2018 In Film Part 5: The Amazing

Right, you can probably guess what I thought about these films. Enough faffing about, let’s do this!

A Quiet Place

This is a film that gives zero shits about you being comfortable. It kills a child in the opening scene. I genuinely loved this film, not just because of what it was, but what it represented; an innovative idea in cinema. I hope the sequel doesn’t destroy the legacy that this one built, fingers crossed. Everything about this is superb; the performances, the look, the originality. Well worth a watch.

Original review here

+It changes how you watch cinema, you end up being an active watcher, too scared to make any noise.

-This film doesn’t work in certain conditions (I tried watching it on a plane and it just did not work at all)

Blackkklansman

This admittedly plays fast and loose with the truth, and to be honest is all the better for it. It seems to acknowledge its own falsehoods which makes it okay. At first I thought the ending went on too long, but by the time it finished I felt inspired to go fuck shit up. This is a film that will inspire you, not to make films, but to make a difference.

Original review here

+The fact it’s true.

-Some of the characters seem a bit one-note.

Black Panther

This film so damn good. First off, the villain could easily be the hero of a different movie. I think its the first Marvel film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and it’s fully deserved. Not the Marvel film I’ve enjoyed the most, but certainly the most complete and cinematic they’ve got, and without a doubt the most culturally important.

Original review here

+The effort that went into the set and costume design.

-The CGI in the final fight scene is a bit off at times.

Blockers

I’d understand if people didn’t agree with this, if they thought it should have gone in the “good” section instead of this one. But I don’t hide that this is entirely subjective and based on personal opinion, and in my personal opinion this film was amazing. It was great to see a sex-based teen comedy from a perspective that wasn’t just teenage males. This had the teenage girl perspective, and the parent perspective. Incredibly funny and sweet, I just love it so much.

Original review here

+Geraldine Viswanathan is a star in the making (if there’s any justice)

-Some questionable music choices.

Coco

What can I say about this film that hasn’t been said already? I could say it’s bad, nobody has said that, because it would be bullshit. This film is amazing. It’s almost as emotional as Inside Out. Everything about it is just so perfectly done. It’s done with love, love for the story being told, love for the culture, and love for the medium of film.

Original review here

+It’s great at showing the love and passion people have for music.

-Might not resonate with kids due to the themes.

Deadpool 2

Is this film going to change your life? No. Does it have a great plot? No. Is the pacing great? No. Is it visually impressive? Not really. Is it INCREDIBLY fun? Yes. I actually preferred it the first one. It had a better plot, was funnier, more meta (What’s a meta? Nothing, what’s a meta with you?), and much better directed. I love the first one don’t get me wrong, but even when someone was beating the shit out of Deadpool you couldn’t really feel it. In this one, when he gets hurt, you really feel it, so even though the character is effectively unkillable, he doesn’t feel invulnerable.

Original review here

+The opening scene set to Dolly Parton’s 9-to-5 is perfection.

-Drags in some places.

Ghost Stories

Was a massive fan of this. Not really “Arghhhhhh” scary. But very “sitting behind the sofa in fear” scary. It was essentially the cinematic equivalent of reading a ghost story. Everything about it was just perfectly done. And you’ll find yourself annoyed that you didn’t guess the ending considering that really it’s the only logical way it could have ended.

Original review here

+The never-ending sense of dread.

-Some of the make-up and effects could be a bit better.

Halloween

Full disclosure. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Halloween movie. I’m aware of them, and the tropes they have, and the history of the franchise etc but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them (I’ve seen bits of the first one when I was younger) so I wasn’t exactly going into this with the weight of the franchise on me. I wasn’t going in thinking “this will be the comeback”. That being said, this is the comeback. It’s a back to basic horror, he doesn’t set elaborate traps or depend on luck. He moves slowly and he kills things, that’s it. That’s the character. And it works in this. He is utterly terrifying as a character in this movie. People talk about how they would beat certain movie characters, you would struggle to beat this one, he’s a real force to be reckoned with. And Laurie Strode gets just as much attention as he does, which is important for horror movies. The reason I don’t like a lot of horror films is I don’t care for the characters. There is usually so much focus on the killer that the victims aren’t fleshed out so you don’t really care what happens to them. This is the opposite, if some of the characters in this died, you would feel emotionally impacted.

Original review here

+Laurie Strode is bad-ass.

-There’s one death in particular which just looks a bit silly.

