Bob’s 2018 Retrospective: 200 Mini Reviews [Part 2: The Pretty Good and the Pretty Bad]

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Happy New Year fellow geeks!

Introduction (repeated on all parts)

I can’t believe another year has passed! For this site, we’ve only been here since September, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not watched movies all year! You can find my reviews before September at AGeekNamedBob and WatchPlayRead.

I watch a lot of movies. This year I banked 208 2018 films. If you count, you’ll see this list is little shorter than that. I removed festival films that will be wide released in 2019 and those I watched for Crypticon Film Festival. (hey, go to Crypticon!)

And because I love you all, I went through all all of those movies and wrote up a short statement for EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

There are still many I want and need to see, as I watch them over coming years, I’ll update and leave a note for them.

At the end of the year I took all those movies and separated out into a 1 through 5 ranking overall. Hard picks to do – five seems right, but often a 3 can be a bad movie with just enough good to push up, or a good feature with some issues. Thus, the little write up.

Without further ado: I present…

The Pretty Good (4s) and the Pretty Bads (2)

(Part 1 – the Average here) (Part 3- The Best and Worst here)

First! The Pretty Goods!  For both sections, you’ll see it’s alphabetical. Hard to rank so many movies!

22 July

Paul Greengrass tells the tale of survival and aftermath of a terrorist attack. The attack in question was the Norwegian attack by a lone actor. He blew up a van by parliament and then ferried to a resort island filled with the children of the political elite, shooting as many as could. The first act is the attack itself, shocking and harrowing. The back end deals with how the survors deal with their own lives now, and the trial of the attacker. There is no sympathy for the killer, thankfully, but we do follow his lawyer – a man forced to try to defend a monster. This comes to head as the survivors debate to face the killer in court. Heartbreaking, and emotional, 22 July seriously looks into all the aspects following a terrorist attack with strong writing and acting.

American Animals

An audience favorite of the Seattle International Film Festival and the first movie to be distributed by MoviePass, American Animals is an often hilarious tale of a robbery gone wrong. I love fucked-up heist tales, especially if they are true stories. Here we have several born upper-middle class white kids who decide to steal Audubon books from their college’s library. Too bad they have no actual crime experience. But they do have a blockbuster and a ton of heist flicks. Of course, as they develop a plan, each step has far more obstacles than they expect leading to several hilarious set pieces and character interactions. Evan Peters kills it as the lead thief, with trademark manic energy and zest. The rest of the cast is solid, including a small role from Ann Dowd who also made a splash in a small role in Hereditary. Except one. Barry Keoghan. Damn watching him is like watching molasses in the several roles I’ve seen him. There is nothing there.

Keoghan aside, all the other pieces come together well. Seek it out, highly recommended.

Another Wolf Cop

Lou Garou returns in the hilarious follow up to the cult film Wolf Cop. Like the first, it would be easy to lean on the title and not present anything clever, but lucky for us, writer/director Lowell Dean wants to give a great product. Just as crude and clever as the original, if not more so, fans of the original will dig the follow up. Now with more giant, hairy werewolf cock!  Wolfman does have nards. Ever want to see a werewolf have sex with a werecatwoman? If you did, you’re a sick fuck. But prepare to see it now!! Wolf-cop! Fuck yeah!

Premiered at BONEBAT!  Come out to next years – 40+ Comedy horror shorts and two features!

Ant-Man and the Wasp – REVIEW

Marvel’s first film after Avengers: Infinity War (see next entry), it is a much breezier, lighter fare (like the first was after Age of Ultron). Paul Rudd continues to shine as Ant-Man, but Evangeline Lilly is the star as the Wasp. They have great chemistry as a crime-fighting duo and it’s damned good to get her in the costume.  They fight against Ghost, an underwritten but fascinating antagonist (I hold back in calling her a villain bearing her motivation). Ghost’s phasing abilities mixed with the myriad of size changes for the heroes create fantastic and clever action sequences. Good on them for keeping up the humor without just repeating the previous film’s (looking at you Deadpool). Fuck yeah Michelle Pfeiffer.

Aquaman

Heh, putting a DC movie right between two Marvel flicks. Way to go alphabet!

