Movie Rankings: 2017, 2016, 2015

2017.

10. PIRATES ON STRANGER TIDES. This was much, much better than the fourth one, but still doesn’t touch the original trilogy.  Javier Bardem made for a solid villain and I do like how it tied back into Will and Elizabeth.

9. JUSTICE LEAGUE.  The J*ss version is deeply, deeply flawed.  But it’s still the first time this team meets on-screen so it’s magical for that alone.

8. LAST JEDI.  I wanted to like this movie, I really did.  I walked in convinced I would love it… and walked out shell-shocked that for the first time in my life I didn’t like a Star Wars movie.  I will never agree with the decision to make Luke a bitter failure who refuses to help anyone, or with the decision to kill him off unnecessarily.  The Canto Bight sequence is wasteful and the starship chase is silly and Poe is turned into a maligned character in it.  Setting up Snoke as the new villain only to kill him off as a joke is shocking, but in a bad way.  This movie goes out of its way to detonate everything set up in the first movie.  All that being said… it’s still Star Wars and it’s an expertly made film even if I don’t agree with it.

7. TRANSFORMERS LAST KNIGHT.  I legitimately enjoyed the first three, really didn’t enjoy the fourth, and this one felt like a redemption of its predecessor.  Optimus turning evil was a dumb movie, but everything about the movie was a vast improvement and Bay-sanity will always get a pass for me.  Nobody makes a better action sequence.

6. KONG SKULL ISLAND.  This is a great movie!  My only complaint is Kong didn’t have a cooler monster to fight, but everything else works.  The characters are interesting and Brie Larson made a particular impression.  I love the Vietnam War setting.  The exploration of the island was very involving.

5. FATE OF THE FURIOUS.  This is one of the better Fast movies.  Dom working for the bad guys was actually well done and for a legitimately good reason.  Charlize Theron is instantly the best villain the franchise ever had.  The action scenes are huge and ridiculous.  I particularly love the NYC scene of remote controlled cars working in tandem; truly iconic.

4. WONDER WOMAN.  Great introductory movie for the character and loved the World War One setting.  No complaints.

3. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2.  It’s a little slow in the second act but everything else works.  The characters are hilarious and all have legitimate arcs in the story.  The action and sci-fi insanity is golden.

2. SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING.  This is the best Spider-Man movie as of 2017.  The character, setting, story, action, and villain all works.  They even managed to make the Vulture cool and threatening, which I never thought was possible.

1. THOR RAGNAROK.  Taika Waititi revolutionized Thor the character and the franchise to make a hilarious and classic movie.  This movie is just pure joy all the way through.                

2016.

10. BATMAN VS SUPERMAN. Oh, what a disappointment.  This should have been the greatest thing ever.  Instead we get an overly long complicated plot by the worst Lex Luthor ever put to screen, a Batman who kills people left and right, and a brooding Superman who just doesn’t seem to care.  Still, recreating the fight from Dark Knight Returns was awesome and we did get Wonder Woman and (a terrible) Doomsday.

9. FANTASTIC BEASTS.  It’s a small scale story, but a truly original story in the franchise starring adults was a really interesting thing to see.  I really like Newt and the other characters, and the introduction of Grindelwald was fascinating.

8. DOCTOR STRANGE. This is a lower tier MCU movie for me.  Yet another linear origin story.  Yet another copy of Iron Man 1.  Still, there are fun characters and concepts and action.

7. STAR TREK BEYOND. The villains are completely forgettable but it’s a fun romp with epic visuals.

6. DEADPOOL. So much better, and funnier, than I could have ever hoped for.  They really brought this unique comic to life.

5. INDEPENDENCE DAY 2. As a massive fan of the original, I legitimately love this movie.  I think it was fascinating to show how humanity has adapted to using alien technology while also diligently preparing for the next invasion.  It’s not as good as the original but there a lot to love here.

4. FINDING DORY.  Nemo is the greatest Pixar movie ever and this shockingly manages to be a worthy sequel full of just as many instantly iconic characters and moments.

3. ZOOTOPIA.  I legitimately love this movie.  The world and visuals of Zootopia are absolutely incredible.  I just want to live there.  The characters are great and the story is wonderful and a meaningful parable about racism and police brutality… in a kid’s movie!

