2016

The year 2016, as much as any other year, brought us the good with the bad. Though it started with a loss of two great and legendary performers, David Bowie and Alan Rickman, there still was a lot of to be looking forward to. This is the year we got to see the return to the Star Wars franchise on home media with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).

Excitement to see the original cast once again in their characters was overwhelming, and the film didn't falter. Later the franchise continued with a prequel, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), another smashing hit. The new Bond film was also released, with Sam Mendes behind the camera and Daniel Craig in front of it, we see the return (or the beginning?) of a world's most evil organisation in Spectre (2015).

The Hunger Games series concluded with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2, for now the last of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. Another film that made it to the highest grossing list is The Martian (2015), starring Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney who accidentally gets abandoned on Mars by his crew. Even before the initial release, people were commenting on the choice of actors because the previous year Damon starred in another sci-fi blockbuster Interstellar (2014). Parallels are drawn on account of both astronauts being left on a desolate planet.

In this year's review, I'd like to focus on two titles that made on Cinema Paradiso's top rentals of 2016. Firstly, there's 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) and then Mad Max: Fury Road.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a film from the Cloverfield cinematic universe (or Cloververse) which started with Cloverfield (2007), but it's not in direct connection to the original. There's nothing science fiction in the start of 10 Cloverfield Lane, where after a car accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakens to find herself in a mysterious bunker with two men named Howard (John Goodman) and Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.). In this moment, we see her chained to a wall and her injured leg in a locked brace. Instantly, audiences' minds go to the idea that this is where the main character will have to fight for her life. Then we see her "captor" explaining that there was a worldwide catastrophe above the ground, the air is contaminated and he saved her by taking her to his bunker. But can both be true?

For most of the film, my mind went back and forth, from thinking he's lying and she needs to get out, to he's right and there's an apocalypse out there. Without spoiling the end, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a must see for everyone seeking a thrill ride – even though the whole film is basically set in a bunker. This is the motion picture that'll keep you guessing until the very end. In Dan Trachtenberg's debut feature, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. are both terrific but it's John Goodman who really shines as the terrifying Howard.

The claustrophobic, self-contained nature of the issue is just another layer that kicks up the tension, and sincerely, this was one of the best suspense films I've seen in recent years. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a psychological thriller/sci-fi horror, a mash up of genres that in the end works so well. The overall look of the film is phenomenal and played perfectly, accompanied to the chilling music by Bear McCreary.

When I read George Miller is remaking his own films, somehow it didn't seem like a good idea. Original Mad Max (1979) is a classic! Luckily, he decided not to go shot by shot remake in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), but instead reboot it with a somewhat fresh story. For starters, they robbed Max (Tom Hardy) off of his memorable car in the first 5 minutes, and it only makes a few cameo appearances throughout.

On Fury Road the action never stops, and we're taken on a two hours long car chase. As a lot of viewers noticed, Max doesn't even seem like the main character in his own movie and again, it works amazingly. Enter Furiosa, already iconic character wonderfully played by Charlize Theron, seeking redemption in her own way.

Immortan Joe makes a good villain, as do War Boys and the rest of the Citadel inhabitants - well, most of them. It took me a while to recognize Nicholas Hoult in the War Boy get up, and this looked like a change of roles for him. It worked! In the beginning, Hoult seemed just a minor character destined to perish in the first road chase.

If you're looking for a classic story with a lot of dialogue, then this isn't a film for you. But so much is said with their performances and facial expressions, it seems redundant. And well, yes... Tom Hardy's trademark mumbling. These factors pack into a thrilling ride in Mad Max: Fury Road. They even have a bungee jumping guitarist.

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