There were a ton of movies that I saw throughout 2017 that I did not review, so I decided to devote one paragraph or so to each one that I thought people might like to hear about. Without further ado, here is the very first yearly Rant Recap.
Logan – Rating: 6/10
This film was so close to being something unusual and fantastic, but as is frequently the case with X-Men movies, the ball was dropped at some point or another. A great deal of the mature content felt extreme just for the sake of proving how R rated they could make a superhero movie, and all of the emotional weight they had achieved was undercut by a muddled third act. Young CG Hugh Jackman was an exceptionally dumb and unnecessary idea, the random new villain introduced late in the film was an exceptionally dumb and unnecessary character, and the climax being about Wolverine and his merry band of orphans was an exceptionally dumb and unnecessary attempt to set up future films. That having been said, Wolverine is at his most intense and exciting when he’s not being neutered by a PG-13 rating, and Dafne Keene is an extraordinary young actress. All in all, Logan was a decent film let down by its connection to the larger Fox-Marvel universe. It could have been so much more.
Get Out – Rating: 8.5/10
Get Out is not only a remarkable premier for director Jordan Peele, nor is it just one of the best films of the year. In my opinion, Get Out is most notable for potentially being one of the best social satires of all time. The way that Peele aligns the audience with the perspective of a man of color and crafts a subtle but horrifying experience around that idea is brilliant and deeply affecting. The only real flaws here are some painful instances of expository dialogue (some of which is delivered by one man alone in a room, speaking only to himself) and an ending that ruins the brilliant moment leading up to it and ultimately undermines the exceptional thematic basis of the whole film up to that point. Even with these issues, Get Out is a genuinely phenomenal film and one that should be remembered for years to come.
Dunkirk – Rating: 9/10
Since 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, most if not all war films have, on some level, wanted to emulate its genre-defining style. Dunkirk is the first war film I’ve seen that has a style entirely of its own, and one that is every bit as memorable and arresting as that of Saving Private Ryan. There are a few awkward lines and one distractingly underdeveloped subplot, but none of that is enough to overcome this film’s many, many strengths. Atmospheric, visually stunning, and featuring a brilliant score and a genius structure, Dunkirk is easily among the year’s best films and is among the best work Christopher Nolan has ever done.
Wonder Woman – Rating: 5/10
Despite the overwhelming praise heaped on this film by its many fans, Wonder Woman amounts to little more than the most watchable DCEU film. The dialogue is terrible, the characters are poorly written and borderline racist, the CG is so hysterically bad that I laughed out loud multiple times in the theater, the fight choreography is lazy and choppy, and the villain(s) are boring and forgettable. As if this weren’t enough, the film is far less feminist that it seems to think it is. Gal Gadot is charismatic as Diana Prince, and the film is generally entertaining, but it is far from the masterpiece that many seem to believe.
Logan Lucky – Rating: 5/10
Logan Lucky is most notable for being 110 minutes of boring, frequently confusing and usually dull heist action followed by five minutes of genuinely satisfying twist/explanation. Other than that, it’s a fascinating showcase for potentially experimental editing (the film is edited like molasses, and fits strangely well with its slow, southern drawl-filled setting and cast). If nothing else, I appreciate Logan Lucky for delivering exactly what it promised: white trash Ocean’s 11. Additionally, it features John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads prominently for no real reason.
Baby Driver – Rating: 6/10
Baby Driver is three movies mashed into one, and only one of them works. The heist action is stylish, energetic, and showcases some of the best editing of the last decade. Unfortunately, the bland and borderline nonsensical romantic plot takes up more time than the far more interesting heist plot, the titular Baby has precisely zero charisma, and the film entirely wastes its supporting characters. All of this is even more disappointing because the core concept is so solid, and the execution of that concept in the film is exceptional. If this idea is ever revisited in the future, I hope that Edgar Wright focuses on these strengths and cuts some of the fat.
John Wick: Chapter 2 – Rating: 7.5/10
Did you like John Wick the first time around? If so, you’ll probably like John Wick: Chapter 2 as well. While not particularly innovative, it is a functional sequel that fleshes out the community of assassins introduced in the first film (which was mostly unnecessary but still enjoyable enough) and does a nice job of setting up Chapter 3. If you like stylish action and efficient storytelling, it’s difficult to top the John Wick films.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Rating: 6/10
Guardians of the Galaxy is arguably the best film in the MCU, so I was uncharacteristically excited about its sequel. Unfortunately, it was rather disappointing. The most significant let down is that all of the characters seem to be playing themselves instead of being themselves, making most of the film feel like a greatest hits compilation of character-specific jokes and actions from the first movie. The plot is typical Marvel fare, and as usual, occasionally veers into the idiotic and nonsensical. Most of what happens in the film is entirely forgettable, but I will give James Gunn credit for ending the film the way he did. It was a very atypical conclusion for a Marvel film, and I found it quite refreshing.
