About a month ago, we looked at the big movies premiering in October. Early October saw the release of Ridley Scott’s surprisingly good The Martian. The Matt Damon starring film has led the box office every weekend this month. The Stephen Spielberg-Tom Hanks collaboration Bridge of Spies was the biggest Oscar bait of the month, with the famed duo reuniting, this time for an exploration of the Cold War. The upcoming month of November is looking especially thin in the film release department. On the one hand, there are two blockbuster franchises that are either ending or perhaps ending their current iteration. On the other, two needless extensions into well trodden cinematic territory. Since going chronologically also means going thematically, let’s start from there.
Spectre: This is Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Rumors abound that this may be Craig’s last Bond film and his blunt answers about not really being interested in the franchise anymore have fanned the flames even further. Craig’s first Bond film, Casino Royale, reinvigorated the tired franchise that had been run into the ground during the tail end of the Pierce Brosnan era. The second film, the oddly named Quantum of Solace, was bogged down by plodding plotting. Skyfall took a more grounded approach to Bond, digging deeply into his past and presenting a tired, broken man. Spectre seems to promise more of the same with a figure from Bond’s past playing a central role. It will be interesting to see the shift from Dame Judy Dench’s version of M (Bond’s boss) to Ralph Fiennes.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2: The final film in the franchise premieres right before Thanksgiving, reminding everyone that oh yeah there’s still another one of these movies. The 1st Hunger Games movie was surprisingly good and helped catapult Jennifer Lawrence to stardom. The 2nd one wisely built off the trauma of the first movie and broadened the scope of the growing rebellion. The third one simply marked time so the filmmakers could bilk an extra half billion dollars out of the movie going public. Now it’s up to Mockingjay Part 2 to deliver on the promised war that will overthrow the evil capital of Panem and hopefully put a rest to the never ending wave of dystopian young adult novels and movies that have overwhelmed theaters and bookshelves in recent years.
Creed: Could also just be called Rocky VII? Rocky VIII? We’re about six movies past any interesting story this character once had. Sylvester Stallone still plays Rocky Balboa—whose brain is probably just a pile of jell-o at this point---only this time he’s training the son of his onetime arch-nemesis turned friend Apollo Creed. This movie might be worth it if it had Carl Weathers playing the version of himself from Arrested Development. But Creed was last seen getting murdered in the ring by Dolph Lungren at the beginning of Rocky IV.
Victor Frankenstein: A sort of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead take on the Frankenstein legend, told from the perspective of Igor, the doctor’s assistant. Igor this time around is just as brilliant as the famed doctor, minus the medical degree. The presence of James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe are the only reasons to be interested in yet another retelling of Mary Shelley’s famous novel. The story of Frankenstein and his monster is one of the most used and overused stories in popular media. Plus what can this movie have to say that Mel Brooks didn’t cover in Young Frankenstein?