I watched more movies than I usually do in a few years in just a few MONTHS this year, so why not talk about them? This is not a list of movies FROM 2018 that I’ve seen, just movies I personally watched this year for the first time – which of course INCLUDES any released in 2018 but also any released even a decade ago. I did not include anything I’ve seen before – well maybe one or two of these I’ve seen like 20 years ago and entirely forgot I ever did, but aside maybe that literal one or two maximum it’s all stuff I’ve never seen even which I watched plenty of too.
I have a hard time getting in the mood to watch films but that mood came around a bit more often lately. Few (if any aside Star Wars) I saw in theater, the rest are from various (legit) websites like the surprisingly good Crackle (free, no ads, rotates in good and even recent stuff regularly – not sure why it’s not more popular), Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and Gamefly (which has movies now for some reason).
This is just in the chronological order I watched them in as I sort of took to writing these things immediately after finishing the films.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
I reviewed this and it’s still exactly how I feel about it. It’s a totally alright movie but it’s a really awkward and strange reddit-styled comedy instead of Star Wars.
This is a fucking fantastic movie, honestly it might be one of my favorites now (not that I’m a huge movie buff but that’s still kind of meaningful) and I can’t imagine I won’t still remember it incredibly fondly many years from now. Hell, most people do, Drive came out in 2011 and still regularly comes up in any place where film is discussed and is even seen in a very positive light in shitholes like /tv/. That doesn’t mean much though, Black Panther got given a perfect score by everyone because it’s about black people having a totally-not-racist ethnostate with a completely not-racist xenophobic government in a magical land of blacks that could have existed in real life if not for evil whitey. I’m really getting off track here.
Drive is something special and not just because it’s a fantastic experience watching it, but also thanks to its extremely unique directing, cinematography, writing, and acting. The entire thing comes off as an indie film but in the hands of actual professionals who actually know what they’re doing and had a budget to do it with. Refn was able to retain the entire atmosphere of something ‘artistic’ and incredibly pretentious yet was able to REMOVE that entire pretentiousness from it. It was also real fucking stylish in a way indie tries to be and never fucking manages.
I don’t think Drive could have been anything but terrible if not for every single thing about this crew, from Refn to Gosling to every random staff member in the credits, being exactly how it ended up being. Without this team, Gosling’s perfect ability to become this role, and this overall direction this WOULD just be a shitty arthouse indie pile of shit. Instead we got something incredibly enjoyable and tense to watch, super immersive, and very memorable all while having a simple story, simple characters, a nameless main character with turbo-autism, barely any dialogue, and few “big moments” ever showing up yet all the moments feeling big all the same. Absolutely recommend regardless of what you’re into or how you feel about Refn’s other works.
I watched this expecting only a real human bean, but I found a real hero.
The Place Beyond The Pines (2012)
Following that I wanted to watch more with Gosling so I ended up here. I don’t really feel strongly about this movie but it was totally alright and I loved the surprise twist about an hour in that really changes up the method of storytelling from most movies in a way I did not expect whatsoever. It was done really well, and the way it builds off of all that throughout the entire thing I really appreciated.
Problem is the latter third or so is just not very good, if it was the first two main “parts” I’d like it a lot more, but the end portion and the ending itself were just kind of whatever if not outright bad. Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper are both pretty good in this as lead roles and really when either one is the focus it’s a good, not great, but pretty good film. Again though, the moment it focuses on the other two leads (the last chunk of it in entirety) it suddenly has a huge influx of bland cliches, terrible acting by “high school teens” who are clearly almost 30 years old, and over-the-top bullshit that made little to no sense at all. I still liked it overall because the majority of it but it definitely lost a lot of quality thanks to that stuff at the end – I understood what it was there FOR and conceptually it was a good idea, I just don’t think it was executed well at all beyond Gosling and Cooper’s acting.
I unironically love Nicolas Cage – he seriously is a talented actor and maybe one of the most passionate about the job (and thus one of the most willing to be anything – I don’t think it’s purely for the money, it comes off as genuine love for the job). I’ve never liked him being a joke to people because he doesn’t deserve to be. Look at almost every movie he’s in, the problem is never him or his acting, it’s always awful writing, awful directing, and 100% of the time an awful supporting cast. There are almost no movies he’s in where he is not the only actor capable of actually performing on screen. They surround him with fucking retards to try and make him look better and instead it makes him look worse because everyone drags down the entire thing surrounding him and he’s the only recognizable face so you blame it on him.
