This year seemed to be a perfectly average experience at the cinemas.
We reviewed a few fantastic films, a few more monstrously miserable movies and then a sea of the same ol’ stuff. Here we present our list of highlights and lowlights. Perhaps you will find something you missed and avoid a turkey. Happy Holidays to all movie lovers.
Episodic cinema continues to dominate movie theatres. Sometimes it must seem like our column is a form letter, due to the same films being made over and over. Here we refer mostly to superhero films, but also any movies that are part of a series. Some are good, some are bad, all are basically action/comedy/drama in an attempt to be all things to all people.
Logan, a beautiful, dark swansong for Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is perhaps the best comic book film ever made. Get the DVD and watch it in black and white. We also felt that Spiderman: Homecoming was a good movie that finally set the right tone for the web slinger. Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Thor: Ragnarok were all good, not great. Justice League was probably the best DC comics movie since the Dark Knight.
The latest Alien film, Covenant was the right mix of sci-fi philosophy and horrifying alien action, but is still at the bottom of the horror or science fiction films we like this year. Get Out, Split and A Cure for Wellness were all psychological thrillers that got inside our minds and bodies, trying to do harm. Get Out is oddly disturbing, Split features a multi-personality performance by James McAvoy and A Cure for Wellness is just weird.
Oddly, the best and worst of the sci fi horror genres were both Stephen King stories. The Dark Tower was hugely disappointing. It might be the best horror film of all time, largely due to the performances of the actors in each of these films and the success or failure to set the right tone.
Although we liked Atomic Blonde and Woody Harrelson’s performance in the latest Planet of the Apes film was equally fine, Harrelson was amazing as an eccentric drunk in The Glass Castle.
The best science fiction film of the year is also probably our pick for best film of the year, Blade Runner 2049. However, giving our best film contest a serious run for its money is Dunkirk. Both films are cinematic masterpieces, but Dunkirk has an intelligence and courage you don’t see often in modern film. Dunkirk belongs up there with Lawrence of Arabia. Blade Runner is perfect, but has no teeth.
Speaking of no teeth we also liked Baby Driver and Passengers, although looking back on these titles they seem more like an example of how editorial decisions can make or break a film. Google “Passengers rearranged” to see what we mean. Baby Driver is just a hyper-stylized caper film that pushes all the right buttons.
We hated and slated the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film, whatever it was called. Underworld was terrible, as was Geostorm and surprisingly Despicable Me 3. However, being terrible is not as great a crime as being the same. At least a reviewer has something to say about that which is terrible.
Last but not least are the Christmas movies that came out. A Bad Mom’s Christmas is nearly as terrible as its 2016 inception. We won’t even touch Daddy’s Home 2 — if you saw it after we had told you not to then that is your own fault. Instead, see The Man Who Invented Christmas, it was surprisingly good.
Our favourite movie to see at Christmas time, our annual cinematic film under the tree has been and will continue to be the latest Star Wars film and The Last Jedi won’t disappoint.
See you at the movies.
— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears every Friday.