Tag Archives: Box Office Bombs

Box Office Bombs 2015: Mortdecai

Failed Critics Podcast host and dashing gent, Steve Norman, returns to his Box Office Bombs series to tackle Mortdecai…

Starring: Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany

Budget: $60m

Global Takings: $47.3m

Loss: $12.7m

Johnny Depp is a good actor, there’s no denying it. But in the last few years or so, his film choices have been pretty woeful. Whilst the recent gangster movie Black Mass was a partial return to form, recently we have seen him in Dark Shadows, Transcendence, The Lone Ranger and he has also ran his excellent Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean into the ground, with more films in that franchise to follow.

Mortdecai continues that trend. I mean, was anyone really encouraged by the trailers? It played before every film I saw in the run up to its release and every time I met it with a sigh of exasperation, despair and an ‘oh f*** off’.

So the film is about an eccentric British art collector and aristocrat who becomes involved in an art theft and subsequent plot to steal Nazi treasure or some such nonsense. It’s essentially a rejected plot for National Treasure 4 with a few adjustments.

Everything in Mortdecai is a shambles. The accents of Depp, McGregor, Paltrow and Bettany come straight out of TalkSport adverts. Why is everyone in this film talking like its early 20th century when it’s set in the modern day? It really grates after a while. Depp sounds like he’s in a Fast Show sketch. Paul Whitehouse in his cameo clearly thinks he’s in one.

The action falls flat. They try to play it with a modicum of humour, kind of like what you see in Kingsman, but it is neither exciting, funny nor choreographed well. For actions scenes they are quite dull.

The humour is just awful. The running jokes about moustaches, or Paul Bettany’s ‘Jock Strapp’ (yes that is his actual name, if Mortdecai had a butler in this he’d probably have been called T Bagg) being some prolific lady’s man, were tiresome at best.

Paltrow has previously played the partner of an eccentric millionaire (ok, perhaps billionaire) when playing Pepper Potts in Iron Man. She can clearly do that well and have fun with it. Why she doesn’t bother here is beyond me. Ewan McGregor brings back his Obi Wan Kenobi voice but even the force couldn’t save this movie, it needs a death star to destroy everyone involved with it.

Mortdecai has the same kind of feel that Austin Powers had. It’s that kind of film. It’s trying to be a comic spy film with a central character out of place or out of touch. And while I suspect that Austin Powers has aged badly, at least at the time of release of perhaps even all three films in that trilogy, I found some enjoyment and some laughs in them.  Mortdecai lacks that.

All in all, there is nothing to like about this film. The jokes fall flat, the performances are annoying and the ‘action’ is dull.

Johnny Depp seriously needs to sack his agent.

Box Office Bombs: Cutthroat Island

Back when Failed Critics was in its infancy, it was the journal of a man trying to educate and better himself by watching the IMDB Top 250. These days we prefer to send Failed Critics Podcast host Steve Norman on a suicide mission to watch the biggest box office disasters and report back to us.

FILM 'CUTTHROAT ISLAND' BY RENNY HARLINBox Office Losses (adjusted to take inflation into account) $145,366,673 

Cutthroat Island, a film so bad that it ruined an Oscar winners career and led to no studio making a pirate movie until Pirates of the Caribbean, over a decade after this debacle hit our screens.

The film stars Geena Davis and Matthew Modine, set in 1668, Davis character is a female pirate captain seeking the treasure based on the map tattooed on her dead fathers scalp. However it isn’t plain sailing (get it? Sailing? Pirate Ships! Trust me, that was funnier than any of the one liners in the film).

The premise sounds reasonable at least. And I will start with the other good point, the only other good point. The film looks good. No CGI is used but the sets are fantastically made and the costumes good as well. The image of 17th century Jamaica, the ‘Treasure Island’ and the ships look believable and convincing and the effects, in reality limited to the odd explosion and things being wrecked and destroyed, work well.

So that’s it. Two good things. A reasonable plot and good set design.

The most interesting aspect of this film is probably Davis. She is (or more aptly was) a very good actress. She was an Oscar winner, picking up Best Supporting Actress for The Accidental Tourist. She was nominated for the Best Actress gong for Thelma and Louise. She had pedigree, she had talent.

She then met  Renny Harlin who got het cast in ‘Cutthroat’ to try and make her a more bankable star in the lead role in a blockbuster type film. This failed spectacularly.

Davis could not pull this role off, she lacked the charisma to lead the film along and could not deliver the one liners with any wit or humor, she was poor in the many actions scenes and failed to engage the audience with her character.

It is not harsh to say this film all but ended her career, this Oscar winner went on to appear in five more films. One was ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’ which was made at the same time as ‘Cutthroat Island’ and three were in the Stuart Little trilogy, one of those being a voice performance.

Matthew Modine was cast as the leading man, or lead support, or plank of wood, depending on your point of view. You can tell he is meant to be playing a toned down Jack Sparrow before Jack Sparrow came along. He should have been charming, cocky, a rouge who plays by no one else’s rules but his own.

