Ruk Ranks Every Movie He Saw in 2017 (55-51)

55. Lego Batman

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Hey, remember how at the beginning of the year we all thought that this was going to do gangbusters and that LEGO was going to be one of the next big franchises? Man that dream sure died fast.

Anyway, for me, this movie was kinda like the middle ground between the LEGO movie and LEGO Ninjago. Sure, it wasn’t as infuriatingly annoying as the latter, but it was a bit too hyperactive and not quite funny enough to be the former. Especially towards the third act. I didn’t actually have any kind of issue with all the different villains showing up, but it kinda crossed the point where the movie stopped being an interesting commentary on Batman and his character/mythos as a whole and just turned into a ‘Friendship is great’ thing. Plus the ‘Joker as romantic relationship’ joke got really hammered into the ground.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to like about the movie. Will Arnett is second only to Kevin Conroy as best movie Batman, Michael Cera was surprisingly endearing as Robin and there was a lot fun, yet searing digs at some of the wider conceits surrounding the Batman character and universe that I’ve honestly thought about myself. But overall, it did feel a bit like wasted potential. It never felt quite as funny as the LEGO movie, nor as sound storywise and it never followed through on the interesting ideas it raised.

So yeah, overall it’s not bad. Just not quite as good as I was hoping for.

 

54. Fireworks

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~Hold me like a fliend, kiss me like a fliend, say we’ll never end, searching for the colours of the raaaaainbow~ …fuck, Engrish be damned, that song is way too catchy.

Anyway, this is a recent Japanese anime film that’d I’d not really heard of before and only ended up seeing because it happened to come to my nearby cinema. It’s an adaptation of an acclaimed TV drama called Fireworks, Should we See it from the Side or the Bottom, that I suspect was adapted because it’s a romantic teen drama with time travel and Your Name made like all the money in Japan in 2016.

That said, it didn’t surprise me to learn that this was an adaptation of a highly acclaimed drama because it definitely feels like something that has a lot of potential… that isn’t really quite achieved here. I mean the romance is cute enough, the characters are somewhat developed (if not a bit brattish) and there are a lot of nice visuals and music, but it also seems like it’s missing bits. We never really get that much of a satisfying look at the character of the main heroine which, considering her issues are pretty central to the story, is kind of disappointing. And there’s a painful lack of a conclusion as well, the film choosing to end on an open-ended note that really does not work well for it.

That said, even if there are much better foreign animated movies out there this year, there’s still a decent amount to enjoy here. As mentioned, the visuals and music are nice and it’s competently told enough. It’s just lacking that extra spark to make it really good.

Now all that’s left is for me to find a way to get that damned main theme out of my head.

~Hold me like a fliend, kiss me like a fliend, say we’ll never end, searching for the colours of the raaaaainbow~

 

53. The Hitman’s Bodyguard

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Stupid but fun. This movie more or less survives solely on the comedic chemistry of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and they basically carry the entire movie on their backs. But hey, they do a good job of it, it’s a delight watching them onscreen and they shoulder the otherwise bland direction, action and story just fine.

Basically, it’s a movie sold on the idea of funny Ryan Reynolds and funny Samuel L. Jackson interacting and it gives what it delivers, no more no less.

…Well, okay, Salma Hayek was fun too.

 

52. The Man who Invented Christmas

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Much like The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s only survives by the strength of its main comedic duo, this a movie that really only really works because of the central performance of Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens. Dan Stevens is one of those actors who, for me at least, is a delight to see in almost every movie and this is one where he really gets to show his chops.

The story itself is a (presumably mostly fictional) account of how Charles Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol and, in that regard, it’s mostly the sort of cutesy ‘Oh, your name is Blebenezar Blooge? Why that gives me an idea!’ sort of stuff that you’d expect, with a few messy attempts at having an emotional undercurrent. But the movie is entirely made by Stevens’s performance and it’s magnificent. He’s energetic, simply bubbling with enthusiasm and ideas and while, as a writer myself, I felt that most of his writing techniques in the movie were ridiculous and silly, Stevens still manages to entirely sell them to you solely through his performance. It really is top quality stuff.

That said, overall, it’s basically an A-grade performance propping up a C-grade film. But, even then, the film is itself harmless enough. The making-of stuff may be cutesy and a bit cheesy, but it still kinda works. It’s not really anything spectacular overall, aside from Dan Steven’s performance and maybe a few of the side characters, but it’s still not a bad watch either.

 

51. Power Rangers

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You know, when the first trailers for this movie hit, I had two predictions. First was that they were going to try and make the movie ‘dark’ and ‘adult’ like so many other misguided reboots of classic properties. And the second was that the actual Power Ranger suits probably wouldn’t make any kind of serious prolonged appearance until the final third and the climactic action scene. And, surprise no surprise, I was completely right on both accounts. But, where I was wrong, was that I assumed both of these would be bad things. Yet, to my eternal surprise, this movie actually made it work. Yeah, I was astounded as you are, but Power Rangers 2017 is one of the few movies that I think does the darker and edgier thing actually fairly well.

I think a large part of why is that, unless most ‘darker & edgier’ reboots, the makers of this movie knew exactly what they were aiming for and why that would require a darker tone. It wasn’t like MoS, where the writers/directors were clearly like “Hey, we want a dark brooding Superman!” “Great! What’s he brooding about?” “Who cares?” In this, however, the filmmakers clearly want to tell a story about troubled teens finding solace in each other, which required a darker tone, and they pulled it off genuinely fairly well. Even the ranger suits being kept to the final third worked because they set them up as a task they were working towards, that they needed to get over their issues to reach, thus making it all the more emotionally meaningful when they finally manage to morph. I actually got chills at that big moment in spite of the Ranger suits in this movie still looking ugly as shit. They genuinely managed to pull this stuff off and kudos to them for it.

Now, you may be thinking ‘Hey, this all sounds really positive? So why is this ranked so low?” Well, funnily enough, while the stuff I thought the movie was going to fuck up ended up being really good, the stuff I thought was going to be the fun part, aka the action and the third-act climax, ended up being, well… kind of a slog? Yeah, this movie really managed to subvert my expectation with both the good and bad. It doesn’t help that most of it was Zord action and I thought the Zords looked absolutely awful in this movie (as do the suits, to be honest, but I digress). There was barely much in the way of choreography and the action was mostly just boring explosions and CGI and the kinda crap that even Michael Bay would think was too passe. It’s annoying too because I genuinely really liked the first two thirds of the movie and to have it all crap out in the final third just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Like the taste of a Krispy Kreme donut that you’ve forgotten about until you find it behind your couch a week later.

So yeah, this was a lot better than I thought it would be but kinda let me down on the actual action stuff. Still gotta give it some credit though what it does really does right. Shame they’re probably not going to make any more.

 

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