2017: The Year When Blockbusters Delved Deeper
*Warning* Minor spoilers for films discussed ahead
It's an exciting time to be a movie fan. With a typical six or so superhero films every year this decade and companies trying harder than ever to get bodies in the theatre, blockbusters or popcorn-type action-adventure flicks are being cranked out faster than ever.
Sometimes there's a machine-like lack of quality in these pictures. While we still see that lack of passion in some places like the b-tier comedy and horror genres (and some dramas that are accidentally funny), giant franchises are retaining artistic integrity due to fan accountability and some seriously talented directors, writers, actors and crew.
Look at Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Blade Runner 2049, Logan, War for the Planet of the Apes, and Christopher Nolan's war film Dunkirk: all with opening crawls (except as in Wolverine's adventure; it has meta comic book usage instead) that put an emphasis on storytelling from the very onset of the respective films' runtimes, setting the tones for something dark, consequential and catastrophic in each case.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi actively fought franchise fatigue with a surprising narrative that subverted expectations and became a masterpiece in its own right, a story about deep-seated heroism, failure's life lessons and impressive sacrifice that further evolves the story of light and dark The Force has always been all about.
Logan showed that it didn't care too much about how many X-Men films preceded it. Instead, a grizzled Hugh Jackman performed his heart out with his co-star Dafne Keen in a relationship that got to the soul of corrupted innocence and exploitation of power in the most heartbreaking way.
Dunkirk evolved the war film, as if this World War II event was captured with the objective clarity of a documentary and the vision to place the human events instead of fictional heroes with fabricated arcs at the forefront. Critics have already praised the sound design and cinematography in droves, some calling it the best of the year. Dunkirk is also nominated among many other great films for Picture of the Year at March 4's Oscars awards show.
War for the Planet of the Apes concluded a trilogy of prequel films that could lead into the classic picture we know as Planet of the Apes. CGI/motion-captured humans portraying apes epitomize human frailty and emotion more so than the human characters and purposefully so. Characters who do not traditionally speak carry this movie more than any other Apes picture, yet the 2.5 hour-long runtime doesn't feel bogged down at all.
Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel not many may have appreciated in the box office, but it matches its '80s predecessor in almost all ways and surpasses it in others by being Denis Villeneuve's greatest technical marvel, also an opus examining love, miracles and the unprecedented in both.
Other major films performed in unexpected ways too. Wonder Woman delivered the first well-received female-led superhero film, garnering near universal praise. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continued to pull off ensemble flicks better than most while crafting an actually well-defined Marvel Cinematic Universe villain and some real emotion to boot. And Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant sought to unite the series' existential questioning with some grizzly horror that both stimulated and thrilled.
Pile on other amazing films that came out in 2017 like It and heartrending anime Your Name., and it's easy to see how much there was for audiences of all kinds to enjoy. The Post continues the trend of hard-hitting journalism-based films we've seen this decade. Perhaps Guillermo Del Toro's greatest directorial endeavor, The Shape of Water, created more sparks between a mute and an underwater mutant than can be mustered in more than one film between two people named Christian and Ana.
These amazing pictures have given us a lot to think about. It makes one wonder just what blockbuster breakthrough will come out next.