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« Judy by the Numbers: "I Love A Piano"| Main| Best Shot: Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief (1955) »
Tuesday
Jun 28 2016

Halfway Mark: The Good,The Bad,and the Ugly (So Far)

Mainstream cinema is having a rough summer,qualitatively...but let's honor what mainstream cinema often does best,for this episode of the Halfway Mark Review.Which is to say the broad strokes of Good vs Evil.

Not that mainstream movies always ace this low bar,mind you: Marvel remains mostly terrible at crafting villains,Batman v Supermanwas so inept that it didn't even understand that you need heroes in superhero movies.X-Men Apocalypsewas a crowded repetitive mess.But enough about stinkers - happy thoughts:  BESTS!

Heroes of the Year

• The Avengers (Chris Evans,Cast & FX Team) inCaptain America: Civil War
Can't they all just get along?While it'd be silly to say thatCivil Wardoesn't tell you which team to be on (Hint: it's in the title) it does offer up enough of a sympathetic furrowed brow while looking at Team Iron Man that it's easy to understand both sides of this argument.That's half the battle in the selling the film.The other half is staging the battles so that everyone survives for a sequel but looks deeply affected by the blows,which it also does well.Black Panther and Spider-Man are wonderful new additions,and Black Widow demonstrates (again) that she's the consistently reliable double sided tape that arguably holds these movies together.If only Captain America,Marvel's most successful comic-to-film translation,weren't having to fight for so much attention in his own damn franchise;Iron Man never had to that.

Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) inGods of Egypt
What's that you say?'Gods of Egypt is a terrible movie!' Why yes,Yes it is.But that doesn't mean I can't honor Nikolaj's reasonably well shaped silly/serious turn as a blinded God.He's one of only two actors who knows what kind of movie he's in (the other is Geoffrey Rush,even better with the high camp).Nikolaj keeps this terrible movie on the bad movies we love side of the equation of bad movies,whenever he can.

Zootopia,Warcraft, The Conjuring 2andmore after the jump...


Nancy (Blake Lively) inThe Shallows
Nancy is a marvel.Consider that MacGyver like ingenuity with nearby objects,her Project Runway resourcefulness in deconstructing wet suits,her medical prowess with human and animal bodies,that Sports Illustrated ready facility with a bikini,and the ability to find cel service on remote beaches...is thereanythingthis girl can't do?


Ed & Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) inThe Conjuring 2
They're devoutly spiritual.They comfort,read to,evensingto,distraught children (Thanks,Patrick).They exorcize demons without wearing stuffy priest collars.As Tim points out inhis awestruck all thumbs up review,the real-life Warrens maybe weren't the best role models but they sure do work as movie characters:

The sequel is much more "about"the Warrens and their work,and there's a level on which the plot involves them working out their feelings about being prominent experts on ghost hunting and demonology in the face of a skeptical world.Put bluntly,it's hagiography,and the subjects upon which it lavishes praise are a pair of slimy con-artists of the first order.The first movie never grapples so directly with the fact of the Warrens' career that it becomes an issue;the second movie foregrounds this,and puts in multiple scenes - the Amityville prologue among them - that are the next best thing to outright apologetics for the Warrens.

Ah well.Movies aren't journalism,they're movies,andThe Conjuring 2is a really damn good one.


Judy Hopps & Nick Wilde (Ginner Goodwin,Jason Bateman & Animators) inZootopia
Zootopiawas famously rewritten and overhauled in production to elevate Judy Hopps to leading lady after initially focusing on Nick.It's difficult to imagine the movie being anything other than what it is,now,a clever Odd Couple two hander that's juggling a lot of genres with the help of its four pawed hands.It's part crime mystery,part inspirational adventure,and part buddy Comedy and it does all of these remarkably well thanks to the wily fox and quick bunny.Hell,their relationship blueprint,charming cad who is tamed by the no-nonsense lady who keeps on surprising him,would practically make for a Classic Screwball Romance,too,were it not for the absence of Romance.

