Howdy fan-people, long time no see. Sorry about that, I’m generally pretty on the ball with putting out regular reviews on films of all shapes and sizes but a precession of rather beige flavoured nerd fare brought out the lethargy in me, which is why you haven’t seen Fanboy Confidential’s specific kind of review since X-Men came out a while back.
It’s a bit of a tradition for me to do a round-up around mid-year, throwing out opinion bombs regarding the big films so far in easily digestible chunks, covering films I didn’t review in detail, and in this case all the blockbusters of the last month or so and I’m also going to include the animated film I’ve caught this year too, so, multiple birds, one stone. Let’s get to it…
Deadpool: Yeah, almost everyone liked Deadpool, and with good reason, not only was it a good adaptation, it did what the very best adaptations do, encapsulate the better elements from the varying source materials and distill them into what is arguably the best version of the character to date. It’s racey, funny, imaginative and has a streamlined narrative that other blockbusters should take note of. It’s not for all the family, with the swears, crassness and the odd smattering of frontal, and for those reasons some folk simply won’t like it, and that’s fair enough, but I dare say that Deadpool as a characters just isn’t for those people. Side note: Everyone will be stealing Deadpool‘s outstanding marketing campaign in the months and years to come… You’re going to find movie and game advertising very overbearing pretty soon.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Essentially exactly what the title suggests, this Bronte classic is retooled to be set amongst a zombie infested England, with genteel warrior women in lead. The lovely period details and some fun ideas initially make this adaptation stand out as a fun if mindless jaunt, and it holds its own for the first two acts, but come the third act the narrative gets muddy, the plot intention coming half formed, and the climactic action set piece is brief and anticlimactic. Shame really.
Kung-Fu Panda 3: You know the score, fat, fun loving Panda has a crisis of confidence and finds inner-strength to help defeat a very bad person with compassion driven kung-fu. It’s quite funny, wonderfully executed in animation and choreography and runs at a decent pace; better than the last instalment but not as good as the first.
Zootopia (AKA Zootropolis): This spritely, colourful, anthropomorphic critter based animated feature separates itself from the other spritely, colourful, anthropomorphic critter based animated features by virtue of actually being a a buddy cop movie, and a successful one at that. The brilliant character design serves the genuinely intriguing mystery well and when it’s not being out-right funny it’s being just plain likable. You’ll find it hard knocking the stupid grin off your face throughout. Good stuff.
10 Cloverfield Lane: It’s title cleverly serving to muddy the waters of the (possible) antagonists intentions in this taught, claustrophobic thriller, 10 Cloverfield Lane utilises it’s limited but vastly talented cast to drag you through the turmoil of someone (possibly) being kidnapped and stashed in a bunker. What’s outside the bunker? A giant monster? A flesh eating virus? anything bad at all? It’ll keep you guessing until the end and have you on the edge of your seat.
Batman Vs. Superman: Flawed but with strokes of excellence, my initially thinking on the much derided BvS was that it should have either been half an hour shorter or half an hour longer, cutting to the chase at a much more satisfying speed or having the balls to fully explore it’s many a varying plot strands. I fully understand the issues many have with multiple elements of the film, even agreeing with some whole heartedly, but the final act left me breathless with excitement, winning me over to its defence. Subsiquently the poorer elements have stuck with me over the winning ones which, hopefully, will make a viewing of the extended cut a satisfying endeavor, but if all the bases I wished it to cover are not addressed I may fall on to the side of the naysayers.
The Jungle Book: Jon Favreau’s ‘live action’ adaptation of the classic Disney animated film (note: live action is very liberally applied to a film that has just one none-animated character… second note: yes, Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book, but this film doesn’t use those texts as its blueprint, but the aforementioned animated musical) is a joyous success in pretty much every way imaginable; compelling, well paced and brilliantly put together, I was as enchanted as the first time I watched Oz, The Great and Powerful. A treat for the whole family with a little more edge than you might expect.
Captain America – Civil War: It blew me away but split the crowd much more than I would have thought due, I think, to shinning an unfavourable light onto two fan-favourite characters, Civil War was still, undeniably, a masterclass in economical storytelling. It Juggling loads of pre-existing characters while introducing many more in a twisty-turny story that flows like a film two thirds its length felt effortless, and the superpowered melees were the best yet put to screen. At the time I was hard pressed to decide which I enjoyed best between this and Winter Soldier but with a bit of distance I’m feeling that the cleaner narrative of Winter Soldier is beating out the sheer spectacle of Civil War, still love it though.
The Huntsman – Winter’s War: The sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, A film that many thought “meh” but which I very much enjoyed, The Huntsman is a disappointment on every level barring the lovely costume design. Missing the wit, scale, focus and imagery of it’s forbearer, this wastes a great cast on a senseless story that is shoehorned uncomfortably around the events of that film. The revelations are obvious, characters are forgotten about and there is nary a war in sight, just a bit of a scrap.
X-Men – Apocalypse: Louds and fun but with more characters than it knows what to do with, X-Men: Apocalypse, departing from the edginess the franchise has so far thrived on, more resembles that wonderful, silly cartoon from the 90s. Falling into the same trap this franchise often does, putting the heftily paid stars front and centre, even if the story doesn’t warrant it, against the nature of the character and at the expense of potentially more exciting characters, I nonetheless found it to be more hit than miss, though many, many would disagree with me.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Out of the Shadows: Having not seen the critically panned first instalment of this franchise, I came at this film fresh and with open eyes. Apparently shedding the darker elements of the previous film in favour of the the light touch of the cartoon series, it didn’t really stir me in any way, I neither liked it or particularly disliked it, I simply watched it, detached, until the climactic sequences anyway, the juxtaposition between the events carried out by the live action cast, and the separate/entirely CG battle between The Turtles and Krang serving to make the already iffily rendered set piece come off like a not-so-great game cut sequence. Not a well written film at all but not entirely a disaster, I disliked it nevertheless.
Warcraft – The Begining: Based on the online fantasy game that I’ve never played, with a good team behind it, during its course, I found myself shifting from a position of dislike due to it’s shallow and contrived set-up, to enjoyment around the forty minute mark when the plot started to thicken and the characters became more nuanced, to disinterest by the last act when story threads were left dangling and character twists went unexplained. Finding myself wondering if the points I was missing made sense to the gamers, the story perhaps directly linking to narrative events in the game, or if things were being left open for a sequel, or if the film had simply been mishandled to some degree, I eventually settled on the fact that either way it wasn’t very satisfying.
The Secret Life of Pets: Unlike Zootopia this spritely, colourful, anthropomorphic critter based animated feature does exactly what you’d expect it to, fortunately it does it very, very well. Often laugh-out-loud funny, every one of its numerous characters are choc-full of heart, making it much more touching than it needs to be. Maybe not especially memorable as time goes on, it nevertheless is a good family film.
Gods of Egypt: In the running for films I gave a crap about the least this year, Gods of Egypt actually proved to be relatively enjoyable and not nearly the disaster some would have you believe. A good twenty-five minutes too long to be sure, with hit and miss CG and a rather theatrically camp way, it does sport some excellently ornamental design work, the actors seem to be having a lot of infectious fun and it has something of the spirit of those old sword and sandal flicks from back in the day.
And that brings us up to date, I’m yet to see Independence Day, sure I’ll get around to it, and I’m very much looking forward to Bourn 4, Star Trek and Doctor Strange, so expect some reviews of those amongst our future posts. Until then, you lovely people, take care.