Category Archives: 2017

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

As my second most anticipated ape movie of 2017, Kong: Skull Island had some big expectations to fulfill. That said, the trailers did not fill me with hope—it looked like a lot of glorified CGI action mixed with a bunch of cheesy jokes, and despite occupying the same universe as the 2014 Gareth Edwards’ version of Godzilla (which I really liked), it seemed to have none of the atmosphere.

With that in mind, I have to say Kong: Skull Island was better than anticipated. In contrast to the grim, dramatic, character-based (and insanely overlong) 2005 version of King Kong directed by Peter Jackson, this one is pure popcorn fun, with plenty of action involving not just Kong but also a variety of giant monsters (as opposed to dinosaurs). If a super-sized Kong wreaking havoc is what you want to see, it’s likely you won’t be disappointed.

The first great decision the film made was to set it in the 1970s at the end of the Vietnam War. Bill Randa (John Goodman), a senior government official, conjures up a scheme to arrange an expedition to the mysterious Skull Island with the aid of a young geologist (Corey Hawkins, who looks and sounds very little like his characters from Straight Outta ComptonThe Walking Dead and 24: Legacy, a testament to his versatility). For some reason, they hire a skilled tracker, Captain James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) to assist them, together with US military forces headed by Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson). A photographer played by Brie Larson tags along for the ride.

And so begins their wild and perilous journey to Skull Island, where the monsters are big and abundant. King of the monsters is of course Kong, who acts as some sort of protector of the local natives who inhabit the island. This is a delicious premise on paper, with a whole bunch of characters with their own agendas and the biggest Kong we’ve ever seen (he dwarfs the 2005 version as he needs to be big enough to take on Godzilla next), all playing out with old school 70s rock music in the background and homages to classics such as Apocalypse Now.

The action is what the film thrives on, and thankfully, unlike the majority of monster flicks, you get to see Kong early and relatively often. Whether Kong is taking on humans or monsters, the action is spectacular, and the CGI is flawless enough that you can lose yourself in the fight scenes. I would still say the Kong vs T-rex x 3 in King Kong is the gold standard of Kong fight scenes in terms of creativity, epicness and length, though Kong: Skull Island gets pretty close with the sheer number of monster fights and the enlarged scale.

So in terms of what Kong: Skull Island needed to get right to be considered a good film, it does pretty well. However, in terms of the extra stuff that would have made it great, the film fares quite poorly. The first thing is that there are way too many characters for any of them to be developed properly. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are supposed to the glamorous human leads, but they are boring characters who really could have been cut out altogether. John Goodman, Corey Hawkins and Toby Kebbell are all underused, while the comedic relievers John C Reilly and Jason Mitchell (also from Straight Outta Compton) are poorly utilised, with the vast majority of their jokes falling embarrassing flat. Oh, and of course there’s also the arbitrary Chinese actress (Jing Tian) who is only there because the film was co-produced by China’s Tencent Pictures. The only human character who really has meat to his role is Samuel L Jackson, which surprised me as I thought he’d just do his usual schtick. In this case, it worked well for him.

In other words, the parts of Kong: Skull Island that don’t feature Kong are not very good, and there’s quite a bit of that given the film’s 118-minute running time. On the whole, I still enjoyed the movie because my expectations weren’t high and I just wanted to see the big fella smash stuff, which I got to do, though it’s a shame director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) couldn’t have delivered a more complete and memorable experience. Nonetheless, the post-credits scene still got me excited for upcoming showdown between Kong and Godzilla scheduled for May 29, 2020.

3.5 stars out of 5

Logan (2017)

I literally just got back from watching the highly anticipated Logan, supposedly the last time we will ever see Hugh Jackman as the clawed superhero that first made him famous 17 years ago. And in all honesty, I am still stunned by just how good it is. After the maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the better-but-not-good-enough The Wolverine, we finally have a Wolverine standalone film that does the iconic character justice.