2. CIVIL WAR. One of the great MCU movies, and the first one to truly show they’re willing to break the formula and go tragic.  Plus, the Airport fight.  Plus, Spider-Man and Black Panther!

1. ROGUE ONE. While TFA is more fun and iconic, Rogue One is without a doubt the best made of the Disney Star Wars movies.  It’s a legimately important story with instantly classic characters and astonishing recreations of New Hope while still looking utterly modern and realistic.

2015.

10. SPECTRE. I like this movie more than most apparently.  It’s not as good as Skyfall but it’s definitely more enjoyable than Casino or Quantum.  Some great action scenes and I enjoyed the return of Blofield, even with his ridiculous backstory.

9. ANT-MAN.  I think this most is a vast overrated carbon copy of the first Iron Man movie.  That being said, Paul Rudd is hilarious.  Another weak villain and drawn out linear origin story, unfortunately.

8. JUPITER ASCENDING.  I’m a sucker for any original big budget sci-fi and this film is just bursting with crazy visuals and concepts and great action.  It’s not perfect but there is just so much to enjoy.

7. TOMORROWLAND.  I just watched this movie again and it feels better each time.  On my first viewing I was very disappointed that Tomorrowland was a dead, empty world populated by three people, and that stands, but the rest of the movie is a wonderful adventure with a great message.

6. INSIDE OUT.  Classic Pixar!  In addition to telling a deep, meaningful emotional story, it is also full of humor and adventure and great conceptual jokes.

5. FURIOUS 7.  Not quite as good as 5 or 6, but still a solid and thrilling Fast movie with a great villain in Statham and a great new character in Mister Nobody.

4. MAD MAX FURY ROAD.  As a child I loved Beyond Thunderdome, and this is inexplicably a prefer sequel two decades later.  A masterclass in practical action stunts and a classic for the ages.

3. AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON.  I like this movie more than most.  I think it’s almost as good as the first Avengers on most levels, and even better in action and cinematography.  Ultron is not as compelling a villain but he’s decent, and the sheer number of characters involved was mind-boggling at the time.

2. JURASSIC WORLD.  I dearly love this movie as a nostalgia fix.  Jurassic Park was a formative movie and book for me as a kid but I always dreamed of seeing it as a working theme park full of people, and this movie finally realized that dream.  It definitely has some silly and problematic elements in it, but what a ride.

1. STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS.  Another magical return to childhood.  Rey and Finn and Poe are instantly classic new characters.  The story is thrilling, the action scenes are amazing.  My only complaint is that it’s obviously derivative and we never got Luke properly in the film.  

Movie Rankings: 2020, 2019, 2018

I have a sad obsession with movies and making lists, so I went through and made top ten lists for every year of my life!  Please note these are not rankings based on artistic quality, but on sheer enjoyment.

2020.

5. SOUL.  Good but not great Pixar movie.

4. BORAT 2. Sacha risked his life at the onset of the pandemic to give us a hilarious and scathing indictment of American bigotry.

3. BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC.  A shockingly satisfying decades later sequel that is a perfect follow up to both original movies.

2. ONWARD. Solid Pixar with an incredibly sweet ending.

1. TENET. Not my favorite Nolan movie, way too confusing, but a visual spectacle.

2019.

10. FROZEN 2. The first Frozen is a classic and I think this actually had a better story, even if it didn’t have as many iconic songs.

9. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 3.  The second one is an amazing movie this is almost as good.

8. JUMANGI 2. I found the first one pretty enjoyable and thought this was even better.

7. HOBBS AND SHAW.  I’m a big Fast fan and this was a solid spin-off with great action and humor.

6. TERMINATOR DARK FATE.  Another better than expected sequel.  I really did not like Genisys and this felt like a redemption of the franchise.

5. GODZILLA 2.  This is my favorite Monster-verse movie.  It was truly epic, end of the world stuff, with a huge amount of monsters, amazing set pieces, and a fascinating look at the concept of the Hollow Earth.

4. SPIDER-MAN FAR FROM HOME.  Aside from a little too much time spent on the high school field trip, this is another great outing.  Mysterio was a great villain, and what a cliffhanger!

