Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. 2022 has some of the best movies we can watch over and over again. However, this year also has some films that we stay far away from for the sake of our sanity. In this next episode of "Movie Talk", I will be counting down the worst movies that came out in 2022. As usual, I tend to remain optimistic about the movies I dislike. I even appreciate the silver linings the films offer amid their sea of flaws. Unfortunately, those positive remarks aren't enough to keep these ten movies from appearing on my "worst of 2022" list. This year's list is different compared to last year, as I watched only ten films that were as horrendous as the coronavirus, which is probably for the better. So don't expect a "dishonorable mentions" list to appear on this year's worst list. With that in mind, let's count down the stinkers of 2022.
Coming in at the bottom of the list is another disappointing misfire from the folks at Happy Madison. "Home Team", which came out on Netflix in January, centers on the true story of the New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton during his one-year suspension. What seemed to be a funny and heartwarming story about a coach's relationship with his son was actually an underwhelming, by-the-numbers underdog story that's very forgettable. Admittedly, Kevin James delivered one of the most respectable performances of his career as Sean Payton, and its messages were inspiring for young viewers. But, unfortunately, they're constantly sacked by its clichéd script, forgettable characters, and dull humor. This is another Happy Madison project that fails to capture the trophy and the hearts of Adam Sandler's followers. More importantly, it's also a bland way to conclude last year's football season.
Even though Liam Neeson makes for a convincing action star, it's not always enough to compensate for the poor quality of his movies. Martin Campbell's latest thriller, "Memory", is no exception. When you have a director who revived the James Bond franchise and an actor who specializes in the genre, this movie would've been something worth remembering. Instead, it was another mediocre and soulless thriller that we likely forgot about, like Neeson's character, Alex Lewis. Despite the efforts made by Campbell and the cast, the film is a forgettable low point for Neeson and the filmmaker, thanks to its weak and formulaic screenplay and a frustratingly dull finale. It's no "Green Lantern", but it did give me doubt about Campbell's future as a director.
If you want another reason Sony's Spider-Man-less universe struggles to survive without the web-crawler, look no further than its latest villain spin-off. "Morbius" attempts to provide the same superhero entertainment values as the "Venom" movies, with Jared Leto as the titular vampire and Daniel Espinosa in the director's chair. Instead, it delivered a shallow and inconsistent Marvel appetizer before the main course, which was "Doctor Strange". Jared Leto was serviceable as the Living Vampire, and the visual effects were okay for the most part. Unfortunately, those elements hardly matter when the execution is overly disappointing. The supporting cast felt wasted, the screenplay was full of cliches and rushed character arcs, the action scenes were underwhelming, and the direction was lackluster. "Morbius" is another misfire that puts doubt on the future of Sony's separate cinematic universe involving Spider-Man's adversaries.
I'm definitely going to get a lot of flack from people with my number seven pick. "Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul." is another film that's dividing critics and audiences regarding its topics and presentation. Surprisingly, I'm more in favor of the audience for this one. The movie had the potential to be good with its satirical and dramatic representation of the religious community's dark side. Unfortunately, that expectation was quickly overshadowed by its uneven tone, direction, awkward humor, and average screenplay. Luckily, Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown provided an engaging chemistry that helped make my experience worthwhile. Other than that, Adamma Ebo's directorial debut didn't do much else to make me praise the Lord.
Another horror icon returned to the screen to bring the slasher franchise back from the dead. Unfortunately, the psychotic, chainsaw-wielding maniac's return was far from terrifying. Director David Blue Garcia hoped to reinvigorate my interest in the slasher franchise with a sequel that followed the same path as 2018's "Halloween". However, instead of being as great as "Halloween", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a scare-free and painfully insulting slog that favors gory kills over storytelling. The actors involved were okay in their roles, and the bus massacre sequence was the best part of the movie regarding Garcia's direction. Sadly, they're not enough to slash its way out of its formulaic screenplay, unlikable characters, and a disappointing story about trauma. Like the recent installments that came before it, it's another forgettable revival of one of cinema's scariest and most iconic antagonists in history.
We got another Liam Neeson movie on this list, proving that 2022 is not a great year for the action star. This time, we have "Blacklight", which is far more underwhelming and forgettable than "Memory". I wasn't able to watch this film in the theater, so I rented it for around 16 dollars in the comfort of my home. Honestly, it made me wish that I didn't. Like "Memory", Liam Neeson's presence is the only redeeming factor in this mediocre and irritatingly dull thriller that features similar elements done better in other films. Fans of Liam Neeson might give it a shot. As for the rest of the population, they're not missing much.
I'm into vampire movies as much as the next guy, but my number four pick has gotten me concerned about the bloodsuckers' future on the big screen. "The Invitation" is another horror film that was dumped on the last weekend of summer vacation. Based on my experience with it, I can see why. It is a bleak and painfully mundane film that offers nothing new to the tiring genre. It tries to combine the gothic romance element with the usual scare tactics from other horror films, but sadly, it winds up becoming nothing more than a lifeless chore to sit through. Despite Nathalie Emmanuel's effort to make it watchable, the movie's predictable plot, mediocre direction, and weak scares make this invite far from welcoming. It's a shame, too, since its director Jessica M. Thompson showed promise thanks to her directorial debut in 2017, "The Light of the Moon". Maybe she should stick with directing drama films involving humans for the time being.
You would think that a movie about Owen Wilson being a superhero would result in a fun and action-packed treat for families. Well, surprisingly, my number three pick managed to prove me otherwise. "Secret Headquarters" was originally set to be a theatrical release before being dumped to Paramount+. From the looks of it, I can understand why, but that doesn't make it redeemable. Instead of being a charming and entertaining addition to the superhero genre, "Secret Headquarters" is an overly bland and uninspiring retread of better movies, particularly in the superhero genre. The visuals were fine for the most part, and its message about trust was sweet, but that's about it. The movie is a highly dull and bare-bones approach to an interesting concept due to its weak cast, a vague sense of direction, formulaic script, and forgettable characters. It's easy to admit that this isn't a good sign for Paramount+'s future regarding its original content.
