By Jack Dignan
With Contributions by Chris Campo, Liam Alexander and Michael Leibert
Yesterday saw the release of my Top 15 Films of 2016, celebrating all the great movies that came out this year, and there was shockingly a lot more than expected. Today we do the opposite. Today we look at the 10 worst films of 2016. They’re the worst of the worst. They’re the most vile, repulsive, painful and awkward films I’ve had to sit through this year, and I’m trying desperately to forget that any of them exist. You can also catch the 10 Worst Films from the other Director’s Cut Movies writers at the end of the article, and I’m sure they’re trying to forget their films exist too.
If I’m being perfectly honest, looking back at the films of 2016, most of them received either 3 stars or 2.5 stars. I found a lot of the new releases to be incredibly average, so there weren’t as many obvious choices as I thought. I had to look back over at my reviews to make sure I had all the films I wanted to include. Even then, I have managed to successfully avoid seeing a lot of the absolute worst films of the year. There are some I simply don’t want to see, and some, such as Collateral Beauty, which don’t come out here till January.
Now, once again, let’s begin…
Dishonourable Mentions: The Girl On The Train, Red Dog: True Blue, Storks, Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates and Ben-Hur.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to the Point Break remake, as we got the film in January. It’s easily one of the worst films of 2016, although it’s technically a 2015 release and therefore can’t make my list.
I’ve been tossing and turning between which of these films I disliked more for quite some time now, and I simply cannot choose. Both are pure dogshit, but both have some mildly redeeming qualities. Not many, but definitely a couple. Ice Age: Collision Course is easily the worst Ice Age yet, utilizing lazy humour and a predictable plot. Then, on the other hand, The Huntsman: Winter’s War is just straight up one of the stupidest films of the year, wasting every cast member’s talent. Check out my review for The Huntsman here.
I managed to catch this one at the Sydney Film Festival, going into it reasonably excited. At the time, no trailer had been released, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. One of our writers, Michael Leibert, had already seen the film over in America and he was raving about it. I really wanted to see this movie. And I nearly walked out. Goat is a horrendously bad film, working as more of an exploitation piece than a coherent story. The performances are okay, I guess, but the film as a whole is a generic, difficult to watch piece of trash that beats its messege over your head for its entire runtime. We get it… frat houses are bad. We don’t need to see two hours of teenage torture to understand your point.
Grimsby is straight up terrible. There’s no other way to put it. Sure, it’s a little bit better than Bruno, one of Sasha Baron Cohen’s earlier films, but that fact doesn’t make this film any more bearable. The humour is cheap and gross, relying on shock value to get laughs, yet most of the jokes aren’t shocking. There’s one shocking moment, and anyone who’s seen the film knows the scene I’m talking about, but man, that scene is going to scar me for life. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Check out my review here.
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is an okay movie. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination a really good movie, but it’s an okay one. It’s bearable. The follow-up, Alice Through The Looking Glass, is not. The plot is thin and nonsensical, the performances are lazy, the direction is uninspired, the visual effects are obvious and in your face, and the writing is just bad. Very bad. Johnny Depp needs to make more films like Black Mass, not more rubbish like this. Check out my review here.
When the first Now You See Me movie got released, I remember enjoying it for what it was. It wasn’t anything special, but I remember having fun with it. I haven’t seen it since, and since watching Now You See Me 2, I’ve started to have doubts about whether or not that first film was actually good, as the follow-up is all sorts of bad. The magic tricks are illogical and lack enjoyment, the plot so full of twists that it becomes impossible to follow, and the ending tries to set up the third movie but just makes no sense whatsoever. Please please please don’t let the third movie be made. Check out my review here.
Fuck me, this was horrible. The day I saw this film, I interviewed Quentin Tarantino. It was, as would be expected, one of the coolest days of my entire life. I then came home, watched the interview, screamed a little bit (okay, a lot), then headed on down to see The 5th Wave opening night at my local theatre. I just had to go and ruin the day, didn’t I? It’s been a year of underwhelming young adult book adaptations, and this one sadly isn’t even the worst one. Check out my review here.
I’ve managed to push this film so far back in my memory that I actually forgot it came out this year. I’ve tried so hard to forget it, that the memory feels distant. And I wish it were. Dirty Grandpa is oh so very bad; wasting its extremely talented cast with a script so juvenile and unfunny it’s painful to sit through. Has Robert DeNiro’s career really gone so far downhill that he’s had to resort to doing films such as this one? Check out my review here.
After being pushed back multiple times and then shelved for the foreseeable future, Masterminds finally got released this year, and it wasn’t worth the wait. Not even the studio had any faith in this film, sending out free tickets to go see it instead of holding a screening for all the critics. I did end up using those tickets, and I’m certainly glad they were free. This film doesn’t deserve your money. This film doesn’t even deserve your attention. It’s very, very bad indeed. Check out my review here.
