Jake’s Top 20 Movies of 2017

by jake cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

Hey, Jake Cordiner here. 2017 was fucking shite eh? I appreciate that this sentiment has been beaten to death but it really was. The only shining lights were found in yer music, games, TV, wrestling (shouts to Kenny Omega) and, perhaps the most important, film. So many fucking unreal films came out in 2017, I struggled like fuck to narrow down this list.

PLEASE NOTE: I haven’t seen Spider-Man: Homecoming, I’m fucking sorry, ok? There are loads of films I haven’t got around to seeing yet but I guaran-damn-tee that I’ll get the most hate for having not seen Homecoming. Right, honourable mentions:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Ramped up everything that made the first film so refreshing, but sadly felt a bit by the numbers in the process. Still worth a watch.
  • The Ghoul – A good wee British horror that I reviewed earlier on in 2017, mind-bending af, in the same vein as the likes of Coherence and Timecrimes.
  • T2 Trainspotting – To be brutally honest, this film had absolutely no right to be as good as it was. Danny Boyle used all the directing tricks he’s learned in the 20+ years that had passed since the original Trainspotting to create a film that manages to stand on its own merits.
  • Mayhem / The Belko Experiment – Both have very, very similar plots (shit goes down in an office building) so I’ve lumped these two together. Go for Mayhem if you want over the top schlock, go for The Belko Experiment if you want something a bit smarter, but more subdued.


Right, here goes. The 20 DEFINITIVE best films of 2017!!

 

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20. Brigsby Bear

An absolutely dynamite film, this. It stars Kyle Mooney and Mark Hamill and that’s literally all I want to say. I implore you, don’t watch any trailers or clips. Go in as blind as possible and let this wonderful piece of cinema sweep you away.

 

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19. I.T

I.T is a film that, I think, defied all expectations. It shouldn’t have been this good, but boy oh boy am I glad it is. It oozes humour and genuine dread from its every pore, in no small part thanks to some stonking performances from the central children, and of course Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, the Dancing Clown. Not every joke/scare hits, but when they do, fuck me do they deliver.

 

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18. Baby Driver

I wasn’t as head over heels in love with this yin as a lot of other people seemed to be, but that doesn’t make it any less of a great film. An utter masterclass in song choice and editing, Baby Driver is nothing but straight up fun. Add another worldie to Edgar Wright’s repertoire.

 

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17. Thor Ragnarok

Without a doubt the most fun I had in the cinema in 2017, Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok managed to capture the humour and wistfulness of his previous works (Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do In The Shadows, both fantastic films), AND on top of that he made a damn fine action film. I now want Taika to direct every film that will ever come out. I’m not sure of the logistics but I think it’s probably possible.

 

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16. Mother!

I’m still not entirely sure what the fuck I watched, basically. One of the most batshit insane films I’ve ever seen, Mother! Is Darren Aronofsky making a film that is kind of about everything and kind of about nothing all at once? It is fucking mad, and it’s brilliant.

 

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15. The Love Witch

The Love Witch is an incredibly strange film. A surreal horror/romance/60s throwback with deliberately(?) wooden acting and strange transitions between scenes. I’m genuinely not even sure if I liked it that much, but I’ve watched it willingly three times so that must count for something. A bizarre, but must-watch film.

 

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14. Dunkirk

What Dunkirk lacks in the story department, it more than makes up for visually. Some of the shots in this flick are utterly staggering. A palpable sense of dread and tension hangs over each and every scene. Whilst sitting in the cinema, I genuinely felt anxious at points, so this definitely isn’t one for the faint of heart. One of Christopher Nolan’s weakest pictures, but then again, a weak Christopher Nolan joint is still better than most directors best efforts.

 

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13. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE LAST JEDI: I fucking loved this film. It has more heart and soul in it than any Star Wars film before it. Some of the scenes are stupid, some of the motivations for the characters are stupid, but it is an utter joy. The new characters introduced all had their place, and the way Rian Johnson decided to treat the force as a religious allegory like the original trilogy did was a wonderful touch. Do not listen to the hate, this is a wonderful, wonderful piece of cinema.

 

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12. Logan

One of only two good things to come out of 2017 with the name Logan attached (here’s looking at you, Logan Lucky) Logan is one of the best comic book films of all time because it didn’t feel like a comic book film (for the most part). It’s gritty, moody, violent as all hell, sad as fuck and, maybe above all else, it’s human. Who’d have thought all it would take to make a great stand-alone Wolverine film would be to make him weaker? A blinder.

 

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11. Brawl In Cell Block 99

Just missing out on my top 10 is the devilishly pulpy Brawl In Cellblock 99. S. Craig Zahler is one of the most exciting directors working today, and he only has 2 films under his belt (the other being 2015’s gory western horror Bone Tomahawk, also a great movie). The premise is simple: Big scary man (played by Vince Vaughn, in a career-best performance) goes to jail, has to do something in jail to save his pregnant wife. What follows is a journey documenting how far people will go for the people they love (hint: REALLY fucking far). If gore is your bag, look no further. Brawl… will knock your socks clean off.

 

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10. Moonlight

Here we go MY DUDES, tenth spot goes to the utterly gorgeous Moonlight. Barry Jenkins’ touching portrait of a young black man’s entire life as he grapples with topics ranging from sexuality to what it means to be black in modern America.

There’s almost nothing you can fault with this film, Jenkins’ writing and directing is masterful, as are the performances throughout, in particular, a star-making turn from Mahershala Ali as Juan. This film can go from melancholic to harrowing in the space of a scene, but it never feels jarring or poorly paced.

To put it simply, this is a masterpiece of cinema, and it’s a testament to how good a year 2017 was for film that it’s only ranking at number 10 on my list.

 

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9. Colossal 

What an absolute gem of a film this is. Starring Anne Hathaway (in probably the best performance she’s ever given), Colossal tells the tale of Gloria, an out of work alcoholic who leaves her apartment in the big city and her, to be frank, total wank of a boyfriend Tim (played with aplomb by Dan Stevens, who is fucking great) to move back to her hometown and try to “find herself” (so far so bloody cliche).

After Something decimates Seoul overnight, she slowly but surely begins to realise that she might have something to do with the destruction of one of the world’s largest cities. That’s as much as I can go into without spoiling anything, so I’m instead going to gush about how fucking incredible Jason Sudeikis is in this film. Like, he SERIOUSLY knocks it entirely out of the park. He knocks whatever “it” is into the stratosphere, in fact, “it” probably landed on the surface of Mars. Where the fuck did this performance come from? He’s always been a serviceable enough comedic actor, but my man has LAYERS. He’s warm, cuddly and intimidating all at once.

