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Monday, 2 January 2017

Fission Mailure Awards 2016: Films.


Fission Mailure Awards 2016:
Films.

With another year done with, we have another annual Fission Mailure Awards. Much like last year, we'll be doing the top three best and worst films, television shows, anime, and video games, and on top of that we'll also be doing a miscellaneous set of awards, with things like 'best and worst actor' and the like.

As usual, anything that I reviewed this year, even if it was released years prior, counts. For this year, we'll also be allowing media that was released in 2016 but which I never got around to reviewing, since there were a fair few of those.

Okay, let's crack on with our first category of the year: Films!

The 3rd Best Film of 2016: Kung Fu Panda 3.




My review of Kung Fu Panda 3 was lukewarm at best, but in a year that has had some pretty abysmal films, it stands head and shoulders above the crowd. 

Dreamworks is very often predictable, but they do know their craft, and they have Kung Fu Panda 3 has all the hallmarks of a solid Dreamworks flick: It's warm, funny, has good voice acting, and has some nice animation that very often becomes beautiful.

While Kung Fu Panda 3 was often poorly paced and confused, especially when compared to the two films preceding it, a lot of that comes down to it being an overly ambitious film, attempting to do about six different things and ending up doing them only passably, rather than brilliantly.


The 3rd Worst Film of 2016: Suicide Squad.




There's a lot to like about Suicide Squad, which is to say that there are exactly three things to like about it: Margot Robbie's performance as Harley Quinn, Will Smith's performance as Deadshot, and Viola Davis' performance as Amanda Waller. The entire rest of the film is a barely coherent and barely watchable mess.

Suicide Squad throws a lot of characters at us -- more, in fact, than its sub-par writing is able to cope with. Added to a lackluster plot that can be mostly summed up as 'evil witch wants to lightshow us all to death,' boring cinematography, and a grating but blessedly brief subplot involving the Joker, and you have a film that had a lot of potential, but ultimately failed to deliver in any respect.

Oh, but it had a nice soundtrack, I guess. I suppose.


The 2nd Best Film of 2016: The Martian.




The Martian is a fair ways outside my wheelhouse, since it's no secret that my preferences tend heavily towards the explode-y action flick and less towards 'a man sitting around on Mars for two hours.' 

Still, the film gained a ton of points for its warmth, its sense of humour, and its overriding sense of realism, as it draws off extensive and meticulous research into space travel and NASA operating procedures to create a story that feels as if it could happen in the real world.

Add to that a solidly good cast and some often pretty interesting cinematography, and you end up with a film that's definitely the best book adaptation of the year.


The 2nd Worst Film of 2016: Warcraft.



Perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on Warcraft. It was an ambitious project that took years to make, after all, and it taught us two valuable lessons: Firstly, that straight, adjusted-as-little-as-possible, absolutely faithful adaptations just don't work; and secondly, that Travis Fimmel is the worst actor to ever live.

I got some flack for saying that before, including one person who insisted that unless I watched Vikings, I couldn't possibly say that with any authority. So, having watched some of Vikings now, I will reiterate this sentiment: Travis Fimmel is the worst actor to ever live.

As far as the rest of the film goes, it gives us pretty CGI that does nothing to prop up a bland, and often quite bizarre story, but really, I just couldn't cope with Fimmel's strange, shrill The Room voice for more than ten minutes at a time.


The Best Film of 2016: Rogue One.




It was never going to be anything else, was it?

I feel almost a little guilty, as this will be the second year in a row that I've given this award to a Star Wars film -- and if they keep up the quality level going forward, there's no reason for me to believe that won't be true in 2017, too.

But there honestly isn't any competition here. Rogue One is a technically almost perfect film, with a stellar cast of actors, that was clearly made with a lot of love and enthusiasm. It slots in perfectly as a prequel to the original trilogy, enhancing their key message while recontextualising key parts of A New Hope.

This was an easy pick. Almost absurdly so.


The Worst Film of 2016: Allegiant.




This was also an easy pick.

Here's what sets Allegiant apart from Warcraft or Suicide Squad: While they were never good, both of those films at least made an impression on me, and I can, at least, point to one or two good things in those films. They aren't entirely irredeemable, and moreover, both of them at least feel like somebody, somewhere, made an effort.

Allegiant is different. Allegiant is the most cynical, boring film to come out this year. It has no redeeming qualities, because it has nothing -- it's just there, a testament to its creative team's apathy, sucking the life out of everyone who watches it.

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