28. Incredibles 2
You know, fun fact, I honestly almost forgot to put this on the list? Not because it’s incredibly forgettable or anything, no it kept in my mind fair enough, it just literally did not register that I hadn’t put anything about it down until I reached the very end of my write-ups and thought ‘Huh. Why don’t I remember writing anything about Incredibles 2?’
Anyway, this has literally nothing to do with my opinion on the film itself, I just wanted a good introduction to get into talking about it.
Seriously though, while I liked the first Incredibles movie a lot, it’s never quite been the gold standard of animated movies for me that it seems to be for a lot of people, in large part because I am self-admittedly kind of an animation hipster (just wait until my Top 10 to prove that one) who scowls at Pixar for taking all the glory (even if they do kind of deserve it about 40-50% of the time.) But even I have to grudgingly respect that the first Incredibles is a damn good movie for a lot of reasons. It has a great story, great dynamics between characters and delves into the darker side of superheroics a million times more effectively than the grimdark likes of Batman v Superman do. It’s one of those movies that is just constructed so solidly, structure and story-wise, that it’s impossible to hate.
So, with all that in mind, does this sequel, coming over a decade later, live up to the first movie’s quality? …Well, not quite, but it’s still a damn fun movie.
Really, a lot of the movie does feel like a sequel that was clearly never originally planned for, but that the filmmakers are doing their damn best with anyway. The film lacks a lot of the depth and emotional heft of the first movie, and clearly doesn’t have as tightly written a story but makes up for it by remaining fun and bright and very enjoyable to watch. The characters are still recognisable and don’t feel like they’ve backslided from the first film (aside from a few moments where that’s clearly the point) and it’s nice to see more of their reactions and growth. Plus it’s nice to see Elastigirl (one of the better characters from the first movie) take the heroic spotlight. I’ll confess I cringed a little when I saw ‘Bob being a stay-at-home dad’ was going to be a major subplot, but the movie handled it a lot better than I expected, showing making a genuine competent effort, clearly caring a lot about helping his kids and generally subverting the bumbling idiot dad cliche you’d expect to see.
In conclusion, if the first Incredibles is a (*sigh*) animation ‘masterpiece’, this movie is just a very good animated movie. Like a well-built extension on a masterly crafted building, it doesn’t really improve the universe much, but it’s nice to have and enjoyable to watch and ultimately that’s kind of what’s really important.
27. Ant-Man and the Wasp
Yeah, I know, what a shock, a MCU movie that I really really liked. Someone call the presses.
Seriously though, for me this falls under the same kind of banner as the original Ant-Man. It’s a nice lighthearted Marvel movie, with fun characters, neat action scenes and good humour, but feels ultimately more on the disposable side than most of their other movies. Which, y’know, is arguably the point, but still. Like I said, there were a lot great laughs and inventive action scenes and a sweet heart underneath, but it never really hit much deeper than ‘pleasantly enjoyable’ for me and is clearly overshadowed by the two other MCU movies that came out this year.
Still, B-tier Marvel still feels like it hits higher for me than 75% of other Blockbusters, so I’m still giving it a decent spot on this list.
26. Anna and the Apocalypse
I’m not going to lie, this is a movie that I kinda fell in love with the moment that I heard its premise. Specifically, it’s a Christmas movie musical… set during a zombie invasion. Now, I’m going to be perfectly honest, call me an immature child, but that’s the sort of movie premise that just has me instantly on board. And thankfully enough, the movie actually happened to live up to that premise this time and in a very enjoyable way. Oh, it certainly has its rough spots but I was legitimately surprised by how funny and how likeable so many of the characters were. And indeed, out of all the zombie movies I saw this year, this was (almost) the best by a long shot. Why? Because it was just plain fun.
Now, admittedly, it isn’t quite Shaun of the Dead levels of quality fun zombie comedy, obviously. It does have its fair share of flaws here and there, including quite a few painfully uninspired musical numbers (seriously, I’m fairly sure they must have run out of budget somewhere along the way because half the musical numbers have almost no real choreography/worthwhile editing to make them interesting.) Some of the songs sound a bit samey and run on for a bit long and there were a few twists I wasn’t entirely sure how much I was on board with. Plus I’m mixed on how open-ended the ending was.
But, while it may not be perfect, it still has such a great sense of energy and life, with some brilliant humour, excellent performances and honestly some of the most likeable main characters in almost any movie I saw this year. When they do get a chance to show some off some actual dancing and choreography to go with the musical numbers, it’s a ton of fun. And as for the villain… Oh my God, I loooooooved Paul Kaye as the smarmy headmaster villain in this. So so so so much. He takes the smarminess of the role and just fucking goes for it, hamming it up and arguably chewing more scenery than the actual zombies. Like, I legitimately gave him a Best Supporting Actor nod on my Boffy ballot and don’t regret it for a second, that’s how good he was. I have never felt more joy in a movie this year than when I realised he was about to get his own musical number and it did not disappoint.
But seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie yet and you get a chance to check it out, I’d definitely say go for it. It has its problems here and there and some of the music is a bit uninspired, but it’s still a really fun flick that makes a pleasant chance from all the doldrum usual self-serious zombies nowadays. The only disappointment is that the zombies themselves didn’t get a musical number, but I suppose that probably would’ve been a bit much
25. Leave no Trace
I’ll be honest, this is one of the few movies that I decided to check out solely based on the strength of others recommendations to me. The premise, about a girl and her father who try to live out in the woods away from human contact, really didn’t sound all that much like my cup of tea. I’m generally not all that fond of dramas and I don’t like feeling like I have to force myself to watch a movie I’m not inherently interested in, even if it’s one that I suspect I’ll probably ultimately end up giving it a positive review.
But yeah, this was honestly really good and I can entirely see why others love it so much. It was well paced, well directed, with a lot of great acting and writing. Each scene was interesting and filled with meaning and it kept my attention more-or-less throughout. You can always tell that I’ve enjoyed a movie when it ends up feeling short, in spite of a normal running time and this movie never managed to overstay its welcome.
Still, it doesn’t change the fact that these kind of dramas just aren’t really my thing and, as much I did like this movie a lot and can understand why it’s scoring so high on other lists, I just don’t have the same kind of passion for it to reach that toppest tier of my list this year. But it’s still very damn good.