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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‘Sausage Party’ Review

sausage_party

Director: Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon

Writers: Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg

Voice Cast: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Edward Norton, David Krumholtz, Nick Kroll, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, and James Franco

Synopsis: A sausage strives to discover the truth about his existence.

 

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

 

I’m just going to start off by saying; this is one of the most ridiculous movies I’ve ever seen, and it probably has to do with the fact that it’s an R-rated animated film from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. However, there is surprisingly a lot more to Sausage Party than the ads will have you believe. While the selling hook is “food finds out what happens when they really go home with humans,” the film takes a rather strong approach to something that is controversial to talk about: religion.

Sausage Party follows the food at a Shopwell supermarket, who every morning, sing – yes – sing about their hopes of being picked by the gods (humans) so they can go to the “Great Beyond” (outside the supermarket). The main focus is Frank (Rogen), a hot dog, who believes that he’ll finally be chosen on Red, White and Blue Day, and that his girlfriend Brenda (Wiig), hotdog bun) will go with him. Not being able to wait too long, they stick their hands out and “touch tips.” However, when they do get picked, they get into a shopping cart accident that leaves them and Douche (Kroll) – yes a Douche – falling back into the aisle, and getting left behind and unable to see The Great Beyond.

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What follows is Frank figuring out what really happens to food when they go to the Great Beyond, which questions everything he, Brenda, Douche and everyone else thinks about the “gods.” Meanwhile, Frank’s friend Barry (Cera), who stayed in the cart, gets a firsthand experience of what happens when you really go come to the gods, and has his own adventure.

Like I mentioned, this is one of the most ridiculous movies I’ve ever seen, and you guys know I watch a lot of movies. I really didn’t even know how I was going to review this without spoiling something or just ruining the experience for you guys. I will say the death scenes (?) are somewhat disturbing to watch, but in a good and funny way. They do come off like a horror movie, but you can’t help but laugh along with them because they are so creative, and you never get old which is a huge plus. There are moments in the film that will leave you questioning where the film is going, but then they hit with another big joke that makes you seem to forget that.

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Also, like I mentioned, the film tackles a surprising subject in religion. I don’t get to into how they approach it, but it was surprising that Rogen, Goldberg, Shaffir, and Hunter went in that direction. They could have easily went the easy route of food freaking the hell out about finding out they actually get eaten when the go to the “Great Beyond” by their “Gods.” But just because we know Rogen and Goldberg for doing stoner comedies, it doesn’t mean the film is an atheist film. It actually brings up a worthy conversation, and doesn’t just dismiss it. It does to some extent, but it loops it back around in the end to give you the two points. Of course, all that only matters if you are either a religious person or at least know and understand some aspects of it.

So Sausage Party gets points in my book for doing something comes out of left field that I’m pretty sure no one saw coming. It also has some comedic political jokes that got a good laugh out of my showing. That isn’t to say the film isn’t funny, there are some great jokes throughout the whole film, and is one of the funniest films of the year so far. Is it for everyone? Hell no! One reason is definitely a scene at the end of the film that I won’t even tease, but if you saw the film you know what I’m talking about, and if you watch the film, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s uncomfortably long, but in a way that makes sense for the film.

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Brenda (Kristen Wiig), Sammy (Edward Norton), Lavash (David Krumholtz), and Teresa (Salma Hayek)

All in all, Sausage Party is not for everyone, but you should know what you are expecting considering Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are involved. The film is something else that I’m sure most people watching will find odd, but it somewhat works for the film. The voice cast is spot on, and Sausage Party will definitely have you thinking twice about the food you eat later that day. Did I mention it was ridiculous?

Sausage Party

4 out of 5

August Movie Releases

Can you believe it’s already August? Seriously, where has the all the time gone, geez. Anyway, August is filled some films that could have tremendous potential. It’s also the last month of the Summer Movie Season, also known to some as studios’ “dump month,” although this year it could be very different.

Would also like to say I’m sorry for not posting this earlier. Slipped past me.

 

5th

Nine Lives (Comedy – EuropaCorp USA/Fundamental Films)

A stuffy businessman (Kevin Spacey) finds himself trapped inside the body of his family’s cat to learn what he’s been missing. The film also stars Jennifer Garner, Cheryl Hines, Talitha Bateman, Teddy Sears, Robbie Amell, and Christopher Walken. The film really isn’t targeted toward me, and overall it doesn’t look that funny to me either.

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Suicide Squad (Action – Warner Bros./DC Entertainment/Atlas Entertainment/Dune Entertainment)

David Ayer brings one of the most ambitious comic book adaptations to life with Suicide Squad. The film follows a group of imprisoned supervillains hired by a secret government agency named A.R.G.U.S, lead by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), to do a dangerous mission to get their freedom. This one is definitely a make-it-or-break-it film and while many people are excited for the film – I can see why – I wasn’t sold on it for a while, but the film has won me over, at least for the time being.  Suicide Squad stars Will Smith (Deadshot), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Jared Leto (The Joker), Cara Delevingne (Enchantress), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang), Joel Kinnaman (Rick Flagg), Jay Hernandez (El Diablo), Karen Fukuhara (Katana), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Killer Croc), Adam Beach (Slipknot), Common (Tattooed Man), Jim Parrack (Jonny Frost), Scott Eastwood, Ike Barinholtz, David Harbour, and Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

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12th

Limited Release: Hell or High Water (Crime Drama)

A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s farm in West Texas. The film stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Katy Mixon, Melanie Papalia, and Kevin Ranklin.

