Top Ten Convergent Movies in 2017
There will be many top ten movie lists recapping the films of 2017, however this list is meant to honor those films that pushed filmmaking from a technology perspective to push storytelling forward. This list is in alphabetical order and is based on my personal opinion. In that vein, I selected films that best exemplified the convergence technology and creativity. Be aware some of the descriptions include some mild spoilers.
- Blade Runner 2049: The original Blade Runner featured some good CGI, but this one pushed the boundaries even farther. One of the most amazing effects was with Rachael—the replicant played by Sean Young in the original film 25 years earlier. They made the character look the same as she did when she appeared in the original film. This effort apparently took a ton of work from Sean Young and the new actress Loren Peta in facial motion-capture devices to make the effect successful, but it really worked for the movie.
- Coco: Pixar always seems to unveil a new technical innovation in their movies. With Coco, animators were challenged by figuring out to work with skeletons and how to imbue emotion into immovable skulls. They also needed to work with automated clothing programs, which meant shirts or dresses were getting caught in the skeleton. The remedy? Pixar developed a new program to handle collisions. Additionally, the animators used over seven million independent light sources to create the Land of the Dead.
- Ghost in the Shell: Since this film features many technological advancements, the creators had to fully create that world. From the huge holographic advertisements to the amazing sets, the team did an amazing job depicting a possible future.
- Justice League: One particular item I have always noticed in films is how they demonstrate speed. The original Superman advertised, “you will believe a man can fly.” While he might be flying, the action felt like Superman was in slow motion. Through time, improvements have been made, which are particularly evident in the X-Men and Avengers movies. There are a couple great Flash scenes in Justice League that show the advantages of technology and how well filmmakers can depict speed. The first incident is when Superman notices that Flash has super speed and tries to hit him. The example I prefer is when Flash helps Wonder Woman reach her sword.
- Kong: Skull Island: The original King Kong was an early example of convergence, so it is nice that this film keeps up the tradition. The latest version is quite dependent on the use of CGI, which played a critical role in creating some seriously scary monsters.
- Thor: Ragnorak: This movie is full of imaginative CGI from spectacular scenes featuring the gladiator arena and the Valkyrie flashback. This Thor film also introduced some imaginative CGI characters like the Hulk and Korg, but the storytelling is what helped flesh them out and turn them into interesting characters.
- Transformers: The Last Knight: Apparently, the CGI budget for this film was $260M and it certainly comes across on the screen. Nobody does non-stop action like Michael Bay and the latest movie in the franchise featured one wild scene after another.
- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: Director Luc Benson had previously made Fifth Element, but pushed the limits in this film by creating an incredible world. This movie features an incredible set of scenes and characters and uses as much CGI imagery as I have seen in any film. Best of all, the execution of all this technology looks gorgeous, and leaves you wondering what might be possible in the future.
- War for the Planet of the Apes: The original Planet of the Apes movies had actors playing the apes, but even as a kid I could tell they were actors. It is remarkable how realistic the apes were in the film: successfully depicting intelligence and imbuing the characters with emotion
- Wonder Woman: The movie not only told a great story, but had some stunning scenes such as the first fight Themyscira featuring slow motion bullets and flying swords that hit soldiers with impressive precision or when Wonder Woman runs through a WWI battlefield.
Honorable Mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Beauty and the Beast, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Despicable Me 3, The Lego Batman Movie, The Mummy, Alien Covenant, Geostorm, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.