What 2017 Films I Watched

Turns out I went to the cinema twelve times in 2017 (thirteen if you count my second viewing of Star Wars), add to that one Netflix entry and you can definitely see that studios worked their marketing magic on me. I decided to dive into this list without refreshing my memory on any details to see what really made an impact on me. Details may be foggy!

Logan

Logan was gritty and violent in a way that you would never see in more commercial superhero blockbusters. Who knew seeing some blood could be so refreshing? Add to that a weakening Logan and you have a story with real stakes and real consequences (something severely lacking in other franchises). Adding to the weight, Logan has a lot of heart which comes mostly in the form of a formidable little girl (also with a adamantium skeleton) and an ageing Professor X. Definitely one for those with Avenger fatigue.

Get Out

This made my Top Film Picks For Halloween 2 list back in October and is easily one of my favourite films of all time. The plot drips out little details at you which all begin to connect as the story builds into the most satisfying crescendo. As loaded as the subject matter may be, the story artfully finds time to provide a little comedy. It is nice to have a breather sometimes. I am being vague on purpose here, it is best viewed with little to no knowledge of the twists and turns you will encounter (this trailer shows everything so maybe quit at the minute mark).

Beauty and the Beast

Despite being an avid Disney fan, I do not remember much about this one. Storywise, it is just same as what Disney gave us back in 1991, with a few new tunes added in. The only real impact anything had on me was the performance of Luke Evans as Gaston who commanded my attention whenever he was on screen. I feel uneasy about the Beauty and the Beast remake in general as I’m really not a fan of CG being presented as a shiny replacement for traditional animation. Saying all of that I still have my sights set on the Mulan remake (possibly because I won’t have to watch ugly CG cutlery sing and dance for two hours).

Alien: Covenant

Another one that I have little recollection of. I am not even sure if I saw it a second time at home or if I just watched it at home. All I know is that none of those people should be trusted to do any job because they are stupid. There was also…creepy Fassbender and a tin whistle or something?

Wonder Woman

Although on the more squeaky clean spectrum I mentioned above, Wonder Woman got away with it. I think this was achieved by giving the very real background of the horrors World War I and chemical warfare. There are many iconic things about Diana Prince’s first feature length (I don’t think I will ever be over that walk across No Man’s Land). The fighting scenes are great, the story is better than your average action film and you have a band of characters that you grow to care about and really root for. However, the big bad in Wonder Woman falls foul yet again to DC’s hard-on for giant CG gods and aliens which takes the film a little out of context.

Okja

Okja is a Netflix film about a big genetically modified pig. It is a great film for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, you will both finish the film as upset as each other but the meat eaters may be more likely to still reach for that BLT at the end to comfort eat. In all seriousness Okja is a unique little film that hammers home its message without being too preachy. It really hits you in the gut as you watch the main character desperately search for her best friend before Okja ends up on a plate.

Baby Driver

I went to this off the little information I had, music was used well and it was a heist movie. I suppose those things were true. What I really remember however is a romance film where the main character falls in love with what is basically his dead mother. Anyway I loved Jon Hamm in it, he needs to be in more things.

Dunkirk

I have never been too interested in traditional war film so luckily for me, Dunkirk was not a traditional war film. Seeing this in the cinema was incredible as sound was used to its full effect. I nearly came out of the cinema with PTSD. I will never forget the absolute horror of watching a group of young men scramble to the ground as a plane could be heard buzzing in the distance before suddenly shooting or bombing at them. All they could do was lie down and wait for their fate. Also, just when you thought the featured group of young men had caught a break it always got worse. Dunkirk is edge of your seat stuff (also quite depressing I am getting sad thinking about it).

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Finally a Peter Parker that is not thirty years old and in high school. Not much to say about this one other than it is lovely. Tom Holland is the Peter Parker I always wanted and I knew that from the second he popped up in Avengers 2. Intertwined with all the drama of your typical teen movie, Homecoming is a welcome addition to the current superhero discourse. It is youthful, funny and familiar. It has been a long time since a hero has been fighting crime on their local streets.

