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KevtheWriter on Fall/Winter 2016 Movies

fall-and-winter-2016

Happy New Year, everyone!  KevtheWriter is back to share his thoughts on the end of the year movie offerings.  He also provides his lists for the best and worst movies of 2016.

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Collateral Beauty
I think I found a contender for the worst movie of the year. Never in my life have I seen such bizarre, miscalculated Oscar Bait-y fluff get made! To be fair, the cast is talented and they make the best with what they’ve got but the story and characters are so bizarre, so weird, so wrongly headed that it just feels like I’m watching a big-budget Tommy Wiseau film with better acting! The dialogue is pretentious, the attempts at writing grief are terrible beyond heck, and the twist is one of the dumbest and most illogical twists I’ve ever seen in a film. Also, there are literally characters in this movie were supposed to care about that get zero development so we end up not caring! For example, were supposed to care about Will Smith’s dead daughter but we literally don’t know anything about her other than her name, what she died from, and that she liked spinning around, so it’s hard to care! I mean, yeah, it’s sad that the guy lost his daughter at such a young age but it would be easier to care about the situation if we learned more about her. Unfortunately, this is just a miscalculated, terrible effort and I can definitely see why it’s bombed with both critics and audiences.

Rules Don’t Apply
I already reviewed the movie here.

I’ll just summarize my thoughts: the first half-hour showed some promise and the leads have chemistry but, once Howard Hughes enters the scene, it becomes a poorly edited mess that pretty much turns into a completely different movie than the first half offered. Unfortunately, it was a terrible comeback for Warren Beatty.

The Accountant
Poor Ben Affleck. His DC movies weren’t any good and his newest directorial effort is getting blasted by critics! And then there’s this movie! If there’s anything good about the movie, it’s that it actually does a decent job at portraying Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism and how some people with Aspergers feel like they’ve been isolated. Ben Affleck also does a good job as a man who feels isolated by his own condition. I just wish all this was in a better movie. Remember how I complained Collateral Beauty tried to make you care about a character that had no development? Well, this movie does that too as were supposed to feel sorry for Ben Affleck’s brother despite the fact that all we know about him is he didn’t like it when his Dad was abusing Affleck! There’s also a tacked on subplot about J.K. Simmons and a lady who looks like Rosario Dawson trying to find Affleck that has almost nothing to do with the rest of the plot and, when it does, it feels forced. Add to that the main plot is just confusing and convoluted as heck and, unfortunately, we have a stinker on our hands.

passengers

Passengers
Another movie that had some promise but wastes it. It had some rather creepy undertones and, while it does acknowledge those undertones and doesn’t treat it like it’s normal (unlike some movies), it kind of sweeps the rather creepy romance under the rug and spends more time with J. Law and Chris Pratt falling in love than questioning whether or not they really should be together. It also focuses so much on the romance that the intriguing “what would you do?” premise of the movie feels wasted. Also, the set design is decent, if conventional, but it’s a rather poorly lit movie, as most of the scenes take place in dark rooms. As for the acting, Michael Sheen is great, Chris Pratt is his usual self, and Laurence Fishburne is okay in what is basically an extended cameo but Jennifer Lawrence kind of phones it in here. If you want to see a sci-fi movie with a similar premise, just stick to The Martian.

The Magnificent Seven
Another Chris Pratt movie! This movie was…there. There was basically nothing about it. It was just your typical, standard, by the numbers western. Not to sound racist here but I did notice they had a mostly ethnic cast set in a movie where most of these people were considered inequal and they could’ve done something interesting or intriguing with the concept of a mostly minority group trying to save a town of people who would’ve probably been racist towards them but, other than mentioning that a couple of times, they don’t really do anything with it. But, if you ignore that, there’s just nothing to this movie. To be fair, Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt are their usual charming selves, but they don’t really do anything to help make the movie more interesting. For Chris Pratt’s sake, let’s hope Guardians of the Galaxy 2 ends up more like The Winter Soldier and Civil War than Iron Man 2…