We all thought "Collision Course" was the final nail in the coffin for Blue Sky's popular money-making franchise. We thought wrong. "The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild" was the first installment of the icy animated franchise to be released after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox and the closure of Blue Sky Studios. After watching it, it made me wish that it wasn't released at all, not even on Disney+. This animated piece of frozen poop has done the impossible: being more irredeemable and less entertaining than "Collision Course". Not only did it replace the main cast from the previous films, save for Simon Pegg, but it also removed the charm and wit that made the franchise enjoyable. As a result, it became another pointless and extremely generic movie that fell prey to Disney's greedy attempt to revive the Fox properties with no effort whatsoever. Despite Simon Pegg's vocal performance as Buck Wild, the film suffers from its forgettable storyline, weak characters, bland humor, and lackluster animation. "The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild" is more along the lines of a dinosaur fossil that further proves that the franchise has officially gone extinct.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. My absolute worst film of 2022 is a horror remake that's more insulting and frustrating than the 1984 film adaptation. At least, in my eyes. The 2022 reimagining of "Firestarter" had plenty of changes that would've helped provide a better experience than the previous adaptation featuring the young Drew Barrymore. Sadly, those modern upgrades are immediately burned to a crisp by the movie's terrible execution. Even worse, they made it into a formulaic superhero origin story instead of a horror film about the dangers of harnessing unknown power. The cast did what they could with their performances, but they're not enough to keep this poor excuse of a remake from being burned alive. The storytelling was extremely generic, the characters were uninteresting and poorly developed, the scares were nonexistent, and the ending was disdainful for its narrative choices. As a result, 2022's "Firestarter" is not only the worst Stephen King adaptation to grace the screen, but it's also my worst theatrical experience of 2022, horror or otherwise. Let's hope the upcoming "Salem's Lot" movie will make me forget about this flaming pile of cinematic poop.
That concludes my top ten stinkers of 2022, with no dishonorable mentions included. That's the first year this has happened since I first started my blog. Either I was getting good at avoiding most of the movies that looked bad, or I wasn't interested in talking about the ones I had already watched. Whatever the case, I'm glad I didn't have to struggle with this list compared to my previous top ten lists. Hopefully, that will continue in 2023, which looks to be another strong year for movies. With all that said, stay safe during the wintery weather, and I'll see you all next year.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. 2023 is beyond the horizon, with more exciting movies coming out to fuel our passion for cinema and popcorn entertainment. But before we start thinking about the future, we should take the opportunity to celebrate the best ones that came out in 2022. As usual, this year had plenty of films that are intriguing, surprising, bizarre, heartwarming, thought-provoking, or all of the above. We also have adaptations, remakes, and sequels that are either surprisingly great, understandably average, or painfully mediocre. I would love to list these movies in any specific order, but today, I'll be counting down the ten films of 2022 that impressed me with their storytelling, technical aspects, and the impact that they left on me and everyone else. Also, just a reminder that I couldn't review every movie that came out in 2022, so don't expect your favorite film to be on this list. This is my list of movies that I think were outstanding in their own right. I've seen a lot of great films, but only ten are perfect enough to be included. As always, if you want in-depth reasons for my choices, look for them on the "2022 Reviews" page. With that said, let's count down my top ten favorite movies of 2022.
Pixar may not have hit a home run with the studio's big-screen return with "Lightyear", but it did strike gold with its outstanding animated feature about puberty. "Turning Red" is another Pixar triumph that effectively combines family-friendly storytelling with a complicated and mature topic, making it accessible to audiences of all ages. Despite specific sequences that were a bit much, the film benefits greatly from its brilliant storytelling, voice cast, likable characters, clever humor, and outstanding animation. It may not top "Inside Out" regarding Pixar's presentation of adolescence, but it proves that the studio is still on top of the animation game regarding their original content.
Five years ago, the entire world was shaken by the horrific actions made by Harvey Weinstein toward the actresses and employees working in Hollywood. This year, The story behind the journalists responsible for revealing the shocking truth was revealed. "She Said" is a straightforward yet thought-provoking depiction of the journalists' journey to expose Weinstein's heinous crimes against women. Director Maria Schrader provides an exquisite sense of realism and heartache regarding the characters without showing any sexual abuse on screen. Additionally, it benefitted from its compelling cast, mainly Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan, and Rebecca Lenkiewicz's screenplay. It's a superb representation of the story that sparked the "MeToo movement" and changed how we see the industry today.
DreamWorks Animation took notes from "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" regarding its animation style. As a result, the studio produced two great animated features that provided stiff competition for Disney. However, only one was fantastic enough to appear on my list, and it's a sequel to a decade-old spin-off. "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" was originally seen as another cash-grab sequel for the studio, similar to "The Croods: A New Age" and "Boss Baby: Family Business". But, to our surprise, it became something much more. The movie is a vast improvement over the 2011 spin-off film regarding its mature themes, characters, storytelling, and fantastic animation. I would even say it's one of the best animated sequels I've seen from the studio, joining alongside "Shrek 2", "Kung Fu Panda 2", and "How to Train Your Dragon 2". It also marks a great starting point for DreamWorks' latest stage in its presentation that'll likely give Disney a run for its money.
This year, acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro took the animation format out for a spin with another adaptation of Carlo Collodi's beloved novel. The result is just as profound and grimly wondrous as you'd expect from the director. "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" outshines Disney's live-action remake tremendously by offering a dazzling and highly ambitious take on the tale of a wooden boy longing to be human. The story is refreshing for its themes and characters, the voice cast is impeccable, and the stop-motion animation is incredible for its designs and backgrounds. If you want another reason why animation should be treated as an art form, look no further than this amazing piece of animated filmmaking.
