Just when I was starting to worry that 2017 would be a repeat of the monotonous summer of last year we get treated to the month of June, which despite having its fair share of duds brought us some truly brilliant movies. Whether it be new superhero icons, a musical heist movie or three decades worth of rock and roll, there were several films that shed light on brilliant stories in fantastic ways. This was the month in which I actually found myself liking a DCEU movie, proving miracles are capable. Even movies that I was highly anticipating still managed to surprise me with how exceptional they were and a few that I had no idea even existed left me completely floored.
Of course, as I said there were also a few misfires. Actually to say misfires would be implying I was looking forward to them at all. Universal learned too late why one should never trust Alex Kurtzman to head a major franchise but despite the terribleness of ‘The Mummy’ (sorry Tom Cruise) surprisingly it wasn’t the worst movie I saw this month, no prizes for guessing what was….But before that, here are the top three.
3: Wonder Woman
Patty Jenkins film may not be ground breaking in its narrative or style but in a way that is almost part of what makes it so brilliant. It harkens back to a more mythic age of superheroes, clearly being heavily influenced by Richard Donner’s ‘Superman’, possessing an almost timless quality to its heroism. The film endows its characters with genuine personality and empathy, allowing us as an audience to feel invested in their own battles, whether they be intimate of enormous. Against all expectations Gal Gadot managed to engrain herself into our minds as Wonder Woman, showing the distinct characteristics that make her a compelling person but demonstrating the emotional development that moulds her into a hero. A triumph for DC (finally!) as well as superhero movies in general.
2: Long Strange Trip
Even if you’ve never heard a single song by Grateful Dead, even if you despise their very existence I find it hard to believe that you would not find this documentary insightful, inspiring and engrossing from start to finish. It establishes a mood and atmosphere that places you within the era of the iconic band’s emergence and fame, creating an image of why their music resonated so deeply with the people of its time. It traces the lineage of a creation that spiralled out of control as it became more than the some of its parts could have even dreamed. It’s a character study of Jerry Garcia’s transition from a counter culture icon to a world weary rocker soldiering on. ‘Long Strange Trip’ is a brilliantly constructed piece of documentary filmmaking that has to be seen to be believed.
1: Baby Driver
Though Edgar Wright’s latest film is not without its flaws, from the underwritten characters to the somewhat basic narrative, its style and execution is so masterfully put together that I have to commend it as highly as I can. Not only does the style elevate it to a level of freshness and originality that I can guarantee very few films this summer will match, but ‘Baby Driver’ is justr so infectiously enjoyable from start to finish. It creates a world with real stakes and genuine consequences but is never afraid to have fun within said world. The characters are all wonderfully distinct and played brilliantly by the films supremely talented cast. But the real star was always going to be Wright, marking himself out as a distinguished modern director with a brilliantly unique take on every angle of filmmaking.
And the worst….
Transformers: The Last Knight
I’m not surprised, I’m not even disappointed, I’m just sad. I’m sad that a studio holds their audience in such low regard to think that this is a movie that is acceptable to be shown to free thinking individuals. A redundant plot, idiotic characters with no development, blatant product placement, overt sexism and racial stereotypes galore. We have become used to Michael Bay’s regular laziness now but ‘The Last Knight’ takes it a step further by not even bothering to have a consistent aspect ratio for the movie’s runtime (Cineworld have actually put up a disclaimer ahead of the movie due to the amount of customer complaints they have received) as well as ideas that are stolen from a dozen more successful franchises. It may not be the worst of the ‘Transformers’ series but ‘The Last Knight’ still does a great job at representing the epitome of cynical and lazy filmmaking.