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 78 – One Wolf

Welcome back to The Weekly Rapture, our fortnightly pop culture news and reviews podcast!


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Big News

This week we chatted about the Spider-Man Homecoming and for some reason, Transformers: The Last Knight trailers, The Last of Us Part II and Gotham City Sirens.

2016 Review

This week we go through our top 3 video games, films, books and TV shows from 2016, with a few lists from others too!

Adam

Video Games

3. Alienation

2. Gone Home

1. Uncharted 4

TV Shows

3. Daredevil

2. Stranger Things

1. Westworld

Comics

3. Wonder Woman – DC, by Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp and

2. Superman – DC, by Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi

1. Black Widow – Marvel, by Chris Samnee and Mark Waid

Films

3. Deadpool

2. Doctor Strange

1. Captain America: Civil War

 

Ian

Video Games

3. Pokémon GO

2. Star Wars Battlefront

1. Doom

TV Shows

3. Luke Cage

2. Planet Earth II

1. Stranger Things

Books

2. The Devil You Know by Erin M. Evans

1. Hero by R.A. Salvatore

Films

3.  Captain America: Civil War

2. Midnight Special

1. 10 Cloverfield Lane

 

Now Playing – Reading/Watching/Playing

Adam – Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray/Mad Men on Sky/Bioshock Infinite (Bioshock Collection) on PS4
Ian – The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi/X-Files/Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Check out any of those through those Amazon links and we get a kick back! Or you can go through here.

You can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.Fancy supporting our site? Head on over to our Paypal donation page! It’s completely optional, set your own price! Even £1 helps us with hosting costs and we’d really appreciate it! Cheers!

Captain America and the Rise of Hydra

Kit reviewed Captain America: Steve Rogers #7 this week (check his review here). He also had a few thoughts about how the story reflects the current political climate in the wake of this week’s election.

Spoilers for the current Captain America story are included

Captain America always has been and always will be a political story. From his original conception of pro-American propaganda during World War 2, to his stance on civil rights and personal freedoms during Civil War and the times he has given up the role of Captain America due to the state of American politics. In my view, this is still entirely the case. I would clarify though, that this is only my reading into and what I took from the comic (Captain America: Steve Rogers #7). It may well not be the original intention of writer Nick Spencer to include such a political message in this story, but if that is the case I would argue Barthes’ Death of the Author theory applies (the idea that whatever the reader reads into a story is valid, whatever the intentions of the author).

It is entirely my belief that Steve Rogers’ current conversion to Hydra is representative of the political climate in the US, UK and large parts of Europe. He is the embodiment of what America should be, and now ideologically he’s a fascist. The fact he’s still working with SHIELD and with the governments of the west against the more blatant fascism of the Red Skull really brings home the point that the current ideals of the west have lurched to the far-right. If he was standing by the Skull, laughing manically it would be a more traditional mind control story, but no, this is the story of western ideology being rewritten to support the political far right.

hydra

One of the things that cut a bit close to the bone was the Red Skull’s speech itself. It is not that far removed from what we hear some political leaders say these days. He simply takes it one step further, not just ‘blame the existing establishments for your suffering’ or ‘blame those who are different’ he’s simply added one or two more steps to reach the point of ‘we must tear them down’. This is why this story is important. It is reflecting the current political mood of populist and charismatic leaders acting as if they’re above the existing establishments and by extension the law, hijacking the narrative to say that it’s those who are different to use that are to blame for our misfortune, despite the fact they face the same struggles we do and while pointing to some parts of the establishment glossing over the fact that they themselves are embedded into other parts of it.

There is sometimes a strange idea that fiction and entertainment should remain politically neutral. That has never been the case. It exists to give us a medium to explore ideas and make sense of them. To show us what is happening and make us think about it.

The thing is, reading this story I have no doubt that soon enough his history will be corrected and Steve will be his good old liberally minded self again. And, if like me you think that way and you’ve been despairing at recent political events, it’s worth remembering that this is not the first, and will not be the last time that it will feel like the world is going to shit, that ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and every ugly aspect of society is on the rise. Every time that has happened though, the world has turned, not without pain, but equality, empathy, compassion and kindness haven’t gone away before and aren’t going to go away now, especially if we stand up for what we believe in and try to understand why someone who thinks otherwise does so.

