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2018: The Year in Reviews (May)

After Thanksgiving, most people get happy because they know Christmas is around the corner. I get happy because I know these articles are around the corner. Even if a year is absolutely atrocious and I get absolutely nothing done on this site (like this one), I know that once December rolls around, I have things to say until March. But before we get into the Oscars, we gotta wrap up the year.

Here’s the skinny for the newbies: every January I preview an ungodly amount of movies. And then, from then through December, I watch an ungodly amount of movies, tracking along the way what I thought of each of them. Then, when we get to this point, I recap everything and see how close I guessed my eventual rating back in January. That part is mostly for me, but along the way you get my thoughts of all the stuff I watched (which will probably give you a bunch of stuff you didn’t even know about). So everybody wins.

Today is May.

May

Tully

January’s preview:

“It’s Jason Reitman reuniting with Diablo Cody.”

“I’m hoping for a return to form.”

“I gotta go 3.5 stars here. His collaborations with Cody have been 4 stars or more, but I don’t know what I’m getting. So sight unseen, I think he’s earned the benefit of 3.5 stars but not 4. I thought about 4, and I might get 4 (with Charlize Theron and Mackenzie Davis starring), but I can’t assume 4. So here’s hoping this turns out to be one of the better films of the year.”

The review:

“It was a very solid effort, and I quite liked the earlier portions over the later portions.”

“Theron gives a terrific performance, and Mackenzie Davis is always extremely likable on screen.”

“It’s not a true return to form for Jason Reitman, but it does round out a solid trilogy of films he’s made with Diablo Cody. Overall one of the more solid films I saw this year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

It is very solid. Though I will say, this doesn’t bring Jason Retiman as back as The Front Runner does, but it is a good stepping stone. It feels like a nice trilogy he has with Diablo Cody and it’s a very solid movie. I’m curious to see if it holds up better on second viewing or worse. Still, I liked it.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Overboard

January’s preview:

“They remade this?”

“Yeah… that usually only means one thing.”

“Let’s see the trailer to get a… yeah, that’s about right.”

2 stars.”

“It’s on watch.”

The review:

“Why would you make this?”

“The movie… kind of works once it gets to the third act… but it’s still poorly written and not that good overall.”

“It had moments where it almost won me over, but still, this isn’t something that should have ever happened.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I don’t get this. And I feel like this was a movie the studio thought was an automatic winner. Which tells you what Hollywood is like these days.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Bad Samaritan

January’s preview:

None. Just kind of came out and I saw it because I could.

The review:

“I expected a forgettable, generic thriller and found myself very pleasantly surprised by this one.”

“Here’s the premise, and you can tell me if it sounds interesting or not: wannabe photographer who works as a valet makes money taking people’s cars when they come to the restaurant, driving to their homes and robbing them, then bringing their car back once they’re done with their meal. One night, he drives to a guy’s house and discovers he has a woman chained up inside and has abducted her. Pretty soon, he’s caught in this guy’s web and has to figure out how to save the girl before this guy systematically destroys his life.”

“I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this. No promises that it’s an amazing piece of cinema, but seeing people rave about horror movies that I can’t even get through, I feel like I can talk this one up a bit. It definitely surprised me for the better.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I did like this. I was surprised at how much I liked this. One of those movies I will always be positive about because of how much it surprised me on that initial watch.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

RBG

January’s preview:

None. I think I’ve only ever previewed two documentaries ever on this site.

The review:

“The best superhero movie of 2018.”

“I think this is a documentary that all young women (and men) need to see. This is important.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I loved this. This is so good and told me so much I didn’t know, particularly about her early life. Big fan of this.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Anon

January’s preview:

“Andrew Niccol wrote and directs, so I’m automatically in and 3.5 stars is the guess.”

The review:

“Andrew Niccol is always good for a great sci fi premise. Whether or not the film works is another matter.”

“This is a solid premise and a fairly solid movie.”

“As far as Netflix movies go, it’s one of the better ones. It’s close to a return to form for Niccol, who has been under the radar for the most part this decade.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it. Niccol is always good for a high concept that, even if the film doesn’t always work, you can daydream about all the possibilities within that universe that could also be told. Better than just car chases and shootouts every ten minutes.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Manhunt

January’s preview:

“John Woo film. I haven’t seen anything he’s done in like 15 years, but he’s still a great director, so 3 stars.”

