Of course, there have been some real stinkers this year too.
Overall, it’s been an appalling year for Disney Studios (bar Pixar-Disney’s Toy Story 4, which was quite touching and a fitting new conclusion despite my initial reservations at this sequel)- the shameless cash-grab in remaking the Disney ‘Renaissance’ Era. While their Marvel franchise has been as successful as ever, Star Wars took another nose-dive with The Rise of Skywalker– the thankfully final episode in the sequel trilogy.
These are my worst watches of the year (and yes, I’ve seen Cats and no, I don’t think it is as bad as these – review forthcoming next year)- again, no particular order. They’re all bad.
ALADDIN (Director: Guy Ritchie, Screenplay: John August, based on the 1992 animated film)
Will Smith does his best grappling with Robin Williams’ beloved Genie, but even he can’t rescue this rather lacklustre live-action remake. There are small changes to the script, including giving Marwan Kenzari’s Jafar a ‘not-totally-evil’ motivation and Naomi Scott’s Princess Jasmine an uplifting solo song that feels shipped in from Frozen or Wicked. These don’t make up for the wasted time. It’s garishly designed but well-choreographed, yet doesn’t generate any magic.
My Verdict |★★☆☆☆
MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL (Director: F. Gary Gray, Screenplay: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway)
I actually forgot I’d seen this film- do you remember it coming out? I think the producers have gone around with the memory-device and wiped it. The plot’s entirely forgettable, the action sequences mind-numbing, but the biggest failure of this fourth outing is the lack of chummy chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. With poor characterisation and weak humour, there’s none of the spark that made Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ double-act so memorable.
My Verdict |★☆☆☆☆
THE LION KING (Director: Jon Favreau, Screenplay: Jeff Nathanson, based on the 1994 animated film)
An utterly pointless, misconceived project that fails completely. The decision to put this film into photorealistic CGI drains the animals of all personality, character and charm (at one point, I thought David Attenborough’s narration was going to start: ‘Here, in the Serengeti, the lion sleeps tonight…). It butchered my favourite song (‘Be Prepared’) and left the others as poor imitations of the originals, followed by some uninspiring musical sequences. The only person who must be pleased is James Earl Jones- doing the exact same lines from twenty-five years ago and probably picking up an even bigger cheque. Abysmal.
My Verdict |★☆☆☆☆
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (Director: JJ Abrams, Screenplay: JJ Abrams, Chris Terrio)
My review is here. An entirely forced, messy finale to a confused, ill-conceived trilogy. The cast try and make the best of it but there’s no getting around the contrivances of the plot. Given time to reflect, the contortions in the storytelling become even more obvious. Ian McDiarmid is deliciously melodramatic as evil Emperor Palpy, but this one really shows Disney Studio’s lack of vision.
My Verdict |★★★☆☆
Happy New Year and I’ll see you at the movies in 2020.