I cannot describe 2019 as anything other than a challenging year. There have been a few ups and a good number of downs. But at this time of year, I want to look back at things I liked, so here we go. Now I wasn’t able to get to the cinema too often this year, but I did manage to get a list of 5 films, so it couldn’t have been so bad, so here is this year’s 5.
My first new movie of 2019 was one that I went with my father and with SuperSam and it was very close to being the best film of this year. Now the central character of Miles Morales is one that I found boring in the comics that he was introduced in. With the tremendous need for better and more inclusive representation isn’t helped by a character who is as boring and as too connected to the previous version of that character. This film however has none of those problems. This Miles was interesting and had his own arc that wasn’t so directly connected to the previous Spider-Man. It also had an interesting multiple realities versions of Spider-Man, including a middle aged slacker Spidey, a teenaged Anime Spider-Girl, the currently popular Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Noir and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham all facing an army of villains and a threat to all realities. This was action-packed with high stakes that didn’t leave out any real emotion or humour. The narrative device of the character origins was brilliantly done and this felt very comic book, without that harming the story. I have yet to see Spider-Man: Far from Home, but that is the only reason that I haven’t declared this film to be the best Spider-Man film ever made. It may be the 9th one, but something this good is waiting for.
This is the first MCU film to be female led and it is one of the strongest of the origin films. An alien called Vers crash-lands on Earth in the 90’s only to learn that she has already been there before and there’s so much more to her story than she has ever thought. It’s space-opera, it’s super-heroics and it’s a woman’s search for her own past and using that to forge her own future. It isn’t perfect, but there was a lot about this film that I really enjoyed and it was very family friendly. It was positioned to get this character ready for inclusion in the upcoming Avengers: Endgame but we did get a decent film and one of the last cameos by Stan the Man Lee.
From 2008’s Iron Man to now, we had had more than 20 films over the last 11 years. We’ve had highs and lows and that entire saga came down to this over 3 hour long film which acts as a direct sequel to last years Avengers: Infinity War as well as a capstone to the entire MCU so far. It had heartbreak, it had stakes, emotion and several punch the air moments. At least three characters got happy endings or at least satisfying ones and at the worst moments of last year, I got to share this film with my dad. I am of the opinion that the MCU should have ended here and if it had, it would have ended on a high.
I will get this out of the way now, I do not like Geoff Johns’ take on Shazam. From losing the Captain Marvel name (understandable really) to his having Billy Batson being a surly teen rather a hopeful 10 year old. I was not overly keen to see this film and skipped it’s cinema release. But I kept hearing good word of mouth, so I watched it on Blu-Ray. This proved to be wise.
This was a lot of fun. Remember fun? Remember when films brought a smile to your face? This does that and proves that it was execution that was the problem. It was how the story was told that matter, because told well like this, it works. Zachary Levi mails playing a teenager in a 30 year old man’s body. He was naive, but also cynical. He was searching for family, but didn’t trust it and wasn’t a hero, until he really needed to be. One of the few films that came out over the last couple of years that made me go “I hope they make another” rather than “I expect they’ll be making more of them.” DC haven’t always known what to do with the Shazam properties, but Warner Bros’ film division has no such problem. I will watch this film again before too long.
Ghostbusters: With Live Orchestra
Again, this is a cheat, since this was a 35th anniversary of the film with all of the incidental music being performed by a full orchestra. I watched this with my father as his Christmas present, but this was a shared gift. The music was better and that enhanced what is essentially a fantastic bit of 80’s cinema. The effects haven’t aged particularly well, but none of that detracts from a film with a great cast, all at their peak delivering one of the best films of that era.
This year started with Into the Spider-Verse and it ended with Ghostbusters, no matter what lay between those films, this was a good year in cinema. Most of which, I got to share with my favourite people in the world. There are more good films coming and it looks like another good year on the silver screen.