If you want to be overwhelmed by cuteness and heartfelt scenarios, my number six pick will fill your heart with joy in seconds. "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" is a delightful and sincere adaptation that honors the title character and Dean Fleischer Camp's short films. As someone who hasn't watched the short films, I was pleasantly surprised at how adorable and well-written the film turned out. The cast, mainly Jenny Slate, was sublime in their roles, and the mixture of live-action and stop-motion was flawlessly spectacular. It may not be like the other fast-paced family films with cute animated characters, but it does offer enough heartwarming moments to put a smile on my face.
Let's face it. No one wants to relive the traumatic experience that was the murder of Emmett Till, especially in movie form. However, there's no denying that this film matches the shocking impact with its exceptional filmmaking aspects. "Till" is a highly compelling and bittersweet drama that successfully captures the pain and frustration of Emmett Till's murder and the black community in the 1950s. Chinonye Chukwu did an incredible job honoring this challenging topic through her direction, and Danielle Deadwyler delivered a stunning performance as a mother filled with grief. It can be tough to watch, but it is essential for us to learn, so we don't let history repeat itself.
My number four pick is a very late addition that I had to include immediately after watching it. Not just because of how great it was but also how it got me excited for its future. "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" is the latest movie from Rian Johnson that made me realize his impressive talent as a filmmaker. It's also a delightful sequel that lives up to the expectations set up by Johnson's mystery classic "Knives Out". From its fantastic cast to Johnson's top-notch screenplay to its social commentary, the film is an entertaining, clever, and occasionally wild experience that'll satisfy fans of the original and, in general, murder mysteries. Here's hoping his upcoming third "Knives Out" film can round up the trilogy in glorious fashion.
The multiverse is a wild concept filled with multiple possibilities for Hollywood to play around with. This has been brought to life through recent Marvel films like "Into the Spider-Verse" and "Multiverse of Madness". However, my third favorite movie of 2022 proves that the multiverse isn't just for superheroes to encounter. "Everything Everywhere All at Once" would've been widely forgotten regarding its bizarreness. Instead, it became a unique and kooky experience that you have to see to believe. The movie is a never-ending mixture of chaos, vibrancy, and heart that's balanced very well with a thought-provoking narrative about the relationship between mother and daughter. The cast delivered great performances, including Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, the direction and emotion were consistently admirable, and the visual effects were outstanding. It's also a great distraction for those waiting for the Flash or Spider-Man to tackle the insanity that is the multiverse next year.
Steven Spielberg has done it again! His latest film, "The Fabelmans", took an interesting approach to reflect his childhood and filmmaking quest through his originality. The result is a beautiful and well-written coming-of-age journey that celebrates the heart of filmmaking and the passion behind it. The director effectively surrounds it with a strong sense of charm and is never afraid to showcase the drama involving the characters' waning relationships. It's also a compelling showcase for the actors involved, including Michelle Williams and the young Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy. Combine them with its strong screenplay and John Williams' score, and you get another terrific reflection of how the power of movies affects our lives. It's also another reason why Spielberg is one of the best filmmakers of all time.
We all knew that this was coming. We just didn't know where it would land on my list. Now we know. When we first heard about "Top Gun: Maverick", we thought it would be another sequel that carelessly cashes in on the success of its original. Tony Scott's "Top Gun" wasn't a critical hit back in 1986, so we assumed its long-awaited follow-up wouldn't fare any different. But, boy, did we shoot ourselves in the foot with our quick judgment? "Top Gun: Maverick" not only surpassed the original in more ways than one but also delivered one of the best theatrical experiences and blockbusters of the decade. Joseph Kosinski proved himself to be the underdog of the film industry by providing a legacy sequel that combines thrilling action, lovable characters, and heartwarming drama. Tom Cruise delivered one of the best performances of his career as Pete Mitchell, a role that made him a household name in the movie business. Additionally, the aerial sequences are incredible, and the direction and screenplay are superb regarding the character arcs and nostalgia. I've only seen it twice in the theater. The first time was in the regular cinema with the largest screen, and my second time was in an IMAX theater with my mother. I loved it the first time I watched it, and I loved it even more in my second viewing. Regarding the cinematic experience and storytelling quality, "Top Gun: Maverick" is the best legacy sequel I've seen and my favorite film of 2022.
In conclusion, 2022 marks another good year for movies. While most of them failed to meet all of our expectations or wound up being total bombs, the rest of them managed to impress or even surprise us, especially the ones on my list. Knowing me, I'm always a fan of the underdogs. Speaking of bombs, be on the lookout for the next episode of "Movie Talk", where I share my top ten least favorite movies of the year, which seems to be limited compared to my other worst film lists. Until then, have a blessed day.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. Last time, we counted down my top ten favorite films of 2021. Now, it's time for me to list the ten movies that are as contagious as the coronavirus. These are the top ten films that left a sour taste in my mouth throughout the year. This list was about as tricky as my top ten best list. It wasn't just because of the small number of bad films I watched in 2021. It was also because of the ranking, mainly the top three movies, which were so terrible they gave me brain farts as to which one was more unforgiving than the others. Now there were a few other films that everyone thought were bad, such as "Tom & Jerry", "Space Jam: A New Legacy", and "Dear Evan Hansen" for some ridiculous reason. But I managed to find some movies that I believe deserve more hate than those I mentioned. As always, this list is in my personal opinion. If you happen to like any of my selections, that's perfectly fine. I'm always glad to see people enjoy these films more than I did, even though I don't entirely agree with their opinions. Just make sure you lock the doors at night if everyone else doesn't feel the same way. As always, you can find my selections on my "2021 Reviews" page if you want a more in-depth reason why I didn't enjoy them as much as others. With that said, let's count down the worst of the worst!
Let's start this list with a long-awaited sequel to one of the comedies that define Eddie Murphy's career, "Coming to America". "Coming 2 America" is not only another follow-up that fell extremely short of its predecessor, but it is also the top contender for the "laziest sequel title" award. The film benefited from Eddie Murphy's irresistible presence, its focus on Zamunda, and costume designs. Sadly, they're overshadowed by its familiarity, weak humor, and obsession with nostalgia over storytelling. It's a toned-down retread of the original that's not worthy enough to wear the crown.