Does he always play Nicolas Cage? Yes, but I don’t think that’s a negative because the man is exactly who you want most of his characters to BE. The biggest problem, like in Vengeance but in almost all his films, is almost entirely that he’s not allowed to just be himself and do his thing. When Cage is…uncaged is when he performs at his fucking peak and it’s fucking great every time. He’s not the BEST actor on the planet but he’s one of the most genuinely enjoyable to watch when he’s allowed to let loose even in unbelievably shitty movies and I say he’s not the best but I absolutely do not mean that as some jab, I think he’s really great at his job just not the best of the entire pool of actors throughout history. It’s just that Cage is a performer, much like Walken, Curry, or De Lancie – not someone that the term “actor” really covers properly.
If you want an unironically fantastic movie where Cage is ALSO just as unironically fantastic watch Lord of War (probably my favorite Cage movie) or The Rock, if you want a shitty movie where Cage is fantastic…I mean, that’s not too hard. I will stand by the fact I believe most of the stuff he’s in is at least pretty okay though, it’s rarely terrible and is usually just middle of the line mediocrity aside for Cage himself who makes most stuff he’s in far more entertaining than it usually deserves to be.
I’ve watched a good percentage of his filmography now, even marathoning through about 8 movies with him starring in them in 2017 alone (obviously many over the years too) and can say Vengeance is the absolute worst thing he’s ever been in of what I’ve seen – even worse than that weird one with him and fucking Hayden Christensen being AWOL Templars and Cage having snakes on his hands.
As usual the fat turd that is Vengeance is absolutely not his fault. For starters by about 60% of the way through the movie you quickly realize Cage has been in the movie about 7 minutes total and had maybe 10 lines. I say starters but that realization comes after over an hour of complete fucking garbage that he isn’t even fucking involved in almost at all. The writing, the acting, the directing, the camera work, the music, the sound design, the lighting, the fucking person in charge of fashion for the cast, the everything in this is FUCKING GARBAGE. There are NO redeeming factors whatsoever. Gee, why is that? Oh, because the movie was directed BY AN EX-STUNTMAN. NOT A DIRECTOR. A STUNTMAN. You’d think maybe the movie is too EXTREEEEME or something from that, but no, it’s the most boring, unengaging, bland pieces of shit imaginable almost as if the guy wanted to prove that stuntmen can do more than exciting action packed concepts which he clearly proved they fucking cannot. To make matters worse the writing was done by a nobody who’s only worthwhile credit is that he co-produced some episodes of House (not co-wrote, just co-produced), and some nobody with nothing to mention, both adapting an apparently awful book by a woman nobody knows (clearly for a reason).
This is a very bad movie. I did not finish it, I lasted maybe two-thirds through before I just fucking couldn’t take it any more and turned it off forever. I sat there through OVER HALF OF IT waiting for ANYTHING positive in the slightest way to happen or for Cage to become relevant in it and it just kept lowering itself further and further with the embarrassing fucking acting, writing, directing, fucking everything and never any goddamn Nicolas Cage. Terrible. Not fun terrible, just fucking shit. Don’t let a stuntman be a fucking director, the idea of that alone is such an insult to the medium. You wouldn’t let your fucking janitor write your script so why would you let a guy whose sole purpose is to “do a dumb thing so the people with talent don’t get hurt” try taking the reigns?
Stolen on the other hand is an alright Nicolas Cage tier movie – it’s a serious but not actually all that serious feeling movie about Cage going to prison for a bank robbery and when he gets out one of his partners from that job kidnaps his daughter in hopes of getting the cash out of him as ransom. The FBI doesn’t believe him about this happening because it’s the FBI and nowadays we’re all well aware of how incompetent they are
So instead he goes on a manhunt by himself while the FBI chase him and arrest him again multiple times before he easily deals with them (even in an FBI complex) and continues frantically awkwardly running around as FBI agents crash into things while going straight on a road because they saw something happen nearby.
Features a lot of Nicolas Cage running in the very weird way he always runs as well as, for no actual reason because there was plenty of space and no real obstacles, running across the top of a bunch of cars stuck or abandoned in traffic during mardi gras.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
This is mostly the thing I was referring to when I said I wasn’t sure if I’ve seen the movie before or not. I can’t imagine I never saw this, especially when it’s got George Carlin in it, and it’s very familiar feeling – but I really don’t know and if I had it’d be in the mid-90s when I was like 8. I watched the Bogus Adventure (which I for sure had never seen) just a year or two ago though so I figured I should watch the original (again?).
