TOP 20 FILMS OF 2017

This year, cinema has given us jaw-droppingly beautiful visuals, heavy drama, hysterical comedy and unfortunately, Ridley Scott’s horrendous Alien: Covenant. 2017 has been a mixed bag for blockbusters, with Warner Bros. failing to deliver the goods with the mind-numbingly boring Justice League, and Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi managing to divide its fanbase in two.

Amongst the midst of the CGI-filled blockbuster movies released this year, there’s been a vast selection of indie films that have fallen under the radar for many. We’ve had truly fascinating documentaries, and Netflix has now become a major platform for film releases. Whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen, but they’ve provided viewers with some interesting documentaries, some spectacular indies and David Ayer’s Bright. As it appears, you can’t win ‘em all.

World cinema has yet again reminded us that there are some spellbinding stories to be told across the border, and we’ve had films such as the visceral Raw, The Lure and Blade of the Immortal. Anime has seen yet another boom, with the wonderfully poignant A Silent Voice and many more releases impressing regular cinemagoers.

Television has also played its part this year, with David Lynch’s ambitious and stunning Twin Peaks: The Return. Running at 17 hours long, some critics consider it Lynch’s finest ‘film’ in years. The jury is still out on whether The Return was a success, but in years to come, I believe it will be revered as Lynch’s masterpiece. Got a light?

So, what has been my personal top 20 films of the year? What has left me dazzled and in sheer awe of a filmmaker’s brilliant scope and vision? Well, you’ll find out by scrolling down below, with a list that is mostly based on UK releases, in cinemas or on streaming services.


Starring Tom Cruise, American Made is a biographical tale about Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who ends up working for the CIA. Not content with working alongside the government, Barry ends up smuggling drugs for the Mexican cartel, which unsurprisingly, doesn’t end very well.

It’s a riveting flick, and viewers will be left charmed by Tom Cruise’s performance as Barry Seal. Despite his criminal exploits, he’s extremely likeable, and amusing to watch when everything falls apart around him. The rest of the cast is terrific too, with Domhnall Gleeson further proving that we need to have him star in more supporting roles (he was easily a favourite character in The Last Jedi).

American Made brilliantly chronicles Barry Seal’s out of the ordinary life and its proof that director Doug Liman and Tom Cruise need to work together more often. After providing us with Edge of Tomorrow and now American Made, it appears that Liman manages to present to us the best version of Tom Cruise, and not the one we received in that garbled mess that was The Mummy.


We kicked off this year with the dazzling and stupendous La La Land, which arrived a little later over here in UK cinemas. Directed by Damien Chazelle, this musical starred the spectacular Emma Stone and the charming Ryan Gosling, who play two lovers with their own separate aspirations, which may or may not lead them down their own separate paths.

La La Land establishes itself as a future classic, as it harks back to the golden age of Hollywood musicals. There’s sound chemistry and footwork between both Gosling and Stone, and their performances are splendid. Of course, the musical numbers a sheer delight, as the film opens with an outrageous sequence which perfectly sets the tone of the film.

Damien Chazelle blew us away with Whiplash, and he’s managed to do it again with La La Land. We can’t wait for his next project featuring Ryan Gosling again, in a biopic about Neil Armstrong. After the success of La La Land though, Chazelle can probably tackle any genre and produce gold.


Colossal presented viewers with one of the more unique ideas of the year, as director Nacho Vigalondo managed to blend an indie drama with a monster movie for one marvellous cocktail. In this unusual comedy, Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, an unemployed writer who returns to her hometown. Attempting to break free from her drinking habit, she befriends the friendly Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis.

As she attempts to string her life back together, chaos ensues over in Seoul. A gargantuan monster has appeared and is leaving death and destruction in its wake. For some strange reason though, Gloria has a connection to this monster, so she attempts to make amends with the hope that everything gets fixed.

It’s a surprisingly dark little film, boosted by an excellent script and solid performances from Hathaway and Sudeikis. Colossal manages to take the best aspects of both genres, and in doing so creates something totally different. It’s engrossing, and it might just be one of Hathaway’s strongest roles in a long time. Colossal needs more love and appreciation, so track it down right away.


A compelling contender for cult film of the year, The Love Witch is written and directed by Anna Biller and stars Samantha Robinson as Elaine, a beautiful young witch who uses her love magic on vulnerable men. Shot in the style of a 1960s camp horror film, The Love Witch is an exemplary piece of work, and it switches up the genre conventions of exploitation movies, by putting us in the mind of women and their desires, for a change.

It’s wickedly dark, as it embraces the technicolour 60s style, and Samantha Robinson is a pure delight to watch. It just oozes with style, and it’s a provocative piece of filmmaking, which couldn’t be more relevant today. It’s a film that feminists can be proud of.

The Love Witch certainly flew under the radar for many, and it only made a few appearances during film festivals in the last year or two, but it is worth tracking down. Anna Biller is set to be an interesting new auteur to follow, and The Love Witch will soon be revered as an enchanting insight into feminism in film, as it soon receives the credit it deserves.