 

Limited Release: Edge of Winter (Drama Thriller)

When two brothers are stranded by a brutal winter storm with an unpredictable father they barely know, the boys begin to suspect their supposed protector may be their biggest threat. The film stars Tom Holland, Joel Kinnaman, Shiloh Fernandez, Rachelle Lefevre, and Rossif Sutherland.

 

Florence Foster Jenkins (Biography Dramedy – Paramount Pictures/BBC Films/Pathe/Qwerty Films)

The story of Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep), a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice. The movie kind of came out of nowhere for me, and others probably too, but it’s got Streep in it so the film already has a built-in audience. The film also stars Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg, Rebecca Ferguson and John Kavanagh.

florence_foster_jenkins

 

Sausage Party (Animation – Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Point Grey Pictures)

The film follows a sausage (Seth Rogen) – yes, a sausage – and his quest to discover the truth about his existence, and discovers what really happens when food goes home with humans. The film is written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, and that should give you a good indication on what to anticipate. The voice cast includes Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Edward Norton, Bill Hader, David Krumholtz, Kristen Wiig, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride.

sausage_party

 

Pete’s Dragon (Family Fantasy Adventure – Walt Disney Productions)

Based on the original film, Pete’s Dragon follows the adventures of Pete (Oakes Fegley), an orphan boy who lives in the forest with his best friend Elliot, who happens to be a dragon. The film looks pretty good to be honest, and the team involved really leaves me hopeful. Pete’s Dragon also stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, Wes Bentley, Oona Laurence, Craig Hall, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and Robert Redford.

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19th

Kubo and the Two Strings (Animation – Laika Entertainment/Focus Features)

Travis Knight, the lead animator for films like ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls finally directs a film with Kubo and the Two Strings that follows Kubo, who lives quiet normal life in a small shoreside village until a spirit from the past turns his life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo who, in order to survive, must locate a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior. The animation looks pretty interesting and the voice cast is really up there with Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew McConaughey, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and George Takei. Laika has been hit-or-miss for me, but Kubo and the Two Strings looks like a hit to me.

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War Dogs (Comedy Drama – Warner Bros./The Mark Gordon Company/Green Hat Films)

Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover movies),War Dogs, tells a true story of two young men, David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. I wasn’t convinced about the film before I saw the trailers, and the film looks decently funny. The film also stars Ana de Armas, Shaun Toub, and Bradley Cooper.

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Ben-Hur (Historical Epic Adventure Drama – Paramount Pictures/MGM/Sean Daniel Company)

A remake of the classic film, Ben-Hur, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, follows a falsely accused nobleman, Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) who survives years of slavery to take vengeance on his best friend, Messala (Toby Kebbell) who betrayed him. I actually haven’t seen the original, so I don’t know what to base it on too much. However, the film itself looks just okay. Ben-Hur also stars Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Moises Arias, Haluk Bilginer, Marwan Kenzari, Pilou Asbeek, Alessandro Giuggiolo, Rodrigo Santoro and Morgan Freeman.

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26th

Limited Release: Southside with You (Biography Romance Drama)

The film that tells the story of future President of the United States, Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers), and the date in the summer of 1989 with his future wife and First Lady Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter).

 

Limited Release: Blood Father (Action Thriller)

An ex-con (Mel Gibson) reunites with his estranged wayward 16-year old daughter (Erin Moriarty) to protect her from drug dealers who are trying to kill her. Basically, this is Mel Gibson’s Taken, and it looks okay based on the trailer. The film also stars William H. Macy, Elisabeth Rohm, Diego Luna, Thomas Mann, Raoul Trujillo and Michael Parks.

 

Limited Release: The Hollars (Comedy Drama)

Directed by John Krasinski – and he also stars – a man returns to his small hometown after learning that his mother has fallen ill and is about to undergo surgery. The film has an A-list cast of Anna Kendrick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Sharlto Copley, Charlie Day, Randall Park, Josh Groban, Mary Kay Place, Richard Jenkins and Margo Martindale.

 

Mechanic: Resurrection (Action Thriller – Summit Entertainment/Millennium Films)

A surprising sequel to the 2011 films that sees Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) who thought he had put his murderous past behind him when an old foe kidnaps the love of his life. Now he’s forced to travel the globe to complete three impossible assassinations, and make them look like accidents, which is what he does best. I didn’t mind the first movie, but I’m kind of surprised that they are going to make a sequel, but I’m more surprised with the cast that they got with Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Sam Hazeldine, and Michelle Yeoh.

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Hands of Stone (Biography Drama – The Weinstein Company/Fuego Fims/Epicetral Studios)

Follows the legendary boxer Roberto Duran, played by Edgar Ramirez,  and his equally legendary trainer Ray Arcel, played by Robert De Niro, change each other’s lives. I’ve been strangely looking forward to this for a while now, and I hope it turns out great. Of course it helps that the film has a great cast in John Turturro, Ana de Armas, Ellen Barkin, Reg E. Cathey, Usher Raymond, Oscar Jaenada, and Ruben Blades

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Don’t Breathe (Thriller – Sony Pictures/TriStar Pictures/Ghost House Pictures/Good Universe)

A group of teens break into a blind man’s home thinking they’ll get away with the perfect crime. However, they soon find out they were very wrong. The film is directed by Fede Alvarez, who directed the Evil Dead remake, which I really liked – and he’s reuniting with Jane Levy – so I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table. Early reviews have been almost nothing but positive, and trailer shows why. Don’t Breathe also stars Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, and Stephen Lang also star.

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So, what are you looking forward to?