Adam’s Top 5 Films of 2016

Here are Adam’s five favourite films of the year.

We’ve been a little behind on content over the last few months, due to every one of us being busy as hell, but I didn’t want to see the end of the year without sitting down and figuring out which were my favourite films of this year. I think I’ve been the the cinema more times in 2016 than any other year in recent memory, and have seen more non-genre films too. Reflecting back, there were a lot of good films, a lot of not so good films, a few very bad films (looking at you BvS) and not that many that I would call ‘great’. As such, I struggled with the 4th and 5th choices between a few films that I enjoyed, but didn’t quite hit the mark. I thought Fantastic Beasts, High Rise, The Hateful Eight and Ghostbusters were all a lot of fun (well, The Hateful Eight was maybe not ‘fun’), along with a few other highlights like Arrival and Suicide Squad (just kidding, that was also hot and messy garbage), but ultimately my list boils down to the following. Beware some spoilers:

5. Star Trek Beyond

star-trek

The third entry into the ‘Kelvin’ timeline of the Star Trek movie reboot was also the first not helmed by J.J.Abrams. Beyond was largely free of the winks and nods that were necessary in the first, but possibly weighed down the sequel Into Darkness, and embraced at least to a degree the whole ‘five-year mission’ aspect to Star Trek. As a result, there was a real feeling of adventure in this installment. In addition, the cast at this point are all working so well together that their interactions are a real joy to watch, especially Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto as Bones and Spock. New character Jaylah was a stand out, I hope we see her in the next film, and the Federation station Yorktown was stunning. The bad? The enemies weren’t brilliantly fleshed out, the Beastie Boys finale was a little too cheesy, and no satisfactory explanation was given for why there was a motorbike on an alien planet. But a fun sci-fi adventure film all the same.

 

4. Deadpool

deadpool

The long gestating passion project from Ryan Reynolds and company that no one seemed to have any faith in comes in at number four for me, while I think a lot of comic book film fans would probably put it a little higher. This was undoubtedly one of the funniest films this year, with a surprising hit rate of gags (although they come so thick and fast that any misses are immediately forgotten in laughing at the next joke). Considering the budget Fox gave it, the film looked great too, though I think most of the budget went on the highway scene. The plot was serviceable, in a sort of early-X-Men film sort of way, but the charm of the film’s cast and the strength of the humour allowed it to shine. The same can’t be said for Fox’s other mutant offering of 2016, X-Men Apocalypse, which somehow managed to resemble the first two entries in the franchise without any of the heart. Still, Deadpool was a definite success. Here’s hoping that the sequel manages the same.

 

3. Doctor Strange

doc-strange

Doctor Strange was the second Marvel Studios of the year and the first origin film they have put out in a while, which was something that they got a fair amount of criticism for, largely unfounded in my opinion. They largely seemed to revolve around similarities to the first Iron Man movie, an 8-year-old film, and complaints about basic three act structure that 90% of movies adhere to. Sure, with the subject matter they could have taken a few more risks, but injecting magic properly into the MCU was something that the movie going public may have struggled to swallow, and plenty of other risks right down to the method of conflict resolution made this an interesting watch and one of the three films I considered to be great this year.

I think Doctor Strange was the apex of internet analysis on every little bit of casting for one of these films, and everything has already been said over the controversy of casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, or people upset that their ideal choice for Stephen Strange wasn’t picked. Everyone in this piece was great (yes, yes, great article about how the Marvel villains are underdeveloped. How original, every site ever), Cumberbatch played the arrogant surgeon brilliantly, and I could watch a whole film of just him and Chiwetel Ejiofor just having a chat. The real star of the show though was just how gorgeous the film was, with almost every instance of mind-bending magic and reality shifting looking superb.

 

2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One

I’m writing this having just got in from my second viewing of Rogue One, and I’m pretty happy with my placing it at number two. Rogue One has proven that reports of reshoots don’t always spell disaster, and that at least so far, there isn’t an oversaturation of Star Wars. If we get a tonally different Star Wars Story every other year in between the main story, I think I can handle that if they are going to be this good.

