Well, there’s no doubt that 2021 was another dumpster fire of a year, amIright? Theaters across the U.S. slowly opened back up, limiting the number of theatrical releases, although streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBOMax picked up the slack and showed many first-run films. With that, here’s MY pix for the best and worst of 2021:
Pig: Nicholas Cage has garnered a reputation of late of making the weirdest and strangest low-budget films around, but every now and then he surprises the hell out of us and pulls a hat trick. Here he delivers an amazing, heart-breaking performance about a hermit-like, ex-superstar chef and his kidnapped truffle-sniffing pet pig. Top marks for Cage!
Godzilla vs Kong: The Japanese made a corny, hilarious send-up version back in 1962, but with the advent of the new Godzilla and King Kong franchises, this was inevitable. And boy! It did NOT disappoint! With realistic-looking CGI monsters beating the crap outta each other, and a silly subplot involving some kids, this movie rocked. AND it brought back MechaGodzilla, too!
tick, tick… BOOM! There was an upswing in musicals in 2021 and this one had a cool spin to it, unlike the others. Based on the true story of NYC native Jonathan Larson and his struggles to get a Broadway show written, former Spider-man Andrew Garfield wowed us all with his singing & acting chops portraying the late composer. Worth a second look and listen.
West Side Story: And speaking of musicals, Steven Spielberg and the late Steven Sondheim reimagined the stage version of this timeless movie classic and surprised everyone with his eye-popping version that kept the original flavor of the play intact while delivering all-new dances and dramatic acting that made his remake a solid choice.
Shang Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings: It’s tough to introduce a new superhero to the already crowded MCU playing field (just look at what happened with The Eternals! LOL!). But Shang Chi is here and he’s a keeper, thanks to charismatic and kick-ass superstar, Simi Liu, in the title role. The movie gave us what every MCU movie needs: action, fun, great fights, and a superhero we can root for.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife: It took writer/director Jason Reitman 20 years to bring this proper sequel to the original 1984 film and do it the justice it so richly deserved. A terrific melange of action, adventure, comedy, pathos, and a bushel-basket of fan-boy callbacks to satisfy the film nerd in all of us. And that ending with a CGI Harold Ramis was the icing on the cake.
Spider-Man: No Way Home: Yeah, you knew this movie was going to be on this list. Already at $1 billion box office receipts (a rarity for so soon) and climbing, there’s a reason for that. Spider-man’s Tom Holland and the incredible story of five past villains (and two other Spider-men) all colliding into a multiverse of madness is a fan-boys dream come true! Major kudos to the filmmakers for deciding to give the audience what they wanted to see!
Chaos Walking: No, not even the likes of Tom Holland and Mads Mikkelsen could have saved this sci-fi piece of garbage. Re-writes, re-shoots, and multiple delays by the studios were all signs this movie sucked and they were right. A terrible film about an apocalyptical future where men’s thoughts are audible and only one woman survived. Yeah, it was as bad as it sounds.
Thunder Force: It must’ve looked on paper: two newly made superhero women and their fight against crime in the big city. But it crashed and burned upon delivery with hit ‘n’ miss actor/director/writer Ben Falcone at the helm. Melissa McCarthy is totally miscast and unfunny (along with costar Octavia Spencer) and shoulda walked away. The only shining light was Jason Bateman as a lobster-handed criminal.
Pinocchio: There are few movies that have been remade to death like this one, and they’re still coming! This Italian import by Roberto Benigni has him playing Geppetto this time around, instead of Pinocchio, but it doesn’t matter. The script, taken straight from the book, is bizarre to say the least, and the acting is about as bad/weird as any David Lynch film ever made. Do not watch this film before going to bed!
Cry Macho: Question: can a famous, iconic Hollywood actor/director make a clunker? The answer is. . . yes! Clint Eastwood is, without a doubt, a brilliant actor and director, but in his latest effort, he fell asleep at the camera. The story of an aging cowboy taking a young hooligan boy back home to meet his estranged father is beautifully shot, but woefully dull and listless.
The Addams Family 2: This movie should have been called, Cash Grab: The Movie. Whereas the first CGI movie was bad, it did earn a few points for bringing the Addams Family to the screen for the kiddies. This second outing was so awful it defies description. The plot, story, execution, and dialogue were all SO horrific, it was a wonder how this was greenlit in the first place.
The Green Knight: Don’t get me wrong, I like surreal films. Movies like The Lobster and Mother! are fascinating and odd enough to watch. But this? Swimming in the director’s own visionary juices, this movie drowns in a pointless and ridiculous saga of Sir Gawain and his futile year-long quest to kill some kind of mystical thingy. It makes NO sense, it’s pointless, has no structure or bearing, and wastes your time in watching it.
Reminiscence: This is what happens when try and copycat several films (Strange Days, Minority Report, Westworld, and Brainstorm) and fail at all of them. Not even hunky Hugh Jackman could save this sci-fi pot-boiler about a man who can enter other people’s minds in order to help them. Somewhere in this total crapshow there was a credible movie begging to come out and play, but it never happened.