Movies in 2018

Foxes

Adrian Lyne, 1980

Foxes

Pretty great teen girl drama starring the OG Cherie Currie of The Runaways fame, and genius actress Jodie Foster.

Although it may feel thin in plot -and it definitely is, not much "happens" in the movie, and the last act feels rushed- it does shine a little bit more if you take it as a "hang out movie" and mood piece over it being a straightforward storytelling type of film. Rather entertaining.

The Beauty and the Beast

Bill Condon, 2017

The Beauty and the Beast

One of those new live action remakes of classic Disney animated movies. This one features the remarkably un-animated (heh) Emma Watson. Not that every actor needs to be very animated in their acting, but I mean this in a bad way, specifically.

For the most part, it's essentially a scene-for-scene re-imagining of the animated film down to the songs, but without all the elements that made it a classic of its time like the combination of traditional cel animation with CGI

xXx The Return of Xander Cage

D.J. Caruso, 2017

xXx The Return of Xander Cage

The third entry in the xXx saga rings back Vin Diesel after a failed attempt to diversify the franchise changing the main character after just one movie.

It is a rather bland and uninspired "edgy" version of James Bond. It is cool to see the likes of Donnie Yen and Ruby Rose in the movie but it is a bit too little too late for this series to have much appeal anymore

Don't Breathe

Fede Álvarez, 2016

Don't Breathe

The past few years have brought a set of movies one could describe as "Horror for people who don't like horror films", and it seems the trend is continuing. Don't Breathe is one such film.

Borrows the genre tropes of a slasher but shoehorns them into a more traditional thriller structure. As someone who isn't particularly drawn to horror films, I have to say it works well.

The story here is about a group of burglars who get into a old blind man's house to steal his stored cash, but soon discover it was not the easy job they thought it would be. Pretty entertaining and rather mild for horror standards.

Get Out

Jordan Peele, 2017

Get Out

Peele's comedy-horror film is a very well written, funny and disturbing dark comedy that's an extremely good directorial debut.

Of course, Peele has extensive experience from his Key & Peele sketches, which often are very high budget and have impressive production values.

The movie itself has a great, brisk pace that doesn't miss a beat, as the revelations come in. The premise is a little cartoony, but the movie plays it straight, as it should, so it avoids becoming corny or overdone. Regardless, the sense of tension and dread the movie builds up is effective.

Tiger Mask (タイガーマスク)

Ken Ochiai, 2013

Tiger Mask

Live action re-imagining of the classic late-60's cartoon. Could be rightfully called a "gritty reboot" since they went with a darker aesthetic and a greater focus on the grueling training that kidnapped protagonist Naoto Date has to endure. They added a bunch of toku-inspired suits to boot.

In practice, it's a pretty bland licensed movie without much in the way of good choreography, surprises and all that fun stuff one expects from crappy live action adaptations.

Still, I'd recommend it to fans of tokusatsu as a sort of bargain bin Keita Amemiya joint with Tiger Mask flavour. Just remember you get what you "pay" for.

Skidoo

Otto Preminger, 1968

Skidoo

Bizarre psychedelic comedy from Otto Preminger, considered one of the first film directors to fight against censorship in American cinema.

The movie is a collection of setpieces and scenes just coherent enough to form a "plot". Rather unconventional, but that could be said to be one of its charms. It's also notorious for being the last film role of Groucho Marx.

This movie introduced me to the fascinating Donyale Luna, widely recognized as the first black supermodel, who also makes an appearance as mistress for Groucho's character.

Certainly, it's not easy to straight up recommend Skidoo to most people, but if you like bizarre, interesting movies, it may be worth a watch.

The Mummy

Alex Kurtzman, 2017

The Mummy

Adventurey-thriller take on the story of the mummy, Tom Cruise vehicle and production that failed to ignite Universal's "dark" cinematic universe.

I say failed, although it seems Universal still has about 15 more films planned for this project and hasn't given up. Good luck with that.

