Movies I’m Looking Forward to in 2018

As I have not kept up with movie watching in the past three years my to watch list is short but here’s some flicks I am excited for:

Wes Anderson – Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson! Dystopia! Animation! CAN’T WAIT!!!

 

Alex Garland – Annihilation

How will Garland adapt Jeff Vander Meer’s novel? We’ll see!

Steven Spielberg – Ready Player One

I’m a fan of the novel and I have high expectations for this film.

Brad Bird – Incredibles 2

The first Incredibles movie is one of Pixar’s best films. Let’s hope the sequel will be just as .. incredible!!

Superhero Films

No matter what, I usually watch all superhero films so here’s the ones I know of:

Black Panther

The Avengers: Infinity War

Ant Man and the Wasp

Aquaman

Deadpool 2

Venom

Are there any other releases you are looking forward to?

 

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Jeremiah S. Chechik (dir)

Christmas_Vacation

Every year, during Christmastime my dad and I have a tradition: we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We have been doing this since 1990 (bar a couple of years but we’ve been pretty consistent) incidentally, at the time, my dad was 39, the same age I am now but anyway.

Like all good comedies, the plot is simple in order to leave room for all the jokes. Clark Griswold wants to have an old fashioned family Christmas with all the relatives bonding. As with the previous National Lampoon films, it all goes horribly wrong and there’s the usual trail of destruction, snappy one liners and slapstick moments. For a simple comedy there’s quite a team behind it; John Hughes wrote the script, Angelo Baldamenti scored the film and there’s an all star cast. It does deliver.

The jokes come thick and they are all great : the tree removal scene, the super fast metal sled, the squirrel chase scene, the Christmas lights that suck out the whole neighborhood’s electricity, it makes a fast paced comedy enjoyable. Obviously it’s not perfect. The attic scene ruins the pace of the film and Chevy Chase,Randy Quaid  and William Hickey get all the good lines, while the rest seem like a supporting cast and if you cut out the Nicolette Scorcese sequences, the film wouldn’t really be affected.

I will admit that the film does not make me laugh anymore, the exceptions being the tree bit in the beginning and the deflating turkey but it has more importance than that. Watching my father laugh at all the jokes and happy that he is seeing it with a smile, makes it worthwhile and in a sense Christmas is a time when family bond so despite the fact this is a silly comedy, it does carry a greater significance.

Howard the Duck – Willard Huyck (dir)

Howard

The last time I watched Howard the Duck was back in 1991 and, well, I didn’t really have an opinion. Bear in mind that at the time I was 12 years old and really the only thing I remembered was the monster. So I guess a re-watch was in order.

Now as a disclaimer, due to the fact that I have a tendency of falling asleep during  films, I make it a policy that I only review films which have kept me awake. I admit though that for a brief two minutes I drifted off during the pie fight scene of the film. Other than that I was ok throughout the rest of the movie.

Howard the Duck has a bad reputation: A box office flop despite a strong cast (Tim Robbins, Jeffrey Jones, Lea Thompson), some impressive visuals of  the time, now they look dated and the financial backing of George Lucas. Oh even John Barry conducts the orchestral interludes. However Howard the Duck is a testament that despite all the cash and appropriate casting, a film needs strong script. This is where Howard the Duck is lacking severely.

In my history of watching mediocre films, I have never come across dialogue that is so awful. Every single line in this movie consists of  blatantly obvious statements, banal one liners, or childish remarks. Despite the solid cast, they just fail as these dumb lines do not do them any justice. This dialogue is so horrendous that I was sure that I was watching a film aimed at the pre-teen market. This leads to another of the film’s problems.

I am not a film student but I do know that a film should know what its target audience is. Considering Howard the Duck’s simplistic plot; Howard is transported to Earth from his planet, tries to find a way back after some mishaps and when the transportation device that brought him to Earth actually works a second time, it also brings back an alien who wants to take over our planet and plans to use the transportation device to bring his species over. One would think that this is not a film for adults and there’s quite a few juvenile moments that reinforce that but then there’s the famous seduction scene, which is uncomfortable viewing. Also the part where Howard finds a job in a sex spa is not exactly suitable either. Did I mention duck breasts or the duck condom??

