2016 In Movies

I saw some movies in 2016. Let’s review them all with Tweet-sized reviews.

Honorable Mentions: Movies I saw In 2016 That Weren’t Released This Year

  1. Ex Machina
    Seriously beautiful and atmospheric sci-fi that makes you think. You’ll remember the music, and the performances of Isaac and Vikander. 5/5
  2. Bladerunner: Theatrical Cut
    Iconic cyberpunk aesthetic meets noir detective with cheesy voiceover and all too happy ending. AI themes surface level interesting. 4/5
  3. Only Yesterday (1991 Japanese Release, Dubbed in 2016)
    Kids in the audience probably hated this slow-paced emotionally gripping take on how childhood haunts our adult lives – but I cried. 4/5
  4. The Big Short
    This movie will make you laugh, and it will make you angry. Bale, Carell and Pitt deliver great portraits of the 2008 financial crisis. 5/5

And Everything Else…

  1. Hail, Caesar!
    Funny movie seriously hurt by misleading marketing. I enjoyed the film but felt duped by the commercials and I can’t get past that. 1/5
  2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
    John Goodman will haunt your nightmares in this claustrophobic movie. I liked the controversial ending. More Cloverfield please. 5/5
  3. Captain America: Civil War
    Zemo is the best villain a Marvel Movie’s ever had, and this movie is a shining light in a MCU that I’ve been losing interest in. 4/5
  4. Star Trek Beyond
    The best character moments a Star Trek movie has had, and a fun movie to boot – but the movie seriously lacks a good villain. 2/5
  5. Weiner
    Have you ever wanted to see a man’s life fall apart on camera? Then this documentary about Anthony Weiner’s mayoral race is for you. 4/5
  6. The Magnificent Seven
    Nice to see an action movie with some real stakes. Love Denzel and Pratt, the villain is appropriately slimy, and the crowd loved it. 4/5
  7. Doctor Strange
    Cumberbatch and Swinton make this origin story more than bearable, but the best part of the movie is that it breaks the MCU mold. 4/5
  8. Arrival
    I was captivated by the logistical problem that was at the center of the movie’s conflict, and emotionally stunned by the ending. 5/5
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Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

I’m glad I saw the second Avengers movie, but I also feel like I’ve seen my last Marvel comic-book-movie. Superhero fatigue is a very real thing for me; for most franchises there is an end in sight, yet the superhero movie genre is a wheel that seems to keep on spinning. Toby Maguire will be Spiderman for three movies, Andrew Garfield will be Spiderman for two movies, and somebody else will be Spiderman in the Avengers and countless movies beyond—the Spiderman wheels will keep on spinning, and it only ends when you hop off that ride. If Avengers: Age of Ultron  (AOU) is the last superhero ride I take, I’ll be okay with that.

See, AOU is a very middling experience. Its highs remind me why I see comic-book-movies. When a Marvel movie is good, it makes you laugh, it makes you want to cheer, things feel right, and you leave the movie theatre—not just satisfied—but ready to watch again. However, the lows of AOU remind me why I stayed home for the Captain America and Thor sequels. Yes, it’s partially superhero fatigue, but beyond that AOU gives me this feeling of “I’ve seen this before,” so the movie is fatiguing in its own right.

There are a few things that feel outright insulting, like how the second Avengers movie ends in the exact same way as the first. The Chitauri and the endless hordes of Ultron-bots presented the same amount of challenge in each of the film’s climaxes. It’s basically a videogame. There aren’t stakes per se, or any hint of tension, the waves of robots just keep coming and each of the Avengers will do what they do to endless hordes. Cap will throw his shield, Natasha will use her guns, Thor his hammer, and Ironman will use those damn hand-cannons that I can’t stand anymore (I swear, I’m so done with their high-pitched whines). Black Widow being turned into Bruce Banner’s love interest and basically, a tool to calm down the Hulk; I mean what happened there? In the last Avengers movie she had things under control and kicked ass—in this movie she says “Beep beep” out loud while driving a motorcycle, has to be rescued from a cage by Bruce Banner, and has a crisis about her inability to have children. All the while, I’m just never that excited by what’s going down in AOU.

The movie is called Age of Ultron, but if I had to guess, I think Ultron lives for all of two or three weeks tops—less an era and more like a flash-pan-reign. Ultron, while a screen-stealing villain, was never defined well enough for me too care that much about him. Stark and Banner invent him via montage, he’s born, and he’s immediately evil and I never, ever understood his motivations other than “I will not allow myself to be Tony Stark’s puppet.” He’s not that interesting, and in the end, not that frightening—he turns into a character who sees the Hulk coming to kill him and says “Oh, come on!” The same character that’s threating to wipe out humanity should not also be comic relief; it makes the threat feel empty.

In the end, I guess I can sum up my feelings like this: I’m glad I saw AOU, as one final Avengers romp, but if I had cut myself off after the first Avengers, I think I would have been a happier person. Instead I came along for one last ride in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and while it was fun at times, it was mostly bumpy.