As always, I made quite a few trips to the cinema this year; I saw sixteen movies in the end and, for the first time I can remember, actually had a couple of trips that resulted in less than enjoyable experiences thanks to disappointments like Glass (Shyamalan, 2019), Rambo: Last Blood (Grunberg, 2019), and Terminator: Dark Fate (Miller, 2019).
However, there’s been more good than bad and this has been one stacked year so let’s take a look back and see which ten stood out for me the most in 2019…
After the first two Fallen movies (Fuqua, 2013; Najafi, 2016), Angel has Fallen had quite a bit to live up to; as the modern equivalent of the Die Hard franchise (Various, 1988 to 2013), I had some mid-to-high expectations going into this.
What I got, however, was a surprisingly grounded and poignant story of an action hero who is feeling his age and reaching a natural end to his active duty desperately fighting to clear his name after being implicated in a plot to kill the President (Morgan Freeman).
Gerard Butler is instantly believable in is role as the aging protagonist Mike Banning and seeing him overcome the limitations of age to bring an old school action approach to modern terrorism was very engaging. It might not have been bigger, better, or more over the top but it had a surprising about of heart amidst the generic action troupes that really made it a solid entry in the series.
Going into Hellboy, I was annoyed; I didn’t really think we needed a reboot, much less one that effectively retold the same story we had seen in the first Hellboy Del Toro, 2004) and had been holding out hope for a continuation of the original films rather than having to start anew.
However, three things made Hellboy one hell of an enjoyable romp for me (pun very much intended): blood, curses, and David Harbour. Don’t get me wrong, Ron Perlman was Hellboy but harbour is a worthy successor to the role; his dry wit and down-to-Earth, no-nonsense personality made for a gritty, bitter take on the demonic superhero and seeing him spit swears at Milla Jovovich will never stop being amusing.
Plus, this movie has balls, man. It might not have the greatest effects when it comes to Daniel Dae Kim but it more than makes up for it with some stunning creature designs, a surprising amount of gore, and it really ended up being way more enjoyable than it should have been.
Speaking of dumb, mindless fun, how about those Fast and Furious movies (Various, 2001 to present)? Films that started off being about violent street racers turned thieves and have ended up being full-on superhero movies that go so over the top I am literally waiting for them to go to space!
Hobbs & Shaw put the focus on action comedy and paired Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) with Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), two guys who couldn’t be more different and have an absolute hatred of each other that comes through at every opportunity through crude jokes about the sizes of their dicks, their masculinity, and their sexual prowess.
And it’s absolutely glorious! The chemistry and charisma between both men is more than worth the price of admission but throw in Idris Elba (who looks to be having the time of his life as “Black Superman”) and you have an absolute winner.
Here’s a divisive movie; apparently, we live in a world where female-centric films are immediately the product of feminism and film studios trying to be “woke”. Honestly, I have no fucking idea what that means; I watch a film and if I enjoy it, that’s enough.
Plus, when compared to the blatant feminist agenda of Terminator: Dark Fate, Captain Marvel comes off much better. Despite constant criticisms, Brie Larson was great as the titular superheroine, adding some much-needed power to, and further expanding upon, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Plus, it’s set in the nineties and features some truly spectacular de-aging effects on Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg while also setting up some interesting storylines with the shape-shifting Skrulls that will no doubt pay off as the MCU enters its next phase.
We got two Captain Marvel’s for the price of one this year as Marvel’s resident Big Red Cheese came gloriously to life thanks to Asher Angel and Zachary Levi. I actually read on twitter the other week that some people didn’t think Shazam’s costume was comic accurate and to those I ask: are you blind?
Anyway, with the DC Extended Universe in a state of constant flux and continuity literally branching out all over the place, Shazam! brought some light-hearted fun to the mix, resulting in a heart-warming action/comedy that’s maybe a little cliché at times but, nonetheless, entirely enjoyable.
I think the only issue I have is that we’re going to see Dwayne Johnson get a solo outing as Black Adam before seeing him tussle with Shazam, which I don’t really understand, but as long as it results in more screen time for the Shazam family I am down.
I’m all for mindless fun but, sometimes, you just want to watch Keanu Reeves bulldoze his way through faceless henchmen.