Wind River

I managed to see this as part of Odeon’s Screen Unseen which I would definitely take a chance on again. Admittedly, Wind River is not something I would willingly watch as it takes its inspiration from the thousands of sexual assaults of native women in the US. Adding to that is the fact that the two heroes in this tale are white, which I can’t properly make any real informed opinion about as I am white myself. Despite my reservations, I really enjoyed Wind River. Maybe “enjoy” is not the best word as I was sick to my stomach for 99% of it.  It is a solid mystery/thriller that I really did not notice the time going in. There is one scene in which a sexual assault takes place so do be warned if you decide to dive in.

Note: The filmaker got the film back from the Weinstein Company after Harvey was exposed and now all profits go to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center which intends to use the money to finance a database of crime statistics about Native American women. Source.

It

I had fun with It. Some who have not seen the film may think I am mad but it really was not the horror I expected it to be. It was whimsical, downright brutal at parts and had a very talented cast of kids. I found Pennywise to be the least scary thing about the whole thing, but I never have had much attachment to fantasy manifestations of fear in horror. Talk to me about the parents in the town or even the bullies and that is a whole other story.

Blade Runner 2049

Despite some dodgy “of the time” parts in the original Blade Runner, I was so excited for this. The question is, will we we out of the eighties in the year 2049? The answer would apparently be no. Granted I fell asleep a few times but some things in Blade Runner 2049 really did not sit well with me. Ryan Gosling was a new “more obedient model” just like the replicant lady from Tyrell Corp but yet she never got to explore her humanity (like Gosling) beyond her crying at things creepy Leto did. Joi was also literally there to tell Gosling to live his dreams and then hires the other lady with the hat to have a weird threesome. Then there was that other woman locked in a room. All I remember is how pretty it was and how they could have cut out most of the cast and still have had it make sense. Also would have helped with the running time. This could be a whole post in itself.

The sound was A+

Justice League

Just what I had expected

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Ignore the noise. Star Wars is fine. Remember those prequels everyone hates? I liked them, but I was a child when I saw them. There were plenty children at the screening for The Last Jedi and hearing them gasp and laugh throughout reminded me that I was just there to have a good time, cheesiness or not. I mean, have those overtly negative die-hard fans ever seen a Star Wars film? I will admit watching TLJ gave me whiplash due to the sheer amount of storylines happening at once but I also found issue with the tone. The worst offender being the scene where Rey interrogates a topless Kylo Ren about a very serious subject matter but halfway through suddenly requests he put some clothes on before continuing all seriously. That milk scene was odd too but it was the three too long shot of Rey’s face at the end of it that ruined it for me. If anything, go for the fight scenes which are the most incredible. There is some good comedy in there too, even if some of it is a bit slapstick.

So I saw Justice League Last Night…

…and I don’t know. It’s a pretty inconsequential piece of cinema, which is fine. I mean Marvel have been getting away with it for years. They can probably get away with it partly because they’ve never given us a Nolan trilogy moment. Also I feel like the interconnecting universe thing stifles the creators’ abilities to do something really interesting (even though DC never officially declared that they were running a DCEU). Add that to that the fact that they went straight in with the space stuff which has meant a shift back to fighting regular old crime on the street would be a very strange transition.

The style applied to Batman in his opening threw me right back to Burton’s version. That could of course be owed to the Elfman soundtrack in which he managed to sneak in that good old arpeggiated Batman theme. Add to that a bumbling criminal and some choice Burtonesque lighting and it sure was a throwback to 1989. Later on in the film you are treated to those dreamy Man of Steel shots of corn fields and a hazy sky.  This of course is forgotten about later on in favour of that too familiar final CGI battle. Out of all other heroes, Aquaman was the only other to have a strong visual context, but only above ground. Altlantis got zero look in. Cyborg had the lab and the computer-filled small family apartment while with the Flash we were given the prison and another computer-filled living space. Wonder Woman was just hanging out in London. It all made for something quite disjointed.

