2017 Was a Super Year for Movies

All right! Here we go, here we go, here we go now! As I have done for the past couple years, I am looking back at the movies I watched throughout the now completed year and offering my opinionated, spoiler-free take on them for you to use as you please. May my recommendations provide you the push you need to watch a great film, and may my warnings urge you to steer clear of wasting a few hours. Without further ado, I encourage you to check out my previous annual reviews if you so desire:

2015

2016

2017 was a great year for movies for me, and I liked a lot that I saw. However, I must acknowledge that this list of films does not contain a great many movies that I wanted to see, as well as some that I was not aware of until recently. As always, I encourage you to take my takes on these films with a grain of salt (it enhances the flavor) and remember that I’m not going tot see every movie. The following list contains all the films from 2017 (that I remember) I have seen. If you don’t see your favorite on here, it’s because I didn’t see it at all. Now let’s dive into 2017’s fare, starting with the disappointments and working our way up to the top of the cinematic mountain that was this past year.

Movies that made me mad enough to grow to a massive size, turn green, and ricochet around the room knocking apart everything that’s not nailed down and some that is with great vengeance and furious anger

Life – Some really liked this movie, and I can understand why. It was not without its merits and has a great final scene, but I just couldn’t get into it. Admittedly, this negative review is primarily based on my opinion, but hey, I told you about that like 30 times already. I will say, that the reason why I never really got into it was because of repeated tropes that I had seen before. In fact, I felt like I had seen the movie before… under the title Alien and done much better and originally. I will give Life credit for casting well, and for translating the oeuvre of Alien into a current day realistic feeling scenario, but I still can’t shake how it feels too much like the 1979 horror sci-fi classic. That being said, it was not the most heinous repurposing of tried and true Alien tropes.

Alien: Covenant – This was. Pretty sad when a movie within the same goddamn franchise cannot get by without jerking itself off. Again, not everything was awful, in fact, like Life, the lead actors and special effects are pretty damn impressive. However, the story and direction is once more the detriment of another Alien movie. Ridley Scott can be an exceptional director, but he cannot recapture the same magic he honed so perfectly in his original film nearly 40 years ago. Disney’s recent purchase of Fox has prompted Scott to say he is unsure of the fate of his planned multi-film continuation of the franchise and I am actually glad to hear it. I think many artistic creators reach a point where their past successes lead them to believe that they can do no wrong and that those projects they’ve shelved for decades are finally ready to come to life. Look especially at directors who got an enormous boom with one series and had studios hand them the keys to the Ferrari, like George Lucas and Peter Jackson. How’d their prequels work out?

All this being said, it did also have a pretty great final scene.

Movies that were good and brought a lot to the table, but were still missing a little sumthin sumthin

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Marvel sequels are tricky, and it seems that only Captain America has figured out how to make the most of them (until this year, but not quite in time for this one). As usual, the need to fit the film in the grander scheme of the Marvelverse wreaks a little havoc, but the Guardians made their name on kind of breaking the mold, so there’s less mold trapping going on here. Ultimately, this one is a lot of fun, just not as much fun as the opening Guardians. However, it does offer us the continuation of these characters developing their own family with one another, with some new friends (and foes) and at the center is a truly touching relationship – even if it is kinda shoehorned in. And finally, FINALLY! Marvel had the balls to do something that has been severely lacking in its films to the betterment of this one.

Atomic Blonde – Charlize Theron does her best John Wick impression and helps deliver a fun entry into the cluster of intrigue-laden Cold War spy films. It gets a little crazy twisty and turny at times, but Theron is Bad Ass, and the aesthetic and soundtrack is totally awesome 80s.

Baby Driver – I feel like Edgar Wright watched Drive and said, “I can do that! But with Queen music!” It does feel a little too much like Drive at times, but leave it to Wright to punch everything up with perfect song synchronization.

Movies that delivered the goods and brought a smile to my face…. Unless they were sad, then it was more like a frown. Well, not a frown, but, uh, y’know, like a – um… [tongue clicks]…. Well, not a smile, but satisfaction…. WAIT!-

War for the Planet of the Apes – A fitting end to the surprisingly strong trilogy of Planet of the Apes prequels with another magnificent motion capture performance by Andy Serkis. He may mainly bring menace to Star Wars, but goddamn he can monkey around like an ape! And this time it’s against Woody Harrelson!