If you think the snowy weather outside was frightful, then you haven't watched this icy dud of an action thriller. "The Ice Road" is another film that features Liam Neeson in action star mode. Nothing more, and nothing less. While his presence on screen was once again tolerable, it wasn't enough to carry the film through the ice road unscathed. Its weak supporting cast, cliched screenplay, mundane direction, and terrible visuals immediately put this forgettable thriller in the deep freeze. It's a fine watch for those who enjoy Liam Neeson as an action star, but for everyone else, it showed that the actor deserves a better movie with warmer temperatures than this.
This year, I've seen plenty of animated films that didn't match the quality that Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli offered in their movies. Some were tolerable, some were subpar, and some were downright irredeemable. "The Addams Family 2" is another example of the latter. The film is a narratively bland and uninspired animated sequel that's not as spooky as its 2019 predecessor and the live-action adaptations. The voice cast and the animation still did wonders in portraying the macabre family and their characteristics. However, they're not enough to overcome its formulaic plot, tedious humor, one-dimensional supporting characters, and weak direction. This is one road trip that's just as gloomy as the titular family, and not in a good way.
It didn't take the people from Hollywood too long to revive the "Resident Evil" franchise with a reboot. Unfortunately, it made me wish that they didn't. "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City" seeks to correct course by sticking close to the source material, mainly the first two games. The result is a mediocre and thinly-plotted reboot that might satisfy a few fans of the games and no one else. The film showcased some good intentions in its cast, atmosphere, and production design. However, they're not enough to help the horror reboot survive the zombie apocalypse. Its cheesy dialogue, weak plot, underwhelming direction, and rushed finale made me realize that it's time for this horror franchise to stay dead.
You would think that Ben Falcone couldn't go as low as his last feature, "Superintelligence", but this film happened to prove us wrong. "Thunder Force" was Falcone's latest collaboration with his wife Melissa McCarthy that lacks the power and the humor to punch its way to victory. Like "Superintelligence", the film took an intriguing concept and squandered it into a generic and forgettable mess. Despite some okay moments in its cast and action, "Thunder Force" was quickly defeated by its cliched script, mediocre humor, and Falcone's poor direction. Remind Nick Fury not to let Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer join the Avengers.
There's no doubt that I was always interested in seeing unique takes of the fairy tale formula thanks to the "Shrek" franchise. Unfortunately, the movies that tried to copy the DreamWorks Animation classic's formula weren't as magical as a bag full of fairy dust. My number five pick for the worst of 2021 happened to join that list, which is "Charming". I know it came out three years ago, but it was first released in Spain, and it didn't get a United States release until 2021, when Netflix picked it up. Because of that and the fact that I live in the U.S.A., I will count that as a 2021 release. You probably haven't heard of this little animated stinker, and to be honest, you're better off not knowing what it is. Despite its okay-ish animation and a fitting message about love, "Charming" is a charmless and painfully mediocre fairy tale that suffers from its dull story, forgettable characters, weak performances, and an unbearable script. This is one tale that you don't want to read to your kids.
What could've been an intriguing and unique sci-fi approach on reincarnation turned out to be a bland eyesore that's infinitely boring. Out of the original movies released on Paramount+ this year, Antoine Fuqua's "Infinite" was undeniably the worst thing to come out of the streaming service. Despite its okay action scenes, the sci-fi action film was a dull and incoherent imitation of the well-received films that came before it, mainly "The Matrix". Fuqua's direction was weak, the characters were uninteresting and wooden, the plot was inconsistent, and Mark Wahlberg delivered his worst performance of his career so far. It's an endless cycle of badness after badness, resulting in the movie being the low point for Wahlberg and Fuqua.
"The Forever Purge" is another installment that refuses to let the popular horror franchise die. Whether you like these movies or not, you can tell how unnecessary and tasteless this latest sequel was regarding the current state we're in now. The cast and its political themes, including immigration, were dumbed down by its soulless scares, by-the-numbers storytelling, and mediocre characters. Unfortunately for us, they're already working on making more "Purge" films as of this writing, which means it'll be a while until we see the end of these senseless acts of violence.
"Home Alone 3" started the unfortunate trend of mediocre sequels that failed to capitalize on the success of John Hughes' comedy classic and its sequel. "Home Sweet Home Alone" managed to make this trend even worse than before. Released as part of Disney+'s second anniversary, the sixth installment in the "Home Alone" franchise was an unpleasant and unrewarding sequel that didn't understand why the first film was beloved in the first place. However, I would give it credit for providing a couple of fresh ideas to spice up its formula, such as injecting some sympathy into the "burglars". Unfortunately, the execution for these ideas was about as torturous and humorless as the traps themselves. The cast was mediocre, Mazer's direction was mundane, the characters were unlikeable (mainly Max), and the comedy was forgettable. Not only was it the worst film to appear on Disney+, but it was also an unnecessary follow-up that left a massive dent on the beloved holiday comedy franchise.
I've constantly been switching the top two films for weeks, figuring out which movie is worse than the other. It's a struggle that's just as stressful as finding the perfect Christmas gift for a special someone. After thinking it over for a while, I have finally decided which one deserves the top spot in my least favorite list. The only thing that I despise more than COVID-19 and the previous movies I mentioned this year is Chris Rock hunting the Jigsaw copycat killer. Like "The Purge", "Saw" is another horror franchise that overstayed its grisly welcome with its tasteless violence and lackluster storytelling. The only evidence I needed to prove that theory was the latest installment in this twisted and gory film series: "Spiral". Long story short, if you've watched the previous "Saw" films, then you've already seen "Spiral", a repetitive and unoriginal cash-grab that wasted its talented cast, ideas, and my time. Despite a fresh direction and some promising elements, the film heavily relied on the tiring formula that quickly wore itself thin instead of taking advantage of its new ideas. From its unlikeable characters to its lackluster thrills and kills, "Spiral" is a surefire sign that the game needs to end before it does any more damage to the brand. In my eyes, it is the worst installment in the ultra-violent franchise, and it is also my biggest stink pile of 2021.