As the title of the film suggests, Logan is a deeply personal story about an aging, struggling Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) whose powers are fading. The only thing keeping him going is his sense of obligation to Professor X (Patrick Stewart), whose failing mental faculties make him an extremely dangerous mutant. As the trailers and posters foreshadow, a young girl named Laura is thrust into his life, turning all his plans upside down and setting the wheels of the narrative in motion.

The X-Men films have never really cared about continuity, and it would be wise to not get caught up in all the nitty gritty of past entries in the franchise. In fact, you don’t need to have watched a single X-Men film to get this movie or really enjoy it. It actually works perfectly as a standalone. All you really need is to know that it’s set in the not-too-distant future and have a general idea of who the characters are and what mutant powers they possess, because director and co-writer James Mangold does a fabulous job of immersing audiences in the world of the story without an excessive amount of exposition. But of course, if you’ve followed Jackman’s version of the character for 17 years, the bittersweet nostalgia gets pretty heavy too.

What drew me so much to Logan in the first place was the first trailer, which felt eerily similar in story and tone to The Last of Us (in my view the best video game of all time), which is about a disillusioned, bearded, middle-aged man and a young girl trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. I’m glad to say that Logan isn’t that similar to The Last of Us in premise, but it does have shades of what made the video game so engrossing — the characters, the character development, the relationships, and the world building. And that’s what really makes Logan a success — you feel for the characters and you feel their hopes and their pain. In many ways, it’s a film that transcends the superhero genre. It is indeed a superhero movie and an action flick, but it’s also a road movie, a hard-hitting drama, a western, and a movie about cross-generational relationships. I was really surprised by how much I was moved by it.

Logan is also the first R-rated Wolverine film, and it certainly does not waste that classification. From the very first scene and line of dialogue, the film lets you know that it doesn’t intend on holding back, delivering f-bombs and copious amounts of brutal violence, blood and gore. Those used to the more tame X-Men films might find it jarring at first, but let’s face it — what do you expect when someone waves those sharp metal claws around like that? Personally, I didn’t find the violence gratuitous — it only added to the realism and the raw emotion of the film. Besides, it’s not just the violence either, as the story itself is really dark and tackles some very depressing issues. A PG-13 version of this movie just would not have worked.

Both Jackman and Stewart deliver what are easily their best performances in the X-Men franchise to date. Admittedly, part of it is because of the story and the added screen time their characters have been given, but they really do make the most of it. This felt like the kind of Wolverine movie Jackman had wanted to make back in 2009 and again in 2013, one where it’s really about who the character is as a person rather than his claws.

As good as they both are, newcomer Dafne Keen absolutely steals the show as the mysterious young girl named Laura. She is just unbelievably badass in this movie and I would love to see her (or at least her character) featured in future X-Men films.

The rest of the supporting cast is fantastic as well. It took me a while before I recognised him, but towering comedian Stephen Merchant is great as albino mutant Caliban, while Boyd Holbrook (Run All Night, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Morgan) surprised me with how good he is as Donald Pierce, the leader of a security squad working for a scientist played by British film veteran Richard E Grant. Special props too to the actor who plays the main supervillain of the film, who shall remain unnamed.

No movie is perfect, though the only main complaint I have regarding Logan — apart from a couple of minor logistic quibbles — is the 137-minute length, which could have had a few minutes here and there trimmed (120-125 minutes would have been perfect). That said, I never found the film slow, even during its more contemplative moments, and I wouldn’t mind seeing an extended cut that’s even longer.

There are going to be a lot of blockbusters coming out in the next few weeks (Kong: Skull IslandBeauty and the Beast, Life), but I would be very, very surprised if any of them even come close to the awesomeness that is Logan. What a way to send off Hugh Jackman’s version of the character. Logan is the best Wolverine movie ever, the best X-Men movie ever, and one of the best superhero movie of all time. It’s that good.

5 stars out of 5!

Oscar Predictions 2017

It’s my favourite time of the year again: Oscar time!