3. CAPTAIN MARVEL.  This is a perfect introduction to Carol Danvers.  I was instantly convinced she could lead the future of the MCU.  The Kree/Skrull War and the plot twist of the Skrulls being the victims was a wonderful twist.  Talos is another instantly iconic character.  

2. AVENGERS ENDGAME.  Unpopular opinion: the first hour of this movie is an absolute chore to sit through.  It’s too depressing and too slow.  The time heist is a lot of fun and the ending battle is pretty good.  I do feel this was an underwhelming way to end the saga, however.  I still disagree with the decision to kill Thanos in the first ten minutes and then replace him with an alternate past variant who had none of the character arc from Infinity War.  It completely robs the movie of having a compelling, developed villain.

1. STAR WARS RISE OF SKYWALKER.  Another unpopular opinion!  I love this movie!  After the Last Jedi and the toxic fandom resulting from it, this was a redemptive breath of fresh air.  It is definitely not perfect; Palpatine is my favorite villain and I loved him coming back… but not explaining how and then killing him so easily undercuts the entire concept.  I’m also not happy with using cut footage to awkwardly cram in Leia only to kill her off; it was a disservice to the character.  But it’s a fun movie full of great sequences, and we finally got to see Rey, Finn, and Poe have an adventure for the first time in their third movie.


2018.

10. RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET. A wonderful sequel to a wonderful movie.

9. MORTAL ENGINES. It’s a real shame this movie bombed because I thought it was a really interesting original genre world with some great action.

8. SPIDER-VERSE. So much better than I ever would have hoped.  A comic book come to life.

7. READY PLAYER ONE. Speilberg hits it out of the park.  The endless cameos from every property in existance are just the icing on the cake.

6. ANT-MAN AND WASP. I have a special place in my heart for this one.  I think it’s the most purely fun MCU movie just full of hilarious bits and overlapping villain plots.

5. DEADPOOL 2. Even better than the original.  The additions of Cable and Domino make everything twice as great.  Plus we got the Juggernaut and more hilarious interactions with Colossus.

4. BLACK PANTHER. Not only is this a great MCU movie, it’s a great introduction to a brand new world and cast of characters, and a great villain with a meaningful motivation.

3. AQUAMAN. This was so much better than I expected.  The sheer amount of insanity in this film is astounding.  They threw everything and the kitchen sink into this one.

2. SOLO.  While not the most epic or successful Star Wars movie, it’s still a ton of fun and a delightful breath of fresh air after Last Jedi. 1. INFINITY WAR.  The greatest MCU movie ever.  A massive comic book crossover event come to life in a way I never dared to dream of.  An incredible achievement.

Universal Studios Florida!

I love Universal Studios Florida!  It’s delightful as an adult, but I also have a deeper nostalgic childhood connection to USF than Disney World because I went to that one more as a kid.  I have incredibly dim but fond memories of Back to the Future, King Kong, Earthquake, Jaws… Actually I’m not actually sure if I ever rode Jaws as a kid.  It was always broken!  It’s very possible I only rode it a single time as an adult right before it closed.

When I started vacationing again as an adult I started with Disney but eventually made my way to Universal.  While nothing can beat WDW, I do find Universal much less stressful, mainly because there’s a lot less walking.  Cabana Bay, their cheap on-site hotel, is literally across the street from Islands.  I can leave my hotel room, hop on a short bus, and be inside the gates inside of 15 minutes, whereas at Disney you’re lucky if that takes an hour.  It’s so much easier to slip back into your hotel room for an afternoon break.  I also love how the hotels and the shopping district and two parks are all tightly packed together.  Having to pass through City Walk just to enter the parks always makes it feel a little more epic.

Universal Studios the original park will always my favorite of the two.  Like Magic Kingdom, it just has a lot more rides than its sister park, and this is the place of my childhood.  And while I miss the classic original attractions, there are even better additions now with the addition of Diagon Alley and Springfield.  Diagon Alley is an astounding achievement in total immersion.  It’s amazing just to walk around in there.  And the big pink donut remains my favorite park treat.

10. Animal Actors.  Who doesn’t love a stage show of animals doing tricks?

9. E.T. The only remaining opening day attraction!  It’s incredibly dated but there is still something magical about the twilight Pacific forest journey.

8. Fast and Furious. I’m definitely not a fan of all these new rides being nothing more than 3D screens, and this is the worst example of it.  But it’s moderately fun.