That concludes my top ten least favorite films of 2021, thus ending another year filled with the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of cinematic art. The same goes for everything else that happened outside of our movie-going experience. If there's a bright side I could find regarding my list, it's that these films did what they could to impress their target audience, even though their flaws were as irritating as being isolated in our homes. As I mentioned before, this was a hard list to make because of the number of terrible movies I watched this year compared to the many fantastic ones. But I gathered enough willpower to complete it before reaching the new year. With that in mind, I hope you enjoyed the hard work I put into making this list, and as always, have a safe and happy new year.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. It's that time of year once again, ladies and gentlemen. 2021 is reaching its end, and we're already looking forward to 2022. That means it's time for me to count down my ten favorite films of the year. As usual, there were a ton of movies released both in theaters and on streaming services that I enjoyed, more so than others, but only ten of them are perfect enough to make it onto my list. I'm also going to include a couple of films that were released last year before expanding wide in 2021. The question is, which ones will be on my top ten list? As usual, this is my personal top ten list. Some of you may agree with my choices, and others may not. That's the magic of having opinions. Also, I want to apologize in advance for not being able to see all of the movies that came out recently before making this list, including "Nightmare Alley", "The Power of the Dog", and "Don't Look Up". I heard many good things about them, but I couldn't find the right time to watch them. Don't worry. I'm still planning on reviewing them soon. If you want to know more about why I adored the films on my list, you can search for them on my "2021 Reviews" page. With that in mind, let's not waste any more time. Let's get to the countdown!
Let's start the countdown with the recent adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, courtesy of Mr. Steven Spielberg himself. "West Side Story" was a remarkable experience from start to finish in my eyes. Not just because it was my first exposure to the source material, it's also because it's a superbly-directed and highly engaging musical that honors the narrative and themes. The only reasons it's sitting at the bottom of my list were its beefy length and Ansel Elgort's average performance as Tony. Other than that, it's a thought-provoking and tragic love story that boasts significantly from its cast, Spielberg's old-fashioned style, Leonard Bernstein's score, and lively musical numbers. Unfortunately, it's one of the recent movie musicals that sadly went unnoticed due to its underperformance at the box office. Hopefully, it'll get more attention once the Oscars roll in.
After bringing "Blade Runner" back to the big screen, acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve is back to revise another science-fiction epic from our childhoods, and boy was it a grand one. Not only was "Dune" a significant improvement over David Lynch's 1984 adaptation, but it was also a well-crafted and majestically immersive first half of Frank Herbert's novel. Its cast was engaging, the technical aspects were incredible regarding the scope, and Hans Zimmer's score was delightful. If you want another reason why Villeneuve is a great filmmaker, watch this fantastic movie. I hope he continues that success with next year's sequel.
Since it acquired 20th Century Fox, Disney has been having plenty of issues connecting audiences to the former's recent titles regarding the box office. My number eight pick, however, managed to be an exception. "Free Guy" can be seen as an entertaining piece of escapism from director Shawn Levy, but it is also a hilarious and thoughtful allegory about life. Ryan Reynolds delivered one of his best performances in his career, its satirized humor was balanced well with its heartfelt moments and visuals, and Levy's direction was lively and effortful. It may not reach the high score, but it earned enough points for me to place it on my list.
2021 saw three Sony Pictures Animation films being released on Netflix due to the pandemic: "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", "Wish Dragon", and "Vivo". These three films continue the animation studio's quest to compete with Disney and DreamWorks with stellar results. But only one was able to rise above the rest, and that is "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", my seventh favorite film of 2021. I usually put a Disney film in my top ten list just like I did every other year, but like "Into the Spider-Verse", this film managed to be great enough to earn its place on my list. While I did enjoy "Wish Dragon" and "Vivo", "The Mitchells vs. the Machines" was top-tier animation gold regarding its visual uniqueness and storytelling. It's incredibly entertaining, intelligently hilarious, and heartwarmingly relatable. From its delightful voice cast to its imaginative animation, the film gleefully celebrates the power of weirdness and a connection more reliable than the internet.
The Williams sisters have maintained their success in tennis for years, and it's all thanks to their father. "King Richard" brilliantly showcased Richard Williams' journey through its excellent cast and infectious spirit. Will Smith turned in an incredible performance as Richard. The narrative was thoughtful and full of heart despite its sports biopic formula. The cast's chemistry was as refreshing as the sisters' tennis skills. It's an uplifting and well-directed sports drama that should get Reinaldo Marcus Green more directorial gigs in the future.
The legend of King Arthur has been told through different types of media for many generations. This film offered a new tale that centered on his nephew and his own accomplishment, and the result is undeniably incredible. David Lowery's "The Green Knight" is a visually striking and thought-provoking medieval epic that succeeds in its scope and narrative. However, it can be a slow burn for modern moviegoers due to its runtime and lack of high-stakes action. Regardless, the film was a marvelous piece of medieval cinema regarding its cast, Lowery's filmmaking style, and fantastic technical qualities.
Okay, I know that my number four pick was released in 2020, but I wasn't able to watch the film earlier since it was in a small number of theaters during that time. So I had to wait until next year to witness this critically acclaimed drama for myself. I'm happy to say that the wait was worth it. "Minari" saw writer/director Lee Isaac Chung depict a fictional portrayal of his upbringing in the rural United States. The result is a gorgeous and authentic piece of lifestyle cinema that shows that rural living isn't what it's cracked up to be. Thanks to its splendid cast, Chung's ambitious direction, a remarkable screenplay, and sublime cinematography, the film is an endearing and heartfelt drama that reminds us about the importance of life and family.
