2018: The Year in Reviews (November)

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 November.

November

Bohemian Rhapsody

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Not gonna go too high, but if they can at least make this kinda good, I’ll be okay. Though I’m worried they sullied this subject matter for a while before we can get a really good version of this story. I hope that doesn’t happen.”

The review:

“I had so many concerns about this movie…. But I underestimated one thing — once that Queen music starts playing, it doesn’t really matter, does it?”

“I could nitpick it. But I could also say, by the time they get to Live Aid, you want to stand up and cheer. As much as I was worried about Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in the first 20 minutes, by that time, it was like I was watching that set all over again. Which is to say, the movie did its job.”

“I could have asked for more out of a movie like this, but to be honest, what I got is so much more than I thought I was getting or that a movie with this production history probably should have had. So good on them.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really liked this quite a bit. It’s definitely one of those that completely draws you in by the time you get to the ending. I need to see it again to know if this is one of those I can just watch over and over or one I just really liked and think is very solid. That’ll depend where this one shakes out. But either way, this is way better than I was expecting.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

January’s preview:

“So it’s a Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland version of The Nutcracker.”

“Sure.”

“Watched the teaser. Looks great, story looks bad.”

“I have enough experience with movies like this to not guess 3.5 stars. I’m almost always wrong. So we guess 3 stars and let the movie be better if it is.”

The review:

“This is the equivalent of a sugar rush. Just a mess of colors and sounds and things and nothing of real value. But it’s also the kind of sugar rush where — you’re not even sure you liked the candy.”

“It’s based on the ballet, but they dispense with that story almost immediately and it turns into this generic mess of big budget studio action.”

“Honestly, you get more out of just listening to the ballet itself, or watching the Fantasia sequences on it. I get why they tried to do this, but this was just overproduced on every possible level.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really didn’t like this. Because every minute you watch and wonder, “Why was this the story you picked?” And you wonder why they chose to fight the problem that this was not very good by putting more into it. This is Hollywood at its worst.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Nobody’s Fool

January’s preview:

None. There was supposed to be another Tyler Perry movie in this one’s place.

The review:

“Tyler Perry movie. It got to indifference by actually featuring a real narrative and having Tiffany Haddish who just sort of said and did whatever she wanted and kept the movie from feeling listless and like a loose compilation of vignettes.”

“Still haven’t met a Tyler Perry movie I liked, but these movies aren’t for me.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Maybe one day I’ll be okay with one of these.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Boy Erased

January’s preview:

3.5 stars. Seems like an easy guess. Could get 4 out of this. This might be really good.”

The review:

“I was looking at it as a solid sophomore effort and a nice jump for Egerton to take, but all of a sudden this became ‘awards movie.’ And I feel like that’s ultimately what led to me being disappointed in this.”

“In reality, I should be thrilled that Egerton took a big step forward and swung high for his sophomore effort and mostly acquitted himself nicely.”

“I’m not sure the story amounted to a whole lot for me, but it was a perfectly solid movie. I like where Egerton is heading as a director.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked this, but was let down by the point of the story. It didn’t add up to much of anything for me except an excuse to go for awards. Or at least that’s what it felt like. Which is a shame. But it is still a step forward for Egerton as a director.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Other Side of the Wind

January’s preview:

None. I tracked it like four or five years ago, because it seemed like it might actually come out, but then it didn’t and appeared to be back in legal hell so I let it go. That was before I started leaving blanket ratings. I’m just glad they finished it.

The review:

“This is very experimental. It’s also clearly somewhat autobiographical, no matter how much Welles refused to admit it.”

“I liked it. It’s an odd one, especially for those uninitiated with later Welles, but it’s a very solid film.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked this. It’s a fitting finale to Welles’ career.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“A really nice companion piece documentary to The Other Side of the Wind.”

“Mostly it’s a portrait into Welles the filmmaker and the incredible bad luck he had in making stuff. It’s fascinating, and the exact kind of thing people like me love.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really solid documentary that works in tandem with The Other Side of the Wind. And definitely worth it for those interested in Welles and his career.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Holiday Calendar

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“God, did I not like this.”

“It was just so cheaply made and so badly written.”

“I left this at indifferent, but I almost actively disliked this movie. It was close.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I’m leaning toward active dislike at this point. Really was not a fan of this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

A Private War

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

It was fine. I enjoyed it just fine. It’s about journalists in war zones directed by a documentarian. It didn’t really engage me all that much. I get why this is a movie that got made, but it’s not the kind of movie I enjoy watching. I never really enjoy these, and I always wonder who they’re for. But it was decent enough.

