What? A list of films from 2019 that’s coming out in almost February? Where were you when the awards season was going on? Well, let me clear up some things. This list of films from 2019 is a little late for a few reasons. The first (and most important) is that I’ve apparently evolved into a hipster elitist that doesn’t enjoy mainstream media anymore.
The second (and arguably just as important) reason is that I didn’t enjoy a majority of the films I saw last year. Living in Connecticut, of all hell holes, I don’t get to partake of films I’d otherwise want to watch. Things like Adult Life Skills, Shadow, Ramen Shop, and Ms. Purple were all on my radar, but didn’t open within a 100 mile radius from me. It kind of sucks enjoying indie films in this part of the country.
Still, I wanted to provide some kind of list of films I saw just to chronicle my own journeys through the annals of cinema history. Sometimes even the stupidest and most juvenile of films can have an impact on you, be it from enjoyment to disgust. I can learn what I don’t like and avoid similar things, which is valuable for saving me time and angst. I can even debate about the merits of something, which provides conversation.
Anyway, here are five films I saw in 2019. There’s no particular order since nothing was better than John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Toy Story 4 was good, but c’mon. Keanu!
My vote for possibly the most overrated film of the year -if not the decade-, I really didn’t care for Endgame. I even wrote a lengthy piece about the faults I found with the film and how it wasn’t all the enjoyable. I understand the cinematic achievement that Marvel created with this, but it was just a victory lap of self-congratulatory nonsense.
What I did get from Endgame was that I really do not enjoy the average super hero film. I’ve known for a long time that I wasn’t your average kind of viewer, but there was still some part of me that clung to popular media in a hope that my view would change. I wanted to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist and keep up with what everyone was being wowed by. After Endgame, I’m done with that mindset.
It’s fine for the people that like Marvel, but I’d like the studio to try some new things. Give me another Spider-Man film and bring on Shang-Chi. Those sound good.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
You could lump this in with Endgame as a film that killed my interest in pop-media. I’ve had a complicated relationship with Star Wars anyway, but a lot of it has to do with video games. Gaming is my main interest and Star Wars has had a rough few years in that region. Still, I did enjoy the last two mainline Star Wars films and I was hoping that Disney’s backpedaling from The Last Jedi wouldn’t create a disaster.
I wouldn’t say that Rise of Skywalker is the worst film in the franchise, but it is pretty close. This is a film that is more concerned with dazzling your eyes with thrilling action and quick cuts than it is with establishing actual characters and their motivations. Hell, some of the traits these characters have developed over the past trilogy are reversed/erased to make way for fan service narrative beats.
I won’t fault anyone for enjoying the film because Star Wars has never been particularly deep. Most fans remember how revolutionary the original trilogy was and have ridiculously high expectations for everything else. Even with lowered expectations, Rise of Skywalker is just a sloppy film.
Yeah, I’m going to complain about another big-budget Hollywood film. I get it: that’s getting tired even just two entries in. With that out of the way, I was pretty disappointed with Frozen II. I will defend the first film since I found it to be a breath of fresh air for Disney. Tangled may have gotten the ball rolling -and could possibly be a better film-, but Frozen was excellent in its pacing, its subversion of fairy tale tropes, and it’s absolutely stellar soundtrack.
As for the sequel? The biggest hurdle it doesn’t clear is a justification for existing. I know all Disney films are made for $$$ more than anything, but the character arcs in the original film were wrapped up nicely. There wasn’t a whole lot else you could do with Anna and Elsa’s story apart from more, I guess. Frozen II is basically more of the same with less catchy songs.
The animation is incredible and I’ll never fault the acting. I’m also fond of how Olaf isn’t completely worthless this time out. That still doesn’t make up for how haphazard the plot is and how oddly pointless the end result feels. I really did want to enjoy the film, but nothing stuck out for me.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Okay, let me mix this up with a film I enjoyed. Spider-Man: Far From Home is something I didn’t expect to enjoy a lot. I found Homecoming good, but sort of lacking in characterization. Tom Holland is a great Peter Parker, but these Marvel movies tend to not go deep on their protagonist’s inner turmoil. I guess you have to forgo introspection when the plot is supposed to be lighthearted.
Far From Home isn’t suddenly a dark, brooding film, but the way it deals with the immediate fallout of Endgame’s ending is great. It gives Peter a clear goal to overcome and sets up his journey for this particular movie really well. You aren’t even required to have seen Endgame to understand the struggle he’s going through, which is a nice touch.
The film eventually goes off the rails, but for the first 80 minutes or so, this is the best film in the entire MCU. It’s got constant forward momentum, a lot of funny jokes, great side characters, and a compelling villain. When it stops all of that and tries to tie back into the wider MCU, it becomes too much to really handle. Also, I don’t like that moment with the hammer and shield because it happened only one movie prior. Give some time for your set pieces to breathe, Marvel!
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
While I wouldn’t call Detective Pikachu a great film, this is probably the first big-budget, Hollywood adaptation of a video game to get almost everything right. Detective Pikachu has excellent world-building and some genuinely awesome looking character redesigns, but the whole plot eventually devolves into a poorly constructed allegory about living in the moment and loving those around you.
I get there isn’t much to work with, but the mystery aspect that the beginning of the film deals with was great. There’s a lot of good dialogue, Ryan Reynolds doesn’t completely steal every scene, and the deuteragonist Lucy is a really great balance for the main character. They just had to go for a typical Hollywood ending.
I would have liked seeing Tim learn that his father is always with him in spirit or something equally as cheesy. Instead, we have a weird revival where Tim’s dad comes back and it kind of undermines the point of the film. It’s also clearly sequel bait, which is something I never like. Then again, those are the films worst problems and it’s still enjoyable for about 70% of its runtime. That’s solid enough.