That time again, where I look back over the previous twelve months and decide my top ten films of the year. So, here we go from 10 to 1.
Zombieland: Double Tap
This sequel, coming so long after the original movie was an odd proposition. As much I’d loved the first film did it need a follow up? And how would they deal with the passage of time. But Zombieland was never like The Walking Dead, trying to craft a vision of how life changes and adapts, how our world crumbles and fades after the dead rise. It was more fun than that and while it does include the idea of the zombies evolving, the rest of it just follows the human story, as our heroes and their dysfunctional family vibe deal with personal changes and concerns. There are some really good gags and gory moments, and while it doesn’t match the first film, it still works as a fun zombie flick. And I love fun zombie flicks. Oh, and Woody Harrelson is on fine, scene stealing form again. Review.
Jason Mamoa takes centre stage in a daft but entertaining story of a man caught between two worlds. It reminded me a lot of Flash Gordon, which is praise from me and unlike several of the DC movie missteps it didn’t take itself too seriously. It helps that Mamoa is extremely charismatic in the lead. I’ve seen it again on TV and it still holds up. Review.
Pokemon Detective Pikachu
I’m a huge Ryan Reynolds fan, and I’ve dabbled with Pokemon in the past (the original cartoon series, the cards, on the Game Boy and a brief, intense addiction to Pokemon Go), so this was a no brainer for me, with Reynolds voicing a crime solving electric rat who is trying to solve the mystery of his missing friend, with the friend’s estranged son. It’s a really funny and surprisingly warmhearted movie, and Reynolds’ vocal delivery is hilarious throughout. Simply a fun movie. More thoughts on it here.
Toy Story 4
I was glad to be proved wrong over this, as despite the first three films being a perfect trilogy this doesn’t let the side down. It’s not quite as satisfying an end point as TS3, but it ties up a few loose ends and still manages to be a charming, moving film in its own right. New characters work well, and the story of Woody (Tom Hanks) having to reassess his worldview and beliefs is very well done. Review.
The Hero Formerly Known as Captain Marvel appears on screen and like Aquaman before him, gets a movie which entertained and engaged me far more than he ever has on the page. Zachary Levy plays the full grown superhero exterior of troubled teen Billy Batson (Asher Angel), who is chosen to wield the magical powers of Shazam. Levy nails the Big style concept and the film has plenty of fun with the premise. There’s also a genuinely heartwarming story at the centre about family, belonging and doing the right thing. It really worked for me and left me with a big dumb grin on my face. Full thoughts on ithere.
John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum
The John Wick series continues with a hugely entertaining, relentless thrill ride filled with OTT gunfights, bone-crunching wince-inducing brawls and a real sense of fun and revelry in its excesses. Keanu Reeves oozes cool as the assassin who takes a beating but keeps getting back up. It ain’t art, but it sure is fun. Full review here.
Elsa, Anna and Co return for a further adventure which sees them investigate their family’s past and look for the cause of Elsa’s powers. The film explores the characters lives and was hugely entertaining and charming, featuring several wonderful songs along the way. The story is rich and dramatic, and it was a fitting and well done sequel to one of Disney’s best films of recent years. Review.
Taron Egerton gives a powerful and emotional performance as Elton John, in a visually striking biopic. The film captures the sense of a lost, troubled man who seems desperate for love and warmth, which leads him to disastrous choices. Jamie Bell is solid in support as songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, who is in a way the platonic love of John’s life. Throughout there’s a sense of the power of music, as something which gives him some feeling of joy, expression and the recognition he craves. I found myself in tears several times, and the film should be praised for not shying away from John’s excesses and failings. And the music, of course, is amazing. Review.
Rian Johnson crafts a delightfully clever and humorous whodunnit with a story full of likely suspects, twists and clever touches. Daniel Craig’s drawling Southern gent sleuth Benoit Blanc is a delight and the movie doesn’t put a foot wrong, with a script that sparkles and had me howling with laughter. A damn near perfect movie. Review.
Eleven years, twenty-one movies, all building to this, the grand finale for the first overreaching arc of the MCU. Thanos and the Infinity Stones have been lurking in the background since the first Avengers movie, and having rocked the entire universe in Infinity War fans had to wait an entire year to see the Avengers go after him. All that expectation could have been too much, but picking up five years after “the snap” we see heroes still dealing with the consequences of failing to stop the mad Titan, this movie never drops the ball.
It nails the MCU’s usual mix of humour, heart and heroics, and provided a satisfying swansong for several characters while also setting up where the heroes will go from here. Robert Downey Junior, who started it all off back in 2008 as Tony Stark/Iron Man, is the emotional heart of the film here and in one simple line near the start expresses the hurt and failure that haunts him throughout. A tale of redemption and a second chance to fix things it builds to possibly the most epic comic book movie sequence yet, a final showdown between Thanos’ forces and the good guys. There are big, crowd pleasing moments, but in the end it’s the characters who carry it, and it’s the fact that Marvel have put the time in, building a world that fans are fully invested in. I laughed, I cried, I left the cinema knowing I’d seen something special, and that it was unlikely anything would beat it to film of the year. Review here.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.