Anyway, it’s a fun really stupid (on purpose) time travel story and everyone knows what it is and what it’s about and how Keanu says EXCELLENT a lot and they say “fag” so it’ll never air on TV again in the west without some Die Hard level dub-over with them saying some innocuous thing that won’t hurt fag’s feelings. I liked it a lot just like the Bogus Adventure, I’m not sure which I liked more though. I really liked the antics with Death in the sequel but Excellent Adventure has similar stuff but with a bunch of historical figures instead so it kind of evens itself out. I enjoyed watching the historical dudes adapt so easily to not only Bill and Ted, but also to time traveling in such a dumb completely flat way.
It was most excellent and absolutely holds up nearly 30 years later plus now you’ve got a bit of a time capsule thing going on just by this being so fucking 80’s – which is kind of interesting because it’s on purpose rather than just “because they made it back then” as Bill, Ted, and society as a whole in the movie is exaggerated to perfectly get across everything that made/was-making-at-the-time the 80’s and early 90’s so retarded but fun.
John Wick (2014)
I decided to take the biggest most disparate roles of Keanu Reeves one after the next and so only a few days after Bill & Ted it was time for John Wick. I had heard a lot about this movie both good and okay (not really anything bad though) and some conflicting reports on what the reason he’s out for revenge is. Originally I was told it was his dog, then people said no it’s his wife, then people said it’s his dog because of his wife, but then I watched it and it turns out it’s pretty much just the dog – even the very end of the film, the last scene, is all about the dog. Secondary to the dog is his car which also never returns. Hilariously enough the wife is literally completely irrelevant to anything aside backstory for why the dog matters (not the car though, he just loves his car) and people lead me to believe he was out to kill those who killed his wife, but his wife died naturally from a disease and he was even doing okay after thanks to this new dog. It’s only after what happens with his dog and car that he goes around killing like 200 dudes.
That bit of strange silliness isn’t just in the entire M.O. of the lead character though, the movie has a lot of fun little comedic bits to it to keep from being too overly self-serious. It’s by no means a comedy or even dark humor but it just has a couple fun little bits like the recurring noise complaints and some other things. It helped with the tone of the movie just by adding a little something to tell you they realize how ridiculous this is. Overall it’s definitely focused on the action though and the action is really good. Most actors wouldn’t bother to learn how to actually use a gun but Reeves took special training with real firearms to learn not just basics but how to move, shoot, and react to situations as a real life “operator” would – this really pays off and ends up making Wick himself much more believable and much cooler, but also the entire film feels better for it. On top of that they made sure to keep him from being the invincible overpowered type who never gets damaged – he gets fucked up plenty and only survives most of the time thanks to another character saving him.
This is a great movie for “typical men” because it’s got really well done action scenes almost constantly and the plot is genuinely “you killed my dog and stole my car so I’m going to murder you and everyone trying to protect you” – something most men would relate to.
It was fun, it was exciting, it was super well paced for this type of movie, and seeing Reeves back in top form was nice. I haven’t really seen much from him since all the really fucked up shit continually happened in his life that everyone knows about at this point – mostly because his ability to act took a big hit because he was basically fucking dead inside (understandably so). I’m sure there’s some good stuff I haven’t seen from all those years but for now I can’t think of any I actually saw that weren’t impacted by his state of mind. Maybe it’s because he can relate to Wick in some ways that helped him step out of it a little bit, but either way he did great here in a way that I can’t imagine anyone else playing this pretty simple role somehow, and again the effort he put in to make Wick come off as an actual super well trained professional top-tier killer was something most actors wouldn’t have bothered doing. It basically ends up looking like Gunkata but actually applicable to real life.
I really liked it a lot and look forward to watching the sequel – though I can’t imagine it’ll be as good without such an incredibly fun and unique motivation as “you killed my dog” for a hardcore revenge story but surely the action will be just as exciting and super well done. I also REALLY appreciated the on-the-nose light parody that this had throughout which really makes it stand out because it’s such a fucking badass action flick while also being smartly stupid. On top of that, John Wick might have some of the BEST characterization in a film of all time and absolutely my personal favorite. His entire character is explained to the viewer in nothing more than one very simple word. “Oh”. The moment this scene happens and the way it happens you understand everything about this man and what he is. It’s really incredible how well done that was. Beyond that though you really get to see just how respected this man is – not even always due to fear.
