Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Second Edition

What possible reason could I have for releasing another one? Since the last ranking, a whopping FIVE more movies have been added to the MCU canon; thankfully, all five made their way into my personal top ten. Let’s see how it all shakes out before half of humanity dies in Infinity War.

  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Remember when I said Hugo was my favorite Scorsese movie because it felt the least like Scorsese? I think the same logic applies to Winter Soldier. Incorporating elements from spy thrillers, the Russo brothers made the least interesting Avenger one of the best by grounding him in reality. Aside from Falcon flying around, you can’t really pinpoint the “superhero” nature of the film. Robert Redford is an underrated villain, the huge twist with HYDRA radically and effectively shakes up the MCU, and Scarlett Johansson looks gorgeous (maybe I should stop pointing that out).
  2. The Avengers: Sigh…the famous tracking shot still makes me euphoric. I used to subscribe to the thinking that the first half was boring, but there’s still plenty of excitement sprinkled in there. Obviously, Loki’s a great villain and the thrill of seeing all the heroes onscreen is groundbreaking, but you know what’s even more awesome? Alan Silvestri’s score (which he will use again in Infinity War).
  3. Black Panther: Do you really need me to continue gushing about the phenomenon that’s made more than $1.3 billion (third domestically and tenth all time)? Black Panther is the most well-cast and well-written movie in the series with strong messages and fully fleshed out characters. It could easily claim the top spot, but I don’t want to prematurely overinflate the movie. Let’s see where we stand after a few years.
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy: In my opinion, still the funniest MCU movie out there in terms of jokes that land. It’s fascinating to note that while most people deservedly love GOTG to death, we’re clearly willing to forgive the subpar villain. The top three have especially great ones, but here’s the rare outlier that succeeds despite a legitimate complaint.
  5. Captain America: Civil War: Yeah, I may have been riding the hype train when I ranked this #1 last time. Every single action set piece is still riveting, but I began to see some of the flaws more clearly after the initial excitement wore off. Of course, everyone talks about Zemo’s unnecessarily convoluted plan to destroy the Avengers and that’s absolutely fair. But the MCU deciding that now was a good time to start blaming the heroes for all the destruction seems a little forced just so we can get to the airport scene. I specifically point to the moment with Alfre Woodard and RDJ in the hallway as the prime example. Nevertheless, I still had a great time and it’s worth multiple viewings.
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming: After further thought, I’ve concluded that this may be my favorite Spider-Man movie yet (to say nothing of quality, where it’s also near the top at worst). Everything good about the character from the first two portrayals is combined into one perfect Tom Holland package: the high school environment, the teenage personality, etc. Michael Keaton is also one of the best villains Marvel has ever cast; his scene with Peter in the car gives me chills just thinking about it. Sure, the last fight scene aboard the plane is cut to hell, but I enjoyed nearly everything that came before.
  7. Iron Man: I confess that I haven’t seen the very first MCU movie in a long time, but the cultural impact alone guarantees a permanent spot in the top ten. If Iron Man didn’t pan out, Feige and company might have found themselves in [shudder] Dark Universe territory. I’ll make sure to revisit ASAP.
