Slightly belatedly, I present my name and shame list of the best and the worst I saw at the cinema in 2016. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Good, The Bad and the Fugly.
10 – Arrival
This was a poignant and thoughtful sci-fi movie that stayed in my mind long after leaving the multiplex. It made me think about communication, interpretation and maybe more importantly misinterpretation.
9 – Eye in the Sky
I’m intrigued by the use of drones and the high tech surveillance that is used commonly in war zones all over the world in this day and age. It’s bewildering to think that someone in the USA can keep track of potential terrorists on the other side of the planet, and order a missile strike. It’s a sobering thought. The tension levels during the last half of the movie as the bureaucrats and ass covering politicians fumble while trying to take a decision that can’t be pinned on them while the clock critically runs down.
8 - The Shallows
I first heard of this when a friend showed me the trailer. Ever since Jaws I’ve been a sucker for shark movies and I feel that this might be the next best film to Jaws to feature a man (or in this case, woman) eating shark. She’s stuck on a rock, soon to be submerged by the tide, and the shark is waiting for his dinner. Simplistic plot, but beautifully photographed. Saw it in the multiplex and loved it. Saw it on Blu-ray and was blown away. It’s one of those discs that you use to show off your system. With the exception of, say Avatar and Gravity – it’s the best looking Bly-ray I’ve seen. Difference being those two were mainly f/x shots and this was filmed on location. Vivid doesn’t quite cover it and storywise – neither does “tense”.
7 - Batman: The Killing Joke
DC are absolutely owning the animated superhero industry at the moment. Frankly, they have done so since 1992 and the launch of Batman – The Animated Series. Their animated versions of classic story arcs or graphic novels are something that Marvel tend to steer clear of in the main. The Killing Joke is and to me, has been since its release in the late eighties the definitive Joker story. The origin built upon a late forties story but given a more humanistic twist to fully explore the Joker’s sudden swerve to insanity. The animated film padded out the story with an element that gave Batgirl a role, and a love interest with Batman that didn’t originally exist. To be honest, I was a little wary of that, due to my tendency to be a little precious with my favourite stories – but it worked and gave the fate of Barbara Gordon an added resonance. If you only buy one DC animated movie – make it this one, if only for the sheer pleasure of hearing Mark Hamill voice the Joker one more time.
6 - Doctor Strange
It’s been a banner year for superhero epics at the multiplex, and the final movie of 2016 from Marvel was their introduction of the Master of the Mystic Arts himself – Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme in a senses bending film that managed to out-imagine what even the legendary Steve Ditko had drawn back in the sixties. Seeing a panoramic view of New York folding in on itself and revolving in segments like a Rubik cube was beyond anything I’ve ever seen in a film before. Benedict Cumberbatch was perfectly cast and brought the exact amount of whimsy and gravitas to the role.
5 - Suicide Squad
Oh, how the critics hated it – and oh, how I loved it. Maybe the mainstream press just didn’t get the concept. I saw one article that was asking why the supervillains were getting a movie and who’d want to watch THAT? Answer – thousands upon thousands of us. Margot Robbie as the living embodiment of Harley Quinn partnered with Jared Leto as a definitive Joker carried the film despite Will Smith receiving top billing. Hopefully, we’re going to see more of DC Comics’ version of the Dirty Dozen.
4 - Deadpool
This was my birthday movie in 2016, and what a blast it was. Ryan Reynolds (who I actually went on record as having liked in the Green Lantern movie) brought the Merc with the Mouth to life in a fourth wall blowing, foul mouthed bloodbath of a film that hit the ground at mach 1 and never missed a beat. Even a couple of X-Men were involved. Sequel greenlit, I’ll be there.
3 - Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
This is where my list gets a little bit crazy – a year ago, this movie was becoming mouth wateringly close and I would’ve bet good money that this would be my number one film of 2016. Batman and Superman would fight on the big screen in a battle based on the final part of The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel. I was in no way disappointed. BvS exceeded all my expectations fitting in perfectly with the events of Man of Steel, and answering a few questions that were left open at the end. Affleck is the perfect Batman. I never doubted that. Henry Cavill finally sold me on his Superman performance – even moreso in the director’s cut. Gal Gadot did the near impossible and got me looking forward to her Wonder Woman film, coming this year. Marvel FINALLY have some competition from the big boys.
2- Captain America – Civil War
They might have competition from the big boys, but Marvel blew me away with this epic. Simply put, the greatest superhero battle I’ve ever seen on screen. Characters and teams we’ve been watching develop on screen for close to a decade fracture their alliances and friendships. Events that have rocked the Mighty Marvel Movie Universe to its very core. Even though it’s under the Captain America banner – this might as well have been Iron Man 4, or Avengers 3. Everyone got some screen time and the introduction of Spider-Man as part of the ongoing universe was perfect in both execution and length of screen time.
1 – Rogue One
I honestly didn’t think this would be my number one. I had my doubts about standalone Star Wars stories, and to be honest – I’m STILL not comfortable with the notion of a “young Han Solo” movie. But, midnight on opening day, there we were at the multiplex.
The reason this gets first place is simple. It exceeded my expectations more than anything else I saw at the movies all year. Those niggly little plot holes that were never explained in Star Wars: A New Hope? Finally sorted.
Spencer Wilding’s dominant and physically imposing Darth Vader, his insane slaughter of the rebels with his lightsabre, a fully realised Peter Cushing in a pivotal role, brought to life convincingly by CGI were only two of the elements that simply stunned me here. At-Ats, classic retro Stormtroopers – and that final shot, setting us up perfectly for what followed. No, this wasn’t a standalone story, guys. Call it what it is – it’s Revenge of the Sith pt 2. Or Star Wars Episode 3.5.
And now....... This is where it gets ugly. I give you the three Fuglies of Doom.
3 – The Forest
Take this film as an exercise in destroying a decent concept, ie a Japanese forest where many have taken their own lives that actually exists - then make a below average and badly written film about it. Fill the film with unimaginative clichés and acting that’s as wooden as the actual forest. Remove all tension and set it up so that the paying audience wish the whole cast of characters dead, leaving them oddly numb as they file out of the multiplex. I will go as far as to say that if you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ve seen ALL the suspenseful scenes. The rest is just padding. Nothing to see here, move along.
2 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Out of the Shadows
One of the rare films to make me wonder why I bothered taking the time out to drive to the multiplex and see this. Turtles aren’t really my thing, but having enjoyed the original live action film back in the nineties, I saw the first “new” turtles film and was, well, frankly, bored. I had hoped that Stephen Amell would have elevated this being that I like his Arrow series. But….(sigh) it was not to be. I won’t be at a third film if it ever gets made.
1 – Ice Age: Collision Course
Foolishly, I was convinced that my cinema year wouldn’t get any worse than the Turtles. Then came the fifth, and as far as I’m concerned, last instalment of the Ice Age franchise. Sadly, they’ve gone to the well at least twice too often. Like Shrek, I believe this should have been a trilogy at the most. Plotwise – we’re supposed to swallow that a sabre toothed tiger, a mammoth, a sloth and their friends know enough about magnetism and physics to be able to divert an all life on Earth threatening asteroid, while the little squirrel manages to successfully pilot an alien spacecraft. I despaired, I really did.
Why put some sly adult orientated humour into a film that just insults everybody’s intelligence? It truly tarnished the preceding series, even the original, which I liked a great deal. Avoid this one at all costs.
Copyright © 2010 - 2017 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.