Archive for the ‘movie reviews’ Category

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The Favourite (2018)

February 21, 2019

The Favourite (2018)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Dogtooth)
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? There were a lot of things done extremely well in The Favourite. First off, the acting from the three female leads was top notch. This is Emma Stone’s earliest period piece and while she mostly blends in to the time period, she also adds the slightest tinge of modernity, a touch that I actually enjoyed. Even better is Rachel Weisz, someone I used to think of as a poor (wo)man’s Kate Winslet, but director Yorgos Lanthimos seems to bring out the best in her, as she was also great in his last film The Lobster. Olivia Colman gives the film’s best performance though, as she is utterly devastating as Queen Anne, and delivers the only challenge to Lady Gaga for Best Actress that I’ve seen so far.

The Favourite is also a rather beautiful film. The production design, costumes, hairstyle and makeup are all Oscar-worthy. And I loved the music. It is hard to ignore and really elevates the mood.

All that said, I thought The Favourite was a bit challenging and not necessarily in a good way. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. While the tension between the three leads is easy enough to follow, I couldn’t follow the politics happening outside the castle or their implications on the story and the last 15 minutes or so of the movie really lost me. When it ended, I was like, “wait… what?” I had to go online and read a plot synopsis to get it. And that did make me like it more. While I have no probably having to dig a little deeper to understand a film, I just can’t pretend like The Favourite was an overwhelmingly pleasant experience for me. It’s a high brow art house flick – which I’m not opposed to – but the 30% discrepancy between the critics score (94%) and the audiences score (65%) says a lot about how the general population feels about The Favourite. Lanthimos’ The Lobster was way stranger, but also super creative and more entertaining to me.

I would still recommend The Favourite because it’s extremely well made, has fantastic performances, and a good amount of entertainment value, but if you’re predisposed to disliking period films, you can go ahead and skip this one. It certainly didn’t blow me away.

Replay Value: Like Roma, when I like a movie substantially less than the critics, I’m open to giving it another watch to see if it grows on me.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and acting noms for all three actresses. In addition, The Favourite garnered nods for Original Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography, and Film Editing. I’m partial to Black Panther, but I’ll be surprised if The Favourite doesn’t win Oscars for both Production and Costume Design. Also, I’m kind of shocked the film didn’t get nominated for Best Score and Hairstyle and Makeup.

Dina Meter: I’m guessing this is a hard pass for Dina.

6/10 (Recommended)

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Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

February 19, 2019

Happy Death Day 2U (2018)
Director: Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones)
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Ruby Modine

Anticipation Level: Modest

How Was It? Even though I really enjoyed the first Happy Death Day, I had somewhat modest expectations for this sequel. First off, sequels to horror movies tend to decrease in quality with each new entry and second, the trailer for Happy Death Day 2U showed way too damn much in it.

I think fans of the first film will mostly find themselves enjoying this movie – Jessica Rothe is still great as Tree in the lead role and the mystery of “who did it?” is still fun to unravel. However, unlike the first movie, where I was basically pleased with every aspect of it except for the ending, Happy Death Day 2U presents more problems. Naturally, this movie delves into the how of the time loop and we get stuff like parallel dimensions and time-warping machines named Sissy. Credit to the writers for trying to branch out, but all the algorithm and trial and error stuff makes for a less fun movie. While the montage of Tree killing herself each day as her friends try to win the science fair is great (if you didn’t already see it all in the damn trailer), they need every minute of every repeat day to, uh, solve things, and she’s seen jumping out of planes and into wood chippers in broad daylight. Do they not get how time sensitive this thing is?

Oh, and the ending blew. It makes the ending in the first movie seem like The Sixth Sense.

For the most part, I somewhat enjoyed Happy Death Day 2U. I really think Jessica Rothe is stellar in these movies and I felt myself rooting hard for her character. Somewhere amidst all the science-fiction stuff, the movie finds a way to pull at the heart strings and find moments of genuine emotional impact. All in all though, I was disappointed and the more I think about the movie, the less I liked it. Go see it if you liked the first one and brace yourself.

