Not a substantial amount of cinema visits in 2017. This saw an increase in my use of streaming services like Google Play Movies. Yes, I know you get a grander experience watching movies on the big screen but when streaming is cheaper I’m taking that option. Plus I have two young kids and having to organise childcare is a nightmare. Before we get into this I will be writing from a Jan through to December release date perspective. Oh and warning… SPOILERS AHOY!!!
January saw the release of Railroad Tigers a movie starring one of my all-time heroes, Jackie Chan. Ding Seng took on the role of Director on this one, which is the 3rd Chan film he has directed in Chan’s later career. Am not taking anything away from Chan but his glory days are certainly behind him, he’s 63 for god’s sake! Railroad Tigers tries it’s best to hark back to those glory days with some luscious action set pieces but loses out on a weak storyline that seemed all over the place from start to finish.
March brought us our first look at an R rated Wolverine movie in Logan directed by James Mangold. Critically-lauded and receiving huge praise from fans alike. Getting the gritty, hyper-violent Wolverine movie X-Men fans have wanted since the early Bryan Singer days, was a beautiful final outing for Jackman. Let’s not forget that this was also Patrick Stewart’s last time portraying a destructive but weak Charles Xavier. A character that he has portrayed since 2000 but was now given the freedom to show Charles in a whole new light. The one outstanding introduction in Logan was that of lab-bred mutant X-23, portrayed unbelievably by 11-year-old Dafne Keen. The raw power she brought to this role was fascinating to watch. My only issue with Logan is the X-24 character, this could have easily been replaced with Liev Schreiber being brought back to play Sabretooth.
Still in March, we got our second look at Legendary Pictures MonsterVerse with Kong: Skull Island. Throw giant monster movies at me all day and I’ll be happy… but I wasn’t with Skull Island. Visually this movie is gorgeous, the landscapes, the wide shots and the CGI beasts (especially Kong) were exceptional. But not one actor in this movie was believable. Hiddleston looked bored, Goodman was there for exposition, Larson made no sense and Jackson was just Jackson. Skull Island to me was just a stepping stone for the continuing Legendary MonsterVerse. Nothing else but a quick and simple way of introducing a young Kong to this universe of movies. Here’s to Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019 bringing some much-needed energy to the franchise.
April saw my first anime movie of the year, Your Name. A story about two contrasting people, a girl Mitsuha and a boy Taki, living in separate areas of Japan. Mitsuha one day prays to be brought back in her next life as a handsome Tokyo boy. To which one day she wakes to find herself in the body of Taki. I won’t go into full review mode as this is a movie people need to sit down and pay complete attention to. It’s quite complex in its storytelling but it’s gorgeous visuals and realistic detail are enough to make you shut off from the real world. Director Makoto Shinkai is slowly becoming one of my all-time favourite anime directors. Your Name and Garden of Words are two of the most beautiful looking anime movies I have seen in a long time.
May and we finally got one of the most anticipated MCU sequels to date, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2. Was it better than the first..? No. Was it on a par with the first.. ? No. But it was one hell of a sequel and certainly added to the cosmic side of the MCU. A new addition to the team Mantis was an interesting character to utilise, especially with her power to sense a person’s emotions and feelings through mere touch. Which brought some touching (pun intended) moments but also at the same time overloaded the humour level of the movie. The jokes were great but they were overused with characters like Drax, who just seemed to be the main focus of all the comedy. Kurt Russell was fantastic as Ego but once they arrived at Ego it all became a bit slow and boring. We got a glimpse of the literal Living Planet which is what I wanted to see, even if it was just a face on the planet itself. Action-packed, stunning visuals and a vast colour palette but a plethora of redundant humour. Adam Warlock though!
May also saw the release of Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, a movie that had conflicting opinions between fans. The one and only trailer I watched seemed to show a colonist story instead of marines and gave the impression of an Aliens rehash. On finally getting to view it I was wrong, to a degree. Production wise, Ridley Scott nailed it, with some stunning wide shots, beautiful backdrops and great use of practical effects. The problem was the characters. I never felt invested in anyone at all. It also seemed to be a response to critics of Prometheus and at the same time trying to appease the fans. A disappointment for me.
June saw the welcome return of director Edgar Wright and his outstanding Baby Driver. Say what you will, but this is almost, if not definitely a musical disguised as a car-chase thriller. From the opening credits of Baby doing a coffee run listening to Harlem Shuffle, with the lyrics appearing on walls and signs. To the shootout scene with the drums and horns of Tequila matching each shot fired. Wright had supposedly been working on Baby Driver for years and it shows. Jaw dropping action set pieces, fantastic acting, a stunning soundtrack and beautifully written. Is it Wright’s best movie? Actually yes. I now officially put this before Shaun of the Dead.