I have just finished reviewing all nine Best Picture nominees for 2017, so it’s time to roll out some predictions. As expected, La La Land leads the way with 14 nominations and is likely to be the big winner of the night, including Best Picture, Best Director for Damien Chazelle and Best Actress for Emma Stone. That said, things aren’t exactly as cut and dried now as they were probably a month or two ago, as there has been significant backlash against La La Land for the usual stupid political reasons and because people just like to criticise. The same thing goes for the Best Actor category, which most pundits believed was a lock for Casey Affleck until unproven sexual harassment allegations from years ago came back to haunt him. I guess we’ll see.

Without further ado, here are my guesses for who will win tomorrow and who should.

Best Picture

Nominees: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight

Will win: La La Land

Despite the backlash, I think La La Land has enough goodwill left to hold off late charges from Moonlight and Hidden Figures. Knowing the way Hollywood is and the demographic of Academy voters, it will be a bit of a shock if either movie with predominantly black actors ends up topping one with predominantly white actors. Just sayin’.

Should win: La La Land

For the first time in forever, my feeling is that the movie that will most likely win Best Picture at the Oscars is the most deserving one. I never thought it was possible, but I absolutely adored La La Land and think it deserves all the accolades it has been getting. Sure, the singing and dancing is not at Broadway level and the story is seemingly generic, but this film just gave me a magical feeling I seldom experience. By the way, if not for La La Land, my vote would have gone to Arrival.

Best Director

Nominees: Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Will win: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Chazelle was tipped as a future heavyweight after Whiplash, and now he will be crowned the top director of 2017. Well-deserved too. Jenkins has an outside chance, but it will be a stunner if Chazelle doesn’t take home the gong.

Should win: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

All great directors and great films, but Chazelle pulled off one of the most difficult genres (musical) with spectacular results and got the best performances of out of his leads.

Best Actor

Nominees: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), Denzel Washington (Fences)

Will win: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

I think Affleck, unlike Nate Parker (Birth of a Nation), will escape from his scandal with the acting Oscar his older brother Ben will never get. Affleck’s nuanced performance in Manchester by the Sea was a stab in the heart, and he made audiences shed tears without shedding tears himself on screen, a true testament to his performance

Should win: Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)

See above, but I wouldn’t mind if Denzel took home the award either. I actually wished Garfield could have gotten nominated for Silence instead, and I think he would have been a deserving winner for that too.

Best Actress

Nominees: Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Emma Stone (La La Land), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

Will win: Emma Stone (La La Land)

The stars are aligned this year for Emma Stone, who should sing, dance and act her way to her first Oscar. She is facing tough competition, with Huppert being touted as a serious contender rather than a dark horse. And of course, you can never count out Meryl Streep.

Should win: Emma Stone (La La Land)

Unfortunately, Stone and Portman’s performances are the only ones I’ve seen so far. Portman was good Jackie, but I think Stone blows her out of the water here.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Dev Patel (Lion), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals)

Will win: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

A small role that only lasts the first third of the film, but Ali is the odds on favourite to win the award. He was very, very good in limited screen time.

Should win: Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)

This is quite a weird category in that there is no clear standout. As I said above, Ali is great in the role, but he’s not in the film much. Jeff Bridges delivers a performance I feel like I’ve seen a few times already (True Grit?), and Dev Patel really should be in the Best Actor category for Lion, while I personally think Aaron Taylor-Johnson would have been a better pick than Michael Shannon in Nocturnal Animals. So that leaves by default Lucas Hedges, who kind of came out of nowhere to deliver a very powerful performance that boosted Casey Affleck’s.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)

Will win: Viola Davis (Fences)

Easiest pick of the acting categories. Viola Davis was dynamite in Fences, and though she should have been in the Best Actress category, there’s no denying that she’s absolutely deserving of an Oscar.

Should win: Viola Davis (Fences)

All great performances, but Davis’s stands out head and shoulders above the rest. She gave me the chills.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

Will win: La La Land

This is La La’s night, so I’m assuming the big awards are going to all go its way.