Mascots
Here’s another movie that was just okay and another movie that’s a bit of a disappointing comeback from an acclaimed director. There was just not much to talk about with this movie. There are some funny, standout scenes, like an awkward interaction between Fred Willard an a midget and a running joke involving furries sneaking into mascot competitions, but otherwise it’s just there. I guess it’s better than For Your Consideration, though…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
This movie ended up being kind of a guilty pleasure. The story is basically the type of story Tim Burton’s done many times before. Heck, there were many times the story reminded me of his Alice in Wonderland adaptation! The child actors are okay but Chris O’Dowd’s American Accent comes and goes (when we first meet him, I swear he talked in his usual Irish accent) and a lot of the other actors, like Allison Janney and ESPECIALLY Judi Dench, feel wasted. There are also clichés I can’t believe they actually used (at one point the villain disguises himself as the main character and the kids have to figure out who’s the kid and whose the villain). Yet, there’s so much creativity on display here, more than I’ve seen from Burton in a long time! The kid’s powers are all very unique and make them stand out and there are a lot of fun and cool sequences, including a battle between the skeletons and bad guys set to techno music and a scene where one of the kids brings another kid back to life in the creepiest way possible. There’s also a good sense of world building here that makes the world of this movie very fun. In other words, it’s definitely not a total comeback for Burton but it’s not one of his worst movies either.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Considering all the hype and how many people were proclaiming it one of the best Star Wars movies ever, I’ll have to admit I was a little disappointed by this movie. It wasn’t awful but it could’ve been better. The main problem I had with this movie is that I liked the characters but there needed to be more of all of them. They were underdeveloped and needed more screen time to flesh out their characters, which is a shame as most of them were fun to watch. It also sometimes felt like the plot was too convoluted, like they were trying to force a lot of things in. That being said, there were some cool things here and there, including some fun action sequences and scenes. So, it’s not the worst Star Wars prequel, it just could’ve been better.

Doctor Strange
Considering I loved Civil War, I thought this could’ve been a better follow-up. The movie has some cool visuals and action scenes plus it has a clever ending yet the problem I have with it is that Doctor Strange is basically just a Tony Stark wannabe, as he acts exactly like Tony Stark. In fact, the plot feels a lot like the plot of the original Iron Man with The Ancient One acting like Yinsen and Rachel McAdams’s character acting like Pepper Potts. Plus the movie had a bit of an inconsistent tone, as any dramatic or intense scene was immediately followed up with something wacky and funny going on (which, admittedly, is a problem with a lot of Marvel’s movies). In other words, as a spectacle, it’s a fun movie but, as a movie itself, it could’ve been better.

Office Christmas Party
This is just one of those movies that are fun to watch but forgettable afterwards. It’s basically just a large cast of talented comedians doing a movie they obviously had a lot of fun making and it’s just a fun, turn off your brain movie as a result. Plus, there are a few chuckles here and there (a lot of the laughs, though, come more from the actors’ delivery than the jokes themselves). I mean, it’s a bit overstuffed and has too many plot lines, some of which get forgotten so much that, when they come back, I forgot they were even there but, otherwise, it’s just a fun little movie and nothing else.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
This is one of the best Harry Potter movies in a while. The movie basically does what all 7 Harry Potter movies haven’t done, which is expand the Harry Potter world beyond just one British town by showing what the magical world in America is like. The creatures they get are fun, including a character named Niffler. Colin Farrell is also a menacing villain and the rest of the cast is good as well. The production values and musical score are also top-notch. If there are problems I had with it, there weren’t enough action scenes and the ending was really dumb. Otherwise, this was a fun entry in the Wizarding World.

Moonlight
This is a great coming of age story that really shows how the influence of a kid’s life and environment can shape how they become as a person. It’s well acted and nicely scored. If there’s one complaint I had about it, it’s that the editing was rather jaunty at times. Otherwise, it was a great film.

