Back in 2014 I made a promise to myself to see more movies at the theater. I did this because I wanted to 1) get out of my house more often and 2) was sick of not being able to join in on conversations about these movies. That year I only ended up going to Godzilla (which I enjoyed) and so the next year I tried harder. And I saw TWO movies. The next year, I saw FOUR. And then came this year with NINE. So yeah, it was a slow burn, but I ended up sticking to my plan after all.
This leads to this blog. I’ve had an idea for a “shotgun” review for a while. Like a shotgun shell this blog is going to be packed with multiple reviews in one shot. I couldn’t do individual reviews of these since I’m not a big enough film fan to really “critique” movies. I don’t really understand things like cinematography on a deep enough level to go into detail. Instead, I can mostly just tell you what I liked and didn’t like.
So let’s get the rules out of the way.
Now let’s get started:
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The LEGO Batman Movie - I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. It was okay, for a kid’s movie. Had a few laughs here and there, but most of the humor wasn’t my cup of tea. The plot was also not terribly engaging, in my own opinion. Mostly I enjoyed the obscure jokes and Easter eggs. The movie is steeped in Batman trivia and references. At least until the third act when it suddenly changes from The LEGO Batman Movie into The LEGO Warner Bros. IPs Movie. Also how is Ralph Fiennes, the actor who played Voldemort, in the movie (as Alfred) but not voicing LEGO Voldemort? You hired someone else to voice Voldemort over the actor who played Voldemort? Really? All in all, I left this movie feeling pretty meh about it. But I felt the same way with The LEGO Movie. Perhaps this series just isn’t for me. But I would say that it was an okay movie.
Kong: Skull Island - I loved this movie. Lots of action, but enough breaks between them to not be exhausting. Samuel L. Jackson was a great villain (although how could he not, he’s Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson). John C. Reilly was a great comic relief. The two leads (Hiddleston and Larson) were serviceable, but fairly forgettable. And the rest of the supporting cast were great too. Kong was very well done. So were the action scenes. I also actually liked the story and how it set up the next Godzilla movie at the end. This is a movie that I was very glad to have seen in theater. And I hope the "Monsterverse" Legendary is setting up follows this lead more closelt than Godzilla 2014's.
Logan - My personal favorite film of the year. Which considering I’m not a huge fan of the X-Men films, is saying something. Hugh Jackman really did a great job and Dafne Keen was fantastic as Laura. X-24 was a big, but pleasant surprise. The soundtrack was perfect for the movie. Patrick Stewart was great, and Professor X’s death was heartbreaking. I loved the ending, even though it legitimately made me cry to watch Logan die. I mean, like I said I'm not a big X-Men movie fan but I always liked Jackman as Wolverine. Logan was a great movie and an even better end for Jackman’s Wolverine.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - This was alright. It had some good jokes, and some decent action scenes. Plot was pretty good, though I question one scene that I feel is a massive plot hole for the MCU. I'm referring to the whole Ego almost consuming Earth that none of the other Marvel films have ever referenced. Even though that would have happened at some point. And probably would have been a big deal. Weird that there seems to be no repercussions from it or anyone ever going, "Hey, remember that time that wave of weird alien shit almost consumed that whole town?" But I digress. Mostly though my biggest problem is that if felt less like a movie and more like a long episode of a show. I don’t know, it just felt like very little actually happens. Also the final fight went all DBZ out of nowhere (not complaining, it was just kind of out of nowhere). A good action comedy for sure, but not one that I “loved”. The first Guardians was better.
Wonder Woman - A decnt movie. I liked the action scenes and the characters. The story was a bit weak, and I saw the “twist” coming the second I saw Lupin. Seriously, the other guy with no lines wasn’t Ares? Gasp. I wonder if it's the unassuming guy that does have lines, is played by a fairly well known actor, and keeps popping up for now reason? Gal Gadot did a great job as Wonder Woman, way better than I had expected. The humor was pretty hit or miss. The sex joke in particular was painful to me. It felt forced and just oddly out of nowhere. Last act was a pretty weak. Kind of just built up to a lot of nothing. Great potential here, but imperfect execution. But still probably the best film in the DCEU so far. Not that that’s too hard.
