Friday, January 25, 2019

10 Movies I Liked Just Fine from 2018

30. Gone Are the Days

I had high hopes for a Western starring Lance Henriksen, Tom Berenger, and Danny Trejo, but Gone Are the Days disappointed me. It's extremely slow and unnecessarily surreal. There's a cool story, but it's buried beneath layers of strangeness for its own sake.

The cast is amazing, though, with an excellent central performance by Henriksen. And Berenger makes everything better simply by being there. I also really dug a character played by Meg Steedle. She's a prostitute trying to get out of a bad situation and mostly taking matters into her own hands. Trejo, sadly, is barely in it.

Like I said, the building blocks for a great movie are there; it's just that they're put together crooked.

29. I Feel Pretty

I'd had good luck with Schumer's comedies so far; enough to trust that I'd enjoy this one. And I mostly did. It's about a woman with low self-esteem who suffers an accident that changes her perception of the way she looks. Her increased confidence of course then changes the way that she interacts with people. It's probably the least funny of Schumer's films so far, but I like where its heart is and there are some lovely, poignant scenes.

28. Welcome to Marwen

It's a potent story about a fascinating individual. I enjoyed Steve Carell's performance and the technical achievement of bringing his dolls to life to give insight to his imagination and how he's coping with tragedy. The movie tries to too neatly tie up an extremely complicated and serious situation though and the multiple Back to the Future references are out of tone with the rest of it.

27. The Spy Who Dumped Me

The violence is more graphic than it needs to be, but the movie is super funny and the relationship between the leads is lovely. I'm a recent, but strong fan of Kate McKinnon and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy Mila Kunis in stuff.

26. Tomb Raider

There's some good character stuff, some really good actors, and I like how grounded it feels. It's making an effort to transcend its genre and I rooted for it, but it never got there. In the end it's just a pretty good action adventure, though that's fine with me.

25. Ocean's Eight

Such a fun cast. I feel like it tried to fit too many twists and surprises in at the end, but I really enjoyed spending time with these characters. I'd love a sequel that's more comfortable doing its own thing rather than try to duplicate Ocean's 11, but that's not a complaint about this movie. It was good.

24. Incredibles 2

A strong, really fun movie. It probably deserves to be higher on my list, but because of my love for the first one, I wanted even more from it.

The first one was made in a different time when the landscape of superhero movies was completely different. It felt like the best superhero movie we were likely ever going to get. This one feels like another good superhero movie in an expanse of good superhero movies. Which weirdly reminds me of what Dash observed in the first one: When everyone's special, no one is.

That's not a complaint about how many good superhero movies there are. But it does mean that Incredibles movies need to work a lot harder to stand out and I don't think that Incredibles 2 gets there.

23. Maze Runner: The Death Cure

I thoroughly enjoyed the previous two films in the Maze Runner series and was very excited to finally complete the trilogy. I don't think I enjoyed it as much as the others, but it's a fine end. I kept trying to predict how it was gonna go and it kept surprising me. It's more emotional than I expected, too.

22. Ralph Breaks the Internet

I assumed this would be funny with plenty of Internet in-jokes to keep me entertained. And it is.

But I was totally blindsided by what the movie is actually about: an important and thought-provoking message about a specific element of friendship. This resonated with me way more than it has a right to.

21. Deadpool 2

All the violence, irreverence, raunchiness, pop culture references, and (most importantly) heart of the first one.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I'm right there with you about this summer's animated offers being just "fine".

The original Incredibles was complex, I'd argue its a better thematic adaptation of "Watchmen" than the Zack Synder movie, but Incredibles 2 feels more complicated than complex.

The poster is clever though.

For Wreck It Ralph, I am impressed that they went for a change the status quo rather than have a tidy ending like they could have, but still didn't feel satisfied with the results and feel in and out of sympathy with a characters towards the end. It felt like the jokes came and the story was cobbled one together at the end. I am curious how this might have worked if the Internet jokes were broken up as shorts with a beginning, middle and punchline rather than a full feature.

I am pleased that the Disney Princess scene was not the funniest joke in the movie. Given how much that was a part of the marketing I was worried that sucking out that surprise would spoil the movie. Thankful the best joke in my opinion, comes FROM the marketing: "There was a scene that was in the trailer that wasn't in the movie, and that made me sad."

Also I know it'll break your heart but "Solo" lands in my "Just Fine" category as well.

Michael May said...

I understand Solo being Just Fine. Even that is high praise considering some of the reviews. It happened to scratch a very specific itch for me, but even then I have issues with pieces of it.


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