16 December 2017

2017 Reflection: The Crap We Was

It's a long mirror to look back in and understand our anticipation of lots of media that dropped in 2017. I tried really hard to not set myself up for disappointment this year. I was mostly pleasantly surprised. This was an impressive year, all things told. It's important to be really refined about what we're looking for, and for all the complaining about the movies being dead or Peak TV uh...peaking, we had some good shit. Let's review the shit that we were pumped up for a year ago.

Taboo (01/10)

I went back and forth on Taboo a lot. In the end I liked it. It was a brutal look at the life of Tom Hardy in the early 19th-Century, full of some insane twists and turns that made for some addictive watching. I continuously got the impression that they were trying hard to be an admittedly scaled back Game of Thrones set in 1814 London. It's full of different parties trying to play against each other and manipulate a grand game of war, ships, slaves, and whore murder. It ended a bit softer than it should have and was never as good as it tried to be, but the acting, impressive production design, and incest are always welcome.

Run the Jewels 3 (01/17)

This dropped in December as I was writing this preview, so dammit, Killer Mike. 3 wasn't as good as 2, but grew on me as the year went on, culminating in "Legend Has It" featured in that stellar Black Panther trailer. I'm surprised they had commercial success with their insanely literate politically charged hip hop at all, but they proved again they're some of the best in the game.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (01/20)

Hahahaa, alright, so there was a pretty specific way this could go. I'm further confounded about the Diesel after this - he is so clearly not in on the joke of his own ridiculousness. It actually had a decent premise, too. This movie was pretty fucking bad, but Ruby Rose was amazing in it. This did not turn into the Fast franchise nobody but Diesel wanted, but that's for everyone's benefit.

Legion (02/08) - FX
Just give him some McDonalds and be done with it

Legion was bonkers and continuously mind-blowing, often very literally. It changed the game for what Aubrey Plaza can do, made a star out of Rachel Keller, and showcased Dan Stevens as so much more than the arbitrary stand-in actor for Beauty and the Beast (2017). That dance scene, man. This leaves all those Marvel Netflix series in the dust by not being remotely concerned with superhero antics. Instead they focus on misuse of powers, mostly through lack of understanding, fear and self-preservation, and personal gain. Ironically, a series focused on mutants is the most human series yet.

John Wick: Chapter Two (02/10)

The most difficult uphill battle was that this was no longer coming by surprise. John Wick (2014) changed the game and a second chapter was neither asked for nor necessary. Yeah, we're glad we got it. From throwing the action to a car, the random mean streets of New York, and then a somehow even more impossibly bleak ending, Chapter Two delivered more action sequences that raised the bar for all other films to follow. We just can't watch sub-par action anymore.

The LEGO Batman Movie (02/10)

I enjoyed this a lot, but am generally less of a fan than I should be. It's an absolute love letter to superhero, particularly Batman tropes and history, which is all sorts of amazing, but there was a moment there when the metanarrative didn't add up with the actual narrative, and the "Joker in love with Batman" subplot (or...main plot?) felt inauthentic. Cramming in every other property that Warner Bros owns seemed forced and resolved far too quickly for how good this could have been. In its defense, it IS probably the funniest film of 2017 and Will Arnett continues to be a revelation in this role.

A Cure for Wellness (02/17)

Kind of like LEGO Batman this film was full of good, interesting ideas that never seemed to go anywhere. Yes, let's compare A Cure for Wellness to LEGO Batman... Dane DeHaan is serviceable enough, but the conspiracy pay-off isn't great. I don't know why we needed a big conspiracy at all. This movie worked fine as a meditation on creepy wellness sanitariums, which totally actually exist somehow and are totally manipulative pseudo-science. There's 3/4 of a good movie in here.

Logan (03/03)

Breathtaking? Amazing? Uncanny. Logan delivered on everything it tried to be and more. In an age of bigger and badder crashing and smashing superhero films, Hugh, Pat, and James found a way around all that. I still hate the doppelganger crap, and wanted Mr. Sinister, but this is fine. I guess. There's enough incredible scenes of tragic superhero downtime and growth, actual fucking growth to make this a great film.

The Fate of the Furious (04/14)

I'm sorry. I'm off Diesel. I promise. That Statham baby fight, tho. And that Statham / Rock prison escape. And the Rock throwing a torpedo into a submarine. There was lots of madness here, but an empty movie with a wasted premise. The Last Knight (2017) wins this year's battle of "Heroes Becoming Traitors" movie twists.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (05/05)

Until my dying day I'll tout this over the original and over most of what else dropped in the blockbuster realm this year. I was hesitant to throw this up here because I'm always disappointed, but this worked in every way. Well, sure the middle of the film just chilling on Ego was a little flat, but damn they rode their characters so true, threw in a random Stallone, and gave us more feels for Yondu than any superhero character ever. How about that?

Dunkirk (07/21)
Don't forget your suntan lotion!

Here's another film that possibly surpassed expectations. We all know that Chris Nolan has to really try to make an outright SHITTY movie (I listed Following [1998] and Batman Begins [2005] among his worst. How is that even possible), but it was great to see that Dunkirk easily ranked among his best ever. It's kind of like when Pixar spits out an Inside Out (2015) that suddenly stand with anything they've ever done. This somehow plays with time more than any film he's done, despite cranking out two huge films that explicitly deal with some form of time travel. It's a wonder of editing, storytelling, and true drama.

Blade Runner 2049 (10/06)

There are a few weeks left of this year to crank out a few more choice films, but right now 2049 is at the top of my list. I don't think I've ever had a #1 most anticipated film actually come out as best of the year. I feel so validated. We'll get into this more when the time comes.

Now, we had a few mini-anticipation previews, so let's go through that:

Rock That Body - became Rough Night, sucked
Baby Driver - ruled
Downsizing - did not see yet, word of mouth has grown lesser since its announcement
God Particle - coming out 2018
Untitled Paul Anderson Fashion World Drama - became Phantom Thread, have not seen, but is evidently amazing
Logan Lucky - Definitely underrated, but a clear Soderbergh lesser work
Annihilation - coming out 2018
The Death of Stalin - US Release 2018
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - nuts, but okay
It Comes at Night - shitty
Mute - 2018
Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter - unknown release
The Coldest City - became Atomic Blonde, ruled
Brawl in Cell Block 99 - Have not seen, but word is it rules
Landline - did not see, relatively little hype
Free Fire - shitty, probably my biggest disappointment of the year.

Well, that's it for the shit we looked forward to. Not too shabby, folks. I could have told myself that xXx: The Return of Xander Cage would suck. I wouldn't have listened. This is the life we chose.

Stay tuned until January when we preview 2018! It never ends!

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