Superhero movies, thrilling horror films, actually funny comedies, soft reboots and sequels — 2018 was a good year for movies. I think my stack of ticket stubs from theaters is much larger compared to any of the past few years.
Even while being selective, I saw about 20 movies in theaters and that’s not counting the new releases I saw later on streaming services. Considering all the movies I saw this year, it’s difficult to pare them down to five favorites. Heck, I could fill a list just with superhero movies. However, I’m going to take this opportunity to spotlight a few films, in no particular order, and tell you why they were my faves.
This is the DCEU movie we deserve! If Warner Bros. gave us more superhero movies like this, they’d be in good shape. Aquaman is action-packed with a charismatic cast, solid story, jaw-dropping special effects and the underwater scenes are gorgeous. Honestly, audiences haven’t seen locations this beautiful since they ventured to Pandora in Avatar. I would pay the cost of admission just to gawk at the scenes in the city of Atlantis and the other underwater kingdoms.
I’m not saying this movie is perfect, few movies are. The supporting characters of Nicole Kidman and Temuera Morrison are more charismatic together than our two leads. To borrow a quote from Clueless, “Old people can be so sweet” (when they’re in love). The rest of the supporting cast are also stronger actors than our leads. Willem Dafoe is always terrific (I’m glad his character didn’t follow the path from the comics that I’d mentioned here), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is fantastic and Dolph Lundgren was pretty good (he must’ve gotten one heck of an agent, between this and Creed II, he’s in two high-profile movies this year). But it hardly matters, even with the long run time, this movie has so much action that it hardly slows down enough for you to examine its flaws.
Some critics have compared Aquaman to this year’s Marvel movies, saying that Aquaman is just Black Panther underwater or that Aquaman is DC’s Thor. While that’s fair, I do like Aquaman’s third act better than Black Panther’s: the climax is like a Lord of The Rings battle underwater and it is jaw-dropping. The Thor comparison doesn’t bother me, either. I didn’t care for his arc in Infinity War, party because of what happened to Loki and also because they forgot Thor: Ragnarok established that Thor doesn’t need his hammer to channel his powers. On the other hand, Aquaman does need the trident to amplify his powers. Also, who would’ve thought that Jason Momoa could rock Aquaman’s classic colors. Hats off to director James Wan for doing the impossible.
Speaking of the impossible… this is how you soft-reboot a franchise!
While some franchises failed to rekindle the interest this year with fans (The Predator, Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Cloverfield Paradox) and others didn’t produce the outstanding hits the studios were hoping for (Tomb Raider, Mary Poppins Returns, Overboard), Bumblebee was able to do both by giving new life to the Transformers franchise.
The Transformers in this movie actually look like they did in the old show. We get a brief glimpse of the war on Cybertron and when some Decepticons show up, I had flashbacks to the intro of the cartoon. I also appreciate how we see the robots transform, it looks more natural and realistic; the last few films in the franchise had this process get a bit ridiculous. An Autobot showed up later and my friend, Matt, immediately was able to recognize him before they said his name.
While there is some great action, this movie has more of an intimate feel. It’s kinda nice to watch a Transformers movie where the whole world isn’t at stake and instead it’s about some Decepticons trying to track down Bumblebee. The relationship between Bumblebee and Hailee Steinfeld’s character is also at a level we’ve not seen since maybe the first live-action movie. I also believe she knows her way around a car engine, as compared to Megan Fox or Mark Wahlberg’s characters. You also empathize with her character losing her dad and how this factors into her becoming close to Bumblebee. Amidst all the action, there’s some parts that tug at your heartstrings.
Because this movie takes place in 1987 and before the rest of the franchise, you don’t need to have watched the other Transformers movies to enjoy Bumblebee. It also has a great ’80s soundtrack.
