glenn criddle | cynical celluloid | dec. 2016
Well, it's that time of year again, where did all the time go? It's been a funny old year in film, a strange and often divisive one with a few surprises along the way. As the holidays near and I always struggle to write a seasonal article, I thought I'd be so presumptuous as to furnish Santa with a list of the more notable good and bad movies of the year, and give them specially-themed awards. Lucky you!
The Ill-Advised Game of Monopoly Award: 'Blair Witch'
Well, at least it's not a remake. That's about all it has, though. Stretching the premise of “found footage" to beyond reasonable limits, including the entirely superfluous use of a drone and an NSA-appeasing number of cameras The “Blair Witch" side steps the whole low-fi, simple approach of the original for a multi-angle, highly edited approach that dispenses with the mystery and actually shows us the big bad monster.
The Gift You Never Knew You Wanted Award: 'The Nice Guys'
Shane Black's goofy comedy has huge doses of humour and full-blooded action which is great in its own right but add on top of that having Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling actually looking like they're having all the fun in the world and even the film's worst weaknesses are forgivable. It's great to see the lead duo enjoying themselves, and as odd and daft as it can be, it's all too much of a good time to mark down for it.
Lump of Coal Award: 'Batman vs. Superman'
A disappointing, morose mess that fails on so many fronts, including the usual traps of a “vs." movie. With a lack of appreciation for what makes these guys heroes, an awful version of a familiar enemy, a titular battle that takes forever to happen and goes nowhere, this simply feels like an extended trailer for the DCEU. It's a terrible disappointment that needs to hit the family fire where it may, at least, provide the warmth that's lost in the movie itself.
The Extra Stuffing Award: 'Star Trek Beyond'
STB had a bit of a rough time. Facing some backlash from fans, what with Paramount's handling of fan fiction culture and an oversaturated release schedule at the time, STB was actually a pretty fun addition to the Star Trek world. I have to say, I like this current vision of the Star Trek franchise; it balances fun with action nicely, and is, overall, a pretty decent film, even if there were a few seriously low moments (KHAAAAAAANNNNN!). If you're up for a fun film, then this can deliver.
The Unwanted Gift Award: 'Ghostbusters'
AKA “How to Alienate Your Audience and Make Enemies." Sony's PR disaster drove fans of the original away by the millions. The movie itself was kinda okay, but that was it. That was not enough; it's Ghostbusters for crying out loud. It has some fans and good for them; I'm glad you liked it, but overall, it went with an agenda and suffered to the core of the movie because of it. Hint: Don't put your grievances with your critics in the movie itself.
The Suspicious Package Award: 'Alice through the Looking Glass'
Slightly bizarre while being very mainstream, Alice is an odd film to quantify. While I appreciate the fact that it went in a different direction, though the idea that Alice is some sort of “chosen one" warrior type is a weird one and has tenuous ties to her “real life." It's not awful, but it certainly isn't great, it sits in the same place as getting socks for a gift when you really need socks. Mildly disappointing but will do the job.
The Brussels Sprout Award: 'Independence Day Resurgence'
Like the vegetable that no-one genuinely likes, ID:Resurgence is something you pinch your nose and swallow just because it's expected. With a tag that sounds like a toilet disinfectant and a script that goes through the expected motions, it's just not remarkable in any light. With a further sequel in the works, one can only hope they recapture the excitement of the original, but given that every other movie gives us world wide Armageddon in two hours, it's a tall order to give us anything new and interesting from this very standard franchise.
The Fairy Atop the Tree Award: 'Deadpool'
It's the rare cracker that gives a prize worth a damn. “Deadpool" was a real breath of fresh air; witty, rude and aimed at an older audience and it dispensed with the idea that superhero films have to be for the kids, all while providing a ton of energy and excitement. Despite studio apathy and a relatively miniscule budget that occasionally shows, it was the surprise hit of the year, well, it was a surprise to the studios, not the fans. It was one of those times where the execs got an object lesson that an R-rating doesn't mean “no profit," that a good film doesn't need an over-inflated budget and the result was a hugely enjoyable movie. If I want anything for Christmas it'd be that Hollywood learn a lesson from this example.
And that's about it for another year. It's nearly time to over indulge with turkey and slap in your favorite movie to get you through the food coma. As a side thought, I'm wondering why it is we haven't had a “found footage" Christmas movie yet. C'mon Hollywood, give us Santa Cam!
But for now, I say have a lovely time over the next few weeks. To you all, I wish you the happiest and most successful of times over the season and into the new year, I hope you get all you need and all you want. To my friends at Frankly Green Bay, it's been another year of being in great company, thanks!
He's British so forgive the extra U's and the use of the letter S instead of Z. If there's one thing that typifies Glenn's writing it's the 'Video Nasties,' a long list of movies that offended all and sunder during the 1980s in the UK. It's those seemingly offensive fringes of cinema that informed his writing on cinema and the more political area of censorship with a more sympathetic approach to those films that push the limits of taste. But don't worry, he does talk about normal stuff too and isn't likely to go off on a horror movie fuelled rampage.
For more of Glenn's work, visit cynicalcelluloid.com.