As we reach the halfway point of the year it only make sense that we start taking stock of the year in film so far. As I was looking at all the movies I’ve seen so far this year I was struck with a surprising hit of positivity. All in all, my experience in the movie theater this year has been an overall positive one. Whether it be the great comic book movies hitting the screens every couple of months (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) or the return of one of my favorite filmmakers (Split), so far so good with 2017.
Then I realized that is due to me skipping a wide array of garbage that has been coming out. I like to go to the movies and my blogger/aspiring twitter celebrity status means I’m supposed to see most movies that come out so I can be part of the conversation. Currently during this season of life though, I haven’t been going to the movies every weekend and I haven’t been seeing all the junk.
I have been #blessed enough to not have seen Chips, The Shack, Unforgettable or Transformers: The Last Knight (the day you see me pay money for a Transformers movie is the day Daniel Day-Lewis comes out of retirement to star in one), you won’t be seeing any of them discussed here. So while I may not have a “worst of” list, I’ve set in on what we will call “the disappointments.” None of these are bad by any stretch of the imagination, but all of the pieces were in place for these to be great films, which makes their “disappointment” status that much harder to take.
A Cure For Wellness was Gore Verbinski’s return to horror after aimless Pirates and Lone Ranger movies, the film had a great set up but failed to deliver on all the mystery it introduced. Kong: Skull Island could have been on the “best of” section if it would just commit to being a big dumb monster movie, instead it wanted to be taken seriously like 2014’s Godzilla while also still featuring a Steve Brule subplot. After the hit that was Straight Outta Compton, we were all looking forward to All Eyez On Me, sadly the filmmaking team was content on simply walking through the wikipedia page summary. The last disappointment was Alien: Covenant, a film torn between Prometheus and Alien and ended up failing at being a successful entry in either series. Let’s move on to the best.
5. The Girl With All The Gifts
A movie that wasn’t even on my radar until it was released on VOD, The Girl With All The Gifts is a great example of how an independent filmmaking team can tackle a standard genre with success. Could the movie be a simple exercise in the “zombie film” genre? Yes. Fortunately for us, The Girl With All The Gifts has great characters at its core and the movie succeeds based on their development.
4. Wonder Woman
Sometimes a straightforward origin story with a good-hearted main character is all a superhero film needs to be successful. After Batman v Superman sought to deconstruct our heroes and after the Marvel Cinematic Universe has broke into the “weird” (Ant-Man, Doctor Strange), watch Wonder Woman was a breath of fresh air. It was thrilling to see a hero learn the (literal) ropes of her powers, interact with a flawed humanity, come to terms with her place in the world, and then kick some major ass.
3. Get Out
We already knew that Jordan Peele can tackle the subjects of class and race via comedy, one only needs to watch a single episode of Key and Peele to learn that. What we did not know was that Peele also had the filmmaking talent to take on those subjects within the horror framework. Get Out is one of the smartest movies in recent memory, giving Peele the opportunity to give great commentary on our society while also creeping us out most scenes. The inclusion of the humor we know from the show is not only a “bonus,” it is the perfect way to release tension and make for a great cinematic experience.
2. The LEGO Batman Movie
I’m pretty sure 2014’s The LEGO Movie is my favorite film of that year, so it’s hard for me to say that the goofy spinoff is just as good…but it just might be. Whether it be insane amount of (successful) jokes that are flying off the screen or the love of Batman apparent throughout its runtime, The LEGO Batman Movie not only spoofs all other Batman movies, it joins them as one of the best. As someone who was raised by Batman: The Animated Series and became a true film nut after watching The Dark Knight, The LEGO Batman Movie is speaking a cinematic language directly for me and is damn near perfect.
I feel completely comfortable saying that Logan is the first masterpiece to come out of 2017. It is on its own an amazing experience, telling the story of an old man coming to terms with his mortality. It’s greatness is only magnified by the emotional buildup of 17 years of Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine. The decision to commit to an R-rating was one that prioritized creativity. Unlike the immaturity of Deadpool’s rating, the R-rating here only served to fully deliver an emotionally powerful Wolverine story. This is a vulgar character coming to the end of his life, and it was only appropriate that he got an R-rated western to send him off.