American Honey. I can actually only review an hour of this, because I walked out. I never walk out of films. And, to be fair to this one, I have seen much worse. I would have stuck it out if it were a normal length film, but with it standing at 164 minutes in total, the prospect of another hour and a half of rambling, directionless ‘narrative’ with a cast of mostly very unlikable characters was too harsh a prospect for my Tuesday evening. And I have been told by reliable sources that the film continued in the same vain throughout.
The BFG. This potentially exciting adaption of one of the great Roald Dahl’s most well know books fell rather flat for me. Mark Rylance voiced the Big Friendly Giant, perfectly relaying his askew pronunciation of words, and his computer generated body was well designed; though his, and the other giant’s, integration with the live action was surprisingly poor and will start to look awful in ten-plus years. Ruby Barnhill as Sophie, too, was not the greatest actress – as Stranger Things as recently proven, being a kid is no excuse, because there are a lot of great child actors out there. I am aware I am being a bit harsh on this film; I just think it was more aimed at kids than I would have liked – there is not much fun to be had as an adult viewer here, even with nostalgia in mind.
The Boy: A very run of the mill horror in which Greta is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in an English village, only to discover that the family’s 8-year-old is a life-sized doll that the parents care for like a real boy, as a way to cope with the death of their actual son. Things start to get spooky and clichéd and the filmmakers make you jump a few times and it is all pretty boring.
Ghostbusters. While I don’t agree that reviewers were paid off to write favourable reviews of this film, and men blaming the crapness specifically on the existence of females in it need to grow the hell up, it is mind boggling that such good reactions exist for this poor excuse for a remake. Paul Feig directed and co-wrote the film so I was well aware that it’d probably be as unfunny as his back catalogue. It is sporadically humourous, and it was good to see unsexualised women kicking ass, but that cannot make up for lazy storytelling, the original being unimaginatively referenced every two minutes, and that it was, simply, just not funny enough. Cameos from the original ‘busters was a nice idea but they were all uninspiring – Ackroyd’s cabbie being the only exception; Murray’s potentially interesting character, in particular, was totally wasted. A wasted attempt at what could have been a strong film for women in Hollywood.
Grimsby: Just awful. Every main humour set piece revolved around something to do with sex or shit; at one point, both. Even the climactic scene involved them having to save the day with their arseholes. I am genuinely not making this up, and I am probably making it sound funnier than it actually is. As always with Cohen’s work, it occasionally slips into a valid social commentary, with lines such as “I see why you like using guns now; it totally detaches you from the guilt of killing people” but they are passing comments, few and far between, lost in excrement and jizz. Also, the working class, and the whole of Grimsby it seems, are shown as kebab and beer consuming, fat, benefit scrounging, messy, stupid, over breeding, violent, thieving football hooligans. It was like an 83 minute advert for a Tory election campaign.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It is actually rather impressive that this film somehow manages to be so much blander than the sum of its fantastic parts. I actually had a little hope for this one, more than any Tim Burton film for a while, but it was deflatingly average. A boring lead character, inconsistencies within the story, and no real sense of danger in the final battle were largely to blame.
Morgan. Not quite sure what attracted Luke (son of Ridley) Scott to this for his first feature. The story of ‘human creates artificial being, then artificial being goes batshit crazy’ is done again here, without anything noticeably original in its telling. There are so many good actors on board, including Paul Giamatti in a short appearance during the film’s best scene (despite it losing its way with unrealistic character decisions). It all looks quite nice visually but very much lacking in story, originality, and audience connection to the characters or events.
War on Everyone. Two years ago, John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary was released – an original, funny, philosophical gut punch of a film where he got so much so right. This year, he gives us War on Everyone, a film in which he gets so much so wrong. In some ways, everything is only slightly wrong – the performances, the jokes, the character development, the philosophy – but because there is so much consistently slightly wrong, there is nothing to hold it together. It genuinely felt like everyone was just making it up as they were going along. It was nearly there, nearly great, on so many occasions, but it just kept falling on its face and trundling along to nowhere. It is a weird film – not Swiss Army Man weird, but weird nonetheless – and maybe as an audience member you have to get on board with that more.