Oh, man. Man oh man oh man. Bad Santa 2. Did I have to watch this movie? No. So why did I watch this movie? I… I don’t know, but I definitely regret it. This film enraged nearly every component of my body, and while I usually write shorter reviews for a lot of comedy movies, my review for Bad Santa 2 was extra long. All my rage had built up and exploded onto the paper, and I tore this film to shreds. It’s honest to god so bad that they weren’t even able to get the title card right. The ‘2’ comes in a little too late and it just made me uncomfortable for the remainder of the movie, unsure of how to feel. Check out my review here.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Why? How? No, no. This was… wow. Yup. This was something. The Divergent series has been a franchise steadily declining in quality, and Allegiant is the worst one yet, easily claiming the title of worst film of 2016. The film was originally meant to be part 1 of 2 of the final installment, but it seems that second part may not be going ahead after all. The sequel was removed from cinemas, planned to be a TV release, which is just hilarious, but since then, things haven’t been looking good for it. The project seems to have died, and I really do hope so. Allegiant is unbearably awful, and I’m still in shock that a film this bad got released this year. Check out my review here.
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By Jack Dignan
With Contributions By Chris Campo, Liam Alexander, Michael Leibert and Anthony Cacasci
If you say that this year went exactly as expected, you’re lying. It didn’t. What a strange, shocking, kinda fun, kinda not fun year. It had more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and that’s saying something. In the world of film, however, things didn’t go quite as planned either. A lot of the big blockbusters, except for a few, ended up being highly disappointing, ranging from straight up awful to painfully mediocre. Sure, I gave Suicide Squad 5 stars on my initial viewing, but uh let’s just say I was a bit blinded by the hype. My re-review can be read here.
A lot of people have described 2016 as being an awful year for film. While I can see where they may be coming from, I don’t understand. A lot of the movies we expected to be great came up short, but there have still been plenty of absolutely fantastic movies throughout the year, many of which I wasn’t expecting to make it into my top 15 list. Am I complaining though? Not really. At the end of this list, you will also find top 15 lists from the other writers of the site, to get a little insight into their favourites from 2016. Also, there are still a few films that haven’t been released yet in Australia, such as Manchester by the Sea or Moonlight, so for all I know, they should’ve made the list, but unfortunately I haven’t seen them yet.
Now, without further to do…. Let’s begin….
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: The Conjuring 2, Deepwater Horizon, Paterson, Swiss Army Man and Kung Fu Panda 3.
Every single one of these films was on the list at some point in time, and it broke my heart to take them off.
Tom Ford’s dark and depressing tale of revenge is an absolute triumph. It’s a violent, enthralling and highly uncomfortable movie that slowly draws you in, slapping you across the face with one brutal ending, but not in a violent way. It’s not actually too violent of a film, its subject matter quite restraint when depicted on screen. What makes this film so great is the deep themes of the narrative, elevated to an extraordinary level through top-notch performances from the entire cast. It’s not for everyone, but it was definitely for me. Check out my review here.
Pixar are probably my all-time favourite studio, and Finding Nemo is one of my all time favourite movies. A sequel was long awaited, but not necessary. Was this going to be another Taken situation where Nemo has once again gone missing? Thankfully not. This time around, nobody really goes missing. Nobody new, that is. It’s Dory who, after starting to remember her upbringing, begins a dangerous, hilarious and exciting quest to find her long-lost family. Pixar knock it out of the park with animation that is an absolute marvel, and characters that are just as warm and friendly as ever. It’s a true delight to watch. Check out my review here.
As a comic book character, Doctor Strange is phenomenal. His comic runs are always as trippy and weird as can be, dealing with multiple dimensions and strange creatures from worlds unknown. Translating it to film is no easy task, yet Scott Derrickson seems to do it with ease. He’s got the weird and he’s got the wacky, crafting a Marvel film unlike any Marvel film we’ve seen before, yet still feeling like it belongs in this universe. It’s a step forward for the Marvel universe; opening up doors us fans never thought would be opened. Benedict Cumberbatch proves to be the perfect Strange, and I’m very eager to see where they take this character next. Check out my review here.
Ben Affleck has had a pretty rough year. Not only has he split from his wife, Jennifer Garner, but also every film he’s been involved with has been met to negative critical reception. Batman V Superman? Trashed. Suicide Squad? Trashed. Live By Night? Trashed. The Accountant? Trashed. While I haven’t seen Live By Night yet, I’ve enjoyed every other film he’s made this year, The Accountant especially. It’s an absolute thrill ride, mixing together several genres for a solid piece of pure entertainment. Ben Affleck doesn’t deserve to be labeled ‘Sad Ben Affleck.’ Ben Affleck deserves a hug. Check out my review here.
Mel Gibson’s ode for forgiveness is one hell of a movie. Based on the true story of Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, it’s a relentlessly brutal war movie that serves as a story of faith, forgiveness, love and the terrors of war. Andrew Garfield has given two distinctly different performances in two distinctly different stories of faith this year (the other film will be discussed shortly), and deciding which film he’s better in is a tough one. He plays a war medic who volunteers to go into battle without a single weapon, and the entire second half consists of unforgivingly violent war sequences that are impossible to look away from. Check out my review here.
2016 brought with it plenty of new superhero movies, and one of the few standing out amongst the crowd is Deadpool, the long awaited R-rated adaption of the foul mouthed, ultra-violent, immortal character. It’s an incredibly rewatchable, outrageously hilarious and delightfully over violent Marvel film you really shouldn’t take your kids to see, but hey, they’ll love you if you do. Ryan Reynolds was born to play this role, breaking the 4th wall and having a go at all his previous movies in the process. If you’ve ever seen a comic book movie, you’re going to laugh at at least one of the jokes. Check out my review here.