Replay Value: I enjoyed watching the original again this past weekend, but this one would be less fun to watch again but…

Sequel Potential: …when they make the inevitable Happy Death Day 3, I will watch it again.

Oscar Potential: None.

Dina Meter: Dina never saw the first one, but I think she’d like it. This one, she would like less.

5/10 (Decent)

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Roma (2018)

February 18, 2019

Roma (2018)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity, Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mama Tambien)
Starring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira

Anticipation Level: Modest

How Was It? Roma is a heavy favorite to win Best Picture this Sunday. As you can see from my level of anticipation, despite all the hype around Roma, I just wasn’t all that excited for it. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe because no one I know personally has told me it was great. Alfonso Cuaron is one of my favorite directors and every movie he’s made since Y Tu Mama Tambien in 2001 has cracked my top 10 for the year.

I very much wanted to be blown away. I wasn’t. Well, I sort of was. A lot of the praise heaped on Roma is due to writer/director/cinematographer Alfonso Cuaron’s ridiculous visual presentation. It is a truly beautiful film – shot in black and white, yet full of vibrant life. Visually, Roma deserves all the adoration it has received. I just wasn’t emotionally invested in the story. From my understanding, Roma is largely inspired by Cuaron’s own childhood and the main maid/nanny character of Cleo is based on his family’s own maid/nanny from when he was growing up. In fact, I just read that 90% of the scenes in the movie are taken from Cuaron’s own memories. That actually makes this movie substantially cooler. Still, on my first viewing, I found the pace of Roma to be a bit of a drag and the most powerful scenes in the film didn’t affect me as much as I suspect they were supposed to. Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira both got Oscar noms for their acting in this movie and while I can see how Aparicio got nominated, it’s not as clear why de Tavira did; I thought she was solid but nothing spectacular. Aparicio had zero acting experience prior to this movie and only auditioned for the role because she “had nothing better to do” and didn’t even know who Alfonso Cuaron is. The fact the she is now an Oscar-nominated actress is quite an amazing story.

Honestly, I think I owe Roma another watch, but after my first viewing, I felt underwhelmed. It is definitely a gorgeous and intimate film, but I’m sorry, it was a bit *gasp* boring. It is a must watch film because it’s probably going to win a lot of Oscars – including Best Picture – and the cinematography is top notch, but if you don’t care about the technical aspects of making films (I do) and simply want to be entertained, Roma will probably disappoint. I do think this is a film that could end up growing on me.

Replay Value: I’m willing to give it another chance and see if it impacts me more on a second viewing.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Roma is nominated for ten Oscars and seems like the favorite to win Best Picture. Even more of a lock is Alfonso Cuaron for Best Director and Best Cinematography. Roma is also a lock to win Best Foreign Language Film. I mentioned the two actresses have nominations and Roma also has nods for Original Screenplay, Production Design, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. I would be pretty surprised if Roma doesn’t notch at least four Oscars on Sunday night.

Dina Meter: I wonder… I kind of feel like Dina would quit this film pretty early but there are some things I think she’d like.

6/10 (Recommended)

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2018 Movie Reviews: Free Solo, Green Book, Hereditary, and more

February 13, 2019

Free Solo (2018)
Director: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Meru)
Starring: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Sanni McCandless, Jimmy Chin

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It? Amazing. If you’re not familiar with what free soloing is, let me tell you: it is climbing mountains, cliffs, and massive rock walls without any safety harnesses or gear. Here’s what happens when you make a mistake and fall while free soloing: you die. This documentary follows famed free soloist Alex Honnold as he attempts to become the first climber to free solo El Capitan, a 3000 foot wall of granite in Yosemite, California that looks impossible to climb with gear. Free Solo is mind-blowing in every sense of the word. It’s unfathomable that people like Alex Honnold exist. What makes someone want to do something like this? What is it like to be in their inner circle? This documentary attempts to answer those questions, all while filming the breathtaking feat in action. It’s an unbelievable film. Remarkable.

