2016 Movie Review Part 1: Mediocre Movies

Disclaimer: A few of these movies are actually from 2015, but didn’t get released in the US until 2016. Also I did my best of avoid spoilers in this blog.

2016 was a great year for movies. There were records broken, boundaries shattered, and new inventive ideas shown to audiences. The disappointing part of it personally was that I didn’t have the time so see many of the films I really wanted to see, mostly due to a combination of laziness, other commitments, and not having anyone to go to the movies with. Still, I managed to watch a decent number of movies in 2016, in fact just enough to make a top 12 13 (thanks La La Land) for the year. Since the number of movies is rather short, I’ll do my best to try and explore each with reasonable depth. I’ve split this list into 3 tiers, Mediocre Movies, Movies I Liked, and Movies I Loved. Thankfully I haven’t seen any movies from this year that fit into the “Movies I Hated” tier so even the lowest movie on this list is one that has some merit. Without further ado, let’s get started!

One side note, the following movies are ones from 2016 I haven’t seen yet but want to see in the near future.

Captain America: Civil War

Star Trek Beyond

Dr. Strange

Silence

Mediocre Movies

  1. Miss Hokusai

I’ve already written at length about this movie in my Anime-Planet review, but I’ll still mention a few things about why this is the movie that drew the short straw this year and fell to the bottom of this list. Miss Hokusai was a movie that my friends and I all looked forward to with critical acclaim and captivating trailers coupled with an interesting premise. However, what this movie further affirmed is the importance of the director’s role in filmmaking, as this movie seemed to have nothing holding the short stories together. While the animation was gorgeous to look at, the story and characters were not developed in ways that made me care much about their circumstances. I probably wouldn’t have been so harsh on this movie had I not been as hyped as I was, but there had to be a movie at the bottom of the list and unfortunately for director Keiichi Hara and Production I.G. Miss Hokusai was more of an art piece than entertaining film.

  1. Queen of Katwe

Unlike Miss Hokusai, I went into Queen of Katwe with very little expectations. All I knew about it was that it was a Disney biopic about a female chess prodigy in Africa. The only reason I even had time to watch it was because I was held captive by a 15 hour flight from Taipei to New York City, and Queen of Katwe seemed like a movie that I could put on that required little effort in terms of digesting the story. There’s nothing wrong with getting exactly what you expected out of a movie, but when you go in with such low expectations, I think it’s safe to say it’s disappointing when you’re not at least a little pleasantly surprised by the execution. This is your typical Disney sports movie through and through, a feel good story about a talented individual like The Rookie (2002), Invincible (2006), or Million Dollar Arm (2014). Perhaps this movie’s biggest problem is that unlike conventional sports, chess isn’t great for spectators not versed in its intricacies. Even for those versed in it, it’s very difficult to translate the drama of the game to a narrative film. I wanted to enjoy this movie because I want there to be a good movie about one of my all time favorite games that receives mainstream attention. Now I’m starting to doubt whether a good chess movie is any more possible than a good movie about hopscotch. I’m still holding out hope though. Anything is possible in filmmaking.

  1. Finding Dory

I am one of those people who has seen Finding Nemo (2003) countless times. While Toy Story 2  (1999) is probably my most watched movie of all time, Finding Nemo is likely in my top 3. It was one of my cousin’s favorite movies, and around 2003 when this movie came out everyone wanted to be a marine biologist. Finding Dory came 13 years later to a new generation, and while it was a good movie on its own, there’s way too much of its predecessor’s legacy hanging over the whole film. Sure the animation has been updated, but that’s to be expected of Disney at this point. Sometimes Disney has the problem of being so consistently amazing that it makes their “good” movies look mediocre, and that’s probably what happened with Finding Dory. While there’s little to criticize as an overt blunder, there’s little that makes the movie stand out, few scenes that one can point to as memorable. I hate to call movies cash grabs when they clearly have enormous effort invested into their production, but Finding Dory just had that kind of feel to it. It’s probably not the worst Disney sequel, but there’s not much to write home about with this movie.

Part 2: Out now!

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