I can honestly say this is one of the most surprising films of the year, for me. I stumbled upon the trailer by accident whilst traveling downwards through a youtube rabbit hole and it instantly got my attention, but it just seemed like an artsy wee weird, low budget / high production value romcom. How wrong I was, this blew me away and I can almost guarantee it’ll blow you away too.

 

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8. The Big Sick

God this film made me cry. It made me cry more than I think any film in recent memory has. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s story is one that needed to be heard (or in this case, saw). Kumail stars as himself, doing shitey wee stand up gigs in a toilet venue in Chicago, a toilet venue that Emily (played with an effortless charm and venom by Zoe Kazan) happens to attend one night. What follows is a journey that is heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, as a mystery illness leaves Emily’s life hanging in the balance. Kumail casting himself as himself is nothing short of genius, and it allows him to give one of the most believable performances of 2017.

You feel every moment of elation and despair Kumail, Emily and Emily’s parents, played by Holly Hunter (Mrs. Bloody fucking Incredible!) and RAY ROMANO (who is genuinely all sorts of fantastic in this film) go through.

The Big Sick is one of the funniest films of the year, it is dripping with Kumail’s signature deadpan humour. Nanijani and Gordon have written one of the most stunningly human films of recent times, and for my money, the best romantic comedy ever.

 

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7. The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected)

Jesus H Christ this film’s a journey. Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories follows three siblings who are trying and failing to escape the shadow of their father. The siblings are played beautifully by Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Jean Marvel. All 3 are nothing short of fucking incredible in this film, Sandler especially, who proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that when he tries, he can be a stunningly good actor. Dustin Hoffman plays their father, Harold, a neurotic retired artist who was, for all intents and purposes, kind of a really shitty dad/husband/person in general. He’s onto his third wife, Maureen (hammed up to perfection by the ever impressive Emma Thompson). As his children try (and fail) desperately to strike up some form of connection with Harold, he takes ill. And THATS AS MUCH OF A SYNOPSIS AS YIS ARE GETTING!

Noah Baumbach is the king of writing films like this, emotional gut-punches wrapped in wittily written monologues and dialogues, and his run of form continues here. This is an oftentimes bleak peak into dysfunctional family life, and it is a vital watch.

 

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6. Get Out

Jordan Peele, take a fucking bow, son.

This racially driven horror/thriller/comedy(according to the golden globes) is nothing less than a slice of fried gold. Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris Washington, who is about to go to his girlfriend’s family’s house upstate for the weekend. He hasn’t met them yet. Bad shit is going to go down. Everything starts off innocently enough, niceties are shared between all family members (with a bit of seemingly unintentional casual racism thrown in the mix), but soon things take a turn for the incredibly sinister.

What follows is one of the most uncomfortable films I have ever watched. I squirmed, almost non-stop throughout this films entire run time. The performances from Rose (played by Allison Williams) and her family are staggeringly good, with a real tenseness and a sense of underlying evil intentions soaking almost every line of dialogue they have. Catherine Keener as Missy especially oozes an aura of uncomfortableness throughout. But this is very much Kaluuya’s film, with a perfectly weighted performance that has seen him gain a BAFTA nomination, and rightly so.

It’s staggering that this was Jordan Peele’s first foray into feature-length film, and as I’m sure anyone who’s seen Get Out will agree, he’s placed himself firmly among the ranks of the most exciting young directors working today.

 

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5. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

Yorgos Lanthimos is a mad fucking genius and I adore him. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a very hard film to categorise. On the one hand, it could be construed as a pitch black comedy, on the other it’s an eerie and skin-crawling horror. But that’s the true beauty of Lanthimos’s work, it simply refuses categorisation. The film’s advertising campaign was a masterstroke, revealing almost nothing about the film’s plot apart from the bare essentials. Colin Farrell is a surgeon. Nicole Kidman is his wife. Barry Keoghan is a weird as fuck teenager and Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic are Farrell and Kidman’s children.

The rest is left purposefully vague, and it’s all the better for it. It may seem like a cop-out to say this but the less you know about The Killing of a Sacred Deer going into It the better, but it’s genuinely true. This is a film that requires your full attention, many wee details may slip through the cracks on your first view so multiple viewings would also help. A lot of people don’t care for Lanthimos’s style after his last two films (Dogtooth and The Lobster), but those who do know exactly how talented this man is. Belting stuff.

 

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4. Raw

The best way to describe this film is Mean Girls meets The Silence of the Lambs. What starts off as a simple coming of age fare turns dark very, VERY quickly. Julia Ducournau French language directorial debut is a masterclass in slow burning dread. Justine arrives at college to become a vet like the rest of her family, and upon arriving is subjected to a hazing ritual along with the rest of the new starts. This ritual includes the consumption of RAW (HE SAID IT) meat. There’s one wee problem, though: Julia’s been a vegetarian since birth. This hazing ritual is the catalyst for awakening a previously unknown love of meat. RAW ( there he goes again!) meat specifically.

There were horror tales surrounding this films showing at the Toronto film festival, with the usual (more often than not bullshit) stories about “PEOPLE VOMITING IN THE AISLES” and “AMBULANCES RUSHING TO THE THEATRE TO ATTEND TO CASES OF MASS FAINTING!” But I’ll give this film the benefit of the doubt, some of the scenes throughout are genuinely fucking vile. But at the same time, a lot of this film is gorgeous, with a lot of striking camera work throughout.

It’s that balance that makes Raw so great in my eyes. Garance Mallier (this is also her first feature-length film) plays Julia with just the right amount of nervous energy and (eventually) sassiness that it’s hard not to be sucked into this film. A bloody slobber knocker, and another film that showcases the trend of genuinely smart horror that we’ve been blessed with over the last few years.

 

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3. La La Land

The film I’ve seen more than any other on this list, La La Land is, in a word, dazzling. At its heart, La La Land is a film about sacrifice. Be it sacrificing relationships, morals or dreams, sacrifice is the running theme throughout Damien Chazelle’s sun-drenched musical masterpiece.

Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian, a struggling pianist and jazz connoisseur (we’ve all met one of them, bloody annoying dicks) who dreams of owning his own jazz club. Emma Stone’s Mia works at a coffee shop, but she dreams of being an actress. They fall in love, he teaches her about jazz, she tries to teach him about film, but a copious amount of roadblocks stand in the way of the relationship. From their own egos to job opportunities, to timing. It’s never really clear if the relationship will work out. And that is absolutely fine because not everything works out. Sometimes things aren’t meant to be, and La La Land excels in conveying this message. Maybe the person you think is your soulmate never really was.

The music throughout La La Land is genuinely on another level. From the jaunty and energetic opener Another Day of Sun to the slow and brooding City of Stars, not a note is wasted throughout. Performance wise, Gosling and Stone are electric together, their chemistry is through the roof and I can’t imagine this film being as good with anyone else in the starring roles. The choreography deserves a mention as well, each and every extra in the big dance numbers pops out of the screen. This is partly thanks to the costumes and partly thanks to the choreography itself, which is stellar throughout. This film simply drips class, beauty, and sadness, and it is absolutely fucking astonishingly good.

