Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Best of 2017: Top 15 Movies

Here we go – Last one of 2017!

This year I hardly hid the fact that I went a little crazy with my movie-watching. With enough 2017 cinema visits under my belt to do a top ten three times over, I figured this was as good a year as ever to expand the list to fifteen. I may have lacked the time to write up full reviews over the last twelve months with enough consistency to make it worthwhile, trying a new approach instead, but right now is the time to get into my favourite films of the year with some actual detail. I happen to think this is a very strong list worth recommending to a wide range of movie fans, with only one or two spicy picks that I seemed to like more than most people. Thank you for reading.

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VR BEST OF 2017 DISCLAIMER

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Intriguing, but strange. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.

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15. Power Rangers

Yes. I know 2017’s Power Rangers isn’t going to win any awards for earth-shaking acting or plotting, but I just had to have it on this list. The original Power Rangers show was one of my absolute favourite things as a kid – I was obsessed with it. I watched this movie with a stupid grin from ear to ear for almost its entire run time, because Dean Israelite manages to nail the important parts of what I loved about the show back in the day, cheesiness well and truly intact. I particularly enjoyed the slow burn of getting to know the main cast Breakfast Club style before the real action kicks off late in the piece. RJ Cyler as a new interpretation of social outcast Billy steals the show in every scene not featuring Elizabeth Banks’ hammy Rita Repulsa, who just seems to be having the time of her life acting opposite Bryan Cranston’s gruff Zordon.

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Best of 2017: Top 10 Movie Scenes

A movie scene isn’t just there to get you from Story Point A to Story Point B. That’s certainly one of its purposes, but using the constraints of a single setting or moment in time a scene can go far beyond mere mechanical function. It can hit the audience with a concentrated dose of adrenaline, fear or laughter that they aren’t likely to forget in a hurry, slotting into a larger narrative in a way that usually adds to a film’s quality – though occasionally it can stand out like a sore thumb from a lower-quality movie. My 2017 list is thankfully filled with scenes from the first category for the most part. I tend to be drawn towards memorable action sequences or moments of unbearable tension, so they make up the lion’s share, but there’s a bit of inspirational exposition and a song in there, too. Spoilers, obvs.

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VR BEST OF 2017 DISCLAIMER

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Intriguing, but strange. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.

Spoilers are in this list!

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10. Wednesday – Kingsman: The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle‘s action scenes are almost all riffs on the insane church brawl from its predecessor, Kingsman: The Secret Service. It’s crystal-clear that Matthew Vaughn really enjoyed shooting that scene, because the sequel is loaded with similarly kinetic close-up camera acrobatics. Though any scene in which Pedro Pascal’s agent Whiskey gets in on the violence is well worth an honorable mention, the best instance of this unique style is the final one, when our hero Eggsy and his resurrected former mentor Harry engage with countless goons outside a 1950s-themed villainous hideout to the tune of Elton John’s Saturday. This fight has it all – gadgets, wince-inducing Vaughn brutality, cool team-up moves – It’s my favourite straight-up action beat of the year.

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Best of 2017: Top 10 Movie Characters

A good year for movies is a good year for movie characters. The fictional people who graced our screens both big and small throughout 2017 made the stories unfolding before our eyes more tragic, more believable, more ludicrous, more fantastical, more real. From the characters who anchored down the movies they lead, to the enemies they face, to the bundles of energy and accidental comedians with whom they cross paths, these celluloid creations are worth remembering for a moment. There are some vague plot spoilers here but I’ve avoided them where they aren’t necessary in order to talk about a character’s qualities.

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VR BEST OF 2017 DISCLAIMER

This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Intriguing, but strange. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.

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10. Hercule Poirot – Murder on the Orient Express

The joke is easy to make – Murder on the Orient Express director Kenneth Branagh greatly expands the role of one of fiction’s most legendary detectives and then casts himself in the lead role just so he can ham it up for the cameras in partnership with one of the great cinematic moustaches of all time. Regardless of how it came to be, however, Hollywood’s newest representation of Hercule Poirot is a relentlessly entertaining reason to check out Murder on the Orient Express. All introspective monologues, furrowed brows and mad quirks, Branagh somehow ensures that he stands head-and-shoulders above everyone else in a truly star-studded cast.