It's a boring movie that failed to draw an audience, and it doesn't hold a candle to the much better Brendan Fraser version from 1999. Being set in the present day makes it immediately lose that pulp-cliffhangery setting and adventurous tone. It's a lot more self-serious and a lot less visually interesting (and when you cast Sofia Boutella as the main villain, making the rest of the movie uninteresting is a pretty big fuck-up)

Completely skippable.

Arrival

Dennis Villeneuve, 2016

Arrival

Pretty compelling for lovers of hard SF, Arrival pays special attention to the process of trying to establish communication with an alien intelligence when one of their oblong-shaped ships lands on our planet.

It doesn't shy from interpersonal stuff entirely, but the emphasis is on the speculative scientific process that a linguistics team would use in case an intelligence completely foreign to our planet arrived on Earth. As an adaptation of a short story, it's always a balancing act to do justice to the high concept while offering a feature-length movie that fulfills it's function to entertain.

While fairly understated, Villeneuve's craftsmanship shines through as well, visually and aurally.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Jake Kasdan, 2017

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

I'd say that 2017 was the year for refried franchise reboots of movies from the 90's, but to be honest, it's been that year every year for a while, now.

This new Jumanji is a sequel/reboot thing for the modern age. It features the Jumanji board game morphing into an 8-bit videogame console. Because who would be interested in playing board games in the 2010's, right? It's not like they are a popular hobby or anything.

Anyway, instead of the way more interesting idea of the Jumanji game directly changing the real world until a game is won, this movie just pulls some isekai shit where the players are transported to the virtual reality of the videogame. Not only does this make the stakes feel a lot lower, but it makes the whole Jumanji game premise unnecessary, since the adventure part and the present day part are effectively disconnected from each other.

This goes to show that the Jumanji name was slapped last minute for nostalgia and brand recognition and because today's Hollywood is too cowardly to make a straight-forward adventure/cliffhangers movie nowadays.

Still, taken for what it is, it's not bad. It's always good to see Karen Gillan getting work in a fun project, and, well, it seems the movie was successful enough to get a sequel, so... Hollywood's cowardice paid off once again.

Super

James Gunn, 2012

Super

Superhero/vigilante-themed, hyper-violent dark comedy from edgelord weirdo James Gunn.

Featuring Rainn Wilson of The Office (US) fame as a down on his luck guy who becomes a vigilante and takes justice in his own ha- yadda yadda.

You know the premise. It's what your creepy friend in high school came up with when he was 16. At least, the direction and production values are decent, and the themes that lead the protagonist to start his violent rampage have an unconventional twist.

Watchable, but nothing particularly remarkable.

Dragon Ball Evolution

James Wong, 2009

Dragon Ball Evolution

Ok, so you may be thinking, "2 stars? to DBE? Isn't this movie notoriously crappy?" What do you want me to tell you? I enjoyed it.

Yes, the movie is trash. But I have no nostalgia or stake in the fandom of Dragon Ball. I know it's an X-ennial anime staple but I'm young enough that my childhood anime phenomenon was Neon Genesis Evangelion instead. I just barely dodged DBZ due to domestic reasons, and therefore I arrived to watch this Americanized live action with no attachment or nostalgia for Toriyama's magnum opus.

So, if you are in a similar situation to mine, this movie is definitely "so bad it's good" material. I can perfectly imagine that it will look like insulting nonsense to anyone who cares a little bit about Dragon Ball though, and I respect that.

Resident Evil The Final Chapter

Paul W.S. Anderson, 2016

Resident Evil The Final Chapter

Bizarrely drab and boring last chapter of the Resident Evil movie universe.

The cast and production values are alright, but the plot is phoned in, feels like just a project to cash in on a final RE movie before leaving them until the next wave of videogame movies hits the RE franchise again.

The writing isn't even ludicrously bad, like some of the other movies in the series. It's just meh and boring, which is practically more offensive.

Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig, 2017

Lady Bird

Compelling and wholesome mother-daughter drama centered around a young student calling herself Lady Bird and her often overprotective mom.

Very gripping depiction of the tension between the eponymous Lady, a creative soul who yearns from independence and her mom, often unable to let her daughter go, as it's common with so many parents of her generation.

Bright locations and naturalistic dialogue that never looks too artificial or rehearsed, thanks to the great performances make for a great drama to watch on a spring afternoon.

Street Trash

J. Michael Muro, 1987

Street Trash

"Melt movies aren't real", says the naysayer as they melt into a mayo-like puddle on the floor.

Anyway, Street Trash right here is one of these so-called "melt movies" (perhaps the first one? The one who popularized the sub-genre?) which was a short-lived sub-genre of horror/gore movies in the 80s where the main draw are the practical effects of people melting horrifically.

And this is a great representative of that. Shockingly, I was expecting to hate it more, since I loathe gross-out stuff and mean-spirited gore, but it was actually more goofy than disgusting. Even the iconic scene where a hobo melts into a toilet is presented very matter-of-factly.

It may be unusual and underground, yes, but by today's standards the lack of PoC representation among the cast would be considered more controversial than the gross melt gore.

Avengers: Infinity War

Joe Russo & Anthony Russo, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

Another episode of the Avengers franchise, with a bunch of non-Avengers characters thrown in for good measure.

For someone bored of superhero spectacle, the predictable formula, lack of genuine artistry and anything truly innovative or memorable, this wasn't very interesting.

Not even the CGI was particularly cool or anything. Just average.

Swiss Army Man

Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, 2016

Swiss Army Man

If you've skimmed through these lists, you know I watch movies of, more or less, all kinds. Be it genre, decade, style... I try as much as possible to see the movie on its own merits and comment on any redeeming qualities that may make it worth watching, or not.

Not with the putrid piece of garbage that concerns us at the moment.

Swiss Army Man opens with Paul Dano's character stranded on a desert island and finding a corpse bloated from the seawater ("played" by Daniel Radcliffe, made famous by a series of children's book adaptations to the silver screen).

After a short moment, Dano's character escapes the island riding the corpse like a dinghy, except propelled by the built-up gases inside the cadaver.

And it doesn't get better from there.

It's the kind of project of "indie" aspirations that every stoned filmmaker dreams of making when they want to show the world how transgressive and unconventional they are. Except they are bad filmmakers and the movie is shit.

Normally, these idea guys never get any work done, and fail to get enough traction to actually see these projects to completion, but this time something failed in the matrix that protects us from this becoming the darkest timeline. A cursed alignment of the right stars, with the right level of wealth, and surely a spineless producer who —much like the publisher of a certain series of children's books— didn't say no in time.

Utter cinematic refuse. Zero stars.

The Animal

Luke Greenfield, 2001

The Animal

You know that transition period where early 00s movies still felt pretty 90s? This fits into in. One comedy by Rob "starred in the worst movies ever" Schneider, that's barely, barely watchable.

Basically, goofy comedy. The high-concept is a s follows: Stereotypical "loser" guy gets into a car crash, a mad scientist finds him and revives him with organs from other animals, and this therefore causes said loser to exhibit the behaviour of said animals. Hilarity ensues (or that's what they hoped, it seems)

Max Knight: Ultra Spy

Colin Budds, 2000

Max Knight: Ultra Spy

Lindsay, a scientist who looks like a high-schooler discovers a powerful new source of energy. Then gets kidnapped by Zach, the leader of a gang of cyber-terrorists to use her knowledge (and creep on her for good measure). That's when Ricki, Lindsay's sister hires the services of super-detective (sorry, Ultra Spy) Max Knight.

This is a ridiculous(ly awesome), over the top action flick with that short lived but unmistakable Y2K cyber flavour. The low-rent Hackers-like outfits and locations are hilarious, as well as the absurd things that Max Knight does in his mission. All without taking itself too seriously.