Should win: Hell or High Water

I loved Hell or High Water, and the dialogue is huge part of it. The film just felt authentic and managed to flesh out the characters really well.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight

Will win: Moonlight

Moonlight is such a lauded film, one which many think is the best film of the year, and so it should take home at least a few awards in which La La Land has not been nominated.

Should win: Arrival

Have you seen Arrival? Amazing story, insanely good adaptation consider the difficulty of the material.

Best Animated Film

Nominees: Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle, Zootopia

Will win: Zootopia

Haven’t seen it yet but the bookmakers seem to have this one ahead.

Should win: Moana

I’ve seen Kubo and Moana, and both are great animated films in their own right. If I were forced to choose, however, I’d go with Moana. Though it doesn’t have the same stunning stop-motion animation, I felt the story and characters were stronger. And the songs are catchy!

Visual Effects

Nominees: Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book, Kubo and the Two Strings, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Will win: Jungle Book

All fantastic effects this year, with Doctor Strange and The Jungle Book vying for the award. I would be very annoyed in The Jungle Book didn’t win. This was the first time shot entirely in a studio that made me believe everything was real, down to the talking animals.

Should win: Jungle Book

Every nominee had great special effects, but only The Jungle Book‘s was revolutionary.

Cinematography

Nominees: Arrival, La La Land, Lion, Moonlight, Silence

Will win: Arrival

Tempted to go with La La again but I’m guessing that it can’t win everything it’s nominated for. If there’s one category it’s in danger of missing out on, this could be it. Arrival‘s cinematography is breathtakingly good too, and I hope it at least takes home something.

Should win: Silence

Silence should have been nominated for way more categories, including Best Picture, so it’s a travesty that it only has this one nomination to show for it. But this is not a pity vote from me because the cinematography in this movie is absolutely beautiful.

Costume Design

Nominees: Allied, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Florence Foster Jenkins, Jackie, La La Land

Will win: La La Land

No comment.

Should win: Jackie

Recreating all the classic pieces must have been a lot of work.

Editing

Nominees: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Moonlight

Will win: Moonlight

Another one of those categories where La La might not reign supreme. Just a hunch.

Should win: Hacksaw Ridge

With all those flying limbs and exploding skulls it must have been a difficult task editing this film.

Make-up and Hair

Nominees: A Man Called Ove, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad

Will win: Star Trek Beyond

I just can’t imagine Suicide Squad winning anything, and A Man Called Ove might not have been seen by enough voters?

Should win: Star Trek Beyond

I just can’t imagine Suicide Squad winning anything

Best Original Score

Nominees: Jackie, La La Land Lion Moonlight Passengers

Will win: La La Land

The best musical absolutely has to win best music right? In all seriousness, I loved the music in this movie and still listen to it regularly.

Should win: La La Land

No brainer.

Best Original Song

Nominees:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land
“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls
“City Of Stars” from La La Land
“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Will win: “City Of Stars” from La La Land

Actually think “Audition” is the better song, but the title “City of Stars” is probably enough to sway the voters. Just wonder if the two songs will end up splitting the votes and another film will end up coming out on top.

Should win: “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

I actually like some of the other songs in La La Land more, but of the songs nominated, I liked “How Far I’ll Go” the most.

Production Design

Nominees: Arrival, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Hail, Caesar! La La Land, Passengers

Will win: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

JK Rowling should get some love. Fantastic Beasts does have a lot of nice looking sets.

Should win: Arrival

Have you seen Arrival? Those alien ships were mind-blowing. Actually, Passengers wasn’t all that bad either, it’s just that the film was not very well received, so I don’t expect much love from voters.

Sound Editing

Nominees: Arrival, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Sully

Will win: Arrival

Have you seeeeeen Arrival?

Should win: Arrival

Have you seeeeeeeeeen Arrival? Those alien ship sounds! They should have dubbed Amy Adams’ Mandarin though.

