Of the new films released in 2022, I watched twelve and thought an arbitrary numbered list run down of what I thought of them would be a good way to summarise my thoughts on what 2022 offered me. Films ranked in descending order with twelve being the worst film I watched this year, and one being the best film I watched this year.
12: Thor Love and Thunder
This was y far the biggest disappointment this year. I do like Marvel movies – it just so happens I cover the ones I don’t like on this site. And Thor Love and Thunder was one I was looking forward to because I thought Ragnarok was good, and I enjoyed Thor’s character in Infinity War and Endgame. But instead of any kind of good follow up, Thor instead got one of the laziest sequels since… Well, since Thor the Dark World. Not a single moment of this film feels lived in by anyone. It reeks of “I have a contract to fill” being the only motivation behind it’s very existence. The director, writer and actors are doing all this because they were told to, not because they want to. Bad movies can still be good. But this isn’t just a bad movie, it’s soulless.
11. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
This movie has one good scene where Wanda murders a bunch of superheroes. Unfortunately, that scene is so reliant on fan service that I don’t feel any casual cinema-goes could just watch and get the most out of it. The same can be said of the plot and characters, which are set up by a TV show over double the length of this film. This movie is what the MCU is now; watch X to understand X, so when you see X you will clap. It never feels like it stands on it’s own two feet, and is constantly at risk of giving way if you don’t follow the genre religiously. On top of all this, it throws in a bunch of new concepts and characters to further bloat itself. In short, it’s a mess. And not the type you can’t look away from.
10. The Batman
I liked what The Batman was going for, and enjoyed it’s commentary on what superhero movies have been reduced to and what they used to be. The idea of giving one of the heroes most notably known for using martial arts on street thugs and playing mind games with maniacs an arc about learning to save people, not just punch baddies, is good even if it only works because of how over saturated and stale the genre has become. But the movie takes its sweet time getting there and a solid 30% of it isn’t as engaging as it thinks it is. When it comes to live action adaptations, Batman and his rouge gallery have become somewhat pretentious characters – the you lack the IQ to understand them of the superhero genre. And that is on display here. Ironed out and cut down, this could have ranked much better.
9. Day Shift
Welcome to the first film on this list I actually enjoyed… Even if it wasn’t for the right reasons. This is a lazily written movie not just in how generic the characters and plot are, but in how dumb it is for Vampires to live in the desert and want more of their kind to do so. On the other hand it qualifies as dumb fun and, when watched under the ‘I had a long day and need to switch off‘ context, is extremely entertaining. There’s some good comedic chemistry between the leads, enough wit that you enjoy the dialogue, but not so much wit that you feel oppressed by it being overwritten. And the action – which is why you watch this type of movie – is on point.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
A short film, only 44 minutes long, but with exact same amount of talent and heart behind it as any other of Gunn’s work in the MCU. Say what you want about the franchise, and of Gunn’s work in it, but there is clearly a lot of passion and style behind his Guardians films that set them apart from the others. And it’s no different for this. The plot is that Peter Quill is having a bad Christmas, so Drax and Mantis abduct his childhood hero, Kevin Bacon, from Earth to appease him. Antics ensue. There might be a bit of padding in the Hollywood walk of fame scene, and Chris Pratt might not look like he’s 100% into the special (thankfully he only has a small role), but other than that it’s very solid.
Yet another Predator movie… But one that’s actually good. Returning the franchise to simpler roots, with the only gimmick being that it’s set in the 1800’s, it might be true Prey that lacks any ambition, but also true that it works very effectively within it’s imposed limits. The setting and depiction of how this Predator hunts carry the film, and there’s interesting action scenes regarding just how people with limited technology would approach fighting the Predator. And that’s really all there is to say. What it does well, it does very well. The main criticism is that, perhaps, it could have done more.
6. Violent Night
It’s hard not to enjoy Violent Night unless you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps going into it. It’s just as willing to indulge in it’s own silliness as it is to try and make you smile. Full of cliché’s from all sorts of Christmas movies, but also subversive story routes like Santa being revealed to have once been a Viking berserker, Violent Night is a perfectly good Christmas action film that anyone can safely switch on and enjoy.
5. Do Revenge
I’m not normally into the teen drama genre with the over exaggerated high school setting, full of characters (supposedly 16-17 years old) who operate like high functioning sociopaths… But Do Revenge does it with just enough self awareness that it pays off. And with a twist as surprisingly good as this one’s, there’s plenty of reason to watch it beyond the surface level comedy these movies typically offer. The main problem this genre has is that so many of the films within feel a dime a dozen, and what makes Do Revenge stand out is that it doesn’t feel that way. If I only liked the previous films on this list, this would be the first I thoroughly enjoyed watching.