Replay Value: I would love to see it again.

Sequel Potential: It wouldn’t surprise me if someone films Honnold’s next big feat. It also wouldn’t surprise me if someone films his death.

Oscar Potential: Free Solo is nominated for Best Documentary Feature and it’s filmed so beautifully that you wonder if documentaries are eligible for categories like Best Cinematography.

Dina Meter: I’m not sure Dina could stomach this movie, but she should definitely watch it.

9/10 (Phenomenal)

Green Book (2018)
Director: Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, Shallow Hal
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was substantially funnier than I ever would have expected. Viggo Mortensen is a total blast in what might be my favorite performance from him. Green Book isn’t the most powerful film about race relations, especially since it is set during a time when the liberation of black folk was still a fresh idea, but it still had some moving scenes (and some weird ones). However, whatever Green Book lacks in severity, it makes up for in light-hearted, feel good fun.

Replay Value: Might lose some of its hilarity with immediate repeat viewings, but should still be very enjoyable.

Sequel Potential: Based on a true story, so no.

Oscar Potential: Five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Film Editing, and acting nominations for Mortensen and Ali.

Dina Meter: I would be shocked if Dina didn’t love it.

8/10 (Must See)

Hereditary (2018)
Director: Ari Aster
Starring: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro

Anticipation Level: High

How Was It? This movie knocked my socks off – and shocked me. I really didn’t think a movie – especially one labeled as a horror movie – could shock me, but Hereditary did exactly that. It’s thrilling, scary, and the tension never lets up. Toni Collette is brilliant. If you’re not into scary stuff, skip it, but if you are… if you ARE… it’s an absolute must watch.

Replay Value: It’s probably a tough watch for some, but I’m ready for round two.

Sequel Potential: Horror movies always have potential, but this should be a one and done movie.

Oscar Potential: None? Granted, I haven’t seen all of the nominated performances for Best Actress, but Toni Collette may have been snubbed here.

Dina Meter: I forced Dina to watch It Follows, The Conjuring, and It, but I really don’t think she’d make it through Hereditary.

8/10 (Must See)

Eighth Grade (2018)
Director: Bo Burnham
Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton

Anticipation Level: Strong

How Was It? It’s hard to imagine a more accurate depiction of what it might be like to be a young teenage girl growing up in today’s world. Or the single father of a teenage girl. This movie reaches new levels of awkwardness and, even though I’m a male that grew up two decades earlier, I still found it plenty relatable. Elsie Fisher is great in this movie… another fringe contender for Best Actress that didn’t make the cut. I’m hesitant to recommend this movie because I doubt everyone will appreciate it, but I found it to be quite good.

Replay Value: Not a ton.

Sequel Potential: Very little.

Oscar Potential: Elsie Fisher got a Golden Globe nom, but no Oscar attention.

Dina Meter: I’m unsure if Dina would like this or not. It’s pretty slow and a little weird, but maybe?

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Summer of ’84 (2018)
Director: Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell (Turbo Kid)
Starring: Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery, Cory Gruter-Andrew, Teira Skovbye, Rich Sommer

Anticipation Level: Medium

How Was It? I liked it. How could I not? It’s a movie set in the 1980s about a kid that thinks his neighbor might be a serial killer. Yes… right up my alley. I wonder how I would have reacted if there was an active serial killer in my town when I was growing up? Would I try to solve the mystery like these kids did? I really enjoyed the premise and feel of the movie, but some things didn’t really ring true to me. Where was the parental supervision? I know it’s the 1980s, but what are the chances parents would leave their teenage kids home alone when it is common knowledge there’s a killer loose in the area that targets boys in that age range? Or letting them play flashlight tag after midnight? Plus, of course the parents trust their kids enough to let them be out all hours of the night, but not enough to believe anything they say. Also, I didn’t love the casting in this movie… give me the cast of It or “Stranger Things” any day. But I’m just nitpicking… this movie was still pretty cool.