I didn't know this before watching, but Valve gave permission to use Half-Life in this movie and indeed there's a "cyberspace" sequence that takes place in a Half-Life mod. Machinima in service of art! (kidding)

In any case, this was very entertaining trash. Recommended to all cyberpunks, Y2K and Hackers lovers.

Tokyo Tribe

Sion Sono, 2014

Tokyo Tribe

An adaptation of the Tokyo Tribe-2 manga, made almost 10 years after the end of its original run.

Quite an idiosyncratic movie set in an alternate history Japan, about the different "tribes" (gangs) of the Tokyo underground and constant tension between the territories each one controls. At some point, shit hits the fan as one might expect, and the fragile peace is shattered.

Over the top aesthetics, although from how little I know, still toned down from the anime and manga. It's a film on the darker side of things, but the tone is more exuberant than depressing.

One cool detail is that it features scenes shot in the sadly shut down Warehouse Kawasaki arcade building. An arcade so cool that its interiors can be used for apocalyptic movies almost unchanged.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Stuart Gillard, 1993

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Third installment of the widely successful original run of TMNT movies. This may be by far the weakest of the bunch, showing very obvious signs of sequelitis.

The premise is alright, I guess. The Turtles find a magic artifact that transports them to samurai-era Japan, and they get involved in shenanigans there. But it suffers from the usual disconnect that many "teleport to another world/age" movies exhibit. Plus the characters and plot are straight up not that interesting.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Travis Knight, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings

Nice and entertaining adventure movie made with stop motion puppets. It's certainly a notorious technical and craftsmanship achievement.

I'm perhaps in the minority with my opinion that, the final look of the movie is so slick and polished that it could have been achieved with CGI for a fraction of the effort.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not diminishing the labour of the animators who worked on this movie, but at some point I just think that effort for effort's sake isn't inherently worthy of merit, when the end result could ostensibly be achieved with a more efficient workflow.

Something like Akira has a unique look owing to its production process, one that we may never see again in cinema, since it happened at the perfect time when a traditionally animated feature could be made with an insane budget, and world-class artists. I will always defend those productions. But if some magic tech some day can help us make a movie that looks 99% like Akira for a fraction of the cost, you bet I will love it just the same.

Justice League

Zack Snyder, 2017

Justice League

Another one of the DCs forays into the superhero movie market.

Unfortunately, the "Snyder cut" would not be released for another five years, therefore I can only comment on the theatrical release.

A pretty dull and self-serious hero team movie that doesn't know exactly where to be, tone-wise. Apparently it had notorious filming issues, with expensive re-shoots (or am I thinking of Batman V Superman?) and a very generic visual presentation.

Zack Snyder can do self-serious capeshit, but he needs to be left alone to make it work. I haven't seen the Snyder cut at the moment of this writing, but from what I hear, it works much better than this... product.

The Man From Nowhere (아저씨)

Lee Jeong-beom, 2010

The Man From Nowhere

Awesome action movie in the dynamic style of the 2010's. That was a great decade for action. A renaissance of sorts.

Here we have a very slick, pure action piece with good worldbuilding, excellent shootout setpieces and some really powerful visuals.

Not much else to say, other than encourage you to watch it if you get the chance.

Don't quote me on this, but I believe there is a Bollywood remake of this movie called Rocky Handsome. I'll have to track that down to confirm.

R.S.V.P.

Mark Anthony Galluzo, 2002

R.S.V.P.

Speaking of "idea guy" movies. Do you know the stereotype of the self-proclaimed "film buff" that only cares about Tarantino, Fincher and Ridley Scott?

What if they actually finished a movie? The result would be pretty similar to R.S.V.P. Barely better than a student movie, although admittedly competently made, it's hilarity comes with how basic the idea is and at the same time how pretentious the execution. Perfect "idea guy" cocktail.

