Before you get too excited about that headline and the blog post that follows, I need to offer a brief disclaimer: I’ve only seen 10 movies so far this year. And these reviews are in order of when I saw them, which means they’re unranked.
So … sorry for the clickbait.
Alas, I wanted to clear the deck before any good movies come out. So here we go: My first 10 review blurbs of 2016.
1. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Pretty much what you’d expect. Which is to say a macho war movie with some dubious treatment of facts. There’s a reason it came out in January. B–
2. The Finest Hours. Not quite The Perfect Storm 2.0. Two completely uncharismatic leads and barely any character development adds up to a rescue movie where you don’t care who, if anyone, survives. At least the effects are cool, because the movie itself is all wet. C+
3. Dirty Grandpa. Some laughs (that I don’t feel good about), but this is a more embarrassing film for De Niro than The Intern was. C–
4. Hail, Caesar! Not peak Coens. Not even Intolerable Cruelty (which, for the record, I love). But this periodically amusing satire of 1950s filmmaking has some laughs (in particular, a scene with religious leaders giving feedback about a film), a star-making performance by Alden Ehrenreich, and a fun song-and-dance number featuring Channing Tatum. B
5. Deadpool. Fun “superhero” movie filled with meta references to other Marvel films. A little Ryan Reynolds goes a long way, but it’s refreshing to see a movie like this that doesn’t take itself seriously. Not even a little. B
6. Zootopia. A B-level, off-season Disney animated film. Predators and prey get along in this punny film about a bunny police officer solving a case of missing persons with her fox partner. Adult pop culture references to things like The Godfather and Breaking Bad up the non-kid appeal, and a scene with sloths working in the DMV is an instant classic, but there are a few too many blatant metaphors and obvious references to racial profiling to call this one of Disney’s more subtle, sophisticated releases. B
7. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Tina Fey’s TV producer character finds herself in Afghanistan, where she reports on the forgotten war, falls in love, and hangs out with hottie Margot Robbie. The film’s better than expected, no doubt due to screenwriter Robert Carlock’s close ties to Fey (30 Rock). But why are Chris Abbott and Alfred Molina both playing Afghani characters? B
8. London Has Fallen. Subpar sequel to what was a fun Die Hard wannabe movie. Some good effects (some bad ones too), and decent action, but the whole thing is forced and feels rather unnecessary. C+
9. 10 Cloverfield Lane. A young woman running away from her fiancée wakes up in John Goodman’s bunker and is told she’s being kept safe from some mysterious attack above ground. Is it true, or is there something more nefarious going on? No spoilers from me, except to say that I wish I wasn’t distracted the whole time by looking for all the Cloverfield tie-ins that aren’t actually there. B–
10. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Neither as horrible as I was expecting or as good as it could have been, this superhero epic is big, loud, too serious, too self-important, and just plain meh. It picks up where Man of Steel left off (literally and figuratively) and then piles on so much extra “stuff” that it feels overstuffed and unsatisfying by the time the first third is over. And that’s before our two heroes have even engaged in a single conflict. Director Zack Snyder is, again, the wrong director for these movies; he may know his way around an action sequence, but he doesn’t have a clue how to make you care about any of it. Plot threads are introduced and dismissed, all in the service of furthering the agenda of setting up a larger “world,” and the two leads are largely reduced to one-dimensional types, too angry (Bats) or immature (Supes) and not “super” enough. No wonder Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) comes off as the most heroic of the three — and she’s only on screen for seven minutes, most of which she isn’t even in costume. If this is what we have to look forward to in future installments of the Justice League films, I think I’ll pass. C–
Alright. Can we get to some good movies now? (Spoiler alert: Yes, we can.)