The review:

“So this is what John Woo’s been doing, huh?”

“At least… it was coherent? I mean, it’s an “innocent man on the run” thriller. Absolutely nothing you haven’t seen before. But it’s not a four-hour propaganda epic, so there’s that, right?”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Sure.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Most Likely to Murder

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“Good concept. Former high school cool kid comes back in town years later. Now, he’s basically an underachieving stoner and no one gives a shit about who he used to be. And his former girlfriend is dating the nerdy guy everyone hated. So he sets out to prove that the new boyfriend is actually a murderer.”

“It’s kinda fun. A bit too indie. Plays more to the alternative comedy crowd. Mostly just okay for me. But worth knowing about since it’s definitely something most people wouldn’t hear about otherwise.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I feel like with some tweaks, this could have been the kind of comedy that Hitchcock would have enjoyed (maybe not have made, but enjoyed watching).

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Con Is On

January’s preview:

“Action movie. 3 stars.”

The review:

“One of those movies where… I saw the cast, had the time, and figured, “What the hell?” Turns out, I didn’t need to waste my time.”

“Now, if this movie came out in 1997, and I discovered it when I was 17, the thought of that might have appealed to me. Here, I saw that and went, “Oh man, this is gonna be terrible, isn’t it?” And I was right.”

“Please don’t ever watch this movie. Don’t give in to the casting trick. That’s what they want.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

The last line up there.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Breaking In

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“James McTiegue directed this. He directed V for Vendetta. This is where he’s at now.”

“It’s your standard ‘trapped in the house with people trying to get in’ movie. Not good. Utterly generic.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Nah.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Life of the Party

January’s preview:

“Really the only question is how high it goes on the Unforgivables list.”

“Though what if they just turned around and made this incredible drama that was just amazing?”

“Oh, wait… there’s a synopsis somewhere on the internet…

“Holy shit.”

1.5 stars.”

“How automatic can you be?”

The review:

“This is practically Unforgivable by sheer fact that Melissa McCarthy is essentially remaking Back to School, one of the greatest comedies ever made.”

“I couldn’t get over that for half the film. And the other half, I couldn’t believe how unfunny and generic it was.”

“I don’t understand how all her movies can be so bad.”

“It’s crazy how a person can be on this bad a run and be trying. At least Adam Sandler isn’t trying anymore. Jesus.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m not wrong, though.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Terminal

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This is one of those movies that always appeals to me at the outset. Random crime film with slick dialogue and an air of coolness about it.”

“This one, though… all visuals and no substance.”

“It’s a movie that thinks it’s cooler than it is. Maybe it read great on paper. That’s certainly possible. This finished product… just fine. Cable watch once and then you’re done.”

“If Margot Robbie weren’t in this, people wouldn’t give it the time of day, and that’s the kind of quality it really has.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’ll always be curious how this one came about.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Kissing Booth

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“Netflix rom com. They’re doing their best to bring this genre back. It’s… not amazing. But it’s got some charm. If you’re into the genre I’d recommend giving it a shot, but for most people they don’t need to bother with it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Yeah, that about covers it. Fine, but not the best Netflix rom com out there.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Lu Over the Wall

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“The Little Metal-maid? Pon-Yo MTV Raps?”

“It’s fine. Nothing more.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Meh.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Measure of a Man

January’s preview:

“Coming of age. Hopefully it won’t be too stupid or sappy.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“This is the kind of coming-of-age story that could have been a favorite of people in the right era. This… doesn’t feel like the right era.”

“It seemed really generic at first and I wasn’t totally into it, but by the end it kind of won me over.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. If it were made 25 years ago, more people would have seen it and liked it. Oh well.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Revenge

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This movie is great.”

“This is the kind of movie you need to see with people who can cheer and groan at the same time.”

“I cannot recommend this movie highly enough and it’s one of the absolute best movies of 2018.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I cannot stress enough how much I loved this movie. If you’re going through to find cool things to watch that you might not have known about otherwise — START HERE. Put this on first. It’s so good. This is one of my favorite films of the year.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Escape

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“I thought this could go interesting places. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Shit happens.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Didn’t do it for me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Mountain

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“You know those IMAX documentaries you see when you go to science museums and such? This feels like one of those. Just gorgeous shots of mountains narrated by Willem Dafoe. Not much more than that. Just cool nature shots. What more do you need?”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Looks gorgeous.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Seagull

January’s preview:

“Not crazy about the play, or theatrical movies, but Saoirse Ronan stars, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.”