Sound Mixing

Nominees: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, La La Land, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Should win: Hacksaw Ridge

Loads of bombs and explosions is all I can remember. Must have been exhausting work,

Will win: Hacksaw Ridge

Yada yada yada.

Note: The rest of the categories are going to be mostly guesses, and I’m assuming no one really cares about them (sorry), so for the sake of brevity it’s just going to be the nominees plus my pick in bold.

Documentary Feature

Fire at Sea, I Am Not Your Negro, Life, Animated, O.J.: Made in America, 13th

The only one I’ve seen, and given this is OJ’s year, so to speak, my guess is that it will win. The bigger question is: Can a doco with 4 parts and clocking in at around 7 hours be a “film”?

Documentary Short

Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe’s Violin, Watani: My Homeland, The White Helmets

Pure speculation.

Foreign Language Film

Land of MineA Man Called Ove, The Salesman, Tanna, Toni Erdmann

Land of Mine has gotten a bit of buzz around here, so I’m sticking with it.

Short Film (Live Action)

Ennemis Intérieurs, La Femme et le TGV, Silent Nights, Sing Timecode

Like I would have a clue.

Short Film (Animated)

Blind Vaysha, Borrowed Time, Pear, Cider and Cigarettes, Pearl Piper

Sounds like a winning title.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

I remember in 2014, I went into this Keanu Reeves movie that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. There was very little advertising and not even an announcement or trailer until just a month or two before it was released. It was called John Wick.

No one expected John Wick is tear it up at the box office, earning nearly US$90m worldwide on a US$20 million budget, and transforming Keanu into the best middle-aged action superstar since Liam Neeson in Taken. And for once, John Wick did not feel like just yet another movie trying to mimic Taken — it had its own story hook and visual style, inventive action sequences, and created its own mythology with the “Continental”, essentially an assassin hotel.

In all honesty, while I liked John Wick, I wasn’t quite as enamored with it as most others who thought it was one of the best action movies ever. I believe one of the reasons is because the film was already so hyped up by the time I got around to it. So this time, though I knew the reviews were great, I avoided trailers and reading about the movie, and went into John Wick 2 with tempered expectations.

And wow, I absolutely loved it!

Continuing on almost immediately from the end of the first film, the titular John Wick begins the story by trying to get his car back from a Russian mobster played by the awesome Peter Stromare. So it’s crazy action from the get-go and things only get more insane when Wick’s past comes back to haunt him. It’s a one-man-against-the-rest premise like Die Hard, except for John Wick, the dangers lurk wherever he is in the world.

John Wick 2 is still ultra-violent and super stylish, with loads of action that utilises minimal cuts and immersive camera work. At times it feels like you are watching the best adaptation of a first-person shooter (or over-the-shoulder) video game ever, and at others it’s as though you are watching a comic book come to life on the big screen. It is no wonder that director John Stahelski was hired to help out on the brilliant action sequences in Captain America: Civil War.

I used video games and comic books to describe the sensibilities of John Wick 2 because it’s the type of film you need to suspend a lot of disbelief. Apart from cranking the action and the stakes up to 11, the film also builds on the assassin mythology from its predecessor, extending beyond just the Continental to a whole world of assassin services. It’s fascinating and loads of fun, but only if you buy into. I compare it to the latest entries in the Fast & Furious franchise, in that if you don’t accept it for what it is, you’ll be rolling your eyes throughout the entire film, but if you do, you’ll have a whale of a time.

I was surprised just how much of the original cast returned, including the super assassin played by Common, the car repair dude played by John Leguizamo, and the friendly neighbourhood cop played by Thomas Sadoski, as well as the Continental’s Ian Mcshane and Lance Reddick. Notable newcomers are Riccardo Scamarcio and Aussie DJ Ruby Rose (who is just about everywhere these days), while those looking forward to a Matrix reunion between Keanu and Lawrence Fishburne will finally have their wish granted.