4. Halloween Ends
My ultimate contrarian opinion this year: that Halloween Ends deserves the number four spot on my favourite movies of the year list. What can I say? It feels self aware. Michael is 70 and gets the crap beaten out of him in every movie, and seeing him pathetically weak in this one just feels right. I liked the characters of Corey and Alison, their relationship to Laurie and how the three descend into a very different kind of Halloween madness. 90% of this film I’d say is remarkably good, considering how luke-warm this new Halloween trilogy has been. But the ending misses the mark so much, I can’t reasonably put this any higher. As I said in my review, it feels very studio mandated; like the executives DEMANDED a Michael vs Laurie fight, no matter how much it worked against what the rest of the film was going for. So yeah, it’s far from perfect, but also a pleasant surprise.
3. Everything Everywhere All At Once
This movie is a joy. A lot of modern cinema can feel quite edgy and dark… This movie’s sole goal is to make you smile, and it works. The tone and plot are utterly charming. It takes itself seriously enough that the emotional gymnastics land, but not so much that you’re oppressively consumed by the science fiction, multiverse nonsense (*cough Doctor Strange *cough*). I think because the multiverse isn’t the leg this film stands on, but a unique way of telling this kind of story, is why it stands out amongst the swarm of other alternate reality fiction out there. The true leg this film stands on is the main character and her relationships to everyone else around her. Truly brilliant, and I’d recommend it as a must watch of this year.
2. The Northman
I love a good revenge tale, particularly violent and dark ones. The Northman scratches that itch more than enough. It’s a decent into insanity for the blood-lusted lead and might have you feeling more sympathy for the guy he’s gunning after. Or whatever sympathy you can have for such a man. Disappointing the film dropped off so quickly, since I enjoyed all the ambiguous mythology stuff and actually found myself appreciating the shots in this film… What can I say, shot-reverse-shot blockbusters have melted my brain and I don’t really absorb technical stuff in movies so much as a result. But The Northman was a nice reminder of how one can take a simple story – one that may have been told before – and put your own mark on it by telling it really damn well.
1. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
I enjoyed the original Knives Out but I would never say I loved it or was over the moon for it, which is why Glass Onion came as a big surprise when it sucked me in much more effortlessly than the other one had. With less to establish in terms of what to expect from it, I think what helped is that there was more time for the whole crew to jump into the fun. Because what really draws you into this is the crew.
First, and most obviously, the actors. Every single one is having a blast and is an absolute pleasure to watch them do their thing. Daniel Craig, Edward Norton and Dave Bautista particularly stand out as being the sources of energy and conflict this mystery needs to keep you on the edge of your seats. But by the end you’re, surprisingly, sticking around instead for Janelle Monae and satisfying conclusion to her character arc, wherein lies the heart of the film.
After that of course there’s Rian Johnson himself, a man who to this day is still fighting off critics of his divisive Star Wars film and will likely never out run them despite whatever else he makes – Glass Onion being a prime example, as a lot of online discussion around the film’s marketing circled around to it being made by the dude who did The Last Jedi. But who cares. Directors have wins and loses like everyone else in every profession, and in Knives Out and Glass Onion aren’t proof Rian has the straps to produce his fair share of wins, then I don’t think anything will.
None of this to say it all lies on the crew to carry it; the mystery itself is enticing and the film is chalk-full of wit that out does most big budget comedies. Daniel Craig ruining the whole game night Edward Norton had set up before it even began being a comical highlight, and then also a specific joke about sweat shops. All in all it’s an excuse to have a good time by watching something genuinely interesting, that doesn’t rely on a humongous budget and slave pen of CGI artists to provide the entertainment.
There are still a long line of films that came out this year I am interested in seeing, those being Barbarian, The Menu, Nope, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Avatar the Way of Water. I’ll have to get around to them some point in this new year. I would have waited until I’d seen more before making this list, but my viewing habits are such that I probably wouldn’t have seen all of these before 2025.
Speaking of the new year: I have a great announcement to make. After much back and forth with myself, and mentions of it on the blog here and there I have finally settled on a new review series to do. I’ll be diving into another franchise, but perhaps not one you’re at all expecting. That being Transformers! These films are incredibly interesting to me, more interesting than they have any right to be, and I feel like I have a lot to say about them. So keep your eyes peeled for Transformers reviews and start guessing which film I’ll enjoy more than what other film… Although I suppose it’s not going to be too hard to guess how things are going to go. Aside from that, don’t worry, I’ll also be squeezing in reviews of other films that are a bit less bonkers too; I don’t think it’d be medically safe to just leap frog from one Michael Bay film to the next for you as a reader, or me as a viewer.
Finally, seeing as this review is going up on the 1st of January, it’d be rude of me not to wish anyone reading a happy new year. I hope, regardless of how your 2022 went, that 2023 is infinitely better.