June also saw the release of the first movie at the Cannes Film Festival to be distributed by Netflix, Okja. Greeted by boo’s from critics when the Netflix logo appeared had me seething. So what if it’s distributed by a home streaming media company, we can’t all afford to go the movies EVERY week. Netflix is a service for filmmakers and movie fans alike, giving filmmakers creative freedom and at the same time fans, the service needed to view these movies. Putting all that aside, director Bong Joon-ho is one of my all-time favourite directors from South Korea. He has brought us The Host, Memories of Murder, Snowpiercer and the fantastic Mother. Each one of those movies deal with very strong subject matters, as does Okja. I won’t go on but I did write a small review for Okja which can be found here
July brought the biggest smile to my face while sat in a movie theatre, Spider-Man: Homecoming. Spider-Man came home. Well, not 100% but Marvel Studios finally had some control over my beloved Peter Parker being featured in the MCU. And what a welcome home it was. It fit perfectly in the already vast MCU. Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man was the perfect casting choice. Bringing the much-needed teen angst of Peter Parker we had missed in the previous movies, to a very John Hughes style movie. And let’s not forget Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture, powerful, captivating and one of the strongest Marvel villains we’ve had so far. That reveal was one of my favourite moments in all of the MCU. Jon Watts, take a bow you made a grown man almost weep at the sight of a Spider-Man movie I have wanted since the mid 80’s when I started reading Spider-Man.
August and almost a year since its release in Japan and 10 months after it’s US release Shin Godzilla finally got a UK release, for ONE day only. Distributors in the UK really have an issue with picking up ANY Godzilla movie coming out of Japan. There is a large fanbase for the King of Kaiju here, so please distributors pick these up earlier.
When news dropped that Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, director of Attack on Titan were to co-direct the return of Godzilla, myself and fans alike knew Godzilla was in good hands. Unlike the original Godzilla that was conceived as a metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2, Shin Godzilla took its inspiration from the tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disasters of 2011. Showing the Japanese government in disarray and unable to deal with a threat unseen since WW2. Godzilla himself also took on a dramatic change, one that saw him evolve throughout the movie to finally end up as the most terrifying and most powerful we’ve ever seen him. THAT atomic ray scene alone was worth the price of admission.
November and somewhat of a rarity, the 3rd movie in a franchise and it’s the best one. Yes, you guessed it Thor: Ragnarok. No-one can dispute that director Taika Waititi took huge visual inspiration from the works of legendary comic artist and Thor co-creator Jack Kirby. In the year that would have been Kirby’s 100th birthday, it was the perfect homage to one of the much-loved creators in comics. Inspiration was also taken from Walt Simonson’s Ragnarok story (obviously), Jason Aaron’s God of Thunder, as well as taking the planet Sakaar from Greg Pak’s Planet Hulk storyline. Mixing all these elements, especially the Planet Hulk one all seemed impossible to me, but I was proven wrong. New character introductions of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and Korg (Taika Waititi) added some much-needed freshness. But once again Marvel seem to suffer from a weak villain in Hela. Cate Blanchett was outstanding in her portrayal but she was massively underused throughout the film. Her final battle scene, as well as the Valkyrie flashback scene, were eye porn, we needed much more of that. The chemistry between Hemsworth and Ruffalo was fantastic. Seeing these two battle once again on screen was a joy to behold. Did you also know that the cast was told to improv probably 80% of their lines!?
Do yourself a huge favour, sit down and watch other movies directed by Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows, you will not be disappointed.
December, so here we are at the end of 2017 and not much to left to talk about… oh yeah STAR WARS!! Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If there was a movie this year that split fans across the board then it was this one. Me personally, I loved it. It was great to see a visionary director in Rian Johnson take on the Star Wars universe and give it some fresh ideas. Ideas that am not going to spoil as it’s just been released. Hamill and Driver for me were outstanding in this movie. Hamill delivers his best portrayal of Luke Skywalker to date and Driver takes the troubled Kylo Ren to a whole new level of darkness. Fans who don’t seem to appreciate the new direction the franchise is going may drop away but in all fairness, it needed something. Something that will see new and refreshing ideas coming out of the Star Wars universe.
Now give me a standalone Bounty Hunter movie. Not just Boba Fett but ALL Bounty Hunters.
I hope you enjoyed giving this a read. As you can tell, I still have to see a fair few movies that came out in 2017.
What were your standout movies from 2017? Let me know in the comments below.