Hello everyone. I decided to write about my top 10 films of 2017 in 2018, typically. You can find the first part of it HERE. To read the second part, continue reading on below.
5. Thor: Ragnarok
The film sees New Zeland director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wildepeople and What we do in the Shadows) provide his own take on the adventures of Marvel's favourite Norse demi-god. That results in a tale where the god of thunder loses his famed hammer, Mjollnir, in an early face-off with Hela, the goddess of death and Odin's banished daughter. Where as one might expect a serious story to follow where Thor attempts to overcoming some almighty menace once again, instead we get what could be seen as a buddy comedy. Thor is forced onto the world of Sakaar, a junk metal-ridden planet with a huge coliseum where he meets an unlikely friend in the Hulk/Bruce Banner during the latest brawl between the two. The comedy is frequent and is rarely misplaced with Thor, Hulk, Loki and new ally Valkyrie trading jibes and callbacks to previous encounters we have seen the characters in through previous films.
Its interesting that Marvel decided to allowed the fun to be ramped up here with the latest Thor film but as Ragnarok shows, it can prove to be a huge benefit to the picture's overall enjoyment. Jokes, gags and witty remarks are fast and frequent, allowing the audience to laugh heartily during the action on display (the film is no slouch in this department either). Production is as good as ever for a Marvel film with performances that are great all around (Jeff Goldblum is his usual self as the Grandmaster, Kate Blanchett revels in the theatrics as Hela, Karl Urban has a witty but heartfelt turn as Asgardian warrior Skurge and familiar faces also return in Anthony Hopkiins as Odin and Idris Elba as Heimdall).
My one concern with Thor: Ragnarok is the film's title given a large part of the film follows Thor and his pals during their adventure on Sakaar. I appreciate that this is a very minor nitpick in what is the best Thor film to date and a strong contender for one of the best of Marvel's cinematic output so far. This is definitely worth a watch if you want to be continuously laughing and wowed by the on-screen adventures of Thor, Loki, Hulk and friends.
4. Your Name (Kimi no na wa)
This animated film from the wonderfully creative mind of Japanese animator Makoto Shinkai sees two Japanese high school teenagers (Taki and Mitsuha) swap bodies after a event of seismic proportions impacts the town in the Hida region of Japan. What follows is a wonderful tale of two teens who go through a very unique happening, helping each other with their troubles as they change bodies, a story that weaves together and pretty much crosses time and space.
Kimi no Na wa is no slouch in the animation department with smooth and beautiful animation throughout. The regions of Mitsuha's hometown in the mountainous Japanese countryside and Taki's central Tokyo dwelling are brought to life as viewers absorb the varied environments, familiar spots and the different elements of Japanese culture.
Adding to the film's energy is the soundtrack by Japanese rock band Radwimps, carrying its own verve and vibrancy, accentuating the scenes of Mitsuha and Taki's everyday lives. The film's story is no slouch either and verges into sci-fi territory with themes of body swapping, communicating over time, meteorites falling from space together with its fair share of Japanese tradition and mythology intertwined within it. It all makes for an animated film that is equal parts a love story, a time travelling adventure and a disaster movie all in one and more.
This is definitely one animated movie that you should catch if you have not had the opportunity to watch it. The box office tells of one of the country's most successful animated films to date according to the website Box Office Mojo. But more so than for its financial success, Kimi no Na wa should be seen to show that there are still many fresh and wonderful ideas and stories to be told through the medium.
3. La La Land
Director Damien Chazelle's latest big screen picture, La La Land is a wonderful film to watch whether you are a fan of musicals or great film in general. The story follows two young individuals with aspirations to become great in their chosen artistic fields with budding actress Mia (played by Emma Stone) and seasoned jazz pianist Sebastian (played with cool and witty charm by Ryan Gosling). Their paths cross in a variety of locales (pool parties, coffee shops, movie production lots and more) as they become closer to each other, share their dreams and support one other in working towards realising them.
During the film there are a variety of musical numbers that never feel out of place and always welcome. From the opening number which takes place during one continuous take to the reoccurring theme City of Stars, director Chazelle does his best to recapture the feeling and wonder of the musical era when the film genre was at its height. The visuals only work to compliment the music with wonderful and imaginative colours, patterns and images appearing on screen to accentuate the different pieces that are performed.
Underpinning the above is some great acting by leads Gosling and Stone. The supporting cast are no slouch either with the likes of John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K Simmons and others all bringing their best to the film's unfolding events. The result is a picture that is equal parts an engaging drama, superb musical and generally humorous film to spend your time with. This is definitely one to watch if you want to see how committed Gosling and Stone were to their parts (the duo dance number is a joy to see) and enjoy a movie that's pleasingly different in an era packed with films about superheroes, found footage movies and wars in a galaxy far, far away.
I remember reading a lot of hype around Logan. About how it was a Wolverine film done right and that it was an R-rated take on the clawed-one's latter days. I was willing to check it out so I could make my own mind up about how that would work out. It worked out pretty amazingly.