Also, Jason "Jay" Mewes has a minor role in this, and as the most recognizable actor, it gets the most real state on the movie's poster, which I find sunny.

Tomb Raider

Roar Urthaug, 2018

Tomb Raider

Reboot of the movie adaptation of the, in turn, rebooted videogame franchise Tomb Raider, which features "better Lara", redesigned after the 2013 videogame.

It's a fairly by-the-numbers adventure flick. Alicia Vikander is a great casting choice but other than that the script offers her no chance to shine, nor does it do anything remarkable.

Sorta entertaining, but perfectly skippable.

Death Spa

Michael Fischa, 1989

Death Spa

Apparently a cult classic of this sub-genre of horror where a building with automated systems starts murdering people left and right.

Despite the name, the location is more of a high-tech fitness complex than a spa, so expect a lot of gym-related deaths.

More funny than scary nowadays and sporting one hundred percent pure and traditional 80s aesthetic, it's an entertaining watch.

A bit of trivia I didn't know about beforehand is that the Spanish title of this movie was Perra Bruja (translates to "bitch witch", heh). Despite the tone clash, it may actually be a more accurate title than calling that a spa...

Hocus Pocus

Kenny Ortega, 1993

Hocus Pocus

Apparently one of those movies considered "cult" for a certain demographic. I never watched it until now. I believe it was never quite popular in Spain, and with good reason. In the early 90's American Halloween wasn't much of a thing there. We were still up with Magostos and Samhainses instead.

In any case, it's an alright movie. The Disney production values help and the premise is fun enough. Not really a miss, to be quite honest.

She-Wolves of the Wasteland (Phoenix the Warrior)

Robert Hayes, 1988

She-Wolves of the Wasteland

Post-apocalyptic movie set in a future where the majority of men have died in the "chromosome wars" (seriously) and mostly women remain, fighting for the scarce resources.

Typical road movie with exploitation elements, blah, blah, you heard about it before. Not the most creative sub-genre and when paired with low production values, shitty acting and a dull plot, it's only really worth watching to laugh at it.

To All a Goodnight

David Hess, 1980

To All a Goodnight

Genuinely entertaining slasher flick with a Christmas theme.

During Christmas vacation at an all-girls boarding school, some of the girls smuggle their boyfriends in to spend the holidays... but a killer is, of course, on the loose!

Pretty good as far as these things go. If RLM has taught me something, is that off-season, Christmas themed spooky movies are way more common than one might be lead to think. This is one of the least bad of the bunch.

The Raid

Gareth Evans, 2012

The Raid

Top notch action movie that came out the same year as Dredd, and coincidentally has a similar premise.

A Jakartan police squad gets called to raid a crime-ridden building complex, but things go wrong and they get ambushed and trapped inside. Iko Iwais is on the role as Rama, a young police officer who's also a brilliant fighter, and will have to use all his skills to survive many dangers.

The premise of "trapped in the dangerous tower" doesn't get old. It doesn't have the same exact tone as Dredd, of course, but it's also a very well crafted, modern action classic.

Chopping Mall

Jim Wynorski, 1986

Chopping Mall

Classic of the 80s horror-lite slashers. Again with the theme of a high-tech building vs man.

The security robots of a newly upgraded super-mall become a menace to some kids that get trapped there after hours. Pretty decently entertaining and, like other movies in the same vein, ends up feeling more wacky than scary. I did sort of enjoy this one.

Timecop

Peter Hyams, 1994

Timecop

Van Damme has appeared in some cult SF movies over the years, most notably the Universal Soldier series. It was common practice to make SF-flavored action flicks once in a while with the action stars of the time.

This one is... alright. Dumb fun, and decent look and setpieces, but nothing to write home about. Fairly decent way to spend 100 min if you're in the mood for some classic action.

© 2015-2022 Iago Mosquerasite version: 1.0issue nº 220418.1339