In the pantheon of critically panned films, you'll find familiar titles the likes of Tommy Wiseau's The Room, M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, and even Catwoman, a screwed-up DC Comics adaptation that harmed the prospects of future female superhero films until, fortunately, Wonder Woman came along this year.
But to find a critically panned film from an otherwise able director seems rare. But perhaps not at all. The Book of Henry, a new film by Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, has now landed on the plate of critics, and they're, for lack of a better term, murdering it.
What an unfortunate turn of events, surely, for Trevorrow will also helm Star Wars: Episode IX, out 2019. The passel of harshly critical reviews seems to be causing Star Wars fans to worry about the fate of Episode IX in the hands of the filmmaker.
Critics Pan Colin Trevorrow's 'The Book Of Henry'
Below, you can read some excerpts from critic reviews for The Book of Henry:
"It might be quickly forgotten as a well-meaning flop, but The Book of Henry deserves to linger — it's like an unsettling dream you can't quite remember, a familiar story where all the pieces just seemed out of place," wrote David Sims of The Atlantic.
"The script is inexcusably bad and accounts for most of the film's problems. But Trevorrow can't draw a single emotional through line out of the muck, leaving his cast stranded in a directionless jumble of half-arcs," wrote Emily Yoshida of Vulture.
"We're supposed to be glimpsing the tale's grand design, but what we see, for the first time, is that the entire thing is a crock: a film dreamed up by people who are moving 'human situations' around like pieces on a checkerboard," wrote Owen Gleiberman of Variety.
Penned by crime novelist Gregg Hurwitz, The Book of Henry follows a precocious 11-year-old boy and his single mother who conjure up a plan to rescue a neighbor from her sexually abusive stepfather. One can say Trevorrow has long treated the film as quite akin to a passion project, in fact having called the script "remarkable piece of screenwriting that has stuck with me for years."
Critics have found it remarkable, too, but for reasons entirely opposite to Trevorrow's.
If the excerpts above weren't enough, Collider said the film's liberal mixing genres was like "blending Capri Sun with absinthe." The Guardian appeared to be more straightforward in its review, though, calling The Book of Henry an "insidiously terrible film."
Should You Worry About 'Star Wars: Episode IX'?
Probably what millions of people want to know more than anything is what the film means for Star Wars: Episode IX. While Trevorrow's Jurassic World effortlessly became a billion-dollar revenue holder in 2015, it didn't reap that many positive reviews along the way, though response generally was optimistic for the popcorn potboiler flick.
That being said, Trevorrow had also been responsible for Safety Not Guaranteed, a raucously funny feature debut which pleased Sundance Film Festival moviegoers and critics alike for its performances, story, and subtle implementation of science-fiction elements.
Does the performance of The Book of Henry foreshadow the kind of cinematic caliber Trevorrow can create for Star Wars fans awaiting Episode IX? Perhaps, but also perhaps not. Ultimately, many elements might have caused The Book of Henry to flounder — including the script, pressure from the movie studios, or behind-the-scenes drama we're completely oblivious to.
Suffice it to say that Trevorrow has done a phenomenal film once — maybe even twice — and he can most likely pull it off again, especially for such a crucial franchise as Star Wars. Don't forget that an artist's work can't all be received well; some will impress, and some will disappoint. To top it off, reviews are, at the end of the day, subjective. We're not invalidating the importance of critics and the nature of their work, but anyone can agree that all observations — about art, especially — will remain subjective, in whichever way one looks at it.