In actuality he is boring bordering on irritating. In the film he is meant to be the key to reading the scalp map and finding the treasure. He just seems useless and a hindrance throughout. Even his plans seem to come to fruition through sheer luck and fluke rather than Blackadder-esque cunning.

It’s interesting to note that Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Liam Neeson, Jeff Bridges, Ralph Fiennes, Charlie Sheen, and Michael Keaton all turned down Modine’s role and given the effect it had on Davis it’s a good job they did.

Oliver Reed was sacked from the cast for getting into a bar fight and trying to show his dick to Geena Davis. That is the best bit of the whole film.

Box Office Bombs: John Carter

Back when Failed Critics was in its infancy, it was the journal of a man trying to educate and better himself by watching the IMDB Top 250. These days we prefer to send Failed Critics Podcast host Steve Norman on a suicide mission to watch the biggest box office disasters and report back to us.

John CarterJohn Carter – Losses $69,000,000

John Carter (‘of Mars’ was dropped from the title to help the film appeal to more people) is a film so bad that even as a critic I turned off before the end. I don’t know how much before the end, but I reckon half way through the film.

John Carter is a man from Civil War era America and he somehow goes to Mars via a method I can’t remember and (probably, remember I didn’t finish it) becomes some kind of victorious, all conquering hero.

The titular character is played by Taylor Kitsch who also starred in Battleship in the same year. Maybe the Mayans were predicting the end for him in 2012 rather than the world.

It also features Bryan Cranston briefly at the start who, while a good actor, is in danger of appearing in a lot of crap and sullying his reputation. He appears to be in everything at the moment.

Willem Defoe is also listed as appearing but I didn’t get that far. I think.

The acting is wooden throughout. No one engages you or makes you care about their character. It’s a big budget sci-fi film, I’m not expecting great character acting or someone pulling out an Amour like performance but I’d like to care enough about the person I’m watching to stick it out to the end.

The special effects look dated as well, and the CGI is poor. It’s unforgivable for a film that a) spent that much money on it and b) was only made last year.

There is potential given the source material to make this into a series or franchise. I can’t see that happening.


Box Office Bombs: Green Lantern

Failed Critics Podcast host and secret superhero, Steve Norman, is taking on his most dangerous mission to date…

Green Lantern Ryan ReynoldsIn one of the darkest corners of the internet there is a list. A list so dangerous to the world of cinema that Hollywood have hidden it away, much like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders.

The list contains the biggest box office failures of all time. Through my extensive list of contacts and a combination of brown envelopes changing hands and top executives being slept with I have unearthed this damning list. (okay, it’s actually on Wikipedia). It is my intention to watch and review these flops for you.

Green Lantern – 2011. Losses $105,000,000.

Ryan Reynolds stars in this big budget origin story of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. One from the DC Comics stable and a member of the justice league (more on that later). The problem is that while the Green Lantern has a pretty impressive power (here’s a ring, put it on, imagine stuff, it happens) the film still feels boring. It just plods along for just under two hours.

In the film an alien crashes to Earth and before he dies passes his ring and lantern to Hal, a fighter pilot who, rather unsurprisingly, is a maverick and plays by his rules and no-one else’s. He then has to prove himself to the Green Lantern Corps. To save his planet and maybe the galaxy. I’m unsure of the latter, I wasn’t paying much attention. Definitely Earth though.

The film has three problems:

Firstly, Ryan Reynolds is just bland. Now usually I like Reynolds. He isn’t fantastic by any means but he was charismatic and likeable in the sitcom ‘Two Guys, a Girl and…’ which was a decent watch sandwiched in between Hang Time and Saved by the Bell on Trouble. He has also put in good turns in the likes of Buried and a couple of OK but forgettable films. In Lantern he doesn’t get going. He lacks the wit or coolness of Robert Downey Junior’s Iron Man or the character depth of Christian Bale’s Batman.

He isn’t helped by a boring plot or poor dialogue though.The bad guy isn’t menacing enough, or scary enough, or both. You get the idea that he is a formidable foe that has been a problem for millennia but when you see him on screen, hear his backstory and have his plot revealed you’re all a bit ‘so what’. The enemy needs to really hammer home threat of danger, harm and destruction he or she poses and this one fails.

And finally, the effects look dated even though the film is barely 18 months old. A new film simply cannot get away with this.

Overall a poor film and instantly forgettable, especially considering the volume of superhero movies being released. This certainly ranks somewhere toward the bottom.

It does ask the question about where this film ties in with the Justice League movie announced for a few years time. Reynolds is undoubtedly a box office pull but the Green Lantern franchise has been tarnished with this poor effort. It leaves the studio with a dilemma; should they include Reynolds as the Green Lantern or should they reboot the character either before or after the Justice League movie is released?