The Annual Movie Review of Hellscape Central (a.k.a 2017)

Header 2017.pngDid you see that shit I wrote last year? I literally called 2016 the ‘Worst Year in Recent Memory’ and I wasn’t wrong. Well, not at the time, anyway. You know how it is; Time is just the slow death of perception. So, 2017. It kinda sucked too.

Let’s talk about movies!

This year was, cinematically speaking, fucking weird. Going into this endeavour I thought this year was super weak for film as well as…everything else. Imagine my surprise when I completed my shortlist with about 18 movies and realising that cutting eight of those was going to be REALLY, REALLY TOUGH. And that’s factoring in that there’s a lot I just haven’t had a chance to see yet. I’ll mention those at the bottom.

I’ll publish the actual Top Ten in the next week or so but this is kind of a general year in review of everything else that came out. Oh and at the very end we’ll talk about Superhero Movies because I need people to hate me.

Time Wasters and Heart Breakers

kingsman-the-golden-circle-0This is it! This is the year I stopped going to see Transformers movies! I swear I felt so fucking free that I went and saw a bunch of other terrible movies just to corner myself into that suffocating cacophony of suck that I leech off of to keep my sunny disposition intact.

On the one hand, come on, did I really expect Ghost in the Shell to be any good at all? I feel scummy even writing about it because it feels like I’m punching down. And similarly what did I really think I was going to get with The Dark Tower? I was holding out hope that it could be okay but I think we all knew what we were getting into when they announced that movie was only just going to limp over the 90 minute mark. That story needs a saga to even scratch the surface of what the books only hint at.

Okay, I’ll admit, Alien: Covenant was on me. I should have known better. But honestly, it started so strongly that I really thought it was going to make up for Prometheus. Instead it went right ahead and rammed it’s amorphously long circumcised head so far up its ass and kinda made my Most Hated Movie of 2012 seem kinda decent by comparison.

The true disappointments came in the form of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which seemed to double down on everything kinda gross and obtuse about the first movie and replace all the awesome seamless action with overly enhanced gummy-faces, and The Fate of the Furious which…I don’t even know, guys, it was just kinda crap. There was no style, no mojo, no pizzaz to anything and that’s what that franchise needs. But I can hold out hope after the announcement that J. Lin is coming back to round off the series. If he can’t finish it properly, then maybe we should all walk away and be done with it.

The Pretty Decents

_KF17640.NEFI would feel remiss if I didn’t admit that most of the reason I found any joy in Murder on the Orient Express was this motherfucker right here:

Murder on Orient Express Screengrab Square

Yeah, I know it’s a dumb reason to like a movie but it’s also a really dumb fucking moustache and I have so much time for it. And speaking of things I have so much time for, am I the only person in the country who went to see Power Rangers? I hope not because that film is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. I’m not going to sit here and try to convince anybody that it’s a capital-G GOOD MOVIE but I enjoyed the hell out of it and found myself real tempted to add it to the shortlist just to prove to everybody that they should never trust my opinion on anything.

Considering how much Alien: Covenant raised my blood pressure, consider Life if you’d like to look elsewhere for your space-faring horror kicks. It’s weird whenever a venerable and storied franchise is one-upped by the stories it inspired but Life is fast and slick and tense as hell so it’s at least three up on Covenant. Alas, none of the characters utter the line “I’ll do the fingering” so I guess Alien wins on that count.

And also, Kong: Skull Island. Just Kong: Skull Island. I don’t really want to justify that because…there’s not a lot to justify. It’s a movie with a big ape fucking things up really well. You know whether you want that or not. It was more entertaining than the other ape movie this year, War for the Planet of the Apes, which felt weirdly hollow compared to the last installment. It wasn’t bad but it was a significant step down.

Honourable Mentions (in no particular order)

I’m not even kidding, you don’t know how hard it was to cut all of these from my list:

Logan, Brawl in Cell Block 99The Big Sick, Okja, Star Wars: The Last JediA Ghost Story, Molly’s GameDunkirk, Blade Runner 2049, Thor Ragnarok.

Weirdest Review of the Year Award – Baby Driver

Ansel Elgort;Jon Hamm;Jamie Foxx;Eiza GonzalezI went into Baby Driver pretty excited. I loved everyone involved (emphasis on the past tense now that we’re living in a Post-Weinstein world) and the premise is basically how I’ve been building stories in my head for years: turn on an iPod, listen to music, build the action around the song.

So when I started watching Baby Driver I…didn’t love it. And I didn’t love it for a long time. It didn’t seem to have a sense of tonal consistency but it wasn’t really inconsistent enough to be appealingly jarring either. For the entire first half of the movie, it seemed very hesitant to go ‘all-in’ and that frustrated me.

Then it went all-in. And the rest of the movie is fucking rad as shit.

I’ve watched it a few times since than and, although I appreciate the whole product more now, the first half still feels like it’s holding back in a way it shouldn’t. The second half is funny and mean and cool and just stone cold in a way that makes the first half feel very milquetoast almost as if the movie is treating the audience with kid gloves. It’s a strange result that I still don’t think entirely works but at the same time the second half of that movie is so fucking good that nothing would make me happier than knowing everybody has seen Baby Driver. So there you go. Go see Baby Driver. I think.

The Superhero Shitshow

MW-FH148_LoganM_ZG_20170302111413

I was so close to calling this section something else entirely but then that Fox/Disney merger happened and suddenly the entire future of the MCU is entirely up in the air and that is fucking B.A.N.A.N.A.S. Don’t get me wrong, the MCU will continue to be a thing until the inevitable weaponisation of pop culture as a concept but any plans that Kevin Feige and co. over at Marvel had for the MCU post Infinity War II are now likely being heavily reviewed. Honestly, there’s probably a room somewhere right now that just has 12 executives sitting around a conference table screaming “WHERE CAN WE PUT WOLVERINE?!” at each other until somebody bursts a fucking blood vessel.

Otherwise, 2017 has mostly been a massive improvement over last years apathetic shrug. The LEGO Batman Movie followed its predecessor in being far better than such a shameless merchandising cash-in had any right to be and as far as ultimately toothless but still enjoyable superhero flicks go, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 was an entirely functional if equally forgettable outing.

The best superhero film of the year was easily the masterful Logan, an intimate and gorgeous send off for a character that has been consistently played to perfection in movies not worthy of Hugh Jackman’s gloriously chiselled frame. It was the most poignant shit imaginable and one that will likely be in the upper echelons of comic-book movie history for quite some time.

landscape-1469716323-wonder-woman-gal-gadot

Wonder Woman proved to be entirely surprising to me because I thought those trailers looked really bad. Admittedly it kind of shat itself inside out in the third act but Gadot’s performance and the sheer timeliness of the picture absolutely elevated it above the sum of its parts.

And who could forget Thor: Ragnarok, possibly the single funniest movie of the year. Considering I never held the disdain for the previous Thor outings that most people seem to, I was expecting to enjoy the trilogy-capper but it brought an A-game unlike anything I could have expected and to hear that Marvel would like to work with director Taika Watiti again only fills me with confidence.

Of course it wouldn’t be 2017 without somebody fucking things up for the rest of us and that honor goes to Justice League, a movie so fundamentally fucking awful on every single level that it made me decide that Batman v Superman maybe isn’t so bad after all. It’s the Alien: Covenant of the DCU and that’s about the worst thing I could say about it.

Well, there’s your year in review. Check back next week for the official Top 10 which you almost definitely have not seen most of.

 

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