There was simply too much released in 2021 to catch everything that I wanted to, or intended to see before the end of the year. That’s either a great thing or a bad thing depending on your schedule. In either case, with the influx of movies being released every single week, I managed to catch some fantastic gems that kept me entertained, thriller, and stunned. 2021 had its share of stinkers, but it also bounced back from the lull in 2020 with some bangers, to boot. This is ten of the best I saw this year.
Of course I’ll still be playing catch up with 2021 over the next month.
Streaming On: fuboTV, Amazon Prime Video, Philo, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Apple TV, Vudu, Sling TV
2011 seems like such a long time ago when you consider the career that Jason Momoa has had since then. He’s been in one of the biggest fantasy series of all time, was in a hit comic book movie as an iconic aquatic superhero, has led acclaimed dramas and crime thrillers, and seems to release a new movie or two every single year. Back in 2011 he was simply just a newcomer who was replacing Arnold Schwarzenneger in the reboot of “Conan the Barbarian.”
I haven’t been the biggest fan of Ridley Scott’s output over the years, but there’s no denying his one two punch of “Alien” and “Legend” is immense. Often times modern audiences forget to cite “Legend” as one of the benchmarks of the fantasy genre. It’s probably the quintessential dark fantasy film and the one film I think of when I refer to fantasy films. There’s everything here from goblins, and trolls, to unicorns, and a valiant warrior, in the form of Tom Cruise. There’s also the unparalleled performance by Tim Curry whose delivers a stunning turn as the Lord of Darkness.
With Shout! Studios being given the rights to Laika Studios’ catalogue, they’ve been releasing almost all of their acclaimed award winning films with some new features. If you’ve been a fan of Laika over the years as I’ve been, it’s not surprising that they’ve risen in the ranks alongside PIXAR and Disney as one of the best of their ilk. Probably their best yet is “Kubo and the Two Strings,” a wonderful mixture of mythology, folklore, horror, action, and adventure along with their amazing animation.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton’s adaptation of the 1973 action comic book is Marvel Studios in its wisest. Their inability to grab top tier superheroes from their stable has enabled them to lend a spotlight to some of the more obscure and less featured superheroes from their universe. Thankfully the focus slides over to “Shang-Chi” one of their most dynamic and down to Earth superheroes who has proven a mainstay since his inception in the seventies and is brought to life in a truly exciting cinematic debut.
Harry Potter came seemingly out of nowhere over twenty years ago. It was a fantasy series that quickly blasted off in to a cultural phenomenon and began to re-think the whole fantasy genre for a new generation. Say what you want about the “Harry Potter” series. I was never a fan. But the book series and its cultural influence is powerful, as is its long, long (read: long) series of movies that started twenty years ago.
I’m one of the traditionalists that think Studio Ghibli should have stuck to hand drawn animation, but sometimes there’s just no fighting change. With “Earwig and the Witch” there’s so much new, that you’re almost tricked in to forgetting that the movie almost has no real narrative. At all. This is one of Studio Ghibli’s more aimless movies that doesn’t have a whole lot to it. Substantially, the movie packs in some great animation, and it’s quite startling how some of the motion for some scenes looks so realistic. I’m not going to say that the movie is an accomplishment in regards to Ghibli because Pixar has pulled off so much better.
Hell, Dreamworks has accomplished so much more with this medium.
I originally checked out “White Snake” when it was at the Fantasia Film Festival last year, and it’s not what I’d call the best anime movie to open 2020 with. While I love and appreciate the brilliant animation, “White Snake” is somewhat of a shallow and dull anime epic that packs in a lot of sub-genres and themes involving demons, war, the supernatural, dragons, and a very exhaustive reliance on ancient mythology. It would probably help the experience of “White Snake,” but having to do research to enjoy a movie is not appealing, even for movies that garner my interest.