2018年9月20日 星期四

Some Other Movies From 2018

The highest-grossing films of 2018 (so far) are Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (?), Incredibles 2, and Mission: Impossible: Fallout.

Some Good Ones

1. Padmaavat

This Alauddin guy is bad news!  In this Hindi-language historical drama Muslim and Hindu empires clash after a new Sultan attempts to realize his "destiny" in the form of a radiantly beautiful princess.  Strange as it may seem, Hindi film aficionados and social justice warriors have found common ground in hating this movie, and while it's definitely NOT great I do think there's a lot to be said for it.

Fun Fact #1: Sharukh Khan was originally offered the male lead in this movie.

Fun Fact #2: A lot of people got worked up over this film during its production in India.  Cast and crew were assaulted, and there were attempts to ban the film entirely.  It's still banned in Malaysia, due its "negative portrayal of a Muslim ruler."

Because of course - as we all know - those Muslim rulers were all great guys, right?

2. You Were Never Really Here

Certain aspects of this movie will remind you of the Marv subplot in Sin City, but Joaquin Phoenix is excellent as a disturbed man who finds lost children.  I'm looking forward to his version of The Joker.

3. Annihilation

Been wanting to see this one for a while.  Alex Garland directed this thought-provoking movie about mankind's first encounter with an alien life form.  It's creepy in the way that all truly great science fiction films are.

4. Thoroughbreds*

Ana Taylor-Joy is great in another eerie movie.  In this one she's a high school student plotting the murder of her stepfather.  It was originally conceived as a play, but it works well as a movie, too.

Not-So-Fun Fact: This was Anton Yelchin's second-to-last movie, and it was released after his death.  Yelchin died after his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backwards down his driveway and crushed him.

5. The Equalizer 2

Set your watch!  Cue manly superspy action sequence!  Hya!  Hya!  Hya!  Punch!  Kick!  Repeat!

This movie's just about what you'd expect it to be.  Not as good as the first one, but watchable in the way that most sequels are.  OF COURSE Denzel Washington kills all the bad guys.  OF COURSE he mourns his dead wife.  OF COURSE he finds out his best friend was behind the whole thing.  OF COURSE there's a hostage and Denzel, superspy that he is, manages to save said hostage before the end of the movie.

I did like the subplot between Washington and his young neighbor, though this type of story was done much better in Antwone Fisher.

6. Skyscraper

The Towering Inferno isn't just my favorite disaster film, it's also one of my favorite films of the 1970s.  Skyscraper shares a lot with that much earlier movie, though it lacks the charming ridiculousness of its predecessor.

One surprising thing about Skyscraper is how much more relatable Dwayne Johnson is in this movie.  His character has a vulnerable, broken aspect that lends a lot to the film, and the subplot involving his family works well.

Less successful are the Die Hard/terrorist elements in the movie.  The bad guys are SO inept that it's hard to maintain any interest in what they're doing or why.  I was never a big fan of Bruce Willis' most famous franchise, but the terrorists in this movie make any of the Die Hard villains look fascinating by comparison.

7. A Star is Born

Lady Gaga is a surprisingly good actress, even if her astonishing voice does carry most of the movie.  Bradley Cooper is also a good first-time director, and his on-screen performance as "Jackson Maine" ranks among the best things he's ever done.  I've seen the 70s version, and this one is miles better.

8. First Man

This film about Neil Armstrong is on the slow side, but the tension during the spaceflight scenes is incredible.  I may be a bit biased because I'm obsessed with space travel, but in my opinion this character study of Armstrong is done well.

9. Bohemian Rhapsody

It's... ok.  Watching Rami Malek lipsync for two hours gets old, and this movie feels like a sanitized version of how Queen came to be, but it's watchable and Queen songs always make time pass quicker.  I get why Sasha Baron Cohen got frustrated with the project and walked out.  Having Brian May constantly looking over your shoulder would grow tiresome.

10. Creed II

It's not nearly as good as the first, it takes a while to get going, but the second half is the Rocky goodness you were hoping for.  The movie seems to indicate that Stallone will be retiring Rocky from the franchise, and if so it's a suitable sendoff for cinema's best-known boxer.

11. Crazy Rich Asians

Well, it's a rom-com.  I read the book, so I knew what was going to happen.  It's fairly well done, but the movie fails to communicate the opulence of Nick's family.  Definitely predictable.  Definitely not high art.  But entertaining as these things go.

One That I Wanted To Like, But Which Made Me Sleepy

1. A Wrinkle in Time

A giant, house-sized Oprah Winfrey - nothing could be more terrifying to Donald Trump supporters.  With all the miscegenation, multiculturalism, and positive nonreligious social values on display in this movie, such people could be excused from thinking of this as horror with a capital "H."

I never read the children's book, but I'm assuming it's better than the movie.  The movie is really talky in parts, and if you haven't guessed that the Power of Loving Others and the Power of Loving Yourself win out in the end, you really haven't been paying attention.  I was asleep for half it, and I still figured out the ending fairly easily.

Director Ava DuVernay's involvement in the potential New Gods movie makes a lot more sense to me now.  That would probably resemble a slightly more adult version of this film.

Bad?  Good?  Not Sure!

1. Detective Chinatown 2

If you've ever seen the Japanese Detective Conan cartoon, this is like a live-action version of that.  The off-putting thing about it is that it's so incredibly HYPER, and one gets the feeling that all the cuts and shifts in perspective are put there solely to distract you from a plot that really doesn't make any sense.  I found it interesting from the vantage point of someone trying to fathom big-budget Mainland Chinese film making (and also what they think is "funny"), but be warned that any attempt to understand this movie will probably give you a headache.

Some Bad Ones

1. Gotti

Noted Scientologist John Travolta's attempt at an Oscar.  I can't say that Travolta's bad in the role, but Goodfellas it ain't.  The guy who plays Gotti's son is a real weak point, and at several points in the movie I found my mind wandering.  Worst of all, the movie is continually playing up Gotti's popularity within the community without ever demonstrating why he'd enjoy such popularity.

I'd recommend the Armand Assante version.  It's much, much better than this one.

2. Shock and Awe

Ugh.  So heavy-handed.  James Marsden and Woody Harrelson star as reporters covering the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq following 9/11.  And it's not the heavy-handedness that bothers me most.  What bothers me most is the question any good reporter would ask: "Where's the story?"  We all now know that the WMD thing was bullshit... so where's the story?  This movie seemingly doesn't have one, and in place of a story it has a rickety script peppered with news footage from the time.  Rob Reiner has directed some good films, but this isn't one of them.

Related Entries:

Some Other Movies From 2016
Some Other Movies From 2014
Some Other Movies From 2012
A Review of Every Marvel Movie from 2008 to the Present (Revised as of July 4, 2018)

*Not sure if this movie belongs to 2018 or 2017.  Wikipedia says 2017, but other sites say differently.

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