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2017 – End Of Movie Year Round Up

December 29, 2017

Looking back at the films released this year – well, the ones I saw anyway.

The film year 2017 was, for me anyway, a year of mostly pleasant surprises – the stand-outs being the films which went in directions I wasn’t expecting (avoiding trailers only adding to the experience). Time being what it is, I made a pact with myself to be more selective in my movie-going this year. Which is why I only saw thirteen films in theaters. Seeing as I didn’t see as many this year as in previous years, I thought I’d start by briefly mentioning some of the other films I did see – but didn’t end up posting about for one reason or another.

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Baby Driver

3.5 stars out of 5

While it kinda’ feels like a Michael Mann heist movie for milliennials, Edgar Wright’s passion project is still great fun.

John Wick: Chapter 2

3 stars out of 5

More of what we got from the break-out, super-violent, Keanu Reeves-starring instant cult action flick from 2014. Although it very much feels like the middle chapter of a projected trilogy, Chapter 2 does indeed present itself as a natural expansion of the John Wick universe – leaving us wanting more and excited to see what happens next.

Mother!

4 stars out of 5

Perhaps the most divisive film of 2017 (aside from The Last Jedi, that is). There are those who either love Darren Aronofsky’s latest adult fable – or hate it. And yes – I’m aligned with the former. Deliberately shying away from knowing anything about it before going in – and prior to all the post-release uproar – I found it a troubling, mesmerizingly visceral and ultimately haunting cinema-going experience – something not felt since Jonathan Glazer’s equally polarizing and visceral Under The Skin four years ago.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day 3D

5 stars out of 5

Having seen and been impressed with James Cameron’s 3D reissue of Titanic in the theater some years ago, I was intrigued to see just how much the added dimension of depth would benefit T2. As it turns out – it contributes quite a bit, being particularly immersive during scenes where the camera meanders through specific locations   (the Skynet office block in particular). The climactic chase sequence involving the chopper flying beneath the freeway bridge is also rather impressive in 3D. Quite apart from the added bonus of the third dimension, it really was great to just experience T2 in a large theater for the first time since 1991 – particularly being remastered in 4K. And I’m pleased to say – the movie has barely dated and holds up remarkably well after all these years (still more than deserving of its status as an all-time action classic).

War for the Planet of the Apes

4 stars out of 5

Or a more appropriate title might be The Great Ape Escape. As, despite obvious nods to Apocalypse Now War is more akin to a prison break-out movie than a full-blown war film. With his third and final appearance, Caesar firmly cements his rightful place as one of the most keenly-drawn and iconic figures in recent cinematic sci-fi history. And reprising his role as the compassionate and deep-thinking Caesar, Andy Serkis again delivers a finely-nuanced performance. As great as Serkis is in this particular role, however, it does seem he has been upstaged yet again by a supporting player. In Dawn of the Planet of the Apes it was Toby Kebbell as the traitorous Koba and in this one it is definitely Steve Zahn as a brand new character known as ‘Bad Ape’ – a character whose joining of Caesar’s quest brings a welcome dose of levity to proceedings. With director Matt Reeves at the helm for a second go-around, War undoubtedly positions this new Planet of the Apes series as one of the most consistently brilliant genre trilogies of the millennium; one which cleverly leads – integrity maintained – into the events of the 1968 original.

And now my picks for the best and worst of the year (most of which I reviewed):

Best studio film of 2017: Blade Runner 2049

Best indy film of 2017: Infinity Chamber

Honorable mentions: Passengers, Logan, Only The Brave, War for the Planet of     the Apes

Worst film of 2017: Alien: Covenant

The ones I missed: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Detroit

Even though I had originally reviewed Travis Milloy’s Infinity Chamber (previously titled Somnio) in 2016 – the film only secured an official release this year, making it not only the best indy genre movie of 2017 – but one of the best indy sci-fi films of the decade. Smart and funny, with an intriguing premise (also featuring a terrific central performance from Christopher Soren Kelly) – Infinity Chamber is the latest directorial offering from the writer of cult sci-fi fave Pandorum, and with a Blu-ray release likely in 2018, it is well worth checking out.

Who would have thought we’d have a Blade Runner sequel in 2017, let alone a film as brilliant as Blade Runner 2049. Once it was announced that Ridley Scott had stepped aside – allowing Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Enemy) to helm, from a screenplay by original Blade Runner scribe Hampton Fancher – the prospects that this might be a good movie after all increased ten-fold. But who could have foreseen that Blade Runner 2049 would become an instant classic – let alone a sequel sure to be held in the same regard as The Empire Strikes Back and Terminator 2. Despite its failure to ignite the US box office, I for one would love to see Hollywood continue to take risks and produce more thoughtfully-made, adult-oriented sci-fi films like this one (and the under-appreciated Passengers).

On the flipside, it’s a sad irony that the same man behind the original Alien is also     the one who has completely ruined the experience of seeing it for future generations. Gone is the representation of the creature as an unexplained and terrifying force of nature – here being sloppily and pointlessly retconned as the creation of a mad scientist robot – itself created by humans. The result being, Alien: Covenant is nothing more than Ridley taking a great steaming dump on common sense – while giving the middle finger to life-long fans of the original trilogy. It really pains me to list this film as the worst of the year – as I feel drained even just thinking about it for five seconds. Hopefully, if Ridley is disallowed to carry out his threat to make another one, I’ll never have to mention it ever again. Ever.

The films I’m most looking forward to seeing in 2018:

Mortal Engines, Annihilation, The Tangle, The Shape of Water

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

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One Comment
  1. gregory moss permalink

    Just heard (as of January 2nd 2018) – Travis Milloy’s INFINITY CHAMBER is now streaming on Netflix in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. So do check it out when you have the chance – and leave a rating!

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