3.5 stars.”

The review:

“Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. Kinda boring.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Should have realized the cast was there because of the original play, but it almost never turns out interesting because they’re performing material like this that almost never works out on the screen.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Fahrenheit 451

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This as an HBO movie makes sense. Because… movies based on books like this… never work.”

“Michael Shannon and Michael B. Jordan do what they can to make it interesting, but it just is flat all around.”

“At least the expectations aren’t high for a TV movie, so it’s perfectly adequate as far as that goes.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Decent TV movie, but otherwise not particularly good at all.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Dark Crimes

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“This movie is NUTS.”

“The real reason this is so interesting to me… Jim Carrey plays a Czech detective. And it’s… deadly serious. There’s no comedy here whatsoever… It’s serious to the point of ‘holy shit.'”

“By the time I was left with the final image, my mouth was practically agape, wondering how we got this. So maybe that’s a positive review?”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I still don’t know what the fuck this is. Perhaps the biggest oddity of Jim Carrey’s career, even more so than The Number 23.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Deadpool 2

January’s preview:

“It’s gonna be tough for them to recapture what they had last time. I think, at their best, they can come close.”

“I think I can easily get 4 out of this, but let’s not assume they won’t just try to repeat the same stuff again. So 3.5 stars, and we hope to get to 4. I don’t take stuff for granted. So let’s see a sequel that’s as good as the original and then believe it can be done.”

The review:

“The first one was so much fun it quickly became way overrated. This one, while very self-aware, did decide to go in a very different direction, for which I applaud it. That said… more of the same.”

“It doesn’t work as well as the first one, but it’s a fun sequel. I can’t say I expected this to be as good as the first one, but it did fall solely in line with my expectations for it. This feels like the kind of sequel you’d get for a Deadpool movie.”

“Some of the smartest and funniest jokes in this movie happen during the end credits. Which I guess is a good thing, since you needed the rest of the film for them to work as well as they do.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s not as good as the first one, and it’s just a fine sequel. It’s the appropriate drop off for a sequel, and the only way we’re gonna tell if it was lightning in a bottle is when they make the eventual third one.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Show Dogs

January’s preview:

“Sounds kiddie. But also not the worst idea in the world.”

“I’ll say 2.5 stars, but I think I could get 3.”

The review:

“This is a movie nobody wanted.”

“It’s Miss Congeniality with dogs… and the main dog is voiced by Ludcaris.”

“I… honestly don’t know how this came out. AND they had to cut a scene where the dog goes through TSA and enjoys getting a pat down on his genitals. I don’t know how to explain anything about this movie, so I think it’s best to just leave it alone.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Someone’s gonna put that genital scene online eventually though, right?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Cargo

January’s preview:

3 stars. Still looks decent.”

The review:

“It’s a decent enough movie. Not great. Probably better as the original short, but a watchable movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

There are better Netflix movies out there.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Book Club

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“The only reason to see this is because Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen are in it. And I guess you also get the bonus of Andy Garcia, Craig T. Nelson, Ed Begley Jr. and Richard Dreyfuss too.”

“It’s not good, but it’s nice to see them all, so I was fine with it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

The cast makes the movie tolerable, but it’s not a good movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

First Reformed

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

“Schrader makes interesting movies. Weird, but interesting.”

The review:

“I loved hearing art film people talk about how great this was gonna be when they saw the reviews and how much they loved Paul Schrader, even though I guarantee that not a single one of them could name five movies that he directed.”

(Still kinda stand by that.)

“Looks great. I like that he shot it in old Academy ratio, and Ethan Hawke delivers a solid, quiet performance. Can’t say I loved the film, but it’s fine. Fine-plus, maybe.”

“I thought ultimately it was too slow, too quiet and didn’t really amount to all that much.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it, but it was just too slow for me to care about it on any deep and lasting level. I just don’t see what other people are seeing in this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

On Chesil Beach

January’s preview:

“Stars Saoirse Ronan and is based on Ian McEwan. Really, that’s all I need.”

3.5 stars.”