I, Tonya

I enjoyed this film, and will gladly watch it again. Despite knowing the basic story of what happened, I still wanted to see how it unfolded. It’s difficult to trust it as a historical source but you’re so entertained that it doesn’t really care. The soundtrack is also great, as are the performances. I don’t think it deserved academy award nominations, but it was incredibly good.

Original review here

+The attention they took on some of the interviews to make them look dated.

-The fact that the idiot character is the only one of the main characters who is dead right now. Felt a little uneasy

I Kill Giants

Knew barely anything about this film going in, and it was on netflix so I was uneasy. I loved it though. So much. The main character was engaging, the story was heartbreaking, and Madison Wolfe continues to be great. This was going to go in the “good” one, then I remembered this.

46074284_2153545461376960_5249920125708009472_o

I cannot put a film that has THAT line in it in just the good. This film was great and I loved it. Also the unwritten rule for this blog is “Do I really NEED it on DVD?”. I got the DVD for this the day after watching it, so I guess that answers that.

Original review here

+The main character is one of the best of the year.

-Slightly too reminiscent of A Monster Calls (this is a plus for me though as I loved that film)

The Incredibles 2

This film was incredible and I loved almost every moment of it. Yes the reveal of the villain was obvious, but I didn’t care because I was so into the story. The animation as well is as great as you expect, EVERYTHING looks crisp and loaded with detail to the point you forget it’s animated at times. Also need to show love for the action scenes, they’re stunningly thought out and inventive.

Original review here

+It’s a mainstream animated film that deals with masculinity and feelings of worthlessness.

-Fourteen years! Fourteen years we waited for this!

Lady Bird

I can get why somebody would not like this film. Actually screw that, I can get why people would HATE this film. It’s not for everybody, and that’s okay. The structure is all over the place and you probably will find the character annoying. I LOVED it though. I found it was like watching a series of polaroid pictures. This film felt incredibly personal, and it will forever hold a place in my heart, I’m just not sure why.

Original review here

+The general ambience. It FELT lovely.

-Be wary of showing this film to someone as they could easily hate it.

Searching

Where did this come from? Gimmick movies usually stop being great once you see past the gimmick. And the gimmick in this was also used in Unfriended, and I hated that film. So how did this end up being one of (if not THE) greatest film I’ve seen this year? The performances were good, yes, but it’s not that which elevates it. I think it all comes down to story. The script for this is GREAT. A mystery film which takes so many twists and turns you think it’s lost. Everytime you think the answer is obvious this film tells you why you’re wrong. The ending is the only logical way the story could go, and it’s genius. Everything about it is fantastic.

Original review here

+Original concept, brilliantly done.

-As a writer it will make you intensely jealous.

The Shape Of Water

Certainly an interesting film. There is a chance you might be too weirded out by it, I mean, it’s a woman fucking a fish-creature. But it’s so full of warmth and magic that if you like it you’ll adore it. All the pieces fit together like a beautiful puzzle piece; the music, the performances, the universe its set in, it all merges together to create something truly beautiful.

Original review here

+The music. So good,

-Might be bit too weird for some.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

An incredibly good movie. Easily matches up (and possibly surpasses) Homecoming. Emotional, funny, and written with a true love for the character and the genre. It also has one of the best soundtracks of the year. If you didn’t hear it you wouldn’t immediately think “Spider-Man”, but once you’ve seen the film you won’t be able to unmake the connection. Some films have great songs, but they don’t particularly match the film that much, and are more compilation albums than soundtracks. This is different, the songs really suit this, they seemingly transport you to a certain mood.

Original review here

+The love for the character is really obvious to see here. This was done with great affection.

-The flashing lights which happen without warning and could trigger migraines in people or cause issues for epilepsy sufferers.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

So good, so, so good, but brutal as fuck. Not in terms of violence, mainly in terms of tone. A film that makes you hate the world, but love film. Won a lot of awards and every single one of them was deserved. Featured some of the best performances of the year, and incredible dialogue which will make you laugh in spite of yourself. Well worth a watch, but prepare something nice for afterwards.

Original review here

+The natural flow of it feels incredibly realistic.

-The lack of a definitive ending may put people off.