This is another movie that came out last year before it expanded wide in 2021. But since I watched it this year, I'm counting it as a 2021 movie. Chloé Zhao's "Nomadland" is another slice-of-life drama that's worth supporting for its authentic storytelling and brilliant filmmaking skills. What made it a bit better than "Minari" in my eyes was that Zhao truly understood the basics of a nomad lifestyle, both the good and the bad. Because of that, it became a sentimental and grounded portrait of people living life on the open road. Of course, it wasn't without its tiny issues with its pacing and repetition. Still, its brilliant cast, Zhao's direction, and gorgeous cinematography made "Nomadland" a beautifully delicate experience that honors those people and showcases Zhao as one of the most ambitious filmmakers to date.
What do you get when you combine Larson's creative struggle with many musical numbers and Lin-Manuel Miranda? You get "Tick, Tick… Boom!", another fantastic musical that explodes with energy, emotion, and songs. Andrew Garfield was undeniably brilliant in his role as Jonathan Larson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda has proved himself to be an impressive director regarding his infectious liveliness. Along with its supporting cast, musical numbers, and compelling storytelling, this is one production that deserves your time.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe started the year on the right foot with a slew of enjoyable streaming shows for Disney+ and a couple of decent films that introduced some new heroes to its audience. So it's a no-brainer to see the franchise attempting to finish the year strong with another crowd-pleasing experience that hopes to rival "Avengers: Endgame". What better way to do that than with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? It was a challenging mission to accomplish, but the MCU team managed to pull it off with flying colors. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" not only works as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Marvel fans, but it also works as an emotionally driven and visually riveting conclusion to the webhead's MCU trilogy. The story was well-balanced with its fan service and blockbuster aspects. The cast was irresistibly charming, the characters were nicely developed, and the direction in its action and drama was handled incredibly well. In addition, it served as an incredible love letter to the people who have followed Spider-Man for years, whether it's from the movies, television, comics, or even video games. It's a fantastic Spider-Man sequel that's also my favorite film of 2021.
There you have it, folks. Those are my ten favorite films of 2021. While it sucks that we're still waiting for things to go back to normal, I'm glad that we had some great movies this year to keep us from going insane. Again, I apologize for not being able to see every film that came out before making this list. That's what happens when I try to balance my movie-going schedule with my personal life. Do you agree or disagree with my list? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for the next episode of "Movie Talk", where I share my top ten stinkers of 2021.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. The DC Extended Universe has many interesting stories behind the scenes, but none of them intrigued me more than the "Justice League" scenario. In 2013, visionary director Zack Snyder was brought on board to helm a retelling of Superman's origin story. That came to be known as "Man of Steel". Despite receiving a polarizing response from critics and audiences, the film became a financial hit, resulting in Warner Brothers fast-tracking a DC cinematic universe to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What happened afterward is where things got a little…troublesome. The next two films in the DC Extended Universe, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad", were met with generally negative reviews from critics and fans even though they gained a respectable amount of money at the box office. Although the "Wonder Woman" film managed to become the best-reviewed installment in the franchise, so there's that. But the studio's problems didn't get worse until the release of "Justice League" in November 2017, not just the film in general, but also what happened behind the scenes. During production, Zack Snyder left the project altogether when his daughter committed suicide in March 2017. As a result, Warner Brothers hired Joss Whedon, the man who helmed "Marvel's The Avengers" and was responsible for rewriting the "Justice League" script, to take over as an uncredited director. Whedon's direction happened to be brighter and more humorous than Snyder's darker style for the DC Extended Universe. Sadly, that direction proved to be far more disastrous than the "dark and broody" aspect. When it premiered in November 2017, the film became a critical and financial disappointment, resulting in Warner Brothers losing around $60 million. It was heavily criticized by reviewers and DC fans for its writing, tone, characters, and over-reliance on CGI, officially derailing Snyder's "Justice League" arc for good. This resulted in the studio changing course to focus more on making standalone franchises in the DC universe, like "Aquaman", "Shazam", and the upcoming "Batman" reboot with Robert Pattinson.
After the release of "Justice League", or "Josstice League" as fans like to call it now, an online petition was created to tell the studio to release the "Snyder Cut" of the film. What seemed to be another pointless petition by a so-called "fan" turned out to be a revolution as multiple people showed support for the movement. After years of outcry and a bunch of clues showcasing the existence of Snyder's original cut, the studio finally decided to allow Snyder to finish what he had started, and the rest is history. So the moral of the story is that if you complain long and hard enough, you'll get what you want. It worked for the Sonic design, and it worked for the "Snyder Cut". Fans are weird sometimes. This was something that caught me by surprise after everything that happened with the original cut. Even though I enjoyed watching "Justice League" when it first came out, I can understand why people weren't that impressed with it in the first place. When I first found out that the Snyder cut of "Justice League" is officially moving forward, I became intrigued and excited, mostly the former. I was delighted to hear that Zack Snyder was given a chance to release his own version of the film as an HBO Max original. However, I was also interested in finding out whether it'll make much of a difference or not in terms of quality. It made a difference with the extended version of "Batman v Superman", so the same could be said with "Zack Snyder's Justice League", right? In today's episode of "Movie Talk", I will be finding the answer to that question as I take a look at Snyder's own version of one of the more divisive films in the DC Extended Universe.