 

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2. A Ghost Story

I haven’t stopped thinking about this film since I seen it. It is, seriously, one of the most stunningly beautiful films I have ever seen. It explores such heady topics with such a deft hand that it is almost difficult for me to talk about without tearing up, this is not hyperbole. David Lowrey deserves a Nobel peace prize for this film.

Starring Rooney Mara and White Male Shitbird, A Ghost Story tells the tale of C (man) and M (woman). C & M live happily in a lovely little home in an equally lovely little town. C is a music producer, who is happy with the house. M is not happy, she wants to leave as soon as possible. Something about the house troubles her, she feels like something will soon go horribly wrong. Hesitant of change, C laughs off these claims but soon, something does go very wrong. C is killed in a car accident. It wasn’t his fault, it never usually is the fault of the person who loses their life. M goes to identify the body, it’s him. She’s completely and utterly lost, she can bare to see the lifeless body of the man she loved, still loves. She runs away. C rises out of his body as a ghost, wearing a sheet, with wee holes cut out for eyes.

In any other film, this depiction of a ghost would be seen as pretentious and asinine, not here. C goes back to his house. He watches M live her life without him. Struggling to find meaning, she binge eats and vomits it back out. She is a husk. She leaves, C can’t. He’s stuck in this house. The next family moves in. And the next. And the next. You see where this is going.

A Ghost Story tackles time, love, loss, grief, the meaning of fucking life and treats each question with the weight they deserve. There’s barely any dialogue for over half the film. There doesn’t need to be. The imagery conveys the messages this film takes on effortlessly, arguably far better than words ever could. I’m aware I’m gushing, and I’m genuinely sorry but this film seems to have flown under a lot of people’s radars and that’s quite simply a fucking crime.

You may think a write up like that should be number one? Well, not necessarily…

 

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1. Blade Runner 2049

This film should not exist. Not only should it not exist, it has the AUDACITY to be one of the best films ever made. Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins have gifted us with one of the most visually spectacular films of all time. EVERY. SINGLE. SHOT is desktop background worthy (high praise, I’m a man who respects his desktop and its background, anyone who knows me will tell you that).

The world building in this film is stellar, helped in no small part by the three shorts released prior to 2049’s release. The acting is second to none, Gosling is on the form of his life as K, Robin Wright shines as K’s commander in chief, a criminally under-utilized Dave Bautista steals the short scene he’s in without breaking a sweat (figuratively, not literally). But the star of the show here is Harrison Ford. I don’t know what Denis and the rest of the crew fed him, but he was a different gravy entirely in this flick. Potentially the best performance he’s ever given.

I’ve sucked enough actor dick for one lifetime, so let’s get to the story. K is a newer replicant who is hired by the police to track down and decommission older replicants (for the uninitiated, replicants are basically androids). An almost botched job leads him on a journey to discover who he is, and if he even is a replicant at all. That’s the basic premise, it goes a lot deeper than that I promise you, but you’ll have to discover the film’s intricacies for yourself.

Villeneuve has taken the concept of big bad Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (and Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) and ran with it. He’s Forrest Gump’d the fucker. I think he’s still running as we speak. Though limitations due to the time it was made have to be taken into account, Villeneuve and his crew’s design of near-future Los Angeles is fucking awe-inspiring. It’s all blinding neon advertisements, towering skyscrapers and Neo-futuristic slums. And that’s just the exteriors, each and ever interior location was meticulously designed with so much love that the care that went into the sets is almost palpable.

This is a special, special film. It takes Scott’s original and punts it into orbit, answering questions that the original was either too scared or too up its own arse to answer. It’s beautiful, it’s harrowing, it’s deeply sad and it’s the best film of 2017.

Now, I should make something clear here while I’ve still got you. I might have bigged up some films more than other’s, yet placed them lower on the list. This is because I can appreciate that art is special, and still not enjoy them as much as other pieces of art. That’s a wanky way of saying please don’t hate me. As always, a massive, massive, humongous, to be honest too big thank you to Liam and the rest of the Blinkclyro team for letting me write shite. It’s truly one of the greatest privileges I’ve had in my life. And an equally as big thank you to you, for reading the shite I’ve written. It means more than you could ever know.

2017 was a shite year in a lot of aspects but it was still decent for me. I found my footing in the journalism game and I managed to write a few pieces I’m genuinely proud of.

Let me know your favourite films of 2017, let me know how you are, let me know if you’re doing ok. Follow me on twitter @jjjjaketh, have a wonderful morning/ afternoon/evening/night, and I’ll see you again soon.

 

5 Things You DIDN’T Know About The Emoji Movie!

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It's the moment every film lover has been waiting for! On July 28th, or August 3rd for everyone else, the emojitastic Emoji Movie will be dropping in cinemas which has us all feeling 😍 , 😩  , and a bit 😏 . However, there are a few fake fans who have no idea what Sony's epic adventure is about so to help clear things up, we're gonna go through five things that will have you going 😯.

1. It Wasn't Always Called The Emoji Movie

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It's odd to think that there was a time where The Emoji Movie didn't have its iconic name but it's true: the film was originally called Emojimovie: Express Yourself. However, this may have been too on the nose for the intelligent audience members and so, it had to be changed. Thumbs up to you Sony!

2. James Corden's Character's Wacky Name!

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It's common knowledge that everyone's funniest TV host James Corden will be making his film debut in The Emoji Movie. What you may have not known was his character's quirky name: playing the hand emoji, the hilarious team behind the film gave him the name of hi-5, much like the universal gesture. Hats off to you Sony, you guys deserve a ✋🏻.

3. It's Not Fictional!

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You read that right folks, The Emoji Movie isn't animated! Using a lesser known but equally complex scientific experiment known as Emoji-fying, Sony managed to turn all their actors into the characters you see on the screen. This wasn't 100% safe though as the above image shows: James Corden ended up splitting into two, meaning his film counterpart coexists with his real life self: wow!
 

4. The Original Ending Was Too Much For Some Fans

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While The Emoji Movie will be accessible to fans of all ages, this wasn't always the case. In it's original ending, protagonist Gene tries to dismantle the hierarchy of emoji's with the T.J Miller voice character re-enacting the third act of Taxi Driver to accomplish his goal: he even does the iconic gun to head gesture! Sadly, ratings boards and the audience thought this ending would brainwash audiences with communist propaganda and so had to go back to the drawing board – let's hope they didn't lose any marx for it!