  8. Thor: Ragnarok: Thank goodness Marvel didn’t shy away from Taika Waititi’s craziness because then we wouldn’t have this fun romp of a movie. We also certainly wouldn’t have Korg, who steals the show with very little screen time. Hemsworth is finally able to show off the full range of his underrated comedic chops, Cate Blanchett embraces her villainous side, and Jeff Goldblum plays…well…classic Goldblum.
  9. Doctor Strange: Formulaic all the way up until the third act, which saves the entire movie. Strange’s confrontation with Dormammu (double the Cumberbatch) is a hilarious riff on the generic third act of most superhero films. Throw in some insane Inception-like visuals and we have another worthwhile entry in the MCU.
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Enjoyed spending time with the characters once again, but with the humor dialed up to 11, the sequel loses any dramatic weight it could’ve had. The relationship between Star-Lord and his dad (played wonderfully by Kurt Russell) made for a few interesting scenes, but the movie seemed to be more concerned with making you laugh. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the humor more often than not, but even that aspect felt inferior to the original. Michael Rooker’s Yondu might have been the most fully realized character in the whole movie and that probably shouldn’t be the case with your sixth-most important Guardian.
  11. Ant-Man: Everyone seems to enjoy this small (pun intended) “heist movie,” but I’ll reiterate what I said in the previous ranking: if Edgar Wright had been allowed to direct his version of Ant-Man, we might be talking about this film more along the lines of Thor: Ragnarok quality-wise. Surprised it’s not even lower on my list? Well, it would be if not for the mediocrity that follows.
  12. Avengers: Age of Ultron: Flashes of brilliance surrounded by LOUD NOISES. Unattainable expectations are probably at fault here, but Marvel should’ve known better than to pile too much on Joss Whedon’s plate. He already delivered a miracle with the first one; why tempt fate by trying to recreate it?
  13. Captain America: The First Avenger: Necessary if only to accomplish two things: (1) redeem Chris Evans and (2) make sure the audience knows who Captain America is before everyone teams up. Took until the sequel to figure out an interesting character, but they had to start somewhere.
  14. Thor: Can you believe I ranked this #6 last time? I think seeing Ragnarok helped put everything in perspective; Thor is a naturally weird character with an equally strange backstory. Therefore, it only makes sense to embrace that side of him. Kenneth Branagh does an OK job fusing Shakespearean themes with Norse mythology, but now that I’ve seen an actually good Thor movie, the other two pale in comparison.
  15. Iron Man 3: Changing up the creative team from the first two resulted in a slight improvement, but not by much (which is sad, because Shane Black is a talented director in other things). Setting up the terrifying Mandarin only to pull the rug out from under us might have sounded funny in theory, but it only made fans like me angry. I do still enjoy the final fight scene with all the Iron Man suits though.
  16. Iron Man 2: Perhaps this was a necessary letdown to show Marvel that they should really take their time when planning out sequels. Trying to cash in a mere two years after the first Iron Man, instead of focusing on the other Avengers, led to a pedestrian superhero film.
  17. Thor: The Dark World: Forgettable villain. Incoherent plot. Basically just filler until the next Avengers movie.
  18. The Incredible Hulk: Look, if Marvel wants to pretend this doesn’t exist, who am I to disagree? I contend that The (Hardly) Incredible Hulk is the last movie you would consider revisiting out of the entire cinematic universe, even more so than some of their other flops. It doesn’t contain the usual Marvel fun and further proves why the Hulk can’t carry a film on his own.