Before I begin, allow me to bring you up to speed on what "Justice League" is about in case you haven't seen it. The film featured an all-star cast that consists of Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller. The film's story takes place after the events of "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice", where Batman (Affleck) attempts to unite the other heroes with special abilities following Superman's (Cavill) death. Those heroes consist of Wonder Woman (Gadot), Aquaman (Momoa), The Flash (Miller), and Cyborg (Fisher). These heroes must learn to become a team to protect the world from the vicious Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) who, along with his army of Parademons, seek the three Mother Boxes on Earth. The director's cut of "Justice League" obviously has the same plot as the 2017 version, but it also offers a lot more content that Snyder had initially intended to include in his film before he left. It has many additional scenes, new characters, and plenty of world-building elements that tease the upcoming installments in the DC Extended Universe. This resulted in its runtime being a whopping four hours compared to the original's two hours. Not only that, but it also got a rating upgrade because of the additional content. Instead of the kid-friendly PG-13 rating that Joss Whedon's version had, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" got slapped with an R rating due to its amount of violence and language. Prepare to hear Batman drop the F-bomb. Now an R-rated DC Extended Universe film is nothing entirely new as "Birds of Prey" was just released with an R rating last year, and that was the original cut. The extended edition of "Batman v Superman", which Snyder directed, was also released with an R rating. As usual, an R rating doesn't always translate into a good film, let alone an upgrade to a PG-13 rated property. See the "Hellboy" reboot and the 2020 version of "The Grudge" for example. It's the storytelling quality that determines whether or not the film is watchable for its audience. Because of its runtime, the film is divided into six chapters, or parts, for the HBO Max release as well as an epilogue so that viewers can take some small breaks during their viewings. Since I already did a full-on movie review of the original cut of "Justice League", I will be doing something different for the director's cut. I will be looking at the individual parts one by one (with or without spoilers) and then give my overall thoughts on the film based on my thoughts on them. That way, it will be easier for me to talk about it in full detail rather than watch it all the way through and then do a review format on it. I'm okay watching a film that's between two-and-a-half and three hours long in one sitting, but a film that's over that limit? That's not happening. If you haven't watched "Justice League" already, please do so before you read any further, whether it's the 2017 version or Snyder's own version. Anyway, without further ado, let's dive right back into the DC "Snyderverse" and see if it really is the definitive version of "Justice League".
Part 1: Don't Count on It, Batman
Let's kick this experience off with the first 30 minutes of the director's cut. Following the title sequence that represents Superman's death scream being heard from across the globe, part one showcases extended sequences of scenes that were in the original "Justice League" cut, such as Bruce Wayne convincing Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, to join his team, Wonder Woman saving the children from terrorists, and the battle between the Amazonians and Steppenwolf. "Don't Count on It, Batman" immediately sets the stage of what viewers will expect in the remaining chapters in terms of the technical aspects. The aspect ratio was different, the lighting and tone were more muted, it's more violent, and the dialogue has been changed to fit Snyder's style. Heck, even the musical score was changed for the director's cut. Instead of Danny Elfman from the original cut, the score in "Zack Snyder's Justice League" was composed by Tom Holkenborg, also known as Junkie XL. The score reflects more on the emotion in its epic scope than the light-hearted "Avengers"-like tone. It reminded me a bit of the music from "300", especially during the Amazonian sequence, but in a good way. The big highlight of part one, in my opinion, was the Wonder Woman sequence in which she battles the terrorists. In terms of Snyder's direction, the scene successfully showcased how violent and intense the filmmaker intended to represent in his own version. Also, I found it cool to see Wonder Woman kick some butt in R-rated fashion. I would also like to mention Steppenwolf, who got a major makeover from the original version. His armor was more detailed and spikier than his original design, and he's much more ruthless when it comes to his personality. While the CGI for Steppenwolf was still noticeable at times, I like what they did with this version of Steppenwolf so far, thanks to Hinds' menacing performance. Whether or not his role will change will depend on the rest of the parts that follow. Overall, "Don't Count on It, Batman" is a solid beginning to this four-hour-long heroic journey. It instantly showed that this isn't Joss Whedon's "Justice League" or even DC's "The Avengers". This is "Zack Snyder's Justice League", plain and simple.
Part 2: The Age of Heroes
The second part is where the expanded story truly shines. "The Age of Heroes" included a much larger perspective on not just the heroes but also its world-building and the villains. Part 2 has Bruce and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) continuing to search for more heroes. At the same time, Diana discovers the greater danger that's to come thanks to the fire arrow sent by the Amazonians. This segment offered more insight on specific elements such as S.T.A.R. labs, Steppenwolf's backstory, and Bruce's redemption arc after Superman's death. It also introduced some characters that didn't appear in the original cut, including Arthur's mentor Nuidis (played by Willem Dafoe), DeSaad (Peter Guinness), and the big bad God himself Darkseid (portrayed by Ray Porter via motion capture). I want to point out that I was really impressed with the design of Darkseid. He's exactly what I imagined him to be like in live-action form. Menacing and frightening. How much screen time he'll have after this part remains to be seen. I also liked the scene between Arthur and Nuidis, mostly because of how it sets up Arthur's path that's later explored in the solo film. It didn't feel like an unnecessary addition since the film has elements that teased the other DC films that came after it. The flashback sequence showcasing the war between Darkseid and the "Defenders of Earth" was also nicely detailed and shot in terms of the cinematography and script. Some of the CGI was still far from perfect, but it compensates by giving the viewers more understanding of its history. Then there's Steppenwolf himself, who happens to have a much bigger purpose compared to his role in the original version. Instead of him being a by-the-numbers villain, he's now a threatening and determined villain who seeks to end his banishment from Darkseid by collecting the Mother Boxes and enslave humanity. "The Age of Heroes" kickstarted its purpose of showcasing more depth in its story and the characters on the right foot while also teasing the reunification of Earth's mightiest defenders.
