Films I’ve Watched in 2017

Some years, I don’t get to the cinema. A couple of times now I’ve actually trekked out on my own in order to catch a film that I want to watch. In one of the Planet of the Apes reboot series, I was the only person in the whole screen. You can pretend you’re a billionaire! Anyway, here’s what I managed to see.

Lego Batman Movie

It wouldn’t have worked as a Batman film without Lego, but didn’t really need the Lego too much (one key point notwithstanding). I wouldn’t have been tempted to watch this without the kids, but really enjoyed it with them.

Ghost in the Shell

I’ve heard mixed opinions, but I really liked this. It told a different story, in a different way, but is still a valid story for the world. It’s more of a personal story of the overall “who am I” question of the original film. I liked that it didn’t dumb things down, and the camouflage cloaks were not even mentioned – just taken for granted that that’s what people have.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Not as fun as the first film, but still a pretty good show.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Better than I thought it would be. Some excellent moments of tension, like the car journey, as the characters start to realise what the audience knows. I really liked how it fit into the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and used Peter Parker as a real teenager. The only complaint I could make about it is the spider suit suffers from the Tony Stark patented ‘magic technology’, while still looking like lycra.

Baby Driver

WOW. This film is absolutely incredible. The music, the acting, the direction… Edgar Wright is a genius, no question. Some of the Easter eggs in it I’m pleased I caught (I got the Halloween stuff near the end), I’m sure there were more that I missed though. Wright is a real cinephile, and would have seen opportunities to put little bonuses in everywhere. It’s a rare film that I want to go out and see again straight away, this is one of them. One thing I noticed that I wasn’t sure about, I’d like someone to confirm… It seemed to me that Buddy’s gunshots were timed so much closer to the music beats than the other characters, and Bats was way off with timing. Since a lot of that could be faked or fixed in editing anyway, it felt like a deliberate choice and it would make sense since Buddy understood Baby more than Bats did. Definitely worth another watch, just to look out for that sort of thing.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Very, very disappointing. The effects were good, the world and setting were incredible but the film was a total let-down. The acting was… inconsistent. Some scenes were well done, others not – and I don’t think it was restricted to the CG-heavy scenes, where actors would be expected to have a hard time. The story was passable but the dialogue was atrocious.
Laureline as a character just didn’t make sense. She starts the film professional and focussed, ends it as a loose cannon who ignores the rules, and no-one seems to notice the change. Maybe she was always as much of a maverick as Valerian, but the first half don’t set that up at all. On top of which (spoiler alert), in a station of millions of people and human agents like Laureline and Valerian, Laureline assaults two officers and escapes arrest and yet no-one is sent out looking for her. “Oh dear, she got away. Guess we’ll see her when she comes into work tomorrow.” The worst part of the film was how much potential it had, and wasted. Big Market, the history and structure of Alpha… there was so much there that was explained for a minute and then used for a split-second in an action scene. There felt like so much more that could be done, that there was a good film in there somewhere, but the direction they took just didn’t work.

War for the Planet of the Apes

Fantastic. Amazing. Visually stunning, great story, some great nods to the original series and a far better film than Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. This new trilogy feels like a reboot of the last two films of the original series rather than the first two. Dawn felt like the original Battle for the Planet of the Apes as the Apes are uplifted and escape human society, Rise happens off-screen and War matches up with Conquest of the Planet of the Apes as humankind is shown to be a waning species.
I really enjoyed what the whole series has had to say about leadership, ambition, and xenophobia. In both Rise and War, Caesar doesn’t want to fight. He even manages to avoid going to war and still defends his people for the most part, in both films. Rise was particularly good in that leaders on both sides don’t want war, but are forced into it by radicals in their own camps setting events in motion that can’t be stopped. It actually makes me want to go back and watch Conquest again, as bad as that was, and look out for other little nuggets that were left behind.

Thor Ragnarok

This was so much fun. It was silly, and funny, and colourful, and just fun. One of the best Marvel films, and definitely the best Thor film. The others were fairly dull and serious – this one really played it up a bit, and being away from Earth meant it could be as big and outrageous with the ‘God’ thing as it wanted.


