Monday, January 1, 2018

Disney Movies of 2017 From Best To Worst

Saying that 2017 wasn't the best year ever would be an understatement. It's like if 2016 said that no year would be worse than it was, and then 2017 came up to it and said, "hold my beer!"

This year was not exactly the best for Hollywood either, as it suffered its worst-attended summer movie season in 25 years! Then again, that should be expected when most of the summer "blockbusters" consisted of "half-baked sequels and remakes."

Fortunately, for the Walt Disney Company, while this year wasn't their best, it also wasn't their worst. This year saw the release of three big Marvel movies, a Star Wars movie that felt like a real return to form, and an animated movie that served as a grand celebration of Mexican culture during a time when the Hispanic community feels most stigmatized.

There are even more good movies on the way for Disney in 2018, and even more so in the near future, especially with the recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox. Until then, let's look back at last year's Disney movies and rank them from best to worst.

To view this ranking of 2017's best and worst Disney flicks, click READ MORE:

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1. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those movies that should not have worked, let alone made it past the initial pitch. If you were to propose a movie like it prior to the MCU, you'd probably be laughed out of the corporate boardroom by the time you mentioned the talking tree.

But after the overwhelming success of The Avengers, it seemed like no idea was too ridiculous for the Marvel execs. "Sure. Our big superhero crossover managed to top the box office, so we'll totally greenlight this movie about a talking raccoon and tree in space! And while we're at it, we'll also approve that movie about a man who can shrink and talk to ants!"

The fact that a movie based off an obscure intellectual property with such a goofy premise did as well as it did seemed almost as miraculous as catching lightning in a bottle. So the idea of making a sequel that's just as good as the original movie, if not better, seemed as likely as lightning striking twice!

But not only did James Gunn prove that lightning can strike twice, but you can collect enough of it in that one bottle to power entire planets and put the fossil fuel industry out of business, and you don't even need to steal any Anulax Batteries like a certain greedy raccoon!

Like a pack of Doublemint Gum, this movie gives you double the pleasure and double the fun. It takes everything you loved about the first movie and gives it back to you twofold. Double the epic space battles. Double the action and comedy. Double the character development. Double the 80s soundtrack. Double the dancing Star Lord. Double the Baby Groot. And especially double the emotion--oh Sweet Celestia, the emotion!

For a movie that sells itself as a goofy action and comedy-filled space romp, this movie knows when to take itself seriously, and when it does, it manages to emotionally rattle your more than any of the more "serious" superhero movies?

After all, what does it say when a movie where a character makes a Mary Poppins reference has a much more emotional and impactful death than the movie with the death of Superman?

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2. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Does Spider-Man belong in the MCU? Well, obviously, he does because Sony cut a deal with Marvel Studios to include him. But the real question is does he fit in? That's the question this movie seems to pose.

Up until now, Sony has done everything in their power to prevent Marvel Studios from obtaining the movie rights to Spider-Man, even going so far as to attempt their own Spider-Man "cinematic universe" to compete with the MCU. After failing to do just that did they finally come to terms and decide to share the rights with Marvel. But is it too little too late at this point?

As of now, the MCU has reached Phase Three and will be moving onto Phase Four with its penultimate crossover movie, Avengers: Infinity Wars. Adding Spider-Man at this point almost seems like a hasty last minute addition. So the big question is will he fit?

The answer? Well, it doesn't really matter. Or at least that's what the movie seems to be saying.

Throughout the movie, we have Spider-Man trying to impress Iron Man in a desperate attempt to join the Avengers, only to learn that he's perfectly fine where he is. He doesn't need to be a superhero out to save the world. He's perfectly fine where he is looking out for the little guy. And that's all he needs to do.

Of course, our favorite web-head is going to team up with the others now and then, but right now, he's perfectly fine being your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. (Which is probably fitting, then, that's he's going to be involved in his own movies separate from the MCU, despite those movies being set in the MCU, if that makes any sense.)

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3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Up until this movie, the new Star Wars films had not been impressing me much. The Force Awakens seemed far too much of a tired retread of A New Hope, and Rouge One was nothing more than one big boring advertisement for new action figures.

So I knew this movie would be the one that would either make or break it for me. Fortunately, with my expectations set so low, it really didn't take much for this movie to exceed them. And boy did it exceed them!