After the success of the previous John Wick films (ibid, 2014; 2016), Parabellum had a lot to live up to and certainly delivered on all fronts. Wick beats people to death with books, stabs them with knives, and shoots their brains out all with a slick, unmatched ease.
We’re in the middle of a Reeves-naissance and the John Wick films are largely to thank for that; I might have had some issues with the ending (I would have had John do a heel turn, kill Winston (Ian McShane) and finish the film as the Baba Yaga reborn) but it doesn’t take away from the fantastic fight scenes or my interest in seeing where they take the story in the next instalment.
Here’s another one that’s divided audiences, mainly due to just how toxic and despicable the Spider-Man fan community is! I, however, choose to ignore nit-picks about his costume (it’s fine) and his characterisation (it’s fine!) and focus on Tom Holland putting in a fantastic effort as one of the most likeable and fun interpretations of the character we’ve ever seen.
This movie was essential to showing how the MCU operates post-Endgame and, more than that, Peter’s maturation into a more seasoned superhero. At the same time, Marvel Studios took yet another ridiculous, C-list Spidey villain in Mysterio and transformed him into a formidable threat thanks largely in part to Jake Gyllenhaal’s natural charisma and ability to switch between honourable, likeable good guy and conniving, vindictive, mentally-unbalanced psycho at the drop of a dime.
Luckily, the issues between Disney/Marvel and Sony have sorted themselves out and will be seeing Holland reprise his role in a future MCU Spider-Man movie, which we definitely need to see considering the massive cliffhanger Far From Home dropped on us.
Oop, we’re back to big, dumb fun here with the massively enjoyable follow-up to the slightly disappointing Godzilla (Edwards, 2014). I mean, I kinda of get what the first film was going for but, having seen every Godzilla (Various, 1954 to present) movie, when I pay money to watch a Godzilla movie I expect to see Godzilla!
King of the Monsters makes up for that in spades! We’ve got te Big G himself, we’ve got Mothra, one of my personal favourites in Rodan and, of course, King Fuckin’ Ghidorah himself! Smash all these big boys together and you get monster battles like we’ve never seen them before! Seriously, the world gets wrecked in this movie and it’s fantastic at every turn.
My only issue is that King Kong doesn’t seem like much of a threat after everything Godzilla goes through in this movie, so I suspect we’ll be seeing Ghidorah rise once again before all’s said and done.
Here’s one with more than a little personal bias; I make no secret of the fact that It (King, 1986) is not only my favourite Stephen King novel but my favourite book of all time and I was very pleased with how It: Chapter One (ibid, 2017) turned out.
If we’re being completely honest, Chapter Two isn’t as good a movie as its predecessor; the adult story of It is always the weakest part and you just want to see the kids again, no matter how good guys like James McAvoy, Bill Hader, and Isaiah Mustafa are in this movie.
I liked the new things and twists they added, including the downer that the Ritual of Chüd was never going to work, and Bill Skarsgård continued to shine as Pennywise; I loved how they handled It’s final form and the sheer number of kills that were packed into the movie too but I can totally see why people may have felt it was disappointing compared to the first movie. I am pretty sure it will make for a far better viewing experience once you watch both movies back-to-back.
Yep. I mean, obviously, right? Oh, I hear you crying back there, Joker (Phillips, 2019) fans but you can just carry right on crying because a) I didn’t see Joker, b) I don’t care about Joker, and c) it doesn’t matter how good Joker is because we’ll never see him interacting with the DCEU.
Marvel, however, aren’t afraid of that (…in their movies, anyway) and threw everything at the wall with this one. The trailers gave nothing away and had us guessing right up until the movie actually started and what we got was the greatest send off we could have ever asked for and one of the biggest and most impressive final battles ever put to film.
Do I wish we’d seen more resolution to the Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) storyline? Sure. Are there some issues with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) returning the Infinity Stones to where they belong? Maybe. But at least the movie gave us explanations for these events; you might not like them, but they’re there. And who would have thought that Marvel would kill off their golden goose in such spectacular, heart-wrenching fashion? Just a glorious move from start to end.
How about you? What movies did you like or dislike from 2019? Think my list and opinions are full of shit? Let me know below!