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Thought I could get 3.5 out of this, I got 3. Not the worst case scenario.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Bodied

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This is a movie about battle rap that was produced by Enimem and distributed by Youtube? Okay.”

“I liked it. I thought it gave me way more than I thought I was getting.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s like opposite 8 Mile, where a dude ruins his life from battle rap. I liked it. And dude had bars.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Latin History for Morons

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s wonderful. I’m here for every special he wants to do and am always here to tell people to keep putting him in movies, because he’s one of our most underrated great actors.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Love John Leguizamo and I will watch him in anything.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Front Runner

January’s preview:

4 stars. I know Reitman has dropped down to a 3.5 average lately, but I’m holding out hope that he’s back. I’ve never gotten less than 3.5 out of him.”

The review:

“Jason Reitman is fully back.”

“Reitman really impresses from the opening shot, which is a shot he doesn’t normally do.”

“It’s got so much of something to say that I need to see it again before I really digest everything it’s trying to say. I feel like this is a movie that puts everything out there in such a way that it doesn’t matter what you pay attention to, because there’s always something to pay attention to.”

“This may be one of those movies that only gets better for me each time I watch it. Very impressed by this.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Big, big fan of this movie. I definitely want to see this again, but I think this is a major step forward for Reitman and a really solid effort in his filmography, up there with his first few films.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Grinch

January’s preview:

“Why are they doing this?”

“Why?”

“Benedict Cumberbatch is the Grinch. But I don’t care. This is a bad idea.”

3 stars. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt, but I really am not looking forward to this.”

The review:

“Why did they do this? Why make this? And why let that studio make this? The fucking Minions people? You took a timeless classic and put ‘2018’ on it.”

“This is already dated. And cheesy, and dumb, and just a bad idea. I’m so upset that they did this.”

“The problem with it is that it’s watchable, which means some people will like it. If it were just a complete disaster, we could all just forget about it and move on. This one will hang around, and maybe even get a sequel! Please, just stop.”

“Illumination has made exactly one okay movie, then spent the next seven years ruining it with sequels, and are now moving on to ruining existing good things. Please, somebody stop them.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Can you tell I didn’t like this?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

January’s preview:

“After seven years, they’re finally making a sequel to this. No David Fincher, naturally. Sony realized they could make this for $35 million instead of $100 million if they just went with another director.”

“This is shaping up to be solid. 3.5 stars. Can’t assume more than that, because no Fincher only means so much (and those books aren’t that great), but this should be solid.”

The review:

“We all knew it wasn’t going to be as good as the Fincher one. There was gonna be a drop-off. That was expected. I feel like even despite that, there’s still something missing from this.”

“This, feels like a Hollywood movie. There are set pieces, there are action beats. You can feel the action beats coming. She has a motorcycle chase with police at one point. That’s not what this story is about, and if it is, you transitioned us into it way too fast.”

“Your interesting heroine who is about saving women from men who hurt them got tangled up in a movie plot. She shouldn’t be in a movie plot. And that’s the fault of this movie. It’s worth watching, and solidly made, but it’s not what a Dragon Tattoo movie should be, based on what we’ve already been given.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

It’s a much lesser film than the first one, but still watchable. It’s when you compare it to the other that this really falls off a cliff. On its own, it’s a perfectly solid, solid-plus movie that devolves into generic Hollywood thriller almost completely and only maintains the “almost” because it’s got Lisbeth Salander in it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Overlord

January’s preview:

“Sounds really interesting.”

3.5 stars.”

The review:

“Pretty awesome World War II film.”

“It’s got a good tone, and Julius Avery really directs the hell out of it.”

“This is a very solid movie that I don’t think people were really expecting to be as solid as it was.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I really enjoyed this. It’s a solid B movie that really has a grit and edge to it that I enjoyed. The supernatural stuff wasn’t even that much of a turn-off for me. Nice underrated film from this year. I’m excited to see what Julius Avery does next.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Outlaw King

January’s preview:

“So down.”

3.5 stars.”

“Could be 4. Should be 4. But it’s Netflix. As good as it might be, I’m tempering expectations.”

The review:

“It’s a very solid film. Overcomes the ‘Netflix’ look (for the most part), has some awesome battle scenes, and is just a solid movie.”

