Carl counts down his best films of 2018…
I love film. It takes me away from everyday life and allows me a few hours of peace and quiet. Nothing pleases me more than to sit in a darkened movie theatre and allow the images on the screen sweep me away from reality for a while. Every year, I have a list of upcoming films that are a must see. There are others that are not on my radar at the time but I end up catching and mostly enjoy. There are a few that I see that I find uninspired or just plain bad. This year, Hollywood churned out some turkeys that I couldn’t believe. You expect to find a few that are not that good but this year, some of the big Hollywood films were total trash. One of my top 5 Stinkers this year will shock, surprise and anger some people as its one of the most profitable films of the year. More on that later.
My Top 10 films of the year are MY choice. These are the films I’ve seen at the cinema and I found to be the most enjoyable and time rewarding. People will disagree with my choices and that’s how it should be. If everyone had the same top 10 like me, then I’d be concerned. There are many films that could easily have forced their way into the list but just missed the cut. These are my honourable mentions that just missed out.
A completely nuts but enjoyable film. It was fantastic to see Jodie Foster back on the big screen. Cinema has missed her and it shows in this film. Brilliantly supported by Dave Bautista, Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Quinto, Sterling K Brown and Sofia Boutella, the film was a funny, violent little tale of a hospital for gangsters. Foster plays the nurse, trying to attend to all her patients while keeping a lid on the brewing violence each ‘Patient’ has towards the rest. Like John Wick, no killing is allowed in the hotel but that doesn’t stop the residents planning each other’s demise. It’s a gem of a film and highly worth watching.
Sicario 2/ Sicario: Day Of The Soldado
No Emily Blunt this time around sadly but this sequel still hits the mark. Like the original, the film would be nothing without the rich characterisation and tightly wound tension. And again, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin show the world what fantastic and sometimes underrated actors they truly are. The film can’t quite match the brilliance of the original but it does come very close. I cannot wait for Part 3.
The Equalizer 2
Denzel Washington’s first ever sequel and boy, does he deliver again. Washington is always watchable and here he again gives the world an acting masterclass as Robert McCall. though I did find the plot to be jumping about too much for my liking, the film delivers. Again, not quite able to match the original, the film is an enjoyably violent tale nonetheless. And Pedro Pascal again proves to the world he is a versatile actor with a great future ahead of him.
Ok, so it will NEVER live up to the classic original. Yes, the studio interference has made the film that much more confusing and has taken away a lot of the tension and horror from the main creature. Yes, the ending is CRAP! Far too much like the belated and disappointing Independence Day sequel for my liking. But I couldn’t help myself but enjoy seeing The Predator back on the big screen in his full gory glory. Forget the Alien VS Predator garbage, this is how the predator should be. Ripping people to pieces for sport and leaving the world soaked in blood, horrifying everyone. This is how he should be on the big screen. I hope there will be a follow-up but this time studio executive…LEAVE THE FILM ALONE, DON’T INTERFERE!
And now my top 10 of 2018.
10. The Meg
Yes, it’s corny. Yes, It’s nothing like the excellent novel by Steve Alten. Yes, Jason Statham is certainly not my idea of lead character Jonas Taylor. Yes, I was annoyed they made the film into a PG-13 family fest instead of the R rated film I was hoping for. But against all that, I couldn’t help but enjoy every minute of it. A Jaws film for this generation. The main ideas from the novel made it onto the big screen thankfully and made for an enjoyable crowd pleaser. All I can ask for is that for the inevitable sequel, they stick closer to the source material and dump the PG-13 for a scary, horrifying shark film.
A visual feast for everyone. A true geek out film. Steven Spielberg‘s adaptation of a great novel stands out from the rest. The visuals are worth the price of admission alone and I had great fun spotting all the characters from film, TV, Comic books and video games. No one can catch them all from one viewing of the film, multiple viewings are required. Amongst the flair lies a story that scarily is on it’s way to becoming a reality. In years to come, I can see most of the world’s population living most of their lives as Avatars in a created virtual reality digital world, away from the horrors of reality outside their own front doors. Embedded in the plot of the film is also a moving story of one man’s desire to make amends for his failings in life by inspiring and resolving in this virtual world after his death. The film is a standout.