Few films will make you smile quite like this one. It’s one of the most joyful, happy and encouraging movies in a very long time. The dance numbers are glorious, the characters are distinct, and the ending is perfect. It’s one of those movies that makes you want to jump up into the air and cheer once it comes to a close, and it made me wish life was more like a movie. It’s a story of family, friendship, music and young love, and despite the obvious age difference between the two lead actors (who aren’t meant to be all that different in age), their love works. It is without a doubt the happiest film on this list. If you haven’t seen it, it’s best you do yourself a favour and go watch it. Check out my review here.
Silence is Martin Scorsese’s passion project, trying to get it made for nearly three decades. When a director as good as Scorsese has been working on a film for that long, you know the final product isn’t going to be anything less than extraordinary. The film doesn’t actually hit Australian cinemas till early February, so I’ll keep this summary vague, as my full thoughts will be in my review later next month. Keep an eye out for it, and definitely make sure to check this film out when it hits theatres.
Taika Waititi is a gem. The New Zealand based filmmaker has slowly been making his way further into the mainstream, with hits such as Boy, What We Do In The Shadows and now, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He’s always been one of my favourite upcoming directors, and now that he’s set to direct Thor: Ragnarok next year, it seems he’s finally getting the appreciation he deserves. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is without a doubt his best film yet. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you scream with excitement. It’s a whirlwind of emotions in what is easily one of the most unique films of 2016.
My love affair for Denis Villeneuve started in 2013 when I saw a little film called Prisoners. It blew me away, instantly becoming one of my all-time favourites, and since then, I’ve been eagerly awaiting his next film. Arrival is quite the achievement. It’s sophisticated sci-fi made for a mainstream audience, yet implementing just the right amount of indie filmmaking to work. It requires your full attention and constantly has you guessing, and even on a technological level it’s something else entirely. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner kill it, the soundtrack is hooking and the camera work is… wow. It’s a film definitely deserving of a top 10 spot. Check out my review here.
Animation is an art form I greatly appreciate. I understand the difficulty it must be to make an animated film, and I do love how much effort is put into them. Even the crap ones. Moana is a big step forward for Disney. It’s their best film in decades, creating a plot so fun and unique that it’s impossible not to fall in love with every one of these characters. The music is amazing, so much so that I’ve listened to the soundtrack several times since leaving the theatre, and boy can these actors sing. Who knew that Dwayne Johnson was such a talented singer? I sure didn’t. Check out my review here.
Remember the airport scene? Remember watching Spider-Man swing around with other famed Marvel heroes for the first time in his cinematic history? Remember the emotion of that finale? Or the intensity of every battle? Captain America: Civil War is on par with The Avengers for best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie yet, and deservingly so. It breaks the Marvel formula while still adhering to it, and the result is an extremely entertaining movie. Action, excitement and thrills. All are to be found when it comes to the closing chapter of Captain America’s film trilogy, and it’s definitely the best one yet. Check out my review here.
The Nice Guys was screaming my name ever since the first trailer debuted. Directed by Shane Black, it brings together Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe for a 70s buddy cop comedy about a missing porn star. It’s got all the right ingredients to work, and it works spectacularly. I’ve seen the film multiple times, and every viewing remains just as hysterical as the first time around. It’s original and unpredictable, the plot so ridiculous and tightly plotted that there’s no way any film could’ve done something similar before. We need more films like The Nice Guys. Check out my review here.
Ryan Gosling successfully manages to wiggle his way into two of my top three films of 2016, and hey, I’m not complaining. La La Land is a film so good that I was initially overwhelmed by how great it was. From Damien Chazelle, director of Whiplash, comes the ultimate Hollywood musical. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone return once again as an on-screen couple, and their chemistry here is better than ever. I’ve been singing and dancing along to the songs ever since walking out of the theatre, and with three viewings down, it seems like I could be doing this for a very long time. But that’s far from a bad thing. Check out my review here.
Okay, so saying Rogue One is my favourite film of the year may sound a little biased, but I assure you, I went into Rogue One not actually expecting it to be my favourite film of the year. Having avoided all reviews, I went in thinking to myself “this film is going to be great, but don’t expect it to be perfect. Don’t expect to come out calling it the best film of the year.” I was ready to give it less than 5 stars, yet here we are. As it turns out, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was everything it should’ve been and more. It introduces us to a new group of characters, and each is as loveable as the next. The entire third act is pure insanity, and there’s one scene in particular that will go down as arguably the best scene in Star Wars history, or close enough to it. Star Wars isn’t just a film series, it’s a lifestyle, and I couldn’t be happier with how Rogue One turned out. Check out my review here and my spoiler review here.
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Tune In Tomorrow For The 10 Worst Films of 2016
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By Jack Dignan
The Lucasfilms logo glistens its way onto the big screen for the second year in a row, met by thunderous applause from the entire audience. Everyone dies down, waiting in anticipation, and then it arrives. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” It’s met by cheers of joy. Smiles can be found on every single audience member’s face. It’s the title card to defeat all title cards. Then, silence, or at least just for a moment. WHAM! We’re suddenly thrown into the midst of space, a brand new piece of score accompanying our viewing. It’s shocking and brilliant, splashed with just the right amount of surprise to grab my attention.
