So, you’re heading to the cinema, the film you’re about to see is critically acclaimed. There are a few sniffy reviews, but you know how critics are and you’re ready to embrace and enjoy the film. You sit down full of anticipation; this won the audience award at a festival, right? Your favourite critic enjoyed it immensely right? Ok it’s started slowly but I’m sure it’ll pick up. Oh, the middle part isn’t all that good, I’m sure they’ll pull the cat out the bag towards the end. Oh, it’s finished. That wasn’t that good.
1. Ford v. Ferrari
Directed by James Mangold who has impressive credentials such as Logan and Walk The Line; both great films. So, when Ford v. Ferrari (Or Le Mans 66 if you’re from England) came racing onto screens big things were expected and it received mostly glowing reviews.
Ford v. Ferrari isn’t a bad film, far from it. It holds your attention well enough and boasts typically impressive racing sequences and editing. However, this doesn’t hide the fact that it’s bang average. For starters every character feels like they’re in a pantomime, Enzo Ferrari is depicted as this evil, General Snoke-esque leader as he sits in the heavens looking down begrudgingly at Matt Damon.
All the while his equally ridiculous right-hand man tries to sabotage Damon’s racing team, all he needs to complete the look is a monocle and twirly moustache. As for Chrstian Bale, he’s an exceptional actor and even here he’s decent. But his accent sounds like he’s doing a walking tour of the United Kingdom which becomes massively jarring and takes you out of the film.
At two and a half hours, the film outstays its welcome by at least half an hour and becomes tiresome towards the end. You don’t hugely care for the characters and while the story is told competently it lacks real spark and ambition.
2. Jojo Rabbit
Written and directed by the highly rated Taika Waititi, the creator of some genuinely great films such as Boy, What We Do in The Shadows and Hunt for The Wilderpeople. He also has an inventive, distinctly Waititi Marvel film under his belt, Thor: Ragnarok. So Jojo Rabbit was one of the most anticipated films of 2019 and the recipient of multiple writing awards and the people’s choice award at the Toronto film festival. So why oh why is it so unfunny, cliched and formulaic?
It’s painful to say because Waititi is an immensely likeable person who’s done some incredible work, but he really dropped the ball on Jojo Rabbit. It has worked for many people who seem to have found a profound connection with the material and there’s definitely a sweet element. Unfortunately, the humour is repetitive and generally quite unfunny. Waititi seems to rely on his actors keeping the energy level on 100 throughout and sacrifices subtly to his humour for over egged charisma.
The idea is pretty formulaic, and the message comes across as derivative – Nazi equals Bad, Love equals Good, War equals Bad, Family equals Good. He pulls off a few smart surprises, especially in one instance but a lot of it is easy to predict and the ending is laid out on a plate, it’s easy to see where Jojo Rabbit is heading.
3. IT: Chapter 2
Andy Muschietti delivered an effective and entertaining version of Stephen King’s wildly successful story IT back in 2017. So, when IT: Chapter 2 surfaced in late 2019 there were many high hopes.
With an impressive cast and the same crew that made Chapter 1, it is a real shame that Chapter 2 was so un-scary, unentertaining and felt like it lasted about two days. The whole film is basically comprised of a set number of jump scare scenes that could be rearranged in any order and solved almost immediately due to the fact that every single form of a certain creature is obviously going to be pennywise. This ends up feeling like a run of the mill quiet, quiet, BOO! fest and completely sucks the tension out of every scene.
We then go on to a final battle that involves the cast running around screaming at various aberrations of Pennywise with the most ill-judged humour filling any moments that even begin to feel uneasy. The solution to defeating the mad clown is so simplistic and uncinematic that the whole of the two films feel worthless and the two and a half hours beforehand seem to melt away as Pennywise is vanquished in about thirty seconds.
IT: Chapter two is unbearably long, mind-numbingly boring and ultimately a complete waste of time.
4. Spider-Man: Far From Home
The perfectly cast Tom Holland does his energetic best to invigorate the first step of Marvel’s “Phase Three” but Spider-Man: Far From Home ultimately lacks the spark of its hugely successful predecessors.
Infinity War and Endgame were always going to be hard to follow and the film does have a certain breezy, infectious fun we usually associate with Marvel films. But the story feels weaker and more geared towards humour which will work for some people but also makes for a less humanistic and powerful story. The film can be slightly explainy in places as Mysterio (who actually does work as a character) seems to lay out his plan more for the audience than the sake of realism which weakens the foundations the film is built upon. It mainly seems to lack the cutting edge, notably of the first new Spider-Man film: Homecoming.
Far from home is a good time and sets up the next instalment nicely but with overwhelmingly positive reviews across the board it’s simply not at that level.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher and critically lauded also featuring an award nominated Taron Edgerton in the lead role, Rocketman made waves upon its release as it told the story of mega star musician Elton John’s troubled career and life.
There are some immense scenes in Rocketman and Edgerton’s performance is no exaggeration, he really is terrifically cast and gives the film a layered and tragic look at a complicated character. However, the reviews were absolutely glowing, and the film ultimately feels quite repetitive and fails to grab you in the way some critics and the audience felt it did. Elton’s music has the ability to shake you with its sheer effectiveness and there are some brilliantly conceived set pieces. Although, the script seems a little off and some of the characters fall into the bracket of caricatures, the third act lets it down as we repeatedly see an array of parties and Elton’s descent into addiction which becomes tiresome towards the end.
Overall, it’s not a film which affects you in the way it should and seems a little overly long and cringe.