It might be one of my top favorite action movies of all time for all the reasons I’ve mentioned as well as Reeve’s pulling off such a fucking good performance.
John Wick Chapter 2 (2017)
Well, turns out I didn’t have to wait to see 2 – it was on HBO and I have an account through my ISP. Sadly, John Wick 2 seems to have completely misunderstood what made the first one so damn great and from that it issue it turns into kind of an average action film that lacks anything to set it apart. If you watched John Wick for nothing except seeing people get shot this still has plenty of that…though oddly, while the kill count is probably higher, it felt like a lot less action actually happened and when it did it almost always ended up going in more generic action flick ways instead of sticking with Operator murder sprees. More “villains” who magically survive the longest and always have annoying generic dialogue to spew for 20 minutes instead of just being taken out. In 1 when he finally reaches his MAIN target (the mob boss’s son who killed his dog and stole his car) he kills him before he’s able to finish one sentence. He just walks up and blows his brains out. Here? The main antagonist goes on a rambling speech for ages before escaping then when he catches him moments later the antagonist continues talking talking and more talking before finally being killed.
Wick also is CONVENIENTLY way more merciful this time. Obnoxious “deaf” villain’s right hand STRONG WOMYN? Not dead, “could be” which means “we didn’t want to kill her because we want her in 3”. Common the Rapper who is for SOME FUCKING REASON in this movie after his HILARIOUS acting in that western AMC show I reviewed? Not dead at all, he even tells him he’s letting him live on purpose. By the time 2 was being filmed a third movie was already greenlit, so it’s not surprising they’d want to have recurring characters…it’s just real fucking lame and unfitting for his character. In the first film, Wick literally double taps or headshots every single enemy he encounters with one exception (not that he doesn’t TRY to in this case) which ends up continually biting him in the ass because this guy just keeps getting lucky until finally he doesn’t. The point is Wick is not someone who fucks around risking problems later, he doesn’t just knock enemies out or “maybe” kill them, he makes absolutely certain they are dead. Again, like a real operator.
The story felt completely disjointed as well as fucking stupid and not in a fun-stupid way, it just felt fucking dumb and like something you’d find in some B-tier like video game adaptation or something. First it starts with repeating ALMOST EVERY POPULAR JOKE, LINE, AND SCENE from the original film for the first 15-20 minutes almost verbatim to go “heh, see, we still got it ;)” in a way that already comes off as trying really too hard. Then it tosses aside the entirety of the light parody and self-aware-of-the-genre stuff as well as all the comedy and becomes a stereotypical overly self-serious action movie which doesn’t help the incredibly fucking lame story which was just nonsense and lacked any believable motive to it really and just sort of jumped around. The sad reason is this was entirely for the purpose of having varied colorful awkwardly-sci-fi feeling sets to have shootouts (more like punch and grapple while groaning a bunch bitchfights) because boy does it ever come off as a weird fucking sci-fi world and not at all NYC or Rome and it lacks almost any scene without neon blue or neon magenta or both of them at the same time just THERE without any explanation or logical reason for that lighting aside DOESN’T THIS LOOK COOOOOLLLLL?!
I’m going too long for one movie without just writing a whole review – so let me break it down. John Wick as a character is still fantastic and Reeves does a damn good job being him yet again, though there are some odd things he chooses to do that don’t really fit him and are clearly there purely because they wanted an excuse for JW3 to exist – especially his final moment with the bigbad that Wick acts completely out of character to deal with. The world/setting felt much less real than in the original – it was always WEIRD and some fucked up version of reality but felt like the time it took place in (modern day) this felt like it was set many years from now in an alternate reality in Neo New York where Bladerunner 2049 is taking place a block away. The world was FURTHER ruined by the added in dumb bullshit of “basically every human being on the planet is an assassin” which is now literal actual canon. The action wasn’t nearly as good because of so much of it delving into bland fistfights or generic bigbad speeches. None of the characters or stories were concluded or made sense of, all just cobbled together and forgotten halfway.
John Wick 2 was pretty disappointing in the end. I’m glad I saw it once, but I doubt I’ll bother watching it ever again while I’ve seen the original 3 times already – as much as I just shit on it it was totally an alright action flick…but that’s all it was, while the original is absolute kino.