Returning director James Mangold builds on his efforts with the previous entry in the series, The Wolverine, by taking that R-rating and running with it. Logan sees viewers catching up with the titular character (also known as James Howlett) as an older, jaded and past-caring version of one Marvel's most famous characters, living his later years out as a limousine driver who requires glasses to read the description on pill bottles and manually pull his claws out from their usual inlets. It makes for a world-weary Wolverine who is caught between carrying on living and waiting for death, drinking heavily to pass the time.
Joining Logan is Professor Xavier (played once again by Patrick Stewart) who we are told is one of the last mutants alive after a horrible accident happened in the past due to the professor suffering from some brain disease. It is suggested in Logan that this disease affected his powers, causing great harm to several mutants and leading to the the dissolving of the X-Men. The film does a great job of showing that those mutants that outlive all others don't get to live and die happily and I think that really helps Logan. Through the film's story we are also introduced to X-23 (Laura Kinney), a female clone of Wolverine who carries some similarities to our lead character but also some interesting differences (let alone the number of claws on her hands and a talon in each foot).
It makes for an interesting trio of characters with Logan and Professor X arguing unabashedly like two old friends that are sick of each other but can't leave the other person alone. X-23 adds an interesting dynamic as Xavier advises Logan to care for her not only because she symbolises the future of mutantkind but because it will also bring meaning back to his life. The somewhat strained and difficult surrogate father-daughter relationship that develops unfolds in an interesting manner and matches The Dark Knight in terms of writing that goes beyond its comic book roots. The movie becomes something that can be appreciated for the great acting that is on display.
Logan is no slouch with the action and it warrants its R-rated certificate. There are no cutaways, shadows or splashes of blood here to symbolise the violence. Every gouge, stab, cut, slash and crunch is on full display for viewers to see and its actually refreshing given that besides his healing factor, Wolverine's other major character feature are the large, razor-sharp claws on either hand. The action is also well choreographed, whether it be fighting, a car chase or a tense escape from imminent danger. The film also packs in a good amount of drama as Logan attempts to get Laura to safety whilst being pursued by the film's antagonists in Pierce, Xander Rice and a familiar face that you really wont expect until you see them on screen.
During the press tour for the film long-serving actor Hugh Jackman regularly confirmed that this would be his last time playing Wolverine. After 17 years in the role I wouldn't necessarily blame him. However I would be happy to see Jackman continue playing the character until he himself becomes like old man Logan (though I appreciate the fitness regime may not be feasible when Jackman hits his 60s). Whoever follows him up in the role is going to have a hard time as like Robert Downey Jr. with Tony Stark/Iron Man, Jackman has cemented himself as Wolverine.
Logan is certainly worth your time and the fact that it ranked the highest of the comic book films I saw this years speaks volumes. If you haven't seen it already, you must at the next available opportunity. Its a bloody great (comic book) film.
And now for what I thought was the top film I saw on the big screen in 2017. Scroll below to read about it.
1. Blade Runner 2049
Sequel to the 1982 original, Blade Runner 2049 is/was a film thirty-five years in the making. A sequel that some have argued was never needed, director Denis Villeneuve and crew had a monumental task bringing this film to the big screen in a way that would satisfy both fans of the prior movie and new audiences. And yet he accomplishes this in ways that should make any doubters feel ashamed about their prejudices to this well-crafted, hard sci-fi follow-up.
The film follows K, (played by actor Ryan Gosling), a replicant and Blade Runner working for the LAPD in hunting down other replicants and eliminating them. It instantly creates an interesting scenario of a character hunting his own kind in order to live a relatively normal life among humans (some who despise his existence), unravelling a mystery that leads to exciting and sometimes unwelcome revelations.
What follows is a film that fuses a depiction of a near-future version of Los Angeles complete with familiar technology, augmentation and grime. It also has a story that is captivating and keeps you engaged as you try to piece how events will unfold, expecting them to go in one direction and then be shown an alternate path but at the same time not feeling cheated. This is no easy task to accomplish in film but director Villeneuve as a convincing track record with Prisoners, Sicario and more recently Arrival under his belt. If anyone can present a thriller with convincing, interesting and believable turns and twists in a film, Villeneuve is more than capable.
In addition to the film having a compelling story and great performances from almost everybody (Jared Leto's performance as blind cybernetics corporation CEO Niander Wallace made me struggle to understand if the actor had read the same script as everyone else), the production values for Blade Runner 2049 are just as fantastic. Whether its the depiction of a near-future Los Angeles, the minimalist touches of the Wallace Corporation's offices or the sunset and desert hues of the outskirts of the city, the film is dripping in style, befitting its hard sci-fi roots. The music and sound design are equally as immersive with several tracks literally becoming almost overwhelming for the audience (something I feel is both effective and intentional here). It all ties in to the film having a lived-in, authenticate quality to it and I believe that only helps Blade Runner 2049 to be even greater.
Although the film has a long run time, please don't let this deter you from watching one of the most unique, mesmerising, interesting and genuinely great films of 2017 (I after all felt it was the best film of the year).
So that's the second part of my Top 10 films of 2017. What do you think? Share any thoughts you have in the Comments section below. Also like, subscribe and share via Facebook, Twitter or your social media network of choice. Thanks for reading and look forward to more posts from me in 2018.