The Definitive Ranking of 2017 Movies

I made a resolution last year to see more movies and guess what? Instead of a standard boring top ten list, I’m giving you a ranking of all 29 I saw this year (and yes, I have no life). There’s only a few short thoughts for each one; if you want to know more about my opinions of each film, I’m more than happy to get into a discussion in the comments. Even considering the sheer number I saw in 2017, there are still a ton of films I need/want to see (listed below).

  1. Baby Driver: The most fun I had in a theater this year. Edgar Wright takes all other directors to school and films incredible action sequences without sacrificing story. Oh yeah, he also knows a little something about music.
  2. Get Out: Who ever thought someone most known for a sketch comedy show would go on to direct one of the greatest modern horror films? I could spend hours dissecting the multiple layers of unintentional racism that permeate the film and society in general. A masterpiece that I secretly hope wins Best Picture.
  3. Logan: I think switching to the R-rating really paid off, don’t you? Hugh Jackman has never been better as the character he’s played a million times before. Get some tissues ready for the ending.
  4. War for the Planet of the Apes: Yeah, the title’s misleading, but the character study and examination of real war is perhaps more interesting than a bunch of explosions. Andy Serkis is a motion-capture god and will probably continue to be unfairly snubbed for acting awards. A beautiful film, plain and simple.
  5. Dunkirk: Is there a genre Nolan can’t tackle? Go ahead and complain about the lack of emotional attachment, I felt like I was there on that beach with those soldiers, fearing the worst and hoping for the best.
  6. Coco: Perfect example of execution overcoming formulaic plot. Be prepared for those warm fuzzy feelings Pixar has gracefully mastered since the beginning.
  7. Blade Runner 2049: Not a single frame is wasted (please give Roger Deakins his first Oscar). Certainly slow-paced, but Villeneuve makes every second worthwhile.
  8. Wonder Woman: Cultural milestone that will stand the test of time. Gal Gadot, you are the ray of sunshine we desperately needed. Third act admittedly a little sloppy, but overall an important step forward for female representation both behind and in front of the camera.
  9. The Big Sick: Super charming and heartfelt. No comedy is more honest about grief and the rough patches of a relationship. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are the greatest movie parents.
  10. Detroit: Out of Kathryn Bigelow’s work, the one that affected me most simply because the depicted incidents are still happening to some degree. Will Poulter sheds the “eyebrows kid” label and should be nominated.
  11. Wind River: Haunting, but effectively captures the brutal conditions and feeling of loneliness. Not talked about enough this year.
  12. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Sigh…this should easily be in the top ten because, you know, it’s Star Wars. But for every awesome moment, there is an equally questionable one. The breathtaking action set pieces are what keep it from slipping any farther, but at the same time, so much can be cut out.
  13. Mudbound: Similar to 12 Years a Slave (powerful film about racism I don’t need to see again). Uplifting final scene followed by Oscar-worthy Mary J. Blige song.
  14. John Wick: Chapter 2: I can still feel the pencil kill. Justifiable sequel that builds upon the original.
  15. Spider-Man: Homecoming: Finally gets both Spider-Man and Peter Parker right, but third act fight with Vulture a disaster in editing.
  16. Thor: Ragnarok: Best Thor movie by a landslide, but feels inconsequential. In Korg, Taika Waititi gifted Marvel its best idea ever.
  17. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Maybe there is such a thing as “too many jokes.” Mary Poppins line funniest of 2017?
  18. The Lego Batman Movie: See #16. The movie’s clever riffing on previous iterations of the masked vigilante does provide the biggest laughs though.
  19. Okja: Important social commentary, but suffers from odd shifts in tone along with a rare annoying Jake Gyllenhaal performance.
  20. Atomic Blonde: The one take stairwell fight scene transcends an otherwise muddled story. Charlize Theron didn’t have the greatest year (see below).
  21. The Lost City of Z: Masterfully shot and well-acted, but nothing particularly memorable stuck with me.
  22. Alien: Covenant: Didn’t see Prometheus beforehand, so my opinion wasn’t tarnished going in. Gorgeous setting, but Ridley Scott essentially borrowed from the original Alien and threw in two Fassbenders. Does contain the best unintentionally dirty line of 2017: “I’ll do the fingering.”
  23. Beauty and the Beast: A visual smorgasbord, but CGI sticks out like a sore thumb. Doesn’t really attempt to add anything different like The Jungle Book did.
  24. Cars 3: Hey, at least it’s better than the last one. But was a third film that essentially boiled down to course correction really necessary?
  25. Justice League: The momentum after Wonder Woman? Poof. Zack Snyder (family tragedy aside) continues to prove he shouldn’t be given a massive budget.
  26. The Lego Ninjago Movie: Has this franchise run out of gas only three films in? Sadly, it looks that way after a bland and cliché mess.
  27. Kong: Skull Island: The director’s rant on Twitter about the CinemaSins video alone guarantees a low ranking. Kong is cool, no other character comes close.
  28. Mother!: Mixed Bible metaphors galore from an angry director who has no idea what he’s doing. Bold and artistic? Try offensive and pretentious.
  29. The Fate of the Furious: The maximum amount of stupid with no entertainment value whatsoever. F (for failure and other notable F-words)

Have yet to see: Split, Colossal, Your Name, Captain Underpants, Logan Lucky, It, Stronger, Battle of the Sexes, Lady Bird, Three Billboards, Wonder, Darkest Hour, Call Me by Your Name, The Disaster Artist, The Shape of Water, I Tonya, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Downsizing, The Post, Molly’s Game, Phantom Thread

Ranking X-Men Movies

Here’s the last big franchise with a ton of movies that I haven’t ranked. I want to try James Bond next, but that might take a while and I’ve only seen…three out of the 24. A guy can dream, but in the meantime, enjoy my take on the X-Men!