“Probably 3, but I love Saoirse, so I’m down.”

The review:

“Based on an Ian McEwan novel and starring Saoirse Ronan. The last time that happened, we got Atonement. This… is not Atonement. “I

“I bet this is a very solid book, but the movie doesn’t quite turn out as well as I’d hoped it would. Oh well. Still love seeing Saoirse in anything.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I was hoping it would be better, but it’s just fine. Which is okay. They don’t all have to be amazing.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

January’s preview:

“Sounds fun.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“Weird fucking movie.”

“Nicole Kidman is a punk rock queen?”

“It’s a weird movie, but the weirdness helped me remember it better than some other movies, so that’s good, I guess.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s weird enough that I was able to feel like it stood out more than the other ‘just okay’ movies I saw this year.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Future World

January’s preview:

“The cast is insane, so sure, I’ll pay attention.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“Please don’t anybody watch this movie. This movie is what you get if your pretentious film major friend made his version of Mad Max.”

“It was also co-directed by James Franco, so…”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

That review about covers it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

In Darkness

January’s preview:

3 stars. Hope it’s very Hitchcockian.”

The review:

“A 2018 movie that could have been made by Hitchcock 60 years ago.”

“Of course, when movies delve into that realm, they’re rarely any good. This one… it had moments that intrigued me and made me think of what could have been had they gone that route instead of the generic thriller route, but overall it was far too by-the-numbers for me to care.”

“This movie did too much. It went too many other places that seemed unnecessary.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s hard to get to that Hitchcock level. Here I think the fact that she and her boyfriend wrote it together, so it was slanted toward a showcase for her to act and for him to direct. So it just devolved into generic stuff at times. I wish they’d gone straight for a style exercise. Could have been so much better.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Ibiza

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“The Netflix movie is a bit of a mixed bag.”

“There’s (always) that one comedy a year that I see and actively hate. Like, “Holy shit, did anyone making this movie have any sense of how bad this was gonna be?” Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2018’s entry.”

“It’s one thing to watch a bad movie. It’s another to have a bad movie make you openly scornful of it as you watch.”

“There’s nothing redeeming here.”

* * (2 stars)

Final thoughts:

Something tells me these won’t be the last of my thoughts on this, so I’ll just wait.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Tale

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“It’s a dark drama about abuse, and it just wasn’t for me. Clearly very personal for Jennifer Fox, the director, but as a film, it didn’t do much for me.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

The feel good movie of 2018.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

King Lear

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“BBC TV movie. But… Anthony Hopkins is King Lear, and his daughters are played by Emma Thompson, Emily Watson and Florence Pugh. And you get Jim Broadbent to boot. So yeah. That’s why I saw this.”

“Hard to make Shakespeare interesting on screen anymore (unless you’re Kenneth Branagh, apparently), but the quality of actors made this watchable for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

You’re seeing it for the actors. Don’t pretend it’s for any other reason.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Solo: A Star Wars Story

January’s preview:

“Well this has had a bumpy road, hasn’t it?”

“It’s really not helping the perception of how this franchise is being handled the way they go about these movies, creatively.”

“I’m not not interested in this movie, but I’m also not sure they can pull this off. So I’ll go 3.5 stars, since, at this point, no recent Star Wars movie of this new era has been less than 4 for me, and if I’m assuming this is gonna be the worst one, you gotta put a floor somewhere.”

“Not excited for this, and really this is all about whether or not they can salvage a good movie out of everything we’ve heard so far.”

The review:

“I got exactly what I was expecting… a totally fine and fun movie, but one that follows the same formula Rogue One did, and one that doesn’t really give me anything but a “safe” Star Wars movie, made by a corporation trying to churn out as much profit by exploiting a popular universe.”

“This franchise is basically oil, and they’re just fucking drilling it out of the ground until it dries up. That’s what it is, and you need to expect that.”

“There were a few good ideas here that weren’t fully fleshed out, because the pace was so frenetic we didn’t get a moment for the characters to breathe and exist.”

“It is what it is. This is the Star Wars everyone gets now.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

You gotta treat Star Wars like Marvel. It’s all over-processed assembly-line stuff designed to appeal to a fan base. Once you accept that, you stop being upset at the quality of these movies. The day of these movies is long past. They stopped at Empire. Now we’re just milking that blue cow.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – – –

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