Replay Value: I’m a big horror fan and this one falls short of making the list of movies I’d want to own so I can watch them whenever I want.

Sequel Potential: I don’t think a direct sequel would work well here, but this genre spawns unwarranted sequels unlike any other.

Oscar Potential: None.

Dina Meter: Dina isn’t a big fan of scary movies and while this one isn’t particularly scary, it’s not really something I feel like she needs to see either.

6/10 (Recommended)

You Were Never Really Here (2018)
Director: Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

Anticipation Level: Low

How Was It? I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I honestly had no idea what was going on and I stuck with it thinking things might get fleshed out, but I never understood anything that was happening. Maybe it’s brilliant. You Were Never Really Here is at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 84 on MetaCritic, so I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something. I have a tendency to largely agree with the critics so it’s nice when a movie like this comes along and proves that I actually do think for myself. This was one of the least enjoyable 2018 films I’ve seen.

Replay Value: One viewing was difficult enough.

Sequel Potential: Probably not.

Oscar Potential: No nominations.

Dina Meter: Dina would quit this movie in record time.

3/10 (Bad)

Note: I’m hesitant to call You Were Never Really Here a “bad” film because there is obviously something here that many people loved, but I didn’t think it was “decent” (a 5/10) and even “forgettable” (a 4/10) doesn’t quite embody my distaste for it. Let’s just say I found it highly unenjoyable.

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Glass (2019), etc. – Movie Ratings!

January 30, 2019

Glass (2019) – I can’t call this a massive disappointment after the critics roasted it, but I loved Unbreakable and enjoyed Split as well, plus writer/director M. Night Shyamalan was on a two-game winning streak (2015’s The Visit was also good). There were reasons to be optimistic. Glass missed the mark though. It’s boring and silly and the big reveal at the end is way more “huh?” than “wow!” It’s not that it’s confusing; it’s just dumb and underwhelming. James McAvoy is a crusher again. He almost makes the movie worth watching. Almost.

Decent/Forgettable

Blindspotting (2018) – Funny and poignant, this movie rivals Spike Lee’s much more heralded Blackkklansman but is every bit as relevant and enjoyable. David Deegs gives a good performance, particularly in the incredibly powerful climax of the film. Blindspotting blends the buddy movie formula with timely social commentary, a strong hip-hop influence, and inspired performances from Deegs and co-star Rafael Casal (the same duo also wrote the script together). The masses have overlooked this, but Blindspotting is one of the must see flicks of 2018.

Must See

Vice (2018) – I guess this movie is a bit polarizing. I have two friends that walked out of it after 15 minutes while someone I watched it with walked in 15 minutes late and still enjoyed it. I thought it was good. Christian Bale and Amy Adams are as good as they always are and director/writer Adam McKay seems to have a knack for telling the stories in his movies in fun, inventive ways. Political movies can be a bore (for me), but this was amusing and entertaining with A+ performances. I’d recommend Vice but it clearly isn’t for everyone.

Recommended

The Mule (2018) – Not Clint Eastwood’s best work, but his best work is magnificent so that’s not really fair. This movie is mildly entertaining, but I had a hard time enjoying it because the decision-making from some of the characters didn’t ring true to me. Eastwood’s character is estranged from his family because he chooses to spend his life driving through the nation and… selling flowers? From what I can tell, he’s self-employed so… why is he missing his daughter’s wedding? Isn’t making your own schedule one of the top benefits of having your own business? How lucrative was this flower business that he had absolutely zero time for family? I didn’t buy it. I also didn’t buy anything that happened with his family in the last act of the movie either. The muling scenes are good and so is any interaction Eastwood has with a minority (he’s racist but doesn’t know it because he’s not really racist, he’s just ignorant). Not sure this is a recommendation but it’s close.