The entire sold out cinema watches with nervousness, as a shuttle floats through space, easing its way down towards a planet none of us have seen before. On its surface, a young Jyn (Beau Gadsdon) runs through the grass, the ship flying overhead. There’s a look of fear on her face, a look of worry, but also a look of confidence. “They’ve come for us,” her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) states to his wife, before Jyn arrives. After a moment of brief panic, he bends down to look Jyn right in the eyes, grasping her shoulders in a reassuring manner. “Whatever I do, I do it to protect you. Do you understand?” He asks her. She understands. She’s prepared for what’s about to go down.
The shuttle lands, and out steps Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), followed by an army of Death Troopers, a new type of soldier introduced specifically for this movie. It’s the film’s first confrontation, Galen standing up, unarmed. It’s a tense moment, but an important one. His plan seems to be going ahead as hoped, convincing Krennic of his wife’s death. But it doesn’t work. Lyra (Valene Kane) comes charging out, armed with a gun. She’s shot dead. Galen runs to her. Suddenly, things aren’t as expected. Things have gone askew. Krennic takes Galen, the Death Troopers sent out to find young Jyn, who’s hidden herself away in an underground bunker. They can’t find her. She’s safe. Moments later, her bunker opens up. It’s Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whitaker). “Come, my child. We have much to do,” he says, before we cut to black. The words ‘Rogue One’ appear on screen, accompanied by the film’s theme. Star Wars is back.
It’s an opening sequence worthy of applause. It’s an accumulation of everything this movie is about, everything it stands for. Its dark, gritty and well lived in, but at the same time, there’s a call for more. A call for adventure. A call for hope. Things are dark, but even in the darkest of times; there can still be light. That is, essentially, what this film is about. It’s a film about hope and fighting for what you believe it, set in a period of the Star Wars universe where that was more important than ever. Before we continue, I just want to warn you that the following article, if you haven’t picked up on it yet, contains massive spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t wish for anything else to be spoilt, I suggest looking away now. If you’re after my spoiler-free thoughts on the film, they can be found here. Now, let’s continue with the review.
When going into this movie, I was hoping to be surprised. I didn’t want to know all the fine details of the plot ahead of time, nor did I want to know any spoilers that weren’t mentioned in other Star Wars movies. It worked. I went into this movie knowing only what the 3 main trailers had indicated at, yet what surprised me the most was how little footage from the trailers actually made it into the movie. The initial teaser trailer has almost nothing from the actual movie, and every bit of marketing after is about 50/50 on actual movie footage and deleted scenes. Presumably, this is because of the reshoots, which have been rumored to fix up a lot of the third act, and while that could be taken in a negative light, the final film proves otherwise. If the reshoots did change a lot of the movie, which it very well could have, then it appears that was for the best, as the third act is sheer perfection.
Third act discussions will have to wait though, as I have a lot to talk about before we get to that. Let’s start at the beginning. Post-prologue, that is. Rogue One takes its time in setting up all of the different characters, and to do so, it involves a lot of planet jumping. A now adult Jyn (Felicity Jones) is a prisoner of the Empire, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) has just received Intel that the Empire are in development of a super weapon capable of destroying planets, and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) is trying to deliver a message to Saw Gerrera from Galen Erso. While it could be considered a choppy opening, I didn’t mind it. It jumps from planet to planet to planet, each introduction noticeably short, but it served as a great first look at who these characters are. We learn of their position, their motives, a bit of their backstory and who they are as people. Plus, the always-expanding Star Wars universe is given a lot of new locations for us fans to chomp away at and analyze.
Rogue One moves along at an incredibly swift pace, so much so that upon all three viewings I’ve had so far, each one felt like a 90-minute movie. There’s so much going on in so little time, every scene with a lot to digest. The plot is kicked in right away, but it’s not the plot one initially expects. The film doesn’t just begin with “hey, time to go steal the Death Star plans.” It’s a personal story for Jyn, who’s set free from the Empire’s clutches by Cassian and a hilarious sarcastic robot named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). Their initial mission is to travel to Saw Gerrera and use Jyn as a gateway to gain an introduction, as he’s a hard man to find. This entire mission is, essentially, what mostly comprises the first act. It’s exciting, explosive and full of familiar faces, including the two guys from the cantina in A New Hope who approach Luke stating that they don’t like him very much. It was a fun, unexpected cameo, and the first of many.
During the mission to find Saw, Jyn first meets blind force enthusiast Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen). Chirrut is without a doubt my favourite original character, as Darth Vader is obviously the man to beat when it comes to every single character in this movie. He’s not a force user, but he can feel its presence, first evident when Jyn walks by him and he can feel the force surrounding the Kyber Crystal on her necklace. He’s a fascinating, well-developed character who can kick a lot of ass, but also works as a likeable, funny and helpful character needed for the story. When things get a big rough and the first fight goes down, which is expertly choreographed and shot by Gareth Edwards, Chirrut comes to save the day, annihilating an army of Stormtroopers with nothing more than his bare hands and a pole. It’s an insane, crowd-pleasing moment, topping off an already entertaining action set piece.