  1. Logan: Not many superhero movies can make me cry (Groot’s sacrifice comes close), but Hugh Jackman’s last ride as Wolverine came real close. I still can’t stop thinking about that scene where X-23 is crying over Logan’s body and calling him “daddy.” Then she turns the cross on his grave to an X? Holy crap, what a masterpiece.
  2. Deadpool: If Logan excels at the dramatic elements of the superhero genre, Deadpool relishes in the comedic. A hilarious but wildly inappropriate experience that is enhanced by other bad movies in this franchise, Ryan Reynolds and company prove that inventive ways to combat the endless supply of comic book movies still exist.
  3. X-Men: First Class: I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed watching this prequel (which, as you know from Star Wars, carries a negative connotation for most people). The new cast manages to capture the essence of the characters they portray from the original X-Men yet still stand out on their own, especially McAvoy and Fassbender. Didn’t think it was possible to successfully cast “younger” versions of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, but they pulled it off.
  4. X-Men: Might be a slightly unpopular opinion, but I don’t think the first modern superhero film ages that well. It earns points nonetheless for reviving the genre after bombs like Batman and Robin and proving that admittedly ridiculous characters can struggle with real issues like acceptance. The movie also nailed three of the best castings in the history of cinema (let alone superheroes): Jackman as Wolverine, Stewart as Professor X, and McKellen as Magneto.
  5. X-Men: Days of Future Past: This prequel/sequel is…fine? Introducing time travel into the universe sounds cool, but all it gave us was a slightly more jumbled story and a convenient escape route to atone for The Last Stand. Everyone loves to praise the Quicksilver scene, but Over the Hedge did the exact same thing eight years earlier (an underrated animated movie you should see). Peter Dinklage is always a welcome sight, but Days of Future Past couldn’t keep up the momentum from First Class in my eyes.
  6. X2: My Batman Begins of the X-Men franchise. In other words, the one I don’t remember at all and haven’t seen in a long time. A lot of people have named X2 one of their favorites, but if it was really that memorable, I would’ve definitely gone back and watched it again. I understand that it adopted a decidedly darker tone, but that wasn’t considered new even back then. I will make sure to watch both X2 and Batman Begins again though to see if my preconceived notions hold any weight.
  7. X-Men: Apocalypse: I saw this one last; not blown away at all, but definitely not the most disappointing X-Men movie ever made. It just feels redundant, like “did we really need more younger versions of previous characters or another Quicksilver saving the day scene?” Casting Oscar Isaac as your main villain should’ve been a homerun, but he’s not intimidating in the slightest even though he’s literally God. Jennifer Lawrence looks bored the entire time, the “Four Horsemen” are mostly worthless, and Wolverine is shoved into this movie as pure fan service. Only absolute garbage like the last three on this list save Apocalypse from a lower ranking.
  8. The Wolverine: Wait, you’re saying that a film with a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes is worse than one with a 48%? Oh hell yes when the former shows us everything boring about Wolverine. We don’t need/want to see him fall in love with some random Japanese girl, experience Jean Grey flashbacks, or fight some generic silver villain at the end. Hugh Jackman can’t save everything, it turns out.
  9. X-Men: The Last Stand: Someone please keep Brett Ratner far away from a director’s chair. The Last Stand takes everything you loved about the first two movies and proceeds to undo all the progress. Emotional stakes are substituted for cheap jokes (“grow those back”) and an overabundance of CGI. I couldn’t care less about Jean Grey turning into the Phoenix nor Wolverine’s conflicted feelings for her. An utter disaster that wasted a whopping $210 million and only adds to the list of terrible third entries in a trilogy.
  10. X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Completely messing up Deadpool. Casting “serious actors” will.i.am and Taylor Kitsch. Blatantly ripping off Saving Private Ryan in the opening war montage. Horrible effects that digitally recreate Patrick Stewart’s face to creepy effect. And that’s not even mentioning the complete demystification for one of the coolest comic book characters on film. Do we really care how Wolverine got his name? Or how his skeleton was reinforced with adamantium? It made me even sadder when I found out that David Benioff, one of the minds behind Game of Thrones, wrote this generic script. I guess Liev Schreiber played a good counterpart to Logan, but that’s honestly the only positive thing I can say. X-Men Origins: Wolverine represents everything wrong with the X-Men movies and the people responsible should feel bad they let it happen.

