Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) – Round Two. FIGHT!

Released: 26th December
Seen: 27th December

Two years ago, the world was surprised when the reboot of Jumanji came out and was actually really good. They had the near-impossible task of making a sequel to a Robin Williams movie just a few short years after he left us. It was the first time any property that Robin had touched would get revisited and somehow not only did they make it work, they even paid homage to the legend himself with some subtle and unsubtle nods. It ended up making almost a billion dollars at the box office and so naturally there was talk of a sequel. A sequel to Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle would have its own problem to deal with. Now that they had proven that they could make a film that honoured the original star… could they do something that didn’t rely on our love of a legend?

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Cats (2019) – Jellicles Can't

Released: 26th December
Seen: 26th December

In 1939, T.S. Eliot wrote a book titled Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. In it, he wrote a series of poems about… well, cats. The book was beloved by many and would be the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber to create the musical Cats in 1981. That show would go on to be the fourth longest-running show on Broadway, just behind The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and The Lion King. It would also be the 6th longest running show on the West End, behind The Mousetrap, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Woman in Black and Blood Brothers. It’s made billions around the world on the stage and has delighted audiences for years with its story of cats that compete to kill themselves in a magical ritual… and then Tom Hooper managed to get some blackmail photos of a lot of famous people and forced them to appear in his adaptation of the infamously strange musical. That’s the best explanation that I can come up with for why these people turned up. Blackmail and kidnapping, they certainly weren’t there because they wanted to be.

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6 Underground (2019) – Bury it!

Released: 13th December
Seen: 24th December

During the promotional tour for this movie, the star Ryan Reynolds was happy to describe the film as “The most Michael Bay movie ever”. This kind of warning had me worried because I have a bit of a history with Michael Bay movies and the promise of the most Michael Bay movie ever sounds more like a threat than anything. See, I still contend that the last Transformers movie is so bad that it should basically bar Michael Bay from making a movie with a budget that’s above 5 million until he learns how to make a movie… and then Netflix in their infinite wisdom promised to release his latest film 6 Underground and my life is now actively worse because of it. Seriously Netflix, I understand that you need to have content that you own outright because everyone else is taking their content away to put on their own streaming platforms but how hard would it be for you to have just the tiniest bit of quality control. Not much, just enough to stop encouraging Michael Bay to keep making movies.

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Playmobil: The Movie (2019) – Everything Is Awful

Released: 12th December
Seen: 23rd December

I don’t think we spend enough time really grappling with how surprisingly good Lego Movie and Lego Movie 2 were. Not only were both of them hilarious and wonderfully animated, but they both also had memorable soundtracks and a well thought out and touching tale about family and bringing them together. Sure they were also giant advertisements for the toy that’s caused more foot pain than ingrown toenails, bunions and athletes’ foot combined but it was a sweet and clever advertisement for that toy. Sure, Lego Ninjago wasn’t that great but Lego Batman made up for it. Movies about the tiny plastic figures going on adventures seems to actually work… when you’re a popular brand like Lego. When you’re Playmobil, also known as “What you buy for your kids when they’ve sold out of Lego”, turns out it doesn’t quite work out as well.

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Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019) – Star Bores

Released: 19th December
Seen: 19th December

So, talking about Star Wars online is basically the worst thing one could be required to do. Ever since The Last Jedi came out (a good movie that was good and I enjoyed) there has been a certain contingent of people online who have decided that Rian Johnson killed their puppy when he made that movie and therefore any time Star Wars gets mentioned it soon devolves into the worst kind of toxicity. Since the end of 2017, there hasn’t been a week where some fanboy on twitter has been able to avoid saying something so mind-blowingly irritating that it drained me of a ton of love for this series. Sure, some people had legitimate criticisms that I was able to listen to and talk about but let’s be honest, the loudest and most annoying voices were the ones screaming about the purple-haired woman who behaved like an actual captain and didn’t treat the hero with kid gloves because he can fly well… so, yeah, that portion of the fandom made me walk into this movie feeling demoralised and hoping that maybe, just maybe, this movie might make me feel better.