 

So, that’s the films of 2018 ranked, the awards will be coming soon, and lets just say some will fare a lot better than others. Reviews of Stan And Ollie, and Glass will be up soon so enjoy them. Let’s hope 2019 is even better

Advertisements

Tomb Raider (2018)

This is definitely the best video game film I’ve seen, although that’s like describing something as “the best smelling piece of faeces”. Video game movies don’t have the best reputation, and for a good reason, most of them are REALLY bad. Like “worst films ever” level of bad. I’m not entirely sure why but I have theories. One is that the movie industry doesn’t take video games seriously so when they make video game movies they don’t do any research into what made the game work, or why people like it. They usually just look at a still image of it and take it from there (for Super Mario I’m not even sure they did that. I would actually love to hear a podcast series where people interview scriptwriters, directors and studio executives to see how certain films came out as bad as they did). So they go in just paying lip service to the source material and it comes out terrible. The other theory is that they deliberately don’t put much effort in as they know “the name will sell it”, then the film gets bad reviews and nobody sees it. This causes it to fail, which then makes studios less likely to put effort into similar future releases as “they always fail” causing a circular journey of failure (which is the title of my biography). The annoying thing is they can be good, some of the best storytelling of modern times has been in video games (especially in terms of original concepts), so if they were made by people who knew what they were doing they could end up being cult classics.

You can tell a lot of effort went into making this, and yes, I am aware of how super condescending that sounds “they tried really hard”. But when watching this you can tell that this won’t be anybody’s old shame. This is one of the few video game movies that works as a movie, to the point where you almost forget it’s based on a game. Admittedly that might be because I missed a lot of references to the games as I’ve never played them (I was always more of a Nintendo person). The trouble with a lot of video game films is they focus more on the “video game” parts, so if you’re not a fan of the games you’ll detest the films, or they’ll be so full of unsubtle references that you sit there going “I assume that would be very entertaining if I got the reference”. This is a movie, first and foremost, it’s not just a video game movie, it’s an action movie that happens to be based on a video game. Which is how it should be, people don’t describe Rambo, Princess Diaries, or Jaws as “book movies”, they’re just “movies”. I’m hoping this film changes things, and that we will soon get more movies like this. Eternal Darkness, for example, would make a great horror movie, and the fact there’s not even rumours of a Saints Row film is confusing to me, after Deadpool proved that that kind of humour in films can make a lot of money, that should have been optioned by somebody and made.

I suppose I should actually talk about the film itself. The story is simple but effective, you’re not going to be wowed by the script really, it’s incredibly workmanlike. It has a job to do and it gets it done. Performances vary, but Alicia “looks like Brie Larson in some films, and Natalie Portman in others” Vikander (yes, that is actually her middle name, honest) does exactly what she needs to. You won’t remember her performance at the end of the year but that’s not a bad thing, on the plus side it means it wasn’t bad enough to become notable (and let’s face it, it’s going to be incredibly hard to stand out as a good performance in a year which both The Shape Of Water and Three Billboards were released). That’s a summary for this film, you won’t love it, but you certainly can’t hate it, and if somebody said it was their favourite film you wouldn’t judge them as much as you would if they said it was Resident Evil, in which case you’d be well within your rights to shoot them.

The Shape Of Water (2017)

Don’t watch this film! I mean it, do not watch this film. It’s one of those films that’s actually impossible to sit down and watch. You do not watch this, you absorb it. You sit back and let it take over every single ounce of your being. You sit there and marvel at the beauty you see before you, this is cinema as art, and is one of the most awe-inspiring things you’ll see all year. Guillermo Del Toro should now be given free reign to make whatever film he wants. Actually, I’d love to see him do an episode of Doctor Who or Black Mirror. Every shot looks like a watercolour painting, full of the majesty of colours and wonder. The music too is superb, you won’t leave the cinema humming the melodies or anything, but it enhances every single scene it’s in, it really compliments the images to the point where it almost seems like the scenes were made to match up with the music, as opposed to the scene coming first and music being decided later.

It’s not just behind the scenes though, the people in front of camera help make this brilliant. Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones deserve every accolade thrown their way. They’re mute characters who have to lead the film, that’s not easy. It could be argued that it’s slightly easier for Sally Hawkins as she at least gets sign language to utilise, but that’s like saying it’s easier to run a marathon with one leg than no legs. It still takes remarkable skill from her. Ordinarily this would be the best performance I see all year, but unfortunately for her, Three Billboards also exists. It’s a shame that both existed in the same year as it meant one had to lose out on deserved awards. Doug Jones is also pretty darn great in this, doing sooooo much with body language that you kind of don’t realise he’s not speaking, he doesn’t need to.

The supporting cast also pulls their weight, obviously since Richard Jenkins got nominated for best supporting actor. Michael Shannon also deserves praise. His character is utterly reprehensible, partly due to the writing, but also due to how he plays it. He completely loses himself in the character, holding absolutely nothing back.

