1. Kong: Skull Island
Making the latest King Kong movie a period piece set shortly after the Vietnam War sounded like a weird choice at first – why not just make it modern day, like that Godzilla remake? But in the context of the film (and particularly with regards to Samuel L. Jackson’s character), it makes sense – it’s about Americans’ simmering anger after our first modern day military failure, the bloodthirst of war and the relentless destruction it brings, and mankind’s uneasy relationship with nature.
But mostly, it’s a pretty fun movie about King Kong that doesn’t involve him climbing up a building – and really has more in common with Jurassic Park movies than previous King Kong ones. And really, it’s the best Jurassic Park movie we’ve seen in a long time.
Jurassic World was not only a pretty crummy film, it was a pretty crummy Jurassic Park film – with no real memorable characters, fun setpieces, or anything that would even begin to hold a candle to the original Spielberg classic. Kong: Skull Island is chock-full of interesting characters (John C. Reilly is legitimately incredible, Samuel L. Jackson does his Samuel L. Jackson thing, and pretty much everyone else does great work) – and most importantly, the monsters are interesting, namely Kong – who’s fierce, scary, and has just the perfect level of heroics so that it’s not cheesy but just fist-pumping.
And thank god for that – since the biggest fear I had going into this was that Kong would be hidden or obscured for 95% of the movie in the same way Godzilla was in his last reboot (that 5% of the movie Godzilla’s in though is PRETTY dope).
2. The Boss Baby
How did someone pitch “giant-headed evil genius baby” and no one in the room say “hey, that’s one of the most iconic modern cartoon characters and literally everyone is going to say we’re doing a weird shallow ripoff of Family Guy, which is already a shallow ripoff of The Simpsons”?
Or, uh, maybe someone DID say that and no one cared? I’m not getting the sense that the people behind Boss Baby cared a whole lot.
Well, to be fair, it’s more of a combination between Alien and The Thing, but still with overwhelmingly attractive people playing the roles of the astronauts who have come face-to-face with a mysterious alien lifeform set on taking the crew (and all life on Earth) down. All I’m saying is that if this is the level of attractiveness that one can expect from astronauts nowadays, there must be a LOT of sex going on in the International Space Station.
4. Power Rangers
The phrase “ruined my childhood” gets thrown around a lot on the internet, to the degree where it’s mostly lost all meaning. But the Power Rangers reboot – in the style of a gritty, self-serious teen drama – seems specifically set on ruining Power Rangers for anyone who held any nostalgia for that series. Although the fact that Bryan Cranston is playing Zordon makes me hopeful that there will be something worth salvaging from this film.
5. Beauty & The Beast
Disney basically just made a shot-for-shot remake of one of their all-time most beloved films ever – and they are making SO MUCH MONEY OFF OF IT. Like, seriously, just CRAZY amounts of cash. It’s insane they ever tried to make anything OTHER than live action remakes of cartoons, given how much money they’re raking in.
But the most notable thing about the film (beyond how much cash it’s making) is the inclusion of Disney’s first semi-confirmed LGBTQ character: LeFou. To be fair, there’s barely ANYTHING in the film on this topic – LeFou fawns over Gaston (like he’s done in the past), there are a few comments that suggest a little more than admiration, and he dances with a man. That’s it. And yet, for some reason, this caused half the world to flip its shit – with some countries trying to censor LeFou or ban the film altogether.
Why? Because of the ‘deviant sexuality’ that LeFou was promoting by being gay.
…IN A MOVIE WHERE A LADY FALLS IN LOVE WITH A MUTANT LION-BEAR WITH HORNS. A movie explicitly about how bestiality is fine if the animal you wanna bang has a nice personality and singing voice.
6. Ghost in the Shell
The representation of Asians and Asian-Americans in pop culture and media has not been a major topic of conversation until lately – but the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Major in the Ghost in the Shell film really brought up bubbling to the forefront. Beyond the fact that too few Asian actors and actresses are cast and represented in things, this was an example of adapting a Japanese piece of art that explicitly starred a Japanese main character…and just casting a white lady instead. And before you say “they just cast the best person for the role – race wasn’t even a factor” – they literally considered using visual effects to make Scarlett Johansson look “more Asian.” The results of their VFX tests were….unsettling.
Logan is great – it’s a movie that mostly ignores all of the previous X-Men films and focuses on Logan as a character: who he is, where he’s been, and what makes him tick – especially in this aged, weathered stage of his life. And most refreshingly (for an X-Men film), it doesn’t spend its running time hopelessly trying to service 20 different main characters AND its not setting up a sequel. It tells a simple, powerful story about connection, family, and RIPPING SHIT TO SHREDS WITH YOUR BAD ASS METAL CLAWS.
In short, it’s pretty much perfect.