I honestly dare you to try and find a film more bizarre than Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 haunted-house horror-comedy — and adequately titled Japanese production — House. While the synopsis of the plot is rather straight-forward, what transpires in this absolutely bonkers 88-minute roller coaster of gores and goofs is anything but ordinary, and barely even comprehensible. However, this is what makes House such a one-of-a-kind experience that deserves to be seen and (hopefully) adored by a larger audience. Merely describing the overview of House does it no favors, nor would it necessarily make you want to watch it. It’s a fairly simple set-up, after all. What makes House so watchable, so unique, and ultimately so great, is its unbelievably kooky execution and intentional surrealism.
I truly have never seen a film as weird as this one.
While there has been a bit of fatigue for superhero movies in recent years — especially seen in 2016 with the releases of the downright bad-to-mediocre entries Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and X-Men: Apocalypse — I’d argue that 2017 has not only been a wonderful return to form for the highest-grossing genre in film, but also the absolute best year for comic book-based movies maybe ever. We’ve seen the release of the exquisite, mold-breaking Logan; as well as the unexpectedly good, DCEU-saving Wonder Woman; and, of course, the incredibly fun Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Also, I don’t know about you, but I’d include the hilarious Lego Batman Movie in this list as well…and as a guilty pleasure and total nostalgia trip, let’s put Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie on there, too — cause why not?
But while I’ve enjoyed my time with each of these previously mentioned films, my favorite of all this year’s contenders is the latest, Spider-Man: Homecoming, which sees its home release next week. Being a part of what is perhaps the most tired superhero film franchise since the turn of the century — following 2007’s unloved Spider-Man 3 and the underperforming two entries in the Amazing Spider-Man reboot in 2012 and 2014 — Homecoming had a lot to prove. It seems Sony understood this, as they finally struck a contract with the hugely successful Marvel Studios following Amazing Spider-Man 2 in order to include a new iteration of the character in the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While this deal allowed for a glorified cameo and introduction for the new Spidey in last year’s Captain America: Civil War — and his part was awesome — it almost felt too good to be true. However, after seeing his first solo film for myself, I can say with certainty that Homecoming is the best movie the character has been at the center of since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2.
The term “sequel,” when it comes to film especially, is almost always liable to send a shudder down the spines of dedicated fans — something that’s doubly true when speaking about cult films. While it makes absolute sense for some movies to receive follow-ups, others are likely better off left as standalone affairs. For 35 years, Blade Runner definitely fell into the latter category, being one of the most beloved cult sci-fi films ever made. Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic remains an utterly definitive and complete film — one that left its viewers with a set of unanswered questions that would fascinate an audience and be mined over for decades to come; its ambiguity prevailing as one of its greatest strengths.
So when Scott began talking about a potential sequel earlier this decade, fans were understandably skeptical and rather doubtful of its ability to live up to the first. But with Blade Runner 2049, acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival) has teamed with screenwriter Michael Green and original Blade Runner scribe Hampton Fancher to deliver what is not only one of the great films of 2017, but what will very likely go down as one of the best sequels in all of film history. 2049 does answer some ideas leftover from before, but in their place introduces its own bevy of compelling questions, being a successor worthy of the Blade Runner title as well as a film that may even surpass its predecessor.
Co-written by and based upon the real-life story of comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his former girlfriend Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick presents an endearing story of stand-up comedy, new-found love, and a tragic illness. It’s a film thatis joyously human, heartfelt, and hilarious, effectively reviving the rom-com genre with a captivating, fact-based story that provides a uniquely important insight into a culture and its quirks that aren’t often seen in American cinema. The Big Sick is without a doubt a film that stands among the most fulfilling and absolute best of 2017.
Nanjiani plays as himself, set early on in his career in Chicago as he performs at small clubs, hopelessly waiting for the day that he makes it big. One night, a cute woman in the crowd “heckles” him during a set, leading him to playfully confront her about it following the show, and the two show an immediate chemistry together… it’s not long before they’re dating. This woman is Emily, who is delightfully portrayed by Zoe Kazan. As their budding relationship grows into something stronger, everything seemingly falls apart at once in a devastating one-two punch.
When Kingsman: The Secret Service debuted in early 2015, it was a breath of fresh air for a tired genre that was long overdue for a stylish makeover. Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) continued his prowess in successfully adapting comic book-based properties, recruiting a veteran cast with the likes of Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Caine, as well as the star-in-the-making inclusion of Taron Egerton. The Secret Service provided an over-the-top, balls-to-the-wall send-up of spy movies, becoming one of the year’s best surprises.
And yet, even with how high I was on the first film, I went into the new sequel with some reservations. I was unsure that itwould truly innovate on the series and was also worried that it would succumb to the unfortunate sequel-itis that mires many blockbuster films, resulting in a predictable and unimaginative follow-up. While The Golden Circle is certainly less original than its precursor story was, the action remains inventive and the plentiful jokes land more often than not, making for an enjoyably ridiculous romp that’s a worthwhile addition to the franchise.
Esteemed director Darren Aronofsky’s (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream) latest, mother!, is a certifiably polarizing film. It features a cast of beautiful, seat-filling stars (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem among them), but what transpires on-screen is anything but their regular fare — and this is a movie that probably won’t be filling seats for much longer. In fact, the rare ‘F’ Cinemascore the film received this past weekend is something I’m almost certain Aronofsky was shooting for (how he convinced anyone to fund this I surely will never understand). Despite what the mass audience may think of it, I’m actually here to convince you to see this movie; my hope being that maybe you’ll love and respect it just as I do.
mother! forgoes an easily digestible first act. Instead, Aronofsky slowly hints to the bigger picture he has ingeniously planned, all before the film explodes into a raucous second half and unforgettable finale. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play an unnamed couple referred to in the credits simply as “Mother” and “Him,” respectively. Together they live in a beautiful house secluded from the rest of the world. He’s a renowned poet in search of the right inspiration, while she works on crafting and finishing the perfect home.
Through four games, two console generations, and nearly a decade’s time, esteemed video game studio Naughty Dog introduced us to and concluded the story of treasure hunter Nathan Drake, an Indiana Jones-like figure who was the face of the acclaimed Uncharted series of 3rd-person action-adventure video games from 2007 to 2016. And while the main four titles in the series tracked Drake’s adventures from his humble beginnings to a satisfactory conclusion, the developers at Naughty Dog just couldn’t leave enough alone. And so, only a year after Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, they have blessed us with their supposed final foray into the Uncharted universe with the side-story The Lost Legacy. To no one’s surprise, it’s another awesome entry in one of gaming’s greatest franchises.
Lost Legacy delivers a shorter story than the series standard, and is this time based around the adventures of Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, two badass women previously relegated to playing second (third? Fourth? Fifth?) fiddle to Drake in previous sequels. You take control of Chloe as she hunts down a near-mythical treasure, the Tusk of Ganesh, deep within the mountains of a war-torn India. This is a particularly personal hunt for Chloe, as the Tusk not only previously consumed her father’s life in his final years, but is also being sought after by evil insurgency leader Asav, who has the power to call upon dozens of gun-toting goons to do the digging for him. Because of this, Chloe enlists former mercenary-for-hire Nadine Ross to assist in her mission.