The A-Z of Film

G = Great (film) Expectations

We’ve all been there. An upcoming film that you’ve waited months to see is finally out. You’re first in line at the cinema, popcorn in hand, you pick the best seats, you sit down, the film starts, and then it all turns sour.

Equally, all those things happen and then the film is as good as expected, maybe better. But why do some films have these weighty expectations attached, and can they harm the film before it’s even released?

I’m starting out with a film that had a lot on it’s shoulders, Southland Tales. Everyone remembers Donnie Darko. If you’re mid thirties, it was probably, along with Requiem For A Dream, the film that really spoke to you. People loved it, they dressed up as the weird bunny or Donnie at Halloween, they quoted it, and if you were like me, you got the soundtrack.

So with this successful directorial feature debut, Richard Kelly needed a follow up. This follow up then comes with expectations. Is it going to be as good? Will we have the same kind of twisting plot? Can he repeat that success? The expectation for Southland Tales was huge, and unfortunately it didn’t go through the smoothest of developments. After getting bad reviews at Cannes, the film was sold on to Sony from Universal, and the film length was substantially cut back.

I may be in the minority here, but I really liked it. Thirteen years on however, I couldn’t tell much of what the film was about. The only bit I remember is the Justin Timberlake singing scene. The general consensus though was not great, it didn’t do amazingly well, and unfortunately Richard Kelly has only directed one film since, 2006 thriller The Box.

Every James Bond Film comes with expectations, and after fifty-plus years we’ve had a good mix of expectations being high and then shattered, or coming off the back of poor films (I’m looking at you Diamonds are Forever), and then blowing us out of the water with the follow up. It’s a real rollercoaster experience, but with a franchise so big, and to have lasted this long, the good outweighs the bad.

Sometimes expectations can be tarnished before you even sit down in the cinema. Two films in the last couple of years I’ve been looking forward to have had seriously unnecessary and very personally targeted backlash. One before filming even started and the other once it was released. I’m talking about the 2016 Ghostbusters and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Ghostbusters certainly got the main brunt of the, what can only be described as, abuse. If you’re not happy about a film or have reservations about it, either don’t watch it or at least be constructive with your argument. What the cast and crew had to endure was disgusting. Anyway, I’m getting off the point a bit. I had expectations, I was hopeful that they’d do a good job, especially with the likes of Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig in charge. I think they did a great job and it made me discover Kate McKinnon.

The Last Jedi had massive expectations and certainly didn’t meet everyone’s high standards. Again people felt the need to abuse members of the cast, this time aimed at Kelly Marie Tran who plays Rose. If you don’t like a film, you have the option not to watch it again (something a couple of my friends have decided to do), which is absolutely fine. You don’t need to troll people on the internet.

I’ve looked at high expectations, middling expectations, now the only way is down to the bottom of the pile. A film with low expectations, something people thought would be rubbish and do badly. This is a remake of an eighties TV series, that was also not that popular in the UK. Add to that they are making it a comedy and then sticking Channing Tatum in one of the lead roles. At this point Channing was the guy from Step Up and romantic drama Dear John, certainly not a proven comedy actor. This film is 21 Jump Street.

Even after it’s release and good reviews I still didn’t really want to watch it. My wife watched it before me and said it was good, I still resisted. Eventually I sat down and watched it, and what a delight. A fantastic comedy, a great partnership of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, plus a role that certainly helped Brie Larson’s career. Overall a great surprise from really low expectations.

I don’t think I have the energy to talk about the posts main picture. Let’s save Jaws: The Revenge for another time. I don’t know about you, but my expectations were sky high with a tag line this good. ‘This time it’s personal.’

So you can have a film with low expectations bring a surprise hit, or a film with the weight of the world on it’s shoulders crumble under the pressure, plus all the variations in between. It really can go either way. The best thing to do is ignore the hype, ignore the bad press, get to that cinema, sit in the chair and let the film take you away. That way you can make up your own mind.

But still come back here though to see what I thought 😀