  1. IT

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, It, appeared in cinemas earlier this year to a thunderous box-office taking. Now one of the highest-grossing horror films of all time, Andy Muschietti’s It amazed viewers with just how carefully it tackled its source material, keeping in all the unwavering horror throughout.

Bill Skarsgård plays the grotesque Pennywise in this remake, and he deserves all the credit he’s received for such a performance. The casting director also deserves an accolade, for giving us a splendid ensemble of young actors who portray the kids who are traumatised by the evil that haunts the fictional town of Derry.

It doesn’t necessarily rely on cheap jump-scares either, and despite being classed as an outright horror movie by some, it takes plenty of tropes from different genres as well. It’s a coming-of-age comedy/thriller, with a spooky scary clown and floating children. It may depend on how a viewer perceives its themes, but there’s a well-balanced combination throughout.

The film is now classed as Stephen King’s most impressive movie adaptation yet, and it’s easy to understand why. It stays true to the book, it’s frightfully eerie in places, and it’s also surprisingly funny. It’ll be interesting to see how they tackle the upcoming second part, considering the 27-year gap. We can only hope that the Losers are as brilliantly cast as they were in this film.


A historical period drama directed by Martin Scorsese, Silence is not for the faint of heart. It’s a gut-wrenching, punishing tale of two missionaries who embark on a journey to locate their missing mentor, whilst spreading their religious beliefs across Japan. It’s set in 1637, and it stars Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson and Adam Driver in some of their toughest parts to date.

It’s Scorsese’s third work based on religion, and he tackles some extremely heavy themes throughout. It feels like his most personal work yet, and it might not be for everyone. At two hours and 41 minutes, viewers will have their endurance tested by the numerous scenes of torture, and the moments where faith is tested.

Unsurprisingly though, the cinematography is gorgeous. Scorsese masterfully tackles the source material with great care, and in doing so presents us one of his most remarkable films to date. Andrew Garfield is brilliant also, reminding us of just how talented an actor he is. It’s easy to say, but it might be Garfield’s greatest work yet.


Aubrey Plaza has always been wonderful to watch onscreen, but she’s also been accused of consistently playing the awkward weirdo in most of her roles. However, in 2017, she proved all the naysayers wrong with a variety of performances that blew people away. She surprised us all in FX’s television series Legion as the seductively dark Shadow King, and she even played a foul-mouthed nun, in The Little Hours.

Still, it was Ingrid Goes West that boasted her best performance of her career to date, as she plays the social media stalker Ingrid, whose obsession with an Instagram model slowly ends up taking over her life. It’s a biting comedy directed by Matt Spicer, and it takes an unflinching look at how social media has negatively impacted society.

Plaza is captivating as Ingrid, and despite her shortcomings, she’s quite relatable. It’s a topical piece of filmmaking, and it even features one of the funniest sex scenes of the year. It’s nice to see Aubrey Plaza getting the recognition she rightly deserves, so here’s to seeing more unconventional roles from her in the future.


Perhaps Christopher Nolan’s greatest work to date, Dunkirk is a war film based on the events of the evacuation of Allied forces on the beaches of France during World War Two. It’s a suspenseful, gripping tale of human survival, starring a grand selection of actors, such as Fionn Whitehead, James D’Arcy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy.

The evacuation effort takes place across the land, air and sea, and viewers are left on the edge of their seats, as Nolan lets the cinematography and music create the atmosphere. It’s a gut-wrenching film, and it surprises everyone with Harry Styles’ commendable performance as one of the distraught evacuees.

It’s an intense movie, and at times it’s eerily quiet, allowing for thunderous bellows of gunfire to be heard booming over the speakers. The evacuation effort is all perfectly recreated down to the finest details, such as the aircraft and ships used throughout the film. It’s a meticulous labour of love, and Nolan clearly put his all his heart into Dunkirk.


Directed by Benny and Josh Safdie, Good Time is a fast-paced, character-driven crime drama starring Robert Pattinson. In Good Time, Pattinson plays the hapless criminal, Constantine ‘Connie’ Nikas. After inadvertently landing his disabled brother in jail, Connie attempts to bail him out, whilst adding a few more criminal offences to his long resumé.

Good Time is a slick, stylish picture, which is tightly put together with a sharp script and some solid cinematography. Pattinson is simply incredible as Nikas, and he’s pretty much unrecognisable, reminding viewers of just how versatile an actor he can be. Nikas’ various attempts at rescuing his brother will leave viewers squirming, but it makes for one hell of a story.

It’s neat to see Pattinson branch out a little more, and he’s also accomplished that in The Lost City of Z. The studio behind Good Time, A24, has provided us with some of finest first-rate films in recent years, such as Swiss Army Man, Ex Machina, The Lobster and more recently, The Disaster Artist. So, rest assured that any film bearing that logo will be practically unmissable.


This year, the web-head returned to its rightful owner, Marvel Studios, with Jon Watts’ Spider-man: Homecoming. Starring Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-man and Michael Keaton as the Vulture, this high-school superhero comedy had shades of John Hughes crawling all over it, and it stands superior over previous Spider-man films. Sorry, Doc Ock.

