Saturday, 13 January 2018

2017 Movie Roundup Part 2

Hey, everyone, we’re back with numbers 11-1 of my movies of 2017. It’s all up from here folks, as we count down to my favorite movie of the year. Let’s get right to it!

11. The Hitman’s Bodyguard
It’s nice to have a movie that’s self-aware enough to know exactly what it is. This is that movie. You want a fun, unfiltered, action film that’s basically Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson just doing their thing? This is 100% for you. This is the kind of movie you watch when you want to have a good time. I knew exactly what I was getting into from the first poster and trailer inspired by that other Bodyguard movie, and I wasn’t disappointed. 

10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

How do you follow up a film like the first Guardians of the Galaxy? It seems like a daunting task but this film didn’t fall into many of the traps of sequels in needing to be ‘bigger, more explodey just because'. This film put a lot of focus on character development and expanding the galaxy on top of what we already know. The villain was leagues better than Ronan the Accuser and the interaction between both new and old characters was awesome. And Michael Rooker is a show-stealer. ‘Nuff said.

9. Atomic Blonde

An action-spy flick with Charlize Theron and directed by one of the directors of John Wick? Add in a killer 80’s soundtrack and you’ve got me sold. The fights are knock-down-drag-out brawls that are gorgeously choreographed without the horrible multi-cuts that plague other actions films of late. And don’t even get me started on how much I’d love to see more female-led action films! 2017 was awesome for really getting some good female protagonists out there and I hope we can keep that trend going! 

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming

This is the Spider-Man we’ve been waiting for since at least Spider-Man 2, but more than that I finally feel like we found an actor that embodies both the Peter Parker and Spider-Man sides of the character. I also got one of my favorite villains on screen, and the Vulture was one of the better MCU baddies. I also really appreciated not having to do the origin again and instead see Peter come into himself as a hero in a post-Avengers world. 

7. Dunkirk
Making these lists is always hard. Dunkirk is objectively an incredible film, despite ‘only’ being at number 7 (in the middle of writing this I even bumped this one up a spot and dropped something else down). I don’t want its position on this list to take anything away from how damn excellent it was. This was a gorgeous, fantastically acted, beautifully scored experience that put you on that beach with those men. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. I know I sound like I’m fangirling, but this movie really is that good. 

6. Get Out    

I haven’t been as pleasantly surprised and impressed by a movie in a long time as I was with Get Out. To have your feature directorial film be such an excellent mix of horror, comedy, social commentary, and satire is a huge credit to Jordan Peele. It didn’t quite go in the direction I thought it would but the final reveal was so fascinating that I was glad to be wrong. This movie has had a lot of hype around it and it really does deserve it. Side note, I can’t wait to see star Daniel Kaluuya again in Black Panther next month! 

5. John Wick Chapter 2
I loved everything about the first John Wick movie. It wasn’t much different with this one. I loved how you got more of the world in which these people operate, and to see John in action as more than just a rage-fueled killing machine. The ending left it open for a third and with me going ‘holy crap what are they gonna do next?’ Keanu Reeves is frickin’ spectacular once again and every piece of action is absolutely on-point. The pace is a bit less relentless than the first, but it gives you that opportunity to learn more about this shadowy assassin world and really fleshes things out. 

4. Wonder Woman
Of all the movies I saw last year, this was one of the ones I really, really wanted them to get right. You would not believe how relieved I was that they did. Free from the drag of Batman v Superman, Diana shines in her own film. The cast are all amazing, Themiscyra is appropriately beautiful, World War One is appropriately horrible, and it does it all without being disjointed, dour, or dumb like its predecessors. It was so refreshing to see a superhero who was not only beautiful and badass, but who felt emotions and had compassion without it being framed as a weakness (and not being framed like a sexual object in every shot). I can’t overstate how important it was for this movie to be good, let alone as good as it was. Not just for me, but for people like my little girl, who now always wears her sword stuck in the back of her shirt and had a full, movie-accurate Wonder Woman costume for Halloween (which was quite the project for me).  
So worth it, though

3. War for the Planet of the Apes
The third installment in one of the best, most consistently excellent trilogies out there. A beautiful wrap up for the arc of Caesar and how he has developed into a leader for his people and how he grows as a person (ape?). An excellent score, breathtakingly lifelike motion capture, and incredible character development that gets you right in the feels, this film really has it all. I was skeptical about these movies at first, and I’ve never been happier to be wrong. 

2. Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi
Okay, so this was the movie that was holding this all up. After seeing it the first time, I had no idea where to put it on my list and I knew I had to see it again if I was going to come to any sort of conclusion. Long story short, I loved it even more the second time. I found I watched parts of it differently the second time. I know this movie has been divisive but I loved every minute of it, from crawl to credits, all to that John Williams score. And our house is definitely pro-porg. 

1. Logan  
This year I seemed to like my blockbusters with a side of emotional gut-punch. But really, what else could have been number one (other than maybe Star Wars)? Logan was top of my list pretty much all year, and nothing else quite surpassed it. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart were at the top of their game here. In fact, my other half, who works in a personal care home, commented on how eerily familiar Charles Xavier was to some of the residents he’s worked with. The standout performance had to go to Dafne Keen, though. She was absolutely phenomenal and I hope James Mangold gets that X-23 film off the ground with her in it. This was Wolverine as we’d never seen and had been waiting to see on the big screen, in a film full of emotional depth that in some places just shattered me. And I wasn’t the only one getting the feels (I heard all you other people around me in the theater sniffling at certain parts, too). If this was to be Wolverine’s swan song, then he went out in incredible fashion. 

So that’s it, folks, my films of 2017 from bottom to top. This is just my own opinion, of course, and I’m sure everyone has their personal favorites. Let me know what yours was! Next time we’ll look ahead to the films coming out this year and see what we have to look forward to. Until then!  

Monday, 8 January 2018

2017 Movie Wrap Up

Hello everyone, it’s that time of the year again. We’re now in 2018 so let’s give 2017 one final send-off by talking about the movies of the year. I waited a little bit to write this because there was one movie that I really needed to see again before I put everything in the final order. Now that I’ve taken care of that we can get down to this. I didn’t see that many movies this year (I have a list of 22) for a variety of reasons such as distance from theater, releases that don’t release wide enough for us to get them, general time/life/work, etc. things. There are some big releases that I haven’t seen that I wish I could have put on here but unfortunately can’t, so sorry to It, Thor: Ragnarok, Blade Runner 2049, Geostorm, and Justice League, but you don’t get to be on the list. I will be seeing them once they hit home release but I just didn’t get to them theatrically. With that said, let’s get part one started!

Part One: Starting from the Bottom   

As I said, I have 22 films to talk about. We are going to start from the bottom of the list and work our way up to number one. For this part we are going to go over 22-12. Now then, these movies may not all be bad, this isn’t a ‘worst of’ list, but rather the bottom half of all the ones I got to see. So they’ll start bad, but they won’t all be that way.  

22.  The Mummy

Ugh. What an utter waste of time. Tom Cruise is grossly miscast, the movie is dumb and assumes the audience is too, there’s several gross, sexist moments with the female characters, the timeline doesn’t make sense, the CG is bad, and it’s ‘tell, not show’ in the worst extreme. Bottom of the list and it deserves to be there. I’m not wasting any more words on this dreck.  

21. Shin Godzilla 

This movie was weird. It had a lot of potential and some things I really liked. But it also had by far the worst looking Godzilla ever, no matter what his form. There was some elements that really felt like they were trying to fix what wasn’t broken and overall it just wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I’d recommend for a fan, especially a completionist, but it wasn’t great. 

20. Power Rangers

2017 was a year when a lot of things that were formative to my person got big screen treatment. One of these was Power Rangers, and not just any version, but an update to the original Mighty Morphin’ team. And…. It wasn’t great. Rereading my review, I was pretty kind to it overall score-wise. Everything was aesthetically over-complicated and ugly and the movie overall just didn’t really have the fun of the original show. It took itself way too seriously too, and lacked the self-awareness that it really needed. It wanted to be dark and gritty but didn’t want to fully commit. Didn’t ruin my childhood, but didn’t do it any favors, either.  

19. Ghost in the Shell

A franchise I knew nothing about, and yet even I could tell how much they simplified and dumbed it down. The look of it was fascinating and there was a glimpse of a really deep, amazing world, but the story just wasn’t there. It was all gloss and no substance, and I really feel that that substance would have not only made it a better movie, but could’ve been a good primer for non-fans like me to pull in new blood to the fandom.

