Well, here we are! We’ve come to the end of another year, and the hosts of CinemAbysmal: The Podcast are here to round up their favorites. We’ve included some surprises, like some stuff showed on (gasp) television! Amazing writers and directors are choosing this medium over Hollywood lately, so get over it. Anyway, enjoy the picks and let us know if you agree with the selections or want to let us know about any of yours!
10. Logan Lucky
9. Thor: Ragnarok
8. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
5. Legion (FX)
3. Baby Driver
2. Blade Runner 2049
10. Baby Driver
While I will contend that this film is style packed on to very little substance, the style is enough to carry this fucking joy of a film. Ansel Inglberghumperdink kills it, though every shot looks like a different actor. Wright is the king of this kind of movie and a heist flick is always welcome in the Lemons Casa.
This is a brutal fucking film that takes the Alien film and turns it on its microscopic head. Boasting a boring title and a lackluster ad campaign, this film snuck under many noses as just more space peril, but the stellar cast and nihilistic viewpoint thrive in this earth-shattering, intense horror sci-fi flick.
Sure it is French and not as fucked as we could imagine a French horror being, but the thrill of this film comes from the humanity within it. Focusing on a vet student with a lust for human flesh, we see the making of a monster in her most vulnerable and interesting state: maturation.
7. Logan Lucky
Soderbergh is officially king of making films better than they have to be in this rural heist movie; a genre that produces at least one interesting film a year. The film is funny, inventive, and builds around a story of idiots making smart moves.
Pennywise is back in this 80s remake that feels fresh and new, despite rehashing the same King notes down the line.
5. Kong: Skull Island
A frolicking flick for fans of 70s creature horror and Vietnam action fare. A nice mix of old school fun and new school aesthetics bring out the best in a revival of the Kong series.
4. John Wick 2
Easily the most fun I had watching a film all year. Non-stop action pours out and rubs against your legs in a manner that would be creepy if it weren’t so beautiful.
3. The Bad Batch
KEY-AH-NEW! We get more Keanu as he plays a minor villain (?) in a story of a girl caught between warring factions in a dystopic wasteland. Cast, thrills, and story is a lovely morality tale in a land without morality.
2. Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villanueve fucks us all real hard and good in bringing to life the future of Ridley Scott’s world in a film that is brilliant on its own before blasting your mind brain apart with its connections to the 1985 classic.
1. A Ghost Story
Every couple years comes a film that blows your heart apart and depicts some epiphany about the world around us. It changes the way you speak to your loved ones and the way you see yourself. A Ghost Story is that film 100 times over. A triumph unlike anything else.
Just Missed the Cut:
- Kong: Skull Island
- Wonder Woman
- Thor: Ragnarok
10. The Bad Batch
As far as straight-up coolness goes, no film matched this one in 2017. Between the literal trippy scenes, the music, and the jaw-dropping cinematography, this almost alternate dimension, post-apocalyptic thrill ride is sure to quench any action fiend’s thirst. Plus, Jim Carrey being weird as fuck.
9. Marjorie Prime
Holy shit. This is one crazy good flick. Jon Hamm is a hologram. Tim Robbins is at his best since The Shawshank Redemption. Geena Davis’ performance will tear your heart out. If you’re easily upset by dementia and Alzheimer’s in film, this one will probably get to you. It’s a little too indie to catch any awards action, but if I had a vote, I’d be all over this little wonder.
8. A Ghost Story
Oof. Speaking of having your heart torn out. Yeah, yeah, Casey Affleck is an asshole. Don’t fear, though. He spends most of the film under an actual bed sheet. That is beside the point of this incredible movie, though. Casual movie watchers beware: this is not a horror film. There’s hardly any dialogue for long stretches of time. But what it says about us as humans and the mark we leave on those we love is just heart-wrenching. Absolutely beautiful movie.
7. The Big Sick
I finally got around to watching this movie today after hearing about it nonstop for the last year. Oh man. I really dig Woody Allen films, and though this movie reminded me of Allen’s golden age in the late 70’s, it’s something entirely different. With that signature Apatow feel, this true life story between Nanjiani and wife Emily Gordon is funny as hell at times, and gut-wrenching at others. Also, they could not have gotten a better cast together for this. Zoe Kazan is amazing, Ray Romano is hilarious, Holly Hunter kills it, and god damn. Who knew Kumail Nanjiani could carry a film in a lead role? Also, Michael Fucking Showalter directed this! Looking forward to his new career path. Upsetting to see this got snubbed at the Golden Globes, but I recommend this one for anyone that’s enjoyed any Judd Apatow or Woody Allen films.