Regardless of what you think about The Force Awakens, you can’t deny that the movie left you with many questions. Who are Ren’s parents? Is she related to Kylo Ren? To Luke Skywalker? To Han Solo? What were those visions that Luke’s saber gave her? Will she turn to the Dark Side? Or will she manage to rescue Kylo Ren from it? Don’t worry. This new movie answers all these questions and more.

But not the way you’d expect it to.

In fact, that’s the best part about this movie. Rather than being a predictable retread of previous Star Wars movies like The Force Awakens was, this movie plays with your expectations like Dikembe Mutombo plays basketball. Just when your have your sight set on where you think the story is going to go, The Last Jedi come out of nowhere, smacks your expectations out of your hand, and taunts you by wagging its finger and saying “not today!”

Whether or not you’ll enjoy this bucking of expectations and conventions depends on your overall mindset towards the Star Wars franchise.

If you’re a lonely fanboy who’s memorized the Star Wars Encyclopedia ten times over and you insist that every official movie needs to adhere to your narrow fundamentalist interpretation of the lore, then you’re probably one of the lonely saddos who’s been joining 4Chan in review bombing the movie on Rotten Tomatoes.

However, if you’re actually a well-adjusted human being who isn’t afraid of change and is willing to see an original movie and not just a retread of something you already like, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this movie. The Force truly is with it.

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4. Coco

Did you enjoy watching an original Pixar movie? Good. Enjoy it while you can. Because it seems that, for the next few years, Disney and Pixar are set to release nothing but sequels, animated sequels everywhere.

What makes Coco truly extraordinary is that it shouldn't be as good as it is given its premise. Stop me if you heard this before: a young man has big dreams of becoming a famous musician, but his disapproving family...okay, I'll stop there!

Yes, while the plot isn't the most original, everything about the movie more than makes up for it, from the bright and beautiful colors and details of the computer animation, to the lively musical numbers which all feel organic to the story rather than like your run-of-the-mill movie musicals. (Of course, it helps that all of the songs were created by the great Lin-Manuel Miranda!)

Obviously, the biggest draw is the representation of Mexican culture. That's to be expected from a movie about a Mexican holiday, but you can really tell the creators did their research, as every inch of this film is dripping in detail about Mexican history and culture, from the intro being told through traditional papel picado art, to the inclusion of ancient mythological creatures and even Mexican historical figures.

As the first Disney film to star a Hispanic protagonist and with a prominent Hispanic cast, this movie really is a love letter to Mexico, which is why it's not surprising that the movie has become the biggest box office hit in that country.

Honestly, the only people who probably wouldn’t like this movie are the MAGA hat-wearing dunces who voted for our reality show host president under the delusion that he would build them a wall to keep out all the people who look like Miguel and his family.

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5. Thor: Ragnarok

Just in case any of you Marvel fans were wondering where Thor and Hulk were during the events of Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok provides an answer, and in the form of a movie that's better than any other featuring the two characters.

While it does seem odd to pair these two characters together in the same movie, it makes much more sense when you think about it. Both Thor and Hulk are essentially kindred spirits in regards to them both having the weaker franchises in the MCU.

Seriously, it's not exactly a compliment when the best thing you can say about The Incredible Hulk is that it's better than the 2003 Hulk movie; and while Thor may have two more movies than the Green Giant, that's not saying much when his last movie was far worse than his first movie.

So it's really saying a lot when the best movie featuring these two characters is their big crossover flick here. This is especially true for the Hulk, considering that this movie is almost a meta-commentary about him and his popularity--or rather, lack thereof.

After all, Hulk's big story arc is that he's become stranded on an alien planet where he routinely does gladiatorial battle with other aliens, and the adoration and attention that he receives there makes him reluctant to return to earth where, as he said himself, nobody liked him. (Gee, it's almost as if Marvel is guilting its viewers for not demanding more Hulk merch!)

But of course, the biggest star of the movie is the God of Thunder himself, who's tasked once again with saving the world; and in a franchise where "saving the world" has become as routine as driving to the store to pick up toothpaste, this movie actually poses the meta question about what it truly means to save the world--or rather, whether or not the world is worth saving.