8. Mission Impossible: Fallout
The best Mission Impossible film of them all. After five films, you would think they would run out of ideas. Not So. The film twists and turns at every level. Double and triple crosses come at you relentlessly. Friends are really foes. Foes are secretly friends. Or are they? The film keeps you on your toes from the start. Tom Cruise slips on his Ethan Hunt character effortlessly and the film roars to life from the first second it starts. The plot, although slightly confusing is inspired. Christopher Mcquarrie has crafted a film of true quality here, writing and directing with true passion and a desire to make the best film he can. In addition, the film pulls in threads from the 1st, 4th and 5th films to great effect, making an exceptional action-filled spy adventure. Cruise again is fantastic as Hunt but this time he’s given a run for his money in Henry Cavill‘s sharp and dangerous character, John Lark. The whole cast plays their parts to perfection and makes for a roller coaster ride for all to enjoy.
7. Avengers: Infinity War
Not quite the big epic Marvel movie we all expected, the film is worthy of my list due to the epic structure and narrative it contains. This has been building for ten years to get to this point. We’ve grown used to all these characters and have followed them throughout their film adventures. To see most of them die in this film is heartbreaking to us. We don’t want to see them die. They can’t die. We need them. As an audience, we feel the heartbreak and pain they go through in this film. But we are also drawn to Thanos himself. He too has a tragic backstory. We strangely feel empathy with him even as he sets about destroying many of our heroes. Characters we have come to love die in front of our eyes. Many we thought would survive fall to Thanos’ finger snap.
The only problem we as the audience have is we know that many of them have films coming out over the next year or so and will be coming back in the 2019 sequel, Avengers: Endgame. Still, the film holds our attention and the final stinger after the end credits not only brings back one of our most treasured characters only to see him die but his final action leaves us with anticipation for March 2019. All I shall say is when I saw who he had called, I was deliriously happy, proclaiming ‘Oh yeah, she’s coming!’ The film did feel like a trailer before the main event but the anticipation for Endgame is worthy of the film.
The second Marvel film on my list of the year and one of the best Marvel sequels produced. A funny, touching and gripping comic book movie. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilley, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hannah John Kamen and Michael Pena are a delight in the film and their enjoyment of making it shows through with every frame. Never before have I sat watching a Marvel film and been completely hooked and entertained from beginning to end, even crying with laughter at some points. The film is a joy to watch and ties in well with the end of Infinity War during its mid-credits stinger.
A 3rd Marvel film on my list? Even I wouldn’t have thought it at the start of 2018 but here we are, Tom Hardy makes his Marvel film debut and, I’m sorry to all the critics but you’re all wrong. I’ll overlook the disappointment of the PG-13 rating. The film is enjoyable on so many levels. Hardy plays Eddie Brock as someone who had it all only for his ego to destroy him. Brock is not very likeable when we meet him, a total A*****e who’s ego is bigger than the planet. When he falls, we enjoy seeing him brought down a few pegs. When he hides during a store shakedown, we are disgusted with his cowardice. However, we know his destiny. We can only hope when the inevitable happens, it will make him more of a man (strange thing to say considering he is fused with an alien symbiote) but you get the point. Eddie needs Venom to regain his lost humanity.
When Venom first starts to make his presence known, the film kicks into high gear. Kudos must go to the special effects team for bringing him to life and by making him a believable character but the credit must rest with Tom Hardy himself. He portrays both Brock and Venom with the same conviction. The film pushes the boundaries of it’s PG-13 rating to the limits. Many scenes of horror, especially when Venom eats people are suitable for a higher rating. The film got an adults only 15 rating in the UK and I can see why. However, the film is a delight from start to finish and many comic book child fans will get a kick out of it.
4. Deadpool 2
Ok, even I’m shocked that a FOURTH Marvel film made the list but, to hell with it. Deadpool 2 is a work of pure genius. Ryan Reynolds plays the main character with such gusto and so much glee, you can’t help but be carried along for the ride. And believe me, you need to buckle up as it’s a great one. Again, not quite matching the original, the film is one adults should be able to watch together, without the distraction of children, by a nice warm fire with a cold glass of wine, various snacks and the phone disconnected. The film starts with a bang (literally) and doesn’t let up until after the credits have finished rolling.
