur-like way. The only thing holding me back from delivering a BUST rating is the inclusion of producers from Paranormal Activity and Insidious. I don’t care for horror, but I think this might do better than most might think.
Nestor Arce (2-7)  Bust
Well, this is certainly interesting…
 M. Night Shyamalan returns to the big screen with a found-footage-styled flick. Okay, so I maybe lost you at “M. Night…” and that is quite understandable. The once-prolific writer-director has been struggling with re-discovering his creative stride for a few years now and there’s really nothing in The Visit that makes it stand out from other films in the genre. Who knows? Maybe this could be a surprise little hit for Shyamalan and reignite his career as a promising filmmaker. However, with the onslaught of Black Mass, Everest, Sicario, and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials hitting the box office the following weekend, I just can’t see The Visit holding out for long.
Trey Soto (0-0) – Bust
Ever since the mid-2000s, director and screenwriter M. Night Shyamalan has not come out with anything that has been successful as the first few films in the mid-1990s. The same can still be said for his soon-to-be installment of The Visit. No only does it look unappealing as a horror film, but it does not even have the feel of M. Night’s film style. Yes, the same company of Paranormal Activity is producing this film, but that does not mean the film should be the same where it has a shaky, handheld camera and constant jump scares. A good, modern horror film is hard to find these days and this is not one of them.



Rating: R
Release Date: September 18
Synopsis: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. (IMDB)
Starring: Benecio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt, Jon Bernthal
In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elite government task force official to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past, the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive. (Lionsgate)

The Prediction:

Chris Hecox (9-5) – BOOM!
I’m so excited. I’ve loved Benecio since The Usual Suspects, and this looks like a great film for him. I’m also a big fan of Josh Brolin, and again with Emily Blunt and Jon Bernthal. We have a great cast. Sicario looks visceral and brutal, yet hopefully honest. Director Dennis Villeneuve, from 2013s’ Prisoners helms this one, so who isn’t excited? 
Nestor Arce (2-7) – BOOM!
Sicario is probably the movie I’m most excited for in the month of September. I love a good pulpy cerebral thriller, and need I remind you this is being helmed by 2013’s sleeper hit Prisoners‘ director Denis Villeneuve? It remains to be seen if this will reach the critical heights of Prisoners or if it will be a financial hit at the box office, but with an excellent cast of actors, brooding atmosphere, and tense direction, Sicario is a movie that has the potential to be one of the year’s best. 
Trey Soto (0-0) – BOOM!
Almost anything this suspenseful that is based on a true story certainly has great chances of succeeding in box office and with critics. The vibe of the trailer is very strong of what the film’s tone will be: dark, gritty, and realistic. A cast of award-winning actors and an experienced director of these type of films signals that Sicario has great potential to succeed in its genre and with audiences. It will be an interesting balance between action, suspense, and drama.

Hotel Transylvania 2MV5BMjEzNzc4NzEyMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTAxMDQ2NTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_

Rating: PG
Release Date: September 25
Synopsis: Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Nick Offerman
The Drac pack is back for an all-new monster comedy adventure in Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 2! Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania… Dracula’s rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed, opening up its doors to human guests.
But behind closed coffins, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with Johnny– and in for a major cultural shock of her own–“Vampa” Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne, and Griffin to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp. But little do they know that Drac’s grumpy and very old, old, old school dad Vlad is about to pay a family visit to the hotel. And when Vlad finds out that his great-grandson is not a pure blood–and humans are now welcome at Hotel Transylvania– things are going to get batty! (Sony Pictures)

The Prediction:

Chris Hecox (9-5) – Meh…
So I think we are all on the same page here. Slightly above average animated comedy gets a sequel. It’s nothing special, and we also aren’t expecting the success of Toy Story.
Nestor Arce (2-7) – Meh…
Another month, another CG-flick. To be fair, the first Hotel Transylvania was a nice surprise thanks to the creative talents of Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack), and the sequel looks to bring more of the delightful charm the first one embodied so well. But the question remains: Do enough people even care for a Hotel Transylvania 2? I guess we’ll find out soon enough, but for now I’m playing it safe and predicting it won’t be a huge Pixar-styled hit.
Trey Soto (0-0) – Meh…
When it comes to animated features, they can certainly be a hit or miss, especially when they premier outside of the summer season. Due to the below average critic reviews and average audience response of the first installment on Rotten Tomatoes, Hotel Transylvania 2 may suffer the same fate again if not worse in the box office and in reviews. Sure, it will be enjoyable for the children, but it most likely won’t stick around for them as much.


Thanks for reading this month’s edition. Join us next month for another edition to “Boom, Bust, or Meh!”


What are some of your predictions? Are you excited for any of these films or any other films releasing in September?




The Bottom Line



Chris Hecox

Chris enjoys the simple things in life, like teaching his wife the newest review game, looking up Ketogenic recipes, and playing 10 hour long indie games on Steam. If he's not thinking about the oil drum components from Manhattan Project: Energy Empire, playing Player Unknown: Battlegrounds with his college buddies, or dwelling on the release of Daredevil Season Three, he's probably shooting or editing video, because that's what he does for a living.

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