My main issue with this film? It’s really hard to criticise. It’s all so beautiful, everyone is so great, and the story is so heart-warming and emotional, it ties all the loose ends up but also leaves room for different interpretations and questions about the characters. That’s why this review has been so hard to write, it’s difficult to make “this film is amazing!” into a compelling piece of writing. That’s my opinion though, others think differently. Not many others though, mainly Rex Reed from the New York Observer. Who wrote (and I won’t link to it, I don’t want to increase his views):

“This horror film masquerading as a fairy tale is about a mute woman who cleans toilets, scrubs floors and falls in love with a monster from beneath the sea. The pathetic girl is played by the wonderful British actress Sally Hawkins, who specializes in defective creatures herself.”

A few points: 1) it’s not a horror film. At all, it’s a fantasy film. It may use a few horror tropes and conventions, but it’s still at its heart a fantasy film, albeit one aimed at adults.

2) “pathetic girl”. Fuck you. Fuck you in the ear. She’s not pathetic, and if you think that then I worry for you.

3) “defective creatures”. Ok, this is just a horribly offensive comment. Just because someone is mute does not make them a defective creature you ableist asswipe.

The review only goes downhill from there, referring to Get Out as “overrated piece of junk” and getting the director’s name wrong. Look, I know Benicio Del Toro is a good actor, but he’s not a director. Yes, they have similar names, but you can’t call yourself a film reviewer if you can’t distinguish between the two. It would be like getting Billie Joe Armstrong and Billie Jean King confused. I find negative reviews fascinating when they’ve clearly not actually watched the film. The best example of this was Toy Story 3 where the reviewer seemed to only watch the opening 5 minutes, getting the villain wrong, the story wrong, and his final mark wrong. Don’t be like that guy, don’t be wrong. Buy a ticket to Shape Of Water and revel in its greatness, you’ll thank me.

Game Night (2018)

I saw this as the final film in a 3-film binge at the cinema which also included I, Tonya and The Shape Of Water. So it was a weird contrast, started with two films which have pretty much swept all the awards this season, and then ended with one that definitely didn’t. So it came as a surprise that I was really impressed with a lot in this. Visually it did more than I expected it to. A lot of the establishing shots were set up and lit so that the houses looked more like toy models on a board game. It’s a great visual trick and one that wasn’t actually needed, which makes me appreciate it even more. They could have just done them normally, but the fact they did, was cute and added to the film. This film is actually a lot better in a cinematic sense than you expect, not just with the aforementioned establishing shots, but also the action scenes. They’re not quickly done, the action lingers on and is really well constructed. Shout out has to go a scene involving the characters playing keep-away with a Faberge egg. A seemingly one-shot scene that tracks all the way through a house and involves all the characters at different locations in the house. A remarkable achievement and one that will surely land in my “best scenes of the year” come years end.

So onto the rest of the film. This wasn’t the best film I’ve seen, but it was very very good. Was funny, had more twists than a pretzel, and the performances did what they needed to. It’s basically the cinematic equivalent of a burger, it won’t change your life, and you won’t rush out to consume it again, but it is incredibly enjoyable whilst it lasts, and you will have fond memories of it.

Back to the performances; Billy Magnussen, in particular, was impressive. From what I saw in the trailers, and from his opening scene, I assumed his performance would be “Poundland Alan Tudyk”, but it was a great performance. So more like the Pepsi to Tudyk’s Coca-Cola, not quite the same but enough similarities where you like it anyway. His character is basically a smart idiot, which is always a great character for comedy. Actually, the entire thing is full of well-developed characters. 10 characters are given extensive screen time, they all have their own personalities and quirks. Whilst the film itself doesn’t really lend itself to a sequel, the characters do.

I feel special mention has to go to Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams. Not only for their performances on their own but also their on-screen chemistry. They make an easily believable onscreen couple, which makes it easier to root for them. Also, thank God this film doesn’t go with the traditional “couple fights after a misunderstanding” sub-plot. No matter what goes on in the film they’re a tight couple, it’s actually genuinely heartwarming and sweet to see such an idyllic vision of love and relationships in modern cinema. The montage where we see their relationship develop and grow is a brilliant piece of relationship-building, very good, very funny, and incredibly sweet.

So, in summary. I’d highly recommend this film, a welcome piece of comedy to watch during the overly serious Oscar season. A fun caper that you can lose yourself in briefly. Buy on DVD if you see it in a 2 for 1 deal.