Buy, Rent, or Wait: December 2021

Theatrical releases are still a bit of a rarity due to the impact of the pandemic, which means that it can be difficult to learn which films are coming out soon as they’re now delivered through various different platforms. So we’re casting our eyes further afield than just your traditional cinema to find five upcoming new releases for the month. Some will still find their way to the silver screen, but others will be available from the comfort of your home. Our job will be to make wild guesses based on their synopsis and trailer as to whether they’ll worth your time, separating them into one of three categories:

Buy: This film is worth multiple viewings and maybe even a purchase of a hardcopy!

Rent: A movie in this category will be worth the cost of admission, whether that’s an actual ticket or a few dollars as a video on demand.

Wait: This means the film isn’t really worth any additional effort on your part. If you happen to catch it on broadcast television or on a streaming service you’re already paying, then maybe it’ll be worth your time. Or maybe not even that!

Last Month’s Results

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

1. Eternals

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 48%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 78%

IMDB Score: 6.8

Box Office

Budget: $200 million.

Worldwide: $369 million

Eternals ended up possibly being the most divisive MCU film ever released. While some adored its more ponderous themes and expansive story, others felt it was cluttered, bloated and boring. Given its importance in the timeline and the number of characters introduced, it can be said that Chloé Zhao had one of the hardest jobs.

Our review!

2. Clifford the Big Red Dog

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 52%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 94%

IMDB Score: 6.0

Box Office

Budget: $64 million.

Worldwide: $43 million

Many found Clifford the Big Red Dog to be aiming for the same heartwarming tone as Paddington, though it was too formulaic to ultimately pull it off. Yet it was sweet enough for kids to enjoy.

3. Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 63%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 95%

IMDB Score: 7.7

Box Office

Budget: $75 million.

Worldwide: $117 million

Critics may have seen through the charade, but audiences enjoyed the fan service, nostalgia and the more general nod to the genre of yesteryear.

Our review!

4. Encanto

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 91%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 93%

IMDB Score: 7.7

Box Office

Budget: $50 million.

Worldwide: $72 million.

Some have reported that Encanto‘s story is a little broken and too ambitious, though most have found the most successful animated film released in cinemas this year to be wonderfully enjoyable.

5. Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 27%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 71%

IMDB Score: 5.6

Box Office

Budget: $25 million.

Worldwide: $14 million.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City is said to be a faithful adaptation of the video game, which has pleased fans, but has ultimately demonstrated to critics the source material was never a good choice to bring to the big screen.

And now for the films releasing this month!

West Side Story

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 10, 2021.

Distribution: Theatrical release.

Synopsis: An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. (IMDB).

Director: Steven Spielberg.

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose.

Juliana Purnell: There’s always one musical blockbuster per year, and this is it! It’s not Spielberg’s typical genre, but the man’s certainly capable of crafting a hit. West Side Story is one of the more renown musical productions, so fans of both theatre and the genre will be keen to check out this rendition, particularly given the relevancy of its themes and the name of the director attached. I don’t think it’ll be the juggernaut that was The Greatest Showman, but if Spielberg achieves his typical magic, then this will belong in any music-lover’s movie collection.

Juliana’s Prediction: Buy

Tyler Hummel: Steven Spielberg is (arguably) in one of the most profound and impressive stages of his career, but you wouldn’t know that looking at his box office numbers. His recent trilogy of Lincoln, Bridge of Spies and The Post stands as one of the most lovingly produced, immaculately executed and moralistic works of drama in a career filled with spectacle and style. In some ways he’s getting old, but in others he’s maturing, preferring quieter and more intimate stories over the spectacle of films that made him famous, like Jaws, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park. If the early reactions to West Side Story are any indication, Spielberg may have produced something of a late-career miracle. The 75-year-old director may have produced a blockbuster musical, the likes of which Hollywood hasn’t seen in earnest since the last time it produced an adaptation of West Side Story in 1961!

Tyler’s Prediction: Buy

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 17, 2021

Distribution: Theatrical release.

Synopsis: With Spider-Man’s identity now revealed, Peter asks Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man. (IMDB).

Director: Jon Watts.

Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Juliana Purnell: This is the film fans have been waiting for. Spider-Man is one of the most famous comic book characters in existence. When I was on mission in rural Cambodia, the children living in abject poverty wore donated Spider-Man t-shirts and even they could provide details on who he was. Sam Raimi’s film trilogy was the cornerstone of the superhero genre that helped shape what it is today. So there’s a lot of love and nostalgia for the previous iteration of this character, and that’s why any film that connects back to them will be insanely popular. Sites offering online ticket sales have crashed as people have rushed to buy seats for the earliest sessions. It’s not a question as to whether this will be a hit, but rather what records it will break. Suffice to say, it’s a must-see.

