Hugo Capsules: The Movies

Better late than never. As it is now nomination season for this year’s Hugos, it seemed an appropriate time (if it can be called that) to belatedly finish and post my reviews of last year’s nominees, and offer my thoughts on contenders for this year’s awards.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

1. Interstellar

Phenomenal. A tour-de-force. The science is hard, the effects are fantastic, the visuals imaginative and gorgeous. The filmmakers put so much effort into getting the science right that an actual scientific paper was published as a result of research done for the film. If a science fiction film that leads to actual scientific discovery isn’t worthy of a Hugo, I don’t know what is. But that is not all. This film is a triumphant celebration of the wonder of Creation, courage and fortitude, reason and knowledge, and familial love. It is a condemnation and rebuke of utilitarianism, political correctness, and cowardice. “The glory of God is man fully alive,” and that glory is on full display here. This film was, for me, both the best science fiction film of the year, and the best religious one (and I say that not as a snarky science-worshiper, but as a Roman Catholic).

2. Edge of Tomorrow/Live. Die. Repeat./All You Need is Kill

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

Ranking the middle of the pack was quite difficult, as all of these films were well executed, and highly enjoyable. All You Need is Kill (to use the superior original title) edged out the two Marvel films partly by dint of not being a Marvel movie. Much as I love superhero films, I’ve also had seven straight years of them since 2008’s Iron Man. Kill was fresh and different, and had powered armor, and slivers. More important to its higher ranking, it was the most science-fiction qua science-fiction film of the bunch after Interstellar, a science fictional conceit forming the core of its plot, and the climax and resolution hinging on understanding that premise. I also appreciated the understated manner in which the romance was handled.

Winter Soldier was a wonderfully timely cautionary tale about surveillance technology and fascism, and a darn good action flick. Also, it had Captain America and Black Widow in it, and Captain America x Black Widow in it (even if Age of Ultron would later undercut this, but I digress). I was a bit disappointed by the climax however, as big-things-blowing-up-all-over-the-place felt 1) too much like the climax of The Avengers, and 2) clashed with the more intimate scope of the rest of the story. The film’s ringing praise of liberty and hatred of fascism earned it its spot above Guardians of the Galaxy, which was no less enjoyable, but which had less lofty goals, and chiefly concerned itself with being the best unabashed space opera cinema has seen for too long.

5. The LEGO Movie

I would never have thought to see this on the Hugo ballot, but it made me smile to do so. As someone who grew up with the wonderful toys, this movie was great fun for me, with it’s wacky inventiveness, and lack of cynicism. A few elements have come to bug me more after re-watching it several times: Batman’s jerkiness is quite funny the first time around, but becomes one-dimensional and less funny upon repeated viewing; and Wildstyle is ultimately not a very interesting character, and at times she seems to exist just for the screenplay to rebuke her and make Emmet look cool in comparison. Bear in mind though, that this is after many viewings, which the film was good enough to merit.

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Posted on February 10, 2016, in Film Discussion, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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