It’s always great to see Jason Bateman in a good comedy film. Fans of his snarky humor that we’ve come to love from Arrested Development and movies like Horrible Bosses, Extract or Bad Words should definitely check out this movie. It’s got some great twists and turns, while putting its cast in hilarious situations.
The directors of Game Night were the screenwriters for Horrible Bosses and Spider-Man: Homecoming, in case you wanted to know the kind of humor you’re in for.
Rachel McAdams is excellent as she plays opposite Bateman and you still believe these two could be a couple. The rest of the cast is also very funny in their respective roles. Because I like TV show Catastrophe, I especially liked the inclusion of Sharon Horgan and her humor.
While I could have just as easily included Super Troopers 2 on my list, I wanted to highlight a comedy that wasn’t a sequel and I know some critics have said that sequel was more of the same. There weren’t a lot of stand-out comedies in 2018 (I was a little disappointed with The Happytime Murders), but I’ve heard that Blockers was really funny. There, now you have a few new comedies to watch.
The House With a Clock in Its Walls
Jack Black (School of Rock, High Fidelity) was perfectly cast in this movie. He’s perfect in the role of Uncle Jonathan. He’s a lot of fun to watch and they even find a way for his character to play a musical instrument. In addition to being comedic, he also does a great job of playing a caring uncle to young Lewis — it’s kind of like watching Hagrid and Harry’s relationship in the first few Harry Potter films. It’s a shame that Fantastic Beasts 2 was such a mess, but at least we have this movie for audiences who want to enter a world of magic. I didn’t watch The Nutcracker and the Four Realms or A Wrinkle in Time, but I suspect the latter could have learned a thing about adapting a novel from this movie — I’d written about both the book and the movie in my previous article on A House With a Clock in Its Walls.
Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok, Ocean’s 8) is also wonderfully cast opposite Jack Black as his neighbor. It’s great fun to watch these two nettle and poke fun at each other throughout the movie. They have a terrific dynamic and it’s fun to wonder if the two are more than friends, as they fight evil with their magic powers.
Because this movie is directed by horror director Eli Roth (Hostel, Knock Knock), it also has some scary and creepy moments as well.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout
While most of the action in cinemas this year was confined to the superhero genre, we still have Tom Cruise doing his thing. Knowing that this actor does his own stunts and that death-defying scenes weren’t shot in front of a green screen makes the action all the more thrilling. There are so many of those scenes in this movie that made my heart jump up into my throat: the halo jump, the motorcycle chase, jumping from building to building and especially the helicopter scenes at the end.
The bathroom fight was also pretty epic. I never really accepted Henry Cavill as a superhero, but this role seems like it was made for him and he’s perfect in it… even if it gave us the Superman mustache. I also appreciate that, much like the recent James Bond films, all the punishment from fights and falls are reflected on our main characters and we can feel their fatigue as the film progresses.
I also really like the characters of Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg in the Mission: Impossible movies. I realize it’s hard to balance both on screen as their roles are often so similar, but I believe this picture does it beautifully. It’s wonderful to see both these supporting characters take an active role throughout the movie, while Fallout still introduces us to great new characters.
While James Bond’s Spectre movie was unable to adequately incorporate characters, themes and narratives from its past few films in its franchise, Mission: Impossible Fallout was successfully able to do just that. We may not be seeing Daniel Craig’s James Bond anytime soon, but at least we’ve got Tom Cruise as super-spy Ethan Hunt.
2018 was a great year for movies. In addition to the movies on my list, it also gave us superhero movies like Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp, Deadpool 2, Venom and Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse. It gave us horror movies like A Quiet Place, Halloween and Overlord. We got monster movies in Jurassic World 2 and The Meg. 2018 also gave us Ready Player One, The Incredibles 2 and Bad Times at the El Royale… just to name a few that I saw. There seemed to be a little something for everyone to enjoy at the movies this past year.
It looks like 2019 is also gonna be another great year in cinemas. I’ll meet you back here to let you know what I thought of this year in movies.