March was a great month for moviegoers. I saw six films, three of which were exceptional. Rather than write a long-winded review of each film, I’m going to share with you which ones I think you should definitely go and see, and which ones you can probably skip.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I am not a professional film critic, I don’t do this as a job, and I have to fork out for the tickets to all the movies I see myself. As such, I’m likely only going to make mention of films that actually appeal to me. If I didn’t mention a film, it’s because I didn’t see it.

This isn’t an exhaustive review, and remember that the films I say you can skip aren’t necessarily bad films, they just weren’t as good as the others.

Overview

These are the six films I watched this month:

  • 10 Cloverfield Lane
  • Deadpool
  • Zootopia
  • The Lady it the Van
  • The Revenant
  • Kung Fu Panda 3

Of those films, I recommend you watch 10 Cloverfield Lane, Deadpool, and Zootopia.

What you should see

10 Cloverfield Lane

© Paramount Pictures 2016

© Paramount Pictures 2016

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a thriller as tense as 10 Cloverfield Lane.

For me personally, a good measure of the quality of a thriller is how uncomfortable it made me feel. For what felt like the entire movie, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. You could have cut the tension with a knife, which was fantastic. The sound design added to the tension immensely, every single creak, bang and piano chord made me jump in my seat.

The characters were fairly well fleshed out, although I thought Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) had a lack of depth in her backstory. Ben and Howard (Bradley Cooper and John Goodman respectively) had similar issues with their backstories, however I’m giving them a free pass because Howard as a character was fairly mysterious so a patchy backstory was to be expected, and Ben was a fairly minor character in comparison to the other two.

The film had a very good setting, even though most of the film takes place underground. The fact that a single underground survival shelter could feel so dynamic and ‘large’ is a credit to the film’s direction and production.

The plot was very well written, there was no guessing what would happen next in the story. The trailer gave away just enough information to get me interested in the premise of the film, without in any way spoiling the ending, or more importantly, the middle of the film.

My one criticism with the plot is with the ending. I think the film would have been better with the last 10 minutes cut off, as it not only raised far more questions than it really needed to, but also a fairly blatant sequal-bait.

However, despite this, this is definitely a film you should see in the cinema before it disappears onto DVD and digital download. The experience you get watching this movie on the big screen with surround sound isn’t one that can be replicated by a laptop or TV at home.

Deadpool

© 20th Century Fox 2016

© 20th Century Fox 2016

Unlike some of the other films I saw this month, I knew exactly what to except from Deadpool.

The trailers, posters and other advertising material for this Deadpool made is fairly clear that it wasn’t going to take itself too seriously; and that it would be absolutely hilarious. It was one of the most highly anticipated (and hyped) films I’ve seen in some time, and I’m happy to report that it lived up to this hype. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a movie theatre filled with as much infectious laughter as the one Deadpool was screening in.

Ryan Reynolds was fantastic in his portrayal of Deadpool, the dialogue was funny and well written. The plot was a tad predictable and not particularly deep, but I don’t think anyone was really expecting much depth in that area.

The CGI, and in particular, the construction of Deadpool’s face, was impressive. If you’re curious about how they managed to make his face as lively as it was in the film through the magic of computer animation, as well as some of the film’s other special effects, I recommend looking at this article on fxguide.

I wouldn’t say that this is a film that you absolutely need to see on the big screen, but it’s definitely one you should see with some friends. Deadpool has been in Australian cinemas since February 11, so I imagine it will be disappearing onto DVD and digital download at some point in the near future. If you’re looking for a film that’s pretty funny but doesn’t take itself too seriously, definitely see Deadpool.

Zootopia

© Disney 2016

© Disney 2016

Not as good as Big Hero 6, but it was pretty damn close.

I missed all the hype for this film. I didn’t watch a single trailer, I might have seen a couple of posters on some busses, and I read someone’s Facebook update about it. I didn’t read a single review, or even check the Rotten Tomatoes score; I just decided to watch the film, largely because of how much I enjoyed Big Hero 6 last year.

This film – along with 2015’s Big Hero 6 – taught me what I already knew: That Disney can make animated films that can rival Pixar’s. Not that many people really needed to be convinced of that.

Zootopia is a very well made film. The animation was great, but the writing was even better. The characters were fleshed out, and their relationships believable. The plot was well written, and it had a very good setting.

Most importantly, the film had a good message. I’ll spare you of my interpretation of the film. All I will say is that it has an important lesson for all of us, and that you’ll get more out of watching the film yourself than you will from reading my interpretation of it.

If you’re not into thrillers, and you’ve already seen Deadpool, definitely watch Zootopia. I think it’s a genuine contender for best animated feature, or at the very least, my favourite film of the year.

What you can miss

The Lady in the Van

© Sony Pictures Classics 2015

© Sony Pictures Classics 2015

The Lady in the Van is a well made film that I just didn’t enjoy.

While it’s a cliché to start a review by saying “I wanted to like this film,” I’m going to start by saying that anyway:

I wanted to like this film.

Maggie Smith, playing as Miss Shepard was great, Alex Jennings was pretty good as well. While Miss Shepard felt like an interesting and fleshed out character, Alan Bennett – who I should point out is in fact a real person who was actually one of the writers for the film – didn’t.

It was a well made movie, it had a nice story, I just didn’t find it engaging. 93% of reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes disagree with me though, so in all likelihood you will too. I don’t think there’s much else to say about it.

The Revenant

© 20th Century Fox 2015

© 20th Century Fox 2015

A really, really nice looking film that I still have no idea how to respond to.

I watched The Revenant with a friend, and I swear the first thing he said to me when the credits started to roll was, “What the f— was the movie?”

I have to agree with him, I really have no idea what to make of it.

The visuals were stunning, breathtaking, spectacular, beautiful – you can run any of those words through a thesaurus, and none of them will do The Revenant’s amazing cinematography justice.

The film had a fairly good story, but there were times where I didn’t engage with it as much as I really should have. For example, early in the movie, one of the characters died. It’s not that I didn’t care about their death, I just didn’t care about it as much as I think I should have.

The Revenant was an odd film. I don’t really know how to describe it, and I’m not going to continue trying.

Kung Fu Panda 3

© 20th Century Fox 2015

© 20th Century Fox 2015

I’m not the film’s target audience, but I’ve seen better from DreamWorks.

Kung Fu Panda 3 was a film, and I watched it. The original Kung Fu Panda came out when I was 10 (don’t do the maths on that), so I’m not terribly surprised that its appeal to me personally had worn off. The animation was good, but the characters were one-dimensional and the ending was predictable.

It was an okay film, but that’s it. Just okay. Someone younger than me would have probably enjoyed it more than I did.