5. The Film's True Origins

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Many think that The Emoji Movie is simply a cash grab to jump on the trend of our expressive emoticons though people who believe this couldn't be more wrong! Director Tony Leondis ventured out in search of old caves to seek inspiration for his next film. On one of the caverns, Leondis discovered the sketchings you see above – overwhelmed by equal parts joy and fear, he ran barefoot to Sony's doors with the idea of making a film out of what he discovered. As the saying goes, the rest is ancient history!


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Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

To say that Pixar have had an impact on cinema is to put it lightly. Throughout their entire history, the animation studio has suffered either by executive intrusion or financial issues but despite all this, they’ve somehow managed to not only survive but provide film enthusiasts with some of the best movies they’ve seen.

While not everything they touch turns to gold, it’s hard to deny the sheer passion, enthusiasm and heart that goes into every film they deliver and so, it’s our pleasure to (subjectively) rank the studio’s output from Worst to Best in the build up to the release of Cars 3 next month. 

With that in mind: sit back, crack open a cold one and try not to get too angry at us for the following choices.


17. Cars 2 (2011)

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What’s It About: In this sequel that precisely five people asked for, Cars 2 follows on from the original by travelling the world with Lightning McQueen as he tries to take part in the first ever World Grand Prix. Sadly, his friend Mator tags along and ends up…falling into the world of international espionage.

What Critics Thought: Cars 2 won’t win any new converts, but will sell an awful lot of car toys. – Catherine Bay (Film 4)

What We Thought: While I never loved it, Cars was at least a nice premise that channelled those underdog stories of the 80’s: Cars 2 goes into territory that would have been much better explored by an original IP. Sadly, we get the Jar Jar Binks of animation to take us into a world that could have been so interesting but, thanks to our “protagonist”, is shallow and void of that trademark Pixar flair. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

16. Finding Dory (2016)

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What’s It About: Revolving around themes of family and love, Finding Dory is a sequel to, you guessed it, Finding Nemo that follows the forgetful blue fish in her quest to find her parents.

What Critics Thought: There are large dollops of sentimentality and we all know just how the story is going to end, but there’s an enjoyably anarchic undertow to proceedings, not least when the fish commandeer a lorry and race the wrong way up a freeway. – Geoffry MacNab (The Independent)

What We Think: In what is now an inside joke between me and my partner, after watching Finding Dory I quipped that it got “3/5: Baby Dory was kinda cute, I guess”. In hindsight, I may have been too generous. While the film is beautiful and certain characters have such an adorable design to them, this isn’t enough to help a plot that makes you think that the creative team themselves are coming down with what Dory has. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

15. The Good Dinosaur (2015)

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What’s It About: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? That’s what Pixar’s 2015 flick asked as an Apatosaurus named Arlo leads the story and bumps into a new human friend.

What Critics Thought: As Pixar productions go, this one isn’t a ground-breaker, but it’s heartfelt and endearing, as well as visually splendorous, and kids will love it for sure. – Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal)

What We Think: The Good Dinosaur is a classic feel good film for me, and is extremely under looked in my opinion. It tells an amazing story, and I feel that all kids should have the chance to see it. – Gregor Farquharson (@gregoratlantic)

14. Monsters University (2013)

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What It’s About: A prequel to the Mike and Sully lead original, this films goes back to the duo’s university days before they were even friends. Monster’s University explores how the inseparable pair became so and how they managed to land themselves the job of a life-time.

What Critics Thought: It has enough of the right stuff to haunt the imagination long after the immediate buzz of its fluffy-furred cuteness has melted away. For a mere prequel, that’s a result. – Trever Johnston (Time Out)

What We Think: It’s not outstanding by any means but out of all the films that got sequels bar the Toy Story franchise, Monster’s University stands out as being one of the better ones. While it plays it relatively safe, the final third as well as the ending itself do enough to make it exciting and less predictable than many would have anticipated. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

13. Brave (2012)
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What It’s About: Merida is a skilled archer and daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin, surly Lord Macintosh and cantankerous Lord Dingwall. After making a wish to a witch, chaos ensues and Merida must do everything to restore peace to the kingdom.

What Critics Thought: By the climax, at which all right-thinking viewers will have dissolved in a puddle of warm appreciation, the new Pixar film has earned two cheers and a big bear hug. – Richard Corliss (Time Magazine)

What We Think: While a movie revolving around female empowerment is nothing new, one aimed at kids by the creative minds at Pixar definitely is. There may be a bit of Scottish bias going on here but the environments are just as breathtaking as they are in real life. On top of that, it’s great to finally a see a film where a Scottish person isn’t the butt of a joke. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

12. Toy Story 3 (2011)

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What It’s About: The third entry in the series, Toy Story 3 sees Woody and Buzz’s owner Andy head off to college, meaning that the toys are off to somewhere…unknown. Well, that place ends up being daycare, full of careless and sticky kids which ends up with the gang plotting a great escape.

What Critics Thought: It takes a kind of genius to combine a children’s movie for grown-ups and a grown-up’s movie for children in one glittering digimated package, yet the folks at Pixar have done it time and again. – Anthony Quinn (The Independent)

What We Think: It’s by no means a bad film but Toy Story 3 comes off as a bit…stale. Many of the plot elements, from the tension between the toys to the villain having a near beat for beat backstory, have been done before and better by the series itself though there’s no denying how bloody emotional this film makes everyone who watches it. –  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

11. A Bug’s Life (1998)

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What It’s About: A Bug’s life focuses on a colony of ants who seasonally gather food for themselves and a wild gang of rowdy grasshoppers. When our protagonist Flik destroys the food supply, the angry grasshoppers threaten to kill the ants if they don’t produce a new supply of food by the time they return — an impossible feat. Flik leaves the anthill in search of help in the form of bigger bugs, and to wage war against the grasshoppers – but ends up gathering a bunch of circus performers.

What Critics Thought: he colours are vivid, the detail incredible and the vocal performances, led by Foley, are fine. Happily, it works on both a child’s and adult’s level. – Film 4

What We Think: It may be a “kid’s film” but the topics A Bug’s Life subtly touches on helps it to be so much more than that. With one of the best Pixar villains, voiced by none other than Kevin Spacey himself, and a lovable cast of characters, it’s no surprise people call A Bug’s Life one of their favourites. –  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Nostalgic value pushes this film to my number 2 spot and I love the originality of it. As a kid I would watch this film on repeat. – Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

10. Cars (2006)

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What It’s About: On his way to the big Piston Cup Championship, rookie race car Lightning McQueen finds himself in the town of Radiator Springs. As he meets the characters this place has to offer, he realises that there’s more to life than just trophies and materialistic things. 