It’s a much more grounded superhero film than the ones before it and having Parker portrayed as a much younger kid helped change up the tired formula from previous movies. Whereas Tobey Maguire’s Parker was just awkward, and Andrew Garfield’s was slightly annoying, Tom Holland’s portrayal of the beloved character was extremely likeable. We had already seen snippets of Holland’s Spidey in Marvel Studios’ Civil War, but in Homecoming, he may have proved to be the definitive actor for the role.

It will come as no surprise, but Keaton manages to hit all the right notes as the deadly Vulture, a character who feels betrayed by the government. To protect his family financially, he creates and sells advanced weapons technology, salvaged from the original alien attack witnessed in Avengers Assemble. Of course, that becomes a problem when a certain high-school hero attempts to put a stop to his criminal activities.

Spider-man Homecoming was the film that fans have desired and deserved for so long, and they’ve finally got their wish. It stars an impressive cast, the superb Tom Holland, a stellar script and some solid jokes to boot. Here’s to Marvel Studios finally acquiring all their original comic book properties, just so they can get the proper treatment.


Marvel Studios kicked off their amazing year with James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, which brought back the weird and wonderful heroes for yet another insane adventure. The fate of the universe rests in the hands of the Guardians yet again, but first Peter Quill has some father issues to get through.

Volume 2 stars the much-loved cast from the previous film, but this time around, we’re introduced to Kurt Russell as Ego and Pom Klementieff as the pleasantly cute Mantis. The story mainly revolves around Star-lord, who meets his father Ego for the very first time. At first, it seems to be a happy reunion, but other members of the team aren’t convinced.

James Gunn provides another tremendous soundtrack here, along with his trademark style and humour. It’s one of Marvel Studios prettiest films too, as the vibrant colours quite literally burst out from the screen. The team dynamic is further explored in greater detail here, and the merchandise machine Baby Groot surprisingly turned out to be inoffensive.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are one of the greatest families in cinema today, and Volume 2 showcased action, drama, and a surprisingly emotional climax that nobody was ready for. It’s a mighty fine addition to the impressive Marvel Cinematic Universe, and there’s no telling where Gunn will take this much-loved dysfunctional space family in the future. Either way, we’ll be patiently waiting for more Mantis, because she is delightful.


Kong: Skull Island was one of the biggest blockbuster surprises of 2017, as director Jordan Vogt-Roberts reminded us that not all monster movies need to be an exercise in mindless CGI scraps. Taking place in the seventies, the film concerns a group of explorers and Vietnam vets who travel to an uncharted island full of mysterious and magnificent monsters.

Skull Island featured one of the most distinguished cast ensembles of the year, with heavy-hitters such as Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly and Brie Larson. Remarkably, each character in the film has a well-balanced and developed storyline, with Jackson’s character playing out like Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab.

The visuals are stunning, and it’s evident that the director took inspiration from Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. The CGI is ace, and Kong undoubtedly looks the part. He’s an intimidating figure, and thankfully there’s no hackneyed love interest with this version of the great ape. There is, however, one scene in Kong: Skull Island which really shouldn’t work on paper because it’s utterly ridiculous, and yet somehow, Vogt-Roberts pulls it off.

Don’t be put off by the fact that this the nth Kong to grace our cinemas. It’s an exceptional movie, and it will be interesting to see where they take the ape when it comes to his inevitable encounter with the almighty King of Monsters, Godzilla. Hold onto your butts.


Directed by Armando Iannucci, Death of Stalin is a political satire concerning the Soviet power struggle after Stalin’s death, and it’s one of the funniest films of the year. It’s a strange mixture of English-speaking actors placed in the role of Russian officials, and you haven’t experienced anything yet until you’ve seen someone with a Yorkshire accent playing the leader of the Red Army.

Armando Iannucci is the king of political satire, and Death of Stalin is yet another crowning achievement. It sports a sharp and witty script and some of the most amusing lines of the year. The cast is stellar, featuring the likes of Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Jason Isaacs and Paddy Considine. They’re all on form, and when the film slightly lowers its comedic tone, the realisation of this utterly bleak situation comes to light.

It’s dark and grisly in parts and a miserable reminder that despite it being set in the 1950s, it’s still a relevant piece of filmmaking for today’s political climate. Based on the graphic novel of the same, Death of Stalin is compulsory viewing for anyone who has enjoyed Iannucci’s past work, such as BBC’s Thick of It. When Gerard Butler’s Geostorm outperforms Death of Stalin in the UK box-office, you must wonder what’s profoundly wrong with society, but do check out this hilarious material as soon as possible.


Now the highest grossing anime movie of all time, Your Name is directed by Makoto Shinkai, and was available on limited release in IMAX theatres this year, after having a brief stint throughout UK festivals in 2016. It’s one of the most visually striking movies of the year, and it deserves all the credit it’s currently receiving.

The film follows two characters, city boy Taki and country girl Mitsuha, who mysteriously end up swapping their bodies. It’s not an atypical body swap story though, and it is peppered with some truly touching moments, as Taki attempts to locate Mitsuha in rural Japan. It is as emotionally satisfying as it is beautiful to look at.