Ranking Christopher Nolan Movies

I’m two weeks late with this, but after going to see Dunkirk and catching up on a few more, I have now seen all of Christopher Nolan’s films. You know what that means…

  1. The Dark Knight: I mean, if you still think I need to openly praise this film, you haven’t been paying attention.
  2. Inception: I believe this film represents the pinnacle of Nolan translating one of his patented big ideas into a coherent story. Diving into the world of dreams and incorporating a heist element sounds ridiculous, but Nolan executes it to near-perfection and still explores the human emotion hidden within. Plus, it spawned the technically incorrect idea that anything with the word “ception” after it meant that there were layers upon layers of said thing (i.e. box-ception).
  3. Memento: I still remember the first time I saw Memento; I was absolutely blown away by the nonlinear storytelling that took what Tarantino started and elevated it to new heights. There’s no glamour or in-your-face style with the film either; small-name actors, a modest budget, and a “simple” story of a man trying to find his wife’s murderer combine to make one of the best films of the 21st century. It’s still on Netflix, so please go watch it if you haven’t already (even if you have, there is immense replay value).
  4. Dunkirk: If the general public thought Nolan had lost his edge after some recent missteps, he certainly came roaring back with a completely unconventional war film. Dunkirk immerses you in the chaos of the evacuation and places you right next to the other soldiers on the beach. It’s a visually stunning masterpiece that doesn’t glorify the subject matter in the slightest. Major props go to Nolan for venturing outside his wheelhouse and also coaxing a solid performance out of Harry Styles.
  5. The Prestige: My sister was the first one to highly recommend this film and I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge fan after the initial viewing. However, the second time around proved much more successful; I began to appreciate the layers that Nolan constructed into a story about two competing magicians. The obsessive nature within each one to perfect the other’s trick makes for strangely compelling material that translates to modern times quite well. Of course, with Nolan’s filmography, it’s a shame that a great film like The Prestige gets buried at #5, but I have only myself to blame for this impossible situation.
  6. Insomnia: This was the last Nolan film I had to watch on the list and it pleasantly surprised me. The thrilling murder mystery has been done well by other directors, particularly Fincher with Seven, Zodiac, and Gone Girl, so I was interested to see Nolan’s take on it. Insomnia is also the only film Nolan hasn’t officially been credited with writing and it was refreshing to see him interpret someone else’s work for a change (now if only he could team up with Sorkin). Incoming spoiler: I love how the film doesn’t wait until the end to reveal who the killer is; instead it plays with your expectations and raises questions about who’s really at fault. I had never seen Robin Williams pull off dramatic work like this and it may also be Pacino’s last decent film to the best of my knowledge. Well worth your time.
  7. Batman Begins: I should probably revisit this one because I barely remember anything about it, but for now, the best word I can think of is “fine.” It’s a fine origin story after years of wondering if Batman would ever recover from the late 90’s disaster. But it doesn’t hold a candle to The Dark Knight in the slightest (although people who just want to be different say otherwise). The one saving grace for Batman Begins is the fact that it essentially kicked off the darker and grittier tone that subsequent filmmakers used to retell age-old stories.
  8. Following: A genius is born. While I’m guessing most people haven’t seen Nolan’s feature debut, the genesis (or should I say inception) of his penchant for big ideas started right here. What initially seems to be a simple story about a man who follows strangers around slowly turns into a twisted crime drama complete with the now-classic Nolan twist. However, it’s quite clear that he has gone on to make infinitely better movies than Following, hence the low ranking.
  9. The Dark Knight Rises: For all his incoherence, Tom Hardy turns in a great performance as Bane. Sadly, almost everything else is crammed into a nearly three-hour movie that reeks of studio interference. I might be wrong about that last part, but after the career Nolan’s had, why would you insist on teasing Robin if this is definitely the end of the trilogy? Other misfires include Bruce Wayne miraculously escaping the cave and transporting back to Gotham, Marion Cotillard’s terrible death scene, and the ending shot of Wayne and Selina Kyle fulfilling Alfred’s vision from earlier. We all know Nolan’s better than this, but we see what can happen when he’s rushed or plays fast and loose with the pacing.
  10. Interstellar: Usually when Nolan aims high, he hits the target. But with Interstellar, he wildly missed the mark. Granted, the visuals are groundbreaking and there are one or two truly poignant scenes (I’ve previously referred to the gut-wrenching scene of McConaughey watching his kids grow up on tape). But the message of love as the overpowering force that transcends space and time is wildly jarring and overwhelmingly sappy. While Nolan certainly went for it, and you can applaud the attempt, it doesn’t compare to his more relevant stories about morality and identity. I feel like if the movie had ended with McConaughey desperately peering out of the bookshelf at his daughter, we wouldn’t have complained as much. But then it nearly undercuts that same message of love by having Murph tell her father to leave and go find Anne Hathaway. It’s a divisive movie for sure, but with most of Nolan’s previous work receiving near-universal critical acclaim, it deserves its place at the bottom.