Decent

Aquaman (2018) – I never really thought this was going to be good but the critics didn’t crucify it and I thought maybe? Honestly, the first half or so of the movie was so bad I was pretty sure I hated it, but it’s charm eventually overwhelmed me to the point I realized I was actually enjoying it. It’s overstuffed and dumb, with some terrible one-liners, but there’s enough heart and humor, plus some decent set pieces that it just might be worth watching.

Decent

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – I didn’t revisit the original before watching this (and I don’t remember it), so any callbacks flew right over my head, but I felt like I got the gist of it. Emily Blunt is fantastic. There is so much to like about her. I think she’s wasted here, mostly because, for the star of the film, she doesn’t seem to get enough screen time, especially in the last act. Some of the songs are good, but most of them are forgettable. Lin-Manuel Miranda has gotten some praise for his acting, but for someone that blew my mind away with “Hamilton” I thought this was a pretty underwhelming major feature debut for him. I thought this was okay. Definitely not the fringe Best Picture contender some have made it out to be.

Decent/Forgettable

Bodied (2018) – This is a movie that dives into the current state of battle rap while trying to offer social commentary and act as a satire. I thought the rapping was very elite for the most part (real battle rappers are used), but the acting and the story were borderline stupid. Also, in real life, these battles are mostly scripted with bits of spontaneity sprinkled in, but the “hero” in this movie is made out to be some sort of wunderkind that can create amazing content off the top of his head. That’s not really how rap works and there’s no reason for the audience to believe he is somehow an exception. The guy makes Eminem’s best freestyles sound pedestrian. This is a must watch for fans of rap and a total skip if you’re not into rap. Overall, I don’t think there’s much to see here when people aren’t rapping.

Decent

The Kindergarten Teacher (2018) – Maggie Gyllenhall gives a top notch performance as a teacher that becomes overly involved in the life of one of her students that appears to be a poetry prodigy. It’s a slow burn character study that sees Gyllenhall’s teacher gradually evolve from reasonably invested into something more creepy and, uh, sociopathic. This is a fine movie that is mostly worth watching for Maggie’s performance.

Recommended

And for fun… here are the top five movies I’m looking forward to in the first quarter of 2019:

1. Us (March 22nd) – Jordan Peele’s followup to Get Out. Trailer looks awesome. I can’t wait.

2. Captain Marvel (March 8th) – Marvel hasn’t missed with many origin flicks and Brie Larson is perfect casting.

3. Happy Death Day 2U (February 13th) – The first one was a pleasant surprise and the trailer for this shows too much, but it looks like more of the same fun with new twists. Yes please.

4. Alita: Battle Angel (February 14th) – This could be awesome or a total bomb. The trailer looks good to me.

5. Chaos Walking (March 1st) – Good cast with a capable director and a screenplay written by Charlie Kaufman (and six other people, yikes!). Could be a disaster but I’m intrigued.

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Bumblebee (2018)

January 4, 2019

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Director: Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings)
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena

Because I’m an AMC A-List member now and watch a movie almost every week, I saw the trailer for Bumblebee what felt like a record amount of times over the past few months. I was sick of it, but I had to admit: it looked surprisingly decent. And then something insane happened: after seeing the trailer around ten times, I finally realized that Hailee Steinfeld was the star of the movie. An Oscar nominee at age 14 for her performance in True Grit, Steinfeld brings serious acting clout to a franchise that I stopped watching at least two films ago. She’s not unrecognizable in Bumblebee, but somehow I missed the fact that one of my favorite young actresses was on screen in front of me… multiple times. Needless to say, once I realized who the star was, a movie I was mildly interested in became a must watch.

Bumblebee was a lot of fun. It’s hands down the best film in the franchise since the original with Shia LeBeouf and I’d argue that it’s quite easily the best in the entire series so far. It certainly has substantially more heart than any Transformers movie I can remember.