The soundtrack in Your Name sticks out, too, and helps reflect on the characters developments through the film. The animation is simply mesmerising, and it’s quite surprising to see that director Shinkai wasn’t happy with this project, especially considering just how magical Your Name is. Don’t be put off by the fact it’s an anime, either, as it’s easily accessible by anyone.


Directed by Michael Showalter and written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick impressed cinemagoers this year with this down-to-earth romantic comedy, which included a sharp and hilarious script and some fantastic performances.

The film stars Kumail Nanjiani as himself and Zoe Kazan as Emily, as it tells the true story of Kumail and Emily’s unusual courtship. It has an interesting concept too, which helps revitalise the standard rom-com formula. After a rough break-up, Kumail and Emily are brought together yet again when she suddenly falls ill.

Kumail Nanjiani is a charming, disarming lead character who eventually engages with Emily’s parents whilst she’s in a coma. Of course, this results in some particularly awkward, humorous scenarios and the important question hangs over the viewer – will they get back together if she survives?

The Big Sick isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, but it sports a clever script, endearing characters and it’s an interesting insight into Kumail’s heritage. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and Ray Romano even makes an appearance as Emily’s dad. What more could you want there? It’s a fine addition to the romantic comedy genre and a nice reminder that it’s not all idealistic shlock.


Directed by Ben Wheatley, Free Fire was one of the shortest yet most explosive films of the year. Starring Sharlto Copley, Armie Hammer, Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy, Free Fire takes place in the 1970s, during a dicey arms deal. As weapons are about to be supplied to members of the IRA, everything goes terribly wrong when a dealer recognises a deadbeat from a previous altercation.

It’s a fast-paced movie, full of bullets, explosions, and Sharlto Copley’s beautiful hair. It’s another A24 title, and it’s a big departure from Wheatley’s previous film High Rise, which divided a few critics upon its release.

There’s a favourite actor for everyone in this cast, with Armie Hammer providing some of the funniest lines during the epic shootout, further demonstrating that he’s the gift that just keeps on giving (The Lone Ranger is still misunderstood, damn it).

Free Fire plays fast like a climax from one of Tarantino’s movies, and it’s almost unrelenting once the first bullet is fired. There’s plenty of thrills to be had with Wheatley’s Free Fire, and it boasts some of the strongest gunfire sounds ever recorded. It’s ridiculous, action-packed and straight to the point. Don’t miss out on this smooth little comedy shoot-out, which again, needs more appreciation.


The mantle of superhero film of the year belongs to Thor: Ragnarok, and it might just be one of the sweetest Marvel Studios productions yet. The third movie in the Thor franchise, Ragnarok took the God of Thunder into brand new terrain, at the hands of director Taika Waititi.

Some may know that I constantly praise Waititi’s work, with Hunt for the Wilderpeople positioned as my number one film of 2016. Unsurprisingly then, his bizarre take on the much-loved Marvel character turned out to be utterly incredible.

Thor: Ragnarok does away of the tired conventions of the comic book character, by throwing him into the unknown. Without his trusty hammer and now lost on an alien planet, Thor must find his way back to Asgard to put a stop to Hela’s evil plans.

It stars the handsome Chris Hemsworth, Tumblr favourite Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo, and introduces some new faces into the mix. The striking Cate Blanchett adopts the role of Hela, and the magnificent Jeff Goldblum is the ruler of the alien planet Sakaar, the Grandmaster.

Again, Marvel Studios attempts to subvert the superhero genre and it works to their advantage. Ragnarok feels like a fantasy comedy, with dazzling visuals, side-splittingly funny gags and the big green monster, the Hulk. Taika Waititi gave us one of the sweetest villainesses in recent years with Hela, and he was kind enough to portray the role of new fan-favourite, Korg.

It’s just pure escapist fun from start-to-finish, and it’s what the superhero genre should aim to be. Whereas films like DC’s Justice League somehow set us back a decade or two, Marvel takes it in new and interesting directions. If Marvel does continue the loosen the reins on their directors, then hopefully we’ll get to see such marvellous visions more often.


Edgar Wright returned to our screens for the first time since 2013’s The World’s End, with this rambunctious, high-energy octane heist movie, Baby Driver. With one of the most impressive intros of 2017, Baby Driver straps viewers in for a wild, melodic and gripping ride.

The film stars Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx, who are all at the top of their game. The story mainly follows Baby, who acts as a skilled escape driver for bank heists. Working for a noxious kingpin, Baby’s actions gets himself and his new love interest in deep trouble.

Baby Driver is now Edgar Wright’s highest-grossing movie, and that really comes as no surprise. From the second ‘Bellbottoms’ hits the speakers, it’s all go from there. It’s an electrifying ride, and it features the finest soundtrack of the year. Each track has been carefully selected by Wright, as he even meticulously manages to add not only the beats but lyrics into his sequences.

