Favorite/Standout Cinematography, Action/Fight Sequences, Score/Soundtrack, Visual Effects & Trailers of 2016

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things with my favorite fights/action sequences, cinematography, score/soundtrack, visual effects and trailers.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Assassin’s Creed: Run Through the City

Assassin’s Creed’s best moments where set in the past, and a majority of them were action sequences. The standout sequences was the run through the city that involves Aguilar (Michael Fassbender) and Maria (Ariane Labed) on the run from Ojeda (Hovik Keuchkerian) and his men. Along with small fights in tight quarters or on rooftops, the scene may be the best scene in the whole film.

 

Captain America: Civil War: Airport Battle & Captain America/Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man

Okay, this is a copout since this these are most of the action sequences, but let’s face it, Civil War, was filled with great action sequences. Of course, the biggest highlight was the Airport Battle that was unbelievably nerdy. The second big fight is Captain America and The Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man in a fight that is much more personal that I think anyone could have imagined being in a comic book film.

 

Deadpool: Deadpool Takes Out Convoy

While the scene is just a modified version of the “leaked” footage that came out the year before, the convoy sequence stood out to me because it happens in such a confined space and it still allows Ryan Reynolds to give us very Deadpool like lines.

 

Doctor Strange: The Ancient One vs. Kaecilius/Zealots & Strange vs. Kaecilius and Zealots

The fight scenes in Doctor Strange brought a new style to fight scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Magic. Not only that, that opening fight scenes between The Ancient One and the Zealots and Kaecilius showed the MCU isn’t scared of going a more martial arts route.

 

Ip Man 3 – Ip Man vs. Frank & Ip Man vs. Cheung Tin-chi

The Donnie Yen Ip-Man films are always filled with great fight scenes and Ip-Man 3 was no different. The two standout fights for me was the heavily promoted fight with Mike Tyson – who plays a mob boss named Frank – and the final fight between Ip Man and Cheung Tin-chi (Jin Zhang). The fight with Frank is actually good, and while arguably a stunt fight (they could have easily casted someone else), it doesn’t disappoint too much. As for the final fight with Cheung Tin-chi, this one was building almost from the beginning of the film, and when it finally happens, you can totally feel the emotion behind every punch and movement they make.

 

Moana: Moana and Maui Escape Kakamora

Another animated sequence that stood out to me was this Mad Max: Fury Road-inspired chase scene in Moana. Right down to the beating drums, and weirdly dressed Kakamora’s, the chase was something I’m sure George Miller would be proud of.

 

Rogue One: Chirrut Imwe vs. Stormtroppers, Final Battle, Vadar Boards

I’d be surprised if this doesn’t end up on other peoples lists. Personally, seeing Donnie Yen mess up some Stormtroopers was awesome. However, the final battle on Scarif was what the film was building up to, and it did not disappoint. Finally, the Vadar scene. I won’t give it away too much if you haven’t seen it, but wow!

 

Storks: Junior and Tulip vs. The Penguins

Animated “fight/action” sequences usually involve comedy and aren’t really taken seriously, and you know what? Sometimes that’s okay. Storks did that with their fight scenes that involves are heroes, Junior and Tulip, going up against penguins. What makes it standout – besides the homage to Aliens – all of it happens as they try to make the least amount of noise possible so they don’t wake up the baby.

 

The Revenant – Opening Ambush

The opening ambush scene was really something to watch unfold. The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is done in the classic Lubezki trope in that it’s done in shot continuous take. Not only that, it happens very fast and is so chaotic, that it makes it a standout scene.

 

X-Men: Apocalypse: Quicksilver’s Rescue & Wolverine Breaks Free

While Quicksilver’s Rescue was awesome to watch, seeing Hugh Jackman unleashed a bit of Berserker Rage on Stryker’s men was an even more awesome sight to see. Especially knowing that Jackman is on his way out the door as Wolverine/Logan

 

 

Honorable Mention

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Batman vs. Knyazev’s Men

Deadpool: Deadpool vs. Ajax (Finale)

Ghostbusters: Ghostbusters vs. Times Square Ghosts

Hacksaw Ridge: First Attack

Headshot: Ishmael vs. Tano & Ishmael vs. Lee

Kill Zone 2: Chatchai vs. Kit (Prison Riot) & Chatchai/Kit vs. Ko Hung aka The Warden

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Skeletons vs. Hollows

Star Trek Beyond: Enterprise Takeover

Suicide Squad: Suicide Squad/Katana/Rick Flag’s Unit vs. Monsters (Streets)

The Magnificent Seven: Finale Shootout

Warcraft: Durotan vs. Gul’dan

 

 

Cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant

Emmanuel Lubezki has already made himself a well-known name amongst cinematographers, so it came as no surprise that his work in The Revenant was amazing and beautiful to watch.