6. Legion (FX)
I know. It’s TV. But fuck, watch these 8 ‘episodes’ (creator/god Noah Hawley calls them ‘Chapters’) all together and it’s one of the coolest movies you’ll ever see. Yes, it’s Marvel. But it’s nothing like you’ll ever see in that universe. The music is incredible and the cinematography is one of my favorites in anything that I’ve ever seen. I’m fairly sure I watched the seventh chapter four times, and it’s absolutely thrilling to watch. Speaking of snubs, where the hell is Aubrey Plaza’s nomination? Seriously though, check this out if you haven’t yet. It’s essential.
Wow, man. I waited too long to see this one. I love Westerns, and this – though it’s a Marvel film – is one of the best Westerns I’ve ever seen. There’s no cowboys, but there’s pretty much everything else. I really dig James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma and Cop Land, and the Rated R feel is perfect in this. It’s different than Deadpool, as much of this film is not funny at all, but the violence seems to never let up. I think Patrick Stewart delivers one of the best performances of his career, not to mention Hugh Jackman’s stellar and heartfelt spin as Wolverine. I know that Disney just power-grabbed Fox, but I’m really hoping we’ll get more R-rated superhero flicks. We deserve it.
4. Get Out
There’s not much to say about this flick that hasn’t already been said. So instead, I’ll just tell you how it made me feel. I have never been more uncomfortable sitting in a movie theater. At times, Jordan Peele’s funny side shows, but it’s more like nervous laughter than anything else. Peele designed the film this way, knowing white dudes all over the country were going to be watching it. I sunk lower and lower in my chair as the movie progressed, and though the movie isn’t particularly scary, the chills are incredibly effective in other ways. One of the better metaphorical film packages I’ve ever seen. Jordan Peele directing is going to be pretty damn awesome for years.
I really don’t like going to movie theaters, but I couldn’t pass this one up. So I went twice. Pennywise has been in my life since I was a kid, and I just read the book again last summer to refresh myself for the film. Though I like to fantasize what the first part of this two-headed monster could have been with Fukanaga at the helm, I think Muschietti did a damn fine job bringing history’s most horrifying clown to life. One of the most important things to remember with Pennywise is that It is not just a clown. It’s an interdimensional being out of time as we know it, and this film captures that perfectly. Not to mention, holy shit, some of the finest kid acting I’ve ever seen. I love this damn movie and can’t wait for Part Two.
2. Blade Runner 2049
I noticed that all three of us made this our second favorite film of the year. And if it weren’t for the next one, it would have been my favorite by far. I really dig the original movie, but everyone knows that it’s got its share of problems. Not 2049. This movie is perfect in every single way. Gosling was the perfect choice as the lead, his performance muted, yet commanding. Ford is great as an older Deckard, but the performances are just a small part of this gigantic event. The music, cinematography, story – everything is absolute perfection in this. From beginning to end, I was floored in its scope. Villenueve may be the greatest living director we have…but he’ll have to wait for this next guy to leave the throne first.
1. Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime)
It’s not technically a movie. I know. But fuck off. It is filmed like a movie, and it’s the weirdest, most fucked up, absolutely beautiful thing we’re ever going to get in a theater or a television set. I’ve been waiting for a return to Twin Peaks for most of my life (not to mention a return from David Lynch doing anything), and now that I’ve finished this round, I don’t think I could be more satisfied. No, it wasn’t the same Twin Peaks. Like, even a little. But what we got instead was David Lynch free to do whatever the fuck he wanted for 18 hours and it is the most batshit insanity he’s ever produced. It’s violent, maddening, ridiculous, beautiful – just one of the craziest things that has ever been produced in any medium. I love that Showtime did this and hope it opens doors for other creative geniuses. Kyle Maclachlan turns in one of the greatest performances of not just his career, but television and film history as not just Dale Cooper, but three brand new characters. And don’t even get me started on Part Eight. This is the greatest hour I’ve ever seen on television, and may be the best and most Lynch piece that Lynch has done in his illustrious career. Fight me. I could legitimately go on for hours about his glorious cinematic event, and if you know me personally, you’ve probably caught some of it already. I’ll leave it here, though: we’re never going to get anything as insane as this again. So if you get a chance, sit down for a weekend and crush this. It’s the best and craziest “movie” you’ll ever see.
