Welcome to Boom, Bust, or Meh, ladies and gentlemen! This is where we focus on five films released during the month and have some fun predicting their success! As with every BBoM article, each film receives one of the following scores from each participating GUG film critic:
Boom: A film you’ll remember for the rest of the year.
Bust: A film you’ll regret watching.
Meh: A film that entertains during the moment, but has no lasting impact.
At the end of each month, each of the films will be arbitrarily judged and the critic’s ongoing tally will be updated (the score is written beside their name: correct predictions – incorrect predictions).
Let’s see what December has to offer after we look at last month’s results!
Before we get to our film predictions, let us take a look at the outcome of our November predictions!
1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – BOOM!
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 94%
IMDB Score: 7.3
Production Budget: $250 million
Worldwide: $676 million
Juliana: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever offered a respectful tribute, unpacking the nature of grief within the limitations of a comic book context.
2. The Menu – BOOM!
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 78%
IMDB Score: 7.5
Production Budget: $30 million
Worldwide: $34 million
Juliana: The Menu offered exactly what was served in trailers—a more up-market horror with a delicious twist of dark comedy.
3. Strange World – Bust
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 74%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 64%
IMDB Score: 4.9
Production Budget: $135–180 million
Worldwide: $28 million
Juliana: With some calling this the worst Disney film of recent memory, it seems too much effort was put into its concept and not its execution, with the movie failing at the basics of storytelling.
4. Devotion – BOOM!
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 80%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 93%
IMDB Score: 7.0
Production Budget: $90 million
Domestic: $9 million
Juliana: Many commented that Devotion hits all the hallmarks one would expect for a film on this topic, however it’s the more subtle details regarding friendships and race relations which elevate this movie to another level of appreciation. Box office isn’t great, but no doubt will earn more once given a worldwide release.
5. The Fabelmans – BOOM!
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 93%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 81%
IMDB Score: 8.3
Budget: $40 million
Domestic: $3 million
Juliana: A self-indulgent yet highly personal creation from Spielberg, the director proves once again why his craft is admired whilst paying homage to his own mentors.
Each “Boom, Bust, or Meh” article will include each writer’s current record next to their name. My record is (114-96), and Tyler Hummel’s is (89-80).
Release Date: December 2, 2022
Synopsis: When a group of mercenaries attack the estate of a wealthy family, Santa Claus must step in to save the day (and Christmas). (IMDB)
Director: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: David Harbour, Beverly D’Angelo, John Leguizamo
Juliana Purnell (114-96): Meh – Given Die Hard’s popularity as a Christmas film that many rewatch every time the holiday rolls around, there’s certainly a market for anti-Christmas-nostalgia/saccharine films. For those that are looking for such a production, Violent Night will hit the spot. I think the question is more about whether it goes that little bit deeper to become a classic rather than a quick cash grab gimmick of a story. Sadly, I don’t think it’ll get there. Audiences will find it entertaining for the moment whilst critics will decree it lacklustre.
Tyler Hummel (89-80): Meh – In my review of A Christmas Story Christmas, I noted that Christmas movies don’t have to be technically good to be well-remembered films. That said, one of the worst genres of film is that of the Astroturfed Christmas Cult Classic. Sometimes a film like Fatman can gain an audience just through novelty, but any film that sells itself on “Die Hard meets Home Alone” comes across as an exercise in attention-grabbing.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Release Date: December 16, 2022
Synopsis: Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet. (IMDB)
Director: James Cameron
Starring: Zoe Saldana, Kate Winslet, Sam Worthington
Juliana Purnell (114-96): BOOM! – One of the most expensive films ever made, this movie needs to boom in a big way at the box office (as in, one of the highest grossing films of all time) otherwise we won’t see the following sequels come to fruition. I loved Avatar. Still do. Even when everyone went through a phase where they thought it was cool to hate it, I still adored it. Have you watched it again recently? It’s brilliant. It’s aged well. Avatar feels like that last classic blockbuster film from a sorely-missed bygone era of cinema before superheroes and Woke culture started to slaughter the art form. What excites me most is that the scripts were developed ages ago, and if they’ve managed to keep them untouched, like a time capsule, then we should have another wonderful journey to Pandora on our hands. I really hope this succeeds.
