Ranking 2017's superhero movies
Writer: Casey Chong
What was your most favourite superhero movie of 2017?
If there's one thing about the movies that have been released this year, 2017 is definitely the year of the superhero genre.
Likewise, it was (largely) a battle of comic-book titans between Marvel and DC as they competed against each other for positive audience reception and critical acclaim.
Of course, not every superhero movie is favourable as some of them have received mixed reviews.
Now, with 2017 coming to an end, here is our list ranking all 8 Hollywood superhero movies from worst to best.
8. "Power Rangers"
Go, go Power Rangers!
Gone are the familiar kid-friendly "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" that we used to watch in the 1993 TV series to the previous two late '90s big-screen incarnations (1995's "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie" and 1997's "Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie") during our childhood era. Instead, the new "Power Rangers" reboot follows the pattern of today's origin superhero movie.
Sure, we still get the colour-coded superheroes but screenwriter John Gatins ("Real Steel") and director Dean Israelite ("Project Almanac") retooled their origin story with a sombre yet relatable teen-angst issues surrounding the five chosen teenagers (Dacre Montgomery, RJ Cyler, Naomi Scott, Ludi Lin and Becky G).
Despite its economical 90-minute length, the new "Power Rangers" reboot spends too much time with its overlong build-up. Fortunately, the payoff is fairly satisfying once the five teenagers finally morph into the Power Rangers as they save their hometown, Angel Grove.
Although this is Israelite's first stab into blockbuster filmmaking, he proves to be adept in staging large-scale battle sequences during the climactic finale. The reboot is not all doom and gloom, as the movie does retain most of the series' campy fun such as the inclusion of Elizabeth Banks' wildly over-the-top performance as the evil Rita Repulsa.
7. "The Lego Batman Movie"
"Because I'm... Batman!"
Three years ago, the 2014 "Lego Movie" was no doubt a hugely entertaining animated feature that successfully blended stop-motion animation and CGI alongside memorable characters, a witty script and of course, the catchy "Everything is Awesome" theme song.
By comparison, "The Lego Batman Movie" isn't as great as its 2014 predecessor. Still, this "Lego Movie" spin-off is blessed with a geek-friendly storyline that appeals to Batman and general comic-book fans. First-time director Chris McKay of TV's "Robot Chicken" and his team of screenwriters certainly have their field days poking fun at past and present Batman mythology.
Like the 2014 movie, the animation is breathtaking while Will Arnett steals the show as the gravel-voiced Bruce Wayne/Batman.
6. "Justice League"
The Justice League members unite to save the world in "Justice League".
It was supposed to the biggest DC event movie thus far after the previous build-up seen in "Man Of Steel", "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice" and "Wonder Woman".
At the time of writing, the long-awaited "Justice League" has not exactly set the box office ablaze as the studio (Warner Bros.) hoped for. Current financial results aside, what about the quality of the movie itself?
With Zack Snyder's unlikely departure due to a personal family tragedy and Joss Whedon taking over the expensive reshoots and the studio head's interference to trim down the original run time, it was a mixed end result for "Justice League" altogether. And it's easy to see why.
The plot, originally written by Chris Terrio with additional inputs by Whedon himself, tries hard to blend Snyder's doom-and-gloom storytelling approach with Whedon's colourful quips. It does work in a certain way, particularly the way the Justice League team members interact with each other. While the team members each give their respectively decent-to-good performances, the plot tends to be choppy. Steppenwolf, for which Ciaran Hinds voices the character, is sadly a weak villain while the CG-heavy action sequences aren't exactly mind-blowing.
5. "Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2"
The Guardians of the Galaxy team members are back in action.
Writer-director James Gunn had already done a great job turning the obscure comic-book of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" into one of the most entertaining Marvel movies of all-time three years ago. Not surprisingly, Gunn's involvement in this year's sequel has "huge anticipation" written all over, and yet, "Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2" pales in comparison with the 2014 better-than-expected predecessor.
Without the first movie's co-writer Nicole Perlman, Gunn is given the sole screenwriting credit instead. And it does make a lot of difference. Gunn's script rears its ugly side by diverting the movie's major plot with episodic side stories including Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) daddy issues with Ego (Kurt Russell) as well as Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula's (Karen Gillan) sisterly feud. He also tends to get carried away with exposition-heavy scenarios, while his supposedly inspiring choice to cast Russell as Ego only resulted in a surprisingly flat performance. Still, the sequel does deliver its goods. The recurring characters are likeable as always, with Dave Bautista and Vin Diesel both stealing the show as Drax the Destroyer and Baby Groot respectively. Of all the newcomers in this franchise, Pom Klementieff delivers a wonderful performance as Mantis while her sweet chemistry with Drax the Destroyer is no doubt one of the movie's biggest highlights. Rounding up the sequel includes the fun-filled opening scene scored to ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky" and the elaborate hilarious moment involving Baby Groot and Yondu's (Michael Rooker) fin.