“This is the kind of passion project you get to make once you have a hit like Hell or High Water, and Mackenzie doesn’t waste his opportunity. It doesn’t feel overly excessive or unnecessary.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it. Doesn’t feel like it’s on that Braveheart level, but it’s fun. Battle scenes are good, actors are good. It’s just a really solid movie. It’s rare for a passion project to work out as well as this.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Liz and the Blue Bird

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“High school anime. Was all right. Glad it wasn’t supernatural, but also the kind of thing that only went so far for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Fine with it, but didn’t really care one way or the other about it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Pimp

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“I watched it just to get a sense of… mostly I wanted to see if this is a director I should be looking out for. And it was pretty well made for a first film. Not sure the writing was all there, but the actors gave it their all, and we got a DMX sighting, which is always welcome.”

“Could have went to more interesting places other than a shootout at the end, but it is what it is.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Not for me.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

January’s preview:

“I loved the first movie. It was no Harry Potter, but it was in that universe, and that’s all I needed. Looking back, it was a fun movie, but not as good as I liked it. Still, I’m excited to see where this one goes.”

“I’m down for whatever they wanna do. 4 stars. I’m sure that’s the real baseline for this franchise, but maybe I’ll just love them and they’ll all be 4.5 stars. Who knows? I’ll say 4 and see just how deep my love of this universe goes.”

The review:

“I have an affinity for this universe. So that might color my read of things. Either that or this franchise is better than people are giving it credit for. I don’t know yet.”

“I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I feel like they took a lot of strange left turns (especially with the ending, and how certain characters were handled), and I feel like they’ve worked themselves into a weird corner, where the franchise is based on one character, yet clearly trying to tell a story that doesn’t really involve that character.”

“I’ll keep watching them, and I’ll keep enjoying them.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I liked it. It’s weaker than the first, and probably weak overall, but again, I’ll take this universe over most other universes. And the only way to know how this relates to the other films is to have more follow it. So time will tell. But still, I enjoy these movies.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Widows

January’s preview:

“McQueen’s movies thus far have been at least 4 stars, so I’m going big. 4.5 stars. This should, from the outset, contend for a top ten spot. At worst this should be tier two. So let’s give it the respect it deserves and hope it’s incredible.”

The review:

“I didn’t expect it to be this good. This is a thriller that has so much going on, all of which is interesting.”

“This is one of those movies where, as soon as it was over, I wanted to see it again because it just worked so well and there was so much that I wanted to see again.”

“This is one of the best movies of the year.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Looks like I did expect it to be this good. But not spiritually. I expected it to be on paper this good. But I did not expect the overall product to be so riveting and entertaining throughout. I still need to see this again and will within the next few days. This is legitimately one of the best movies of the year.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

January’s preview:

None. Because this was a miniseries. They only announced in like, August, that it was a film and coming out for awards season. You really think I’d not know about a Coen brothers movie?

The review:

“I think the best way to describe this film is that it feels like the B sides to a really great album.”

“It feels a lot like their Grindhouse. It’s cool, it’s fun, it’s good, but it’s not up there with their truly great stuff. And that’s fine.”

“I’ll take Coen brothers B sides over most people’s A sides.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

This movie, as most Coen brothers movies do, grew on me. I really enjoyed it. It’s still a weaker effort of theirs, but that’s only in relation to their filmography. This is still one of the better films of 2018.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Green Book

January’s preview:

None. I knew about this because it’s part of my Director’s List, but I truly didn’t think they’d push it into Oscar season. I thought for sure it would go VOD next spring.

The review:

“Well count me surprised.”

“This is the Hidden Figures of this year. That movie that’s just a crowd pleaser. The kind that everyone in the family will see and really enjoy. It’s just wonderful.”

“For something I didn’t even think would come out this year because, ‘How could it be good enough for an awards push’ is legitimately one of my favorite movies of the year. Honestly could not have seen that one.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I am shocked at how much I liked this movie. And I’m actually taking my family to see this in theaters because I know how much of a crowd pleaser it is. Can’t wait to see this again and am surprised at how high this is gonna end up for me this year. Truly could never have guessed that one.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Instant Family

January’s preview:

None. There’s always one late comedy that starts shooting in February/March after I write up my articles.

The review:

“The human drama is undercut by bad comedy. At least there’s not shit and dick jokes and things like that. But still, the way they do comedy now, it doesn’t come from character. And for a movie that’s trying to do character, it hurts it.”

“So yeah, it’s better than you thought you’d get, but it’s also not a huge achievement.”

“This was good enough that it left me wanting more, rather than not caring or hating it. So I guess that’s something?”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was better than a shitty comedy, but not strong enough to actually be a really good movie. Maybe this one grows over time. But for now, I was okay with this, and most of the time, I wouldn’t be.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

At Eternity’s Gate

January’s preview:

None. I had no idea this movie was a possibility, and I am thrilled that it’s here.

