Zombies are the middle children of the otherworldly family. Vampires are the oldest brother who gets to have a room in the attic, all tripped out with a disco ball and shag carpet. Werewolves are the youngest, the babies, always getting pinched and told they're cute. With all that attention stolen away from the middle child zombie, no wonder she shuffles off grumbling, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha."

- Kevin James Breaux

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

“Favorite Films of 2018…So Far”

It’s been a strange yet exciting year at the Box Office after the dismal year that was 2017 where both the Box Office was at its lowest in sixteen years and the quality of films was eclectic at best.  This year is a different story altogether as there has been a great sampling of films from across all genres.  I’d like to tell you my favorite films of the year…so far and I hope if you’ve not seen some of them that you give them a watch.

15. THE FIRST PURGE – A very interesting sequel to one of the most polarizing film franchises out right now.  A dystopian near-future that showcases the very First Purge.  Although, at first, I thought that the franchise didn’t need a prequel, but this film is both exciting and relevant and opens new possibilities for future films (and TV series).  This racially and politically charged film is a great indicator of the possibilities of this franchise as it continues to branch out and expand.

14. HOTEL ARTEMIS – Jodie Foster leads and impeccable cast in a film that’s reminiscent of John Wick and The Raid: Redemption but is something all its own.  Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, and Dave Bautista also add tremendously to this off-beat film that has character.  It may not be as action oriented as one might expect but it has a sharp script and great wit.

13. ARMED – I was completely shocked when I learned that writer/director Mario Van Peeples had another film coming out this year (in fact, I only learned about this the week it was released).  Without any advance notice or fanfare this film about a former US Marshall suffering from a form of PTSD in a world overtaken by gun control and mental disorder surprised me because of just how hard or a film it is to categorize and much like the film-maker’s best films – i.e. Panther, New Jack City, and Posse, this film is just as contemporary and controversial.  Peeples has matured as a film-maker (as he’s spent most of the last couple decades directing episodes of acclaimed TV shows).  Also, a film inspired by a true story.

12. BLACK PANTHER – Was a film I tremendously enjoyed for the first two-thirds as it shaped some great characters (and supporting characters) but by the third act was too reliant on over-blown CGI that took me out of the film.  The third act felt too much like most of the other MCU films and was lost in the over excess of trying to appease too many “masters” (especially since it was essentially an origin story).  This being said, there is great individuality in that first two-thirds of the film that shows immense promise for future films.

11. TAG – Inspired by actual events, this film actually is quite a very good film about long lasting friendship and competition amongst friends/family.  This has a great cast that never goes too far in the absurd territory despite the crazy premise.  There is not a weak spot in this cast and that is most of the fun in this slapstick comedy.

10. DEADPOOL 2 – Most people like the original better than this film but I think both films are equally good for different reasons.  The original is one of the best origin stories ever crafted that breathes fresh life in the format whereas this film is one of the best sequels (to a super hero film) ever crafted as it takes all of audience’s expectations about super hero films and throws them out the window.  The film is fresh and never feels repetitive or predictable mostly because the character is anything but predictable.  The film has tragedy in equal parts of comedy and the character of Deadpool goes through many different stages despite how absurd most of what is presented in the film actually is.  My choice for best comic book film of the year.

9. ALONG WITH THE GODS: THE LAST 49 DAYS – The original 2017 film was one of my favorite films of that year and this film is equally as good as the original but this one focuses on the characters and goes a long way of establishing their origins.  The film is at times a bit long because the Purgatory doesn’t come off as fresh as it did in the original but there is one amazing sequence that’s an homage to Jurassic World that has to be seen to be believed.

8. THE DEATH OF STALIN – took a great graphic novel and made it better!  This is an amazing adaptation that has a great cast that is equally funny as much as it is a satire.  There hasn’t been a satire like this (or that is as equally as good) since Dr. Strangelove.

7. GAME NIGHT – This comedy gets high marks not only because of the amazing cast but the cinematography, editing, and musical score to name but a few of the great elements that make up this film.  Many may have looked at this film as a simple comedy, but directors John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein have crafted a modern day comedy masterpiece in film-making that’s equally funny as it is entertaining.

6. UPGRADE – The very fresh and surprisingly excellent science fiction-horror hybrid that has a whip-smart script that’s expertly executed by writer/direct Leigh Whannel and star Logan Marshall-Green.  A low budget sci-fi gen like Ex Machina.

5. A QUIET PLACE – One of the most poignant and psychologically perfect horror films of the year which also happened to be a huge audience pleaser.  One of my favorite horror films of the year (in a year filled with a lot of mediocre films).

4. THE SPY GONE NORTH – This is an excellent film from beginning to end and one of the best examples of an espionage film (far superior to Red Sparrow).  An excellent cast with an equally suspenseful script and assured direction from Jong-bin Yoon.  Not a film to be missed.

3. SEARCHING – An edge of your seat thriller that uses modern day technology to tell a conventional tale in a not so conventual way.  John Cho proves he’s an amazing actor with a lot of range in this film of a father searching for his missing daughter with the help of a dedicated police detective using computer screens as the style of the film.  This film shows that there are still new tools to tell old stories in new and exciting ways.

2. BLACKKKLANSMAN – One of director Spike Lee’s absolute best films and one of the year’s best films!  Lee is at top form with this controversial and polarizing film which is also funny and entertaining from beginning to end.  Lee is kind of a hit or miss director but this film everything lines up perfectly for the veteran film-maker.  One of the absolute best films of the year.

1. HEREDITARY – Is my favorite film of the year for the simple reason that it is a powerful and uncompromising film that’s polarizing and anything but predictable.  Anchored by an amazing performance by Toni Collette that has to be seen to be believed, this is a film that leaves an impression long after the credits roll.  Every year there are good films, but few leave an impression with you like this film does.  There is not one person I know of who hasn’t seen this film and thus been changed by it in some way.

There are plenty of films that didn’t make the list for various reasons.  A film can be entertaining (i.e. The Meg, Skyscrapper, Tomb Raider, Ocean’s Eight) and it can satisfy yet predictable (i.e. Avengers: Infinity War, Blood Fest, Solo: A Star Wars Story), and then in there are those that just needed a little something more (i.e. Kin, Unsane, The Nun, Winchester. The Maze Runner: The Death Cure).  Then there are the films I just thought weren’t worth the time – i.e. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Den of Thieves, Red Sparrow, and Slender Man, to name a few.

I saw more than these films at the Box Office this year (thank you Movie Pass and AMC’s A-List) but some of the films I didn’t see (but wished I had) includes – 12 Strong, Annihilation, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Chappaquiddick, RBG, Eight Grade, Beirut, Blindspotting, The Wife, A Fantastic Woman, Mary Shelley, and Sicario: Day of the Soldado, just to name a few. 

My opinions of the above mentioned films is nothing but that, “my opinion” and I hope you all decide for yourself which films to take a chance on.  Film-makers and artists put a lot of work into all the films and regardless of what I think they are all worth a look, if for no other reason than to say “I’ve seen it and therefore my opinion means something.”

I’ll make sure to get back with you at the beginning of next year so you know what I thought of the rest of 2018s releases but until then, enjoy your film watching!

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