By December 2021, despite a rather disappointing start, I’d ended last year’s review feeling that the film industry was in a much better place than it had been over COVID and feeling hopeful that 2022 would only get better still. However, despite some major releases this year and a few unexpectedly brilliant watches, overall 2022 has been a bit of a disappointment.
January got off to a great start for me with the release of Scream, the 5th film in the Scream franchise. I hadn’t been expecting much from this, but it turned out to be one of the best horror films I’ve seen in recent years. It brought back everything I loved from the first film and became almost a homage, with its meta self-referential nature, very clever dialogue and some of the most brutal and shocking deaths in the franchise so far. I’d take a slasher like these over modern elevated horrors any day.
March saw the much-awaited release of the latest Batman reboot starring Robert Pattinson, The Batman. As a huge fan of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, I hadn’t been looking forward to this but the end result proved me wrong. It’s a dark, gritty and almost scary version of Batman with a beautiful gothic aesthetic. The detective-crime style plot works incredibly well and the cast too, who I had major doubts over beforehand, won me over and put in some fantastic performances. The only flaw was over the emo version of Bruce Wayne.
Another surprise DC hit was the TV series Peacemaker, following on from last year’s The Suicide Squad (which also featured in my 2021 end-of-year review). I’d been sceptical about this series as Peacemaker as a character wavered between being funny and incredibly annoying, but James Gunn made a genuinely hilarious and fantastic show out of what was a rather unlikeable character. John Cena is perfect as Peacemaker and not only was this full of fun and silliness but also a lot of heart. And it has by far the best opening credits sequence in any show I’ve ever seen and is not to be missed.
Moving on from DC, Marvel has had a rather hit-and-miss year in 2022. With a number of much-awaited sequels and new series, not all hit the mark. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder were disappointing at best along with She-Hulk and Ms Marvel. However Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was a surprising hit with a beautiful and rather emotional send-off to Chadwick Boseman. And the best Marvel release this year was Moon Knight, the first series released that was completely unlinked to the rest of the MCU. It was a risky move but the end result was an interesting and brilliant show that just proved that not everything Marvel needs to tie in with the wider MCU. Isaac puts in an incredible performance, and the plot and Egyptology focus was fascinating. There are rumours that this was a standalone series, but this is one I’d be very disappointed not to see more of.
This summer saw the return of a number of series, most memorable for me being Stranger Things and The Umbrella Academy. Stranger Things season 4 returned in two parts, which for me was a very questionable decision and not one that worked. Fortunately, the plot was as engaging and entertaining as ever to make up for the poor structuring choices, although the ending to Part Two did make the entire series feel like filler for the final fifth season. The Umbrella Academy, however, is admittedly one of my favourite shows and season 3 released in June did not disappoint. The same wacky, hilarious family dynamic was back and as entertaining as ever, and the ending just left me crying out for more. Fortunately, there’ll be a season 4, although sadly it will be the last.
Films-wise, 2022 has been a bit of a disappointment both in the cinema and streaming at home, however, there were some notable releases. Channing Tatum’s Dog was a surprise hit for me that while advertised as a buddy comedy, was actually a heart-warming and often rather serious drama and featured Tatum in his best performance to date. Nope was Jordan Peele’s third feature film release and probably the most polarising and frustrating film I saw all year. It was tense, genuinely terrifying in parts and featured some brilliantly executed sci-fi horror, however, it was spoilt by the big reveal ending and the sheer number of erroneous scenes that detracted from the rest of the plot. I also want to give a shout-out to Hocus Pocus 2, which surpassed my expectations for a sequel. The original was one of my childhood favourites and while this sequel doesn’t quite live up to the original, it is still a fun, entertaining romp that is packed full of nostalgic charm that manages to avoid feeling like a carbon copy.
The second half of 2022 finally saw the release of House of the Dragon, the prequel series to Game of Thrones. I had a lot of misgivings about this show and whether we really needed to see more, but I was happy to be proved wrong. I was hooked after episode 1 and it had everything that I’d come to love from Game of Thrones with all of the politics, backstabbing, blood and gore and a clever script. It tries to tell a very convoluted storyline maybe a little too quickly, but this is another show I can’t wait to see more of.
The back end of 2022 continued with the trend of disappointing films which was exacerbated by my local cinema either not showing a number of new releases or not keeping them on for long enough to get a chance to watch them! That said, the last film I did manage to see at the cinemas in 2022 was The Menu, and it was certainly a great film to end my cinema-going trips for the year. It’s a deliciously fun comedy thriller that has moments of pure genius, and as a bit of a foodie myself I loved the mockery of fancy gastronomy and high-end restaurants.
The final film deserving of a mention is The Banshees of Inisherin. This is the second collaboration between director Martin McDonagh and stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson after the rather brilliant In Bruges back in 2008, which is one of my all-time favourite films. While Banshees is a lot more serious and slower-paced, it’s full of heart and brilliant Irish humour.
Sadly despite some unexpected gems, 2022 has been a disappointment overall. I think this is partly down to a limited number of releases, both from the production delays due to the fallout from coronavirus and also due to questionable scheduling from my local cinema. There were certainly some highlights, but I’m hoping 2023 will be an improvement.
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!