Once again, the opening credits make you roar with laughter at the sheer audacity the writers have for the audience and the studio making the film. Even the poster made me laugh. When the poster proclaims ‘From the studio that killed Wolverine’, you know the film will be a kick-ass ride. Reynolds has become one of the best actor/writers in the business and his self-deprecating humour shines through again and again. The opening scene of Deadpool winding up a Logan music box is just the start of the comedic assault launched against us. And the mid-credits sequence has to go down as one of the most ingenious and pants-wetting funny moments in cinematic history.
DC has hit the list finally! After years of sub-par fare (apart from Wonder Woman), DC has hit a home run. From being the bane (no pun intended) of the DC Universe, Aquaman has finally been given the film and recognition he deserves. No longer will the character be the butt of jokes, he stands tall and rightfully takes his place in this list. Jason Momoa is outstanding as the character. Ably supported by Amber Heard as Mera, Momoa brings Arthur Curry to life in a way Zach Snyder never could have imagined. Thanks to James Wan’s direction, the supporting cast and some truly breathtaking visual effects, the film came out late in the year but has grabbed a top 3 place on sheer merit. James Wan and like-minded directors and writers should now carry the DC universe forward. Retain Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as Batman and Superman respectively, give Patty Jenkins more of a role in the universe and better writers and DC has the power to rival Marvel. Wonder Woman and now Aquaman have shown the promise and the ability DC has in the right hands.
2. Halloween (2018)
So nearly hitting the top spot, this reboot/sequel to John Carpenter’s sublime 1978 original was the highlight of the horror movie year. Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her role as Laurie Strode was a pure fanbase joy, getting John Carpenter himself on board as executive producer and score composer was a masterstroke but the film had HEART. Written fantastically and wisely ignoring the sequels, the film carries on 40 years after the events of Halloween. So many easter eggs regarding the whole Halloween franchise are embedded throughout the film including a cameo from actress P.J Soles who played the ill-fated Lynda in the original film, though it’s her voice and lower body seen and heard in the film and not her face (that wouldn’t be practical considering she was strangled to death by telephone cord in the 1978 film!).
Various events and people from the original are referenced and the film is the perfect sequel to its 1978 relative. And more importantly, Michael Myers is SCARY again. He may be in his 60’s now but he still has the presence to frighten us. The film takes the wise decision to not explain his motives as other films in the franchise have attempted to do. Myers is pure evil and needs no explanation. We don’t need any further information, we just know he’s out to kill us without reason. That’s what makes him frightening and the filmmakers have given us a film that finally brings him back to our nightmares. This is what I’ve been waiting for for years, a Halloween film to scare me again and it achieved its aim in style.
Before my number one film of the year is revealed, please allow me to reveal the five films I had high hopes for this year but let me down in every department. These may surprise you. These may anger you. But they are in my opinion the worst films I’ve seen in 2018.
5. Black Panther
Yes, I can’t stand this film! Everything about it annoyed me. I went into the film ready for another great Marvel film and instead couldn’t wait for it to end. The writers took various stories from the Black Panther universe and created a complete mess of a script. And please don’t get me started on the final speech by Michael B Jordan’s character. You have already made a great point with the film and then you come out with that final quote. It’s like cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer, totally unnecessary. The cast did play their parts brilliantly but instead of making me smile and enjoying the film, the writers ruined what should have been the jewel in Marvel’s crown. The film ended up as the second highest grossing film of the year and I’m glad so many people enjoyed it. I sadly wasn’t one of them.
4. Pacific Rim: Uprising
What a letdown. I love John Boyega. He’s been on the radar for a while now with roles in not only Star Wars but with a small budget horror/comedy science fiction film called Attack The Block. I thought this film would suit him down to the ground. I was wrong. Not only was the film a completely inferior sequel to the original but it followed the Independence Day: Resurgence way of filmmaking. Wipe out the returning character(s), change the dynamics of the storyline to suit what you want to show the audience and make it obvious you’re touting for a further sequel. Sorry but you’ve failed on every level with this film. Not only do you not care about any of the characters but the action on screen is underwhelming with a plot to match. A missed opportunity which I hope will not be repeated with a third film.