Ranking the Harry Potter Movies

This doesn’t really tie in to anything, but I haven’t had much (if any) Harry Potter content on this blog. Thankfully, my next guest writer Elijah Chen is a huge fan and he volunteered (or rather I pleaded with him) to rank the eight films. No, Fantastic Beasts is not included. I have known Elijah for quite a long time; in fact, we still live next to each other back in Ithaca. He may not be the biggest general movie fan, but if there’s one franchise he loves to death, it’s Harry Potter. So enjoy, all you Potterheads!

Before I start, I just want to thank Jeffrey for giving me the IMPOSSIBLE task of ranking the original eight Harry Potter movies. As an avid fan who’s read all seven books a hundred times over, seen all eight movies multiple times, and taken every single quiz on Pottermore (Gryffindor, Ragdoll Cat, silver lime wood with a unicorn hair core at 12 1/4″ and quite bendy), I still found it extremely difficult to rank these eight fantastic films. No matter where each movie falls on the list, the Harry Potter movies will always hold a special place in my heart as well as atop my all-time list. These rankings are based on several factors; I compared the movies and the respective novels to see whether or not the former closely followed the latter. I also looked at the storylines in the event that incorporating more from the novels would’ve been better. Without further ado, here is my list of the Harry Potter movies ranked from worst to best.

8. Order of the Phoenix: Some people will argue that there are worse movies than the fifth installment (mainly the second one); however, if forced to choose, Order of the Phoenix would be the worst installment of the eight. I mainly put this movie last because the fifth book was my absolute favorite. It was the longest and I get that you can’t fit it all into 138 minutes. But there are some parts (*cough* Quidditch *cough*) that I would’ve liked to see as well as some key character development moments like the St. Mungo’s scene where Harry discovers the truth about Neville’s parents. Nevertheless, David Yates told a great story, with the darkness of the film playing perfectly into the plot. However, this movie was still a disappointment considering how much I loved the fifth book.

7. Chamber of Secrets: At 161 minutes, Chamber of Secrets is the longest movie in the series. It’s also the movie that gave us Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, a character I just hated before even watching the movie. It accurately follows the novel, but takes too long doing so. The set design was amazing, but the Chamber of Secrets was nothing like I imagined; it should’ve been so much greater. Ultimately, the sheer length of this movie and the fact that it tried to cram everything from the novel into a nearly three-hour movie makes this one of the worst Harry Potter films.

6. Goblet of Fire: To me, this movie was just about bringing Lord Voldemort back to life. The way it got there was all right at best. There were some great scenes and others that needed some work. The Yule Ball wasn’t overly impressive, but the three tasks were very enjoyable to watch. We also see Harry ask a girl out on his first date (too bad she said no). That part was just cringeworthy; at least they kiss in the next movie. In addition, can I just say that Ron being jealous of Hermione going to the ball with Krum is downright pathetic? It was infuriating to watch Ron complain about her (on top of the fact that Harry and Hermione make a much better couple). While we’re on the topic of couples, the scenes with Hagrid and Madame Maxime were really awkward. Goblet of Fire is definitely a great movie; it just doesn’t stand out as one of the better entries.