7. Jimmy Fallon.  Hate the host, but the ride is actually a pretty fun sim ride through NYC with a trip into space.  The pre-show is also very impressive.

6. Men in Black. An aging attraction, but walking through the cavernous MIB office is never not cool and the shooting game is pretty fun.  At least it’s interactive!

5. Transformers.  Another screen ride, but a well made one.

4. Minions.  This is an excellent simulator ride with a great ride film.  It’s great to take a journey through Gru’s vast underground layer.

3. Simpsons. Back to the Future was my favorite ride as a kid, and this replacement is actually better.  This ride, and the pre-show, is chock full of hilarious jabs at theme parks and Disney.  The graphics aren’t very sharp, but still look epic on the huge screen.

2. The Mummy.  This is my all time favorite roller coaster.  It is just at the acceptable limit of thrills for me with fast accelerations but no big drops.  The story and setting is perfect.  The queue is legitimately creepy and the pre-show is great too.

1. Gringotts.  While it’s mostly just another screen ride, the story and theming is so perfect it’s still incredible.  Walking through the bank is incredible and it’s great to see this story actually taking place in the middle of the seventh book with the actors involved.  Also it doesn’t help that it’s based in Diagon Alley, an incredible area!

ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE.  After the theme park wars of the 80s and 90s, this is shockingly the most recent theme park in Orlando from all the way back in 1999.  I went only once a teenager when it first opened, so my knowledge of the park is almost entirely as an adult.  I don’t even remember the original “Merlinwood” land where Hogsmeade now sits!  This park has great theming with its different lands, but it’s a lot of walking around for a handful of great rides.  

10. Seuss Monorail.  This is me really struggling for ten things.

9. Poseidon’s Fury.  I loved this as a kid and while the story is very goofy, the theming and the sets and the water effects are incredible.  And that building exterior is the best one ever!

8. Hippogriff.  It’s a fun little baby coaster.

7. Bilgewater Barges.  A pretty good river rapids ride.  You will get soaked!

6. Ripsaw Falls.  It’s a lame copy of Splash Mountain but the cartoons are cute.

5. Jurassic Park Ride.  Now here’s a much better Splash Mountain ripoff with some excellent theming!  Too bad the ride is so short though.

4. Skull Island.  Another bad example of a modern ride relying on 3D screens, but the pre-show is second to none and the story / ride film is very cool.

3. Spider-Man.  This ride was a revelation in 1999 and it still holds up well.  The false sensation of motion and falling is very well done and it’s a Spider-Man cartoon so it’s a winner for me.

2. Harry Potter Forbidden Journey.  The pre-show alone, walking through Hogwarts Castle, is worth it alone, but the ride is also fun and thrilling with a great sense of motion.

1. Hagrid’s Coaster. I’ve only gotten to ride this once so far, and it scared the crap out of me, but the theming and story was excellent and I’m sure it’ll be less terrifying on repeat attempts.

I was extremely excited when they finally announced the first new theme park since 1999 in EPIC UNIVERSES, and very disappointed when the pandemic threw all that out the window.  They’re only just now resuming construction for a targeted 2025 opening.  It will be astonishing to experience a brand new theme park for the first time in decades; not a new ride, or a new land, but an entirely new location from the ground up!

Disney World!

Before the pandemic, my sole vacation spot was Orlando Florida for Disney and Universal.  I actually grew up in Florida, but Disney wasn’t a big part of my childhood.  I remember going to Universal (Studios only existed at the time) more often.  I moved out of Florida and promptly forgot about theme parks for a solid decade.  Also, I couldn’t afford vacations for a good ten years!

I went on my first “adult” vacation to Walt Disney World around 2010 and fell instantly in love.  It was a magical journey completely divorced from reality.  Disney picked us up at the airport and we were already in “the Disney bubble” on a bus with shaded windows playing a long promo for WDW.  The hotel, the busing, the parks… it was all a fantasy world.  I was officially hooked.

Now that I can afford it, I’ve been taking all my vacations to WDW and Universal… until the pandemic, of course.  I haven’t been to Disney since 2018 and Universal since 2019.  I still haven’t been to Galaxy’s Edge, a fact that haunts my days and nights!  I’ve had two different trips cancelled due to covid, but I think I’m finally gonna make it this year.