John Wick: Chapter 2 – Expanding on the surprisingly (I guess I was surprised a lot this year) deep and inventive world of John WickChapter 2 takes us even deeper into the mysterious underworld of crime that the titular character thrives in, adding interesting new characters and challenges along the way. This is a sequel as they should be made.

Spider-Man: Homecoming – I previously declared Tom Holland the best Spider-Man and this movie proves it. While not quite the best Spider-Man movie (Spider-Man 2 is still one of my favorite superhero movies), it is one of the better Marvel origin-sequel-continuation – what exactly is this movie? Well, whatever it is, it is pretty darn good and entertaining thanks to a lot of things working well, but we cannot overlook how placing Peter Parker firmly in high school and dealing with being a teenager as much as he deals with bad guys is the biggest change that Spider-Man needed to undertake. And let’s hear it for Michael Keaton! No one has been as consistently excellent as a comic book inspired character as he has been with a trio based on flying animals!

The Lego Batman Movie – Speaking of the original of those Michael Keaton roles….

I anticipated loving The Lego Movie  and I did. I anticipated really liking The Lego Batman Movie and I ended up kinda loving it! Delving into the life of Lego Batman (whom we got a good glimpse of in The Lego Movie) we are treated to a humorous and heartwarming story that teaches us the importance of family and friends, even if we hate them. Will Arnett is perfect at breathing life into the wonderfully gray world of Lego Batman.

Wonder Woman – Keeping up the superhero theme in an era filled with superhero movies comes one of the most important movies (superhero or not) in the era. Providing the origin of one of the main players in DC’s big bad wannabe Marvelverse universe, Wonder Woman was not a promise of quality when it was released, but rather a fear of failure. Fortunately, thanks to all around good work from the entire cast and crew, this ship helmed by director Patty Jenkins sailed smoothly where its fellows faltered thanks to humanizing their protagonist, and showcasing a truly strong woman.

Thor: Ragnarok – The funniest Marvel movie yet finally delivers a worthy sequel without Steve Rogers.

Logan – Man, Fox gives their comic heroes R ratings and kills it! And kills lots of bad guys too. Logan gives Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine one of the best swan song’s in cinema by turning a superhero movie into a Western.

It – One of the most fun horror movies and one of the most horrific fun movies I’ve seen. Bill Skarsgard gives gleefully evil life to Pennywise the Dancing Clown even better than Tim Curry. Yeah, I said it. But we must also acknowledge the young cast for giving stellar performances.

Star Wars: Episode VIII -The Last Jedi – I have seen this film twice in theaters (three shy of the number of times I saw The Force Awakens in such a setting) and I definitely appreciated it more on the second viewing. The porgs were a bit too much Baby Grooted for my liking in advertising the film, but thankfully they do not get the same treatment in the film itself. The Last Jedi is not without its flaws, but the strength of the characters and their bonds with one another – both good and bad – have always been and continue to be the best part of this franchise, and it is the main reason we keep coming back in droves time and again. Even with some downright silly parts, everything that those well-developed characters bring to the table makes this one of the best movies of the year, and possibly the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. Props to Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico for being the best new character in this Star Wars movie – the first human to receive this near meaningless honor from me since Disney started churning out new movies.

Dunkirk – An amazing look at the air, land, and sea amidst the incredible evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II. One of the greatest war films ever made. Christopher Nolan better get an Oscar nom for this.

Blade Runner 2049 – Probably the best film of the year, the decades-later follow-up to Ridley Scott’s magnificent (see? he can be great) 1982 film is even bigger and more ambitious than its predecessor and delivers with terrific acting, visuals, effects, direction, and story. Denis Villeneuve continues to slay and Ryan Gosling brings great humanity with reverence to a similar role once played by Harrison Ford. Oh yeah, Ford is back reprising that role too! And he’s amazing! Just like in The Force Awakens, Ford returns to one of his signature roles as if he never left. An amazing film that is a must-see.

Thanks for reading!

Alex

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