As for Keanu, he’s still Keanu. John Wick doesn’t have a lot of lines, but the lines he does have are delivered in the classic Keanu style — ie, pretty badly. Nonetheless, the physical stuff Keanu pulls off is absolutely astounding, and apparently the film went out of its way to ensure that the physics of the action is as close to reality as possible. It’s a strange form of surrealistic realism that works and makes John Wick the kind of unique universe I’d love to return to.

On the whole, even though it’s only February, I’ll be surprised if I end up watching a better pure action film than John Wick 2 this year. So if you’re old enough and can stomach the violence, do yourself a favour and check out a John Wick 2 with a big bag of popcorn.

4.5 stars out of 5

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

In all honesty, I thought The Lego Movie would suck. Instead, it turned out to be one of the craziest, funnest and funniest movies of 2014. A big part of that is the character of Batman, voiced by Will Arnett, and so it was no surprise that the first spin-off film Warner Bros decided on was The Lego Batman Movie.

Given how funny The Lego Movie was, I went into Lego Batman with heightened expectations, but also wary that it could turn out to be another Minions situation (ie, good in small doses as a side character, annoying and incapable of sustaining its own film). I shouldn’t have been worried.

Lego Batman is, like its predecessor, loads of irreverent, stupid fun, It again delivers relentless, rapid-fire jokes from all directions, some misses but mostly hits, and this time, with the added bonus of many inside jokes poking fun at not just the Batman franchise throughout its long history but also the entire DC universe — including the current cinematic universe. Actually it goes even beyond that and borrows characters from other franchises too (that’s the great thing about Lego), but I’m not going to spoil the surprises here. All I’ll say is that at least one real-life counterpart of one of the characters from another franchise voices a different character in the film.  I’m sure I missed a whole bunch of the jokes, references and characters, and I wouldn’t mind checking out the film again when it comes out on DVD to catch all the Easter eggs.

Conversely, as it centres around Batman, Lego Batman is more limited in scope than The Lego Movie, and as a result, most of the jokes are more confined in subject matter. Accordingly, I have to say I did laugh less this time around, though another reason could also be because I was on the ONLY person in the theatre watching the movie (it was a Thursday matinee session)!

I would say it’s both good and bad — if crazy, silly laughs are all you’re after, Lego Batman is arguably a step down from The Lego Movie, but if you prefer a more structured story (yes, there is actually a story and character development and all that), then Lego Batman might be more up your alley.

As you would expect, the action is fun and inventive and the visuals are bright and colourful.  I would say the quality all the non-humour elements are on par with The Lego Movie. The idea of rapidly “building” things with Lego pieces on the run is still pretty cool to watch every time.

Will Arnett is perfect as Lego Batman. He pretty much speaks in a Batman voice as Job on Arrested Development anyway, so this performance came naturally for him. Joining Arnett is his nephew from AR, Michael Cera, who plays Robin with the same wide-eyed innocent as George Michael (by the way, there might be a George Michael joke or two in there — and you can interpret that however you want). Ralph Fiennes is also terrific as Alfred the butler, while Zach Galifianakis is a solid Joker and Rosario Dawson is cool as Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Commissioner Gordon. There are loads of other big names on the cast list, including some familiar returning names from The Lego Movie such as Channing Tatum as Superman and Jonah Hill as the Green Lantern. Billy Dee Williams, Mariah Carey, Chris Hardwick, Zoe Kravitz, Adam DeVine, Conan O’Brien — the list goes on and on.

On the whole, I personally preferred The Lego Movie just because of the sheer range of the jokes and because it was fresher and more surprising, but Lego Batman is not very far behind. I would say there were less laugh-out-loud jokes but more witty bits and pieces that will keep you smiling and giggling. Anyway, if you enjoyed one you will absolutely enjoy the other. I’ve said countless times that I’m not usually a fan of animated films, so when I am this positive it usually means it’s pretty, pretty good.

3.75 stars out of 5

Most Anticipated Movies of 2017

Happy New Year! 2017 is shaping up to be one of the most epic years in film history with loads of blockbuster releases.