This story will then be seen, if anyone ever looks back at it, as a reflection of what was happening during 2016, something comics can do so incredibly well. From Steve Rogers punching Hitler, to Iron Man fighting Communists and even Captain Planet telling kids to stay in school and pick up their litter. I consider this to be an ugly year, maybe next year and the year after will be too, but the only good thing about a bad year is that thanks to time being linear it ends. Then we’ll move on and away from it and look back at 2016 and simply wonder “what the fuck” or finally prove that up until then David Bowie was the one holding the fabric of reality together.

Kit

Comic Review – Captain America: Steve Rogers #7 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“I want to restore the glory of Hydra” Captain America

I’ve been meaning to pick up more Captain America comics. He’s one of my favourite Avengers, especially the way he’s portrayed in the MCU. These days things are not quite as rosy in the comics as they are on the big screen. To bring you up to speed with Issue #1 – 6 there is one big thing you need to know. (SPOILER!) The cosmic cube has been used to warp reality so Steve Rogers has always been a Hydra Agent. I’m sure some fans won’t be too keen on this (see what happened last time) but this is the world of comics. People die, reality gets rewritten, and as long as your name isn’t Uncle Ben one day you’ll be bought back to life/un-mind controlled or reality set back to normal if you’re from the main Marvel or DC universe. Issue #7 is picking up a new story arc, so it’s a good jumping on point. Anyway, this comic was bought to you by:

  • Writer – Nick Spencer
  • Artist – Jesús Saiz
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramagna (when does this guy get time to rest? He seems to do every Marvel issue)
  • Cover – Stephanie Hans
cap-7

Cover by Stephanie Hans

The comic is set during two time periods. One, back when Steve Rogers was a young, proud, Hydra Youth back in 1935, and the other the present day. The flashbacks provide an on-going narrative to give the reader context as to why Cap is now the way he is and fills in a brand new, much darker past for our ‘hero’. Meanwhile the Red Skull is rallying the people of Sokovia while he gathers his plans to take on the world, march across Europe and do all of those classic Nazi things. Steve Rogers meanwhile is having none of that. Yes, he is a Hydra Agent, but he wants the Red Skull out of the picture so he can ‘restore the glory of Hydra’. The Red Skull of course has his own plans. He’s going to take on the world and has something up his sleeve to bring down the best of the best.

Although there’s some action in this comic it is absolutely not the focus. There’s plenty of text to read and story to get into. The stage is being set for the Skull’s, and Cap’s big plans and there is certainly the promise of battles to come. Every character has a very strong presence. I’ve read comics where you could switch the villain, give them the same text and get the same impact. Not this one though. The Skull, Cap, and supporting cast each fulfill their roles as only they can.

cap-interior

Art by Saiz

There are two predominant art styles throughout. The present day and the flashbacks. The present day art itself comes in two tones. When Cap is involved colours are brighter and more intense. When the focus is the Red Skull the pallet is muted and greater attention given to the detailed line work. During the flashbacks Saiz has opted for a more colourless, greyscale pallet, with the exception of school ties and badges. The school kids definitely have a Slytherin-ish feel about them, which fits the setting. They are Hydra, and even at a young age pretty evil afterall.

Saiz has taken on a hell of a lot, doing the entirety of the art for this issue. Are his hand drawing skills up to scratch? With the limited action in this comic the majority of the hand drawing is done to support conversations, communicating power through the Red Skull, nervousness through General Novty and defiance through Steve Rogers. I’d like to see what Saiz can do in a fight scene or two and look forward to the next issues to see. It’s a very solid effort this time around. 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

One review for this comic dropped it a couple of points for the lack of action and how much text there was. Personally, for the first issue of a new arc I’m don’t think these take away from the issue at all. The characters are given a chance to develop and the stage is now set for what I hope will be a fantastic new arc in Captain America’s story.

Score: 8.5 Unsupervised Creative Expressions out of 10

 

Kit had a few extra thoughts on what the current arc of Captain America represents in the wake of this week’s US Election, the current global political climate and the role of art and fiction have when discussing politics. They are well worth checking out, which you can do right here!

 

Double Feature: Legendary (Marvel) & Legendary Captain America 75th Anniversary Expansion 

Welcome back everyone. I’ve been extremely busy here at Hennessey Heights so I’m sorry this hasn’t been out sooner. Today we take a look at the mega cool Captain America 75th Anniversary expansion for Upper Deck’s & Devin Low’s Legendary, but I thought we would cover the base game a little bit first. For simplicities sake whenever I write “Legendary” I’m referring to Marvel Legendary, as there are quite a few base versions available. 