5. Deathly Hallows Part 1: Some people didn’t like that the last movie was split into two parts; I rather enjoyed it since this gave me more Harry Potter movies to watch. Unlike other movies that start out slow, the seventh installment came out firing on all cylinders. The opening scene with Ron and Hermione coming to terms with their impending journey is emotionally gripping. The fight between the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters in the sky is awesome. The following scene with Harry and Ginny sharing a look is such an “aww” moment. Even though I think Harry and Hermione should be together, he and Ginny make a cute couple. However, after our three protagonists visit the Ministry of Magic, the movie almost trails off. The scene with Nagini was cool, but there wasn’t much after that. Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a great opening to a two-part finale. It couldn’t have done much more considering how in the novel, the bulk of the action took place in the second half.

4. Sorcerer’s Stone: Considering it had to introduce the whole world of magic to us Muggles, the first installment was quite good. Sure, the visual effects don’t quite hold up, but keep in mind that this came out in 2001. In addition, I feel like Chris Columbus did an OK job at adapting the novel into 152 minutes. There are some problems I have with the movie though. One is the fact that Peeves the Poltergeist is not introduced. It would’ve been great to see him constantly pulling pranks on the students. Furthermore, in the sequence where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trying to save the Sorcerer’s Stone from Lord Voldemort, Professor Snape’s obstacle is cut out. It doesn’t detract from the greatness of the movie, although it certainly added to the suspense while reading the book. All things considered, Sorcerer’s Stone was a great start to an amazing series.

3. Half-Blood Prince: Was I the only one who got chills at the end when Professor McGonagall pointed her wand at the Dark Mark and, one by one, everyone followed suit? Talk about a powerful scene. Although Half-Blood Prince starts out slow, it steadily improves. I have a tiny problem with the way the movie portrayed Harry and Ginny’s budding romance. The novel did a much better job building that relationship; to me, their kiss in the Room of Requirement felt a bit forced. The music in that scene was great (I’m a sucker for romantic background music during a kissing scene), but David Yates could’ve developed their relationship beyond a couple of scenes. The last sequence starting from Harry and Dumbledore finding the Horcrux to everyone gathering around Dumbledore’s body significantly elevates this movie.

2. Deathly Hallows Part 2: RIP Alan Rickman. You were amazing as Snape throughout the whole series. The role could not have been portrayed by a better actor. Part 2 brings so much action. Picking up right after Harry and company escape from Malfoy Manor, we witness a grave robbery, a funeral, and a fight at Gringotts that ultimately leads to the Battle of Hogwarts. We finally learn the secret of Severus Snape and find out that it was all for love. The scene where Harry and Snape have their moment while the latter is bleeding out was so well-executed that I got a bit teary-eyed watching it. The only reason this movie is not ranked higher lies in the final fight between Voldemort and Harry. As epic as it was, I think it would’ve been much better had it stuck somewhat closer to the novel. In the book, Harry has a whole speech about a special kind of magic which he never really touched upon in the movie. The part about love conquering all did wonders for that scene and gave it something extra rather than just Harry beating Malfoy and earning the Elder Wand. The movie as a whole was excellent and the final Hogwarts battle scene was great; it just needed one last push to carry it over the top.

1. Prisoner of Azkaban: Most people would agree that Prisoner of Azkaban is the best movie in the series. This is the installment that gives us Sirius Black and introduces the Marauder’s Map; after all, who wouldn’t want a map that shows the location of everyone in Hogwarts? Although we don’t get to discover everything from the books (mainly who the Marauders were), it is still a great movie that starts to explore the characters more deeply, which can be seen through the developing romance between Ron and Hermione. Prisoner of Azkaban does amazingly well as a movie that doesn’t rely too heavily on the novel. It still hits the main plot points while further fleshing out our heroes. After the first two movies, which relied heavily on quickly getting to the big fight with Voldemort, Prisoner of Azkaban pleases fans of both the books and films. Hermione punching Malfoy in the face also helped.