Baby Driver - I freaking loved this. Great car chases, great shootouts, great soundtrack, good story…but a weak romance. Yeah, I said it. The “romance” in Baby Driver is the weakest part of the film. It feels rushed and not very realistic in a movie that otherwise manages to be fairly grounded (sure it’s a bit over-the-top, but it’s grounded enough to buy into). She falls in love with Baby after what, two dates? Like in love enough to commit crimes and potentially become a wanted fugitive? Either Baby is the smoothest dude ever, or she’s crazy. Regardless, still a very fun movie that I enjoyed immensely. Jon Ham stole the movie for me. What a great character. Looking forward to the day I watch it again.
Spider-Man: Homecoming - I’m very conflicted about this film. At first, I thought I liked it. But upon reflection, I don’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good superhero movie. But I should note that I am a major Spider-Man fan and because of this it is hard for me to accept change to his story. I like Tom Holland as Spidey. He got the role down well. I even liked Michael Keaton’s Vulture, as big of a departure from the original character as he was. But every other character I wasn’t a fan of. Ned was mostly annoying, Liz was a weak love interest, and Flash wasn’t remotely the same character from the comics. Which yeah, he’s supposed to be a different character, but he’s also a much less effective character. Eugene “Flash” Thompson was a big bully, with power and influence that made Peter’s life hell because his own life wasn’t good. This new flash is smaller and weaker looking than Peter, doesn’t seem to intimidate or impress anyone, and mostly just calls Peter “Penis Parker” as his main way of “bullying” him. Also, Michelle is MJ…yeah, fuck that. Sorry, like I said, the movie’s good, but I don’t like it and based on the rumors about how they’re changing things in the sequel, I don’t think this Spidey’s for me. I’ll stick to the first two Sam Raimi films.
Atomic Blonde - A fantastic action movie with an interesting plot. Charlize Theron was great, as was James McAvoy. Action scenes were well done, fast paced, and brutal as hell. I particularly liked the one during the “parade” in the apartment complex. All the fight scenes were imaginative and unique. The use of color in the film was cool. It gave the movie a very distinct style and personality. The movie has one of those plots you really have to pay attention to. It's complex and relies heavily on playing with your expectations and making you question what's going on. I don’t have too much to say about this one honestly, as I feel like people should just experience this movie as blind as they can. It’s a must see if you enjoy action flicks or spy movies. One of the few times where I really want a sequel. This can’t be the end.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle - The first Kingsman was a pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t know what to expect and it was (in my opinion) a nearly perfect movie. Kingman: The Golden Circle was…pretty good. Nowhere near as good as the first, but a more than adequate sequel. To clarify, I just think the villains and the evil plot were the weakest part of the movie. Valentine was intimidating as was Gazelle, and his plan was clever and truly disturbing. Plus I kind of saw where he was coming from. Poppy and her plan…not so much. I like Julianne Moore, she's a great actor. But Poppy was just poorly written and not a very good villain. Her plan was convoluted, didn’t really make sense, and had weaker stakes. I mean, Valentine was going to kill off like 99% of the Earth’s population. Poppy was going to kill, what, a third? Maybe? Like it’s still a lot of people, but compared to the previous film? Way lower stakes. And that's weird since the whol film tries it's best to up the ante in every other regard. To the point of being just over the wrong side of cartoon-y. I hate the trend of action films constantly trying to go bigger with each sequel. At the end of the day, I did enjoy The Golden Circle. Hell, the second best Kingsman movie is still one of the best Bond movies. Hopefully the inevitable sequel decides to not fall into the same trap this one did and scales back a bit on the over-the-top craziness.
*I meant to see Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, and The Last Jedi, but I didn’t, haven’t, and won’t (at least in theaters). I also wanted to see Jumanji, but my theater decided not to play it. I’m sure they’re all fine movies.
And so that’s it. I would say that Logan was my personal favorite this year and Spider-man: Homecoming was my personal least favorite. Baby Driver was the biggest surprise for me, as I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. All in all, I thought 2017 was a mostly a good year for movies. I hope that 2018 will be just as good, if not better. I’m really looking forward to Black Panther, Ant-Man and Wasp, Incredibles 2, Wreck-It-Ralph 2, and hopefully some more surprises like Atomic Blonde and Baby Driver. Nine movies is a lot, but I am hopeful I can at least match that if not top it next year.