As somebody who grew up watching movies, and then rewatching them over and over again, you’d think that I would love movies in 2019. Marvel is at the top of their game, Star Wars is back, and nostalgia is the currency of the realm. Again, you’d think that I would love movies in 2019 . . . but I don’t. I’ve seen twenty-two films this year, and though I liked a few of them well enough, not a single one has done for me what films like Clerks, Kingdom of Heaven, or Blade Runner have done. Though each is filled with unique problems and set pieces to help move the narrative forward, they feel lackluster, like they’ve lost their excitement. In a year where I’ve really needed an escape, I haven’t found them in movies . . . but that doesn’t mean I haven’t watched any. Here’s my list from 2019, as well as some older ones. They’re in no particular order.
Alita Battle Angel
It didn’t exactly do the numbers that Fox had hoped, but Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of Alita Battle Angel is probably my favorite movie of 2019. They did something with this property that very few filmmakers could . . . they made a good manga adaptation. Perhaps it was due to the James Cameron money in their budget, but there was something about Alita that other live-action adaptations like Ghost in the Shell, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Dragonball couldn’t . . . they made the world feel believable. The future of this film is up in the air, but I really hope Fox/Disney decides to move forward with the adaptation of the next volume.
Do you remember that feeling of disappointment you’d get when you were younger, after opening a Christmas or birthday present only to find clothes? That’s how I felt when I went to see Hellboy. This character spent a long time in production hell (no pun intended), while studios tried to figure out what to do with him. Guillermo Del Toro did two moderately successful films and had planned to make a third, but the budget wasn’t there and neither was his time. When he finally decided he was ready to do it, it was too late. A reboot was in production. This reboot stars David Harbour (of Stranger Things) in the role of the big, red guy, and while he did a great job, the script and story was truly awful. They took too many elements of the comic book and mixed them together with things that weren’t in the comic book to make something truly disappointing. Sadly, it’ll also probably be the reason we won’t see Hellboy back on the big screen for a long time to come.
3) Dragonball Super: Broly
Okay . . . so this one was actually REALLY cool. In 2019, nostalgia really is the currency of the realm, and when I heard this movie was coming out, I was only too eager to give them my money. Not only did they finally make Broly part of the Dragonball cannon, they wrote a story that actually made me feel the magic that I felt as a kid, watching Dragonball Z on Toonami. For the ninety minutes this movie runs, I wasn’t an adult longing for an escape, I was a kid with nothing to do but watch Dragonball, and I loved every minute of it.
4) Captain Marvel
And the award for 2019’s most overhyped movie goes to . . . Captain Marvel. In this final Avenger’s End Game lead up, Brie Larson takes on the Skrulls and the male sex in an epic two hour showdown between Earth’s mightiest hero(in?) and an alien species that changes shape, all while taking you back to the ’90s. While not my favorite film, I did appreciate the shoutouts to Kevin Smith and the era I grew up in.
5) Triple Frontier
So this was a movie . . . and it was made in 2019. I’m trying to come up with good things to say about this one, but I really can’t think of any. The cast is great, the acting is solid, but the movie is just not exciting in the least bit. It took me four nights to get all the way through it. It’s a movie . . . that’s all I can say about it.
6) Avengers: End Game
When it comes to superheroes, the only thing more epic than the team-up between Disney and Marvel was the team-up between Earth’s mightiest heroes and the ripples it will forever leave in the landscape of pop culture. In 2019, the past ten years of Marvel films came to their penultimate conclusion . . . and it was breath-taking. Where will our favorite heroes go from here? Who knows? I personally can’t wait.
7) Under the Silver Lake
Since the beginning of motion pictures, the film industry has considered itself at the forefront of creating moving art. I’ve never actually believed that to be true until I watched Under the Silver Lake. This movie is . . . well, it’s a movie. To say that I wasn’t entertained would be a lie, but to also say that I understood it, would be an even bigger lie. Andrew Garfield’s performance was fantastic . . . I just wish I understood what he was doing and why. What I did get was the reference to his departure from the role of Spider-Man, which was done quite well.