What Critics Thought: Though the central idea of nostalgia for a quieter, small-town life may well be lost on this movie’s young audience — Cars finds a pleasant and often sparkling groove. – Moira McDonald (Seattle Times)

What We Think: An Owen Wilson voiced protagonist may sound initially irritating but Lightning McQueen may be one of Pixar’s better written characters, even if he’s in a film where 50% of the characters are either forgettable or irritating. Despite its horrible sequel, Cars deserves to be said in the same sentence with other iconic Pixar films. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

9. Inside Out (2015)

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What It’s About: Riley is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley’s emotions try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust.

What Critics Thought: The ordinary trauma of an 11-year-old girl coming to terms with a new life and school while losing all her old, comforting, childish certainties has become a glittering, bravura piece of cinema, a comedy both wise and tender. – Kate Muir (Times)

What We Think: Inside Out does what the best Pixar films do – it’ll have you laughing one minute, smiling the next, crying a wee while later and at some points, doing all at once. This was the film that helped to put to rest any doubts anyone had about the company after a less than stellar performance from the years prior – it’s safe to say we’re full of joy after it. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

8. Toy Story (1995)

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What It’s About: Woody , a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy , sees his position as Andy’s favourite toy jeopardised when his parents buy him a Buzz Lightyear action figure. Even worse, the arrogant Buzz thinks he’s a real spaceman on a mission to return to his home planet. When Andy’s family moves to a new house, Woody and Buzz must escape the clutches of maladjusted neighbour Sid Phillips and reunite with their boy.

What Critics Thought: So ingenious in concept, design and execution that you could watch it on a postage stamp-sized screen and still be engulfed by its charm. – Derek Adams (Time Out)

What We Think: While it may not have aged well animation wise, Toy Story’s sheer originality more than two decades later is undeniable. It laid the foundations from which Pixar would build their legacy on but putting that aside, it’s hard to deny the sheer love this film radiates. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

7. Ratatouille (2007)

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What It’s About: Remy, a resident of Paris, appreciates good food and has quite a sophisticated palate. He would love to become a chef so he can create and enjoy culinary masterpieces to his heart’s delight. The only problem is, Remy is a rat. When he winds up in the sewer beneath one of Paris’ finest restaurants, the rodent gourmet finds himself ideally placed to realise his dream.

What Critics Thought: A lot of animated movies have inspired sequels, notably Shrek, but Brad Bird’s Ratatouille is the first one that made me positively desire one. – Roger Ebert

What We Think: It’s always a damn hard choice to choose a favourite Pixar film but I have to give top choice to Ratatouille: it’s a lovable rat that cooks, its soundtrack is beautiful, and it’s incredibly clever for a kids film and evokes a fair amount of emotion! It does its job and entertains everyone – I will fight anyone who says they don’t like Ratatouille! – Fraser Nunn (@badknitbeard)

6. Finding Nemo (2003)

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What It’s About: Marlin , a clown fish, is overly cautious with his son, Nemo , who has a foreshortened fin. When Nemo swims too close to the surface to prove himself, he is caught by a diver, and horrified Marlin must set out to find him. A blue reef fish named Dory — who has a really short memory — joins Marlin and complicates the encounters with sharks, jellyfish, and a host of ocean dangers. Meanwhile, Nemo plots his escape from a dentist’s fish tank.

What Critics Thought: Finding Nemo is distributed by Disney, and it has what the most heartfelt Disney animated features used to have: rapturous imagery matched with real wit. – Peter Rainer (Vulture)

What We Thought: The first film I ever saw in a cinema, so it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart. Aside from that, it’s a beautiful film that never fails to have me enthralled even after about 50 rewatches. – Rory McArthur (@rorymeep)

5. Up (2009)

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What It’s About: Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year-old balloon salesman, is about to fulfill a lifelong dream. Tying thousands of balloons to his house, he flies away to the South American wilderness. But curmudgeonly Carl’s worst nightmare comes true when he discovers a little boy named Russell is a stowaway aboard the balloon-powered house.

What Critics Thought: Funny and poignant and full of life, Up easily qualifies as one of the best movies of the year so far. Go with someone you care about. – Tom Charity (CNN)

What We Think: Gotta say Up is my favourite: the first 10 minutes are absolutely perfect, super lovely and heartbreaking, then the rest of it is a kinda odd couple adventure time. Just dead lovely and super simple. – Dominic Cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo)

4. Monsters Inc. (2001)

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What It’s About: Monsters Incorporated is the largest scare factory in the monster world, and James P. Sullivan is one of its top scarers. Sullivan is a huge, intimidating monster with blue fur, large purple spots and horns. His scare assistant, best friend and roommate is Mike Wazowski , a green, opinionated, feisty little one-eyed monster. Visiting from the human world is Boo , a tiny girl who goes where no human has ever gone before.

What Critics Thought: It’s in the visuals that ‘Monsters Inc’ comes to life, from the jazzy, Norman McLaren influenced opening to the hilarious, shakycam amateur-dramatic recap over the closing credits. – Tom Huddleston (Time Out)

What We Think: Putting nostalgia aside, this was the first film I ever saw in a cinema after all, Monsters Inc to this day still stands the test of time: animation wise it stills looks gorgeous with Sully’s fur still looking frighteningly realistic and the story keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. The chemistry between characters is a real highlight, with the bond between Boo and Sully being an emotional forte. –  Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

3. Toy Story 2 (1999)

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What It’s About: Woody is stolen from his home by toy dealer Al McWhiggin , leaving Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang to try to rescue him. But when Woody discovers that he’s actually a valuable collectible from a once-popular television show called “Woody’s Roundup” and is reunited with his horse Bullseye, Jessie the yodeling cowgirl and his faithful sidekick, Stinky Pete the Prospector, he doesn’t want to leave.

What Critics Thought: Toy Story 2 is a brilliant example of that rarest of Hollywood phenomena a sequel to a major hit film thats as good, if not better, than the original. – Paul Clinton (CNN)

What We Think: While a totally predictable top choice, the classics are classics for a reason. Everything about the original is amped up and improved upon, leading to the second best third act in any Pixar film behind The Incredibles. – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Simply put, the height of animated film. A whip smart script, fantastic performances all round and a belter of a final third, one of the best films ever made full stop. – Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

2. Wall-E (2008)

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What It’s About: WALL-E, short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, is the last robot left on Earth. He spends his days tidying up the planet, one piece of garbage at a time. But during 700 years, WALL-E has developed a personality, and he’s more than a little lonely. Then he spots EVE , a sleek and shapely probe sent back to Earth on a scanning mission. Smitten WALL-E embarks on his greatest adventure yet when he follows EVE across the galaxy.

