With the new year’s releases stretching out before us like a never-ending roller coaster of reboots, remakes and occasional new ideas; I thought it would be prudent to look back at 2017 to see if Hollywood can learn anything. Other than “no means no”, that is.
Please note, the following consists of movies that I actually saw, but not necessarily ones that I reviewed. Without further ado…
At once the flagship for future R-rated superhero films and a thoughtful deconstruction of comic book movies as a whole, Logan is a mature and surprisingly affecting movie that explores a hitherto untouched aspect of the increasingly oversaturated genre. Blending a gritty aesthetic and a mature tone, it’s not at all hyperbolic to say that Logan is one of, if not the, best comic book movies ever made. Only took 17 years, but fans finally got the Wolverine movie they deserved.
While not exactly an enjoyable movie, Dunkirk makes it onto this list for being a textbook example of great story-telling and execution. Beautifully shot and technically brilliant, I could not take my eyes off the screen. While I’m not typically a fan of Christopher Nolan, this movie solidifies (for me) his position as one of the great directors. His expert management of tension creates an appropriately harrowing experience out of an event that is often mythologised beyond the point of recognition. A masterpiece.
Genuinely one of the most entertaining films I have ever seen, Atomic Blonde absolutely kicked my arse. A stylish and slick spy movie set against the backdrop of Cold War-era Berlin, the movie comes to us from one of the directors of John Wick – and it shows. Its visceral almost exhausting action set pieces are extremely well choreographed and shot, the cinematography is top-notch, and the soundtrack is incredible.
I really wish I could put Baby Driver on this list because it is an amazing movie… just a shame it’s got Kevin Spacey in it really. Any way we can digitally replace him with Christopher Plummer?
Wonder Woman was also great – definitely a step in the right direction for both the DC/Warner Bros. movies and the industry in general. More, please!
The follow up to Prometheus that no one asked for or wanted, the most galling thing about Alien: Covenant is its smugness. Packed to the gills with pseudo-intellectual philosophising, the movie clearly thinks it’s way more clever than it actually is. You can quote Shelley and Milton all you like, doesn’t change the fact that all your characters are idiots and nothing they do makes any sense.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge
I genuinely thought they’d stopped making these movies, and from the looks of things, so did most of the cast. It really doesn’t seem like anyone involved gives a shit anymore – they’re just there for the paycheck. The most interesting thing about this movie was trying to work out if Johnny Depp was actually drunk or not.
Honestly, this movie just baffles me. I don’t know how so many talented people can make something so fundamentally inept. The tone yoyos between Snyder’s grim maudlin dullness to Joss Whedon’s increasingly annoying lol-random “humour” in the space of a second. This, and the frankly bizarre visual effects that make you wonder if Superman was actually in the movie or not, all combine to make one of the dullest and most perplexing comic book movies I’ve ever seen.
The Mummy reboot that was intended to kick-start a new cinematic universe failed rather spectacularly to become the multi-movie franchise that Universal wanted – mostly because it was boring as hell.
While it made a spirited effort, Geostorm wasn’t quite funny enough to reach so-bad-it’s-good territory. Turns out people don’t want to see a 90s-esque disaster movie where someone tries to kill the President by unleashing catastrophic world-ending storms from a space station manned by Gerard Butler. Who knew?
Ghost in the Shell
Despite boasting some undeniably impressive visuals and being an adaptation of one of the most well-regarded animes of all time, Ghost in the Shell somehow managed to be infinitely less interesting than it’s animated source material. Yet another addition to the Scarlett-Johansson-plays-an-objectively-perfect-woman collection (along with Lucy and Under the Skin), the movie was also rightly criticised for white-washing the lead role. Ghost in the Shell was okay but should have been so much more.
War for the Planet of the Apes
I don’t know what it is, but this series has always flown under the radar for me. While the latest instalment was undeniably the best of the franchise, there’s just something about these movies that fails to capture my interest – but that might just be me. Worth seeing for the astounding mo-cap performances – notably from Andy Serkis.
Blade Runner 2049
I’m painfully aware that I might lose some film critic credibility here, but at the end of the day, Blade Runner 2049 was really painfully dull. I love the director, the cinematography is hauntingly beautiful, the score was perfect… but it was about an hour too long and there were so many scenes that went nowhere. Admittedly, I had high expectations for this movie – Blade Runner is one of my favourite films of all time – but this film basically failed to prove to me that it needed to exist. I’m not mad, Blade Runner 2049. Just disappointed.
There were quite a few movies this year that just sort of happened – so much so that many of them blend together in my mind. Unlocked was kind of interesting but bottled it at the end. Sleepless might as well have been called ‘Stock Footage: The Movie’. Logan Lucky was a bit of a disappointment given that it was essentially a remake of Ocean’s Eleven but infinitely less interesting. American Made took what should have been an entertaining story and made a remarkably bland movie out of it. I’m afraid to say John Wick: Chapter 2 was also a bit of a disappointment – but I’m only afraid in case he hears me and stabs me with a pencil.
So that was 2017 – for me, at least. Been an odd year for movies, both on and off the screen. From the Oscars fiasco at the beginning of the year (remember that?) to the seemingly endless sexual harassment scandals that plagued the end. It’s going to be interesting to see where Hollywood goes from here.
Fittingly though, for the first time since 1958 the top three highest grossing movies of the year – The Last Jedi, Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman – all had female leads. Further, Wonder Woman is the now the highest grossing live-action film directed by a woman. Still a long way to go, obviously, but definitely a step in the right direction.