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Ten More 2017 Movies Summarised in Ten Words Each

So apparently the last one of these that I wrote did rather well. Go figure – people like quick summaries of things.

Thanks to some brutal old-fashioned competition between the cinemas in my area and the general enthusiasm of my friends, I have already seen 20 of the movies released this year, either in cinemas or via on-demand video services. That puts me well within range of doubling the paltry thirteen I managed last year and puts me in good stead for a nice, meaty top ten list at the end of the year. But it also means I can do that thing again. You know, the one where I unfairly reduce ten movies I’ve seen this year to just ten words each.

Mild spoilers may follow. Read my earlier oversimplified 2017 list here.
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Wonder Woman

That’s two good 2017 DC movies. Gal Gadot is incredible.”

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Colossal

Part kaiju movie, part uncomfortable human drama. Insanely wellacted.”

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Ten 2017 Movies Summarised in Ten Words Each

There are a few things I don’t like when it comes to properly discussing movies – or any piece of entertainment media, really – but two of my biggest pet peeves are

  1. Overly simplistic analysis;
  2. Relying heavily on comparison to other pieces of media.

Yet here we are in the middle of the year and I have written virtually nothing on this site about movies, mostly due to heavy time investment elsewhere in life. What’s more, I have somehow already seen ten films in cinemas this year (Throughout the entirety of 2016 I saw just thirteen). These two facts have combined with my itchy keyboard fingers and a couple of spare hours to create what you see now: Ten movie releases from 2017 so far, each conveniently (and poorly) summarised in ten words. That means lots of those two things I hate to fall back on. Desperate times, people.

Fun times though. I suppose mild spoilers may follow.
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The Great Wall

Fire Emblem with even more colourcoding, exposition and death.”

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Logan

The Last of UsMutant EditionAvoid if feeling down.”

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Best of 2016: Top 10 Movies

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I’m not sure if 2016 was a better year for going to the movies than 2015, but it was definitely a much better year for my motivation to go to the movies, and that mostly came about due to the comparatively high volume of “event movies” – or films a large number of people were talking about – that hit cinemas throughout the year. And as it turns out, even though a handful of those event movies were pretty average (spoilers: you won’t see Independence Day: Resurgence on this list), more than enough of them were good to make up what I think is a fairly decent top ten. So let’s finish this.

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VR BEST OF 2016 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Fun, but strange. Respectful disagreement is very welcome.
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10. Doctor Strange

While it’s easy to look at the plot of Marvel Studios’ adaptation of Stephen Strange and point out its rather generic “origin story” flow, leaving the assessment of the movie at that would be dramatically underselling it. Doctor Strange‘s place in the catalogue of MCU movies is as much about its unique look as its plot, characters and corresponding performances (which are great, by the way). The action that unfolds on screen is visually creative in ways matched by no other superhero movie – and the sequences only escalate in creativity and impact throughout the movie right up until Strange’s memorable final confrontation. Another good one, then.

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Best of 2016: Top 10 Movie Scenes

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Movie scenes! Much like gaming moments, they bring delicious morsels of potential discussion to us and our friends – but they are much more static, and thus even easier to appreciate on a wide scale. Though this might have been a bad sign for originality or standout movie moments of any kind in eras gone by, 2016 brought plenty of animated hits and big-budget action blockbusters, and in recent years that has actually meant a pretty consistent well of memorable scenes worth talking about. This year continued the trend. Spoilers coming, obviously. Lots of them.

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VR BEST OF 2016 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s strange. Fun, but strange. Respectful disagreement is very welcome.

Big movie spoilers follow!
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10. Sweet Dreams – X-Men Apocalypse

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My feelings on this scene are pretty mixed, because it’s very appeal is based on an all-too-similar scene that topped my list two years ago, starring the exact same character. Quicksilver, the breakout mutant of X-Men: Days of Future Past, has a lot more screen time in Apocalypse, and he kicks it off this time around with another slow-motion action scene set to a period-appropriate tune. The scene is, of course, amazing anyway, as the silver-haired troublemaker arrives at the X-Mansion just in time to save a bunch of its inhabitants from an explosion that happens to be unfolding far slower than the guy can move. The ways he saves them are as amusing as you’d expect, and the Eurythmics backing track fits everything so well.

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