The review:

“I’m not sure this is better than The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but this is a very well-put-together movie, with some beautiful imagery and a nice performance by Dafoe.”

“It’s just a solid movie all around. I like it a lot. Though beware — it’s not trying to be a movie. So don’t expect the kind of thing you’d get from other films.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Really solid movie. Very emotional, in a visual sense. This is Julian Schnabel at his best, and it’s a beautiful film. Highly recommended.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Long Dumb Road

January’s preview:

3 stars.”

The review:

“Decent little road movie.”

“It’s fine. Doesn’t amount to anything totally interesting, but it does have moments and I was engaged throughout. Very indie, but watchable.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I enjoyed it. Doesn’t go anywhere, but it’s worth a watch.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Princess Switch

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“This was watchable.”

“This one was better than I thought, but I thought it would be awful.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I got through it, but I’m not going back to see it again.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Cam

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“I was very interested by this. It held my attention throughout, and I liked a lot about it.”

“As far as a Netflix movie goes… this was better than a lot of the stuff they put out there.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

I enjoyed this, surprisingly. The whole is less than the sum of its parts, but this is one of those I feel like I’ll go back and reference aspects of it in conversation.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Speed Kills

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It’s… not great. But it’s watchable. I’d actually say Gotti is a better movie than this. This is just kind of whatever.”

“It’s nice to see Travolta still working and still trying, more importantly. He could have hit Willis town, where he’s just in it for the money and not trying at all. So that’s good.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Not great, but watchable. Nice to see Travolta working.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

55 Steps

January’s preview:

“Trial movies are always interesting. Gonna say 3.5 stars, even though it might only be 3. Still, gotta give it the trial movie bump.”

The review:

“It’s very Oscar bait-y and is a true story. The film doesn’t quite work, though there is a better film somewhere in here. Shit happens. It’s watchable, though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Failed Oscar bait. Watchable, but nothing special.

* * * (3 stars)

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

On Happiness Road

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“It was fine. Nothing crazy good. Interesting, and I feel like if it were made by Japan/Ghibli, it could have been much better. But on its own, it’s pretty good.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was okay. Nice to see other countries getting into the animation game.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Mobile Homes (2017 film).jpg

Mobile Homes

January’s preview:

“Imogen Poots stars, and I’ll see anything with her.”

3 stars.”

The review:

“I saw this for one reason and one reason only: Imogen Poots.”

“It’s… fine. She’s good.”

“Outside of her performance, there’s really nothing here.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Not worth seeing outside of Imogen Poots.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Christmas Chronicles

January’s preview:

None.

The review:

“Was I not expecting anything that came from this.”

“This was an absurdly fun movie, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. Some people go for A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch… this is the one I go for. Highly recommend seeing this one.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I enjoyed the shit out of this. It’s so insane in such a fun way. I’ve shown clips of this to people and they immediately went, “I’m watching this.” Trust me. You’ll enjoy it. It has the right sense of humor.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Favourite

January’s preview:

4 stars. Should be 3.5, but I really wanna see how he handles period. I’m so excited for this.”

The review:

“Holy shit, Yorgos.”

“This is arguably his most straightforward movie, which is saying something. Because it’s just so fucked up.”

“This is the period piece for people who hate period pieces. It’s fucking hilarious.”

“This might go down as one of the legitimate best movies of 2018.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

I loved this so much. I can’t wait to expose people to how fucked up and awesome this movie is. One of the best movies of 2018, which is not something I would have expected out of a Yorgos movie.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Creed II

January’s preview:

“Should be good. Not as good as the first Creed, but no Rocky movie has ever been bad. Just Rocky V, which is just bad next to the other ones. And that one’s just pretty good.”

3.5 stars I think has to be the guess. I should go 4, but I’m really not sure what I’m getting. So I’ll go 3.5 stars, knowing 4 is probably the ceiling.”

The review:

Major props to this movie for the roman numerals.”

“I thought the drop-off wold be more severe, but I forgot just how goddamn crowd-pleasing watching a fight in a Rocky movie is, when that music starts up.”

“Overall, this did exactly what I needed it to.”

“I like this franchise and I like these movies. I’m not gonna ask for more than that. Though I do want to see them give this run a satisfying trilogy. I don’t want them to leave it at two. Give me a good third one. The franchise deserves it.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Love any Rocky movie. This isn’t as good as the first Creed, but still really entertaining. It’s a solid movie I bumped up because of my love of the franchise. Nothing wrong with that.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

January’s preview:

“I like the idea of this movie in theory, but this just reminds me that Disney animation is doing nothing but sequels for the next couple years and it pisses me off, because they were one of the bastions of originality.”