First up, these are the ones I’m not particularly interested in:

Fifty Shades Darker (Feb 10)

The first one was horrible, and this one — if the books are any measure — will be even worse.

Cars 3 (June 16)

Cars has to be one of the worst Disney animated franchises. I still haven’t been able to watch one without falling asleep. I’m pretty sure I’ll skip this.

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (Jan 20)

XXX 2 with Ice Cube was a movie experience that will probably scar me for life. This looks better because Vin Diesel is back, but I’m not expecting much.

Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23)

I have officially given up on this franchise. I’m sure it will make loads of money, but as long as Michael Bay is at the helm, there’s not much to get excited about. Even the trailer is a little meh this time.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)

I’ve never been much of a fan of this franchise either. The first one was decent, but since then Johnny Depp’s shtick has been annoying.

Baywatch (May 26)

Gosh. This looks like a disaster waiting to happen.

Saw: Legacy (Oct 27)No trailer yet, but no trailer needed. This is an absolute cash grab that does not need to be made. It will simply soil the franchise further.

Pitch Perfect 3 (Dec 22)

Not even a poster yet. I liked the first one but the second one felt like it already wore out its welcome. I doubt a third one will be any good.

Despicable Me 3 (June 30)

Another animated franchise I could never get into properly. This trailer has not changed my mind.

The Shack (March 3)

I remember being really intrigued by the book when I first saw the cover a few years ago. But then I found out it was a cleverly disguised Christian novel and saw this trailer. Sigh.

Jumanji (Dec 22)

Yet another remake that does not need to be made. Nice cast, but I will be very shocked if this does not turn out to be a shocker.

Snatched (May 12)

After the success of Trainwreck, Amy Schumer is back with Snatched, co-starring Goldie Hawn. The trailer gives away I suppose what can be called a twist? Can’t say this interests me very much.

These are the ones I’m intrigued by but missed the list:

The Fate of the Furious (April 12)

I honestly think they should have stopped after the last one given the way they gave Paul Walker the perfect send-off. But money talks and there are more ridiculous stunts waiting to happen. Must say this trailer does not particularly excite me.

A Cure for Wellness (Feb 17)

Gore Verbinski directs a psychological horror starring Dane DeHaan. Looks fascinating. Count me in.

Insidious: Chapter 4 (Oct 20)

This is a cute little meta teaser trailer. Insidious is definitely one of the better horror franchises, so I’m at least intrigued by what the fourth installment has to offer.

Flatliners (Sep 29)

The cast of Flatliners 2017 take a photo on set.

The original about life-after-death experimentation was not exactly a classic, but it had a super cast (Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Billy Baldwin, Oliver Platt). This remake features Ellen Page, Diego Luna and Nina Dobrev, and might have some new special effects and ideas to make it worthwhile.

Annabelle 2 (Aug 11)

The first one was a disappointment, but the sequel promises to be better. The trailer suggests this to be the case.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Sep 29)

The first one was a pleasant surprise. Not sure if the sequel can replicate the magic, but I’m eager to find out.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)

This is supposedly based on a legendary text that many other movies have borrowed from over the years. The trailer looks okay, I suppose. Hope it’s not another Jupiter Ascending.

Power Rangers (March 24)

I shouldn’t be interested in this, but I am. The trailer does not instill confidence but I’m willing to give it a shot.

The Dark Tower (July 28)

Never read the Stephen King novels upon which this is based, but it certainly looks promising with Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba in the lead roles.

The Lego Batman Movie (Feb 10)

I laughed like a lunatic throughout The Lego Movie, and Batman was one of the major reasons. Hope this one can live up to the hype with Will Arnett once again reprising the voice of the caped crusader.

Get Out (Feb 24)

Not sure what to think of this strange, racially tinged horror flick, but it does seem interesting. Check out the trailer.

It (Sep 8)

The TV mini-series based on the Stephen King novel was the No. 1 thing that scared the crap out of me as a kid, so I am really looking forward to how they do a film version with Bill Skarsgard as the titular monster.

