Monday, January 1, 2018

Some of the best and worst movies of 2017

With 2017 all wrapped up, let's take a look back at the best movies of the year.

14. The Mummy

The worst new movie I saw in 2017 was Tom Cruise's unneeded remake of The Mummy.

Sure, The Mummy franchise had probably run it's course, but nobody asked for a remake -- especially one that wasn't as good as the first set of films.

The movie was predictable in a lot of spots and sloppy in other spots. Russell Crowe played his part well. Tom Cruise's bank-ability as an actor just isn't there in 2017. He's not a leading man, so quit trying to cast him as one.

This version of The Mummy wasn't worth the watch and certainly can't begin to compare to Brendan Fraser's The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.

13. Power Rangers

What hurt this movie was the fact that the writers seemed to actively avoid doing a remake of the 1990's storyline. They had a backstory with Zordon and Rita Repulsa formerly being Rangers themselves.

The whole under water cave set up was kind of silly. The additional superhuman powers that the teens had after just touching their coins was also a bit goofy.

Here's an instance where they should've followed the original canon more closely.

Rita's costuming should've been more in line with the Rita from the TV show.

Overall it was a big budget attempt at re-starting a well-liked franchise that fell flat on it's face. The teens trying to morph as they were acclimating to their new powers wasn't the strongest story line.

It wasn't as bad as The Mummy, but you're not missing anything if you skip this movie.

12. Snatched

This movie should've been good. It should've been better than it was, but I blame it on the writers. It was an OK movie, but I expected much more from an Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn team-up.

There were a few moments where I chuckled, but the movie reeked of desperation in certain spots, going so far as to pop out Amy Schumer's boob as an attempt to get a laugh.

Wanda Sykes delivered her part well, but her material wasn't that great either. My favorite part of the movie was Christopher Meloni's tour guide role.

He was a tour guide -- or they thought. Turns out, he quit his job as a Trader Joe's store manager when he found he had a month to live.

When he died a short time later, my interest in the movie did as well.

11. The Dark Tower

I kind of think they tried to fit too much into this movie. There was a lot going on, but it wasn't all completely clear.

The movie makers should've used better techniques to explain certain parts of the movie and highlight some of the important aspects.

I think they could've done a lot more with the backstory for Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba's roles in the movie.

I know they adapted it from a novel, so they had to make some cuts, but the history of the two prominent parts of the movie are not the places to cut script.

The action scenes with Elba (The Gunslinger) firing off his twin revolvers were pretty impressive.

McConaughey was very frightening in his Devil-like persona.

But the overall story was too complicated and prevented the movie from being anything more than a future placeholder in the Walmart $5 bin.

10. Baby Driver

Kevin Spacey made headlines this year after allegations of sexual misconduct. Before that happened, Baby Driver was released and it turned out to be a pretty good movie. It was definitely a little avant-garde, but it worked. It took a unique approach with it's unusual story, gritty topic and interesting presentation.

The way the music was infused into the story's core plot point was interesting.

The way they showed Baby as a hero who was struggling to get out of his association with criminals kept me watching.

The car chases were either impressive or chaotic.

It's not the type of movie I'd necessarily watch, but I was really surprised by how much I liked it.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

This franchise jumped the shark a long time ago. I think it was probably when they started focusing so much on the skeleton / ghost pirates and spent such an extended amount of time on the battle with the Kraken.

Despite that, I was hoping for a good final movie in this franchise.

While it was OK and did kind of tie everything together, the movie didn't have enough of the quirky Jack Sparrow antics that made the movie such a hit when it first came out close to a decade ago.

This is one of those movies where there was some bad, some good and a lot of in between.

There just wasn't any great in it.

8. Star Wars, Episode 8: The Last Jedi

I'm a big fan of Star Wars, but I won't pretend that the first 6 movies didn't have continuity problems or acting problems or computer graphics problems.

Most of that can be overlooked due to some of the epic moments these movies have provided over the years.

As I said in my blog that was published just yesterday, Star Wars left a lot of unanswered questions. If they plan to answer all of those questions in the next movie, then I'll look back on this movie fondly. If not, then this movie missed the mark.