8) How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I’m not crying, you’re crying! The animated film genre has been conquered by Disney for so long, but their movies have always been lacking one crucial thing . . . emotion. This is something that DreamWorks has got nailed down. Since the beginning the world of How to Train Your Dragon has been vibrant in storytelling, color, and emotion, taking you all over the spectrum in terms of filmmaking. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve also never cried during an animated film until this one. Don’t tell anybody.
9) Mobile Suit Gundam NT
Have you ever watched a movie and then walked away just nodding you’re head and saying, okay? That was me after watching Mobile Suit Gundam NT. For those of you (probably all of you) who aren’t into Gundam. This film takes place after Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn a series that takes dwells in the main Gundam universe, otherwise known as the UC timeline, where kids known as new-types are raised to pilot machines of war called Gundams. The only problem is when the psycho-frame that powers their mobile suits causes them to merge with them, removing their humanity. Anyway, if that didn’t confuse you enough and you still want to watch it, send me an email and please explain it to me.
10) Detective Pikachu
I’ve had a few arguments with Gerald Glassford over at the Pop Culture Cosmos about this one. He wasn’t a fan of Detective Pikachu. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed it. I didn’t think Pokemon would work in a live-action setting, and I was wrong. Humble-pie, eaten. While Ryan Reynolds got a little annoying as Pikachu, Justice Smith did an astounding job carrying the film from start to finish. Whether you’re a fan of Pokemon or not, Detective Pikachu is a film worth watching.
11) Spider-Man: Far From Home
What does the Marvel Cinematic Universe look like in a post-End Game world? It looks the same as it always has, which is either a really good thing or a really bad thing? I’ll admit that after seeing Avengers: End Game, I had some serious Marvel burnout, especially after hearing the announcements about all of the Marvel series coming to Disney Plus. Give us a break, for crying out loud. I went to see Spider-Man: Far From Home while on vacation in Washington, and it was okay. It was entertaining. That being said, Spider-Man resonates with people because he handles serious issues that we all face. While this movie was entertaining, it felt more like a comedy and less like a movie about a hero with consequences.
Shazam! Don’t forget that exclamation mark! Whenever I start thinking that DCEU needs to have a hard reset, they release something that’s actually good. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought their offerings thus far have been okay, but let’s be honest . . . there’s been quite a few mistakes. I don’t know if that’s thanks to Zach Snyder leaving the Justice League project, studio intervention, or marketing, but Shazam! came out of nowhere. I wasn’t expecting this film to be good, but for the DCEU’s follow-up to Aquaman, it was a very worthy offering. Plus, let’s not forget that this is the second time Mark Strong has been defeated in DC films.
13) They Shall Not Grow Old
I have never watched a film that has truly taken the breath from my lungs until seeing They Shall Not Grow Old. This is a film that will forever be ingrained in my memories. It’s heartbreaking, inspiring, and horrifying all at the same time. Peter Jackson did an amazing job at restoring the black and white film from World War I. He did such a great job that you can’t unsee some of the things you witness in this film. Watch it, mourn it, and God bless the fallen.
14) Godzilla: The Planet Eater
Godzilla movies have always been pretty simple. Man spills chemicals, Godzilla destroys Japan, and then Godzilla fights monsters. Does it get any simpler than that? No, but it does get a lot more complicated. In the Netflix “anime” films revolving around Godzilla, man has been floating in space since Godzilla took over their planet. After returning home to find that nature has consumed the Earth, they try to destroy the King of Monsters, but thanks to some religious cult, destroying Godzilla might not be the best idea. Watch this one . . . or don’t. You’re not missing much.
15) Godzilla: King of the Monsters
At it’s core, Godzilla King of the Monsters is a movie about stupid people doing stupid things. In fact, that should be the synopsis. Who knew that you could save the Earth by letting a bunch of monsters destroy it. That makes plenty of sense. This continuation of Gareth Edwards’ 2014 monster film sees the crypto-zoological agency Monarch once again making a mess of things in the name of science. With three films under their belt, Legendary’s monster creature universe is shaping up to be something of a disaster. Godzilla is going to be fighting King Kong next. Will it make sense? Probably not. I just want to see things get destroyed with as little story as possible. Is that so much to ask for?