We need to talk about Henry Cavill’s face. If you had no idea until now that they had to digitally remove his moustache for the film (you are welcome) please let me know if his face made you as uneasy as it made me knowing that it had been. That first scene of him being filmed by the kids on the phone was straight up weird. He didn’t look real. I was really distracted sitting there watching Superman’s puffy CGI upper lip any time he was on screen. I kept trying to imagine him actually standing there with a moustache. Adding to that was what I found to be a really wooden performance but maybe I’ve forgotten how Cavill’s Superman normally is. It was all very surreal.

This Justice League film also reminded me how lucky we were to get a solid standalone for Wonder Woman. Diana was thrown under the bus a little bit. Every so often we were reminded that she was indeed not one of the boys. You had Alfred quip about Bruce Wayne wanting to call her because he was a attracted to her, you had Barry Allen (The Flash) swooning all over her but not like he swooned over Batman and you also had Arthur Curry (Aquaman) mention how gorgeous she was but it was funny guys because Diana had the lasso of truth around him. Also that gag of Barry falling on top of her fell so flat that the whole cinema audience were silent. I do wonder where that fell in the shoots and re-shoots. Does anyone else remember seeing her knickers so much either? However, Wonder Woman fought hard and gave as good as she got, she certainly outshone Batman who floundered around a bit only to call on his tech and have it co-opted by Cyborg.

The Flash seems to be a big talking point as some people found him a little irritable. I was personally okay with him. I did find that some of his best moments happened when he wasn’t talking because the “oh my god I don’t know how to talk to people like a normal person” thing can wear thin sometimes. I do think the effort Ezra Miller put into Barry Allen got derailed a little because the last memory you will have of him is running through the streets really oddly. It is a sight to behold. In terms of the other new additions, I thought Cyborg translated really well but as I said above he really made Batman look useless. I honestly could have done with or without Aquaman. It makes sense why he is there based on the plot but he is not fleshed out as much as the others. There is a brief encounter with Mera under the sea but I could not understand half of what was being said. Something about a dead mother.

Speaking of mothers, these DC films have a real problem. The worst instance will always been the Martha revelation from BvS but my gosh does Justice League still run with it. For once, Bruce Wayne makes no mention of his dead parents but that means nothing when we’re given a crash course of dead mother back stories from all three new heroes. It’s a wonder anyone gets out of bed to do anything without having the reasoning that their mother is dead. Fair enough the comic origins of Aquaman and the Flash set that in stone but I did a little digging and guess what? Cyborg has both parents. Both scientists. Then DC are going to further insult me with their dead mother obsession and run with their Mother Box lore. They should have just called them Martha Boxes. But Emer, Superman has a dead daddy and a Martha you say. Well I say, do you recall the BvS Martha thing I mentioned above? Bruce and Clark weren’t reminiscing about how both their dads smoked cigars or something.

I can’t tell you much about the final big battle because I was falling asleep. Nothing to do with the film, I am just at the mercy of having to commute to work during the week which leaves me drained. I was overtly cynical about it all anyway because I couldn’t understand why it took all of Atlantis, Themyscira, the Green Lanterns and a load of humans to defeat Steppenwolf before and then the Justice League rock up and do it easily. Did he have the full power of the Mother Box thing back in the day? That bit of information must have been lost on me. He did not have it when he gatecrashed Themyscira though…okay I am really just not that bothered even thinking about it because at the end of the day does anyone care?

Is there any need to rush to the cinema to see this? Nope. Is it worth throwing on at home some night you want something harmless to put on? Sure. Justice League is no masterpiece and it clearly never set out to be one (well I hope not because that is some delusion). I say this all the time but I need companies to scale the stories down a bit, make them a bit more nuanced and make the audience feel like there is a chance the heroes might actually fail. Give me things like Logan or like Kick-Ass (not the second one that was terrible) because if you’re telling me the villain is going to destroy the whole planet, I know the villain is not going to destroy the whole planet. It has all gotten far too predictable and although that is a comfort for many, it’s feels like a waste of talent to me.