Nocturnal Animals
This is a movie I thought needed a little more love. It’s a very intriguing mystery thriller that, as you go on, really makes you think about what’s going to happen next and, once you’re finished watching it, you realize what the whole point of the movie was. The cast is great and the musical score is one of the best scores I’ve heard all year plus the cinematography is gorgeous. It’s up there with 10 Cloverfield Lane as one of the more underrated films of the year.

Arrival
Besides Batman v. Superman, this has been a good year for Amy Adams. The movie is basically a criticism on Trump’s ideals, a movie that questions the human need to want to destroy anything it sees as different and scary. But it’s not a cynical movie, as there’s a hopeful message that, even if we don’t always know the right thing to do, justice will always be served in the end. It also has a lovely score and the framing device it uses is clever. If there’s any criticism I have, it’s a bit too slowly paced at times and, coupled with the fact that the movie is rather dimly lit, makes it drag occasionally. Otherwise, it’s a very good film. But the #1 best film is…

la-la-land

La La Land
This is a charming film. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have great chemistry, the visuals are gorgeous, and the characters are relatable. The movie also pays homage to the musicals of the 1930’s-1950’s while, at the same time, pointing out it’s flaws, saying that the ideals behind them weren’t always realistic yet, at the same time, it never looks down on them. Instead, it shows that you can follow your dreams as long as you stay somewhat grounded in reality. The only complaint I have is that only 2 of the songs stand out and some of the musical numbers are awkwardly staged. Otherwise, this was a great film and the best of 2016!

Now that I’ve talked about the movies of this year, let me list my favorites of the year. Now, for this list, I won’t explain why I liked them if I already explained why I liked them in a previous blog. But if it’s a movie I haven’t talked about yet then I will explain! Let’s go!

Top 10 Best Movies of the Year
10. Green Room-It’s just a great, atmospheric, moody horror thriller
9. 10 Cloverfield Lane
8. Captain America: Civil War
7. Moonlight
6. Nocturnal Animals
5. Arrival
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
3. Sing Street
2. Eye in the Sky
1. La La Land

And now the top 10 worst movies of the year. Again, if I haven’t talked about this movie before, I’ll explain why I put it on the list but, if I have, I won’t.
10. Everybody Wants Some-yeah, this movie is nowhere near as bad as these other movies, and I’m sure if I saw more movies they would definitely knock this way out of the list, but I still stand by my opinion that this movie was boring. Sorry!

9. Suicide Squad
8. Passengers
7. The Accountant
6. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
5. Rules Don’t Apply
4. Alice Through the Looking Glass
3. The Neon Demon
2. Norm of the North-Yeah, I saw this movie. I actually saw it once months after it came out and I don’t know why. Anyway, the voice acting is bad, the animation is bad, the environmental message is stupid, and the plot makes absolutely no sense
1. Collateral Beauty

If you haven’t already done so, please fill out the Holiday Movie Survey before it’s too late!  The results will be tallied soon.

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Posted on January 1, 2017, in Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. I have to admit, I really had not considered the similarities between Dr Strange and Iron Man. To a certain degree, I guess that’s pretty unavoidable. They are both arrogant rich guys who learn a lesson and become more heroic. I was very aware that the movie followed the Marvel Origin Story formula which has been used effectively in about half of the Marvel movies to date including Iron Man and most recently Ant Man. Each time they mix in a few other elements to make the movie feel fresh enough to sit through another origin. This time, they cribbed The Matrix and Inception plus a bunch of Kung Fu movies.

    I believe I read somewhere that Dr. Strange was going to be Marvel’s last true origin story movie. We’ve seen Black Panther’s origin play out in Civil War and Age of Ultron. I’ll be interested to see how Marvel handles this going forward. The origin story formula has served them very well to date.

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    • That will be interesting. Hopefully they do stop doing more origin movies or, if they do, just use another origin beyond “cocky guy becomes hero and learns a lesson in humility in the process” (which has been used by them at least a few times by now)

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      • One of the problems with super hero origin stories is their tends to be a lot of repetition. There are only so many ways for a super hero to be born and by now I think we have seen most of them.