T2 Trainspotting (Jan 27)

I don’t have strong impressions of the original, so this isn’t as high on my list. And sequels that have taken more than 20 years to get made usually don’t perform well.

Beauty and the Beast (March 17)

This was in my top 15 until I realised there was another movie I had completely forgotten. I liked the animated version and I think this has the potential to be very good. Not quite sure about Emma Watson as Belle though.

And here’s my top 15!

15. The Mummy (June 9)

This could be good or bad. Still not sure what to think from the trailer. But I trust Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe and I know this needs to be great in order for the rest of the Universal monsters franchise to have a shot.

14. Thor: Ragnarok (Nov 3)

This would be higher in any other year, and especially after this hilarious “vacation trailer”. I wasn’t thrilled with Thor 2, though this has a chance to be a monster hit given that it also features the Hulk.

13. Blade Runner 2049 (Oct 6)

Oh man, I’m so excited about this long-awaited sequel to the sci-fi classic, particularly as it is directed by Denis Villeneuve. However, my fears of a sequel/reboot that has taken this long to come to fruition are also at play here. It’s the only reason why this isn’t in the top 10, possibly top 5.

12. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Feb 10)

The first one was an exhilarating surprise hit. The second one looks very promising by the looks of this trailer. Could well be the best action flick of the year.

11. World War Z 2 (June 9)

The first one went through production hell but came out gloriously on the other side. I know a lot of people didn’t like it, but I absolutely loved the World War Z. Still no news or teaser trailer or even poster with the scheduled release date just 6 months away, so we’ll have to wait and see if they push it back.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)

I didn’t love the first one as much as everyone else, but upon a second viewing it’s grown on me more. Guardians is different, fun and funny, and I think this second one could be even better.

9. Wonder Woman (June 2)

DC has not hit it out of the park yet with any of their new DC Extended Universe movies, and I’m hoping Wonder Woman can be the first. I’m sure it will be good, but I’m not sure if will live up to expectations.

8. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)

The new Tom Holland version of Spider-Man was one of the best things about Captain America: Civil War, so naturally everyone is excited about his first solo movie . With Michael Keaton as the villain Vulture, there’s every reason to be optimistic that Marvel will get it done once again.

7. Alien: Covenant (May 19)

I was one of the few people on the planet who really enjoyed Prometheus, flaws and all, so of course I’m looking forward to its sequel. This time, Ridley Scott has ditched any pretensions about there not being a direct link to Alien, but I just hope they don’t try to force a connection too much. The first trailer looks like we’re in for a pure horror in the vein of the original.

6. Logan (March 3)

Hugh Jackman’s last time as Wolverine, and it looks like he’s going to go out with a bang. I don’t know when or if they’re ever going to make a movie based on The Last of Us, so this could be as close as we’re going to get for a while. Best trailer of the lot?

5. Kong: Skull Island (March 10)

I’m partial to the big fella, and this movie could be setting up an epic duel soon with Godzilla. Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston. What’s there not to like?

4. Justice League (Nov 17)

I’m almost as excited about this film as I was about The Avengers. I know the odds are stacked against it given DC’s track record, but one can only hope that Ben Affleck’s influence will push it in the right direction. It looks like a lot of fun.

3. Dunkirk (July 21)

I worship at the altar of Christopher Nolan, so it’s no surprise his new war film is up this high. The trailer looks absolutely incredible too. I know it will be fantastic.

2. Star Wars: Episode VIII (Dec 15)

The Force Awakens more or less lived up to expectations and Rogue One was great in its own right. I can’t wait to find out what Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo have been up to, and it will be fantastic to finally see Luke Skywalker for more than a few seconds. Above all, it’s directed by Rian Johnson, so I feel like nothing can possibly go wrong. It’s almost blasphemous that I’m not putting this as No. 1.

1. War for the Planet of the Apes

What. You were expecting something else? Don’t be silly.