It’s one of the best blockbusters of the year, and Ansel Elgort is an outstanding lead character. It’s a shame he wasn’t chosen by Disney to play Han for the doomed Solo film, but with The Fault in Our Stars and Baby Driver behind him, we’ll be sure to see him in future feature films.

Edgar Wright’s movies always benefit from a bit of academic deconstruction, and this is no exception. He’s a master of his craft, and I personally look forward to viewing all the details I’ve missed before. Once you’ve finished Baby Driver, steer yourself in the direction of the playlist by using the link below:

  1. GET OUT

A film that will be on everyone’s list this year, Get Out was written and directed by comedian Jordan Peele. It’s a horror/thriller film, that follows Chris, a black man who visits his white girlfriend’s family. However, not everything seems to be above-board, as Chris notices a few occurrences that just don’t seem to add up.

Chris is played by the fantastic Daniel Kaluuya, and his girlfriend, Rose Armitage, is portrayed by Allison Williams. Rose’s family, the Armitage’s, have some familiar faces, such as Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford and Caleb Landry Jones. Daniel Kaluuya, who has already made waves in one of Black Mirror’s strongest episodes, is truly excellent in the film.

Considering Get Out is Jordan Peele’s first directed work, we cannot wait to see what else he has planned. It’s a provocative movie, that deals with the weighty theme of racism. It’s tactfully done, and unfortunately, it’s still a very much relevant piece of filmmaking in this current day and age.

Get Out was wrongfully nominated as a comedy by the Golden Globes, which just goes to show how well award ceremonies understand the film. Peele corrected the Globes, by defining his movie as a documentary. Admittedly though, even if it has all the right horror beats to it, it does feel a little more like a thriller. Regardless of whatever genre it is though, it’s an imitable piece of cinema.

Since its release, Get Out has become one of the highest grossing films of 2017, and it’s now one of the most profitable movies as well. It’s topical, brilliantly-acted and it’s one of the fiercest directorial debuts from a director in years. If you haven’t checked out the thrilling Get Out yet, then do not hesitate to track it down.

  1. BLADE RUNNER 2049

This year, Denis Villeneuve proved to Blade Runner fans that he understands the universe better than they do and in doing so, managed to create one of the most divisive films of this year with his sequel to an old cult favourite, Blade Runner 2049.

Unfortunately – and unsurprisingly – Blade Runner 2049 performed terribly at the box-office. The marketing was all wrong, and the original film wasn’t massively popular, to begin with. It’s a shame because Villeneuve’s film is a beautiful, thought-provoking piece of work.

The film stars Ryan Gosling as Officer K, a Blade Runner who retires rogue replicants. In his assignment, K discovers a surprising find that could change everything humans know about replicants. Living alone with his holographical girlfriend, Joi, K starts off an investigation that reveals a hidden secret.

Blade Runner 2049 runs at almost 3 hours, and there were many reports of its slow-pace upsetting some cinemagoers. Perhaps some people desired to see more explosions? However, Blade Runner 2049 is a pure visual feast, with the smartest script of the year. Of course, Ryan Gosling is terrific as K, and he manages to portray the character’s arc spectacularly.

In all honesty, Blade Runner 2049 feels very much like The Godfather Part 2. It takes aspects of what made the original work and improves and expands on it. Officer K has a fleshed-out storyline, and there’s less ambiguity here. It may be sacrilege to put Blade Runner 2049 on a higher pedestal than the first, but Denis Villeneuve gives us a sci-fi movie that we desperately needed, especially after this year’s dreadful offerings.

Ridley Scott has gone on record to mention the film’s length is way too long, and he has numerous issues with the film. Apparently, Villeneuve has a much bigger cut which won’t see any release anytime soon, but Scott should just focus on his own work – like running the Aliens franchise into the ground.

Blade Runner 2049 is my film of 2017. It reminds me why I enjoy cinema. It’s thought-provoking, it’s beautiful to look at and the story is stimulating. After giving us Arrival and Enemy, I can’t wait to see what Denis has up his sleeve next. If you haven’t seen Blade Runner 2049 yet, do yourself a favour and get the biggest screen you have, get comfortable, and get ready to be enveloped in a rich universe.

The Avengers – Review

Back in 2008, Marvel Studios released a film about one genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, Iron Man.  For the first time ever, Marvel had creative control over their characters in cinema, and went on to release four more films, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.  Since their first film, Marvel’s plan was obvious.  These entertaining blockbusters were setting up for their main event, The Avengers.

Four years later and now finally, that time has come.  The Avengers hit cinemas in the UK 26th April, to thousands of anticipating moviegoers.  Regarded as one of the biggest movie events of 2012, The Avengers is set to impress a lot of people.

Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers stars an unlikely bunch of superheroes that are forced to team-up to defeat the deadly Asgardian trickster Loki, who is now fully equipped with an unstoppable alien army.

The original cast members from their previous movies have returned, apart from Edward Norton, whose role as Bruce Banner has been replaced by Mark Ruffalo.  Ruffalo is now the replacement for Banner and the Hulk, who stands beside the legendary Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow.

