If you’re a geek, the cinematic world is your oyster, and next year is no exception. Here’s ten movies you’re sure to geek out over in 2017.
1. John Wick: Chapter 2
Directed by Chad Stahelski
With Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane
Humans love watching actors pretend to hurt and kill each other, but it’s harder to make an impact in a world drowning in violent entertainment. If you’re a stunt nerd, you should be having geekgasms at the thought of a second John Wick movie, directed by Chad Stahelski, the stunt coordinator whose fresh take on choreographed mayhem made the original a fan favorite.
2. Ghost in the Shell
Directed by Rupert Sanders
With Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Binoche
If early trailers are any indication, I’m gonna have some inappropriate erections in at least one movie theater in 2017.
3. Kong: Skull Island
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts
With Tom Hiddleston, John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson
Since the early 1930’s, humans have delighted in watching giant gorillas fall to their death off tall buildings. Peter Jackson’s 2005 rendition, flawed in parts, had the best Kong ever realized on film. This time around, Kong is much bigger, while John Goodman is decidedly smaller.
Directed by James Mangold
With Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart
Hugh Jackman is a good fit for Wolverine, but none of the movies are as good as the John Byrne, Frank Miller, or even John Buscema comics. I’m thinking this is Hugh’s last stand until we get a reboot that either does the character justice or drags it into Deadpool territory.
5. Alien: Covenant
Directed by Ridley Scott
With Michael Fassbender, James Franco
In space, no one can hear you make bad decisions. I kid Ridley Scott, who chose to direct this over the Blade Runner sequel he’s co-producing.
6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Directed by Jon Watts
With Tom Holland, Micheal Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.
Come on, already! Another Spider-Man movie!? Geez. How much money am I gonna waste on this guy? Wait, Micheal Keaton is the Vulture? Just take my money.
7. War for the Planet of the Apes
Directed by Matt Reeves
With Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis, Steve Zahn
Holy Zaius, they are taking their sweet time with this series. I’m looking forward to Doldrums of the Planet of the Apes, where Caesar mitigates a mid-life crisis during a weekend getaway with Billy Crystal and the late Bruno Kirby.
Directed by Christopher Nolan
With Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh
I know it sounds weird, but there are World War II geeks aplenty on this planet (and I’m one of them). Couple that with Batman trilogy director Chris Nolan bringing back Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, as well as Thor director Kenneth Branagh… well, I just had to include it here. Looks pretty intense.
9. Blade Runner 2049
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
With Harison Ford, Jared Leto, Ryan Gosling
If this was the only movie on this list I’d be satisfied. There’s no way it will even come close to the original, but this new trailer gives me goosebumps. Ford’s latest “passing the baton” sequel is in the capable hands of Sicario director Denis Villeneuve. Now if the two of them would just get Gene Hackman out of retirement for a follow-up to The Conversation.
10. Justice League
Directed by Zack Snyder
With Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck
To be honest, Batman and Superman have been getting screen-time since the nineteen forties and it’s getting a little old. The addition of these other heroes may spice it up, but honestly, my expectations are low for everyone but Cyborg. I’m thinking the success or failure of this one will dictate the future of ensemble super hero movies going forward. Oh, who am I kidding?
The Mandalorian Gets Star Wars Right
Star Wars is pretty silly, and that’s okay. If we want Shakespeare, we already have it. I don’t expect some fantasy silliness to ever take the place of nutritious art. Still, I like candy, too, and that’s what we get from those films whittled from the paper-thin mythologies of the original.
Enter The Mandalorian, like some nameless Sergio Leone anti-hero through a planked saloon door, stopping the piano player and all conversation in its tracks. There’s a stranger in town. Could be Clint Eastwood, could be Charles Bronson. In this case, it’s Pedro Pascal, a Chilean actor best known for Game of Thrones and Narcos. You’d never know it, though, since as of episode 7 we’ve yet to see “Mando” sans helmet. This only adds to a coolness originally displayed by another famous Mandalorian, Boba Fett. Boba actually debuted between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a hastily produced Christmas cartoon.