National Treasure (2004)
Another totally alright Nicolas Cage film – in my case I hadn’t seen it before but there was a new Film & 40s from Giant Bomb’s east office made for this so I watched it with their commentary as this isn’t exactly a top tier film to begin with or something. It was made a bit more fun by that (though at times their libcuck bullshit is as heavy as always – but pretty rarely luckily) but honestly the movie seemed pretty okay too. It also features Sean Bean as the villain (what a surprise) who does as good a job as he usually does, so you’ve got two main roles filled by two competent actors for once instead of Cage being forced to work with retards.
I don’t have too much to say for this one aside it was alright, much better than I recall hearing (maybe I’m mixing it up with that night at the museum shit though? I haven’t seen that either and it’s not Cage but still could be), though seemed kinda long for what it was. It’s also certainly not top-tier Cage, in fact you could tell Disney made sure to reign him in as he plays this pretty by the book. Not a “don’t miss out on this” but totally fine, I enjoyed it enough especially thanks to having commentary going at the same time.
Walking Tall (2004)
Who doesn’t love The Rock? Who doesn’t love Johnny Knoxville? The movie however is just whatever back when they threw The Rock into everything and hoped it would make it a hit – it’s not a bad film it’s just very Disney feeling (while not being Disney at all). The bad guys are over the top evil and of course include the richest guy in town and the sheriff, the good guys are super pure perfect people who will stand for no wrong, and the story is super simple. I mean the villains even sell crystal meth to pre-teens from their casino and at one point The Rock gets his shotgun and goes to take care of the goons and instead tosses it back in his truck and takes a 2×4 because The Rock would never kill a man even after being in Army special forces for years.
Halfway through it does take a new turn from that super stereotypical story – maintains it all similarly just continues adding on to the story with The Rock becoming sheriff of the town himself. Never wearing a uniform. Putting lights on his truck for his new job. And instead of carrying a weapon (or even a badge!) he just carries a 2×4. I told you it maintains all that stuff…yet is ironically abusive of his power as the hero character just because he’s bitter – including pulling people over to harass them and even smashing their cars to shit with his lumber. Also apparently in this world you need to professional training or education to become a sheriff – worse, through his abuse he even allows his best friend, a convicted felon (breaking and entering among other things and a massive history of drug abuse) to become the only deputy in town. Weirdly enough the movie even has Knoxville point this out. Then things become insanely stupid with things like the ex-sheriff somehow having a fully automatic light machine gun and C4 to blow up cars with. Or more correctly the Sheriff AND every ex deputy all have fully automatic LMGs or assault rifles with dual barrel-mags.
“Based on a true story.”
Can’t fault The Rock or Knoxville though – both kind of just play themselves and do a good job being exactly that. The rock is a super good boy who wants to stop injustice in the most violent yet least deadly means possible and Knoxville feels like he’s just doing a very long Jackass skit which is perfectly fine because if you go back now to watching any Jackass it’s clear the dude is genuinely a madman in the best way so him playing himself is fun to watch. At the very least The Rock does start shooting people once they are trying to murder him with machine guns, though the problem could have been solved real simply by just contacting the feds – especially after becoming the sheriff.
Honestly reading up on the true story (look up Buford Pusser on wiki) it’s kind of sad how much they ruined the actual events and, most offensively, made the police look so bad. In reality the sheriff’s office wasn’t corrupt at all and the ex-sheriff was killed in a “freak auto accident” (probably caused by the Dixie Mafia – same for Pusser himself) and the story is very different and involves no rich casino ex-friend or insane militarized fired deputies. Not surprising, but in this case the real story was pretty violent and crazy and in some cases worse – plus it’s like they really made the bad guys less bad (never mention the Dixie Mafia – just dudebros being baddies) and the good guys (all the cops in town) villains for no reason. Strange choices especially when the real story would have been a lot more thrilling and emotional.
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I think 10 movies (unless I counted wrong) and just under 5,000 words is a good time to cut this off and make it a multi-parter. I was planning on making this just one big post at the end of the year but whatever, may as well post it now. Let’s just hope I continue watching films enough to make more parts.
Be ready for a lot of fast cars with furious drivers that are totally not cops who are totally not entering fucking hyper space thanks to “NOS!” in part 2 – but be patient, it’ll be awhile till this pan gets nice and hot.