Ranking the Spider-Man Movies

In honor of Spider-Man Homecoming, the sixth installment starring the third actor, here are the rankings of the previous movies with the teenage (not really) web-slinger. Luckily, there are five of them, which narrowly fits into my criteria for ranking a certain franchise.

  1. Spider-Man 2: Sadly, it’s been a while since I revisited the Tobey Maguire ones, but I’m in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to the best Spider-Man movie. There are flaws though amidst all the awesome fights, like Peter conveniently losing his powers for the sake of plot and the ghost of Norman Osborn conveniently helping Harry discover the Green Goblin suit.
  2. Spider-Man: I should make a list of films that feel magical to me because this would definitely be on it (along with the likes of Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark). Its origin story was well-executed and set the standard before everyone started copying the formula. The Danny Elfman score transcends a good superhero score and stands among the best of any genre. Plus, who doesn’t love that wrestling scene and the line “That’s a cute outfit. Did your husband give it to you?”
  3. The Amazing Spider-Man: Begrudgingly, I have to give this spot to Andrew Garfield’s first attempt because it’s at least better than the final two. There aren’t any glaring problems, but it rehashes the origin story and the killing of Uncle Ben (as if we need to see that again). Lizard as the main villain is also very underwhelming as well as the creepy realization that supposed high school student Peter Parker is nearly 30 years old. But I’ll award it a few points for casting Emma Stone.
  4. Spider-Man 3: I laughed so hard when one of the guys from the CinemaSins podcast tried to make an argument for this movie as underrated. There might be some cool moments, but it’s squashed by all the emo dancing and terrible Topher Grace acting. Yet another example of studio interference getting in the way of a good director who was then unable to make a Spider-Man 4 (which, from all the rumors, sounded really interesting).
  5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2: You thought Spider-Man 3 already had too many villains? Prepare for a double dose of mediocrity as Sony presents their weird and terrible versions of Electro, Green Goblin, and Rhino. In hindsight, we shouldn’t be all that surprised when Alex Kurtzman, responsible for many overstuffed movies, is one of THREE screenwriters on this monstrosity. I mean, you know your movie’s going to suck when there are SEVEN different people working on the score! Gwen Stacy’s death is so poorly handled that people have created memes out of it. The only redeeming quality? Since it was so bad, Sony finally gave in and let Marvel handle the next reboot. For all intents and purposes, Tom Holland may finally be the Spider-Man we deserve.

Ranking the Mission: Impossible Movies

Random short one today.

  1. Ghost Protocol: Has the most thrilling action set piece of the series so far in my opinion (Tom Cruise hanging off the side of the tallest building in the world). Everything surrounding that shot is perfectly directed by Brad Bird, who clearly proved that he can do more than animation. Also, Paula Patton in a green dress is everything I could’ve hoped for.
  2. Rogue Nation: Nothing in the fifth installment measures up to the Burj Khalifa, but that can’t be blamed on a lack of trying. There are multiple memorable scenes in Rogue Nation like the opera house and the underwater heist, all prominently featuring breakout star Rebecca Ferguson. After some OK movies, Mission: Impossible has hit it out of the park twice now and I can’t wait for the next one.
  3. The 3rd one: Easily has the best villain with the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman, but not much else. The last act is quite ridiculous with Ethan Hunt’s apparent “death” (even though there’s no way that’s going to last) and revival by the inexplicable gun expert Michelle Monaghan. J.J. Abrams is good at breathing new life into a dormant franchise and then handing it off to the next guy, huh?
  4. The 1st one: Good start, but holy crap, some of the action is highly unrealistic. How does someone, even as immortal as Tom Cruise, survive an explosion in a train tunnel at close range? At least we will always have the iconic image of him barely hanging off the ground.
  5. The 2nd one: There’s no contest here; John Woo’s style definitely doesn’t fit this series. The action is often incomprehensible, the plot makes no freaking sense, and the characters are quite bland. It’s just not enjoyable in any way, which is what Mission: Impossible needs to be. Thankfully, the franchise has learned from its mistakes, but we’re still stuck with this slow-motion mess.