Posted in Comics n Stuff, Miscellaneous

For the Geek in Me, 2017 Was Awesome: Movies

This year was in many respects rough.

I know that no one is giving me points for neatness here, but the news is drab or it’s genuinely frightening. The world seems a darker place and for me that leaves a bit of escapism to find my joy. When it came to films, well they didn’t disappoint. Though I didn’t make a many trips to the cinema as I would like, managed a good half dozen, so had enough to choose from.

As I have been doing this year, I found my 5:

Logan:

 

Some spoilers?

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To describe Fox’s X-Related movies as mixed in quality is lets be honest generous, but the one consistent thing about them has been the portrayal of James ‘Logan’ Howlett, the Wolverine. He’s been at this for 18 years now and while the movies have been up and down, he has always made the best of whatever script he had been given, from the dismal X-Men Origins, to the great X-Men 2, the flawed but entertaining The Wolverine, to his excellent cameos in X-Men: First Class and X-Men Apocalypse. But he’s not going to do it forever and he needed a last film as Wolverine and this is the one he deserved.

It’s a western, the ageing gunslinger is ready to get out of dodge and is dragged back into the fight against his will, it’s a tired western trope, but works well as a setting for this film. It’s 2025, Wolverine is nearly 200 and it’s starting to show, his eyesight is faded, he’s tired and his healing factor isn’t doing the job, not a good thing, considering how much metal is inside his body. He’s spending his time trying to forget about the X-Men and taking care of the reason the X-Men aren’t there any more, the ailing Charles Xavier. He’s pulled back in to take a young girl, with his senses, his healing and his claws to safety from the scientists who created her from Wolverine’s own blood. It has a road trip element as this old man, his invalid friend and this young daughter try to get to the border and to her freedom. This is not a MCU shiny movie with glibness and action figures, this is a brutal tale with violence to match as a man who’s seen too much killing tries to do one more good thing before the end. The performances are good, the action is well paced and it’s beautifully shot and a fitting swan song to this character who needed to have as good a solo film as this one.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

 

I have met one of the actors in this (well someone who made a cameo), just get that out of the way.

Some Spoilers

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The film has an on Earth scene in the past as did the first one, this was a man with Meredith Quill being young and in love, but planning for a future with galactic consequences. We then jump to the Guardians of the Galaxy (including a baby Groot) ready to battle an interdimensional monster for the golden Sovereign people. This is done to the tune of “Mr Blue Sky” by the Electric Light Orchestra (Because you can’t beat a little ELO) and that’s really the tone of this movie, there’s action, pathos and a whopping handful of fun. Everyone is on their A-game here and when the younger man at the start is revealed to be the human personification of Ego, the living planet, we know this film stepped up from the last one. We get more of a look at Yondu Udonta and his relationship with Peter ‘Star Lord’ Quill and everyone gets their time to shine and we even get bastardised versions of Star Hawk, Aleta, Martinex, Charlie-27 and Krugarr of the proper Guardians of the Galaxy. (I like this version, but doesn’t change who I always think of when I hear the words Guardians of the Galaxy, I mean look here Standing Guard)

But the movie Guardians are fun, funny and I will never look at Mary Poppins the same way again. I was expecting this to be at best as good as the first, it was in fact better.

 

Wonder Woman:

 

The lowest selling and least successful of DC’s trinity of heroes, but by far the best single movie of the recent DCEU releases. This film had epic action, a romantic plot that seemed to fit the story, comedy with a touch of pathos and above all a story that celebrated Wonder Woman, without being embarrassed about itself. In her few scenes in Batman Vs Superman, Gal Gadot’s Diana owned the film. Here she was given her own movie and did exactly what we all expected and nailed it. She was naive in some ways and wise in others, peaceful and poised, but brutal in a fight and during the no man’s land scene, she added an epic quality to her character. I don’t know what I expected going it, but the bar was raised. I’m not saying more, because I think if you have ever enjoyed any comic related movie, you should watch this one, it stands up alongside any you can think of to be honest. It’s a good sign when you walk out of the pictures thinking “I hope they make another one” rather than the usual “I expect they’ll be a sequel ‘sigh'”.