This moment also gives us our initial introduction to Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), who is the least developed out of all the Rogue One squad members. Don’t get me wrong, I really did like him, but he’s the least investing. There are a few moments where he shines throughout, but none are as powerful as his final scene. It’s that final scene of his that brought out my emotions, as so much of the film’s third act did. With his best friend Chirrut dead, he finally accepts the presence of the Force, repeating Chirrut’s famous line “I am one with the force, the force is with me,” while taking down a series of Scarrif Troopers. It’s a standout moment for his character, finally winning me over and turning my fondness for him into serious love. The writers managed to create an excellent line, and its repetition throughout enhanced my love for both Chirrut and this entire movie.
One of the many, many things I loved about this film is that none of these people started out from the same place. They’re scattered all throughout the galaxy, and yet they’re all thrown into the mix together to help fight for the rebellion. That’s one of the main reasons I didn’t have a problem with the scattered nature of the film’s opening, as it was realistic. They do, obviously, all end up together on the same planet at the same time, but it’s for different reasons and through different beginnings, making for a more realistic take on forming a team. They’re not recruited, they don’t stumble in by accident, and they don’t ask to join. The plot forces them to come together, and they end up making for an excellent set of lead characters.
This leads me to Saw Gerrera, a character taken straight out of the animated show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Now more machine than man, he talks to Jyn while holding the other characters in prison. Saw’s home of sorts is a minefield of Easter Eggs and awesomeness, including a hard-copy version of Dejarik, the chess-like board game seen in A New Hope and The Force Awakens. Before Jyn arrives, we’re also introduced to a strange CGI character that’s able to read minds using its tentacles, as tested on Bodhi Rook to see if what he’s saying is the truth. It’s an unusual, unexpected scene, but it’s a much-needed introduction to Saw, allowing newcomers to get familiar with who he is and Clone Wars enthusiasts excited about his big screen debut.
When Disney bought Star Wars, they could’ve easily just ignored the prequels all together, but thankfully, they aren’t. No matter how bad they are, they’re still part of the Star Wars universe, and the creators of these new Star Wars movies understand that. There are several prequel characters in Rogue One, including Princess Leia’s adoptive farther Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits). Both Rogue One and The Force Awakens are scattered with Easter Eggs and references to the prequels, integrating them into the plot and making use of their stories, rather than starting from scratch. This is less apparent in The Force Awakens, but definitely needed here. The films are still canon, whether we like them or not, and this movie does an excellent job at tying things back while also looking at the future.
Returning back to the scene with Saw and Jyn, the thing I loved the most about it was how emotionally grounded it all felt. The entire sequence lets these characters show off their true feelings towards every situation, whether its Jyn expressing anger over Saw’s abandoning of her, or Saw’s sincere regret and genuine fatherly love towards her. They have a great, unexpected dynamic going on, and the scene is further propelled forward when Saw shows her a message sent by her father, explaining how he agreed to build the Death Star because he knew someone else would. He knew they could find someone better, so he took the job, placing a massive fault in the weapon’s design and hoping that Jyn will let the resistance know there’s a way to destroy it.
When this moment happened, I simultaneously wanted to cry at the sincerity of his message, and applaud at the fact that this movie just explained a decades old complain fans have about Star Wars. It just explained the reasons as to why the Death Star was so easily destroyed, and it’s an explanation that works. This is where the plot to steal the Death Star plans first comes into tuition, but it’s not picked up fully until a bit further into the movie. The groundwork is laid out, and the location of the plans is revealed, but the film still has a little bit more to go before then. There’s still plenty of action and suspense to go before the big whopper of a finale. In fact, another thrilling moment begins right there and then, but to explain that, I need to discuss a big reveal that happened back up in space.
If you’ve seen A New Hope, and please tell me you have, you’ll know that Director Tarkin was a critical member of the Death Star. He is of a high rank, responsible for a lot of the atrocities the weapon performed, including the destruction of Leia’s home planet of Alderaan. Peter Cushing, who passed away in 1994, originally played Tarkin, so it obviously came of great surprise to see him in this movie. In the Rogue One prequel book ‘Star Wars Catalyst’ Tarkin plays a minor role, and while I enjoyed how his character had interactions with Krennic in the book, I presumed it was merely a way of further connecting this new story to the original trilogy. As it turns out, Tarkin is in the movie, now played by Guy Henry with Cushing’s body digitally placed over the top.
The CGI used for Tarkin is jaw dropping. He looks like a photorealistic version of Peter Cushing, walking around the Death Star exactly like he did in 1977. His inclusion is most impressive, seamlessly blending in the world around him. He interacts with several characters, most frequently Director Krennic, and it’s astounding. It works. Technology has never been better, and his digital restoration proves that. The fact that we can place dead actors into movies, or even younger versions of current actors, and have them look this good is simply incredible. Cinema is an ever-changing ball game and Rogue One wins. My dad and a few of my friends, when they each saw the movie, didn’t even realise the character was CGI. That’s how good he looks.
Thankfully, he’s not simply used as an exercise in CGI either, as the character actually has a lot to do in the plot. He’s not just a cameo; he’s an important character. His interactions with the wonderfully evil Krennic are a joy, the two constantly at war with one another to get looked upon highly by the Emperor, who doesn’t appear in the movie. Krennic is always trying to make his way to the top, but it’s Tarkin who stands in his way, and I loved them both. After the two test out the Death Star’s capabilities for the first time, blowing up Saw Gerrera’s planet of Jedha and therefore killing him while the rest of the crew barely escape with their lives, Tarkin is most impressed. Krennic, the mastermind behind the whole thing, is proud, hoping Tarkin finally puts in a good word for him, but instead, Tarkin wishes to claim its success for himself. This doesn’t sit well with Krennic, who just bursts, showing off his true nature, not hidden away behind his cocky attitude. It’s in this scene that Krennic also learns of a traitor in their midst, stowed away in Galen Erso’s division, and sets off to find him.
