Thursday Movie Picks: Blockbuster Flops

Sometimes, after spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars on acting talent, special effects and marketing, a movie flops at the box office. More often than not, these movies are Blockbusters – those movies sometimes based on other movies, books or TV shows. Most of the time, the flop is justified. The movie was just downright terrible. But that isn’t always the case, and I guess this week Wandering Through the Shelves has set us bloggers the task of defending some of those failed movies.

I used this Wikipedia article to help me define what the biggest movie flops are, and these are 3 of those movies that I don’t think deserved to do so badly.

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Ghostbusters (2016) Production Budget: $144m Worldwide Gross: £229m

I loved the all-female Ghostbusters remake. Not because I’m a woman and I want women to have bigger roles in the industry, but because it was a fun movie and it made me laugh. In fact, it was the first Ghostbusters movie I ever watched, I watched the original for the first time last year and wasn’t that impressed (don’t @ me). What annoys me so much is wondering how much of a factor internet trolls were to the failure of the remake. If anyone’s seen the movie and hated it that’s fine, everyone has their own opinion, but to hate on a movie before even seeing it is just childish!

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Rise of the Guardians (2012) Production Budget: $145m Worldwide Gross: £306m

Honestly, I was shocked to find Rise of the Guardians in that Wikipedia list. I think it’s such a beautiful animated movie. It’s definitely geared more towards being a Christmas movie but it covers a lot of other holidays too. The voice cast is stellar (Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Jude Law to name a few) and the story is so sweet. If you’ve never seen it before please just do me this one favour and give it a try!

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Green Lantern (2011) Production Budget: $220m Worldwide Gross: $219m

Yeah, yeah, you rolled your eyes so hard I heard them! I know Green Lantern isn’t a good movie. I watched it before I got into the genre and didn’t know better. Anyone who’s ever read a Green Lantern comic could write a better script, and the bad guy was butchered in the development phases. BUT. Are you telling me that Green Lantern deserves a flop sticker when movies like Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad are labeled as huge successes?

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Thursday Movie Picks: Parenthood

For a while, I scoffed at movies all to do with being a parent. Everything was either over-dramatised or made to look far easier than it really is. Now, I’ve come to realise that’s the way it has to be. No one wants to part with their hard-earned cash to watch a pair of adult actors pick up half-chewed cereal scattered across the house, reading the same colourful book 5 times in a row, trying to work out why pasta was the best food ever yesterday but disgusting today, and traipsing around the park all afternoon in an attempt to wear the little devils angels out.

You guessed it, this week’s Thursday Movie Picks theme is Parenthood. It’s a huge topic, but I’ve narrowed my choices down to simply my favourites.

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Away We Go (2009)

As seems to always happen with these themes, I only watched Away We Go for the first time last month. It’s a beautiful little movie starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph all about becoming parents for the first time, and all the worries and anxieties that come with it. There are so many moments that made me laugh out loud, like poor Maya being told constantly how huge she looks. People! What is it about pregnancy that makes it totally okay and normal to call a hormonal woman huge?!

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Captain Fantastic (2016)

Everyone has their own ideals about how to raise children, and Viggo Mortensen plays a Father who, with his wife, has raised his children in the mountains, teaching them how to hunt and forage for their own food and how to treat injuries. They have home-schooled all of their children also, to the disgust of the kid’s grandparents. When the family is forced together after a tragedy, the inevitable conflicts emerge. Captain Fantastic is such a touching movie, I loved it.

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Instant Family (2019)

This is one of the many movies released this year that has taken me by surprise. I expected a fairly average Mark Wahlberg comedy about how adopting foster children can ruin your relationship, but Instant Family was so sincere and strangely real and honest about the whole process, from the struggles that the children themselves go through to the judgments that your own family can make about it all. It balances the drama and comedy really well, which I think is so hard to do.

I, Daniel Blake (2016)

i-daniel-blake-movie-poster-2016Director: Ken Loach, Laura Obiols

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Briana Shann, Dylan McKiernan, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe

Plot: After sustaining a heart injury, Daniel finds himself needing to claim welfare benefits. When the time comes for his re-assessment, he winds up stuck in the impossible loop of being too ill to work but the state has declared him fit. Whilst fighting his case he meets Katie, a young mother with struggles of her own.

My Thoughts: Back when I, Daniel Blake was released, an advert for it was played on the radio at work what felt like every 20 minutes, to the point where I was sick of hearing about it. The movie didn’t seem to have gained much attention outside of the UK (other than it’s festival debut) but it was super popular here, even winning a BAFTA. We have so many crap reality shows about the benefits system I avoided the movie until now, but curiosity as always got the better of me.

