My Top 10 Films of 2016

That I saw in the cinema. Full logic to come later.

1 – Kubo and the Two Strings

2 – The Jungle Book

3 – Captain America: Civil War

4 – Suicide Squad

5 – Batman vs Superman

6 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

7 – Star Trek Beyond

8 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2

9 – Doctor Strange

10 – X-Men: Apocalypse

I know I am very part of the problem because Kubo is the only one of the films that isn’t a sequel or related to an existing property. And while I’m sure about the order down to 4, 5 through to 8 are very much in flux.

My lunatic plan for the Mercedes Second Seat

Or musical Formula 1 chairs

While I am completely in favour of whoever Mercedes pick, as long as it’s Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg or Pascal Wehrlein, this is my plan on what to do with the second Mercedes seat.

I came up with this when I realised that there were 20 races per season and 20 other non-Hamilton drivers.

You might have guessed where this is going.

The other drivers draw a number from a hat, from 1 to 20.  Each race is numbered 1 to 20.  The driver with that number gets the second Mercedes seat for that race.

While I am aware of all kind of problems with that, not least of all practise time and getting race seats fitted, think of all the fun arguments it would settle.  For instance, Hamilton vs Vettel in the same car.  Think also of the fun arguments it would start.  For instance “no fair, driver X only had the seat at race Y which gave him no chance,” or “just typical, Z was in the Mercedes the time it failed.”  It would mean we could actually compare say Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen, or argue that the two races they were in were too different to compare.

So, what’s in it for the other teams?

Well, as well as driver two’s points counting for Mercedes, they count for their home team too.  Which means that the fight between the teams at the back might get a bit closer, and a bit more interesting (sorry to the Manor fans I know).

The smaller teams might be able to wring more money out of their pay drivers which should help their development for 2018.

What’s in it for Mercedes?

Very little, other than my eternal gratitude.  But they’d also be able to show how good their car was if they won the constructor’s title despite this nonsense.

I know it’s never going to happen, but wouldn’t it be fun.

On Nico Rosberg’s Retirement

Rosberg’s retirement didn’t surprise me as much as it seems to have shocked other people. The timing surprised me, I am not Nostradamus, but not him retiring.

Rosberg has always struck me as a sensible person, in both senses of the word.  I think he knows he’s not a better racing driver than Hamilton and that one World Championship is likely to be as good as it gets.  I think he also knows that there’s no point in carrying on doing something you don’t enjoy when you’ve achieved all you can and have all the money you will ever need.  There was also a certain amount of writing on the wall about his future given how slow Mercedes were being to renew his contract in mid-season.

I have no idea what Rosberg plans to do next, but I hope he has a lot of fun.

I think part of the reason people were so taken aback by his retirement is that most of us would do any number of truly terrible things to become Formula 1 drivers. Yet, there he is, walking away from the best car in the pack, a car that’s still likely to be the best next year, even with the rule changes.

Of course, I suspect that being an F1 driver is one of those things that looks a lot more fun than it actually is.  We get to see the best bits, the actual racing, not the hours of testing, simulating, and work that goes into it.  While it’s about F1 mechanics, there was a really interesting article on the BBC website about the realities of life in Formula 1 which I would recommend.

There is a large part of me that respects Rosberg for leaving as much as anything else he’s done because there must have been great pressure on him to stay.

One thing that does interest me is the number of people who refuse to believe that Rosberg has retired because he wants to spend more time with his family.  Now I know that it’s the traditional fake reason for politicians, but look at Rosberg’s life.  He’s got a wife and a new daughter, that the job kept him away from.  He’s made all the money he’s ever going to need, so he doesn’t need the job, and the job has already killed someone he knew.  If you look at it like that, it makes a lot of sense.
I’m also interested in the way that when a female sportsperson retires to start a family or spend more time with hers, it’s treated as perfectly normal, but if a male sportsperson does it, the sportsman is lying.  People either have a really skewed view of the world, or they don’t think that men love their families as much as women do.  Either way, I feel so sorry for people who feel like that, they seem to be missing out on rather a lot of joy in their lives.

Perfectly Gentlemanly Conduct

I’ve got no problem with what Lewis Hamilton did at the Abu Dhabi grand prix. This is for two reasons :

1 – I am a Ferrari fan and while the team motto isn’t “we lie, we cheat, we steal” it easily could be. I have no room to complain about anyone bending the rules.

2 – Hamilton was fighting for the world title. Nothing he did endangered anyone’s safety, and Mercedes had already won the constructors World title. There was nothing wrong with what Hamilton did and I’m still not sure why the Mercedes team management tried to interfere.