What makes Krennic such a compelling character is his constant attempts to control his anger and ability to manipulate almost everyone… except Tarkin. During what should be one of his proudest moments, he’s fuelled with rage. Yet he’s able to control it. He doesn’t let it slip, maintaining this mask he’s able to hold over himself. He’s a two faced little shit, only after what benefits himself. A lot of this is also hinted at in the book ‘Catalyst,’ so if you’re a fan of Rogue One or even Star Wars in general, I do implore that you check this book out. It’s a short, easy read that’s well worth it. It made my initial viewing of this movie all the better, and I’m sure even if you’ve seen Rogue One already, it’ll definitely enhance your opinion on the film.
While Krennic is off to Edu to seek out the traitor, the Rogue One crew are also on their way over there. Cassian is skeptical that Jyn’s father really did plant a flaw in the Death Star, so they travel to his location, which wasn’t previously known to them, to seek him out. Little does Jyn realise that Cassian has been given secret orders to kill Galen if given the opportunity. When they arrive, they’re just in time to see Krennic’s ship unexpectedly land. Krennic discovers that Galen, the man he trusted, betrayed him, and it doesn’t sit well with him. He kills Galen’s crewmembers and slaps him down onto the ground, once again letting a little bit of his rage loose.
This entire sequence is captivating, not only because of Krennic’s actions, but because of what follows. Cassian is given every opportunity he can to shoot Galen down, but he knows the orders he’s given are wrong. This is war, and he doesn’t know if he’s willing to once again deal with the consequences of his actions. War breaks people, and the look on his face shows this. Rebel ships suddenly come flying in, shooting the Edu base down, and while Krennic and (most of) his soldiers make it out alive, Galen isn’t so lucky. He’s shot down, a distraught Jyn running over to him and holding him as he passes away in her arms. She hasn’t seen him in a great many years, most of which she didn’t even know he was alive for, and so this proves to be a highly emotional moment in a highly emotional Star Wars movie.
After discovering that Cassian had orders to kill her father, she approaches him, trying to put the blame on him for her father’s death. It doesn’t work. Cassian’s lack of actions are justified, the horrors of war becoming increasingly apparent. It’s fight or die, and just like that, Jyn is in. She’s finally found a reason to fight. She’s finally willing to do something for more than herself, hoping to make her father’s death meaningful. It’s an important turning point for her character, and a much-needed one at that. The plans of the Death Star confirmed to be held on a planet called Scarrif, the crew must now convince the rebel alliance to fight for them, and that’s where 45 minutes of utter perfection begins.
The rebels are split in half on whether or not to fight, but out of fear, they decide not to. The Rogue One crew finally gets to follow through with their title, and they go Rogue. It’s a very satisfying “fuck yeah” sort of moment, the score working like magic as the soldiers take off from Yavin-4 in the hopes of infiltrating the Scarrif base and retrieving the plans. “May the force be with us,” Jyn says to the crew, and away they go, sneaking into the Imperial planet, the odds stacked against them. Rogue One was initially pitched as a Mission: Impossible film set in the Star Wars universe, and that premise is achieved in a pulse-pounding finale. And hey, there’s even a sweet cameo from C3P0 and R2D2, solidifying the fact that every Star Wars movie must have those two.
Remember when that first teaser trailer came out and it ended with Jyn dressed up in what seemed to be a very villainous looking outfit while onboard the Death Star? It was a great moment, raising a lot of questions. Why was she wearing it? How did she get it? Is she really working for the Empire? Is she undercover? Is it a tie-fighter outfit or something else entirely? Well, as the third act is starting to get underway, these questions get answered. The uniform was stolen, used to infiltrate the base and make it to the Death Star plans unharmed. Cassian, too, steals a uniform, and with the help of K-2SO they make it there. It’s short and sweet and not the main attraction, so the real thrills are yet to come.
While their robbery is going underway, and K-2SO is hilariously trying to pretend he’s been waiting for the Stormtroopers to arrive in an attempt to steer them off track, a war is brewing on the outside of the facility. It’s one of the most brutal, action-packed and entertaining wars in all of Star Wars, further proving this film as a full on war movie. It’s a whirlwind of madness and laser blasters, every character getting more than a few moments to shine. It also gives us our first ever look at AT-ACT’s, a variation of AT-AT’s used for carrying large objects, in this case the Kyber Crystals. They add an extra layer to the battle, allowing for ground movement rather than simple back and forth combat. It keeps everything flowing, as it should in a battle of this magnitude.
In case the battle wasn’t already awesome enough, the rebel fleet soon realises it’s probably for the best if they join in on the fight, so they come along too. The battle now takes place in both space and on the beachfront, and I can’t stress just how much fun the entire sequence is. The visual effects are flawless, the action is exhilarating, and the integration of unused footage from A New Hope is genius. It looks and feels like Star Wars, so kudos to Gareth Edwards for absolutely nailing this entire movie, and especially the epic third act finale.