In Rogue One we got a proper war story, showing the struggles of the rebellion and that victory isn’t always easy, clean or pleasant. It humanises the Rebel Alliance, especially without the Skywalker clan or the inclusion of any Jedi or lightsabers. The cameos bordered on a little gratuitous at points, with whole scenes including a computer generated version of a long-dead actor. I really enjoyed the nods to Star Wars Rebels though, and the plugging of a decades long literal plot hole was also welcome, if a little convenient. All the new characters were strong, with Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe and Alan Tudyk as K-2SO being the standouts for me. The gorgeous vistas of Scarif and Lah’mu also gave a nice break from the usual desert environs of the Star Wars Universe, even if Jedha didn’t.

 

1. Captain America: Civil War

civil-war

If Rogue One was concerned with going back and filling in its universe’s continuity, Civil War was the culmination of years of storylines and was all about moving forward, even more so than the last Avengers film Age of Ultron. For me, the third Captain America film delivered on pretty much every promise it laid out for itself. With a huge cast it was in danger of being overly full, and was jokingly referred to as ‘Avengers 2.5’ by many on the lead in, but this was a Captain America film through and through. The climax of the thread started in The Winter Soldier, Civil War managed to juggle the personal plot of Cap and his best friend, drawing in the whole Avengers gang in the process as they were told that in the wake of saving the world several times with surprisingly modest body counts, that the whole world wanted them to answer to governments with agendas. Disagreements start, friends start punching each other. People get incarcerated in hilariously complicated prisons.

What worked was the lack of a world ending threat, which will make the impact of Infinity War felt that much more. These people have been playing these characters for so long now that they have them down completely, but I think this is the best performance Robert Downey Jr. has put in as Tony Stark. And by circumventing a few potential origin stories in favour of injecting some new characters straight into this film, we got the brilliance that was Chadwick Boseman and Tom Holland as Black Panther and Spider-Man respectively. Marvel may still need to pull the trigger on the death of an Avenger to make a threat seem real, but Civil War shifted the MCU into a very interesting place in the lead up to Infinity War and the proper introduction of Thanos. We may have to wait until 2018 for that, but I would be surprised if we didn’t see some hint of what is to come in one of the three Marvel Studios films out next year.

cvim

And that is it! What were your favourite films of the year? What did you think of any of the above films? Let us know in the comments!

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 54 – Up In My Grill

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, brought to you by The Lost Lighthouse.

This week we chat about the Doctor Strange images we’ve seen, the new Black Panther director, Tom Clancy’s The Division and George Lucas’s comments about Disney, while Gary’s new kitten tries to destroy the entire podcast and Adam bitches about Fallout 4.

There was no main talking point or Gary in 60 Seconds this week due to our crappy organisation skills. They’ll both be back next time!

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Adam’s Most Anticipated of 2016

Here is what Adam is most looking forward to in 2016, in no particular order (I don’t know why I picked that featured photo either).

Captain America: Civil War

Civil War

I’ve not exactly made it a secret that I’m a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or that I think Chris Evans makes a great Steve Rogers. As more details and the cast has been revealed for third Captain America film, a lot of people have labelled it as ‘Avengers 2.5’ as it seems 80% of the MCU is going to be in it. But from the first trailer that hit, the film’s focus definitely still seems to be on Cap and how he is seeing events. Also Iron Man is there. I don’t find hero Vs hero to be the most interesting plotline, but things don’t look quite as simple as that. Oh, and Black Panther looks really cool.

 

Finishing my PhD

For better or worse, this year I’ll be free of this terrible curse. Horrible life decision.

 

Rogue One

Rogue One

Ah genuine excitement for new Star Wars. How I’ve missed you. I loved The Force Awakens, and while I’m not overly enthused by some of the ideas floating around for the upcoming anthology films, more Star Wars while we wait for the numbered films should be a good thing (and means those films won’t be rushed). The first film set to be released in December is ‘Rogue One’, centered on the group of rebels who stole the plans for the first Death Star. And it has an excellent cast.