Are there any redeeming factors? Although it is a bit overlong, the pacing is ok and I didn’t really mind the special effects but it fails in so many areas that it is too silly for adults and the mature scenes make it slightly unacceptable for children. I can understand that it does have a cult following, with Howard even making cameos in both Guardians of the Galaxy films and talks of a reboot but really I find it hard to actually like this film. Anyone else share the same opinion. I would like to read a defense.

 

Holidays – Various Directors

Holidays-poster

Anthology films are the cinematic equivalent of short stories: On the the whole they are interesting but the quality varies. Saying that I find anthology films enjoyable due tot he eclectic nature of the segments, one of  my absolute favourites being September 11

Holidays is, as you can guess, an anthology of films based around popular holidays, however unlike films of this ilk, there are some uniting factors. One is that there’s a horror basis in all the films and secondly all these films are insane, whether within the plot or the visuals, or in the case of a couple of these segments, both.

Within the speedy hour and a half running time, I was creeped out, baffled and a couple of times I laughed. Despite the underlying themes, each director’s (the most famous being Kevin Smith) take on a holiday is memorable. Whether the over the top revenge tales (Valentine’s Day, Halloween, New Year’s Eve) the sinister (St. Patrick’s Day) or the Black Mirroresque (Christmas) there will be at least a couple of films which will be imprinted on your memory.  However the standout, or at least, the one that will divide opinions is Easter: A bizarre short in which a child learns the difference between Jesus Christ and the Easter Bunny. All I can say is that you’ll either find it shocking or plain stupid but you’ve NEVER seen anything like it.  As for the stinker, I wasn’t too keen on the Mother’s day short as I felt the idea was explored as deeply and came across as a bit melodramatic.

So should you watch Holidays? The answer is yes. It’s a good way to spend an evening, just don’t have any high expectations.

Silent Night, Deadly Night – Charles Sellier (dir)

silent-night-deadly-night-movie-poster-1984

I’m a big fan of ‘so bad, it’s good’ films (and cult ones) as generally I find that there’s a lot of  good intentions behind them, it’s the same reason why I like outsider music and art brut. Although the end product is not great, there’s a certain endearing charm. Silent Night, Deadly Night is a bit different.

The plot is simple. Young Billy’s parents are murdered by a killer dressed as Santa, which gives Billy a Pavlovian fear of Santa, something which affects him throughout the rest of his childhood.

As Billy grows up he finds a job at a toy store and then during the Christmas period he has to dress up as Santa Claus. This triggers all those old feeling and he goes on a killing rampage, only to be killed at the orphanage he spent his childhood years in.

Time has not been kind to this film and there are a lot of flaws.The acting is horrible from all protagonists. One gets the feeling all the actors felt that they couldn’t take their roles seriously and had to do their best to stop from sniggering on set.

The dialogue is weak and borders on the over simplistic, with totally random statements that are uncharacteristic of the way some characters are portrayed. The best example is when the toy store owner, who is presented to be a dour personality, locks the  shop’s door, punches the air and yells ‘lets get shitfaced!!!’

The nudity is totally gratuitous, with an emphasis on breasts. In the beginning when Billy’s mother is being killed,  Santa drags her to the ground and slits her throat but not before opening her shirt and looking at her chest. In another scene a couple are about to have sex on a pool table but then billy knocks on the door, the girl exclaims that she has to answer the door with her clothes on. Naturally she just puts on a pair of daisy dukes and answers the door lady Godiva style. I assume as a punishment Billy impales her on a deer head.

Oh and although I do understand gore is part of every slasher film, I do believe that blood should emerge out of the area that is being hit, so here a person may be bludgeoned on the back of the head a blood will mysteriously gush out of the victim’s nose.  Oh yes soundtracked to very obvious Foley techniques. You can hear stagehands kicking a box when Billy punches people.

