Thinking about my favourite film of the year, my mind drifted back to June and to Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins. The initial news of a Wonder Woman film filled me with joy, though as the release date inched closer I did begin to worry. DC and Warner Bros’ fare over the past four years have been less than stellar and I worried that this film might share its’ fate with the film that introduced us to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. However, when the moment came I really enjoyed the movie. Wonder Woman’s action set pieces were wonderfully shot and showed off the uniqueness of the character in a way that the other films that have featured her haven’t yet. There is a tendency for strong female characters to be represented a particular way. It’s always about comparing the character to the capability of the men in her life, rather than as a person. The final battle of the film worked for me. I’m not one to view a film twice. Once I’ve seen it, I like to think about the future possibilities that the story offers. When Wonder Woman 2 arrives, I’ll be in the theatre, beaming once more.
Earlier this year, my mind was jostling between the two Marvel movies I saw this year (Guardians Vol. 2 and Thor Ragnarok) over which one would win out. However, recently a third and definitive contender emerged. I’ve kept this one mostly under my hat because this is an oddly divisive film. Just by the word divisive, you’ve probably guessed it. My film of 2017 is indeed The Last Jedi. When it comes to films, two things weigh heavily on my opinion. The writing primarily, and the themes. Last Jedi does some interesting things with themes. As was highlighted to me, this new trilogy of SW films is essentially a new generation of creatives reflecting on the original trilogy in a meta sense. Rey and Kylo Ren are obsessed with the mythos of the original stories. Rey, following from the last film, has an idyllic view of this past after Han told her that the old stories are all true. Well, as the adage goes, never meet your heroes. While everyone’s image of Luke is defined by his greatest deeds in the OT, this new Luke defines himself by his largest failure. Rey and Kylo grapple with the legacy of the past. Kylo is determined to kill the past. Rey believes that there is something worth saving from the past. This defines her connection to Kylo.
Now to Finn’s story. Finn in The Force Awakens was about running away from the First Order, which determined his arc in that film. Only at the end of the film does he find something worth fighting for, his friend Rey. This film sees him running towards Rey, even if that means abandoning the Resistance. This was never his cause, just an escape from the First Order. Finn then sees the damage that the First Order and their supporters have done on Canto Bight and decides that there is something worth fighting for.
Finally, Poe’s arc in the film is about learning not to think like a fighter. His inability to trust those in power leads him to instigate a plan that leaves the Resistance even more vulnerable than if he had just trusted in them.
Are there problems with each story? Sure. However, I think that despite its imperfections that its still saying something important. Each character is looking to define themselves in the world. Each character deals with the past and how their mentor’s ideologies are affecting them. From Rey’s relationship to Luke, to Kylo’s relationship to Snoke, to Poe’s relationship with Leia. Each is rebelling against their mentors convinced that they know better when they still have much to learn. I think there’s a lot of valuable theoretical stuff in this film that I feel I can’t sum up in an end of year list. So, while Guardian’s 2 made me cry this year, and Thor Ragnarok made me laugh, Last Jedi made me think and that makes it my film of 2017.
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