 

Jarin Blaschke – The Witch

I’ve never heard of Jarin Blaschke, but I will be on the lookout for whatever he does next because his work in The Witch was equal parts creepy, eerie and gut-wrenching scary as hell. I’m not usually a fan of quotes in movie trailers, but the quote in the trailers that basically said it feels like something you shouldn’t be watching it completely true.

 

Linus Sandgren – La La Land

La La Land feels like an ultimate homage to old timey Hollywood films right down to cinematography during the musical sections of the film. Also, the fact that they used real location around Los Angeles is an added bonus (says the man from outside Chicago).

 

Pedro Luque – Don’t Breathe

One of the reasons that Don’t Breathe worked – at least for me – is the look of it all. The creepy house with the overall dark look made the film a more effective horror thriller. Pedro Luque really had a great eye for it all, and lets add the surprisingly good blackout sequences using night vision to show the pure terror of our main characters was great.

 

Zach Kuperstein – The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother is probably one of the creepiest films cinematography-wise. The film is shot in black and white, and for some reason, it made it a hell of a lot more creepier. It makes you imagine what the colors would look like, but even its nature shots and more distributing shots, the film is still beautiful to look at.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Bradford Young – Arrival

Don Burgess – The Conjuring 2

Marc Spicer – Lights Out

Natasha Braier – The Neon Demon

Pasha Kapinos/Vsevolod Kaptur/Fedor Lyass – Hardcore Henry

Roman Osin – The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Stephane Fontaine – Jackie

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Dario Marianelli – Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings is already a great film, but one of the main reasons is because of the music. The music connects to theme they’re going for, and Regina Spektor’s cover of “My Guitar Gently Weeps” is beautiful.

 

Justin Hurwitz – La La Land

Easily one of, if not, the best soundtracks of the year, La La Land’s soundtrack is as vivid as the set-pieces it plays over. You can easily be addict to the soundtrack, I know I was, because as soon as I walked out of the theater I bought the soundtrack.

 

Mark Korven – The Witch

The Witch is already eerily creepy with its cinematography, but add on the music that was created by Mark Korven, you have yourself an all around horror film of nightmares.

 

Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda – Moana

Come on, let’s face it – you’ve been singing songs from Moana since you’ve seen it, right? Okay then.

 

Musical Department in Sing Street 

Sing Street doesn’t have one specific person attached for the music. Some were covers, but Drive it Like You Stole It, is one of the best new songs of the year.

 

Honorable Mentions

Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL – Batman Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Johann Johannsson – Arrival

Lukasz Pawel Buda/Samuel Scott/Conrad Wedde – Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carsten Nicolai, and Bryce Dessner – The Revenant

 

 

Visual Effects

Doctor Strange

Marvel introduced us to the magical realm and other dimensions, and I don’t know if anyone other than Scott Derrickson could have introduced us to that. The visuals were just amazing to see, even with the Inception-style effects, that aren’t as dominate as you would think, the visuals made Doctor Strange a standout Marvel film.

 

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is a film that probably should have failed, but it didn’t – at all. The film is bursting with phenomenal visuals, that even after you find out that almost everything was created with visuals, you watch wondering, was that real? Honestly, The Jungle Book was arguably some of the best CGI we’ve ever seen.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Ghostbusters

Pete’s Dragon

The BFG

 

 

Trailers

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 2

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

 

Free Fire

 

 

Kong: Skull Island

 

 

Logan

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

 

 

Wonder Woman Comic Con

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Get Out

First Official ‘Suicide Squad’ Trailer

The Birth of a Nation Teaser

First Sausage Party Trailer

 

So that’s it ladies and gentlemen.

What are some of your favorites, and be on the lookout for the big lists next week!