Tyler Hummel (89-80): BOOM! – I haven’t watched the original Avatar in almost a decade, and like most of the world I’ve moved on from pretending to care about it like it is a meaningful or great film. That said, James Cameron is still one of the greatest directors alive. His absolute decades-long obsession with bringing the world of Pandora to life makes me think there is a method to his madness and that his sequels will be potentially worth it… maybe.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Release Date: December 21, 2022
Synopsis: Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for adventure has taken its toll: he has burned through eight of his nine lives. Puss sets out on an epic journey to find the mythical Last Wish and restore his nine lives. (IMDB)
Directors: Joel Crawford, Januel Mercado
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Harvey Guillén
Juliana Purnell (114-96): Meh – I can’t say I was a huge fan of the Puss in Boots spinoff from the Shrek franchise. This film looks somewhat entertaining, although I don’t know how well the kiddies will appreciate or relate to the seemingly high percentage of geriatric jokes. I think it will be a fine film that will serve its purpose in being an outing for young families, though it doesn’t strike me as a particularly prominent movie in Dreamworks’ repertoire. Its troubled production history also doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Tyler Hummel (89-80): Bust – The idea that Puss in Boots has managed to survive as a franchise enough to warrant a sequel eleven years after its previous entry is baffling to me. Of course, this mostly seems to be coming after the Shrek movies became a disturbing internet meme/obsession, so one wonders if this was a quick attempt to capitalize. The film was originally set for a 2015 release date before corporate restructuring killed it so one wonders why they spent the better part of a decade getting this film made.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Rating: Not yet rated
Release Date: December 23, 2022
Synopsis: The joyous, emotional, heartbreaking celebration of the life and music of Whitney Houston, one of the greatest female R&B pop vocalists of all time. Tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom. (IMDB)
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Starring: Stanley Tucci, Naomi Ackie, Tamara Tunie
Juliana Purnell (114-96): BOOM! – The marketing hasn’t been great—to be honest, I only just learnt of the existence of a Whitney Houston bio-pic while researching this list. However, the studio has plopped it in a prime release window, so there must be some confidence there. It could go either way; it could fly under the radar, or it could be good Oscar-bait. There’s definitely a biographical pseudo-musical trend ripping through cinema right now, where it seems like all of the semi-modern legends are getting tribute movies. Audiences tend to be a sucker for these (I mean, the music just speaks for itself and these films end up just being an excuse to play the artist’s greatest hits), while critics may marvel at the central performances. At its worst, I think I Wanna Dance With Somebody might be accused of being bland, but I think it’ll score high enough across the board to be deemed a hit.
Tyler Hummel (89-80): Meh – So I just learned at the time of writing that Sony is releasing a Whitney Houston musical. That’s neat!
Rating: Not yet rated for USA
Release Date: December 23, 2022
Synopsis: A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, it traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood. (IMDB)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart
Juliana Purnell (114-96): Bust – I’m going to take a wild guess here, but I think this will be Damien Chazelle’s first true flop. I love this director, but the first trailer felt like a mess. Too many A-listers, too many moving parts, and suddenly there might be too many chefs in that proverbial production kitchen. Chazelle usually toys with a more subtle style of storytelling, which hasn’t always pleased audiences, but Babylon feels more overt, in-your-face, and I fear it’s going to develop that Woke preachy quality where viewers glug an eye-rollingly obvious message down their throats, presented in a pretentious self-idolizing Hollywood fashion. I predict audiences will find it all too chaotic, whilst critics might praise its audacity but see its faults. It’ll get an Oscar nod either way. Hollywood just likes movies about itself.
Tyler Hummel (89-80): BOOM! – Oscar darling Damien Chazelle has returned following his financial and critical success with his films Whiplash, La La Land, and First Man for an epic period piece set against the seedy early years of Hollywood, in all of its decadence and debauchery. I haven’t watched the trailer for this film yet but I have little doubt as to what the end product is going to be given this director’s track record. I expect something that is messy, ambitious, and eye-popping that is going to draw a lot of attention towards it!
Thanks for reading this month’s edition! Let us know your predictions in the comment section. Join us next month for another edition of “Boom, Bust, or Meh!”