Villains of the Year

Demon Nun (Bonnie Aarons & Makeup/FX Team) inThe Conjuring 2
I don't even want to think about her long enough to type something.So alarming when she pops up and the painted version of her is just as unsettling.


Gul'dan (Daniel Wu & FX Team) inWarcraft
Though it's a damn shame to waste this perfect human specimen on a motion capture performance of an ugly giant orc,with glowing eyes and all sorts of bony growths,his orc is compellingly merciless,sorceror crafty,and big bad scary.

Rodrigue & Chimene (JK Simmons,Susan Sarandon,& animators) inApril & The Extraordinary World
There's no images of these antagonists online.Strange.Perhaps they were trying to not spoil surprises (the fun trailer contains little-to-no footage from the last 20 minutes of the movie.If only more trailers would follow suit.So if you haven't seen the movie yet,we'll help them maintain last act surprises for this animated movie about a girl,her scientist parents,and various sentient and robotic animals in an alternate history steampunk Paris.


Shere Khan (Idris Elba & Animation/FX Team) inThe Jungle Book
Though it's a damn shame to waste this perfect human specimen on an voice only perfor...yes,I'm a broken record on this topic (stop hiding the beauties,filmmakers!),Idris does beautiful intimidating voice work as this tiger with visible scars and audible grudges.It's often a waste to cast celebrities for just their voices,but his natural gravitas and majesty pays off as this threatening big cat.


The Witch (Bathsheba Garnett,Sarah Stephens & animal actors/trainers) inThe Witch
*shudder*

That's all.

The Ugly?
I don't really know where I was going with the title of this article beyond The Good & The Bad. I have no Ugly.Soooo....Deadpool?He qualifies under all three labels.So in the final category of Deadpool the nominees are...

  • Deadpool
  • Deadpool
  • Deadpool
  • Deadpool
  • Deadpool

And the winner is...Deadpool.

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Reader Comments (9)

Yay for Nick Wilde and Holly Hops!I loved their friendship (and that movie).

Special shoutout to Black Phillip especially from the witch and the demonically possessed (?) /possessive twins...Bah bah bah....

June 28,2016 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

That fucking rabbit.Jesus.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo

My audience was so terrified of The Witch that,when the character who follows that rabbit finds her hut,everyone did that horrified "oh god,no"sigh at the same time.And then we all laughed at/with each other for it.Either way,that witch and all the stuff she pulled scared the shit out of us and I endorse her nomination wholeheartedly,and that of the animal trainers.Baby,she will eat you up.

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

The pair of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively will forever bore and fascinate me all at the same time.They are so vanilla dull,yet look at us now with both of them on this list...

June 28,2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

I still think Zootopia and Deadpool would be Best Picture material,in a perfect world.The more I think about both films,the higher rating I give 'em.They're two miracle of blockbusters,and I love this trend (The Lego Movie,Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1&2,21 & 22 Jump Street...Miller & Lord are the names to look at,for the future of Hollywood blockbusting) that has started in the last years of deep,thoughtful,fun,multilayered entertainment.I have to say,I'd include the very much underrated "2012"in that trend,even if 99% of the critics decided to NOT think about the allegories that fuel the film into harsh satire on capitalism and the inminent collapse of our economy.My fave allegories,again,the crushing of the american power by the ghost of JFK (the JFK carrier smashing the White House) and the collapse of faith once shit hits the fan (the Vatican sequence,which is a devilish delight on many levels)

June 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

GOE is better than BVS,at least it has a lighthearted silly touch.

June 29,2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

This is great,but we know what we're all waiting for Nathaniel...where are the actresses?!

June 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterCoco

Craver,I've been saying for a while now that Hollywood inexplicably refused to be happy until it made him the movie star than none of us seemed to want him to be through his own efforts.I've never seen a single actor be the beneficiary of so much goodwill despite failed effort after failed effort.

The Conjuring 2is too damned long.After a while it became quite repetitive,though I did enjoy it,and it does feature a more terrifying villain than the first.

June 29,2016 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Jesus,that RABBIT.Nearly fell off my chair just seeing the screencap.

June 30,2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

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