Monday, December 30, 2019

Year in Review: Movies in 2019

This was a grotesque, weird year for movies. I personally think it all boils down to the nine-foot tall purple gorilla in the room: Avengers: Endgame came out this year (remember that movie?!?!?) and it overshadowed everything else before and after it. The rest of the year was, at best, a middling to average year for movies, with a vast number of serious duds in the mix.

So here are the high (and low) moments I noticed for 2019:

The MCU's Grand Finale Couldn't Be Beat

Avengers: Endgame dominated, so maybe other films knew they couldn't compete and dished out their subpar content instead? This argument doesn't really hold up; lots of movies this year clearly thought they had the chops to contend. No movie this year (not even Star Wars Rise of Skywalker) could possibly hold up to the 20-film long conclusion to the MCU juggernaut.

I think it is more likely that, outside of the sharp contrast of a monumental conclusion to a united film series in the final Avengers film, every other film this year suffered from a dearth of new content ideas; even the really good movies suffered from this simply by comparison; Shazam was great, but really just the Superman film we didn't get with Man of Steel. Terminator Dark Fate was an impressive film to the few people who saw it, but really just the Terminator 3 we wanted but didn't get back in the day. Spider-Man: Far From Home was proof a Marvel movie could be fun post-Endgame, but also still very much a continuation of the "let's fix Sony's horrible mistakes from the past" kind of movie.

The Duds Were Many And Prolific

Hollywood flooded the theaters this year with movies which couldn't hold a candle to the major blockbusters. If your movie wasn't a Disney film, then as a director, producer or distributor you were probably sweating in your boots this year. The list of distinct duds....movies which fell flat or failed to stand out in the crowd in a meaningful was way was shocking. In prior decades these were called "normal films," but today, anything lacking the clever polish of an MCU film when it comes to action blockbusters seems doomed to fail.

Examples I was subjected to (some I enjoyed, some not so much) were prolific: X-Men Dark Phoenix, Zombieland Double Tap, Hellboy, Men in Black International, Godzilla: King of the Monsters....all of these movies came out this year, and I ended up seeing them. Of these movies, each had something good, but some were grimly bad in weird ways. It could just be me; as I get older and more curmudgeonly (it's a horrible thing to feel your mind and body aging into something less pleasant, something which disdains fun in the conventional sense) but honestly....none of these films really "had it" regardless.

Streaming Got Complicated and Expensive

You can't just subscribe to Netflix anymore. Now you need to consider at minimum four or five streaming apps for your entertainment if you're serious about watching TV or have a family to entertain. It's annoying; we thought we were moving away from the cable companies, but in a sense we're right back where we started; too much money, spread too thin for the entertainment value.

I've personally continued to maintain my subscriptions to Netlix, DC Universe, Disney+, Shudder and Curiosity Stream....but five services is honestly too much for the actual amount of time spent watching TV in my "mostly gamer" house. 2-3 stations almost feels like too much! But such is the era we now live in.

Star Wars IX Ended an Era and The Mandalorian Started an Era

I've worked through my antipathy for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker; I may post more (like I haven't enough already) but I've decided it was totally fine, even if it's plot and pacing sucked, in terms of a Star Wars film. I recalled having similar feelinsg of antipathy for Return of the Jedi when it came out; in 1983 the RotJ movie felt like something for my younger self from age 7-10, not my 12-13 year old self; I had moved on from Star Wars (at the time). Now, decades later, I realize I was prepared to go in expecting the movie to be bad; actively looking for it. That Abrams accomodated with lots of obnoxious plot and pacing issues was a coincidence; I could have overlooked many of those, as I had in all the other movies. Honestly....I suspect that, except for Revenge of the Sith (which I loved), I think I just experience burnout with Star Wars periodically and it just so happens the release of this movie coincides with that period of burnout.

But what about The Mandalorian, which itself kicks off an era of streaming films for Star Wars? I totally love it....but also probably because it feels so different from the latest movies; Mandalorian is a thing unto itself; something which manages to get back to an old version and style of Star Wars I had forgotten I loved so much.

Crap! Writing about Star Wars again. Okay....enough of this for now....will dig up my predictions from the beginning of the year next to analyze for accuracy (or lack therof).


  1. There's a reason why Mandalorian is great and to be honest the Disney Star Wars movies have been less than stella, and that's two names that should have always been heads of Star War, and those names are Favreau and Filoni these two guys breath Star Wars I am sure, I wouldn't trust Rian Johnson with a cup of water he would subvert it and get himself wet, Abrahams is good movie maker just not right for Star Wars. So as long as they give the reigns to Favreau and Filoni we should have good things ahead.

    1. Totally agreed! Favreau and Filoni need more directive control on SW going forward.