DeaconsDen 2017 Film Recap

2017 has drawn to a close and so has another year of DeaconsDen. I’ve had the opportunity to see many films. Some great, some not so great. This was a great year for film and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see quite a few of them. So here is a rundown of some of the films I’ve seen and reviewed this year.

First I’ll start with my biggest disappointments of the year:

Atomic BlondeBrutal and brilliant performance by Charlize Theron. However, when she wasn’t mopping the floor the people, I was quite bored with the film’s story which interested me being an 80s era Cold War thriller, but never became interesting.

DunkirkI was greatly disappointed with Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking prowess. The technical nature of the film is fantastic and proves Nolan is a master of his craft. Yet the film’s decision to weave multiple stories left me cold, without an easily identifiable main character and story to follow. I respect Nolan’s decision, it just never vibes with me.

Favorite Surprises of the Year:

Happy Death DayA horror thriller with a sci-fi twist that’s funny and entertaining. Also a nice introduction to actress Jessica Rothe

Power Rangers

Didn’t get to see Power Rangers in theaters, but I wished I had. I had no major interest in seeing this, but the really surprised me. I really liked this movie’s cast and story. I liked the way it played with the Power Ranger mythos. It was just a really fun superhero action film that I hope gets a sequel one day.

And now, my ten favorite films of 2017!

10) John Wick Chapter 2

Keanu Reeves is back for more super stylized action that expands the mythology of the John Wick universe.

9) Kong: Skull Island

Probably the best pure blockbuster this year, Kong: Skull Island boasts impressive visuals and some great, pulpy monster action.

8) Split

James McAvoy gives one of the year’s best performances in this great thriller that also marks a return to form for M. Night Shayamalan. I can’t wait for what comes next.

7) Spider-Man Homecoming

Spidey now has his own film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it’s a great almost slice of life picture that’s as much a Peter Parker story as it is about Spider-Man.

6) Get Out

Missed this in theaters, but Get Out is one of the most creative thrillers I’ve seen. One that uses the genre to tell a very real and socially conscious story.

5) Baby Driver

I did not review Baby Driver, but this was certainly one stylish action flick with the best soundtrack of 2017.

4) Your Name

A gem of a film. A story of love that uses one of my favorite ways to tell a story. Yet to say anything else would spoil it.

3) Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A New Hope? No a new beginning. Star Wars takes a huge leap forward in an amazing way that will have tremendous impact on the franchise in the future.

2) Logan

High Jackman ends his tenure as Wolverine with a visceral, brutal and emotional grinder of a film. It’s the examination of a man and his legacy.

1) Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman explodes onto our screens with some dynamic action by director Patty Jenkins and a star making turn by Gal Gadot.

So there you have it folks! The DeaconsDen 2017 film recap. I hope you all had great cinema experiences this year and I hope that continues into 2018!

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DeaconsDen Review – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The eighth episode of the Star Wars saga is here. 2015’s The Force Awakens (You can read that review here) breathed new life into the series by giving us the familiarity of that galaxy far, far away that captured our imagination while simultaneously giving us new characters to carry the torch. Now we move onto the second installment of the sequel trilogy. With The Last Jedi, we get something we know, but now we get something very unique for a Star Wars film. The story moves forward, and the franchise moves forward in a very special direction. Director Rian Johnson has taken what we know and loved, remixed it in a way and has given the future of the series an outlook I don’t think it has ever had before.

Episode VIII begins where it’s predecessor ends. Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and attempts to convince him to return and help the Resistance led by his sister Leia (Carrie Fisher). Meanwhile Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) continues to find out what connects him and Rey. Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Issac) and Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) execute their own plan to take down the First Order.

That’s enough of plot. I don’t want to spoil anything. This review is going to be difficult because I have so much I wish to discuss and I run the risk of spoiling. I’ll first start with some of the basics.

Visually this is the best looking Star Wars film yet. Johnson gives the film a distinct style that captures the feelings of each character. Obviously from the posters, the main color is red and it’s incorporated in the film in many ways.

John Williams returns once again and what else is there to say about a legend? He delivers another fantastic entry into the musical arena of the franchise and gives us some special callbacks to the original Star Wars that will give you goosebumps as you hear it.

Acting? Everyone ups their game. Adam Driver continues to make Kylo Ren one of the most complex and complicated antagonists in Star Wars lore. His continued confusion makes for a compelling character arc. Daisy Ridley brings more to Rey as she searches for her own answers about herself. Mark Hamill gives his absolute best performance as Luke Skywalker. He is a man filled with many regrets despite the good he has done. He ponders his legacy, not in how much better he’s left the galaxy, but how much worse. Of course I must mention Carrie Fisher in her final portrayal as Leia Organa. Fisher, like her character is a veteran who leads and you clearly see the impact she has on those around her. Poe Dameron especially. You get the sense that the actors in the room wanted to be at their best for their general, Carrie as well as Leia. She has a very big moment in the film that’s underscored by a familiar Star Wars theme that had my eyes watering. There were quite a few moments like that.

Also, I’d like to mention Kelly Marie Tran as Rose. A new character, Rose brings a new perspective that we generally do not see in Star Wars. It was certainly welcoming to have this viewpoint and Tran gives Rose such resolve that differs from the motivations of our other heroes.

The word around the water cooler is that The Last Jedi is divisive in its reception amongst audiences. Yes it is. I can see why. And this is why I loved it. At the time of this writing, I don’t have the benefit of a second viewing. Yet walking out of the theater, these were my thoughts. Star Wars: A New Hope is my favorite film of all-time. That will never change. The Last Jedi however, may have become my favorite Star Wars film. It’s so thematic and layered, more so than any other film in the series. There’s a major message that’s given throughout the film. One that speaks to us as Star Wars fans. The film takes what we know, or what we thought we knew and says, nah. Do some questions from The Force Awakens get answers? Yes. Will some people like them? No. Luke says to Rey, “this is not going to go the way you think.” He’s speaking to us as well. In The Last Jedi, Star Wars breaks free from its past and once you get to the final shot of the film, you will understand. Some things are glamorous and The Last Jedi takes away some of that sheen for the betterment of the series. I’ll summarize by saying this, you, me, everyone matter and so do our stories.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an impactful and important entry. Our heroes stories continue while simultaneously using them to open the doors of the franchise for an exciting new direction. Maybe for the first time since 1977, we’ve taken our first steps into a larger world.

I know I adjusted my rating system to a 4 point system, but this film has resonated really strong with me and so I am going to give it my highest regards.

Final Rating 5/5 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi might have become my favorite film in the series with a rich and thematic challenge to what we know about this franchise and push in a new direction.