What Critics Thought: It indeed feels ‘new’, moving out of Pixar’s comfort zone while retaining the brand’s populist virtues: lovable characters, crafted jokes, aw-shucks niceness and wonderful images. – Andrew Osmond (Sight and Sound)

What We Think: I think I have to give it to Wall-E because of the unrivalled uniqueness of the film in Pixar’s repertoire. The apocalyptic Earth it creates is one of the most believable I’ve ever seen a movie. I think that really says something, seeing as it’s a cartoon. – Karsten Walker (@karseatheadrest)

I could list a whole array of favourite Pixar films but for me it has to be Wall-E: a masterpiece that would have surely swept all awards if it wasn’t a “kids film”, does what many films have tried to do in a much more simplistic and ultimately more believable approach with minimal dialogue creating something unique that will probably never be beaten in the animated genre. – Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Wall-E purely for the first 40 minutes of the film being almost entirely without dialogue yet still portraying the sweetest love story. Silent style harks back to their best shorts and is what makes Pixar so great. (UP was a close contender though ‘cos makes me have all the feels and anyone who claims they don’t cry in the first 10 minutes is a damn liar) – Michaela Barton (@lowkeypigeon)

1. The Incredibles (2004)

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What It’s About: Married superheroes Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are forced to assume mundane lives as Bob and Helen Parr after all super-powered activities have been banned by the government. While Mr. Incredible loves his wife and kids, he longs to return to a life of adventure, and he gets a chance when summoned to an island to battle an out-of-control robot. Soon, Mr. Incredible is in trouble, and it’s up to his family to save him.

What Critics Thought: A sharp, even amusing, homage to comic book lore, a great family-friendly action-comedy, and a thoughtful marital drama all wrapped up in a deliciously exciting package. – R.L Shaffer (IGN)

What We Think: Pixar have always lead the way and it really shows when one of the greatest superhero films to drop this century has been an animated one revolving around a family. It’s ambitious, heartwarming, adrenaline rushing gold that cemented Pixar as the all time greats for both myself and many others. While most of Pixar’s catalogue gets sequel after sequel, The Incredibles is the only film of theirs that doesn’t just need one: it deserves it.


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Thoughts On: Marvel Cinematic Universe

A new cinema powerhouse is fated to face the same demise as any empire: how can they stop it?

It was only a matter of time. When I was watching the latest Civil War trailer, I was happy with what I saw, everything that was happening confirming my excitement for the film’s release at the end of April: Iron Man and Captain America fighting? Check. Black Panther being added to the roster? Check. An inevitable divide within the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Check.

However, it wasn’t until the final seconds of the trailer that excitement levels for me went through the roof, leaving me in a similar state that I was left in back when the very first film for Marvel’s favourite web-slinger came out. I’m of course talking about Spiderman finally getting his big screen reveal.

“HOLY FUCKING SHIT” was my immediate response and the reaction I gave after watching the trailer repeatedly was pretty much identical. Finally we have Spiderman in the MCU, donning a suit that is beautiful fan service to anyone aware of the original style of Spidey’s look in the 60’s animated series as well as his original look in the comics.

However, the more and more tweets I saw about Spiderman, claiming that his look was awful and that he sounded too young, I started to realise how askewed some fans priorities are. Exile me if you want but the Marvel Cinematic Universe is far from perfect and the empire that it has become won’t collapse because of how cheap Spiderman’s costume looks: it’ll be our resistance to criticising these films.

Before I start listing all the issues I have, it’s important to point out that I do enjoy superhero film and Marvel’s are no different. Guardians Of The Galaxy was hilarious and engaging with a soundtrack that is undeniably perfect for the film and Captain America: Winter Soldier is one of the few films from the MCU that I could recommend to anyone, even those who detest superhero films.

However, if we want to see these films improve then we must realise that they’re not perfect. Nothing is and to live by the opinion that something is perfect sets up the very thing you love to become the very opposite of it and my biggest gripe with the MCU has to be the villains.

A problem that has been ever present in these films since Day 1, villains are seen as a total afterthought in the grand scheme of things. Ask someone to name a nemesis from a MCU film that isn’t Loki and they’ll be struggling, not because of their own bad memory but because of how poorly developed these villains are.

What makes this even more bittersweet is the fact that these villains are played by wonderful actors. Mickey Rourke, Guy Pearce, Tom Hiddleston, it’s a total injustice that Marvel and Disney waste the potential they have. Marvel can make great screen adaptations of villains as shown by Spiderman 2 and Daredevil which has not only irritated myself and many others but even George R.R Martin, author of a little fantasy series you may know that started off with Game Of Thrones, threw his hat into the ring:

“I am tired of this Marvel movie trope where the bad guy has the same powers as the hero. The Hulk fought the Abomination, who is just a bad Hulk. Spider-Man fights Venom, who is just a bad Spider-Man. Iron Man fights Ironmonger, a bad Iron Man. Yawn. I want more films where the hero and the villain have wildly different powers. That makes the action much more interesting.”

How good your villain and hero are is irrelevant however when the plot itself is severely lacking and this is another pitfall that Marvel have yet to address properly.

If you don’t know what a Macguffin then it’s time for a little lesson. A Macguffin is defined as being “a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation”. A Macguffin goes by many names in the MCU, most typically the Tesseract or an infinity gem, and it has resulted in the predictable, formulaic stories we see more in these type of movies.

“Superhero x fights supervillain y to get object z to save the planet/universe” could sum a vast majority of Marvel films and while there has been some tweaks to the formula, Ant Man managed to make it more of a heist film than all out battle, that feeling of Deja Vu never seems to go away.

Speaking of Deja Vu, it seems like oversaturation is a word Disney and Marvel can’t seem to find in their dictionary. Although not all of these films are theirs, the amount of superhero films present no doubt spawns from their actions. Ten Marvel, eleven DC as well as other Fox owned properties are set to be released in the next four years alone with many others still to be announced.

All of this wouldn’t be a problem if directors were allowed to make the film they wished to but the fact of the matter is that isn’t the case. Edgar Wright, director of Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, left halfway through Ant Man due to creative differences, no doubt down to how every Marvel film intertwines, something that is undoubtedly cool as it makes the movies feel like they’re important in the grand scheme of things.

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I’m not alone in what I’ve said and I’m not trying to take some hipster approach as I’ve said before that I thoroughly enjoy superhero films but I am aware of their faults. While there is leeway for things like scientific inaccuracies in a world where a man can turn into a huge, green monster, there is no excuse for poor villains, plot and planning.

It’s not too late for Marvel to deal with these problems as all they have to do is focus more on what the director feels is right rather than the producers who seem more concerned on quantity rather than quality. Phase 3 of the MCU is set to kick off with Civil War and it has been teased that this will change the future of these films.

I can only pray that this is the case.

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Thoughts On: R-Rated Movies

With Hollywood set to unleash a new wave of R-Rated films, I discuss why this could be detrimental for movies.