I didn’t think a live-action version of Aladdin would work. I was wrong . . . kind of. Aladdin was one of the many films Disney gave the live-action treatment in 2019. I had high hopes because the director just happens to be one of my favorite filmmakers, the man, the myth, the legend, Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch). Seeing how Guy Ritchie is the king of crime capers and Aladdin is a film about a thief, it felt like it was going to be a home run. In the end, it was more of a film that kind of walked the bases after getting hit by the pitcher. It was okay. It made it home, but it felt like it was lacking quite a bit. You could also see, clear as day, the places where Guy Ritchie’s famous editing and cinematography was axed by Disney in exchange for more conventional filmmaking. It had such potential.
17) Men In Black: International
Many years have passed since the debut of Will Smith’s Agent J in the original Men in Black. Two sequels later, they decided it was time to reboot. They threw on a new paint job, took away all the things that made the first one good, casted Thor and made him an alcoholic. I really wanted to like this movie, and while it certainly had its entertaining moments, it feels like nothing more than a pale shadow of what this franchise used to be.
18) The Curse of LaLorona
I went into this movie not expecting much, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The Curse of LaLLorona keeps it simple with practical effects and a straight-forward storyline. While it’s advertised as being connected to The Conjuring franchise, you don’t have to see any of the other films to get it. It’s only connected by one character, who is in the film for less than five minutes. If you’re looking for a good horror film that feels old-fashion and fun, this is a good one.
19) Frozen II
What makes a good Disney movie? That’s a tough question, these days. Was Frozen II any good? If by good you mean full of great songs and plenty of plot holes . . . than yeah. Frozen II was pretty good. When compared to non-Disney films was it good? No, not really. It has its moments, and there are some good songs. That being said, I’d be okay never watching it again.
20) IT: Chapter Two
IT: Chapter One might not have been the perfect film, but it got pretty close. The writing was good, the acting was even better, and the cinematography was the best I’d seen in any film in years. The movie felt like a far more violent and terrifying version of E.T. or Super 8 with a Stranger Things vibe to it. So, you’d think that IT: Chapter Two would hit the ball out of the park. It did, but it also didn’t. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but seeing the Losers as adults wasn’t as fun as seeing them take on Pennywise as kids. Not to mention there’s some things about suicide in the film that make your stomach churn a bit.
21) Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars hasn’t exactly been favored by pop culture junkies. The divide caused by Rian Johnson’s Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is something that sent waves across the internet and is still a point of tension today. This is why a lot of people went into Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker with apprehension. My thoughts are this: the movie was entertaining. There wasn’t anything I blatantly disliked about it. I feel like it was an okay ending to a trilogy that didn’t need to happen. I’ve just been enjoying watching critics try to convince themselves they loved or hated it. At least people are talking about it.
22) The Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw
Cool . . . so this happened. Moving on.
Just kidding. Hobbs and Shaw was a movie, and it was made in 2019. That’s for sure. Was it any good? No . . . and yes. I found myself laughing for the first thirty minutes, loving the over-the-top spectacles and the dialogue between Jason Statham and The Rock. I also loved how self-aware this film was. It was like Crank, but actually entertaining. Then it started to get old. Jokes that should have run their course kept on running. Explosions kept on exploding. The Rock kept on punching things. It was a great idea, but it was repetitive.
Older Films I watched in 2019
23) Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2018)
24) Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)
25) Mortal Engines (2018)
26) Overlord (2018)
27) Christopher Robin (2018)
28) Robin Hood (2018)
29) A Star is Born (2018)
30) The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)
31) Dragonball Z: Resurrection F (2017)
32) Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
33) Kung Fu Killer (2014)
34) Godzilla (2014)
35) Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
36) Robin Hood (2010)
37) Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
38) Sword of the Stranger (2009)
39) Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
40) The Goonies (1985)
41) Men in Black (1997)
42) Men in Black II (2002)
43) Men in Black III (2012)
44) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
45) Independence Day (1996)
46) Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
47) Princess Mononoke (1999)
48) Casper (1995)
49) Dragonball Z: Bojack Unbound (1993)
50) Home Alone (1990)
51) Home Alone 2 (1992)
52) Dragonball Z: Super Android 13 (1992)