All this renders this horror film as a comedy.

However despite all the flaws is the film entertaining? The answer is that for the first forty minutes there is an actual story being told, so yes. Billy’s fear of Santa is explained well and the murder spree in the toy shop is good but when Billy leaves the toy shop for another forty minute of pure killing the film loses its pace and becomes a dull parade of blood and boobs.  Still the film is worth a watch but more for curiosity’s sake.

ho ho ho

Justice League – Zack Snyder (dir)

justice league

Before I start this review I better include some backstories.

Backstory 1:

My introduction to DC characters did not happen through the comics but there were two events which helped shape my knowledge of the DC Universe. The first happened all throughout my childhood, when the one and only video store that was in the Indian reservation I lived in stocked superhero cartoons. Thus from 1985 – 1988 I watched TONS of DC and Marvel cartoons. Usually these cartoons contained the origin of a character and then a couple of one off adventures. The second event happened in 1987 when I received a encyclopedia of the DCEU. I read that from cover to cover constantly.So my everything I know about comic book adaptations are form secondary sources, rather than primary ones.

Backstory 2:

At first I was sceptical about the DCEU. I thought Man of Steel was a good, solid film, Batman vs Superman was patchy and had tons of potential to be a great film. Suicide Squad was a complete mess. Wonder Woman is definitely the best of lot and the best superhero film I watched this year, which leads us to Justice League.

Brief Summary:

Steppenwolf, a character who wreaked havoc many years ago has returned to in order to collect three boxes, which were taken away from him last time round. When the three boxes are put together they contain enough power to destroy the universe, which Steppenwolf manages to do. Batman finds out about the boxes and seeks out Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg in order to defeat Steppenwolf. Along the way they resurrect Superman, which results in a great big battle. Throughout the film the heroes realise that in order to be powerful they have to work as a team.

My Impressions:

I enjoyed watching this film. It respects canon and is a nice follow up to Batman vs Superman. All the new characters are given space to develop and us viewers get a strong picture of their personalities. I feel that each character in the league represents some sort of value i.e Wonder Woman symbolises compassion and that was brought out excellently. I did also like the part where Superman stops midway through fighting in order to save civilians. There are two main battles and they are fantastic and I mean seat gripping action. I like a villain that you want to punch and Steppenwolf encapsulated all that. Plus all characters have chemistry. Unlike previous DCEU films this one does have some good jokes, which I appreciated.

It’s not a perfect film though. I found the first half just a teensy bit slow and then the second half a bit too rushed but really it’s a small complaint. Once again dark colors dominated Justice League and I felt that Aquaman could have more screentime BUT he’s getting his own film next year, and it will be directed by James Wan.

Ultimately Justice League delivers and finally may trump Marvel regarding emotional depth but I do know that this is a generalisation. I do think though, this is a sign that consistency will now be a staple of the DCEU.

 

Men in Black – Barry Sonnenfeld (Dir)

Men_in_Black_Poster

Do all films require some type of deeper meaning? some existential metaphor disguised as potent symbolism. I think that no matter how hard you look, you’ll always be able to excavate something.

Well here’s the exception.

I first watched Men in Black in 2001 but due to constant background noise not much registered as I was annoyed AND I had to return the film the next day. Now that have given it a second viewing I can only describe this movie in one word.

Fun

Yes this film has no depth. It just consists of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith fighting alien who try to conquer Earth. Eventually they come across a more psychotic alien called the bug, whose plans to destroy the Earth. You can guess the outcome.

Although weak on plot MiB excels in other ways. After 20 years the majority of the special effects are pretty good, namely one alien having his head shot off and it regrows. The jokes are good and I did laugh a few times and pacing is excellent. There’s no time to feel bored plus Jones and Smith work well together and their characters actually do develop a bit throughout the film.

Definitely no masterpiece but then again you don’t have to be challenged all the time. This is light entertainment with some cool visuals and now and then that’s ok.