4. "Spider-Man: Homecoming"
Tom Holland plays the new Peter Parker/Spider-Man in "Spider-Man: Homecoming".
Poor Spider-Man. The beloved web-slinger had undergone a less-than-stellar reboot in 2012 with Andrew Garfield taking over Tobey Maguire's role as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. By the time "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" arrived in 2014, the rebooted franchise was met with mixed-to-poor criticism.
Thankfully, Sony made a smart choice collaborating with Marvel to share the copyright for another "Spider-Man" reboot. Sure, it doesn't reach the same heights set by Sam Raimi's first two movies in the original trilogy, but viewing this as a standalone Sony/Marvel feature, it does its job good enough. One thing's for sure, co-writer and director Jon Watts ("Cop Car") made the right move not to burden his fans and general audiences all over again with Peter Parker's origin.
The cast is top-notch, with Tom Holland successfully capturing the naivety and recklessness of a youthful Spider-Man who is still way over his head. Kudos also go to Michael Keaton, who delivers a rare solid antagonist role as Adrian Toomes/Vulture in the MCU's (Marvel Cinematic Universe) otherwise weak gallery of Marvel villains. While the action is often hampered by choppy camerawork, there's no denying that Spider-Man is off to a good start.
3. "Thor: Ragnarok"
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in "Thor: Ragnarok".
Of all the MCU movies that have been released so far, the "Thor" franchise is largely seen as an underrated solo effort. The first two "Thor" movies directed by Kenneth Branagh and Alan Taylor respectively were greeted with mixed results. Then came "Thor: Ragnarok", which sees "What We Do In The Shadows" director Taika Waititi boldly revitalised the franchise with a "Flash Gordon"-like intergalactic romp that isn't afraid to let loose. No doubt an all-out fun(ny) version of Thor sounds like a risky move, but Waititi does a good job embracing his cheeky filmmaking approach. It also helps that Chris Hemsworth proves his worthy comedic chop for a change as Thor, while he delivers a solid odd-buddy chemistry with Mark Ruffalo, who reprises his role as Bruce Banner/Hulk.
As a movie meant not to be taken seriously (yes, the kind that wants you to sit back and enjoy the ride), "Thor: Ragnarok" certainly delivers the goods. Besides, how often do you get to see the otherwise classy Cate Blanchett ham it up with her delightfully campy performance as Marvel's first female villain, Hela? Not to mention Waititi's motion-capture and voice appearance as Korg have since become a fan favourite, thanks to his spot-on deadpan charm.
2. "Wonder Woman"
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) finally showcased her skill as a warrior in "Wonder Woman".
Like it or not, the DCEU has been riding a rocky terrain ever since Zack Snyder kickstarted the shared universe with "Man Of Steel" in 2013. Fortunately, Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" finally offers a beacon of hope following the critically-divisive "Man Of Steel" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice". By grounding her first-ever solo movie as a standalone feature, Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg successfully crafted a solid origin story that chronicled the rise of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman from an Amazonian warrior-in-training to an inspiring hero.
Of course, the movie wouldn't have worked if not for Gal Gadot, who delivers a spot-on performance as the title character. Already a fan favourite after her memorable cameo appearance in "Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice", Gadot fits the role well with her fish-out-of-water character that captured her naivety who never experience the outside world before in her life. The movie is also blessed with DCEU's best action set-piece thus far: the engaging moment where Wonder Woman emerges out of the trenches to fight against the German army, accompanied with the signature electric cello theme and Zack Snyder's stylised slow-motion fight choreography. Weak antagonists and haphazard third act aside, "Wonder Woman" is easily ranked as one of the best superhero movies of the year.
Violence is the only way to survival in "Logan".
This is it... the numero uno for best superhero movie of 2017 goes to "Logan", which sees Hugh Jackman and "The Wolverine" director James Mangold draw heavy inspiration from the revisionist Western genre seen in George Stevens' "Shane" (1953) and Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" (1992) alongside Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's "Old Man Logan" comic-book series.
Cinema Online, 03 December 2017
The movie is also unlike anything you have seen before in his previous "X-Men" and solo efforts. Armed with an 18-rating, Mangold finally granted what fans really want: a feral and violent comic-book movie that is both sombre and thought-provoking. Even Jackman himself has peaked with a performance of his lifetime, as he reprised his world-weary role as Logan who is forced to revert to his old ways after spending a long time laying low.
With "Logan" being his swan song, Jackman has no doubt left a lasting impression that it'll be challenging for anyone who would replace him as the new Logan/Wolverine in the future.