There’s a lot to unpack from this year’s films! (Includes spoilers!)
2017 was generally a mixed year for movies. Many of the summer blockbusters fell flat, both critically and at the box office. But other films more than exceeded expectations. Plus, there was just a lot out there. Sequels, spin-offs, reboots, and originals all fighting for our attention and dollars, only to run up against the behemoths of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.
It’s a changing landscape, to be sure. But there’s no feeling quite like seeing a stunning sequence play out on the big screen, or getting surprised by a twist you never saw coming. For me, these are the dozen movie moments that stayed with me, that kept replaying in my head, that I couldn’t stop talking about.
Warning: This post will contain spoilers for several of this year’s films.
Going in chronological order of release:
Logan – Wolverine’s Sacrifice
Logan was a stunning direction to take the X-Men franchise for Hugh Jackman’s last appearance as Wolverine. And the action scene is one of the most brutal in the franchise’s history. But it’s the closing moments that add the poignancy and heartbreak. As he dies from his wounds in a battle against an adult clone, Logan accepts his role as Laura’s father, telling her to be more than a weapon. His funeral adds the final touching moment, the wooden cross turned on its side to an X. An incredible send-off for one of the longest-running superheroes in cinema.
Kong: Skull Island – Kong’s first appearance
When you have more than half a dozen films starring King Kong and are on your second reboot of the franchise, you really need to find a new way for him to make an entrance. Skull Island does exactly that, moving the timeline up the Vietnam era. After dropping seismic explosives to map the mysterious island, the military helicopters are attacked out of nowhere by the biggest take on Kong yet. Here, he’s not a villain, or a tragic antihero. Kong is a force of nature, that effortlessly slams, crushes, shakes and swats the legion of choppers out of the sky. The U.S. squadron may have technology on their side, but it’s no match for this beast.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Baby Groot dances to “Mr. Blue Sky”
How do you top the iconic dance scene that introduced Star-Lord to audiences everywhere? Easy! Have the Guardians of the Galaxy fight a giant monster, while Baby Groot dances in the foreground! Sorry Porgs, there was not a more fun, appealing CGI creation to come out of 2017. Of course, the song selection of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” just adds to the awesomeness. As the track plays Baby Groot, shimmies, grooves out, tries to eat a fly, dodges his battling teammates and even rides a space rat. It’s the best credits sequence of the year.
Wonder Woman – Diana fights through No-Man’s Land
Diana’s first appearance in man’s world as Wonder Woman sums up everything there is to love about the character. When she hears that villagers are starving and dying on the other side of No Man’s Land, she ignores Steve’s plan to sneak around and stay on mission. Instead, she walks out of the trenches and starts deflecting every bullet that comes her way. Eventually, she’s holding back all of their gunfire by herself, a defense that gives Steven and his team a chance to attack the German line. Her motive wasn’t strategic, it was to save lives because that’s the right thing to do. Her armor a splash of color against the grey of the battlefield and her actions a symbol of hope in horror of war.
Spider-Man: Homecoming – Peter gets a ride to the dance
Despite its excellent comedy, creative action scenes and fun high-school vibe, the best scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming comes from a single, tense car ride. When Peter goes to the home of his crush, Lisa, to get a lift to the homecoming dance, he discovers that her father is none other than Adrian Toomes, AKA Vulture. During the car ride, the natural edge of a teen boy meeting his date’s father is multiplied by the battle of their alter-egos. Adrian figures out Peter’s identity, and after Lisa gets out of the car, coldly threatens to kill him and everyone he loves, if Spider-Man interferes again. It’s a sharp take of Peter’s two lives crashing together in the worst way.
Atomic Blonde – The stairway fight
This Cold War spy thriller, starring Charlize Theron, was directed by David Leitch, who also co-directed John Wick. That should give you a sense of the type of action scenes in store for us. True, Atomic Blonde is less-stylized than that Keanu Reeves action vehicle. But it makes up for it in sheer brutality and bluntness. As MI6 spy Lorianne Broughton tries to transport a defector from East Berlin to West, she’s ambushed by the KGB. What follows is a desperate, bloody fight for survival. These fight scenes don’t look like actors performing stunts or fighting experts showing off their skills. It’s all about killing the other by any means, to guarantee your own survival.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting
If Kingsman: The Golden Circle had one goal, it was to be even crazier than the original at every turn. On that note, it’s an absolutely smashing success! No scene shows that better than when Eggsy and Harry storm Poppy Adams’ lair. As the captured Elton John (long story) plays through “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” the duo takes on dozens of guards by themselves. Such odds seem impossible, but not for the Kingsmen! They use every gadget and trick they have, shooting, punch and blowing up every goon to the pulse-quickening pace of the 70s classic. It’s pure, unfiltered, joyful mayhem.
Blade Runner 2049 – K confronts Deckard
After spending most of the film searching for answers about himself, replicant Blade Runner K heads to the ruins of Las Vegas to talk to Rick Deckard himself. Old and isolated from the world to protect his child, Deckard fills the hotel he calls home with booby traps for K. When they meet face-to-face, it’s in a virtual entertainment hall that uses holograms of Elvis to recreate the magic of decades past for would-be attendees. It’s a cool and unique setting for Deckard and K to confront each other, with the holograms and audio stuttering and freezing up behind them.
Thor: Ragnarok – Every second that Hela or Grandmaster is on-screen
This is a bit of a cheat, but I can’t help it. The weird, wonderful and just plain entertaining Thor: Ragnarok has so much going for it. Dr. Strange’s cameo is great. Hulk is better than ever, both when he’s fighting and when he’s talking! But nothing tops Cate Blanchett as Hela or Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster. The former has an absolutely blast in the role, wringing every ounce of regal evil out of her performance. The latter just basically does his best Jeff Goldblum and puts it into this strange space saga. What more could you ask for?
Justice League – Superman joins the fight
This is what I’ve wanted for a long, long time. While Man of Steel had the makings of a good Superman, they were ruined with his dreary, angsty interpretation in Batman v Superman. Then he dies fighting Doomsday. So when the other members of the Justice League resurrected him in this film, there was some concern over which Superman we would get. But once he joins the fight against Steppenwolf, Henry Cavill is channeling his best Boy Scout! Kal-El is back to being the optimistic defender of Earth. He makes some quips, throws a few punches and saves a bunch of people. Just as he should.
The Disaster Artist – Tommy Wiseau’s introduction
In San Francisco, a young man named Greg Sestero nervously performs in front of his acting class. As he sits down, he watches another actor, Tommy Wiseau, approach the stage and slaughter Marlon Brando’s famous “Stella” cry from A Streetcar Named Desire. Greg is fascinated by Tommy’s fearlessness and asks him if he wants to do a scene together. Tommy agrees, but is standoffish and off-putting. So begins a strange friendship that leads to the creation of The Room, one of the worst movies ever made. And the spark comes out of this one scene.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Luke Skywalker returns
Throughout The Last Jedi, we see a Luke Skywalker that’s insecure, wounded and reeling from his own weakness and mistakes that turned Ben Solo into Kylo Ren. But after being challenged by Rey and given some words of wisdom by Force Ghost Yoda, Luke appears at the Resistance’s last stand. He has a heartbreaking scene with Leia, before facing on the might of the First Order. He brushes off their attacks, including Kylo’s direct hits. In a supercool twist, it’s revealed that Luke is Force Projecting himself from another planet, buying the Resistance time to escape. The effort takes up Luke’s life force though, and he fades away while staring out at twin suns. It’s a beautiful ending for one of fiction’s most legendary heroes.