It’s seemingly impossible to look at any source of entertainment news without seeing something about Deadpool, a film that, carrying a $58 million budget and a handful of dick jokes, has become the ultimate underdog story. Grossing over $500 million since its release nearly three weeks ago, the film received praise from many (including myself which you can check here) and started a discussion about the superhero genre having new life breathed into it.

Suddenly fans were becoming less focussed on their interwoven universe and concentrating more on all these other characters who could be given the same appropriate adult treatment usually expected from a Tarantino film.

Just like any kind of success however, Hollywood have taken notice of Deadpool’s success and glazed other films with the same “no children allowed” brush. Now we’re getting a truly dark and violent Wolverine film to say goodbye to Hugh Jackman’s sharp handed mutant and an R-rated cut of Batman Vs Superman for its home release.

This immediately set off alarm bells for me as this isn’t the first time Hollywood have jumped on whatever is popular. Who could forget the countless amount of Star Wars imposters after the series came out of nowhere to become one of the best selling pieces of media ever or, and more relevant in this case, Christopher Nolan’s reboot of Batman which resulted in an onslaught of moody, dark takes on popular fictitious characters (honestly, who cares about a gritty take on Dracula again?) that still continues today.

Many others before me have pointed out a very important point about this “rise” of r-rated films and that is that branding a film with that age rating doesn’t mean that it’ll be successful: in some cases it can do the complete opposite.

Take for instance Watchmen, a great film in my eyes but one that I can’t deny underperformed when it hit the big screens. If the R-rating could not save the adaptation of one of the most critically acclaimed novels of all time, one that stands amongst other greats like 1984, then it seems pretty clear that branding a film as such will in turn not result in $$$.

What Hollywood need to realise is that the reason for Deadpool’s success is the team behind it: you had the original creators backing it, the actor who had pushed for the film to be made (so much so that he is 70% sure that he leaked the test footage online) as well as writers who knew the character and were driven to make the film they wanted without interaction from heads at FOX. Whilst people went crazy for Deadpool getting that age rating, they didn’t flock out to see it because of that. They went to see it because the trailers made them laugh, the promotional material was exactly what it should have been and it wore its fourth wall breaking humour on its sleeve.

James Gunn knows a thing or two about unconventional superhero films since, after all, he made 2014’s biggest sleeper hit Guardians Of The Galaxy and recently posted on Facebook about the comparisons between his film and Deadpool.

“The film has a self-deprecating tone that’s riotous. It’s never been done before. It’s poking fun at Marvel. That label…

Posted by James Gunn on Monday, 15 February 2016

Unlike Hollywood executives, Gunn knows that the reason for a film like GOTG and Deadpool’s success isn’t because it’s different but because it done what the original creators set out to do. Whilst the former paved way for the latter, both films are still recognised for not being afraid to be unconventional or themselves and in the same way, Hollywood shouldn’t be aimlessly marking films due to the success of one movie.

Personally, I can’t wait to see an R-Rated (I’ve wrote out this word so many times my brain is going numb) cut of Batman vs Superman as I know from seeing The Dark Knight Returns that both characters suit that treatment. Fans are already speculating that we’ll get to see the death of people close to Bruce Wayne and this is what I want to see Hollywood, films getting what they deserve because it benefits the viewer and improves their experience.

Not so you can fill your pockets yet again.

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Deadpool MOVIE REVIEW

Wish superheroes nowadays weren’t all dure faced, serious shits? Then Deadpool might be the film for you. 

If you weren’t able to tell from the countless trailer reactions and previews up on my site then you should know that I was a little bit hyped for this film about a loud mouthed, regenerating merc with as much one liners as he has ammo, so much so that I named it my number one most anticipated film of the year. So of course I should have been disappointed with it since there’s no way it managed to surpass the expectations I had set out for it?

Nope. In fact I’m going to go so far as to say it’s the best film Marvel has ever created since Spiderman 2 (please put the pitchforks down). Thankfully I won’t be just throwing that in for controversy and will justify myself in this fun, not at all Buzzfeed-esque list. (Ooh, click-baity.) So without further ado….


1. A Truly Faithful Comic-Book Adaption 

It would have been so easy to incorporate Deadpool into the Marvel Cinematic Universe just to make a few extra bucks. It’s an easy safe net for any new superhero film that may risk being too weird or unfamiliar (see Guardians Of The Galaxy) and when you’re dealing with a character like Wade Wilson, who has a tendency to brutally mutilate his enemies after hitting on them, I can understand any urges Marvel may have had to censor it.

Thankfully this isn’t the case as Deadpool is as potty mouthed, violent and weird as ever. Wearing it’s 15 rating with pride, the film never lets you forget it with some truly cringe inducing moments with bones breaking, brains splitting and heads suddenly no longer being attached to bodies with extremely gruesome detail.

This isn’t just an excuse to have a bit more blood on screen though as it helps for the viewer to better understand the relationship between our titular  character and his prostitute girlfriend Vanessa as well as experience the true pain and torture Deadpool had to endure to get where he is. Violent and heartfelt, this is near enough the perfect Deadpool film. We’re forgetting one thing though…..

2. Side Splittingly Funny

The main factor that draws in people to Deadpool is his self referential humour that doesn’t so much break the fourth wall rather than totally destroy it. In the comics we have him pointing out the cliches and pitfalls of the medium and Deadpool in this film is no different.


The funniest moments and the narrative rely heavily on the fact he is aware he’s in a film, one being where Deadpool points out the size of the set before bringing up the fact that he’s only seen two of the X-men because of budget issues. Other moments are a bit more subtle (“I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to them”) but all of them add up to further enhance Deadpool’s uniqueness both in its humour and execution. We’ve got last one point though and it may be the best reason yet to go out and see this film…

3. Marks A New Age For Comic Films

Right bare with me on this point before you laugh me off as going insane or something along those lines. Think back about the history of superhero films. Back before the 2000’s we had some awful adaptions of our favourite heroes bar a few batman films and by the time Spiderman hit our screens we had what I’d call the cheesy phase of comic films where they were still finding their footing and sometimes even hit it bang on (X-Men being a great example).


We had the dark, gritty era brought on by Christopher Nolans batman films before we endured the onslaught of interlinked films like Iron Man and Captain America where we seemed to have perfected the formula which, love it or hate it, works. As far as I see it, without any dramatic change we’re gonna hit a superhero fatigue and with Deadpool I can see a whole new range of mature, vastly different comic book films.

With Deadpool being sold out at certain times and converting those who previously had no idea who he was, it’s inevitable that this will be another franchise in the making but if a chimichanga loving, mercenary for hire can become a success then what’s stopping DC giving Deathstroke his very own film or Marvel getting even more obscure characters to have a shot?

