Every 2017 Movie I Haven’t Reviewed

It’s no secret that my content was lacking the second half of last year.  I’ve made it clear that school takes top priority and things have been super difficult for me.  What I haven’t told you is that I’ve been seeing movies weekly and taken several notes in hopes of writing full reviews for each film.  After multiple attempts at writing said reviews, and failing to complete any of them, it became apparent that I had to attack from a different angle.

Today, I present short and sweet paragraph-long reviews of every movie that I haven’t properly talked about.  These mini-reviews will be in no particular order.  After all, I still plan on making full lists for the best and worst of the year, so I’ll save my time for those.  Jeez, I’m going to be cycling through half the emotional scale in this one post.

Justice League

The lowest expectations in the world couldn’t stop this movie from being a major letdown.  Come on DC, at this point you have thoroughly exhausted your allowed number of second chances and continue to pump out shoddy, poorly-executed nonsense.  No, Justice League does not get a free pass just because it’s not as boring as Batman v Superman or as genuinely awful as Suicide Squad.  The best way to describe it would be a prototype of a decent Marvel movie.  All the ingredients (lighthearted tone, interesting worldbuilding, sequel-baiting, forgettable villain, etc.) are there, but everything falls apart under awkward acting and confused direction.  Also, Henry Cavill’s CGI face was superbly uncanny. D

American Made

Following a style similar to The Big Short and War Dogs, American Made is another “based on a true story” film about some small-time American stumbling upon a serious amount of cash.  It’s definitely too long and I didn’t like Tom Cruise’s accent (though his performance is acceptable), but it’s not too bad.  Worth a watch if you’re into less brainy. political dramas. C+

It

This is one of the greatest horror movies of the decade.  Not only does It capture the spirit of Stephen King’s writing, but it makes the necessary updates and changes pay off.  Bill Skarsgård shines as Pennywise (the new character design is great as well), the budget is well-utilized in the F/X, and the characters are fun to watch.  It’s the rare remake that not only improves upon the original, but was necessary in the first place.  Much effort was put into this movie, and I have great respect for the filmmakers because of that. A-

The Shape of Water

There politically correct 2017; you have a gender-bent version of Splash, happy?  In all seriousness, Guillermo del Toro delivers a very artsy fantasy film with a simplistic message at the center.  The premise is indeed ridiculous, but the movie takes its time developing the characters and it engages the audience.  I want to acknowledge the incredible acting talent on display here.  Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer bring their unique acting talents to this production and it’s worth watching just for them. The only thing I take issue with is the ending, which felt like a cop out. B+

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

This movie tries one-upping its predecessor many times, and it always results in a gratuitous scene that could have been edited down.  Not helping is the overabundance of unnecessary characters (and the even more unnecessary cameos) taking up space.  The villain is weak, the action sequences are too goofy (I know that’s the style, but does the movie expect me to leave my brain at home before I go to the theater?), the humor is very hit-and-miss and the runtime is 30 minutes too long.  Of course, I must mention the resurrection of Colin Firth’s Harry Hart which brings along the amnesia cliché, a lack of suspense (when you do a false-death, it takes away all suspension of disbelief) and more wasted time. I left the theater feeling dumber and cheated. C-

Bright

It’s an entertaining “run the gauntlet” film, a movie where the protagonists have to fight through multiple battles in a short amount of time to get from point A to point B, that takes place in a short amount of time.  I’m a sucker for movies written like this: The Warriors, Commando, 12 Angry Men, Die Hard, the list goes on.  We get some good performances from Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, and the fantasy elements are interesting enough.  Granted, this movie could have cut back slightly on the social commentary and focused more on thrills (it gets pretty pointless after a while). B-

Ferdinand

On the way to the theater, I made it clear to my friend that, “All I want is some innocent entertainment: it doesn’t have be to Coco.”  Yet, all it took was the Blue Sky Studios logo to realize that a typically obnoxious, annoying, forgettable, bland movie is what I would get.  Obvious jokes (there is a literal “bull in a china shop” scene), annoying characters, an extremely predictable plot, lowbrow humor, and in-your-face camerawork, probably for the cheap 3D version, abound.  Honestly, all I need to prove my point is this still image from the movie.  I’m sorry you had to see that.  To be fair, John Powell’s score is great and John Cena’s voice acting is pretty good. C-

Wind River

Taylor Sheridan is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers currently working in film.  After earning a nomination from all major award academies, Sheridan made his directorial debut with Wind River, a mystery/thriller set in a Native American reservation.  In usual Sheridan fashion, the movie gets better and better as it goes on and every   single   character is fully developed and important to the story (why does that seem like a difficult task for most of Hollywood?).  Along for the ride are Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, both giving incredible performances.  What stuck with me was one of the best third acts in recent memory and a poignant message that acts as a modern Dances with Wolves.  It’s well-worth your time and brain power. A-