18. Beauty and the Beast 

This is the second film on this list to have source material close to my heart. This live-action remake does nothing to ‘improve’ or add to the original, animated film, and many of the most magical moments of the animated film fall flat here. The extra songs don’t add much but runtime and the design, while elaborate, is del Toro-lite but lacking the love and attention of a del Toro creation. The cast was stacked with amazing actors, but as they say in the animated film ‘if it’s not baroque, don’t fix it!”.

17. Colossal 

Okay, so this was a good movie. It just ended up here. It was a really fun take on kaiju films and it was cool to see Anne Hathaway play a totally different character to what she usually does. It went in directions that I didn’t think it would and was overall a really neat film and I would definitely recommend it just for all the weird directions it took.

16. Guardians 

This one I actually just watched not too long ago. I didn’t do a proper review for it (holiday burnout) but it was a fun movie. It’s basically Russian Avengers, sort of. And one of them is a were-bear. It’s a really fun action movie and a really good time. We were able to rent it dubbed in English and that went pretty good, the dub was overall well done. One interesting thing, their S.H.E.I.L.D-type organization had a lot of women in it, in fact their ‘Nick Fury’ was a woman and it was really cool to see. It was a really good time.

15. Free Fire

This movie did something unexpected, it took what would be a 3-5 minute sequence in any other action flick and made it feature-length. I have to applaud them for making that work. The acting was all really good and every character felt individual without needing tons of exposition or character exploration. It’s amazing to watch and to see this play out, and it has a lot of good tension and good action. I do recommend it just to see it and how they made it work.

14. The Dark Tower

Since 2017 was gonna do everything I loved on the big screen, it really cut to the quick on this one. I have long maintained that this series should not be adapted, and they didn’t do much to prove me wrong. Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, and Tom Taylor were excellent in their roles, but the rest… If you were gonna do this, do a limited run on HBO or Netflix or something and adapt the damn story of the book. Don’t make a dumbed-down, simplified, PG-13 version of something that should be none of those things. Don’t even get me started on the 90-minute runtime, especially when bloated monstrosities like Batman v. Superman are being made.

13. Lego Batman 

How do you take the history, the mythos, the legend of Batman, and totally turn it on its head? By making him Lego, apparently. This movie takes the ‘granny’s peach tea’ out of every incarnation that has come before in the best, most meta way possible. You could spend the whole movie just picking out Easter eggs and references, but at the same time you get a really good story out of it as well. This movie nailed it and is awesome for both kids and adults. If you haven’t seen it, go see it.

12. Kong: Skull Island

I was a little meh on Kong in the fact that they were making this movie essentially to introduce him so he could fight Godzilla later on. But you know what, this was a pretty darn good movie. I really liked the setting, and that they went with something different by going with the end of the Vietnam War instead of an earlier time reminiscent of his other film appearances. The cast was solid and the effects were great and that post-credit stinger was awesome. And that soundtrack was fantastic.  

Alright folks, stay tuned for 11-1 in the next few days! We’re on the upswing!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

This Is What It's Really About

Okay, guys, anyone who's spent any time on the Internet since Last Jedi came out knows it's been controversial. I thought maybe I'd talk about the backlash surrounding it. But that's super negative to do right before Christmas, and refuting all the complaints would be super spoilery. So I thought I'd do something a little more uplifting for the season. Get your kleenex, folks.

So I came across several news bits and some articles about an Air Force and Vietnam veteran who is terminally ill and his daughter wanted to make sure he got to see The Last Jedi. And folks on the Internet and from their community pulled together and made sure he got to go in style. He got a private screening, accompanied by members of the 501st and Rebel Legion and by the look of it, an awesome experience.

We all get so wrapped up in ourselves and our fandoms, but I thought this was a good reminder for all of us that this is what it's all about, this is the stuff that makes it matter. And in the midst of all the negativity, it's so refreshing to see something positive, to know that we really can do good with this things that we love. This is what we need more of. Not petitions to remove Last Jedi from canon (seriously?), but really, honest-to-goodness, goodness. Let's all remember how a little green puppet once said that hate is on the path to the Dark Side, and we're all better than that.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Article HERE (this is where the kleenex comes in)

For the record, I thought Last Jedi was awesome. I don't get the upset.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom First Trailer and Featurette

Twas three weeks before Christmas
And we were biding our time.
Tonight was for dinos
(next week’s all Jedi)

The people all waited on YouTube with care
With hopes that a trailer soon would be there

There’s he in his t-shirt and I in my hoodie,
Waiting and hoping it would be a goody.
When from the table there came such a tither,
‘The trailer is live, it was posted on Twitter!’