Also, if you didn't think that Tessa Thompson did an excellent job of playing the badass Valkyrie, chances are you're one of the saddo fans still butthurt that she's not played by a blond-hair, blue-eyed Aryan woman--which, well, says more about you than the movie, now doesn't it?

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6. Cars 3

You know what we need? Another Cars movie. Said no one ever. And yet here we are with a sequel to one mediocre movie and another movie that's considered to be the worst Pixar film ever.

The only plausible reason I see with making the Cars movies into a franchise is to create a toy line that can compete with Hot Wheels. Why else would an otherwise mediocre movie receive two theatrical sequels, several straight-to-DVD spinoffs, a handful of made-for-TV shorts, and an entire themed land in Disney's California Adventure?

(Then again, how fitting is it that the most mediocre park receives a land based on the most mediocre movie?)

Considering the franchise's past track record with one lackluster film and a sequel considered to be a blight on Pixar's otherwise stellar track record, it seemed like it was all downhill from there with the third installment; and yet rather than crash and burn worse than Lightning McQueen in the trailer (seriously, what was up with that nightmare fuel?), this movie managed to actually steer its way out of danger and come out strong.

Cars 3 is by no means the best movie ever, but it's the best it can be considering its franchise. Even Pixar seems aware that people don't like the Cars movies. So with this movie, they were like, "Yeah, let's end this franchise once and for killing off the main character!"

No! Lightning McQueen doesn't die, but he does end up passing the torch to another character by teaching her everything he learned from his own career. In other words, McQueen takes on the mentor role of Doc Hudson in the original movie, and just as Doc helped him achieve his own victory, so too does McQueen help the new character achieve her own. The student surpasses the teacher, and in turns, become the teacher to another student.

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7. Beauty and the Beast

Say what you want about Disney's current onslaught of live-action remakes, but at the very least, they're attempting to breath new life into their old animated classics by presenting them from different perspectives. Beauty and the Beast, on the other hand, is essentially the animated movie in live action. That's about it!

You have to somewhat sympathize with Disney here. They placed themselves in between a rock and a hard place when they decided to remake one of the best movies from the Animation Renaissance, so much so that it's still one of the only animated movies to have been nominated by the Academy Awards for Best Picture. So how exactly do you perfect something that's already perfect?

To it's credit, the live-action remake does add a few good new songs. "Evermore" is Beast's big solo number that we never knew that we needed to hear, and "Days in the Sun" is a much better expository musical number for the magical servants than the cringeworthy "Human Again."

And the movie at least uses it's second chance to re-tell its original story by answering some of the many questions fans had about it, like whatever happened to Belle's mother (she died, duh!) and why the servants were cursed along with the Beast (they did nothing while his father abused him as a child, turning him into the beast that he is.)

But really, all of these new "additions" feel rather superficial when you realize that the movie is still the exact same movie only in live-action. Otherwise, if you want to watch Beauty and the Beast, by all means, watch the animated version. It still manages to hold up, even after 25 years.

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8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Dead Men Tell No Tales? More like dead genres tell no good stories. Amirite?

I had long abandoned ship with the franchise after the third film tanked. by then, I assumed that Disney would have the decency to end the franchise there. After all, it couldn’t possibly make a worse Pirates movie than that, right? But then Disney said, “hold my rum!”, and gave us, not one, but two more movies.

What makes this newest installment especially insulting is how it pretends it’s this major nostalgic comeback after a long absence, even though the previous movie only came out five years ago. (Rather pretentious there, eh?)

I would ask the question, “who asked for this?”, but we already know the answer: China. Yes, apparently the Pirates movies have been doing exceptionally well in a country where everyone lives in factory towns with nets to prevent them from committing suicide. Why else does the Shanghai park have an entire Pirates-themed area?

Do I even need to explain what this movie's about? It's Johnny Depp bumbling around like he's drunk with a silly hat and an even sillier accent. It's the same schtick he been playing in every movie since Pirates. Unfortunately, were only going to continue seeing more of Johnny Depp the more his Pirates movies continue doing well over in China.

Fortunately, not only does his career seem to be dwindling due to people finally becoming disinterested with his "generic eccentric character" schtick, but aware of his gross domestic abuse allegations. Well, unless you're J.K. Rowling, of course. (Seriously, what the hell, J.K.?)

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