Oh boy, this movie made me so mad and sad. Yes, there are thousands out there scamming the benefits system, but there are also many who are falling through the cracks, being ignored and suffering so badly as a result. The system is so, so wrong. Although Daniel is the main character here, it was Katie who had all of my attention. There’s a scene where she turns to the food bank for help and has a breakdown because she’s literally starving, and it broke my heart.

This absolutely wasn’t the movie I thought it would be, and I can see why it garnered so much attention now. The only thing is, it’s bleak and upsetting and absolutely not what you’d stick on the TV to watch on a Saturday night with a takeaway! However, if you ever find yourself wanting to find out more about the UK’s benefits system, I highly, highly recommend you watch I, Daniel Blake rather than the rubbish TV shows out there.

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Best Bit: The scenes that take place at the Job Centre were hard for me to watch, they made me so mad, but seeing that one lady go out of her way and even getting into trouble with her supervisor just for trying to help Daniel restored a little bit of my faith in the world.

Worst Bit: When Katie paid for her groceries at the corner shop but got caught shoplifting sanitary products, it broke me. It’s hard to even realise that there are women out there who can’t afford the ‘luxury’ of sanitary products, and I’ve made a vow to donate a pack every time I go food shopping now.

Fun Trivia: The woman helping Hayley Squires’ character, Katie, in the much-discussed food bank scene was not an actor – she worked in the food bank and was not told what was going to happen in the scene.

My Rating: 4 and a half receipts out of 5. What are the receipts for, you ask? Well, after you’ve spent all day giving out your CV to prospective employers, the Job Centre will ask for proof – and may even ask if you were given a receipt for your CV. Are these people for real?!

Frank & Lola (2016)

frank-and-lola-movie-review-2016-posterDirector: Matthew Ross

Genre: Drama, Romance

Runtime: 88 Minutes

Main Cast: Michael Shannon, Imogen Poots, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Nyqvist, Justin Long, Emmanuelle Devos

Plot: Usually I try to sum up the plot myself but the IMDB version is so beautiful it would be a shame not to use it: A psychosexual noir love story, set in Las Vegas and Paris, about love, obsession, sex, betrayal, revenge and, ultimately, the search for redemption.

My Thoughts: Does anyone else find that their watchlist only seems to grow bigger, no matter how many movies you watch? Last year I was up to about 50 and I vowed that by New Year’s I would have watched every movie on it. I think I managed about 3, and as of right now there are 55 movies in my watchlist. Argh! Maybe this year will be my year? Anyway, I’m working my way through in order starting from the movies first added.

Frank & Lola was next, and being a 2016 release means that it’s been on my list for 3 years now. So long in fact that I can’t recall what made me put it there in the first place! Anyway, Frank & Lola is a quiet and dark little romance story, not like anything else I’ve really seen. One thing I can say for certain is that Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots put in amazing performances as two troubled individuals brought together.

The first half of the movie was captivating, I wondered what was going to go wrong next, whether the admission by Lola was completely true, and just to what lengths Frank would go to get revenge, but even though it’s only a short movie, it just couldn’t hold my interest long enough unfortunately. A beautiful little movie, but just not for me.

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Best Bit: I don’t think there’s ever been a movie or TV show where I’ve been disappointed when Justin Long turns up. Whether he’s bringing some laughs or turning up the awkward factor as is the case here, I’m always happy to see him!

Worst Bit: There’s no particular bad bit, to be honest, I just felt like the movie showed its hand too soon and my concentration drifted for the last half an hour.

Fun Trivia: Director Matthew Ross had been trying to make this film for ten years prior to its release in 2016. Imogen Poots (Lola) admitted that his dedication attracted her to the project and it was a large deciding factor in her signing on.

My Rating: 2 and a half sets of chef’s knives which, when wielded by a stern looking Michael Shannon wanting blood, are absolutely terrifying!

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Mini Reviews: Office Parties, Zombies & Puppets

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I’ve been on a bit of a movie binge over the last week or so, to the point where I don’t even know where to begin with writing a post for each of them, so rather than half-write a bunch of posts that will most likely stay in draft, I thought it was better to keep up my writing rhythm and throw out a few thoughts on some of them. There’s a very mixed bag here!

What I’ve been trying to do is tick some movies off my ever-growing watchlist. I did tick one off but then got distracted by a Christmas movie I forgot existed, and a terrible movie I knew would be terrible but I watched anyway. Maybe one day I’ll learn!

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Office Christmas Party (2016)

I missed this in the cinema when it was released, and by the time it came out on DVD it was summer, and it felt totally wrong to watch it then, which is what ultimately led me to forget it’s existence! Sure it’s a stereotypical comedy to the core, but it’s got a great cast and whilst it isn’t funny all the time, I don’t think it was half as bad as the reviews I’d read said it was. Not one that’ll get a rewatch every year but you can do a lot worse with your time I think.