I’d heard terrible things about this from critics, and great things from friends. I’d say there’s a bit of truth in both. It’s certainly not going to win awards, but it’s a really good film regardless. The dialogue is very natural – people talk over each other and get interrupted properly. I like how the Orc is not dumb, but without spending a lot of time with him people wouldn’t know that. He’s not stupid, but inexperienced. His intelligence is not appreciated – like the two years of Elvish he took in high school that he can remember enough to hold conversations, or the attention to self-care that he has, or the insights that his senses give him. The human character too is a great portrayal of “I’m not a racist but” – he’ll work with the Orc (but try not to), he’ll be talked into killing the Orc (he wouldn’t get as close to that with a human), he hates Elves when they’re not around… and the wonderful display that spending time with people softens ill-feelings towards those people.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This was one of those cheap offers I saw in Sainsbury’s and thought “I like the X-Men, let’s give it a bash.” About a year later, we finally got around to watching it, hooray! Except, boo. I was put in a bad mood almost instantly, since we first sat through “Jim and Bob compare pirate DVDs to real ones”, then the official copyright warnings wall of text (don’t you dare download this on an oil rig or you’ll go to jail!) and finally the longest Blu-ray advert I’ve seen. So after being told I ought to pay for films, then told what will happen if I don’t pay for films, I’m treated to a long description of what a sucker I was for not paying enough for a film. Adverts for a HD disc format on a non-HD disc… like TV adverts on radio. I thought back to the first item – the difference between Jim and Bob is that Bob is apologising to his mates while Jim is already enjoying the film and oh! the pizza guy just turned up, since he can afford to treat his mates to dinner since he didn’t pay for the film.

I’m not condoning piracy, it’s just that the adverts really don’t seem to understand the real world and the only people they annoy are the ones who already paid for the film.

So, the film. I wasn’t a fan. I love the X-Men, I even thought the third film was pretty good, but this one was really weak. The dialogue was flat, the acting was flat, and so many things felt forced. It felt like they made a list of key things to explain and mysteries to remove and then wrote dialogue between them.

I know that as an ‘Origins’ film it was supposed to explain Wolverine’s backstory, and maybe that’s the problem. There was always a dark mysterious past before, and now there isn’t. The Weapon X program was well known, of course, but nothing before that other than a few tantalising hints that he may be a lot older than we realise. It was disappointing to see so many mysteries removed in such a lacklustre film.

From this point on we get spoilers, so move along if you want to experience the film for yourself.

I thought there was a lot of repetition in the film. I can think of several shots with Wolverine’s head framed against the sky while he delivers a gritty, ‘badass’ line – probably about removing someone’s head. And he’s not the only one who mentions removing a head. Removing heads is brought up four or five times, usually as a throwaway ‘end of scene’ comment and not as part of a discussion about decapitation. Thus it was no surprise when Deadpool was decapitated at the end. Any of them could have been decapitated really, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the head and body resurrected before the end of the credits (obviously sooner if it was Wolverine and later for a villain).

Gambit was just… wrong. Wolverine and Sabretooth leave his club to fight in the street. Why does he leave when inside, he’s protected? Why does he attack Wolverine? Why does he change his mind and help (it’s not the prickly, self-serving character I remember)? I’m not a huge comics buff, but I know that he and Wolverine have a rivalry. This film makes that more confusing, because although Wolverine lost his memories Gambit could help fill in a few gaps, at least about that last mission.

Casting wise as well, Gambit was just plain wrong again. Too young, for a start. I know I’ve been heavily influenced by the cartoon, but his accent was wrong too.

On the other hand, the action was alright and the story – if you ignore the actual dialogue – was good. I could probably watch this film again, but I’ll be waiting for an X-Men themed movie night for that to happen. It would probably match up well with the film which teases Wolverine’s history (was it the second one?)

Unimaginative film posters

I saw a poster on the side of a bus the other day, advertising the film London Boulevard. I thought it looked a bit familiar…

It’s almost identical to the poster for Quantum of Solace.


Man standing protectively in front of woman, looking in different directions, no background details, gun held casually by the side, little or no facial expressions…

I get the feeling I’ve seen this poster for many other films too, I just can’t place it at the moment.