Split

For all three of you who saw my Twitter reactions after seeing Split in the theater, I apologize for never getting that review out.  Simply put, I wanted to do a spoiler-free review and a spoiler-filled review, but then I wanted to do a whole M. Night Shyamalan Month thing, and I could never focus after that.  In any case, Split is fantastic!  I won’t go into spoilers (even though it is a whole year after-the-fact and you probably know the ending already), but let it be known that I love the twist and cannot be more excited.  Taking the twist out of the equation, Split is still an excellent thriller with Oscar-worthy performances from James McAvoy and Betty Buckley.  The script (mostly) makes sense, the humor works, and it boasts creative cinematography and plenty of suspense.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable viewing experience. A-

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’m calling it, this one will win Best Picture.  Martin McDonaugh’s script packs more punches than any other movie made last year.  Frances McDormand gives yet another emotionally compelling performance (she is the queen of playing characters who are mothers), Sam Rockwell is finally given a character who he can truly give depth to, and the supporting cast is just as good.  It’s one of the finest examples of filmmaking this decade: intelligent, funny, interesting, and full of real-life drama. A

Coco

Why yes, I did see Pixar’s newest movie and boy was I impressed.  Not only did the filmmakers completely dedicate themselves to learning about Mexico’s culture and traditions towards Dia de los Muertos, but they also had a strong story to build around it.  In Coco, themes of death, unforgiving, love & loss, tradition, and music are explored in a way that children can understand without dumbing down the messages.  Sure, it’s still a Pixar movie about two characters that don’t initially get along going on an adventure, with goofy animal comic relief and brightly colored 3D animation, but it’s an enjoyable one. A-

Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin’s directing style is just as fast, intellectual, and complicated as his writing style.  Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba are incredible to watch and they are given great material to work with.  I have no idea how betting or card games work, but this movie makes an effort to explain things while treating its audience with intelligence.  Molly’s Game juggles many themes and ideas, but it is very well-handled. B+

The Greatest Showman

It’s alright.  Solid production, fun, albeit too many, musical numbers, energetic cast, very predictable story.  There isn’t much else to say. B

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

I hate The Force Awakens.  I like Rogue One.  I really like The Last Jedi!  This unnecessarily continued franchise is getting better and better, hopefully the next one can actually stand next to the greatness of the original trilogy.  Of course, The Last Jedi isn’t perfect; Finn and Rose’s subplot could have been removed entirely, the runtime is too long, and there are some inconsistencies/plotholes scattered throughout.  That aside, the action scenes were intense, Rey actually had flaws as a character (and her interactions with Kylo were great), and Luke Skywalker’s evolution as a character provided excellent drama.  Oh yeah, the hyperdrive scene was AWESOME! B

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

Please judge me for watching this pile of trash.  I mean it, maybe if enough people call me an idiot, I’ll stop torturing myself with these stupid 3D, animated kids’ movies. Ugh, in any case, Nut Job 2 is exactly what you’d expect whether or not you even saw the first one (which is undeniably one of the worst kids movies ever made).  Calling this movie an improvement over its predecessor isn’t saying much.  Honestly, they are interchangeable.  The main hero is unlikable, selfish, and lazy, the villains are extremely one-dimensional, and the humor is horrible.  This film thinks it’s really funny, but the jokes are just really cringey and overdone.  The plot is scene-by-scene levels of predictable, and the animation, while not the worst, is very cheap.  The color palette is very bland and they copy-past character models way too many times.  The final nail in the coffin was voice acting that sounds like the actors were falling asleep in the recording booth.  There are thousands of great stories out there that deserve a mass audience, yet this piece of trash got seven production companies to fund it (not including a Blue Diamond product placement). D

Fifty Shades Darker

I watched both Fifty Shades movies with a friend purely so we could laugh at them.  Unfortunately, they were worse than expected.  If anything, Fifty Shades of Grey was boring!  Too much plot, disinterested acting, unsexy sex scenes, and lighting that makes it difficult to see anything.  Honestly, I laughed more at my friend’s savage hatred of the movie than the infamously-funny lines the movie supposedly took from its source material.  Fifty Shades Darker was an improvement over the previous one.  I think I may be the only one who has this opinion, but hear me out.  By eliminating the back-and-forth nonsense, Anastasia and Christian were able to show some form of desire for each other.  Unfortunately, they added a fake-out death (my favorite cliché), attempted sexual assault, mental manipulation, and attempted murder: which, as we all know, belongs in any competent softcore porn.  Director James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross, Who’s That Girl) may have crafted a better sequel, but it’s still very lacking. D+

            There you have it.  Of course, I plan on seeing many others before the Academy Awards show airs, so don’t be too surprised when I eventually get my best & worst lists out.  In the meantime, Happy Late New Year!

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