…is the headline Lois Lane must write after this movie is over. That’s literally what this movie is about by the way. Pullin’ apart them boxes. This is why we need super heroes guys.
Wonder Woman was amazing, right? Remember how good it felt walking out of the theater for it? Thinking okay, I guess DC can make good movies, they just have chosen not to make good ones up until now (with the exception of the Dark Knight series of course).
I’m not sure what exactly was unsavory about this movie. Was it husky Batman? The forced humor between super heroes with no chemistry? The robbing of Clark Kent’s grave? Superman’s fucked up face? Or maybe it was the fact that the heroes spent the entire movie trying to keep three boxes apart, only to essentially GIVE the last box to our villain, then spent the last half of the movie trying to rip said boxes apart. Cool. Boxes.
The movie wasn’t ALL bad though and I don’t think it deserves the rotten tomato score it was given. I’d at least put it at 50%. There were some funny parts, and of course Wonder Woman was there so hey it wasn’t all bad.
Let’s plot summarize and here’s some spoilers so watch out.
Some kids are taking a cell phone video of Superman after he’s saved some people. He looks weird. Is this a video game? No it’s real life. The kids ask Superman some questions and something is off. What is it? I know…it’s his face. Why is his face so fucked up (more on that later).
This video was taken awhile ago because of course (I honestly forgot) Superman died in Batman vs Superman. I couldn’t tell you how or why but I know Husky Batman blames himself for it. He’s on a roof doing his vigilante thing when electronic wasp men from another dimension pop up out of nowhere. Batman is able to kill the wasp and it leaves behind an imprint of three boxes? I use a question mark here because I’m honestly not entirely sure what happens only that Batman has been tracking the three boxes for some reason and I don’t really know I’m bored even explaining it so let’s move on.
Let’s go back to our happy place on Wonder Women’s Amazonian island. The kick ass women warriors are guarding a box (oh boy boxes!) and then it cracks and a crazy man comes through who’s very tall and controls the wasp people. The women put up a 20 minute awesome fight to save the box from being taken but they lose, and lots of people die. It’s the best scene of the movie though so nice job.
The tall evil man, let’s just call him Steppenwolf because that’s his name, rages about some ‘mother’ and the boxes. He takes off and the amazonians light a signal on Earth to warn Diana aka Wonder Woman that this box guy is coming for them.
Meanwhile Husky Batman is trying to get a gang together to fight Steppenwolf. He goes to find Aquaman in a remote sea village by riding a donkey. I mean I feel like there are better ways to get there, but you just do you Husky Batman. Aquaman is like, you dress like a bat and have no super powers, I will absolutely not fight with you. Then Husky Batman goes to find Flash, and Flash is like, you dress like a bat and have no super powers? I am IN. SO IN.
Then we have the Cyborg because diversity. Even though half of his black skin is covered in shiny metal, we care about diversity, okay guys? Cyborg is like no thanks, but then Wonder Woman is like, do it, join our gang and he says okay because no one can say no to Wonder Woman. So now we have the Justice League. But wait, we are missing SUPERMAN. Oh yeah he’s dead.
Lois Lane is super unhappy about it, and whines on her lunch break with Clark’s Mom. Clark’s Mom is like Clark always said you were so thirsty. Blow job joke, nice. Everyone is sad that Superman is gone though and hate crimes are up and people are mean. There’s neo-nazis cursing out Muslim women in slow motion as crates of fruit fly around the screen (I wish I was making this up) and if only we bring Superman back we can get rid of this box guy once and for all.
Meanwhile, box guy has two of the three boxes. Remember how the Amazonian women put up a kick ass fight to stop him from stealing their box? Well the Aquaman people get thrown against some coral and give up in about five seconds. So now he has two boxes. The last box the Justice League has retrieved and this guy can’t destroy the world without the third one so of course they keep it safe and hidden right?