S.H.I.E.L.D leader Nick Fury has a more substantial role than before, and returns alongside the fan-favourite Agent Coulson.  There is a newcomer to S.H.I.E.L.D, Agent Maria Hill, who is portrayed by How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders.

The story focuses on the return of Loki, who is back to create yet more havoc on Earth.  This time round though, the trickster has come prepared.  After being lost in space after the events of Thor, Loki returns with the Tessaract (Cosmic Cube) and a fierce alien force.

He is up to his devious ways yet again, and attempts to break apart the superheroes, both physically and mentally.  To defeat him, Earth’s bravest heroes’ team up to form the Avengers, a new superhero team to be reckoned with.

Zak Penn and Joss Whedon’s script is the quintessential superhero story, infused with action, comedy and drama.  Whilst it was possible for Tony Stark to completely steal the show, each character gets their own respective amount of screen time, which is just enough to showcase their great talents.

Even Maria Hill engages in an exciting turn of events during the first few minutes of the film, which just goes to show that Whedon leaves no character behind.

He manages to encapsulate the look and feel of an actual comic-book, transferring it straight into a blockbuster movie.  Explosions feel like they’re ripped right out of a double page spread, fight scenes are captured with great imagination, and the Hulk is the perfect portrayal of his comic-book counterpart.

Thanks to this genius script, cinemagoers will be quoting the film for months to come.  The dialogue is typical Whedon, which is very beneficial for a movie of this magnitude.  Even the action comes with some great laughs.

Loki’s treacherous ways still impress, but that might be partly due to Tom Hiddleston’s impeccable acting skills.  Yes, fan-favourite Loki is still the scene-stealer he was from Thor.  He is undoubtedly the best villain to use for The Avengers, as he proves yet again that Loki is the best Marvel villain to date.

Robert Downey Jr. returns as the charming Tony Stark, continuing the role he was born to play.  Of course, his super-ego and cocky attitude is present throughout, which is met with great distaste from Steve Rogers.  This makes for some engaging conversations between the two legends.  Stark brings forth some of the most memorable quotes of the film, but then there’s no surprise there.

Jeremy Renner finally gets to show off his Hawkeye skills in the film, presenting viewers with some great scenes.  He is joined by the Black Widow, who is played by Scarlett Johannson.  Widow fits the bill nicely, which is a surprising turn after her dull introduction during Iron Man 2.  Both the agents’ limits are recognised, but utilised in a manner which is works for the film.

For those who were concerned with Captain America’s new costume and part in the film, there’s no need to fret.  Chris Evans fits his new attire nicely, and he fits well within the storyline.  His transition from the 40s to modern day is addressed, but it doesn’t hinder the flow of the film.  If fans weren’t too enthused by his own film, there’ll be sure to applaud the Captain, especially during the later fight scenes.

Of course, there’s one character in particular that everyone will be talking about.  The Hulk has finally received the proper treatment he deserves.  Mark Ruffalo might be the new guy here, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.  He brings a lot to the Hulk’s character, which was accomplished with some neat motion capture technology.  The Hulk’s potential is finally recognised, as he delivers some of the best action scenes in comic-book movie history.

ILM’s work on the Hulk is ground-breaking, as he fits in with the other Avengers seamlessly.  The same can be said for the other effects in the film, as the alien forces look lifelike.  A lot of moviegoers questioned the sheer amount of explosions in The Avengers numerous trailers, but there’s no cause for concern.  Unlike Michael Bay’s films or the dreadful Battleship, the action is structured and presented clearly.

The running length of the film may seem long at first, but the film doesn’t drag.  Every segment of the film doesn’t overrun, and scenes don’t feel out of place.  It’s been said that Whedon cut down at least 30 minutes of the film, just to keep everything streamlined.  So if there are any fans who are wanting to see Captain America’s transition in further detail, look no further than the DVD/Blu-Ray extended cut.

So, is the film that fans have been wanting?  Definitely.  The Avengers may be the perfect comic-book film.  Whilst it may seem a little extreme to present the film with that title, it should be known that The Avengers manages to impress on so many levels.  It is extremely hard to fault the film.

Whedon injects his great talent straight into The Avengers and thanks to him; moviegoers get an enjoyable, exciting thrill ride.  It might just be the film of the year, especially for comic-book fans.  Loki is a wonderful villain, Stark has the best quotes and the Hulk gets the most satisfying action scenes.  It really does meet fan’s expectations, whilst meeting the demands of your average cinemagoer.

What’s next for The Avengers? Well, if the mid-credits sequence is any clue, we’re set for a more explosive, dramatic affair than before.  If there’s one problem to be found with The Avengers, it’s that its sequel has a difficult task of improving on this perfect comic-book film.


Panels of the Week – Four

Well, this past fortnight has proved that it’s the X-books which reign supreme.  It’s been mentioned before, but Schism is turning into one hell of an event which will ultimately provide X-fans a neat array of different teams.  The third issue in the event really pulled things together and a good old fashioned dispute between Cyclops and Wolverine is always welcomed.

Even the main X-Men title seemed fresh.  Issue 16 had some great, traditional elements.  Two teams get together (along with their respective major villain), and get sent through time.  It’s always a nice little set up and when it’s done with the correct writing and clean art, it’s a plus.