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‘The Revenant’ Review

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Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Writers: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu & Mark L. Smith

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck, Paul Anderson, Kristoffer Joner, Duane Howard, Fabrice Adde, and Lukas Haas

Synopsis: A frontiersman named Hugh Glass on a fur trade expedition in the 1820s is on a quest for survival after being brutally mauled by a bear.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Based in part on the novel by Michael Punke, The Revenant is also based on the true story of Hugh Glass, who goes for revenge against the people that left him for dead. So take that story and add the team of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, with great actors in Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, and you get yourself an amazing visual film with performances that will stick with you.

The Revenant is, at its barebones, a “man vs. nature” and survivalist film. The film follows fur trapper Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) who helps Captain Andrew Henry (Gleeson) and his men get fur for the winter and so they can sell. The group includes other traders and soldiers, but the core people we follow are Glass’ half-Native American son Hawk (Goodluck), a young Jim Bridger (Poulter) – who would become one of the Old West’s most legendary mountain men, but this isn’t his story – and a self-interested and temperamental John Fitzgerald (Hardy).

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The opening of the film sees the group getting attacked by a Native American tribe of Arikara lead by their chief (Howard), who have their own storyline of looking for the chief’s daughter, but it doesn’t add a ton of the overall story, so I’ll avoid talking about that. Anyway, our main group lead deep into the forest to avoid the Arikara, but soon after Glass is attacked and horribly mauled by a grizzly bear. Captain Henry insists that they take Glass, who is clinging to life as it is, back to their fort. Fitzgerald, not wanting to risk his life for a man who’s already dying, decides to “stay behind” with Hawk and Bridger to give Glass a proper burial once he finally dies. Of course, Fitzgerald doesn’t honor that and kills Hawk and leaves Glass for dead in a pit. Glass eventually gets out and seeks his revenge against Fitzgerald.

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The Revenant is a tough movie to sit through. Not because it’s bad, but because of what we see Hugh Glass who through, physically and emotionally, and what he has to do in order to survive. The bear mauling scene alone is standout sequence in the whole film, but seeing Glass go through the vast wilderness in the dead of the winter to get the man that killed his son and left him for dead is just gut-wrenching to watch. However, what makes the film work even more is knowing that everything was done particular. It truly is a testament to the cast and crew to put the film together. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Inarritu and Lubezki decided to film the movie on location, during the winter in Calgary and Argentina (yes, Argentina!), and only using natural light to shoot the film. The way that Lubezki shoots the film is visually amazing to look at in every way. From the long and tracking shots – which he’s famous for – of rivers, the sky, and trees that tells us the other part of the story and connecting theme, to the close-ups of DiCaprio’s Glass gritting his teeth through the pain and his breath in the cold weather. Lubezki is truly one of the best cinematographers in Hollywood today.

But besides the amazing cinematography, the film is nothing without the performances. Of course the film belongs to Leonardo DiCaprio, in the film that could hopefully, and finally, win him an Oscar. Hell, DiCaprio doesn’t really have a ton of lines in this, as his performance is strictly him trying to survive in any way possible, a few grunts and simply standing still. As for Tom Hardy, like DiCaprio, is reliable in everything he does, but here his performance is showier than Glass, and any time he’s on screen he chews up the scenery. One scene in particular has Hardy’s Fitzgerald telling a story about his father to Bridger. The speech – again – fits into the overall theme and who the character really is.

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The rest of the supporting cast has their moments, but the film belongs to DiCaprio and arguably Hardy as well. Will Poulter’s Bridger and Forrest Goodluck’s Hawk bring in the young vulnerability to the frontier and their trip, while Domhnall Gleeson (who’s everywhere now, and good for him) brings the character to life, who could have been nothing more than a one-note or throwaway character. Arthur Redcloud also has a small role as a Native American character that helps Glass is somewhat memorable.

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The Revenant isn’t a film for everybody. Some, including myself at times, will find the middle of the film to drag on and feel a bit repetitive. But the argument can be made that it is Inarritu trying to make us feel like we are there suffering the long road back with Glass. Following that, some of the survivalist moments of the film will probably take some out of the film.

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All in all, The Revenant, like all Alejandro G. Inarritu films has more going on that the simple story that we see. Yes, the film is about a man seeking revenge, but it’s the way that Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki shot the film that makes it more than that and makes it a beautiful, yet gritty and dangerous story and film. The film could be one of those that you could watch again to catch some of the nuances in the cinematography or even the performances, but make no mistake The Revenant is truly one of the those films that will stick with you.

 

The Revenant

4.5 out of 5