Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Films I've seen of late 2017 (January)

#1: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Great suspense flick set in a bomb shelter. A young woman wakes up after a car accident to find herself in the aforementioned shelter with two other guys - one being John Goodman, expertly playing the ambiguoiusly creepy guy who built the shelter. He claims there's been a devastating attack on the country, hence them all being locked away underground, and they cannot leave (for 1-2 years) until the air above is safe for them to breathe.

Tension is expertly built as we gradually discover the truth about why this young woman is trapped down below. Full of twists and surprises, 10 Cloverfield Lane keeps you guessing and brilliantly conveys the emotion and strength of the heroine in her fight for survival.

#2: Spaceballs (1987)
Star Wars parodies are two a penny these days but Spaceballs is the original and best. It felt slightly disrespectful of the epic space saga at the time, but on repeat watching it seems to have aged well and even the effects hold up after all this time. I'm not a huge fan of Mel Brooks, but Spaceballs is one of my favourite comedies.

Best moments: The giant spaceship taking forever to run past the frame, Dark Helmet watching a VHS tape of the very film they are in, 'combing' the desert, Dark Helmet playing with his action figures, Lone Star and Helmet comparing sizes of their lasers at crotch level.

#3: Zoolander 2 (2016)
I'm always a bit wary of sequels, especially ones that are made many years after the original (usually an attempt to reinvigorate the careers of the cast). Fifteen years (fifteen!!) have passed since Zoolander, an hilarious comedy about incredibly dumb male fashion models. Z2 doesn't quite hit the mark unsurprisingly, but it's actually a decent return for the characters. There are plenty of funny moments and at least the plot is vaguely different to the first one. Fun but forgettable.

#4 Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Kids animation where monsters are actually good guys, constantly under threat from pitchfork and flaming-torch wielding humans. Count Dracula has created a hotel for all the monsters (werewolves, mummys, swamp things, yetis etc.) to hang out and get a spot of refuge away from the lynchmobs. A single parent, Drac must contend with Mavis his daughter's coming of age party whilst trying to stop her venturing beyond the hotel and meeting the dreaded humans. In the mix is a real human who stumbles upon the place not realising what the deal is and falling in love with Mavis. This is actually a lot of fun - not hilarious, but plenty of in-jokes relating to monster tropes dotted throughout the movie. And the story holds up as a typical dad-fighting-to-control-his-newly-adult-daughter-longing-for-freedom caper.

#5 Deadpool (2016)
From the moment this films starts, you can tell it's not going to be your typical comic book movie. With plenty of gratuitous swearing, extreme violence and breaking of the fourth wall, the film holds nothing back in being faithful to the Marvel character. Deadpool is a fairly typical origins story, but what makes it stand apart is Ryan Reynold's titular character. It's clear they had less money than other franchise films, but the script more than makes up for that.

#6 Captain America: Civil War (2016)
I had low expectations going into this one but was pleasantly surprised. Comic-book heroes The Avengers split into two factions after getting all arguey about a new accord that proposes to keep a check on their activities. Inevitably this leads to crazy big-time punch ups and the biggest collection of superheroes amassing in a single film since, well, the Avengers. The split in the team seems a little forced and unrealistic, but the action pieces are entertaining and Spiderman makes a memorable appearance as played by the excellent Tom Holland. Fun to watch but once is enough for me.

#7 The Book of Life (2014)
A charming animated tale of loss and love set in the colourful Mexico of yesteryear. The gods of the underworld place a bet to see which one of their chosen mortals can win the heart of their childhood sweetheart. Gorgeous design and plenty of humour, it's nice to see a Latino story given the Hollywood CGI treatment.

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