Bob’s 2018 Retrospective: 200 Mini-reviews! [Part 1: The Average]

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Outlaw King

You know, the Netflix movie with Chris Pine Peen. Outside of that notable moment, Outlaw King tells the story of Robert the Bruce; the other main character in Braveheart. Telling a little more true story than Braveheart, Chris Pine is fantastic as Robert as he attempts to keep Scotland free from England’s rule, and one can see the toll the decions he has to make so well. It’s good to see Pine in a more dramatic role as well. DIRECTOR’S film features incredible action sequences, and a wild performance by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Also, I appreciate it either was filmed in natural light or looks so damned close it might as well be. A wonderful choice and makes the film feel more honest.

Peter Rabbit

Here’s a surprise. I really liked Peter Rabbit. I groaned through every trailer, shaking head and rolling eyes. But I was bored on a plane and shrugged “eh, why not” Plus it has Domhnall Gleeson (woo!) and Rose Byrne!  (and a cameo by SAM FUCKIN’ NEILL). While the trailer focused on low body humor, the movie itself is often charming with good gags and voice performances. The CG is pretty solid, and merges well with the real world. This helps the slapstick flow as well. I don’t’ regret watching it, and it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised.

Polka King

The Netflix narrative version of the documentary The Man Who Would Be Polka King isn’t nearly as strong as it’s source, although it is worthy of a watch. Jack Black stars as the Polish born Pennsylvania Polka King who became the mastermind of several giant ponzi schemes. The filmed version is more of a cynical dark comedy than the “check this out” tone of the documentary; and makes Jan more of a darker character than the innocently naive real life. But it’ still funny and often jaw dropping in what happens, but really just see the doc instead.

Predator

Talk about a disappointment. Bringing Shane Black back into the Predator franchise, writing with Fred Dekker seemed like a great idea. Black writes and directs great scripts. I expected hard action, great quips, and gore. But he stocks the film with a gaggle of inane characters who never seem to note the danger they are in with non-stop jokes, inane plotting, and underwhelming action. On that character note, go back to the first film. You got a group of the toughest badasses on earth versus a single Predator. Not only are they wiped out, but the are scared and at a loss when it happens. These new guys just shrug it off. Lets’s not talk about how the “twist” makes no fuckin’ sense in the course of the film.

Pyewacket

Be careful what you wish for. A teenage girl feuding with her mother after the death of her dad puts a death curse on mom (Laurie Holden). Ultimately a film about consequences to one’s actions. It builds well with solid performances and sequences. I dig it.

Ready Player One

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline suffers not for anything Spielberg did, I lay so much on Cline’s novel and script. I like the book to a degree – the constant references get overwhelming and annoying after a while, and there are major character issues. Being on film, we no longer have to have Wade explain all the references to the reader, so that’s a plus. Much better to have just the onslaught. The character issues aren’t really fixed though, in fact made more so by lessening the time given to the supporting characters. So, we get a mixed bag. The info-hunting sequences drag and are filled with exposition. However, the quest scenes are amazing.  The first race sequence is thrilling and so much fun. Holy shit, The Shining bit is pure brilliance and easily the highlight of the movie. The loving recreation of the Overlook and all the ways its twisted for the movie are just wonderful. Other people dug the movie more than I, and I can see why. I don’t fault them. Check it out, may click for you. Plus, it’s Spielberg and that’s nearly always something worth it.

[star]

This is a hard one to rate as it’s not a standard film, but a very interesting experiment. The filmmakers went through hundreds of films and cut them to only starscapes, arranged chronologically. Clear ones at that, no objects, people, etc. Yeah, that might seem like it would wear off the novelty soon, but strangely it does not. It’s odd to engage with, well, nothing. It makes an unique way to explore the history of film.  It was fun to try to guess what year we’re in until you recognize a noise, line, or music cue. When a Star Wars comes through it always got a reaction from the audience and set a moment. It’s niche, but neat.

Stephanie – REVIEW 

The first act, the titular ten year old alone in her house, save a dead boy in a bed. As she lives as best she can alone, we wonder what the heck happened and what will happen. It’s a great short film if it stopped there. And ACTRESS pulls off just playing off herself for forty minutes, a feat for a new and young actress. The back portion of the film is good enough, but becomes a little standard. But it has Frank Grillo and Anna Torv!

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