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The 5 Best Films of 2019 So Far (Jan-Jun)


Films have been looking good as a whole in the first half of 2019, despite a couple of recent blunders which dampened our spirits (*cough* X-Men Dark Phoenix *cough*). Although certain franchises have been making massive, well-deserved returns, others are just starting out with original titles that have the potential to become so much more. Whilst we've entered the foray of Summer blockbusters, we're taking a minute to look back at the best movies from the last six months.


5. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu



Being proclaimed as the best video game adaptation of all time isn't exactly raising the bar given the lackluster competition. However, Detective Pikachu stands above the failed attempts as an endearing and visually stunning fantasy tale.

Testing the waters with an adaptation of a spin-off (Detective Pikachu on the 3DS) instead of the beloved traditional Pokémon RPGs was the perfect way to gauge the interest of film lovers for a live action Pokémon world without being held under the same scrutiny as other video game movies. In the same way we gasped with wonder at our first viewings of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings films, the land of Rhyme city and the photo-realistic Pokémon that populate it is a mesmerising delight. While the big villain's plot is a bit Saturday morning cartoon-ish and the human protagonist's personality is as flat as a board, it's all fine because it's not the intended novelty of Detective Pikachu. This comes in witnessing a fleshed out universe where these incredible fictional creatures that have been cherished for decades have come to life in the live action medium.


Pikachu himself being voiced by Ryan Reynolds is the icing on this enjoyable cake. Basically being a PG version of Deadpool, his take on the electric mouse is as hilarious as the character's animations are adorable. All-in-all, it's a near-perfect attempt in capturing what we've wanted to see since the late 90's.


4. Shazam
 


At least once when you were growing up, and surely many times since reaching adulthood, you've wondered what it would be like to a superhero. Although you may have not imagined getting your powers from an ancient wizard who's also watching over demon statues, Shazam set itself as a captivating superhero origin story that will remain awe-inspiring to kids for years to come. In the same way previous generations are still elated thinking about Christopher Reeves's Superman, the Zachary Levi-lead Shazam charmed and inspired us with a realistic look at how a teenager would actually react if they suddenly become a superhero, being a touching tale of love for one's family at the centre of this coming-of-age story.

3. Brightburn



Doing a one-eighty on the cheerful Shazam-Superman comparison, what if Superman never even became Superman? Instead of growing up to be a beacon of hope for humanity, the discovery of his lineage and powers at a young age made him a horror for all to fear. That's what was not so subtly explored in Brightburn.

A tongue-in-cheek twist of the definitive superhero origin story, this spectacular horror following an all-powerful adolescent with a god complex is even more fun than the initial premise sounds. Protagonist Brandon is initially a shy but sweet boy who is part of a loving family. However, when he realises he possesses monstrous strength, laser eyes, the ability to fly and the fact he's from another planet, all of his dormant inhibitions come to the surface, slowly transforming him into a sociopath as he realises he can easily do away with whatever he wants.


Brightburn has fantastic cinematography, with perfectly crafted shots that exemplify the happenings and chaos in each scene, despite the film featuring that typical horror trope of constantly making you know what's more or less going to happen. Unlike an undead nun or some haunted doll in another film of the genre, Brandon has more than just one ability. Written as an all-powerful villain, the build-up to the clash with each of Brandon's victims is captivating, shot after shot of teasing his silhouette in the darkness as if he's playing with his food whilst you're guessing what he's going to do.


When these scenes climax, Brightburn's small budget is stretched beyond its limits to present some of the most satisfying jaw-dropping gore, making all of that suspense all the more worthwhile even on a second watch.


Elizabeth Banks is also a treasure and needs to be in more films.


2. Toy Story 4



None of you were overly optimistic for Toy Story 4. No no. You don't have to lie. It's ok. We get it. Why would you have been? Toy Story 3 seemed like the perfect ending. Andy grew up, Woody, Buzz and the other toys eventually came to accept it and they wound up being passed on to a kid of the new generation. When the fourth installment got announced, we all wondered where the story of toys could go from there. Turns out, it wasn't about the group of toys as a whole. It was Woody's story. Somehow, it's as heartwarming as those that came before.

Bonnie, the toy's replacement owner, already had her own room of sentient objects that magically come to life before Andy's came along. A room with their own leader. Demoted from being the Sheriff to a reserve in the closet, Woody felt unneeded and lost. As the surrogate parent Andy didn't know about for all of his life, Woody saw his child go off to college and is reminded in Bonnie's room that his purpose in life has been fulfilled. Initially looking like it was going to be a one-note runaway adventure, Toy Story 4 blew us away by having one of the characters we missed in 3 return: Bo Peep.


Deciding to make her more than just the generic love interest she was in the first two films, Bo Peep actually has a personality. This change in character makes for a more realistic relationship between her and Woody, with both banter and sweet moments. Their first scene together during Toy Story 4's prologue was already enough to drive a few to tears. The tender moments shared between these two is further added to by the film's astonishing animation. It's amazing to see how far Pixar's animation has come in Toy Story's 24-year series run. There's one shot in particular with Woody and Bo Peep stood under a car with rain pouring down in the background that contained so much vivid detail that it doesn't look like animation anymore, but almost like real life.


Unexpectedly, this is even the funniest Toy Story 4. Forky, our new favourite utensil with googly eyes, is the most marvelous piece of trash you'll ever see. Bunny and Ducky, voiced by comedy duo Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key have a few scenes that actually made us laugh harder than at any Pixar film ever.


1. Avengers: Endgame



It's three hours in length and you may not even know what's going on if you haven't seen a Marvel film before but for anyone even slightly interest in Endgame, which was a lot of people, this was the event of the decade.

What was the conclusion of the story with Thanos as the central protagonist, Infinity War left us feeling empty and hopeless. Endgame immediately kept that feeling of the good guys not always winning going for us, as the Avengers supposedly have their last hope snapped out, before the heroes get given a new one and it became their story again. Endgame's writing kept effortlessly subverting our expectations. Nearly all of us all knew what the end result was going to be but the Russo Brothers kept proving us wrong as to how they were going to get there, in addition to who may get lost along the way.


With less characters to work with than its predecessor, Endgame used its smaller cast for more intimate moments with alot more comedy. As a way of giving us breaks from all of the existential dread, the development of these characters from over the years was better than anything we could have expected. The acts were seamlessly broken up, each obviously being bigger than the last, making its massive runtime almost seem half of what it actually was.


Our reactions to the heroics, the deaths and conclusions to the rest of the arcs in the Infinity Saga storyline are still intense with emotion in a way that can only be achieved after 11 years of being invested in these characters. Our vocal gasps, cheers and tears were the result of fantastic writing, universe building and the best performances we could have ever imagined from a comic book film.


Love you 3,000.

 
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