My only problem comes when he tries to pretend he didn’t deliberately slow down to try to help Vettel and Verstappen try to overtake Rosberg. It’s like “Lewis, who do you think you’re kidding?” The superiority of the Mercedes to the other cars has been a theme for the past few seasons. It was half a second faster than the next nearest car in qualifying. You can say all you want about tire and fuel management, but there are limits. If he’d said it while tipping a wink, it wouldn’t be so bad. Instead he bald-facedly said he was driving the car at its maximum, when it was clear to everyone from team management down that he wasn’t.

Nobody would think any the less of him for trying everything he could. All of us would have done something similar for such an important prize.

So why lie? It’s not like Formula 1 isn’t a sport known for its skullduggery. For example Red Bull’s flexible wings, Brawn’s F-ducts and everything Ferrari did in the years 1996-2009.

I can only imagine he’s either trying to live up to his image of Senna or he’s trying to protect the Lewis Hamilton brand. I’m not sure if either of those two are reasonable.

That image of Senna bares no resemblance to the Senna I remember. The real Senna punched Eddie Irvine and rammed Prost off the road. I think everyone loved Senna with all his flaws a lot more than they would have loved the milquetoast saint he’s sometimes made out to be. For similar reasons, I’m not convinced that Brand Hamiliton wouldn’t profit from him showing a more fighting side. Because of the technical dominance of Mercedes, the last two of Hamilton’s title wins have had the air of coronations about them. I think people love a fighting champ a lot more than a serene one. Being willing to show a little steel would have endeared him to people more than ‘I didn’t do it’ does.

Doctor Strange

 

Doctor Strange is a brilliant example of the danger of expectations.

I expected cool SFX and Mads Mikkelsen. I got that, and bonus Benedict Wong, so I was happy. L expected a film that actually worked on its own merits and was left disappointed. It is quite a flat film, that spends most of its time setting up its own sequel and whatever the Marvel Cinematic Universe equivalent of the Infinity Wars is going to be.

It’s also telling that the memorable scenes are the ones with very little in the way of obvious SFX, where they give the actors are given something to do.

I want 16 films of Rachel McAdams’s Nurse Palmer going ‘oh FFS’ at superheroics. But then again I am entirely happy with the idea of 16 films with Rachel McAdams in. Dear Hollywood, please cast her in more things.

Spoilers Underneath

For all that I’m supposed to think Doctor Strange is a bit much, he’s not actually that much worse than several doctors I know.

I know that Marvel have said that the flyer with a broken spine is not Rhodey, but 1) I think they’re lying and 2) if it’s Sam Wilson, I riot.

I can’t help but feel more sorry for Doctor Strange in the scene where he shouts at Christine than the film wants me to, not least because he was a lot more polite than I would have been. I don’t know if that’s because I know how much time and effort you have to become a neurosurgeon, never mind one at the top of his field. I did like the irony of other surgeons saying to him re: his condition.

One interesting thing is how much Kaecilius thinks that what he’s doing is the right thing (as does Mordo, and the Ancient One).

I can see why people make the Tony Stark / Stephen Strange parallels, except it misses the important thing about them. Tony is driven by not wanting to let his father down, while Stephen Strange is driven by his belief in his own greatness. Strange doesn’t have the same self-destructive tendencies as Tony. Tony would happily get himself killed several times over to save the Earth or Universe, but I doubt he’d have come up with a plan that got himself out of it alive too.

They’ve also got very different attitudes to killing people. I like how seriously Doctor Strange takes the whole try not to kill thing. The fight scenes did lead to me going hallo there Scott Adkins. He has joined that select group of people that I recognise from their shoulders. Maybe recognise isn’t the right word, because I couldn’t put a name to the shoulders, but I did go ‘I know those shoulders from somewhere else’.

Like lots of superhero films, both Marvel and not, the end boss is a bit of an anti-climax. Although I am deeply amused by the method used to defeat him, it all seemed so easy, and the cost doesn’t become apparent until the end stinger.

Saying Chiwetel Ejiofor is good is telling you stuff you already know, but he was oh so good when the film finally gave him something to do. It meant that for all that this film was flat, I am looking forward to the sequel just for Mordo vs Strange. But that’s exactly what I mean when I say the film spent a lot of time setting up its sequel rather than being its own film.

End Spoilers

Disney Marvel are missing out on oodles of money by not having a Doctor Strange replica cape for sale. As this isn’t like them at all, I do wonder if it’s to avoid lawsuits from parents of children who try to levitate. If they do ever bring out a replica cape, I will be all over that.

I am very aware of the film’s flaws, but I am the target audience so I enjoyed it. To paraphrase N on Facebook, “make a competent films with Marvel Studios at the beginning and I’ll enjoy it”.