WRONG! So Flash and Cyborg dig up Clark’s gave, bring his coffin to where his space ship is in Metropolis, throw him in the spaceship water and then throw the third box in with him. There’s some theory to this but I couldn’t pay attention so just know that Flash charges the box, which charges the space ship, which in turn somehow brings Superman back. Superman gets pissed, fights everyone and in the meantime THE THIRD BOX IS STOLEN FOR ULTIMATE WORLD DOMINATION. You guys had one job…
Superman see’s Lois and calms his tits and flies them back to his corn farm in Smallville. He gets all Gladiator and strokes his wheat, I mean corn, for a bit. Then he’s like, “Well better go fight crime”, and the audience is like WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE. WHY IS IT SO WEIRD LOOKING ( more on that later I swear).
So Justice League goes to this small town in Russia that Cyborg finds with his computer skills. Apparently box man is there, and Husky Batman suddenly speaks up that the town has nuclear reactors so of course box man is there. Nothing makes sense. Also apparently Husky Batman can just pull random facts about small Russian towns out of his Husky butthole now.
They go to the town, save a small family we’ve been forced to follow the entire movie. Spoiler, they live. Also, who cares. Luckily Justice League is able to stop box man by pulling his boxes apart. Nice job Justice League. There’s an after credits scene though where they’re bringing back Lex Luthor so if you hated him (and I would go by the critic and fan reviews that we ALL HATED HIM) then get ready for some more shitty shit.
Okay are you ready to hear about Superman’s fucked up face? So after the movie I googled it thinking, “Henry Cavill knew that this movie was going to suck and refused to be in it so they digitized his face right?” NOPE. They had to do a bunch of reshoots (apparently every scene Superman was in), but by this time Henry had grown a mustache for another movie and he was NOT SHAVING THAT SHIT OFF. So they said fine. We will film you with a mustache and edit it in post. Which is hilarious, because it looks awful and really just adds to the shitiness of this movie.
More Wonder Woman movies plz. k thanks. Bye.
The Fate of the Furious (2017) – Action | Drama
So I recently went through and watched and reviewed every Fast and Furious film (go back and check those articles if you are inclined). Now that there is a new F&F flick to whet my tingly parts, I have decided to write a review. This is the first of the series I have seen in the theater and also the first one I have seen sober. F8 is not the best film in the franchise, but it is pretty damn close. That distinction falls to Furious 7, which packed in tons of action and a great plot. It also features a heart-raping final ode to Paul Walker RIP. F8 has a ton of action and the best plot of the series, but is stalled by its two-hour twenty minute runtime.
So the film opens once more with booties and exotic locales as we travel to Havana, Cuba for Dom and Letty’s honeymoon. Dom is approached by a mysterious woman whom we know by the trailer to be the film’s main antagonist, Cipher, played amazingly by Charlize Theron. After this film and Fury Road, and the trailer for the upcoming Atomic Blonde, Theron is proving to be one of Hollywood’s most reliable ass-kicking action stars, and just like Mad Max, she steals the show. She somehow gets Dom to forsake his family, which if you’ve seen any of these films, you know there are like three things Dom loves; fast cars, family, and Corona beer.
So the most inexplicably badass motherfucker in F&F universe has turned on his wife and heist crew for some unknown reason, stealing an EMP and nuke plans for Cipher. Twist time: Dom has a son with Elena from a couple films ago and they are being held hostage and will die if Dom don’t comply (RHYMES ARE BACK!). The final battle set-piece takes place at a frozen sea in Russia and a nuclear submarine and some badass fucking stunts that do make everything the team has endured worth it. Dom must not only save his son and ex-lover, but save the world from a cyber terrorist. He succeeds.
The casting in this film is top-fucking-notch. Theron is a dream. Kurt Russell is back in Jack Burton form with sly smiles and amazing one-liners. Scott Eastwood is an excellent addition to the team, playing Russell’s assistant. The old standbys return as well; Tyrese is at his most hilarious in all the films. Jason Statham returns, working with the team in order to save his brother from some black site prison. His banter with The Rock is truly a highlight. Helen Mirren plays the foul-mouthed mother of Deckard Shaw and is beautiful in the role. F. Gary Gray gets the best acting out of the whole series in this one and his camera work is fun and fluid, leading to some truly magnificent sequences.