“The first Wreck-It Ralph was amazing. Truly amazing. I’m sure this will be fine, but also… sequel. I don’t care that much about it. We did all we needed to do the first time.”

3.5 stars. Again, gotta go lower because I can’t trust this to be really good. I hope I like it.”

The review:

“I’m so let down by this movie.”

“They took a great movie and just ruined it immediately.”

“The plot of this movie is just disgusting on a lot of levels, and they spend like 15 minutes jerking themselves off by saying, ‘Look at all the characters we own!’ That’s not okay.”

“I’m very upset by this. I can’t even go into it now. This is a disaster. And this is why you don’t do sequels, Disney!”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Whenever this comes up in conversation, my initial response is, “Fuck that movie.” Does that about cover it?

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Robin Hood

January’s preview:

“That doesn’t fill me with hope. Because King Arthur worked out so well already.”

“It’s a good cast. So good, that I have to say 3.5 stars. Because, if this isn’t 3, then they assembled these people needlessly and I need to see it as a visible disappointment.”

“Maybe they can do gritty correctly for once.”

“Or they’ll just fuck it up again.”

“But hey, at least Robin Hood doesn’t have an opening for a CGI monster in the third act, right?”

The review:

“Did we need another Robin Hood movie? He said, remembering full well what happened with the King Arthur movie last year.”

“I mean… it’s watchable. There’s a decent movie in here… but it’s too serious, it’s just not necessary in any way.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

Completely watchable, completely unnecessary.

* * * (3 stars)

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

The Possession of Hannah Grace

January’s preview:

“Yawn. Boring horror shit.”

2.5 stars.”

The review:

“It’s an exorcism movie meets that horror movie from last year that takes place entirely in the morgue. So, possessed dead body fucking with people. Whatever. None of these things appeal to me.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

These movies are never for me.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Mowgli

January’s preview:

“This should be good. I trust Serkis to make the mo-cap look great.”

3.5 stars. Hard to make this story particularly interesting, since we’ve seen it a bunch, but I think this can definitely be solid.”

The review:

“This is not the Disney version of The Jungle Book. This one’s more brutal.”

“Overall, I liked it. It’s got a good tone and it’s doing some interesting things. Didn’t love it. Kind of descends into the usual ‘Hollywood’ movie by the third act, but overall, it’s solid.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

I enjoyed it. Everyone I’ve talked to hates it because they were expecting the Disney version. I knew what I was getting and was totally fine with it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Mirai

January’s preview:

The review:

“This is the best of the Japanese anime that are eligible for Best Animated Feature this year. I wasn’t over the moon about it, but it was very solid.”

“It has a certain charm to it. And in a year like this where most of the animated movies are garbage, this is one of the better ones of the year.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

This is the best of them. I liked The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl more, but this feels like the most representative of the genre that would appeal to the most people. The other one I just like because it happens to be more up my alley. This one is solid, emotional, and is the closest to Ghibli that a non-Ghibli can be.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Never Look Away

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

January’s preview:

The review:

“So the first Christmas Prince movie was almost kinda charming.”

“But then, out of nowhere it created this whole weird Christmas sub-genre of movies about fictional countries and people marrying into royalty.”

“And it’s all the same production company… which means they must be building some sort of weird cinematic universe with these fictional royal countries and are eventually gonna try to cross over, because at this point, this is what clickbait cinema is built on.”

“Oh, but yeah… not a great movie. It’ll appease the people who wanted more of this story or want the Netflix equivalent of a Hallmark Christmas movie. And hey, some people want that, so who am I to talk shit? Some of them are actually kinda fun.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

The first one was almost charming. This one was tedious. I’m worn out on this Christmas thing.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Anna and the Apocalypse

January’s preview:

“It’s an original musical about the zombie apocalypse. I’m so in.”

3.5 stars. This looks fun as shit. Bring it the fuck on.”

The review:

“If the words ‘zombie musical’ don’t do it for you, then I don’t know what to tell you.”

“This movie is Shaun of the Dead with show tunes. It’s awesome.”

“Let’s not pretend this is trying to win awards or anything. It’s a very fun, very clever, very well-executed movie. You will have a good time with this, and that’s all you can ask for.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final thoughts:

Loved this. Not the greatest movie ever, but it’s a zombie musical, and that’s amazing.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

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