Monday, December 27, 2021

Reflecting on 2021 - films and TV

I saw three films in the cinema this year. They were, in order, In the Heights (which was fantastic - I blogged about it shortly after we saw it), Scoob! and Dune. I was going to write an extended review of the latter, but didn't get round to it in the recent busy weeks. 

Broadly speaking, I thought Dune was an excellent capture of the essence of the book. I realise if someone hadn't read the book then it might be hard to follow. But, you know what, the book was published over 50 years ago so people have had plenty of time to read it. For once it was nice to watch an adaptation that didn't dumb it down for the non-reading masses. My only criticism was that it had a score by Hans Zimmer, whose one trick is big, blaring atonal noises to signify vastness. It could have done with more subtlety, because everything is vast in the Duneiverse so there were lots of atonal blarts throughout the film.

Similarly, Scoob! played to the fans. I especially liked the cameo appearance by Captain Caveman. The little kids who were with us watching the film seemed to like it too. So, all in all, that was a decent film as well. 

We have also seen some new films via the streaming services as well. We watched the new Disney animations Raya and the Last DragonLuca, and, on Christmas Eve, Encanto. All of them felt like tick the box Disney stories. None really had anything particularly that stood out. I did laugh at Luca's creepy uncle who lived in the ocean deep and therefore was see-through. 

I think the best new release I saw on a streaming service was Free Guy. There was one scene in particular that really moved me. I blogged about it back in October. 

We also watched the two new Marvel releases, Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. They were OK. I don't feel they added much to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and in the case of Shang-Chi, I was mainly left wondering how many other mythologies being real and hidden worlds within worlds there can be in the Marvel canon.

Turning to TV, though, and there have been four series set in the MCU. I would rank them in order of quality as Loki, WandaVision, Hawkeye, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. All the series are trying to move characters on into the story arc that is taking over from the Avengers story arc of the last 10 years. WandaVision was a tease for the first few episodes, which Cathy found annoying. In a later episode it included a memorable comment about the nature of grief, which prompted me to blog.

Loki was similarly focused and introduced the idea of parallel universes and divergences in timelines. It was quite clever and I enjoyed the other versions of Loki that cropped up. (Aligator Loki being my favourite.) Hawkeye was released in the run up to Christmas and was suitably seasonal. It introduced some new characters, including a villain who may become relevant in the rest of the MCU.

The Falcon series couldn't decide what it wanted to be. Was it a series addressing race issues, or addressing fascist responses to displaced peoples? Were the terrorists the bad guys, or the good guys? Unfortunately I found the terrorist leader to be completely unbelievable as a character and the show itself veered between the peril that the Falcon's family might lose the family fishing boat and shadowy figures manipulating events on a global scale. 

Two series on Netflix that we really liked, Kim's Convenience and Atypical, came to an end this year. Both opted for sweet endings with unresolved storylines left hanging. In Atypical almost all the characters got a happy ending that meant they would be embarking on an adventure somewhere. It was both satisfying but sad that in a way the characters were going off and doing something else and we wouldn't see what would happen to them. That is how life works though, with people moving on and living a life invisible to us. 

We also rewatched a lot of TV. We watched the entire run of Frasier, most of which was still very good, years after it first aired. We watched most of Cheers, which hasn't aged as well. We watched all 8 seasons of Castle, which got a bit wrapped up in its story arcs and then bodged the ending of the final season with a tacked on scene that didn't work. 

Towards the end of the year we started rewatching Futurama. One or two episodes have been uncomfortable to watch, showing how much things have changed in the last 20 years. However, most of the jokes have made me laugh.. for the umpteenth time. And the episode with Fry's dog, well, I knew it was coming, but dammit, I still choked up at the end! 

That's the mark of good telly - that it can still hit you in the feels even though you know it's gonna hit you in the feels. 

I may have jumped the gun on this review as the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett is about to drop on Disney Plus. But I will save that for a future review post.

No comments:

Post a Comment