July was a pretty good month for quality films and just like any month it had its highs and lows! This is going to be the first time that Men vs. Movies is doing a written best and worst for the month. This article will compile Nick, Brody, and Sean's list so that you could see our respective favorite and least favorite movies of this month and some of the reasons why.
War for the Planet of the Apes
War for the Planet of the Apes was an absolutely breathtaking conclusion to the Apes Prequel Trilogy. This movie was an emotional thrill ride from start to finish, as soon as it started I found myself adrift in the story with all the worries of the world fading and only caring about what was going on in the story with Caesar. It takes a very compelling story in order for this to happen for me and this movie was able to do that. The character development of all of the apes and human villains was fantastic and never found myself doubting the performances that were on the screen. The CGI was at a level unmatched in my opinion and it kept you guessing whether or not you were watching apes in a zoo or a movie. This film is my favorite of the year so far and definitely my favorite Apes movie. I can not wait to watch all of the Planet of the Apes prequel movies back to back when this gem of a film reaches Blu Ray and if you have yet to check it out I could not praise it enough, go and see it!
(DISCLAIMER: Only saw good movies this month)
In the interest of being honest I did not see very many movies this month, only War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk, and Spider-man: Homecoming (And we all know what really should be at my worst spot Emoji Movie) so it is with a heavy heart that I must put the newest addition to the Marvel Universe in the worst slate for this month. It did not have the stakes that neither Dunkirk or Apes had, nor did it have the compelling story that Apes had, or the visual spectacle that encapsulated Dunkirk. This web-slinging movie was simply fun and another well done Marvel Superhero movie. It was vibrant and had one of Marvel's most fleshed out villains but the film still felt a little bit formulaic with a little bit of a shift with it's 80's John Hughes feel to it. DO NOT get me wrong this movie was incredibly enjoyable and will probably have one of the highest rewatchabilities than any of the movies that came out this month but seeing as the selection was so slim it has to be in this slate. If you have to check out Spider-man: Homecoming in theaters please do so because you will definitely have a fun time with our favorite web-slinging Avenger.
When I heard Nolan was crafting a WWII film, I was naturally interested. The trailers seemed a bit bland to me, so my expectations dropped a bit. However, the final result was a distinctly Nolan take on a war film which de-romanticizes war while providing a visceral survival experience. The non-linear story-telling provides a way to give insight in character actions and motivations while providing exciting reveals. In the end, this film emotionally affected me more than any other film this year.
Valerian and the Unusually Long Title
I’m a big sci-fi fan, and I’ve loved several of Luc Besson’s films. On paper, Valerian should have been one of my favorite movies of the summer. Unfortunately, all of the film’s creativity went into the creature design and world building, instead of the script. The main storyline’s episodic structure feels better suited for a TV series than a film. But, the real problem here is the two leads and their dialogue. I’m not familiar with the source material, but the film treats Valerian like he’s a Han Solo/Malcolm Reynolds/Starlord-esque adventurerer (except that he seems to like rules). Unfortunately, Dane DeHaan lacks the looks, physicality, and charm to pull off this kind of role. The mis-casting is compounded by Cara Delevigne, who looks like she’s still in high school. The two actors have little natural chemistry, and most of their dialogue together is either expository, or forced discussion about marriage. It’s hard not to wonder how much better the film could have been simply by casting more obvious picks like Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. If you haven’t seen Valerian, and want to understand just how miscast Dane DeHaan is, just imagine any of Chris Pratt’s recent starring roles….except with Dane DeHaan instead.
It's almost a cliché to say at this point but Dunkirk is an absolute triumph. In a market oversaturated with of big-budget, low-risk filmmaking, it's refreshing to see an auteur successful realise their artistic vision within the studio system; and that's exactly what Christopher Nolan has done with his latest epic. You can feel Nolan's guiding hand in every aspect of Dunkirk, from Zimmer's droning score to the spellbinding spectacle. Every decision feels deliberate and precise as if to assure the audience "don't worry, I’ve got you". Even when the non-linear narrative is weaving between multiple timelines and perspectives with little to no explanation, I was never drawn out of the world Nolan was creating. Every beat of the story is executed so deftly that I always had total faith that the plot was marching towards a logical and satisfying resolution, which is probably the highest compliment I can give a film. Dunkirk once again proves that Nolan is a master of his craft.
To The Bone
The general consensus seems to be that this month's The Emoji Movie will be the de facto "worst film of 2017", if not for sheer audacity of the concept alone. But seeing as I have thus far avoided this blight on cinema, the dubious honour of "worst film of July" instead goes to Netflix's To the Bone. I think the most baffling thing about To the Bone is how a company that has been so wildly successful in making quality television can't seem to transfer that success into its feature film endeavours. To the Bone suffers from many of the same problems as Netflix's recent series 13 Reasons Why in that it has lofty aspirations of tackling meaty social issues in the hopes of "starting a conversation", but ultimately fails to pay its chosen taboo anything more than lip service. This time around suicide has been swapped out for body dysmorphia. One would imagine this topic to be ripe with potential for deep, introspective character study, but instead all we get is a flimsy framework on which to hang teen drama tropes we've seen countless times before. The film can't decide if it's societal pressures or a strained home life that are responsible for our protagonist, Ellen's, struggles with anorexia, so the exploration of the issue just sorta teeters in no man's land for most of the film, saying nothing of value. This would be all well and good if the haphazard handling of its central issue at least in service of a compelling story, but that isn’t the case here. To the Bone is an utter bore. The only entertainment to be derived is watching a horribly miscast Keanu Reeves struggle to play against type as the "young, sexy doctor". It’s not the worst movie you’ll see this year, but it’s one you’re bound to forget shortly after the credits end.