Boom, Bust, or Meh – December 2023

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!

The Results

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

1. The Marvels – Bust

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 61%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 83%

IMDB Score: 6.0

Box Office

Production Budget: $274 million

Worldwide: $188 million

While many found this average superhero film to be rather fun, it’s the abysmal box office return for a once-loved franchise which truly makes this one a bust.

2. Journey to Bethlehem – Meh

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 76%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 94%

IMDB Score: 6.6

Box Office

Production Budget: $6 million

Worldwide: $6 million

Corny with a helping of cheese, many still adored this faith-based musical, with Antonio Banderas stealing the show.

3. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Meh

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 65%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 89%

IMDB Score: 7.2

Box Office

Production Budget: $100 million

Worldwide: $191 million

Considered a close adaptation of the book, while the story was strong, other filmic elements were not, with critics lamenting its haphazard pacing and lack of chemistry between the leads.

4. Wish – Bust

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 50%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 81%

IMDB Score: 5.9

Box Office

Production Budget: $200 million

Worldwide: $51 million

Disney desperately tries to summon the magic they had back in their golden years, but Wish just ends up being a self-referential mess for the company.

5. Napoleon – Bust

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 59%

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 58%

IMDB Score: 6.7

Box Office

Budget: $200 million

Worldwide: $85 million

More style than substance, audiences and critics alike found many issues with Ridley Scott’s impression of the titular historical figure, the worst of which was that they found the film to be boring.

Our review!

New Releases

Each “Boom, Bust, or Meh” article will include each writer’s current record next to their name. My record is (146-125).

The Shift

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 1, 2023

Synopsis: After meeting a mysterious stranger, a man must escape a “dystopian” world to return to his wife. (IMDB)

Director: Brock Heasley

Starring: Neal McDonough, Kristoffer Polaha, Sean Astin

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (146-125): Meh – The Shift is Angel Studio’s newest film, which is a sci-fi take on the book of Job. This is the same studio that created The Chosen and this year’s surprisingly successful film, Sound of Freedom. Like their previous runaway success, they are once again setting up a Pay-It-Forward campaign, and have 150,000 tickets up for pre-sale for The Shift, of which 87% are already sold as of the end of November (and are mostly likely to sell out if the trend of their previous productions continues). This is a studio that has lovingly carved out its own portion of the market and will no doubt be successful in catering to its demographic. The only reason why I have predicted a meh instead of a BOOM is mostly arbitrary—these ratings are mostly judged by their Rotten Tomatoes scores, and secular critics might not love The Shift due to its Christian focus, which may drop the score down. It also appears to have a plot that involves the idea of multiple realities; a concept which tends to illicit groans from those that are still recovering from the blunders recently found in the superhero genre. It’s a story that might suffer an innocent case of bad timing in the cinematic world, but if this is the type of movie that interests you, there’s no reason not to see it.

Godzilla Minus One

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 1, 2023

Synopsis: Post war Japan is at its lowest point when a new crisis emerges in the form of a giant monster, baptized in the horrific power of the atomic bomb. (IMDB)

Director: Takashi Yamazaki

Starring: Minami Hamabe, Sakura Ando, Ryunosuke Kamiki

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (146-125): BOOM! – It’s easy to pass off a film like this as a giant, dumb monster movie, but if it encroaches deeper themes and hits the right tone, then it’s possible to appreciate this type of gargantuan tale. Taking a different route to previous Godzilla films, and setting the story in a post-war Japan, Godzilla Minus One might be the movie that really nails the best parts of this sub-genre. Absent of Woke storytelling elements and providing a cautionary moral that’s fitting for a world that’s already nervous about current and upcoming wars, it’s a narrative that seems to be coming at the right time to make a big splash on the silver screen. And I’m sure it’ll look great on a big screen as well, getting audiences out of their living room and into cinemas. I expect this will be a surprise but welcome hit.

The Boy and the Heron

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 8, 2023

Synopsis: A young boy named Mahito yearning for his mother ventures into a world shared by the living and the dead. There, death comes to an end, and life finds a new beginning. A semi-autobiographical fantasy from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki. (IMDB)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Takuya Kimura

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (146-125): BOOM! – It’s a Miyazaki film. Studio Ghibli. While not every film has been a hit, unlike Disney, this is a director/studio combination that hasn’t had its reputation dragged through the mud. Just from the sheer look of things, The Boy and the Heron seems to ooze the best from this studio, with gorgeous animation that is reminiscent of some of Miyazaki’s most influential works. Doesn’t matter what the reviews are; I know I want to make sure I see this on the big screen. Honestly, I don’t even want to consider the possibility of this film being a dud. It looks great and I’m excited to see it.


Rating: PG

Release Date: December 15, 2023

Synopsis: With dreams of opening a shop in a city renowned for its chocolate, a young and poor Willy Wonka discovers that the industry is run by a cartel of greedy chocolatiers. (IMDB)

Director: Paul King

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (146-125): Meh – Ok. At first, I didn’t care for Wonka. Thought it was just another unnecessary origin tale keen on milking dry the success of a classic film from yesteryear. I don’t know anyone that asked for this movie. But the second trailer is selling it. The production looks whimsical, capturing the character’s wild imagination. It’s all going to come down to tone. Thankfully this is helmed by Paul King, the director of Paddington and Paddington 2, which are easily some of the best family-friendly films to be released in the last decade. If Wonka shares some of the same lovely, innocent, and comedic vibes as King’s previous works, then it can effortlessly become a hit. Yet it still has that money-grubby studio gloss over the whole thing which might overshadow anything even slightly creative. So, I’m splitting the difference and picking “Meh”.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 22, 2023

Synopsis: Aquaman balances his duties as king and as a member of the Justice League, all while planning a wedding. Black Manta is on the hunt for Atlantean tech to help rebuild his armor. Orm plots to escape his Atlantean prison. (IMDB)

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Momoa, Ben Affleck, Patrick Wilson

The Predictions

Juliana Purnell (146-125): Meh – I really enjoyed the first Aquaman. I found it to be insanely fun. It was mostly thanks to James Wan’s direction, who seems to handle his tones well; stories that should be incredibly cheesy or doomed to fail, appear to blossom under his guidance and vision. Judging from the trailer, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom understands that it’s a comic book film, and it’s going to honour those roots and have some earnest fun. Unfortunately, this film has been plagued with real world behind-the-scenes drama, particularly with its leading lady, Amber Heard, who seems notably pushed to the background in this film’s advertising. The release date of this film is still questionable. It wouldn’t surprise me if this film has been butchered in the editing process by the studio, which is why, despite my faith in James Wan’s direction, I’m predicting a meh.  

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!”

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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