Unsurprisingly, Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic. As charming and adorable as usual, her Charlie is an independent young woman that seems like an outcast as she’s reeling from the death of her father while her mother has already integrated another man and dad figure into the family. She’s a rare action movie star that we can actually empathize with and then root for. It’s another noteworthy performance from Steinfeld in a very impressive young career. Just imagine what a, say, Megan Fox would do with this role, and it’s easy to appreciate how gifted Hailee Steinfeld is.

The visual effects and sound in any Transformers movie are usually top notch and Bumblebee continues the trend of being spectacular in those departments. Altogether, the series has landed seven Oscar nominations for Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing, so a return to the Oscars (the last two movies were shut out) in those categories would seem likely since the movie is actually good, but the shortlist for Best Visual Effects has been released and Bumblebee didn’t make the cut. If you liked the series enough to watch Transformers: The Last Knight, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the technical aspects of this movie.

The story in Bumblebee is actually good. I’ve already mentioned that Charlie is a character we can get behind as an audience and her bond with Bumblebee is reminiscent of what made movies like E.T. and The Iron Giant so special. The movie is also surprisingly funny, with one scene in particular (think high school revenge shenanigans) that had me laughing out loud as hard as I can remember during any 2018 release. John Cena also brings charm and humor to a role that could easily be a throwaway character and continues to be a surprising addition to any movie he’s cast in.

All in all, Bumblebee was a very satisfying experience. Transformers fans should love it and for those that have grown tired of the franchise, it is truly a breath of fresh air and by far the most pleasing film in the series. It gets a solid recommendation from me.

Replay Value: Definitely worth watching again.

Sequel Potential: The next Transformers movie will probably give us the level of suck we’ve grown accustomed to.

Oscar Potential: Having already been left off the Visual Effects shortlist, it’s probably unlikely Bumblebee will get consideration in the sound categories and has no shot at any other nominations.

Dina Meter: She would love it!

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Lazy Movie Reviews: Into the Spider-Verse and more!

December 19, 2018

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – I absolutely loved it. Everything in this movie is so well done – from the story to the animation to the voice acting (especially Nicholas Cage). It’s all top notch. I thought there might be potential for things to get really convoluted with merging universes and multiple Spideys but it’s easy to follow and all the various characters give us reasons to care about them. This movie also had me laughing pretty much from start to finish and the story actually packs quite the emotional punch. It’s not just a strong animated movie… it’s one of the best movies of the year. Period.

8/10 (Must See)

Creed II (2018) – A decent follow-up to the first Creed but doesn’t pack nearly the same emotional punch. Still, for the 8th installment in the Rocky franchise, one can hardly complain. If you’ve enjoyed the story up to this point, this is more of the same.

5/10 (Decent)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald (2018) – This is the worst thing J.K. Rowling has ever written – that I’ve read or seen (I have not read her books for adults). I thought the first Fantastic Beasts was decent enough, although a far cry from the quality seen in the Harry Potter movies. My problems with the sequel are the same as the first movie, only much worse this time around. The characters in these movies are just so brutally hollow and uninteresting. The story is extremely weak here and the pacing is unreal slow. Creedance Bareback is one of the worst villains ever. Wait, is he a villain? Who knows. Who cares? Johnny Depp brings absolutely nothing to the role of Grindewald, but I did think Jude Law was fine as a younger Dumbledore. The creatures play a much smaller role in this movie and that’s a shame because they were the best thing about the first one. My interest level in this franchise has gone from middling to hanging by a thread

3/10 (Bad)

Widows (2018) – A captivating thriller with surprising twists and real world relevancy, plus top notch performances from Viola Davis and Elizabeth Debicki. One of the more enthralling movies of the year.

8/10 (Must See)

Mid90s (2018) – A nostalgic trip through my early teen years. This movie was like reliving my past, albeit without the actual skateboarding. From idolizing kids that are only a few years older (or in my case, the same age) to trying drugs, alcohol, and girls for the first time, this is a coming of age flick for kids that grew up in… the mid90s.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Overlord (2018) – I’m not sure I’m on board with calling this a B-movie as the special effects and cinematography were pretty good.
The actors are mostly unknown, but I didn’t think there was anything overly cheesy going on here. It’s a fun super-serum fueled zombie flick with Nazis as the bad guys.