They did such a good job with The Force Awakens -- creating new characters that I cared about, putting forth a story that made sense, and setting up the plot nicely for further development in the next movie.

The problem is that the next movie (The Last Jedi) didn't live up to the first one. It introduced muddled concepts regarding the Jedi, a ridiculous island with the light and the dark (seriously, did they steal this from Lost??), and some parts of the movie that seemed to be filling up screen time instead of actually furthering any characters.

All of that being said, several of the characters were developed through several different story arcs. Kudos has to go to them for attempting that and being successful in many ways.

The biggest complaint I have is leaving so much unanswered and left unfinished. If they round it up nicely in the next installment, they'll get a pass from me on this one.

If not, then this movie goes down as disappointing.

7. Guardians of the Galaxy 2

This Guardians of the Galaxy sequel didn't recapture the magic that the first movie had. It wasn't a bad effort. It furthered a few of the characters' individual stories, it progressed nicely in the set up to the Infinity War, and there were some cool action scenes.

Instead of feeling natural, though, the one-liners felt forced and the rest of the movie felt like it tried too hard.

I can't complain too much because there were some good elements in this movie.  Kurt Russell wasn't a bad choice for the movie's villain, but the ending seemed a little too predictable.  It wasn't something we hadn't seen, in some version, before.  Instead of being a phoenix or a witch or an alien (well --- Russell was an alien, actually), this movie presented an all-powerful, giant source of energy that had to be defeated.

I did enjoy baby Groot's parts and the fact that they showed how much of a danger Rocket could be.  But there was maybe a little too much of the movie's time that was spent on that planet.

It just wasn't as good as the first.

6. Transformers: The Last Knight

The fifth movie in a franchise that has probably lasted two movies too long was alright.

Mark Wahlberg was the only returning actor (outside of the voices of the Transformers themselves) from the last Transformers movie.

He was joined, however, by a returning Josh Duhamel, who was in the first three Transformers movies.

Anthony Hopkins and Laura Haddock did well in their Transformer debuts.

This was what you'd expect: a bunch of explosions, some new forms of Transformers (this time we got a Transformers dragon and a submarine), and some OK acting.

Based on how some of the story was portrayed, with little Dino bots, this venture seemed like a little more of a child's movie rather than a story aimed at adults, but maybe that's their new goal in trying to keep this movie franchise alive.

5. Wonder Woman

I was really hoping (and anticipating) that this would be a big hit for DC. DC's one area that they are swooping in on and beating Marvel at is the female superhero genre.

You go to Wal-Mart or Target and you see Supergirl, Batgirl and Wonder Woman dolls, similar to Barbie.

Despite the fact that Black Widow was a character who was one of Marvel's big early successes and that they have two strong characters in Melinda May and Daisy Johnson on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel has not reached out to that female demographic the way DC has.

Granted, none of Marvel's female characters, outside of possibly Storm, are anywhere near as legendary as Wonder Woman is.

This character is so beloved and this is her first time being portrayed on the big screen. Unless DC messed up in a major way, this movie was bound to be a success.

And it was. It was very good. There were only a couple of minor complaints that I had about the movie, but nothing that makes it anything less than a very good, entertaining one.

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming

I was really surprised at how well Marvel did with this Spider-Man movie. I liked Andrew Garfield's version and was disappointed when it was determined that he wouldn't be crossing over into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That being said, Marvel made the right decision because this Spider-Man is very entertaining to watch. While Marvel changed certain characters in some other recent movies, the changes they made in this one (adding a best friend, adding a new MJ into Peter's life, tweaking Flash Thompson's character) are welcome ones.

Spider-Man has had 6 different big budget, big screen movies since 2000. 6 in 17 years. That's almost as many as Batman (8 standalone movies since 1990). 8 in 27 years.

Spidey's story has been well-documented and presented several times. We've seen Mary Jane. We've seen Gwen Stacy.

I'm ok with Marvel taking a bit of a different approach. Plus, they can introduce those characters (or Felicia Hardy so we can finally get Black Cat on the big screen) in future films.

This Spider-Man movie was great because it really was Peter's own world. We didn't have to sit through the whole situation with Peter's uncle again or the story about how he became Spider-Man.

I'm liking the timeline that they entered into, with Peter still in high school, already bitten and just starting to explore his powers.