Juliana’s Prediction: Buy

Tyler Hummel: Few recent MCU films have put as much ink to paper (typing on screens?) as the third Tom Holland Spider-Man film. Whether it was the 2019 rights battle with Sony that nearly pulled the plug on Spider-Man in the MCU or the years of speculation of how they were going to integrate the Spider-Verse into the MCU, the drama and leaks surrounding this film’s production are legion. I legitimately have no idea if this will be a good movie or not. It’s certainly ambitious but that’s not the same thing as good. I’m hoping the creative team behind Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home have it in them to tell one more solid Spider-Man story, and possibly rise to the occasion with a great movie!   

Tyler’s Prediction: Buy

The King’s Man

Rating: R

Release Date: December 22, 2021

Distribution: Theatrical release.

Synopsis: In the early years of the 20th century, the Kingsman agency is formed to stand against a cabal plotting a war to wipe out millions. (IMDB).

Director: Matthew Vaughn.

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton.

Juliana Purnell: The spy genre is currently overrepresented in cinema and starting to look tired. Kingsman: The Secret Service was like a blast of energy both with its wacky action sequences and its sense of class, though the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, lost the spark that invigorated the original. This prequel film, The King’s Man, does have a few things going for it, particularly its cast and the fact it’s also a period piece, which is rarer in the spy genre. If it hits the tone right, then this should be a wonderfully fun ride, but if it doesn’t, then The King’s Man will just be another name to the list of cinema’s ever-growing mediocre spy movies. So at the moment, I’d say it’s worth a look, but I’m not convinced just yet that it’ll be a keeper.

Juliana’s Prediction: Rent

Tyler Hummel: Why are they still making these movies?!? Matthew Vaughn has never been great with sequels and Kingsman: The Golden Circle was an awful sequel, shy of all of the scenes with the Statesmen which were goofy in a way that worked. I thought that Warner Brothers were courting this man to direct their new Superman movie but I guess a spin-off prequel to this franchise is more important than that (?!?!). Whatever. I’m not excited about this one way or the other. 

Tyler’s Prediction: Wait

The Matrix Resurrections

Rating: R

Release Date: December 22, 2021

Distribution: HBO Max with simultaneous theatrical release.

Synopsis: The plot is currently unknown. (IMDB). So secretive…

Director: Lana Wachowski.

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Christina Ricci, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Carrie-Anne Moss.

Juliana Purnell: This is the only film this month that has a hope of competing against Spider-Man: No Way Home, although its theatrical box office earnings will be diminished due to its simultaneous release on HBO Max. Despite it being your typical trilogy where each movie is subsequently worse than the previous, The Matrix holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts due to its tremendous impact on cinema and pop culture. Produced at the turn of the millennium however, unless they’ve specifically sought out older films, most in Gen Z won’t be familiar with this franchise, unlike Spider-Man which has continually updated itself every decade. So it’s a film with a large appeal to a more limited demographic. I think a lot of people are curious as to the details of the plot considering the events in the last movie, and that curiosity will sell tickets, although it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the film will be any good given the Wachowski’s penchant for esoteric storylines that aren’t always appreciated. But it’s safe to say that anyone with any semblance of interest in this franchise will end up giving it a look at some stage.

Juliana’s Prediction: Rent

Tyler Hummel: Intellectually, I know I shouldn’t be excited about this. We all saw the two Matrix sequels and we know this franchise is not well suited to them. The Wachowskis have never been interested in making their blockbuster original film into a franchise and every attempt since has been a pseudo-intellectual mess filled with worsening special effects and weak emotional stakes. With the failure and cancelation of their recent projects like Sense8 and Jupiter Ascending, I don’t think Hollywood is giving them a lot of phone calls at the moment. So now we have a fourth Matrix film. The best aspect of this is that Keanu Reeves is still at the height of his career revival so we might get something interesting out of him! We will see, I guess. 

Tyler’s Prediction: Rent

Sing 2

Rating: PG

Release Date: December 22, 2021

Distribution: Theatrical release.

Synopsis: Buster Moon and his friends must persuade reclusive rock star Clay Calloway to join them for the opening of a new show. (IMDB).

Director: Garth Jennings.

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly.

Juliana Purnell: Sing was a reasonably successful children’s animated musical in 2016. While viewers didn’t find the story to be particularly deep, many found the film was warm-hearted in its tone which contributed to its appeal. Still, it doesn’t seem to be a movie that screams for a sequel, and either this film will once again defy expectations and deliver another tale filled with heart, or it’ll be yet another cash grab. Its young target audience will be pleased either way, though adults should wait to see whether it’s worth a look.

Juliana’s Prediction: Wait

Tyler Hummel: Okay, so I didn’t see the first one of these. I was told it was cute by people I generally trust. Beyond that, I have no opinions on big-budget animated films any more. I hope every parent who gets dragged to see it by their children enjoys the 90 minutes of quiet time!  

Tyler’s Prediction: Wait

Thanks for joining us for Buy, Rent, or Wait! We’d love to hear your predictions in the comment section. 

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

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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