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        • That’s true

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        • I guess my biggest problem with it was, though, that even though many of the Marvel movies have used the “cocky guy becomes a superhero and learns a lesson in humility” the similarities to Iron Man felt more blatant because he was a rich guy, had a snarky partner who used to be his girlfriend, and Benedict’s American accent kind’ve sounded like RDJ’s voice

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        • Yeah, that didn’t really jump out at me while I was watching the movie because I haven’t watched Iron Man in a long time, but I can see the parallels. It doesn’t really phase me, but repetition is a problem when you make a lot of movies that follow a specific formula. I actually give the Marvel guys a lot of credit for continuing to find new ways to reinvent the origin story. But I think they are wise to move away from that. They have reached the point of diminishing returns. This will probably be exacerbated by the fact DC is likely to make a bunch of origin story movies over the next several years.

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        • ^That’s true. Also, it’ll be interesting to see if DC has the same problem.

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        • DC has a lot of problems! 😉

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        • Oh yeah!

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  2. Just a quick reflection on your notes about the Magnificent Seven remake: Talking about race is not racist. Talking about someone else’s race in a derogatory or unhelpful way might be. I don’t think you did that second thing at all. In fact, I had the same thoughts about the racial politics of the film, which were…pretty much non existent until the final confrontation between Denzel and the movie’s big bad. But, of course, Blazing Saddles kind of covered the territory we’re talking about pretty effectively more than forty years ago. There were some pretty lazy action elements to this remake of one of the more iconic westerns in film history (which, to be fair, also includes some lazy tropes). It could have been much better in spots, but it sure as heck could have been a lot worse. I’ll say that I was much more interested in both Vincent D’Onofrio and Ethan Hawke’s characters than whatever was going on with Chris Pratt in this one. Yeah, my eyes almost always focus on the better actors, and Hawke in particular just gets better the older he gets.

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    • Okay, thanks. I just said that because, especially nowadays, talking about race can be a little tricky, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t say the wrong thing. Also, I agree that this movie could’ve been much better but it also could’ve been much worse.

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  3. I’m glad audiences weren’t fooled by “Collateral Beauty”; it seemed like a pandering film to me. Ever since I’ve seen previews & trailers of it, “Passengers” makes me think of the 1980 Kirk Douglas/Farrah Fawcett/Harvey Keitel film “Saturn 3”. I think “La La Land” looks delightful though.

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    • Honestly, I wasn’t even going to bother with Collateral Beauty until, weirdly enough, I heard how bad it was, because it didn’t sound just bad but insane and, yeah, it was

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    • Razzie prediction: Collateral Beauty should score some nominations.

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      • Oh yeah, that’s the type of film The Razzies gravitate towards, as along with being pretentious, it gives them an opportunity to take some shots at acclaimed performers (Will Smith is probably still on their radar since “After Earth”).

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        • Exactly. I will also go out on a limb and predict nominations for Hillary’s America.

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        • Worst “Actress” (though a news clip is hardly acting): Hillary Clinton. A waste of a nomination/win, but yeah, it’s quite likely to happen, since that’s another Razzie gag.

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        • Given Trump’s win and the liberal politics of Razzie voters, I figure they will want to take any shot theh can at conservatives. An anti Hillary propaganda film is a slam dunk for them.

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  4. Suicide Squad is a good film it gives you what you need a 2 hour colour fun filled ride

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    • Well, if it makes you feel better, I didn’t hate it quite as much as everyone else, which is why it’s at the bottom of the worst list

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    • This low bar doesn’t work for me. The first hour is all exposition introducing characters most of whom will never be developed. After that, there is almost no room left to tell a story, so the movie doesn’t bother to tell one. What little plot the movie has is riddled with more holes than Swiss cheese. Suicide Squad is not a good movie. It’s one you can watch with your brain turned off, but that’s true of any big budget fx-driven Hollywood movie. And most of them are better than Suicide Squad.

      I will give the Squad a slight edge over Batman V Superman though.

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