Uncanny X-Force still manages to be my favourite X-title at the moment though.  Remender is one of my favourite writers of this year.  It will be interesting to see where the title goes when the teams get split up after Schism.  I haven’t found Deadpool this amusing since Nicieza was managing him.

Anyway, onto panels.  Next time, I’ll be checking out the first week of the New 52.

Daredevil #02
Waid / Rivera

Ultimate Comics – Ultimates #01
Hickman / Ribic

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #01
Eastman / Waltz

The Mighty Thor #05
Fraction / Coipel

X-Men #16
Gischler / Molina

Uncanny X-Force #13
Remender / Brooks

X-Men; Schism #03
Aaron / Acuna

Panels of the Week – Three

It’s been a nice little fortnight for comics.  Duncan Fegredo and Mike Mignola kicked it out the park with their third issue of the Hellboy miniseries, The Fury, ending with a bang.  Infused with Fegredo’s amazing art and Mignola’s typically entertaining writing, it made for a great read.  This will then followed up with Hellboy in Hell, coming later in 2012.

I’m not too fond of Spider-Island at the moment, as it hasn’t made any significant impact as of yet.  It all seems a bit too forced and pointless, and something that would be expected in a What If storyline or something similar to Exiles.  It shouldn’t technically rule over most of the Spidey books, but at least this minor event has given us Cloak and Dagger.  They have always been an interesting couple to follow within the MU, so it’s nice to see them reappear in this rewarding first issue of the miniseries.

There’s been a fair bit of talk about Fear Itself on this site and issue five recently hit, providing fans with a dramatic brawl between three different powerhouses, Thor, Hulk and the Thing.  Immonen yet again provides us with great work, but perhaps this time round a few cracks in the event are beginning to show.  This issue was hyped up for its shocking content, which didn’t really make any sense because it was severely lacking some.

Considering that the event has just two issues before it’s finish, it’s a bit of a wonder as to why nothing has really happened yet.  You know, it’s turned into that typical Marvel event in which a minor character dies, everything seems hopeless and then suddenly some deus ex machina comes into play.  Which is a shame really, but let’s hope that Fraction has something up his sleeve.

Most of the tie-in comics have been okay.  Deadpool has been its usual, unfunny fare, whilst others such as Avengers Academy have been improved by the event.  One comic that didn’t necessarily need the tie-in treatment may actually be Thunderbolts.  It was doing fine before but it’s suffering from a bit of a weak story.  This isn’t Parker’s fault, he’s handling the important matters fairly well still.  Invincible Iron Man has been great though and somehow it still manages to maintain a certain degree of excellence.

Batman Arkham City #04 – Dini/D’Anda

Flashpoint; Batman Knight of Vengeance #03 – Azzarello/Risso

Spider-Island, Cloak and Dagger #01 – Spencer/Rios

Fear Itself #05 – Fraction/Immonen

Thunderbolts #161 – Parker/Shalvey

I, Zombie #16 – Roberson/Allred

Hellboy: The Fury #03 – Mignola/Fegredo

Captain America – The First Avenger. Review.


Steve Rogers has always been an icon for popular culture, ever since he punched Hitler on the cover of Captain America Comics in 1941.  Since then, Marvel’s patriotic creation has been through many changes.  From Joe Simon through to Ed Brubaker, Captain America has been an interesting icon to follow.  A few filmmakers have challenged themselves at portraying this character on the silver screen before, including his war serial in 1944 and the awful 1990 adaptation which strangely stars Red Skull as an Italian fascist.  It has been 21 years since his last outing and fans have desired something new.

Since Marvel Studios successful Iron Man, Avi Arad and many others decided that a combination of films were to be produced, that would lead onto an epic Avengers trilogy.  First came Tony Stark, followed by Bruce Banner and Thor.  It made sense, allowing three productions of each main super hero, before culminating into one massive trilogy.  Thor was deemed a success financially and somewhat critically, but it was up to Joe Johnston to lead with Captain America – The First Avenger.

A lot of names were tossed around for the portrayal of Steve Rogers but Marvel finally landed with their Captain America.  Chris Evans, known for the enigmatic Johnny Storm in Fox’s awful Fantastic Four series was picked up by Marvel.  It was an important role for anyone to play, due to the character’s iconic status.  Joe Johnston was also picked for directorial duties, whose previous work has included The Rocketeer, Jumanji and Jurassic Park 3.  Was Captain America – The First Avenger to be completely set in the Second World War? Was it going to focus on Rogers time in the Avengers? Well, questions were soon answered and costumes were finally revealed.

A weak, admirable Steve Rogers wants to join the forces which fight against the evil threat of the Nazis and their splinter group Hydra, lead by the sinister Red Skull.  During his training, he is chosen by scientist Dr Abraham Erskine as an experiment for the Super-Soldier serum.  Soon after his strong dosage of the serum, Steve Rogers later becomes a national hero known by all as Captain America.  From there on in, he joins his friend Bucky Barnes and the Howling Commandos to finally defeat Hydra and Johann Schmidt once and for all.

