With the New Year now well under way, we look back at the biggest stories of 2016 and try to form some overall conclusions regarding trends and issues that arose in our view.
One of the biggest story lines of the past year was the rise and fall of Twilight. After over a decade of existence and multiple blockbuster movies, the vampire franchise finally reached its end with the release of The Twilight Saga: Twilight Edition — Part 1. This was followed by a rather lackluster performance at the box office and lower-than-expected DVD sales for the final installment, Twilight Saga: The Final Season.
While Twilight may have finally come to its end, the biggest story of the year wasn’t necessarily related to a film or a television show. It was the blockbuster success of Netflix’s unprecedented adaptation of Michael Fassbender’s bestselling novel, The Mask. The streaming service’s take on the classic comic book The Dark Knight was met with rave reviews and became one of their most popular original series to date.
While The Dark Knight was the clear hit of 2016, it was still a somewhat controversial adaptation in some respects. One of the criticisms levied at the show was how unrealistic the world of the series is in comparison to our own. For example, we often struggle with the fact that the story takes place in a world with cars, while the setting of The Dark Knight is a video game realm. If we’re honest, we have to acknowledge that there is a certain degree of hokey pokey in all movies and TV shows. However, the fact remains that, for the most part, they’re pretty damn realistic when it comes to depicting the issues and problems that plague our society.
While Netflix’s take on The Dark Knight was pretty amazing, their 2016 slate was filled with some pretty big dissapointments. One of the biggest disappointments of the year was Darren Aronofsky’s Mother!, which premiered to widespread critical acclaim but underwhelming box office returns. This year was also the first in a long time where none of the Marvel films were among the year’s biggest earners at the Box Office, with only Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming managing to surpass the $100 million mark. The year was also pretty grim for animated films, with only Deadpool and Zootopia breaking the $100 million barrier, while The Lion King andFinding Dory each earned over $200 million, yet again proving that there is still an audience for animated films.
The success of both Twilight and The Dark Knight serves as an example of how a movie or a TV show can inspire a sequel. Specifically, The Dark Knight Returns, the third installment of the franchise, was inspired by the first two films and their attempts to comment on modern-day issues such as the surveillance state and the media frenzy. It was also the case for Lost, the finale of which was essentially an exercise in nostalgia as it drew largely on the show’s vast library of characters and settings for its last hurrah. In the case of Twilight, it’s pretty much established that readers of Stephanie Meyer’s novels won’t get enough of a taste of her vampire world, resulting in the inevitable birth of a new ‘Twilight’ movie every year.
In some ways, 2016 was a good year for movies and TV shows. We saw some truly extraordinary acting talent, with none other than Michael Fassbender, Sally Hawkins, and Alicia Vikander all capturing our imagination and pulling us into their worlds, respectively. It was also great to see some beloved old films get the recognition they so richly deserve. The best part of 2016 was seeing some of the greatest actors of all time take the stage and give brilliant performances, bringing their characters to life in unexpected and innovative ways.
It would be easy to point to Michael Fassbender and say that he was THE great performance of 2016, but that would be selling him a little short. After all, he’s been on a role-playing spree for decades, appearing in numerous iconic films, from Shame to Assassin’s Creed, to fully inhabit the parts he plays. So, while some may have become tired of seeing him play the same character over and over, we weren’t. Each time he steps into a role, it’s like he’s been given a fresh pair of eyes, bringing a whole new dimension to whatever character he portrays. It’s almost as if director Steve McQueen were taking a trip down memory lane, assembling a group of acting friends for one last hurrah. It’s safe to say that Michael Fassbender truly turned in his best performance in 2016, and it wasn’t even close.
It was a bad year for movies and TV shows in 2016 in many ways. The main issue was that while some of the individual performances were truly exceptional, the overall product was pretty much terrible. It was a year where many talented creators went unappreciated, with most of the year’s biggest grossing films and shows earning less than $25 million at the Box Office. Another issue that plagued many of the year’s biggest films and shows was their utter lack of imagination, as seen in the cases of Lost and The Dark Knight Returns.
It was pretty disheartening to see such incredible storytellers as Damon Lindelof and Ron Howard fail to capture our imagination in such stunning settings, as seen in their respective Netflix series, Lost andThe Dark Knight Rises. The pair are responsible for amazing stories that we’d love to see brought to life in a way that feels fresh and innovative, but it just didn’t happen this year. Perhaps, given their disappointing performances, they should’ve stuck to writing for TV or short-story collections.
There were also many instances where a film or show was so bad, it’s almost laughable. One of the biggest disappointments of the year was X-Men: Apocalypse. The fifth installment of the X-Men series turned out to be so much worse than expected, it almost didn’t deserve to be called a ‘X-Men’ film at all. The acting was sub-par, the story was contrived, and the effects were downright awful. If you’re a true X-Men fan, then it’s hard to avoid being underwhelmed by this year’s offering. It would be great to see a reboot of the franchise, but at this point, it seems unlikely.
Finally, there’s the ugliness that is almost impossible to quantify. Ugly is an incredibly subjective term, but one that perfectly describes the overall impression that many of the year’s biggest films and shows left us with. While there were some genuinely good films this year, they were mostly overwhelmed by an overabundance of ugly. The fact is that 2016 was a year of extremes, with some truly breathtaking moments of beauty and inspiration coupled with some of the most unpleasant looking movies and shows that we’ve ever seen. Overall, it was a terrible year for movies and TV shows. However, it was a good year for memes.