My Top 5 Most-Read New Posts in 2016

…and why I think they made the cut.

5) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition
Reviews of alternate cuts always seem to do well for page hits, especially when they’re new releases.

4) The Last Dragonslayer
This had just been on TV, and in fact was repeated on the night I reviewed it; plus there were some retweets. Also, as a TV movie I’d guess it was less widely reviewed, so if you’re looking you’re more likely to find me.

3) Starman
Posted this when it was on Film4 and it got retweeted by their official Twitter account. Normally that’d be enough to get it #1, I think, but not this year.

2) The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
Again, it was on TV the night I reviewed it. And, again, a TV movie… though there were quite a lot of reviews when it aired in the US. Advantage of being in the UK, then, maybe.

1) The Witches of Eastwick
No idea.

The Decadal Monthly Update for December 2016

Happy New Year, dear readers!

And with that, 100 Films’ 10th year is at an end.

Well, apart from the fact that I’ll spend the next few days going on about it, and the blog’s actual 10th birthday is in February, so I’ll go on about it some more then. But in terms of films that will be watched within that first decade, here are the last dozen…


#185a Come Together (2016)
#186 Wizardhood (2016)
#187 Rogue One (2016), aka Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
#188 Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)
#189 Partners in Crime… (2012), aka Associés contre le crime… “L’œuf d’Ambroise”
#190 Dragon (2011), aka Wu xia
#191 Our Kind of Traitor (2016)
#192 Mr. Nobody (2009)
#193 Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), aka Hauru no ugoku shiro
#194 The Tale of Zatoichi Continues (1962), aka Zoku Zatôichi monogatari
#195 The Last Dragonslayer (2016)
#195a Suicide Squad: Extended Cut (2016)
Rogue One

Dragon

.


  • My final total for 2016: 195 new films. Slightly less than last year; way above every other year. (More on this kind of thing in the next few days.)
  • I watched exactly ten new feature films this month, making it the 31st consecutive month to reach double figures.
  • This year’s WDYMYHS / Blindspot list is rounded out by Miyazaki fantasy Howl’s Moving Castle. I’ve not even started thinking about 2017’s list yet…
  • The Jim Carrey Christmas Carol was my only Christmassy film all season — and I thought it was crap. Poor Christmas. (I guess Scrooge and It’s a Wonderful Life are going to sit on my TiVo for the next 11 months…)
  • I finally watched the second Zatoichi movie, only 38 months after the first. Hopefully this will be the start of more regular viewing, because even if I watched the rest of them at a rate of one per month it would take until the start of 2019 to finish.
  • I ended the year with the extended cut of Suicide Squad. I watched the theatrical in November but didn’t get round to reviewing it, so I guess I’ll do them both at once now.



The 19th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
It had its problems, and whether it’s better or less-good than The Force Awakens is still something that’s percolating in my mind, but the film I most enjoyed this month was definitely Rogue One.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
While the French take on Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence in Partners in Crime was certainly (shall we say) off-book, I didn’t think it was a crushing disaster like Disney’s A Christmas Carol. What most amazes me about that is the number of positive reviews online, especially those that praise the animation — I thought it looked cheap and terrible. Maybe it’s just aged badly.

Most Unrealistic CGI Human Beings of the Month
Say what you will about Tarkin, it’s bloody good CGI. On the other hand, thank goodness Robert Zemeckis has returned to live-action films — after The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol, I’ve had enough of his not-real-enough-to-be-in-the-uncanny-valley motion-captured ‘humans’.

Best Donnie Yen of the Month
Between being one with the Force in Rogue One and chopping off an arm to fight the original one-armed swordsman in Dragon, Donnie Yen is the best Donnie Yen in this and every other month.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
It looked like a certain Star Wars story was going to easily bag this award, until a pair of unexpected last-minute sweeps knocked it down to third. First its place was taken by a martial arts bear’s threequel, but that too was leapfrogged — within just a single day as well — by my review of Sky1’s The Last Dragonslayer.