The action is really one of the let downs in this one, however. While the fight scenes are well choreographed and the final act of the film delights endlessly, there is a bit of a slog getting to this point. The plot is captivating, but not mindblowing enough to make up for action sequences we have seen in previous installments in the series. Overall, definitely check out the film. It is a solid flick worth seeing, but realize that there is better fare out in the franchise.
Furious 7 (2015) – Action | Drama
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Paul Walker RIP and Vin Diesel
Review by Eric Scot Lemons
So I mentioned in the past, The Fast & Furious tends to have a formula that has become a bit stale. Nothing that a new director can’t fix. Furious 7 brings on James Wan to replace Justin Lin, and he brings on the fucking pain. Not only is Furious 7 the best of the franchise, it is easily one of the best action films I have ever seen. James Wan ups the action and films some of the most giddyingly experimental shots I have ever seen. Again, these films feel built around high action stunts and this one does not disappoint with every scene relying on tension.
The plot is simple enough, with Jason Statham coming on as the brother of Luke Evans who wants to avenge his brother, who now rests in a coma. He is a super awesome rogue British operative who has decided to wage war on the Torretto clan. We got Dom still trying to seduce an amnesiac Letty and Brian still trying to come to terms with his role as a father. The Rock is attacked by Statham early in the film and breaks his arm and leg in a fall from a building onto a vehicle, and you know that moment they put the cast on The Rock, how that motherfucker is coming off. So this random fucking government agency led by Kurt Russell in his coolest role since Death Proof asks the Torretto team to recover a hacker who has hidden a device called The God’s Eye, which is essentially Eagle Eye from the Eagle Eye movie; a device which composites all digital surveillance devices (CCTVs and Iphones). If they recover it for the government, the government in turn will let them use it to track and kill Statham. Actually a cool fucking plot comparatively. They recover the device and lose it again in an ambush by Statham and return to LA to recover it. How the fuck do you beat The God’s Eye, a device you can’t escape from? Well, if you are fast and/or furious, you outrun it (and hack it). The Rock returns flexing his arm which causes the cast to break then proceeds to fly an ambulance into a drone!
Cameos abound in this one. We get a creepy call back to Sean from Tokyo Drift that is supposed to take place immediately after the events of the third film, despite the fact that the actor has aged almost ten years since. Ronda Rousey plays a bodyguard that speaks like a statue learning to play a sassy black lady, but is very cool in the fight scenes. This is a film that feels like a cultural event, adding as many well known celebs as possible. It feels like they are taking a page out of The Expendables book, but rounding out the action in a way reminiscent of super spy thrillers like MI:Whatever, instead of campy 80’s bullet slingers.
Let’s get back to the stunts. There is seriously a scene in which Paul Walker RIP is inside a bus edging off a cliff. He ends up on top of it as it starts to teeter downward and he must run the full length of the tilting bus and jump off, only to catch the spoiler of Letty who is Tokyo-fucking-drifting around the edge of the cliff in order to catch him. So that’s awesome, and then they try to steal a car from the penthouse of a high rise and when shit hits the fan, they drive the car out the window into another skyscraper next door. When the brakes go out, they drive the car through that window and into ANOTHER skyscraper. Holy fuck. Seriously, check this movie out.
So on a somber note, this is the film that was in production when Paul Walker RIP passed. They apparently had to finish up his scenes with his two brothers as stand-ins, which is very noticeable in certain shots with that shitty CGI facial shit they do. They also had to rewrite an ending that had Brian decide to be a father instead of continuing to do Torretto missions. There is a sappy goodbye which is clearly intended for Walker RIP, and not Brian (cause everyone in the film lives next door to each other). It was a nice touch. I talked a lot of shit about Walker RIP, especially in early reviews, but as the series continued, Walker RIP became a highlight. I teared up. My wife all out bawled. But I can seriously say that Brian and Walker RIP’s absence will be felt throughout subsequent films.
Thank you for following me on this strange journey and be sure to check out Fate of the Furious when it hits theaters April 14th.