As the battle continues to rage, more and more complications arise, and things aren’t looking good for the members of Rogue One. While they’re able to transmit the Death Star plans up to the Rebel fleet, they find themselves trapped on the surface. A final confrontation against Krennic arrives, Jyn finally revealing herself to be the daughter of Galen Erso. This is another big step for her character, as she’s been hiding that fact for her entire life, and the confidence she uses to deliver the line puts a smile on my face every time. It’s a great moment, put to an end by Cassian, who shoots Krennic down. Jyn and Cassian make their way down to the beach, accepting their fate. In the elevator trip down, the film seemed to be implying something romantic was about to happen, and I was begging them not to go down that path. The two didn’t need to get romantically involved, and I was worried they were going to force it to happen. But it didn’t. They merely hugged, and that’s all they needed to do.
With the battle wrapping up, each member of the Rogue One crew meets an unflattering, emotional end. K-2SO is shot down by Stormtroopers while protecting Jyn and Cassian, Bodhi is blown to smithereens, Baze and Chirrut are killed by grenades, and Jyn and Cassian are left to die on the beach. Realising the plans are no longer safe, Tarkin orders the Death Star to fire down on Scariff, blowing the planet up. Moments earlier, however, we get one of the coolest visual treats in the entire film, and it comes in the form of a Star Destroyer crashing through a second Star Destroyer. It’s a beautifully destructive moment with a marvelous piece of music played in the background, followed soon after by another sensational track as Scariff meets its untimely end.
I can’t express enough love for Director Krennic, and it’s in his final moments that the character is finally defeated. He is consistently knocked back and knocked back and knocked back the entire movie, and even though he’s the villain, I couldn’t help but feel slight sympathy towards the guy, even if he was a massive dick. His final scene shows a more vulnerable, human side of his character, as he looks up in terror and exhaustion at his own weapon firing down upon him. In the end, he was responsible for his own downfall, and it’s a shockingly powerful moment. Also, a little fun fact for you, if you go back and watch A New Hope, you’ll notice that one of the seats is empty when Tarkin and Darth Vader are leading a meeting on the Death Star early on in the film. I know it wasn’t intended at the time, but with Rogue One now part of the canon, it’s fun to think that that seat was intended for Krennic before his death.
With the Death Star plans given to the rebels, their fleet making the jump into the hyperspace, you’d think that’s all I have left to cover in the spoiler review, right? Well, if so, then you might have forgotten a little character named Darth Vader, who I’ve deliberately refrained from discussing until now. Since I’m not going to count Revenge of the Sith as his appearance there was underwhelming, it’s been over thirty years since we last got to see Darth Vader on the big screen, and he returns in glorious fashion. We first get a glimpse of him halfway through, Krennic visiting his medieval-looking castle on what appears to be Mustafa. The design is epic, and his appearance had my heart racing. While most of this scene is just dialogue, it shows Vader in an interesting, never before seen way. Rather than remaining in his suit for his entire life, Vader is seen in a Bacta Tank, bathing. This is the same tank we see Luke in in Empire Strikes Back. Like father, like son.
The first scene with Vader is cool, but it’s his second appearance that’s even cooler. With the plans gone, Vader is enraged, and he lets that anger flow. Making our way onto a rebel ship, we hold in darkness for a moment, the rebels trapped inside a lightless corridor. We hear the sound of Vader breathing before his lightsaber turns on, and he just slays. In that moment, Vader is transformed into a terrifying creature, slaughtering every rebel in sight in what is easily the best moment of the movie. He even cuts through a guy and uses him to open a door! A freaking door! Unfortunately for him, the plans still escape his grasp; making their way onto the same ship we see being chased at the start of A New Hope. As incredible as that moment is, Vader ends up being one sad cookie. Is it bad that I described Vader as a sad cookie? I feel like he probably won’t approve of that, but too late.
Everything seems to be coming to a close, and it is, but there’s still one more thing left to do, and that’s to deliver the plans to Princess Leia. A rebel runs the plans up to an off-screen figure, who turns around and is revealed to be a young Princess Leia. She looks exactly as she did in 1977. Just like with Tarkin, she is without a flaw, and I’m astounded by her design every time I see the ending. It’s a great reveal and a great ending, transitioning to credits as John Williams’s theme song starts to play and my mind left destroyed with joy. It was at that moment that I collapsed to the floor, flooding with excitement. It was the Star Wars prequel we deserved. The story had come to a close, no loose ends left hanging, but enough new threads left open, a galaxy of adventure waiting to happen. “What is it?” The rebel asks upon giving her the plans. “Hope,” Leia replies. And it is. They have hope. A New Hope.
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By Jack Dignan
Back in January, I added two new writers that would be joining the site, and not long after that I announced another. Now, with the year coming to a close, I have another very exciting announcement to make. Director's Cut Movies is recieving another expansion, and this comes in the form of our latest writer, Michael Leibert. I've known Michael for quite a few years now and it's with great honour that I'm able to announce that he will be joining our little community.