Okay, that’s enough of that. I’ve had my fun with the obligatory Christmas reference, so let’s talk about the trailer. I’ve actually got a couple of other trailers and things to talk about as well but that will be a later post because I’ve honestly been a little under the weather. But let’s not let that stop us from at least talking about the first full trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, aka Jurassic World II, Jurassic Park V, or The Lost Park: Jurassic World.

So let’s back this up a little. A few days before the Infinity War trailer dropped, there was a leaked graphic on Facebook saying ‘Trailer This Thursday!”. That was a boo-boo on someone’s part, as Universal then came out and clarified that the announcement was premature but that the real date would be released that weekend. That Sunday, there were two teasers dropped, one online and one introduced during the Seahawks-Eagles game by Chris Pratt. Fast forward to Wednesday, we get a nice little behind-the-scenes featurette ahead of the trailer Thursday. Still with me? I know I had to ask my expert to explain it twice as I wrote this. Well, anyway, now we have our first look at Fallen Kingdom.

  First off I just want to say the behind-the-scenes video is really, really good and you should definitely check it out. There’s some really exciting stuff there. Look at all the robots, guys! That was one issue I definitely had with the first Jurassic World film and I would just love it if they really brought those practical dinosaurs back into the series. Especially given the massive legacy of the combination of practical and computer generated that is so iconic of the first (three) films. I didn’t watch A Monster Calls with the other half when he watched it (I don’t do sad movies) but what I heard from him gives me hope that J.A Bayona can pull this off. 

Anyway, on to the trailer itself. This is an interesting one. It’s a little weird tonally, to start with. The banter and the music of the bar scene don’t really line up with the stuff that comes after. Also, there is a bit of a clash from philosophical/ ethical debate and all-out action. I’m not saying the movie can’t do both, but it makes for a bit of a weird feel over all. But it’s not bad. Apparently everything we see in this two-and-a-half minutes is from the first 57 minutes movie, or so Colin Trevorrow says, and so we can’t feel like we already know how this is going to play out and that we’ve been spoiled. I’ve seen some fairly negative reaction to this, but I don’t really see anything that gives me cause for great alarm, yet. Then again, the featurette did help with that. 

So what’s good? Well, it looks like we’re doing something different story-wise. We might actually get some expansion on the ethical debate as to the nature of the dinosaurs and what that entails as far as protections for them (animals vs assets). Jeff Goldblum is back, and though we shouldn’t expect him to have a huge role, it’s nice to see him back in the franchise again. There’s going to be a metric crap-ton of dinosaurs in this movie, including some new ones (Carnotaurus! Baryonyx!) and some returning ones, too (Compys! Stegosaurus!). What else? The CG looks really good so far, even this far out, and if they are using as much practical as they promise then hopefully it will be all the better. In that vein, it’s nice to see Rexy back again in all her glory, rocking all those scars like the matriarch of the island that she is.
yaaaas Queen!  #sorrynotsorry

 It’s a better first trailer than Jurassic World had. And baby Blue is super cute.  

There were a few things I was meh about, though. Owen and Claire obviously didn’t stay together, and I hope that doesn’t play too much into the story. I’m not upset about it character-wise like when JP III had Grant and Ellie no longer together, I just don’t want it to be a Thing that gets annoying. There was one other thing in the trailer too. Owen got caught in what looks like a pyroclastic flow from the volcano. In that case, he would be extra-crispy human and that would be the end of him. I rather doubt they’re planning on killing off Chris Pratt, especially that early in the movie, so we’ll have to see what happens there.

So, in the words of the esteemed Dr. Malcolm:

I think it has potential. I really want this to be the movie that this franchise deserves. I want for my other half to come out of it as excited as I came out of Force Awakens, Rogue One (and hopefully Last Jedi). I want it to be awesome, and I hope it is.