Thor: Ragnarok

The one place where Marvel Studios has really gone left regarding it’s version of Marvel’s characters is Thor. That is not a criticism, because the Kirby/Lee Thor wouldn’t fit in the MCU and nor should it. The MCU version of Thor is a warrior and a noble being worshipped as a god, but also a little bit of a goof. A well intentioned male bimbo as seen in the YouTube clips about what he was doing during Captain America: Civil War and some lighter moments of Avengers: Age of Ultron. This film saw that tone, the imagery and epic scale of Walt Simonson’s run on the comic and the Planet Hulk storyline, stuck them in a blender and ..wow

Spoilers

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From the opening scene, we get a wisecracking Thor, who’s far from the arrogant youth of his debut film, nor the warrior of myth that the second film seemed to show. This was a Thor, taking himself less seriously, from his one light hearted banter with the fire demon Surtur, to his ‘can’t unsee that’ response to seeing ‘little’ Hulk when Hulk gets out of the hot tub. The entire cast is clearly having a ball from Jeff Goldblum’s bonkers Gamesmaster, to Tom Huddleston’s Loki and the hidden gem of Karl Urban as Skurge the Executioner who goes from comic relief to his epic last stand. There’s Hela, goddess of death as well as a Valkyrie, a confused and terrified Bruce Banner, a sombre Odin, a Heimdall who deserves his own movie and the director voices the star of the show Korg. “Started a revolution, no one came except my mum and her boyfriend, who I hate.” “We’re escaping on that huge spaceship, wanna come?” This was a film that mixed the ridiculous, the comic and the epic and really helped it all hang together. This was Marvel trying to replicate the tone that made Guardians of the Galaxy a success and then accidentally improving in dramatically. If you enjoyed Thor and Thor: The Dark World, you’ll enjoy a lot of this as well, if you didn’t, this is third time’s the charm. Thor: Ragnarok is beyond anything else, fun.

Justice League:

It took me nearly 4 weeks to get to see this film. I want to tell you that it was worth waiting for.

Spoliers

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Well it was.

I liked Man of Steel, but felt that while it featured a guy called Superman, Superman wasn’t in it. The same could easily be said of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (although the extended Blu-Ray cut I saw made it a better film) and I started to hear the fan theory that it was a 3-act thing and that it’d make sense in Justice League. To be honest, was less than optimistic, but I did enjoy Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, so how bad could it be? It even had Jason Momoa as the most 90’s of 90’s Aquaman and I love me some 90’s era Aquaman. So the only bad side to me was an unnecessarily new Flash and Cyborg, who is a fantastic character, still feels like he was slotted in last minute leaving J’Onn J’Onnz out of the League post Nu52, but that is a rant for another day. But here’s the thing, I liked this film. Was it perfect? No, but it was trying a more light-hearted take on this world. From the 7 year old on sweets Flash, to the body horror of Cyborg, to a Wonder Woman trying not to lead and a Batman forced into doing it, it was a frankenstein’s monster of a film about a bit of a rag-tag team and for me it worked. A lot of people questioned the use of c-list 4th Worlder Steppenwolf as the main bad guy, but that at least gives you somewhere to go, rather than open with Darkseid. The plot made little sense, but there characters interacted well, the tone was light, but the stakes very high and yes, they brought back Superman, surprising no one. But they actually brought back Superman. From the opening flashback, where he takes time to answer some childrens’ question, to not getting into the fight without making sure the civilians were safe. That’s the guy, right there! He was even joking right at the end, after claiming that he liked being alive, there was an explosion, he came to, in so much pain, though chuckling, “I changed my mind, I want to die.” joking with Cyborg and then later racing the Flash. There’s so many places you could nit-pick, but for me I got to see Aquaman on the big screen, with no talking to fish jokes (well maybe one) and so many bright spots in this film. For the first time in nearly 12 years, an identifiable Superman was on the big screen and for the first time in over 30 years, he was in an entertaining movie too. I enjoyed this movie, both for what it was and for the fact I got to share with the MIGHTY Rosie, on a reclining sofa seat in the cinema. Some things are worth waiting for, Superman alongside the Justice League, great seats and great company and the last film of this year for me being one of the best, are all some of those things.

Next Time: I turn my attention to the TV of this year

Author:

Liverpool based family man and unrepentant geek, trying to understand what's going on in my own head, which is not always being a good place to be. Remember always, we live in a world of wonders.

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