Summer 2017 Movie Round-Up!

26 Aug

 

Stewart here…

 

Another summer of big budget popcorn entertainment is about to come and go, and despite the middling box office, it was a summer full of some quality movies. So in order to talk about this in further detail, let’s break down the best of this summer’s movies into categories:

 

(And yes, SPOILERS ahead…)

 

BEST OPENING & CLOSING TITLES: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

While a follow-up was never going to match the novelty of the original, the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy did manage to overtake its MCU brothers in fun and unique title sequences. From its opening playing on Baby Groot’s danceathon during a massive monster fight to its 70’s inspired closing credits (complete with fun extra scenes), this was a welcome breather from some of the heavier stuff the film threw out in-between. But a bit more on that later on in this list…

RUNNER-UP: the opening titles of Baby Driver and the closing titles of Spider-Man: Homecoming

 

BEST CG CHARACTER: Caesar from War for the Planet of the Apes

All respect to Baby Groot from GotG 2 (hey, he’s got the runner-up slot), but in terms of character arc and flat out innovation, Caesar from the prequel Apes movies has been aces, and this final chapter is no exception. From Andy Serkis’ motion capture performance to the CG that lends so much realism to the ape leader, you get sucked into Caesar’s plight as he tries to balance protecting his people to his desire for personal revenge. And when that story reaches its climax, you feel his arc as a character come to a proper end. That you want more of him afterwards shows the work both actor and CG artists has succeeded.

RUNNER-UP: Baby Groot as GotG Vol. 2

 

 

BEST NON-CG CHARACTER: Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

It’s hard to argue against Yondu being one of the more interesting side characters of the first Guardians. But for the sequel, the character played by Michael Rooker is given an arc that gives dimension to the occasionally craggy space criminal as Starlord’s surrogate dad. His fate saving the man he raised at the expense of his life ultimately is a somber punch the MCU rarely does: make a death permanent and meaningful. He’s definitely as cool as Mary Poppins.

RUNNER-UP: Anitope (Robin Wright) from Wonder Woman

 

BEST SEQUEL: War for the Planet of the Apes

Another case where the Guardians lose to apes in this list (and just barely too), War is a sequel that does an insane hat trick: close up a prequel trilogy that is actually good while laying in connections to the original series of films. And beside that, it’s an emotional (but not without humor) and morally grey finale that makes you question who you should root for. That’s a rare thing in summer blockbusters.

RUNNER-UP: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

BEST SOUNDTRACK: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Believe it or not, this was a hard fought category this summer, with movies like Baby Driver and Atomic Blonde supplying a lot of retro and rare tunes for their soundtracks. But the winner for this fell to GotG Vol. 2 by a narrow margin. From ELO to Glen Campbell (RIP) to Looking Glass, you can tell there was a lot of care done to put some quality tunes together that helped amplify the movie. It’s hard not to hear Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” the same way afterwards.

RUNNER-UP: Baby Driver

 

 

BEST FIGHT: The long take fight from Atomic Blonde

In terms of pure fisticuffs this summer, nothing beat Atomic Blonde in pure physical punishment. And it’s biggest sequence is midway as Charlize Theron’s secret agent goes on a multi-level fight of bad guys pursuing her. Made to look like a single shot, our titular character, like her opponents, are worn down by the violent confrontation. Of course this drags on into a brief car chase, but it’s that first five minutes of punch-out that is worth the admission price.

RUNNER-UP: the Fassbender on Fassbender android fight from Alien: Covenant

 

BEST ACTION SEQUENCE: The No Man’s Land sequence from Wonder Woman

If you want a sequence that shows you how emotionally resonant a scene can be just by the pervading times, this is definitely that. Diana’s triumphant first appearance in her trademark garb across a brutal WWI trench fight is an epic moment in the movie. But in the current pop culture, it’s a transcendent moment to see a female hero allowed to be a hero in her own movie. It’s a rarity that should be anything but.

RUNNER-UP: All of Dunkirk

 

BEST HERO: Diana from Wonder Woman

In straight up “hero’s journey” characters, Diana in Wonder Woman follows that path perfectly. She’s allowed to have intelligence despite her lack of understanding of the culture of the early 20th century, and it’s her compassion that is matched by her ability to kick ass. She’s been a icon of heroism, and she’s done justice here.

RUNNER-UP: Peter Parker from Spider-Man: Homecoming

 

BEST VILLAIN: The Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming

The MCU has not had the best track record for cinematic villains, but Michael Keaton’s working man turned alien arms dealer is one of the more interesting ones to come out of the new Spider-Man movie. He feels he’s been wronged, and becomes a villain to support his working class buddies, which bring him into conflict with the teenage Peter Parker. It’s Keaton who gives the character the humor and menace that makes the turns in the movie so delicious to watch.

RUNNER-UP: The Colonel from War for the Planet of the Apes

 

BEST MISFIRE: Valerian And the City of a Thousand Planets

Luc Besson’s big budget comic book adaptation is certainly an ambitious piece of cinema. It reminds me of Besson’s The Fifth Element taken to an insane new level thanks to current special effects, and like that movie, it has some things that just are problematic. Besides leads that seem mismatched and an over abundance of “fetch quest” detours, there is still some amazing stuff to watch. If they ever do a sequel (which seems pie in the sky), maybe Besson will keep it a bit more down to earth.

RUNNER-UP: Alien: Covenant

 

BEST MOVIE: Wonder Woman

When you compare the lineup of DC related films from last year to now, Wonder Woman seems like a quantum leap beyond BvS and Suicide Squad. Maybe it’s because this origin story bothers to be something more than just a collage of cool images from comics brought to life, but is a story about a fish out of water (or an island full of Amazons) who finds her own path. Not many movies this summer have managed to last as long at the box office as this one has (and still is by the date of this), and that’s a testament to a movie that has been long wanted, and finally delivered on. Wonder Woman is the movie we needed.

RUNNER-UP: Baby Driver

 

 

So what did you think? Are there any favorite movies you saw this summer? Ask that and whatever you want below…

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