Business as usual - with the year reaching it's end, now's the time to look over the best and worst of the films I saw throughout 2017. Let's get the stinkers out of the way first...
#5 - Kong: Skull Island
Shared universes are all over the film industry since the MCU took off, and one of the most recent is the...MonsterVerse? Whatever. The series began with 2014's Godzilla, and continues with King Kong's rebooted motion picture debut - one that was welcomed by most, but often had me bored beyond all measure. Kong: Skull Island is largely burdened by sluggish pacing and a lack of focus on many of it's key characters; instead more effort goes into showing off it's admittedly impressive special effects and fairly entertaining if repetitive set pieces. Kong himself pops up now and again to have bustups with the hideous creatures that lurk around the eponymous hellhole, and despite his presence always being fairly enjoyable, he's sadly put on the back burner for the most part in favour of our boring human protagonists.
The film as a whole is far from offensively bad, but just ends up being uninteresting, samey, and riddled with clichés.
#4 - The Mummy
Shared universes are becoming...hang on, I've said this before. Christ know how many times, so I guess there's no need to hammer this rubbish in anymore; alas, The Mummy finds itself as not just a remake of a beloved (if already mediocre) fantasy flick, but the start of a new shared universe combining all sorts of horror characters into some strange, desperate ensemble. Things have certainly got off to a bumpy start to say the least - while The Mummy starts off quite decent, it quickly sinks into something both boring and contrived, soon obsessed with set pieces that aim to be chilling yet end up being unfocused nonsense as the characters confront a number of scary situations with daft one liners or a bizarre sense of humour. You're never sure what vibe the film is going for, and thus it ends up being a cheesy and poorly directed mess, only redeemed in areas by some decent performances and special effects.
#3 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
I've always been a fan of the Pirates series - even the lesser praised Dead Man's Chest and At World's End won me over despite their many flaws, though I couldn't quite force my biased love to get me into On Stranger Tides as much. It was then the series coming to a closure seemed like the best option; though perhaps we must remember that with such larger franchises the interest is purely on profits and not so much on engaging storytelling.
Dead Men Tell No Tales adopts many of the common flaws of the franchise and worsens them even further - once again we're bombarded with a flurry of noisy action sequences that string together an underwritten, virtually non existent storyline. Perhaps the film's only compelling factor is the dedicated performance of Javier Bardem who helps make villain Salazar an interesting foe despite his weak characterisation. But what about the iconic Johnny Depp? Once again his wit and charm is long gone, leaving Jack Sparrow naught but an irritating comic relief forced into a lead protagonist role.
With $794 million in global earnings, down from over $1 billion with On Stranger Tides, it's apparent the series isn't the highlight it once was - and yet, it seems more sequels are inevitable at this stage. Sigh...
#2 - Transformers: The Last Knight
A decade ago Michael Bay's infamous Transformers series began with a decent albeit forgettable action flick, and from there became a shitty film making machine of sorts. As each sequel arrived, things got worse and worse, to the point where we could only wonder how such garbage was earning such promising profits for the studio. It seems this tradition, however, may now finally be coming to an end; with just $605 million in global earnings, The Last Knight is by far the lowest grossing of the franchise and was considered quite the disappointment financially. A sequel and Bumblebee spinoff are planned, so one can only hope that is where it finally comes to a close. At least until it's rebooted.
Oh, this film? Well, of course it sucks, and of course it contains all of Bay's iconic trademarks: repetitive, bloated action scenes, narrow minded rude humour, stereotyped characters, and a thinly written story. Yeah, the visuals are good, but that doesn't make it worth watching whatsoever.
#1 - The Emoji Movie
Perhaps many saw this coming - and perhaps many will agree. The Emoji Movie was met with naught but contempt and confusion from the minute it was announced, with backlash largely aimed, of course, at it's incredibly daft premise. Said premise really doesn't have much potential outside of the occasional amusing gag, so developing it into a good 90 minute animated feature is a task that perhaps not even the greatest of filmmakers could succeed in.
Sure enough, the end result is a film that has little to no story behind it, and ends up being a ridiculous array of unfunny pop culture jokes spat out by consistently irritating characters. Colourful visuals and rare laughs aside, The Emoji Movie simply becomes the prime example of what goes wrong when film studios milk pop culture trends a little too much.
Sometimes Hollywood just confuses me...
Thanks for reading!