I have a headache now and I get to be the angry fan who doesn’t like the movie. Joy.

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Playing with Fire (2019) – BURN EVERYTHING!

Released: 12th December
Seen: 16th December

When a wrestler decides to transition from the world of wrestling to the world of acting, at some point they will be required to make a very stupid children’s movie in order to prove their marketability to all ages. Hulk Hogan did this throughout the 90s with films like Suburban Commando, Mr. Nanny and Santa with Muscles. Before he was headlining what felt like every single major motion picture released, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was filling the late 2000s with films like The Game Plan or Tooth Fairy. Now it seems the mantle of “Wrestler who appears in bad children’s movies” has fallen upon the obscenely oversized shoulders of John Cena, who I thought had gotten past this period in the Wrestler turned Actor trajectory. I mean, he should be beyond needing to do that, he was in Ferdinand which was genuinely amazing, and Blockers, where he was funny as hell. The dude is meant to be on the Superhero and Action Franchise portion of the trajectory, he’s going to be in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie and the next Fast and the Furious movie so he should be past this point in his career… but no, no he’s regressed. He doubled back to tick “Does a bad children’s film” off the checklist.

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Black Christmas (2019) – Coal In My Stocking

Released: 13th December
Seen: 14th December

When we look back at the history of the horror genre and specifically the modern American slasher film we end up having a few early films that could claim ownership of being the first of that subgenre. Black Christmas, a 1974 film by director Bob Clark, is regularly cited as one of the earliest slasher films and a major influence on everyone who followed. It was notable for having a cast of almost all women and for never showing the face of the killer, known only as ‘Billy’. While it was only a modest box office success at the time it’s gone on to get the accolades it deserves for its genuinely groundbreaking narrative and aesthetic… and then someone remade it in 2006, sucked out every bit of subtlety and intelligence from the film and made something that’s almost emblematic of what not to do with a slasher movie remake. So naturally, when another remake of Black Christmas was announced, people were sceptical… and then they announced it would include lots of feminism and the people on the internet who like to claim they know about horror movies but clearly never saw the original Black Christmas lost their freaking minds for all the wrong reasons when they should’ve waited to see the film and lose their minds because it’s just not that good.

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Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) – Please Don't Be Back

Released: 31st October
Seen: 12th December

SPOILER WARNING: In order to explain some of the major problems with this movie, I have to spoil a major moment that happens in the first scene. When I start talking about spoilers, I’ll open that paragraph with another warning but this is going to happen, you’ve been warned right up top.

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Marriage Story (2019) – Love And Divorce

Released: 6th December
Seen: 7th December

This year I don’t think I’ve been that kind to Netflix original movies. As I look back, most of the year I’ve called them anywhere between average to awful with very few bright spots on the way. It almost feels like I was picking on them but I probably wasn’t any meaner to them than any other production company, they just happen to be the one where I have to visit a site labelled with their name so it’s easier to associate them with the bad product. I can’t forget that I saw Sextuplets on Netflix, it started with their logo and the only way to see it is to go to their site. Meanwhile A Dog’s Purpose, my worst film of 2017, has associations with Universal, Amblin, DreamWorks and Walden Media and I don’t even think of it as being a movie by any of those companies, I just see a bad movie.

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21 Bridges (2019) – Bridge Over Tepid Water

Released: 27th November
Seen: 4th December

So, fun story, I’ve had several opportunities now to go and see Terminator Dark Fate. I’ve had the time, the screenings have been local and I’ve even planned on it… I just can’t be bothered. A week ago when I saw Arctic Justice and Countdown on the same day, I planned on seeing Terminator that day too but ended up not bothering with it because it just didn’t seem like it was worth my time… but Arctic Justice and Countdown? Oh, those I had to go see. Same with Addams Family and Knives Out, I planned on the day I saw those to end with me seeing Terminator but after Knives Out, I just didn’t have the interest to stick around to see it because my day was already officially perfect and I didn’t want anything to ruin that (seriously, if you haven’t seen Knives Out then go see Knives Out and thank me later on). 

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