By: Hawk Ripjaw –
I think we can all agree that the most important release of this weekend is A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix.
The Bye Bye Man
You can talk about the concept of The Bye Bye Man–a supernatural evil that causes people to do all of the horrible things you hear about on the news. You can talk about the trailer, which is filled with PG-13 horror money shots and cliched nonsense. You can talk about the script, which appears to be awful based on what we’ve seen so far. All of these can be seen in some form or another in several films every year. But none of them have a title as bafflingly awful as The Bye Bye Man. Sure, the idea of an evil force that possesses you if you think or say his name is kind of dumb, but someone could totally make it work. But never, at any point, did anyone at the studio stop and say “Wait a second–we’re ok with giving you $7 million to make this since it’ll probably make it back on the same weekend Monster Trucks and Jamie Foxx are in the theaters. But that title is fucking stupid.” By all accounts, the trailers are pointing at this being a knockoff of Slenderman with the twist of “he makes you kill people.” Doug Jones, who plays the monster, has even played Slenderman. Things are starting to look very eerily similar, except that Marble Hornets is one of the most interesting monster webseries out there and The Bye Bye Man looks like 90 minutes of pure shit.
I have the, uh, distinction of watching this over the weekend, and can report back afterwards.
Live by Night
I used to hate Ben Affleck. You can’t fault me for it, though; all in one year, I saw Daredevil, Gigli, and Armageddon. I was not a Ben Affleck fan. And then he directed Gone Baby Gone. And The Town. And Argo. He suddenly delivered an epic positive change in his career, and now I can’t get enough of the dude. Even in the slog that we call Batman v Superman, Affleck was the Batmanliest of Batmen. He comes at us once again with Live by Night, a movie based on a very long book that comes second in a very famous series of books by Dennis LeHane. Ben Affleck once again directs himself playing a Prohibition-era gangster who probably kills a lot of people while Elle Fanning acts vaguely creepy. For the first time in Affleck’s directorial career, people don’t seem terribly enthused about this movie–most likely because the marketing does an awful job of actually describing what the movie is about beyond Affleck’s slick visuals. I’m still curious to see it, but not in the same weekend when La La Land, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea are still available.
It doesn’t look great, but it definitely looks like the week’s best movie.
Given the venom I directed at this movie when the trailer first dropped, I’m seeing more footage from this movie and I’m starting to think that it might have been unfounded. Maybe I’m feeling guilty that I had a snap reaction to the early Moana trailers and accused Disney of being unable to be culturally respectful (and ended up loving the shit out of the movie). Maybe I’m unconsciously trying to be kinder as we enter a period of political hatred. Regardless, it stands that I’m starting think this could be a completely harmless, throwaway goofy flick. This is director Chris Wedge’s live action debut, and the trailer has a couple of goofy moments. It also has a lot of dumb moments, kind of like you might expect from a Nickelodeon live action PG movie. In short, temper all expectations, and you might not hate it.
Sure as fuck it won’t actually be good, though.
A Jamie Foxx action film based on a French movie coming out in January? That drives a hard matchup against Monster Trucks’ “idea concocted by a studio exec’s 4-year-old that cost over $100 million to make and is coming out in January.” While the plot might sound all right–corrupt cop spoils a drug deal and has to save his child from getting kidnapped–it also sounds exactly like the sort of thing you could borrow from the library for free in a year and a half. Apparently, the original French film took place largely in a single location and was awesome. So of course, the logical course of action would be to expand the setting and make it in English. I haven’t seen the original so I can’t speak to whether it actually stayed in one place or was good, but when was the last time an English remake was anything better than passable?
It’s also one of the worst-reviewed movies of this year or last year.