Or Die Hard in China with a bald Dwayne Johnson instead of a bald Bruce Willis with a dose of The Towering Inferno thrown in to boot. Throw it all together into a mixing bowl, mix together and what do you get? A stinky t**d of a film, that’s what. The writers obviously just took the parts of the Die Hard saga they wanted, added what they could glean from The Towering Inferno and turned in a turgid script. I’m a huge Dwayne Johnson fan and most of his films, even the really dumb ones like Rampage have a certain amount of charm and energy to keep them going and the audience entertained. Even his presence couldn’t save this film from mediocrity. He and Neve Campbell tried their best but with a script, this poor and a sense of we’ve seen this all before and done better, the film feels like something that should be a DTV movie instead of a major studio release.
What? One of the greatest cinematic rollercoaster film rides of all time has been reduced to a soulless money grabber. The Special Effects are still fantastic and the Dino’s are still believable but without a decent screenplay to grab us and move the story along, you’ve lost your audience. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard do their best with what they are given but they, their co-stars and their dinosaur counterparts are shortchanged by a turgid script without any humour or tension to keep us enthralled. Yes Rexy and Blue, the T-Rex and Velociraptor respectively are back and we are glad to see them but they are relegated to guest appearance status. We want to see them in action, we want them to take centre stage, not thrown in as an afterthought. The opening to the film promised so much and yet the film delivered so little. The third and final part of this trilogy needs to seriously up its game or it will sink into box office oblivion.
1. Death Wish
Oh My God. The Charles Bronson original was certainly no masterpiece but compared to this, it’s the greatest Oscar winner of all time. Eli Roth showed so much promise when he burst onto the scene with Cabin Fever and Hostel many years ago but here, he’s so out of his element, he may as well be floating in the artic. Bruce Willis showed his leading man chops in Die Hard 30 years ago to great acclaim. Here he is a shadow of his former self. He is so miscast in this pointless, uninspired, unwanted remake. Roth’s direction looks like he just phoned it in from his hotel room. And the film commits the cardinal sin that any action film or thriller should never do. It’s BORING. And I mean that wholeheartedly. It’s very rare that I fall asleep during a film. It has to be either really bad or really boring. This film is both. It fails miserably as a revenge thriller. It fails miserably as an action film. It’s ending is so far-fetched that I thought I was watching a science fiction film instead. The film tanked spectacularly at the box office and it’s more than the film deserved. Films like this should never see the light of day, it really is that bad.
And now for my favourite film in 2018.
1. Solo: A Star Wars Story
You knew it was coming, didn’t you? It had to be, didn’t it? I was the first to say from seeing the first trailers that I had severe reservations for this film. It didn’t look right, the characters were all wrong, the events were not in canon. The behind the scenes problems led me and millions of others to believe the film would be a complete turkey. How wrong we all were. The film was a complete delight. From it’s opening words on the screen to the final credits, we are in no doubt we are in the Star Wars universe. Alden Ehrenreich brought a great humility to the role of Han Solo. I never thought I would accept anyone other than Harrison Ford in the role yet I must admit, I bought into his portrayal as Solo.
The action flowed thick and fast. With many easter eggs contained throughout the film and various characters from the Star Wars mythology, the film is a complete joy. The surprise cameo appearance at the end of the film left us breathless. We didn’t expect THAT character to come back into the films, we thought he was dead. The writers did their homework by watching The Clone Wars cartoon series and seeing what they managed to accomplish. The film fits in perfectly into the saga, like Rogue One before it. While it’s not in the same class as Rogue One, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a worthy number one film of the year for me. And The Kessel Run Sequence is one for the ages!
Well, there you go. That’s my top ten movies of the past year. There’s probably some that I’ve forgotten that may have been worthy or I’ve simply haven’t got around to seeing that may have made the cut. To those films, I apologise. I see many films over the year and can’t remember them all. 2018 was a strange year at the movies. Some films managed to stay in the memory, others sadly just were a seen once and then forgotten about. It wasn’t an overly great year at the movies, by far and away it’s not going to be regarded as a classic one. But some films made it an enjoyable one nonetheless. Here’s looking forward to whatever 2019 brings us.
Here’s to the magic of the movies.
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