Legendary is great for a few reasons. For one, deck builders tend to be quite hard work and if you get your “engine” wrong at the beginning then it tends to be an uphill battle against the other players. Legendary counters this is in a couple of ways, it’s cooperative, so all the players are working together, and it’s rules, in my opinion, chooses fun and laid back vibes over a super in-depth complicated system. You can also set the difficulty with which ever villain you choose to fight. 


As a simple summary, in Legendary you each gradually build your decks with better, more powerful Marvel heroes. As a team you have to try and stop the “Mastermind” from taking over the city. Turn by turn more lower grade villains start appearing in the city locations on the board, causing havoc until they eventually escape. Your job is to defeat these villains before they escape, possibly with innocent people, while building up a strong enough team to punch the mastermind in his smug face. 

I have to say there’re deck builders I prefer, but in different ways. Legendary I would happily crack out for people new to deck builders or board games in general. The simplicity makes it a great “beer and pretzels” game, and I don’t think there’re many deck builders you can say about that. Let’s face it, the fact it is Marvel is also a massive draw, there’s so many cool characters to choose from as well, I tried to collect as many of Deadpool as possible I will proudly say.

The game isn’t without it’s issues. It takes more time than you’d hope to set up as you have SO many cards and they tend to fall out of place in the box if you store the game up-right, but those are minor things. So I can definitely recommend Legendary if you want a light hearted, co-op, deck builder, but if want something with more meat, maybe choose something else.  

So as almost a double feature, we have the Captain America 75th Anniversary expansion. I’m not going to get into how good the cards are game wise too much in this article as I love the artwork too much not to give it the limelight. 

What. The. Hell.


First up, the heroes you get are an awesome addition to the base game. Agent X-13, Captain America (Falcon), Captain America 1941 and Winter Soldier all look really cool. The Steve Rogers, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D cards are a bit underwhelming to me, and almost out of place in an expansion where the art is stellar! The Masterminds included are Arnim Zola and Baron Heinrich Zemo. Both solid choices from the Cap series, their henchmen are super cool as well with Zola’s creations being a menagerie of perverted science and Zemo’s Masters of Evil (WWII). 


The main attraction for me is the old school artwork. While playing, it’s great to really soak in the original building blocks of modern super heroes. As much as I enjoy the artwork of the more modern stylised cards, you get this type in the base game so it’s nice for a different look. I’d preferred it if all the cards were in this 1940’s look but that’s just my preference. 


 

All in all a great addition to Legendary: A Marvel deck building game. 

Captain America 75th Anniversary Expansion RRP 17.99

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game RRP 49.99

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 66 – People Are Awful

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

This week Gary and Adam chat about Marvel’s ‘Divided We Fall’, the removal of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection from the canon, Preacher (with a minor spoiler sort of) and the official announcement of the Bioshock Collection, while Adam watches a cartoon that is 8 years old and Gary is somehow responsible for the EU Referendum result.

No main talking point this week!


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636033046853946411-Final-Roughest-Sketch-Cap-Statue

Early sketch of the Captain America statue due to go up in Brooklyn this year

You can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.

Fancy supporting our site? Head on over to our Paypal donation page! It’s completely optional, set your own price! Even £1 helps us with hosting costs and we’d really appreciate it! Cheers!

The Lost Lighthouse: The Weekly Rapture 62 – I’m So Done With It

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

This week we chat about The Punisher, the casting of a young Han Solo, and the trailers for Call of Duty: Infinite WarfareBattlefield 1 and Dawn of War III, while Gary wrestles a cat and Adam rants about how sick he is of crappy covers being used in every god damn advert these days.

This week’s main talking point was Captain America: Civil War. We get into some SPOILERS so if you haven’t seen it, stop listening after 20:30! 

We go in-depth about what we liked about the film, and get in to some listener feedback from what you all thought of it too, before decided the true winner: Captain America or Iron Man?

[audio https://welcometorapture.podbean.com/mf/play/s2h2d5/WR62.mp3]
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You can as always get in touch through Facebook or on Twitter @lost_lighthouse, email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk or sound off in the ‘leave a reply’ box at the bottom of the podcast page on the website.

Fancy supporting our site? Head on over to our Paypal donation page! It’s completely optional, set your own price! Even £1 helps us with hosting costs and we’d really appreciate it! Cheers!