Sunday, 3 July 2016

Blog: 2016 - Halfway Through

We're now halfway through our journey in 2016, and it's certainly been an eventful half-year. So, let's take a gander at what's, in my personal opinion, the 10 best and worst films I've so far seen from this year.


Best

Honourable mentions go to The Jungle Book, Jon Favreau's lovable adaptation that combines stunning visuals with terrific acting (of the onscreen and vocal variety), and Bad Neighbours 2, a hilarious sequel which one-ups its predecessor, with thanks to the cast who are all game and relevant social commentary.

10. Green Room makes effective use of its confined setting, trapped scenario and bursts of violence, delivering an intense 95 minutes. Jeremy Saulnier has brought forth a claustrophobic cat and mouse game that will leave one unsettled.

9. Hush takes the tried and tested formula used for home invasion thrillers, and centres it around a deaf & mute protagonist, and a masked killer who wishes to toy with her. This isn't merely a gimmick, as Mike Flanagan's ingenious utilisation of the premise delivers chilling moments and effective thrills.

8. The Nice Guys succeeds thanks to the typical hallmarks of a Shane Black picture: A double act that work greatly off each other, sparkling dialogue, a hilarious sense of humour, and a tendency to subvert from what's traditionally expected.

7. Deadpool is not your typical superhero picture. Visually dynamic, balancing witty and crass gags to maximum effect, Tim Miller skilfully handles the picture. But much of the success is thanks to Ryan Reynolds, both his on-screen presence that's practically the physical embodiment of Canada's Merc with the Mouth, and his offscreen championing for the picture to be made.

6. While the ending could have worked better with some trimming, 10 Cloverfield Lane remains a tense affair powered by a superb trio of performances. First time director Dan Trachtenberg is ready to remind you that man can be more monstrous than whatever creatures lurk.

5. Everybody Wants Some!! chooses to follow a group of college students over delivering a real narrative arc. Considering how lovable each member of the group is, how enchanting the ensemble all are, how wonderful it is to witness these sweet friendships and hear them converse, it's all worth it.

4. Zootropolis is the perfect antidote to the lazy animated pictures which are notorious for talking down to children. Disney's latest brings to life a well realised environment, inhabited by lovable characters whose actions are ultimately very human. But the real surprise lies in the strong handling of relevant topics, such as sexism and racial discrimination. Plus, it's rather funny.

3. Son of Saul is far from an easy watch. A harrowing picture brought to life with exception skill (particularly for a directorial debut), this is an important picture that perfectly gets across the horrors of a dark place in the history of humanity.

2. Over the course of its runtime, Eye in the Sky proves to be far more effective in delivering tension than any of the years horror pictures. Director Gavin Hood delivers a thoughtful take on a relevant subject matter, opting to fairly view the points of both sides. A taut thriller that won't leave you long after viewing it.

1. At this point, Captain America: Civil War could have easily been another standard superhero picture and still made a profit. Instead, the Russos choose to deliver a story fraught with consequences, tackling the topic of accountability in a manner well delivered from both sides, and even rather heartbreaking. It also proves to be magnificently humorous, pulse racingly action packed, while utilising all of its massive cast pretty well. Not bad from the directors of You, Me and Dupree.

Worst

Dishonourable mentions go to Ride Along 2, a sequel that lives up to its predecessor in the same boring, irritating manner, and Warcraft: The Beginning, whose subtitle seems like an imminent threat.

10. The Huntsman: Winter's War is clearly desperate in its attempts to tenuously connect to its 2012 predecessor, and would have benefitted from standing on its own two feet. Regardless of this, the picture remains visually competent, but beset with weak material.

9. Alice Through The Looking Glass asks viewers to root for a heroine who defies time travel warnings from the physical embodiment of Time, as though she knows better, and as a result, is the cause of all bad occurrences thay threaten Underland and it's citizens. Elsewhere, we're stuck needlessly following origin stories and viewing bargain bin performances on the screen.

8. London Has Fallen is an exercise in excessive patriotism, having one psychotic American (with a fluctuating accent) show up the entire London Police force, leaving Michael Bay looking reserved. But then it has to excel in something, since characterization, action, effects and rational thought are off the table.

7. Once more, The Divergent Series: Allegiant preaches about being original, while delivering anything but that very thing. Considering how poorly the characters and the story are handled, it's an honest surprise to hear the script had four screenwriters.

6. The existence of Netflix's latest Adam Sandler film, The Do-Over, is likely based around delivering a well paid holiday for its stars, while they enact fantasies of the action and sexual variety.

5. There are few films which made me feel dirty the way Grimsby did, as though viewing the elephant gang bang scene left me covered in the copious semen which appeared onscreen. Regardless of that horrible scene, the picture still relies on a moronic lead doing moronic things, and tries to sell the idea of England making the World Cup final.

4. The Chickening makes me doubtful there'll be anything more bizarre to witness in the remainder of this year. The directors re-cut and edited Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and the result may last 5 minutes, but severely tests ones patience. Best of luck finding comprehension or enjoyment in this.

3. The existence of Fifty Shades of Black is merely to bank off the box office success that was Fifty Shades of Grey, and ends up being the less funny film. Dire is a lenient term here.

2. If Norm of the North was a person, effort would be completely absent from their vocabulary, their personality would be constantly irritating, and short periods of time would be torturous.

1. Dirty Grandpa is a toxic piece of cinema, asking viewers to care for an overly crass, vile attempt at a human being, who's looking to sleep with anyone the day after burying his longtime wife. Then it tries to manipulate viewers with half-hearted attempts at sentimentality, as though that's some excuse for the self-serving attitude. Populated by unlikeable characters, a third act twist where the characters all fell victim to ravenous zombies would have been completely welcome.

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