10 FTW: Movies of 2018

10FTW

Once again, I have made quite a few trips to the cinema this year and I have seen a lot of pretty good to great movies. I obviously didn’t see everything, though, and some movies this year actually disappointed me, which doesn’t happen too often these days.

Anyway, let’s take a look back and see which ten stood out for me the most. You’ll have to keep in mind that I changed how I review movies quite late in the year but, even with that in mind, I can recount the ten best films I saw in 2018…

10 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Bayona, 2018)
As much as I enjoyed Jurassic World (Trevorrow, 2015), I can’t say I was that impressed with it. For years, they’ve been trying to push the idea of dinosaurs as military weapons and I’ve never really been a fan of this idea so to see this being realised on film irked me somewhat. Parts of the movie were still enjoyable, though; it’ll always been fun and exciting seeing dinosaurs on film and Chris Pratt is always enjoyable in everything he’s in. I also enjoyed the horror aspects involving the Indoraptor but it was not the strongest entry in the franchise.

9 Solo: A Star Wars Story (Howard, 2018)
Last year, I put Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Johnson, 2017) in my number ten spot because, honestly, I just did not like it, or the direction it took the franchise, and was disappointed with what I saw. Solo, however, was nowhere near as bad as people would have you believe. I really liked Alden Ehrenreich in the title role; he had that cocky, self-assuredness that I always associate with Han Solo. Donald Glover obviously killed it as Lando Calrissian and I don’t think I could ever not be a fan of Emilia Clarke. Literally the only thing I disliked about Solo was that it clearly set up for at least one single that looks like it won’t happen now, and that’s just too bad as it was a pretty fun film.

8 Ant-Man and the Wasp (Reed, 2018)
Marvel Studios’ first real attempt to bring a female superhero to the forefront, Ant-Man and the Wasp was everything its predecessor was and more. Paul Rudd is a breath of fresh air, with his comedic timing and down-to-earth persona, and watching him struggle with more grounded, everyday issues is a nice contrast to the ever-growing state of the MCU. At the same time, Ant-Man and the Wasp expanded the concept of the quantum realm further, to the point where it will play a significant part in the MCU going forward. Add to that a decent, visually-interesting villain and some fun fight scenes, and you have a pretty decent movie.

7 Deadpool 2 (Leitch, 2018)
One word: Cable. Josh Brolin was fantastic as the super-straight-man to Ryan Reynolds’ constant wise-cracking. It was literally like Cable walked off the set of a mid-nineties science-fiction action movie and into a live-action cartoon; the contrast worked amazing and led to some fantastic moments. While the film’s antagonist was a little weak, this was more than compensated by the hilarious X-Force recruitment scene, their first mission, and Deadpool’s signature sense of humour. It wasn’t quite the bigger, better sequel but it was still a fun, action-packed, a gory film that easily bumped Venom (Fleischer, 2018) off of this list (which pains me, given I am much more a fan of Venom than Deadpool).

6 The Meg (Turteltaub, 2018)
So, 2018 was quite the year for giant monster movies but, for me, The Meg stole the show. Pacific Rim Uprising (DeKnight, 2018) was too slow and had too little giant monster/giant robot action, while Rampage (Peyton, 2018) coasted along too much on the presence and star power of Dwayne Johnson to really stand out. The Meg, though, was a big, dumb, over the top B-movie with a budget. There could have been a bit more giant shark action in the first half but, once things kicked in, this was a really fun time. Jason Statham was really good as the gravelly straight-man, a role he plays really well, and I was surprised (but glad) to see this film do so well that sequels are on the horizon!

5 Black Panther (Coogler, 2018)
Kind of a cop out choice, I’ll admit, as I’m sure Black Panther made many Top Ten lists this year but it can’t be denied that it’s a seriously good superhero movie. As the MCU expands and focuses on the more obscure characters, they really flesh out their world and their lore and Black Panther was a great opportunity to showcase an entirely different culture for the first time. It also helped that the action scenes and narrative were really well executed. Chadwick Boseman and, especially, Michael B. Jordan deserve all the credit in the world for really bringing life and gravitas to their characters and, overall, Black Panther did a great job of establishing the titular hero as an important figure in the MCU going forward (I see him and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) taking on the duel leadership of the Avengers from Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr) going forward).

4 The Predator (Black, 2018)
Now, to be fair, there were a few things I disliked about The Predator: primarily that it wasn’t really a sequel to Predators (Antal, 2010) and the whole plot about a “good” Predator coming to aid us from extinction and yet killed people indiscriminately but! I am a big, big fan of the Predator movies and I am honestly going to white-wash a lot of that because this film was bad-ass! We honestly need more Predator movies, especially when they continue the action/horror and gore elements of the series and don’t pussy-foot around it (again, looking at you, Venom!) There were some great call-backs to the original movies and a nice, big step towards expanding the lore of the franchise even further. The movie’s unfortunate box office return may hamper future sequels, though, which would be a massive shame as I’m sick of waiting five years-plus for sequels that don’t resolve cliffhangers!

3 Creed II (Caple Jr, 2018)
Yes, I am aware that I never actually wrote up a review for this one but that’s simply because I found it difficult to talk about. This film was so good, so intense and raw, that I felt like I couldn’t really express in words how much I liked it. Expanding this franchise through Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed was a genius move and Sylvester Stallone shines in a supporting role as an aged, wizened Rocky Balboa. For me, though, there were two stand-outs in this movie: Dolph Lundgren actually acting and putting in a wonderful performance and the intense, nail-biting boxing scenes between Creed and Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). Honestly, this film deserves to get all the awards and all the praise as it was a fantastic movie that literally had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

2 Aquaman (Wan, 2018)
A recent one, for sure, but what a great way to end the year! Aquaman was exactly the shot of fun, action-packed excitement the DCEU needed if it is to survive going forward. Jason Momoa absolutely nails this role and strong supporting performances by Patrick Wilson and the absolutely stunning Amber Heard really made this movie quite the thrill ride. Aquaman literally never stops; it is constantly moving, throwing the viewer to new locations, juggling new elements, and filled with one-liners and action but it never felt bloated or like too much was happening. I was so incredibly satisfied coming out of this (and that is actually pretty rare for me) and I can’t say enough about how enjoyable I found this.

1 Avengers: Infinity War (Russo Brothers, 2018)
I mean…obviously, right? This was, without a doubt, the biggest film of this year and, perhaps, in the last ten years and not just for Marvel of comic book fans but for everyone. Seeing all of the MCU’s top stars teaming up and racing across not just the world but the universe was a spectacle in itself but the fact that Marvel were able to make such a captivating, fully-fleshed out villain is even more of a feat. Add to that the ramifications of the film’s finale, wherein Thanos wipes out half of Marvel’s most beloved characters, and you have a film that is not just an effects- and action-heavy masterpiece of cinema, not just an introspective look at what makes a villain tick, and not just a character piece and successfully juggles over twenty different personalities all seamlessly and successfully, but also an emotionally-draining gut punch that has effectively left fans begging to know what is to come in not just Angers: Endgame (ibid, 2019) but the MCU itself going forward.

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