Not everyone likes it when silly wants to be taken seriously. Still, there’s a way to do it that’s not as jarring as Adam West v. Christian Bale.
Jon Favreau, whose Iron Man truly kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, acts as executive producer and showrunner of The Mandalorian, and he knows just how to balance the whole thing with an aesthetic more Alex Ross than Jack Kirby. As head writer, Favreau successfully walks that tightrope between nostalgia and the now. He tempers seriousness with one of the most adorable little puppets you ever did see. I’m talking about “The Child,” better known via recent memes as “Baby Yoda.” In the same way that the Mandalorian isn’t Boba Fett, the Child isn’t Yoda – yet both have those original characters baked into their DNA.
At 15 million clams an episode, you get some excellent production value. Cinematography, music, and special effects are all on point, as are cameos from the likes of Amy Sedaris, Bill Burr, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Taika Waititi. Waititi also directed the final episode of Season 1, to be released December 27th.
The Mandalorian may be the best byproduct of the original series. Check it out on Disney+.
Aaron Paul Breaks Bad Once Again
Vince Gilligan brings us the further adventures of Jesse Pinkman as only he can, and the results are pretty entertaining.
Released on Netflix and in theaters on Friday, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie steps back and forward in time to resolve Pinkman’s story in two tension packed hours. Thankfully, Gilligan doesn’t bite off more than he can chew, and manages to pack more action into this story than in four frickin’ seasons of Better Call Saul.
You know that feeling you get when an episode of Saul ends and you feel like you’ve just been tricked into watching lawyers talking for an hour? You won’t have that with El Camino.
Now, if they could just spin off Jonathan Banks the same way.
Some familiar faces show up here and there, and they thankfully don’t chew up too much of the scenery. Worth noting that Robert Forster does a fine job in El Camino, and he unfortunately passed away the day the film was released. Peace out, Mr. Forster.
No villain in comic book history has been more praised, dissected, and interpreted than the Joker. His enigmatic past has given several authors opportunity to give their take on his origins, yet never stapling him down to any legitimate background. This film is another folklore to add to the potential rise of a mad man.
If you’re expecting a superhero movie, you have definitely come to the wrong place. This film is a character study of a man suffering from trauma, abuse, and mental illness. It relates less to the Batman comics and more to a blend of Martin Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver & King of Comedy which ironically both star Robert De Niro. It dives deep into the descent of a delusional man pushed to his absolute limits as he begins to find his ultimate self in the bowels of a maddening society.
Joaquin Phoenix was spectacular in the role, embodying the look and characteristics of the villain we are all familiar with, yet adding a twisted perspective that humanizes his actions and roots it in many forms of anguish. His body twisting in macabre movements added to a tone which conflicted its viewer between rooting for him or slowly separating ourselves from his bizarre antics.
The environment of the movie is perfect for this character: New York City in the early 80’s, which is how we’ve been conditioned to stereotype Gotham. It’s dirty, dreadful, ugly, and cultivated all the elements needed to allow sickness to thrive.
The supporting cast added value to the movie without standing out more than Joaquin, who is impossible to outshine.
Only two big flaws I found with the movie:
1. It was very slow-paced. Just surpassing two hours it felt like it dragged during certain scenes and some tighter editing could’ve cured some of that.
2. I would’ve love to have seen more of the clown make-up. Even though Arthur Fleck was interesting on his own, there was a certain level of superhuman strength he dawned with the clown paint. He was evil, he was scary, and inhuman, and that would’ve been just as intriguing to observe.
Other than that. It was a pretty solid movie.
Overall Grade: B+
Joker was more fascinating than I anticipated, and strikes a good balance between comedy and tragedy. I recommend it to anyone that is happy cringing through some really foul human behavior.