 Deadpool has been both a critical and commercial success and for good reasons: the pacing is flawless, it’s true to the source material, it packs as much heart as it does laughs and it’s not unafraid to wears its shortcomings on its sleeves. So go grab a ticket and enjoy yourself, though not as much as Deadpool does when left alone with a unicorn teddy.

9/10

For Fans Of: Kick Ass

Rotten Retrospective: The Star Wars Prequels

It was bound to happen. After all, you can’t have a Star Wars week without talking about the most controversial entries in the franchise. Even the new director of the sci-fi epic J.J Abrams couldn’t go through an interview without being questioned about his opinion on them.

Of course, I’m talking about the prequels. Whilst any sort of art is subjective, it’s pretty much scripture that the films are awful additions to the Star Wars universe that fail to capture the same magic and appeal of the originals. You’ll have saw countless articles about why the prequels are so awful, Red Letter Media’s reviews are the most accurate of the lot, but what I’m going to do is try and balance it up: three things the prequels did wrong (easy task) and three things they did right (difficult task). Without further ado, let’s get started.

Anakin Skywalker Is An Awful Written, Cringe Inducing Emo 

I think I’m right in saying that everybody disliked the character of Anakin in the prequels. It’s very hard to defend someone who goes from whiny annoying fuck to heartless kid killer in the space of a few scenes and while this is a problem of mine, a lot of my problems with the prequels are linked to the man himself.

The Phantom Menace was definitely brought down by Anakin’s involvement in the narrative and it could have easily been avoided if he were a teen rather than an annoying child with the most cringe inducing dialogue possible. This quality of dialogue is consistent throughout Attack Of The Clones with the most excruciatingly bad romance I’ve seen since The Room and yes, I understand that this was necessary to make the events of Revenge Of The Sith more hard hitting but that’s the thing: they weren’t. This leads me onto my next negative but let’s calm down on the hate and move onto a positive…

Villains

When I gave myself the difficult duty of finding some positives in the prequels, I struggled. Big time. While I eventually got the other two, the first thing that came to my mind almost immediately was my appreciation for the villains.

Yes it does feel a bit weird to praise Lucas for once rather than scrutinise him and call him a husk but he was wise to introduce us to one of my favourite villains: Darth Maul. There’s just something so sinister about him and while as a kid I loved him just because of his double sided lightsaber, over time I’ve began to appreciate him even more especially with all the Expanded Universe material as well. While it was a massive mistake for him to be “killed off” in The Phantom Menace and not to have him a constant threat that would act as Obi Wan’s Vader throughout the prequel trilogy, it was still one of the few great glimpses.

Then there’s the obvious choice of Palpetine who, in my opinion, is the only character in the prequels who feels like he’s going through any sort of character development and whilst I feel his plan is a bit far fetched and is too convenient, I still enjoyed seeing it unravel. Then there’s General Grievous who, I don’t care what anyone says, is a great villain and if you have seen the Clone Wars micro series you’ll know why. His death in ROTS actually packs a bit of a punch with that prior knowledge. So yeah, well done Lucas, you might have done a lot of things wrong but your villains were at least great. Although the Siths were well portrayed, the Jedi on the other hand…

The Jedi Are Stupid, Dumb Fucks

Jedi: wise, powerful beings who are essentially defenders of the galaxy far, far away. So why did Lucas have to make them so fucking stupid? Don’t believe me? Here’s a short list of the absolute moronic decisions the Jedi Council made that inevitably lead to their demise in one way or another:

  • Allowing Jar Jar Binks to be part of the Galactic Senate when anything he did was by complete accident because he’s an absolute embarrassment who set black people in films back by 50 years. Also he pretty much results in the jedi becoming mince meat by the end of episode III
  • Confronting Palpetine with only three jedi when you’re almost convinced that he definitely has an army of troopers ready to kill your entire organisation with one order.
  • Making Obi Wan train Anakin when you know fine well that his high *sigh* midi-chlorian rate makes him one of the most powerful potential jedis there is as well as sensing he has a lot of emotional issues.

That’s just three of the many stupid decisions that make it even more difficult to like the prequels, knowing that the heroes you’re meant to root on are so naive and careless. In a series that built itself on the foundations of great characters both good and bad, it’s a shame to see the prequels fail to do either.

The Music Is As Amazing As Ever

Liam Neeson, Ray Park and Ewan McGregor in 'The Phantom Menace'

If there’s one thing that even haters of Star Wars can admit, it’s that John William’s score for the films are impeccable. The main theme that opens every film as the text scrawls down the screen is arguably the most iconic piece of movie music ever.

So when it comes to what the Prequels actually did better than the Originals, it’s not the lightsaber duels: it’s the score. Duel Of The Fates accompanied the best fight in the prequels and is synonymous with the franchise: hum the tune to anyone and they’ll tell you it’s from Star Wars. Not to mention the other classic numbers like Anakin’s Betrayal have managed to escape the critical bashing of the prequels to stand out as some of the best in the series. At least if the on screen acting blinds you, there’s still a treat for your ears with the soundtrack.

Overuse Of CGI

Star Wars: The Changes - Part One

While this is my final negative point, there’s a hell of a lot of bad things regarding the prequels that I’ve failed to mention: the space politics that will bore adults to death and lead kids to focus on their toys, JAR JAR FUCKING BINKS, racial stereotypes, no friendship between Anakin and Obi Wan, the list is near enough endless.

So why is overuse of CGI a bad thing? Surely CGI allows film-makers to create grand spectacles that previously couldn’t be done before. You’d be right to say that and I’d agree with you. The thing is though that most directors don’t see CGI in that way: they see it as a way of excusing lazy stories and uninteresting characters with big set pieces and fancy looking settings. Don’t believe me? Let’s ask the man himself George Lucas.

“Special effects are just a tool: a means of telling a story. People have a tendency to confuse them as an ins themselves. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.”

I don’t think I need to say anything more about this but what I will say is that J.J Abrams move away from relying on CGI gives me hope for The Force Awakens and from what I’ve heard it’s definitely paid off. If only Lucas listened to one of the few smart things he’s actually said.

Pod Racing

It really says a lot about this trilogy when one of the few saving graces comes in the form of an event that has little to do with the story. However, I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy the pod racing as a kid and even as an adult I still find it insanely cool.

Not only did it look great, and somehow still looks alright by today standards, but it’s one of the few actually character developments you seen in Anakin. Here’s a character who for his whole life has lived as a slave yet is now given this freedom, limited yes, and his passion as well as his natural skill as a pilot allows him to win. While I may sound like an idiot trying to create some sort of progression there, this scene is still a treat and as an extra bonus, has a minimum amount of Jar Jar Binks as possible. Perfect.

So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you thought of the prequels down below in the comment section. Tomorrow’s post is my collaborative Best of 2015 with a great number of talented writers so look out for that!

Big love, Liam x

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