Aquaman is the most enjoyable of all the DC films. I still enjoy Man of Steel for all its issues and Wonder Woman is fantastic until the third act. Aquaman, however, gets better as it goes along. Yes, it is way too long, but that’s something I think about less as I swim away from the viewing. And the dialog is god awful, with exposition layed upon exposition and dammit is it “go here, go here” questy for too much of the second act, but I can forgive those for what does work. Momoa is charming as all hell and looks like he’s having a great time. Love to see Nicole Kidman, Willem DaFoe, and Patrick Wilson ham it up (“OCEAN MASTER!” yells were funny). Amber Heard was dead eyed and bored, but we can’t win them all. The action sequences were wonderfully cartoony – you gotta be when one has Dolph Lundgren riding a seahorse, along with dudes riding sharks with freekin’ laser beams on their foreheads; the one in Greece with Black Manta was the best. Oh, and Julie Andrews is a Cthulhu like monster who Momoa rides her into battle. If that last sentence doesn’t win you over, nothing will.  

Avengers: Infinity War

Mr. Stark. Mr. Stark, I don’t’ want to go…. Infinity War is a massive movie. With dozens of superheroes, villains, and support characters, a multitude of locations, and massive fight sequences, Infinity War brings a hell of lot to the table. But strip away the fight scenes, and we’re left with not a lot of depth to the plotting and characters. I do give Thanos is finally given his motivation and makes him from the “Who is that?” purple dude in the chair to a compelling and might-be-right-in-his-own-way villain. I can’t quite push it to the next level due to incredibly basic story and knowing as shocking as the ending is, we know it’ll be reversed. That said, the action sequences are goddamn amazing, some of the best put on film and it is just wonderful to see all our favorite characters meet and interact. Bring on End Game.

Basement

Basement is a small, but incredibly well done film. A man is kidnapped and forced into a basement (natch). His captor is a madman, taking on the likes of 12 personalities. Yes, there is a Split feeling to it. Except we soon see the kidnapper is telling the man’s story with his imitations. Jackson Davis is great as the kidnapper and the personalities. The downside is a bloody awful twist. Ugh.

Before I Wake –REVIEW

This is technically 2016 (or so), but Mike Flanagan’s “lost” film premiered on Netflix this year, continuing the connection of the company and Flanagan, between Gerald’s Game and The Haunting of Hill House. Close ‘nuff. Anywhoo, Before I Wake shares qualities with the earlier talked about The Keeping Hours. A couple, Thomas Janes and Kate Bosworth, is able to connect to their dead son through supernatural methods. The method here is there adopted child, played by Jacob Tremblay. When Trembay goes to sleep, his dreams come to life, so the couple can see their child based upon the photos and videos Tremblay has seen. Of course, there is a dark presence stalking Tremblay and his his nightmares. When these come to life, it can be terrifying. Great visuals and performances, along with the amazing concept, build an intriguing film. Don’t be taken aback that it sat on the shelf for several years – that is only due to distributor issues not quality of film.

Blockers

Don’t go based on the trailers. The trailers set up a gross-out, anti-female-choice, prudish backwards movie. That gross out bit in the trailer with John Cena butt-chugging a beer? It’s not the movie. There is a wild-night aspect to the film, but it is far less important than what makes the film work. The mentioned backwards mission of the parents to stop their kids from having sex is called out early in the movie as being such. Still, the parents must learn to respect their daughters decisions and understand how close to adulthood they are. It’s a film about taking that step forward for the girls, and how the parents can learn and grow themselves. Each of the girls is well written, distinct and each has a different level of maturity, which is well thought out as people at their age can be all over the place. The interactions of Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, and John Cena are natural as well. It’s a fine film with a shit trailer.

Bohemian Rhapsody

When it comes down to it, the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic is a standard, by-the-numbers, historical telling of a man/band’s ups and downs. But it’s one bouyed up  by a career-making, life-like, iconic performance. Rami Malek deserves all the accolades that have been heaped upon him for Freddie. He becomes Freddie from head to toe, wearing his skin and those horse-sized chompers. The rest? Just as you’d expect. They rise, they fight, they have inner-band issues, they overcome, they break up (never happened),.Freddie learns a lesson and comes back (also didn’t happen), and end of a huge number.There is a large amount of repetition. They band fights, then one person has an idea, we see a little of the idea being worked on, jump to the concert scene. Hey, a song you know! Everyone sing along!  On that huge number – the Live Aid climax is so damned exhilarating. It felt like we were there, rocking with Freddie and Queen. Yes, the film doesn’t really erase Freddie had AIDS or liked men as early notes thought it would. Freddie found out about his AIDS after the movie ends, but I’m fine with it moving forward in the film. There is an issue with bi-erasure that is problematic.

I expect changes in a biopic but it all just came out soft and normal. On the plus note, the guys playing Queen (including Jurassic Park’s Timmy as John Deacon) are so spot on it’s uncanny.

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