There was a load of comedy in this movie. From the little nod to Ferris Bueller's Day Off with the pool scene to the great moment when Ned discovered the Peter was Spidey. There was a lot of great comedy here.

Meanwhile, the drama was there too. Peter was struggling to find his relevance in the world that is filled with the Avengers, who are much more established and respected superheroes at this point in this Spider-Man timeline.

Great outing for Marvel with this movie!

3. Justice League

Justice League was one of those DC movies that got mixed reviews, yet again. I've gotten to the point that I don't care what is said. I like it. I like the DC Cinematic Universe and I like how they are presenting themselves as a little darker and different than the Marvel movies. Justice League was a great movie that shows DC is hitting it's stride.

Considering they got such a late start on the superhero game (because they were focused on the Dark Knight trilogy -- and rightly so), they've been playing catch-up to Marvel and Disney's superbly planned string of movies.

Man of Steel was good, but not universally enjoyed. Batman v. Superman was great in the extended format, but the movie theater version had some things to be desired. Suicide Squad was a fun effort, despite being somewhat predictable and cookie cutter. Wonder Woman, as you already read, was a movie I really enjoyed.

But Justice League was even better. It kept Wonder Woman's story going forward and continued the stories of Batman and Superman. Meanwhile, they did a tremendous job in introducing The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. Granted, there are a lot of unanswered questions about all of their stories, but, unlike the Star Wars movies, we know what's to come with DC. They are planning to do more with Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg in individual films (along with the second Justice League movie).

There was a great mix of comedy, excitement and a little bit of serious acting (Gal Gadot seems 100% committed to her Wonder Woman character).

If this is a taste of what's to come with DC, I want more!

2. Thor 3: Ragnarok

I haven't done a full review of this movie just yet. I've been too busy eating Thanksgiving leftovers and then Christmas cookies and going to see it in the movie theater twice.

It was an incredible movie!! I wasn't the biggest fan of them rearranging some of Thor's family tree in regards to Hela, but besides that and Thor's eye injury, it was amazing!

I should said that despite those two issues, the movie was amazing because I wasn't a fan of those two things, but I still absolutely loved the movie.

Thor was witty. Thor had great action scenes with his hammer. Loki was amazing in every scene he was in. Heimdall upped his bad-ass level several degrees.

The addition of Hulk to this movie made it that much better. Dr. Strange's cameo was a welcome addition as well.

If you haven't seen it yet, try to find a theater with a showing. And, of course, get it on DVD. You won't regret it if you're even the slightest fan of Marvel's Cinematic Universe.

I was really happy with DC's efforts this year, but what made Thor 3 so enjoyable was that it's a dozen or so movies into Marvel's different phases of movies. There are so many little inside jokes and details that can be utilized successfully because of the fact that the characters have been so well developed. That's when the fun can really occur -- when the characters have their stories set, the actors have their personalities figured out and different interactions can lead to fun and conflict.

Thor 3 was as complete a package as Marvel has ever produced.

1. Logan

This was the first superhero movie of the year that I saw and it turned out to be the best.

I wasn't sure what to think about it when I originally saw it. I liked it. It was different, though.

It reminded me of an old western movie (ironically set in the future), where the main hero has one last hurrah before eventually bowing out.

The movie's pace wasn't that of the usual superhero movies. It took it's time in telling this story and did a really good job doing so. This movie brought in some realism with blood and language, benefiting from not being under a PG rating.

This movie was a well-deserved send-off for Hugh Jackman, who has played Wolverine for 17 years now in 9 different movies.

I will be highly disappointed if Fox (or Disney ... did that sale go through? Do they own Fox now?) doesn't utilize the great acting ability of the young actress who played X-23 (Dafne Keen) in the form of some future movies.

The movie set up the success of X-23 so well. They need to capitalize on that and put forth some new X-Men movies. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any news on an X-23 solo film.

That's it. Those are the movies of 2017 (at least those that I saw) from worst to best.

Here's to a new year of new (and hopefully entertaining) movies!

Related Content:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - reviewed.
Justice League - reviewed.
Transformers: The Last Knight - reviewed.
Wonder Woman - reviewed.
Logan - reviewed.