I’ve read a lot of bad press about the new Disney experience.  The free airport bus is going.  The free fast passes are gone.  It sounds like the WDW of 2022 is very different from that of 2018… but I still can’t wait to experience the magic again.  And finally see Galaxy’s Edge!

WDW is an astonishing achievement.  It’s the size of a sprawling city with four different theme parks, two water parks, golf courses, dozens of hotels, a massive shopping district… I’m only interested in the theme parks, but the scale is astounding.

Magic Kingdom will always be my favorite part just for the sheer number of rides.  It’s twice as many as any other park!  Since I love lists so much, here’s a top ten rides:

10. Small World.  It’s a slow boat ride but still a classic.

9. Monsters Inc Laugh Floor.  It’s amazing how they can create live action CGI characters who interact with the audience.

8. Peter Pan.  A classic opening day dark ride.

7. Jungle Cruise.  The animatronics are dated but the skipper’s groan-inducing corny jokes never get old.

6. Big Thunder Mountain.  A perfect little baby coaster with great theming.

5. Pirates.  The sheer scale of the scenes are incredible!

4. Splash Mountain.  An amazing combination of an animatronic show with a log flume ride and some of the catchiest songs ever.

3. Seven Dwarves Mine Coaster.  The theming is second to none and the smooth family coaster is just at my preferred thrill level.

2. Space Mountain.  Another perfect me-sized thrill ride.

1. Haunted Mansion.  Without a doubt the best WDW ride for sheer story, atmosphere, and song.


Animal Kingdom is without a doubt the most gorgeous looking park.  The theming is immaculate everywhere… except for Dinoland USA, anyway.  The addition of Pandora was the crowning achievement; walking around life-sized floating mountains never gets old.

5. Kali River Rapids.  A merely adequate river rapids ride.

4. Dinosaur.  Not very thrilling but the story is cute and dinosaurs are fun.

3. Navi River Journey.  It’s a slow moving boat ride but the Pandora seting is beautiful and it has the most life-life animatronic figure ever created.

2. The Safari. An incredible achievement and putting you inside a zoo.  Every ride is different and you can get so close to the animals!

1. Flight of Passage.  It’s just a sim ride, but the most polished one ever made.  The sense of flight is incredible and the film’s journey through new locales on Pandora is breath-taking every time.

Hollywood Studios was still a half-day park the last time i was there.  I can’t wait to see the addition of Galaxy’s Edge and the two new rides.  I can only go off my four year old memories here.  Even when it was half shuttered, I still enjoyed DHS.  It was small and easy to walk through!

5. Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.  Incredibly dated at this point but still cool to see stunts and explosions in real life.

4. Fantasmic.  Give me this over any fireworks show.  The best evening show Disney has to offer.

3. Toy Story Midway Mania.  It’s basically playing a Wii motion control shooter game, but the theming makes it special.

2. Star Tours.  I will never get tired of this ride, particularly since the planet order is randomized each time.  I have ridden this over and over.  It’s pure Star Wars and really recaptures the slightly goofy fun feeling the franchise had back in the Prequel Era under Lucas.

1. Slinky Dog Dash.  I only got to ride this a single time in my life but it was a great coaster and actually pretty scary for this cowardly lion.(One can only assume my new number 1 and 2 will become Rise of the Resistance and Smuggler’s Run in a few months!)

Epcot was my favorite park as a child because I was terrified of any kind of thrill ride whatsoever, and this was nothing but dark rides.  As an adult, it’s the least thrilling park.  I still don’t have much love for the World Showcase since it has almost no rides.  When I think of Epcot, all I think of it is hot concrete and endless walking.

5. Living Seas.  I refer to the entire pavilion than the entry ride.  I love how there is an entire aquarium stuck in the middle of a Disney park.  I love watching the dolphins and manatees.

4. Spaceship Earth.  My favorite part of this ride is how the entire thing is built into a massive ball sitting in the air.  The ride itself is merely fun.

3. Frozen.  I remember loving Maelstrom as a child, but i don’t mind its replacement.  The Frozen theming is perfectly done.

2. Soarin’.  As long as you get the right seat, this is a magic sensation of flying through the air across the entire world.

1. Test Track. This is a thrill ride tailor made for me.  It goes super fast, but on a flat level!