 

New Thrice Album

CUgUKXHWUAAU7be

Thrice are one of my favourite bands, with their 2005 album ‘Vheissu’ being one of my desert island discs. Remembering picking it up at lunch time at school 10 years ago makes me feel incredibly old. From their emo punk roots Thrice developed into a brilliant progressive band that is full of intelligent and inventive musical ideas. They announced they were going on a hiatus back in 2012, but unlike many bands who make the same decision they always said they weren’t breaking up, and they were just “taking a break from being a full-time band”. In 2015 they held up that promise, playing a smattering of festivals internationally, one of which was Hevy Fest in the UK which I was lucky enough to catch. Near the end of November they announced that there would be a new album in 2016, and I can’t wait.

 

New Every Time I Die Album

ETID

I have two ETID tattoos. I’m a reasonably big fan of theirs. Something that always inexplicably surprises me is that especially with heavy bands, I expect that eventually the formula will get repetitive or stale, and I’m always delighted when it doesn’t. With every album Every Time I Die have managed to surprise with how interesting and genre pushing their music is, while still retaining their core sound that drew me to them in the first place. Their last album ‘From Parts Unknown’ was a fast, vicious affair that managed to outdo it’s predecessors in terms of raw heaviness. Their awesome riffs and punishing drums are only equaled for me in the bestial vocals from Keith Buckley and his insightful, intelligent lyrics. Look up what ‘Moor‘ is about. Intense.

Anyway, in a recent podcast guitarist Jordan Buckley said that they were going into the studio early on this year, and I can’t wait. They were halfway through a tour of the UK in November before having to postpone the London shows, and they’ve been rescheduled to May/June next year. I have tickets to 3 shows in a row. If I die, know I died doing what I loved – being bludgeoned to death by a large bald man with face tattoos.

 

Daredevil Season 2

Daredevil

Netflix’s Daredevil series was great. A lot of people seemed to agree, which is why we’re getting a second series, probably in the first half of 2016. Joining the cast from season one are Élodie Yung as Electra and Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle AKA The Punisher. I don’t know how they’ll both figure in to the series, but I’m sure it will be good.

 

Luke Cage

Luke cage

I really enjoyed Mike Colter as Luke Cage in 2015’s Jessica Jones (a show I made my favourite TV show of the year), so I’m not particularly worried about the quality of the Luke Cage solo series. Netflix are doing a great job with these shows, and I can’t see Cage being any different. I imagine it will all debut at a similar sort of time of year that Jessica Jones did this year.

 

Writing More

This year I started playing around with writing some fiction, mostly in the form of short stories. I don’t pretend to be good at it, but I find it extremely cathartic and it’s great to get swept up in. Unfortunately my current hectic and stressful work life has meant this has had to go on the back burner, largely relegated to jotting down plot details and story ideas when they come to me, so I don’t forget them when I finish my PhD and I can dedicate the time and energy I’d like to to them. I’ll probably figure some way of sharing this stuff in due time, so watch this space. Maybe.

 

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange

Last week we were treated to our first look at Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme from the upcoming film, due out in early November of 2016. I think he looks fantastic, continuing the grand tradition in the MCU of nailing a “real world” representation of a classic comic costume. Doctor Strange will be bringing the magical elements of the Marvel Universe more into focus as Phase 3 of the MCU continues (I know Scarlet Witch counts too, but they were fairly vague about her power set in Age of Ultron), making everything feel more full and complex. Little is known of the plot so far (good!) but with the always brilliant Cumberbatch being joined by Chiwetel Eijofor, Tilda Swindon, Mads Mikkelsen and Rachel McAdams it’s sure to be pretty good!

 

Uncharted 4

Uncharted 4

I’m looking forward to generally having a lot more time for gaming in 2016, even if that point is still a few months away. One game that has been pretty highly anticipated is the Playstation exclusive Uncharted 4, due out in mid-March. Naughty Dog make beautiful, cinematic games and the last installment Uncharted 3 on the PS3 was no exception. Neither was The Last of Us. So with a new console generation to take advantage of, the new Uncharted, with the subtitle ‘A Thief’s End’, already looks stunning from what has been shown so far. It seems to be being billed as Nathan Drake’s last adventure. We’ll see if that actually happens, but Nolan North returning as Drake is a welcome one, even if the now older Drake will be less quippy and more world-weary. I just hope there are fewer ‘oh no! the ledge is crumbling, press X to grab the one below, phew!’ moments. I also couldn’t care less about the multiplayer mode.

 

What are you looking forward to in 2016? Let us know!