6/10 (Fun)

The Christmas Chronicles (2018, Netflix) – I probably wouldn’t have watched this without seeing a strong recommendation from someone I knew. It is a welcome addition to the existing library of fun Christmas movies. This one gives Santa an upgrade in abilities and Kurt Russell is surprisingly great hamming it up as our favorite holiday folk hero.

6/10 (Fun)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018, Netflix) – I’m not sure how it happened, but this movie charmed my pants off. Wait. That sounds bad. The movie doesn’t start strong and the event that gets things rolling is a little dumb, but once the two leads start interacting with each other I think it gets quite good, as long as you can get past the fact that these are stupid teenagers acting like stupid teenagers.

6/10 (Fun)

Mandy (2018) – This movie was a total trip. If you ever wanted to drop acid and watch a movie… this would be a good film to go with. It feels like a mash-up of Hellraiser and Mad Max with a sprinkle of Evil Dead and a Nicholas Cage hell-bent on bloody revenge. Plus it has some funky camera work and cool music. Mandy gets a very strong recommendation from me, but you have to have an open mind and a thick stomach.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Incredibles 2 (2018) – We had to wait 14 years for this? As a huge fan of the original movie, I was really disappointed with this sequel. With such a long break in between films, you’d think they could come up with a more interesting story. I had the villain pegged the first time I saw them. In fact, I thought it was so obvious that I probably had to be wrong. Nope. Jack Jack the baby is easily the highlight of the movie. The rest of the main characters, aside from Elastigirl, aren’t given much room for growth. This movie isn’t nearly as funny or as charming as the first. Aside from the Toy Story movies and Finding Dory, Pixar has mostly fallen flat with their sequels.

5/10 (Decent)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – This was a massive disappointment for me. I liked the first movie and this sequel seems to bring nothing new to the table. This movie isn’t nearly as funny as it wants to be and while I won’t call it outright bad, it was pretty boring and unmemorable.

4/10 (Forgettable)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t expecting much. I would have been less surprised if this sucked than if it was really good. It has been a couple of weeks since I saw it and nothing really stuck with me, so that says something. I thought dude playing Han did an fine, but unremarkable job. There were some easter eggs for franchise fans, but there was probably a ton of stuff that this semi-fan missed. I imagine Star Wars will be mostly pleased, but this was nothing special.

5/10 (Decent)

Replay Value: Into the Spider-Verse, Widows and Mandy are movies I’d happily watch again right now. Mid90s is worth seeing again. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Christmas Chronicles have some replay value, but the rest of these movies I’d never need to see again.

Sequel Potential: Into the Spider-Verse should definitely get a direct sequel. Fantastic Beasts, Creed II, and Ant-Man and the Wasp are all part of ongoing franchises. Solo is a spin-off that will probably get its own sequel. I would imagine Widows and Mid90s are standalone films. The Christmas Chronices has potential for future films.

Oscar Potential: Into the Spider-Verse is a lock for a Best Animated Feature nomination. I haven’t seen many animated movies this year, but I can’t imagine anything winning the Oscar over this one. I thought it was good enough to warrant some long shot Best Picture consideration, but that isn’t going to happen. The Crimes of Grindewald is on the short list for Best Score, but already whiffed on Visual Effects and Make-Up. I guess it is still a contender for Costume Design. Widows should get Viola Davis another Best Actress nom and some Best Picture consideration. I thought Elizabeth Debicki was worth consideration for her supporting role in the movie, but the competition is looking too stiff for a nomination. Incredibles 2 will probably get a Best Animated Feature nomination because Pixar movies basically always do, but it would have to be a very weak year for it to be deserved. I’ve actually only seen two animated features this year, so I have no idea. Solo: A Star Wars Story and Ant-Man and the Wasp are on the short list for the Visual Effects category.