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From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

This one has been sat on my watchlist for so long I can’t remember who recommended it to me or why, which led to one of the funniest viewing experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t want to say too much because of spoilers, but I can safely assume someone told me to see this after a discussion about how much I love a good plot twist. I had NO IDEA what would happen when the gang reached the Titty Twister, and although it threw me into confusion for a while, I enjoyed it for what it was. Is the TV Show worth a watch?

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The Happytime Murders (2018)

So maybe I’m just becoming an old prude, but I pretty much hated this movie. I’m a huge Muppets fan and thought the idea of an R rated movie about puppet murders was a brilliant idea – and I still think it could have been brilliant but it was ruined by the outrageously needless sex scenes which were verging on the line of being pornographic. Am I a prude? I don’t know, maybe, but I’m still too angry to really care.

Don’t Breathe (2016)

dont-breathe-movie-poster-review-2016Director: Fede Alvarez

Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 88 Minutes

Main Cast: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Töröcsik

Plot: Three young friends put their skills and resources together to burgle houses. They find themselves targetting one house in particular when they learn of a sizeable fortune kept within, but their plans change for the worst when they learn the owner of the house is a blind veteran.

My Thoughts: This is the kind of horror movie I actively avoid, but whilst reading other blog posts and comments recently I’ve seen so many people mention Don’t Breathe and how good it was, and after wussing out on Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House (I can’t do it guys, I tried) I put on my big girl pants on got on with it! Who knew Clay Jenson was such a naughty boy eh?

Jokes aside, it’s a really decent movie. Scared the pants off me, and even pulled my husband’s attention away from his wargames – a high honour, I’ll have you know. It’s got a few cheap jumpscares in, but most of the scary moments are just in the atmosphere and wondering when the CREEPY BLIND GUY IS GOING TO TURN UP AGAIN. I would never make it as a criminal…

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Best Part: This was originally going to be my worst part. When the girl is hiding in the closet sending a text message to Clay Jenson. WHY. DON’T DO THAT. I started flapping my arms about trying to convince her to put her phone down, and lo and behold, once she hit send on that message, MY PHONE WENT OFF. It’s a good job it’s a well-loved and battered phone in the first place because it ended up on the floor.

Worst Part: The turkey baster. Turkey. Baster. Christmas dinner is ruined for me now.

Fun Trivia: Stephen Lang wore contact lenses that greatly restricted his vision, particularly in low light. The other actors, in the scene taking place in the dark, wore lenses that made them look like they had dilated pupils but also greatly restricted their vision.

My Rating: My husband gave me a look of disgust when I suggested using turkey basters as the rating, so Don’t Breathe gets 4 out of 5 ‘quiet’ signs…that means keep your phones on silent!

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The Neon Demon (2016)

the-neon-demon-2016-movie-posterDirector: Nicolas Winding Refn

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Main Cast: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Charles Baker

Plot: Jesse, a young girl who has just turned 16, moves to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a model. Her youth and natural beauty generate jealousy to an extreme extent within the fashion industry, putting Jesse in grave danger.

My Thoughts: Second movie from my watch list crossed off! The Neon Demon was on the list for one reason alone – the polarizing reviews it has. Everyone either loves it or hates it and I was dying to know why, and which camp I was going to fall into.

For quite a while, I was absolutely digging the movie. Sure, I didn’t really understand all the arty farty parts but they were pretty to watch at least. I really felt for Jesse, I wanted her to succeed and I wanted to protect her. Then there was the whole scene with the leopard/panther/whatever it was inside her motel room. I thought ok, maybe that’s just a metaphor for something that I haven’t worked out yet, I’m still enjoying this movie.

From there it just went into major WTF mode. Just…I don’t even know. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it so I won’t go into details, and to be honest I’m not sure how I would describe the rest of the movie anyway. I get that it’s definitely a dig at how awful the fashion model industry is, but it goes so much further than that. It was odd, it was creepy, and I wasn’t a fan at all by the end of it.

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Best Bit: Jesse’s response to one of the girls saying how her surgeon calls her ‘The Bionic Woman’ after all the work she’s had done. “Is that a compliment?”. I actually laughed out loud at that!

Worst Bit: If I say…Jena Malone. In the morgue. With a corpse. Not doing any makeup…but still having a good time. Do you know which bit I mean, if you’ve seen the movie? One of the creepiest things I’ve ever watched.

Fun Trivia: The film was shot in chronological order, and the ending was created and improvised on-set, according to Elle Fanning.

My Rating: 1 and a half eyeballs out of 5. Ugh…

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