The film boasts incredible casting, such as Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones and even Toby Jones.  Weaving plays the menacing Red Skull brilliantly, which comes as no surprise.  The actor manages to portray villains well and here he leaves no room for error when playing the leader of Hydra.  His posture never falters, along with his threatening persona.  Tucci is an inspired choice as Dr Erskine, who provides much of the humour for the beginning of the film.  The difficult Colonel Chester Philips is Tommy Lee Jones, whose disapproval of Rogers comes off quite convincing.

Toby Jones is the Skull’s right-hand man, Arnim Zola.  Look out for the reference towards his comic counterpart during his introduction.  Jones manages to set himself aside Weaving effortlessly.  The casting choices are pretty much perfect.  Dominic Cooper stars as an incredibly assuring father to Anthony Stark, along with Sebastian Stan who definitely requires his own film as Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier.

Thankfully, the action including the star-spangled Avenger never falters throughout.  Each shield swing is convincing, which almost comes off as a surprise.  Hydra’s goons are disposed of with style and fighting grace, whilst Rogers looks perfect in his costume.  Perhaps one particular montage scene could have been extended, to at least focus a bit more on what Rogers is capable of.  Note that this is only a minor concern, as the film maintains a credible amount of action.  Especially during its climax, as brutal fisticuffs are exchanged between Schmidt and Rogers respectively.  The Howling Commandos may have been robbed of some action, but then again this is Rogers’ story.

Captain America – The First Avenger boasts its own unique style, which thankfully never gets too camp.  It was a huge worry for a film which tackles such material, however Jonhston knew how to manage it to a certain degree.  Hydra is one example of this, as their ridiculous costumes fit into the fabric of the film.  Captain America’s costume is altered throughout to fit the specific circumstances and yet each change is welcome.  The design of the vehicles works well too and certain technology manages to pass off as being somewhat believable even then.  This is due to the 1940’s comic book aesthetic though, as these bizarre uniforms fit within the period.

CGI is aplenty throughout the film, even appearing during instances where many wouldn’t notice.  The first twenty-minutes boasts an incredible use of CGI, allowing all to witness a convincingly weak Chris Evans.  Look out for the neat reference to a particular Golden Age character during the beginning, too.  His gaunt frame is unique, as Evans provides some real acting chops during these sequences.  All in all, Evans comes off as the perfect pick for Steve Rogers.  He possesses the look of an all-American hero, with the brains and brawn to get the job done.

There isn’t much to fault on Captain America – The First Avenger.  The vast number of characters don’t get lost throughout the story and Steve’s romance and friendships are believable throughout.  Towards the end of the film, the drama is laid on thick and yet it works.  It tugs at the heartstrings ever so slightly, fitting well with the heroic traits of the character.  The climax is a satisfying end to the film, even if it only ties a few loose ends.

Chris Evans is a charming Captain, which only makes fans clamour for yet more of the Super Soldier.  Jonhston brings to the table a believable hero, which fits well for the upcoming Avengers.  There’s some heart to this film and it can be seen quite clearly, from the well-thought out beginning to the emotional revelation towards the end.  It is a wonder as to where the character can go from here, other than leading the Avengers.  Hopefully some focus is put upon Ed Brubaker’s concepts, as a sequel featuring more of Bucky Barnes would fit nicely.  Marvel Studios has yet another film to be proud of, now here’s to waiting for the ever ambiguous Avengers film.


Panels of the Week – Two


This past week saw the second issue of the main X-event going on right now, X-Men Schism and it seems like this might be the event of the year.  Fraction and Immonen’s Fear Itself has been delivering the goods but I’ve always had a soft spot for the mutants.  With an exciting first issue, there was a worry that the follow-up may disappoint.  However, Jason Aaron always knows how to handle the X-Men and with Cho’s artwork the comic manages to impress.  It’s still an interesting concept to play with, even if it recycles Sentinels yet again.  Aaron is going somewhere with this, so it’s definitely one to pick up.  Check it out.

On the subject of recycled material, Uncanny X-Force is still trapped in the daunting AoA universe.  With Remender handling the mutants exploits though, there’s no real problem.  I’ve ranted and raved on about Uncanny X-Force for months, and for good reason.  Remender  is great at working with these creations, as Apocalypse Solution and Deathlok Nation has proved.

The new Daredevil series captured a lot of attention from critics last week, as many claimed the new issue was the best read of the year.  Whilst this can’t be determined yet, it is still a strong contender.  Mark Waid manages a colourful approach to the character, with Riviera providing stunning artwork throughout.  Bendis and Brubaker reinvented Matt Murdock brilliantly, but it’s nice to see that Daredevil returns to his roots.


Wolverine/Deadpool The Decoy – Moore/Crystal

X-Men Schism #02 – Aaron/Cho

The Mighty Thor #04 – Fraction/Coipel

Daredevil #01 – Waid/Riviera/Martin

Invincible Iron Man #506 – Fraction/Larroca

Uncanny X-Force #12 – Remender/Brooks