Spiderman Homecoming – Rating: 7/10
As the 438’th reboot of Spiderman in the past decade and the brainchild of an unprecedented deal between Disney and Sony, Homecoming had no right to be as enjoyable as it was. Tom Hollandaise Sauce is a charming Peter Parker and almost makes up for Andrew Garfield. The high school stuff mostly works, and the action sequences are energetic and fun to watch. There are some distracting issues like John Favreau being a monumental dickhead for no reason other than to move the plot forward and Tony Stark pretending to be somebody’s dad, but much of that is made up for by a refreshingly down-to-earth storyline. It was similarly pleasant to see a cast that was bursting with diversity and multiple representations of interracial relationships that were treated with tact and care. However, Homecoming may be most notable for Michael Keaton’s role as the Vulture: a stereotypically bland villain and what may be the most unintentionally ironic role ever cast. The fact that after Birdman, a film that satirized Keaton’s performance as Batman – a superhero character based on a flying creature – Marvel decided to cast him as the Vulture – a superhero character based on a flying creature – is genuinely hysterical and brilliantly tone-deaf.
War for the Planet of the Apes – Rating: 6/10
This was less of a War for the Planet of the Apes and more of a Road Trip followed by a Prison Break followed by an Avalanche for the Planet of the Apes. Andy Serkis was as phenomenal as ever, but the story just wasn’t there. Remarkably little actually happened and what did just felt dull. Combining this with the wasted opportunity that was Woody Harrelson’s monologuing baddie, the OVERT but sloppy Apocalypse Now references and the conclusion, which features one of the most unnecessary character deaths in recent memory, we are left with an underwhelming final chapter for what has been a surprisingly intelligent blockbuster franchise up to this point.
Kong: Skull Island – Rating: 5/10
I have remarkably little to say about Kong: Skull Island. If you like large things punching other large things and stories you don’t have to put any effort into, you’ll probably find Kong worth watching. Personally, I found the flat characters, silly drama and OVERT but sloppy Apocalypse Now references off-putting. Additionally, Skull Island doubles as a setup for the Godzilla/Kong crossover movie that Legendary has planned; an idea that may have worked in 1962 but seems remarkably silly in the 21’st century.
Alien Covenant – Horror Rating: 3/10
Alien Covenant – Comedy Rating: 7/10
As a horror film, Alien Covenant is about as limp and unscary as possible. Additionally, it’s stupid. Really stupid. So stupid in fact that I’m giving it entirely separate scores for quality as a horror film and quality as a comedy. I haven’t laughed this hard in a theater in a long time. Additionally, James Franco appears for four seconds and dies, because why not, I guess. This is also the second film on this list to feature John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads for no reason.
Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle – Rating: 6/10
Much like John Wick, you pretty much already know if you’re going to enjoy this film based on how much you liked its predecessor. Kingsman 2 is a pretty standard action sequel: everything is slightly bigger, slightly louder, and slightly more extreme. The villain this time around is far less memorable than Samuel L Jackson’s Valentine, but Julianne Moore pulls her weight well enough. It was also kind of a weird decision to promote Channing Tatum’s involvement so heavily and then only include him in about twenty-five minutes of the film, but I guess having his name attached helped sell the movie? Is also notable for being the second movie of the year to feature both Channing Tatum and John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads and the third to feature just the song for no reason. What in the hell is going on with this song in 2017?
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Rating: 2/10
This movie is so horrible that it will be the subject of its own video, so stay tuned for that. There is so much wrong that one lone paragraph is insulting to the incredible level of stupidity that this movie has achieved.
The Disaster Artist – Rating: 7/10
I do not in general like James Franco. I find him to be somewhat distracting, and he rarely brings anything special to his roles. That having been said, he is absolutely the best part of The Disaster Artist. His impression of Tommy Wiseau was spot on and even went beyond just imitating the infamous voice. Most of the jokes landed fairly well, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying watching the events unfold. Unfortunately, the film is let down by Dave Franco (who seems to have taken up the reigns as the annoying Franco this time around) and the limp direction by James Franco. Overall, The Disaster Artist is a flawed, but heartfelt and funny love letter to everybody’s favorite bad movie, and the truly unique character who created it.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Rating: 9/10
Take notes, Rian Johnson: this is how you balance serious, dark content and comedy. The balance that writer/director Martin McDonagh brings to Three Billboards is nothing short of astounding. Furthermore, McDonagh has written some of the most interesting, natural and memorable characters of the year, all of whom are brought to life with masterful performances. Easily one of the best films of the year, a shoo-in for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, and a borderline guaranteed pile of awards for Frances McDormand.
Bright – Rating: 2/10
Shocking though it may be, Bright is terrible. Sadly, it is not the entertaining kind of terrible. Had director David Ayer (of Suicide Squad infamy, of course) not taken everything so seriously and leaned into how ludicrous the core concept is, it could have been enjoyable on some level. Instead, we got Bright, a boring, unfunny monument to what happens when two white guys decide to make a movie about understanding racial prejudice. I promise you this isn’t even worth watching for a good laugh, as there are exactly zero chuckles to be had. All you’ll end up with is two hours less to live.
The Mummy – Rating: 2/10
See the video. The Mummy is review starts at 23:19.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Rating: 1/10
Everything about this movie is bad. Every character is miscast, the costumes are awful, the script is cringy, the special effects are somehow worse than a DC movie, the editing is muddled and incoherent, the story is idiotic, the characters have no character, and the soundtrack is apparently in the wrong film. I am genuinely not sure how this got made, or why after it got made and was this shitty it was still released. But it did, and now there’s nothing we can do about it. At least it stopped shy of featuring John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads for no reason.