Part 3: Beloved Mother, Beloved Son
The third segment provided extended backstories for two characters: Barry Allen, AKA The Flash (Miller), and Victor Stone (Fisher). Barry Allen attempts to obtain a degree in criminal justice to clear his father's name for the murder of his mother. Meanwhile, Victor is dealing with the aftermath of a car accident that killed his mother and left him critically injured, resulting in his father Silas Stone (Joe Morton) replacing his body with cybernetic parts. Not only does it introduce its viewers to Barry's love interest Iris West, played by Kiersey Clemons, but it also showcased more of Cyborg's tragic backstory as well as his complicated relationship with his father and his abilities. Zack Snyder has mentioned that Cyborg is depicted as "the heart of the movie" in his own cut, and after seeing this segment for myself, I can understand why. Cyborg is shown as an outcast who hides himself away from the world because of his new appearance and what his father did to save him from death. Not only was the Cyborg section effective in terms of character depth and direction, but it also showcased more of Fisher's solid acting skills, resulting in it being one of my favorite parts of the film so far. I also liked that the film represented Victor testing his abilities to help the poor mother pay her rent. It shows that people with gifts can make a difference. As for Barry Allen, I still enjoy him in this version just as much as I did with him in the original cut, if not better. Ezra Miller still did an outstanding job with his performance and his deliverance of his humor, especially during the pet store scene. The visuals and slow-motion sequences for Barry's ability were still top-notch as always. You can't deny the fact that Snyder was the perfect choice to showcase Barry's perspective of the world around him when he's going fast. However, Barry's running style still proved to be pretty awkward. The part also contains extended sequences of Steppenwolf obtaining the second Mother Box from the Atlantians and the Parademons kidnaping the scientists from S.T.A.R. labs. Oh, and there's more screen time for Amber Heard's Mera, but I'm sure you don't really care about that. "Beloved Mother, Beloved Son" was given a chance to explore more of The Flash and Cyborg, and it succeeded with ease.
Part 4: Change Machine
The fourth part centers on Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Cyborg rescuing the S.T.A.R scientists from Steppenwolf and the Parademons. Afterward, Cyborg explains about the Mother Boxes' powers, which Silas used to save him, leading up to the idea of bringing Superman back to life. Meanwhile, Steppenwolf discovers the location of the "Anti-Life Equation". The battle between Steppenwolf and the heroes played out the same as the original cut, just with additional and alternative scenes and Tom Holkenborg's score. Other than that, it's an ordinary superhero action scene that's filled with CGI and a boatload of epic-ness. After that, the film offered more details on the Mother Boxes and a surprising reveal of another DC character that I wouldn't spoil if you haven't watched it yet. One of the things I enjoyed from this part was Darkseid's second appearance. We've seen what he looks like back in part two, and now we get to hear what he sounds like. For someone who's unfamiliar with the character, Ray Porter sure did knew how to make him sound more ominous in terms of his impressive vocal performance. Better move over, Thanos, because there's a new tyrannical alien in town, and he's not a very nice guy. The scene involving Lois Lane (Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) was also a respectable addition to the director's cut as it explored their own mourning towards Clark's death. "Change Machine" serves as a decent climax to the film's four-hour narrative filled with action, humor, and character depth.
Part 5: All the King's Horses
Part five sees the heroes breaking into STAR labs to revive Superman. They succeeded, but at the cost of confronting him and losing the final Mother Box to Steppenwolf. Now, this is where things get even more serious. This segment showcased plenty of stuff that happened to one-up the original's take in almost every way, such as the character interactions and the fight against Superman. Don't worry. Superman doesn't ask Batman if he bleeds in this version. Personally, I am glad that they kept in Barry's reaction to Superman seeing him when he's in super-speed mode. The look on Barry's face still gets me every time. It also featured the last couple of moments between Cyborg and Silas. While I would like to see more of this interaction between the two, it's still pretty heartbreaking to see how their relationship ended. Other than that, "All the King's Horses" was able to put Superman together again. Narratively, of course.
Part 6: Something Darker/Epilogue: A Father Twice Over
The sixth and final part concludes the epic journey with the showdown between the Justice League and Steppenwolf. This is another sequence that managed to improve upon the original cut. Not only were the visuals a bit better, but the whole scenario was changed to raise the stakes for the characters, including Cyborg, who plans to separate the Mother Boxes by force. There's no Russian family to save, and the humorous dialogue between Superman and Cyborg was completely removed. They also fixed the sky, so it has a dark bluish color instead of red. It focused more on the exhilarating battle between Steppenwolf and the heroes, which the studio should've allowed Snyder to include in the first place. This was another main highlight for me because of those reasons. Then we have the film's epilogue, which took the pages right out of "The Return of the King" by showcasing multiple conclusions. That can be an annoyance for some people, but other than that, it was a respectable ending that concluded some of the characters' story arcs in the film and offered plenty of teases for what's to come in the sequels, if Snyder and the fans have their way, of course. Overall, "Something Darker" and the epilogue combined themselves to make an ending that truly lived up to the film's epic scale.
In conclusion, "Zack Snyder's Justice League" was quite an experience for all of the right reasons. Was it a flawless masterpiece? No. Was it better than the Joss Whedon cut? Absolutely! The Snyder Cut succeeded in providing something that the 2017 version lacked: a soul. Not just in its storytelling but also in its characters. Its four-hour runtime did seem excessive, especially for those who're planning on watching the whole thing in one sitting, but the pacing and its riveting story helped kept my attention from start to finish. There were also a couple of parts where the CGI looked a bit rough. Despite those flaws, the Snyder Cut is bigger, better, and more heroic in every way thanks to some solid performances from the cast, Snyder's direction, Chris Terrio's screenplay, Tom Holkenborg's score, and its entertaining action sequences. From my personal perspective, I wouldn't consider this as an ordinary director's cut. I would consider this as a gift. A rewarding gift to the fans who showed their support for Snyder's vision of the DC Extended Universe, even though "Man of Steel" and Batman v Superman" were understandably flawed. It's more of a way of saying "thank you" to those who pushed the studio to allow the director to make the "Justice League" movie he wanted to make without interference. Sure, it's not going to impress everyone, but in the end, all that matters is that the fans actually did something good for once. It brought the "Justice" back into the "Justice League". If I were to grade this film, I would gladly give it a B+. This is a superb upgrade to the heavily flawed 2017 version that I will highly recommend to DC fans and general audiences. As for the young fans of DC, I would advise them to watch it with a parent or guardian. Oh, and don't forget to plan out your bathroom breaks before you start. You're going to need them. If you're reading this, Mr. Snyder, congrats on making your own version of "Justice League" a reality, and I can't wait to check out your next project on Netflix in May.
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