What's most exciting about Michael's joining is that he will be hosting a weekly column here on the site. Every Wednesday (or Tuesday for you overseas folks, as us Australians are living in the future), Michael will be discussing a Movie of the Week. He'll be doing a write-up/review on what makes his movie of choice worth checking out, and personally I cannot wait to see what he's got in store for us all. He's a very talented writer with an enormous passion for film. To learn a little more about him from the man himself, check out what Michael's got to say:
Hello there, my name is Michael Leibert. Film is an important part of my life and I believe it to be the most important art form that we currently have. It's been a huge part of my life since 2008, it was that year in high school film class where I witnessed one of my all time favorite films, "Requiem For A Dream". It forever changed my perspective on art and films as a whole. I've been pretty much hooked since. I've worked on some short films and I plan to act in some next year, but I don't create films myself. I've always been on the analysis side of film-making. I'm currently pursuing a career in criminal justice and plan to always have film as my main passion and hobby. I was extremely flattered that Jack asked me to be apart of this ensemble team, and I'm looking forward to talking about films of the week.
Twitter - @FilmChef930
Michael's first Movie of the Week will be up on Wednesday the 21st of' December here in Australia, so make sure to stay tuned for that, then check in every following Wednesday for his latest picks on what you should be checking out. I can gaurantee they're going to be some seriously fun reads!
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By Chris Campo
Guys. I'm freaking out. No, like I am legitimately losing my mind. I just experienced the most gleeful, exhilarating and spectacular 2 minutes of my life. No, it wasn't sex. It's better. Instead, we finally have our first official look at Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Anyone familiar to my work here on DCM knows how much I absolutley adore Spider-Man. You may also know that just because Spider-man is in a movie, I'm not going to love it (see my review for Spider-Man 3). My point is, I wasn't just going to praise this trailer simply because it was a Spider-Man trailer, but thankfully, this trailer rocks. It's quite literally got everything I love. It's got everything that makes the character so special to me and my life manifested into one trailer. Actual tears streamed down my face, that's how good this trailer is. It's nearly perfect. However, there are also some minor issues I have with it and some concerns I have with the actual film, so let's discuss.
The trailer opens in a very familiar New York City. A group of thugs are stealing something with the help of a very cool MCU-esque weapon. These thugs, dressed as the Avengers, are quickly stopped by a very familiar Spider-Man, with that same boyish humor that made him such a stand out in Captain America: Civil War. This scene is great. It feels straight out of a comic book, yet it's also got that boots on the ground (and ceiling) feel that Spider-Man has always brought to Marvel. He's a street sweeper, taking out the guys the Avengers simply don't have time for. What's best about this scene is it feels like the 'homecoming' referenced in the film's title, or at least the metaphorical one. Spider-Man is home, in a world where the Avengers exist. Sure, we don't see any of the actual Avengers (yet), but it was a perfect way to remind audiences that Spider-Man is indeed part of this world that we have come to know and love.
Next we get the montage of Peter's everyday life outside of the mask. They were not kidding when they said this film is taking notes from a John Hughes film, as the dialogue, the humor and even the cinematography of the high school feels very old school. It's in this section of the trailer where we also see Peter reunite with Tony Stark. It's a hilarious and oddly intimate scene reminiscent of my favorite scene in the MCU, when Peter and Tony first meet. Familiar faces isn't all we see, we also see the new and very diverse cast of characters never before seen in a live action film, like Liz, who seems to be the film's love interest, and Ned, who seems to be Peter's best friend. I like how Ned knows that Peter is Spidey. We have never really had that dynamic in a Spider-Man film, a male friend knowing the truth. We also get our first look at Zendaya's mysterious and controversial character. Is she Mary Jane? As much as I would have been on board with that Idea, I don't think she is after seeing this trailer.
The last third of the trailer is pretty much a bombastic montage featuring some of the incredible looking action set pieces, and a look at some of the major and minor threats. My eye for anything Donald Glover caught a glimpse at his character, who seems to be a henchmen involved with some secret weaponry, rather than the ridiculously rumored James Jonah Jameson. In the international trailer, we also get a glimpse at The Shocker, a classic and infamous Spidey foe, who looks cool but will most likely only be featured in a very little role. One of the most exciting parts of this trailer, and the movie in general, is Michael Keaton's turn as the Vulture. That first shot of him landing is incredible, and there's an ominous, equally bad-ass shot of him lurking in the international trailer. I'm so excited to see him kick some ass in the film. One complaint is that the close up of his helmet didn't do that much for me. It looked like something out of the new Call of Duty, but if Marvel can make me buy into a man dressed as a Hornet, I'm sure, with a little time, I'll love the design. We also get a look at what seems to be the climactic battle on a boat, which looks like great fun. However, that shot of Peter holding the two sides of the torn boat was a little heavy on the CGI, but hey, this film isn't due for another, what, seven months!?
Spider-Man: Homecoming looks great. There's no other way to say it. It feels like an MCU Spider-Man film... mostly because that's exactly what it is, but you get the point. Let me also make a note of how great both Tom Holland looks and the actual Spidey suit. As a fan of The Spectacular Spider-Man, I greatly appreciate the decision to try out the web wings under his arms. The film seems to be borrowing a lot from that show, actually. Watch the first two episodes and tell me it's not super similar to what we see in the trailer. The only thing that worries me is the film's writers, as it's written by the guys who did the Vacation remake. Sure, bad writers bounce back all the time, and this is Marvel, so they're not the only cooks in the kitchen, but hey, it's a concern of mine so I thought I'd mention it. Oh, and let me also mention the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life; the stinger at the end of this trailer, of Spider-man swinging in NYC with Iron Man soaring by his side. Yeah, I screamed like a little girl.