The final selection from my favourites includes superheroes, comic book adaptations, and superhero comic book adaptations. Plus cartoons come to life and a moody literature adaptation.


Oh, forget January — I’ve got a bunch of 2016 stuff to post yet! There’s the full list of my 2016 viewing, my bottom five, my top ten (or so), the major new films I missed, the 36 reviews I haven’t gotten round to… and, of course, the highlight of the entire year: the statistics.

Good times.

The Last Dragonslayer (2016)

2016 #195
Jamie Stone | 101 mins | download (HD) | 2.00:1 | UK / English

The Last DragonslayerI’m not sure whether to commend or condemn Sky1 for having the balls to schedule a light family-friendly fantasy drama against Doctor Who on Christmas Day — that seems like damning yourself to low ratings. But then Sky never exactly stands at the pinnacle of the charts, and, in the catch-up-driven landscape of modern TV, does it even matter? I mean, as if to show their disregard for schedules, the premiere broadcast was actually at 3am the night before.

Anyway: adapted from the novel by Jasper Fforde (the first in a series, as will eventually become clear), The Last Dragonslayer is the story of Jennifer Strange (Ellise Chappell), a teenage orphan living in the Ununited Kingdom (a name never uttered on screen, perhaps for fear of looking like political commentary in the current climate). This is an alternate-world Britain where magic exists but is on the wane — it’s powered by dragons, but they’re dying out; besides which, the public have become more enamoured with things like technology and supermarkets. Adopted by the kindly wizard Zambini (Andrew Buchan), Jennifer learns about the importance of magic, and the importance of dragons to magic, which is a bit of a problem when the country’s seers have a mass vision that the last dragon will be slain on Sunday, and shortly thereafter Jennifer discovers her long-prophesied role as the last official dragonslayer.

Jennifer StrangeAbout now you’re probably thinking The Last Dragonslayer is completely derivative of every other major young-adult fantasy franchise of the last… well, forever. It’s hard to deny that the plot is, at least in its broadest thematic strokes, a pretty familiar affair. What makes the enterprise worthwhile is its humorous execution. This isn’t a spoof of the genre, more a satirical mash-up of familiar fantasy building blocks and modern life. So, for example, the king’s chief knight is also a pop star, followed around by a gaggle of adoring female fans; when Jennifer finds herself in need of money, her dragonslaying assistant signs a sponsorship deal with soft drink brand Fizzipop that requires her to film an advert, make at least two promotional appearances, and wear a branded T-shirt until the dragon is slain. It’s this whimsical slant on our world that is arguably Dragonslayer’s most successful aspect.

Another would be its characters. Chappell makes Jennifer a capable hero without having to resort to the kind of self-serious moping that dogs so many current young adult leads (Katniss, I’m looking at you). Buchan also gets to move away from the moping that’s so often called for in series like Broadchurch, making the affectionate, skilful Zambini an easily likeable character within just a few deceptively simple scenes. Without meaning to spoil the plot, he’s not in it enough. The slack is taken up by the likes of Pauline Collins and Ricky Tomlinson as a pair of batty magicians, Matt “Toast” Berry as the immature monarch, and Anna Chancellor as the smarmy corporate head of supermarket giant Stuff Co. The only weak like for me was Richard E. Grant as the voice of Maltcaisson, the last dragon — it just didn’t feel like he had the vocal presence to be playing a huge majestic beast. But not everyone can be John Hurt or Benedict Cumberbatch, I suppose.

Dragon breathI guess The Last Dragonslayer’s irreverent, sometimes silly tone won’t be to all tastes, but I enjoyed it very much. Unsurprisingly (all things considered) the book is the first in a series, and so not everything is fully resolved by the film’s end. Let’s hope that, in spite of their scheduling, it’s done well enough for Sky that sequels are forthcoming.

4 out of 5