“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

The Outlawvern.com 2018 Review Revue

Well, there it is. Another crazy, what-the-fuck-is-happening-to-us year has gone by. As you know if you’ve been reading regularly I lost my mom in the fall, and it would’ve been a rough one for me even if I didn’t feel like the world was running around with spiders in its pants stepping on mouse traps. So even more than usual it has been a refuge, a joy and an honor to be able to keep writing about movies and everything they mean to us, sharing my thoughts and discoveries with all of you and continuing the discussion here in the comments, on Twitter, in emails, and even on a couple podcasts. I’m so grateful for what we have here. Thank you.

As usual I saw more movies than most normal people but fewer than professional critics, so it’s hard for me to do a top ten list. I know I haven’t seen newer movies like IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, DESTROYER or THE FAVOURITE, and haven’t gotten to many that are available like FIRST REFORMED, LEAVE NO TRACE, THE RIDER or BUSTER SCRUGGS. Not to mention the ones I don’t even know I should’ve seen. So instead of a formal list I’ll talk about some of my favorites in different categories. Before that, let’s look back at some of the reviews I enjoyed writing most this year. Since I’ve determined that about 60% of the movies I wrote about this year were not new, this will include discoveries and revisits.


I like that I made a trilogy out of I, TONYA, accompanying it with reviews of the TV movie TONYA & NANCY: THE INSIDE STORY (which I had taped off of TV!) and BREAKAWAY (a b-action movie the real Harding has a part in). I enjoyed checking out all four original PROM NIGHT movies, plus the remake. Whole franchise analysis is always fun for me. Of course I went into much more detail in my first Patreon-exclusive series about THE TWILIGHT SAGA. The most work I put into one piece was THE SHAPE OF EVIL, my analysis of the entire HALLOWEEN series (including remakes) for Drugstoreculture. It’s different from my usual stuff and I was afraid it might be too weird and personal, but people seemed to like it.

THE VILLAINESS was one of my top movies last year, but I didn’t finish the review until this year. Also I finally caught up with the amazing HEADSHOT. I like that I got around to JANE GOT A GUN, because it was better than reported and I was able to illustrate it with Star Wars prequel trading cards. DEATH KISS (a new one) was in a way the oddest movie I wrote about. Because, I mean, what the hell?


Favorite discoveries/new to me stuff:
I really got a kick out of MERCENARIES FROM HONG KONG, a contemporary Shaw Brothers movie with amazing coordinated outfits. PENITENTIARY II had so much personality even before you factor in Mr. T. EMPEROR OF THE NORTH is a great story of stubbornness and tenacity with Lee Marvin as a legend among hobos. WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD has car engines powered by zombie breath. SILENT RAGE is the well-directed sci-fi-horror/Chuck Norris hybrid I never knew I needed. HE NEVER DIED is the great Henry Rollins supernatural action vehicle I never knew I needed. I don’t want to call YES, MADAM! a discovery since I always knew it was supposed to be a classic, but I’m glad I finally can confirm that. And my very favorite movie-I-didn’t-know-about-until-this-year was 36.15 CODE PERE NOEL, which I guess we’re now calling DIAL CODE SANTA CLAUS in the states. I bet it will have a good release here before next Christmas and we’ll talk about it again then.


Glad I revisited: HE GOT GAME, LAST DAYS OF DISCO, THE MASK OF ZORRO and SNAKE EYES all held up really well and were exciting to watch again. They were part of my fairly massive retrospective on the summer of 1998. Somehow not being a great summer of movies overall didn’t really hamper my interest in reliving it, even though it was kind of a chore to get through GODZILLA. I’m glad I finally tried out ARMAGEDDON again, even though I didn’t much change my mind on it. I’d been curious how that would go for quite some time.

I also returned to some movies not from ’98, including Stuart Gordon’s CASTLE FREAK and John Landis’s INNOCENT BLOOD, two somewhat under-the-radar ’90s horror movies that I didn’t remember much about and that really impressed me this time around. That’s how it generally goes with Gordon movies, isn’t it?

I usually have a list floating around my desk somewhere of movies that I mention all the time that I can’t believe I never officially reviewed. They’re often from a little before or early on in my reviewing era, so by definition they’re reviews I’ve been putting off writing for years. OUT OF SIGHT has been literally at the top of that list forever. And WILD THINGS somewhere lower. I hope I did them proud on their 20th anniversary. Tackling movies like that is one of the most challenging but potentially rewarding things I do here.

Even more daunting are the hallowed, iconic classics that have been analyzed to death for decades. Movies that mean so much to me but that are difficult to find something new to say about. I think I did pretty good with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and oh man I can’t believe I finally really did THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. It must’ve been hundreds of times that I mentioned that movie somewhere and had to link to a review of a particular DVD release of it. I feel good about what I came up with there. Part 2 awaits.

Also sometimes I like to go back to one I that I have reviewed before but feel is worthy of deeper analysis after it’s been around for a while and hopefully I’ve gotten smarter. I probly had one of the first reviews of BLOOD AND BONE, posted on The Ain’t It Cool News under the headline “Vern predicts BLOOD AND BONE will be this year’s best picture (direct-to-video category).” Nine years later I love it even more so I honored it with an entry in The Loose Canon.

I also got in one last Village Voice piece before they went away. They were kind enough to think of me for a Steve McQueen/Lee Marvin/Charles Bronson/Jim Brown film series in New York. I hope it wasn’t my fault. R.I.P.


I’ve never really looked at my statistics before, but I was curious how many new reviews I posted this year. By my count it was 188. 74 of those were new releases in theaters or on video (about 39%). 78 I would broadly categorize as action or crime-ish (41%). 44 were horror (23%). So, about 36% other.

I was proud to discover that I reviewed eight movies that had zero external reviews on IMDb when I submitted mine (FLORIDA STRAITS, TONYA & NANCY: THE INSIDE STORY, JOHNNIE MAE GIBSON: F.B.I., THE CONTRACT, URBAN JUNGLE, BUFFALO HEART: THE PATH OF DEATH, KUNG FU TRAVELER and THE MONSTER’S CHRISTMAS). To give you an idea, when I checked just now CREED II had 156 external reviews. Even an obscure, only on VHS movie like THUNDER RUN has ten reviews including mine. THE BRAIN has 23. FOODFIGHT! has fifteen. So when I stumble across a ZERoIMDb – I never go looking for them – it’s a badge of honor. Eight in a year has got to be a record for me.

ZERoIMDb update: I was the first to get to STAR TIME (1991) back in 2012, but it has thirteen external reviews now because Vinegar Syndrome released it on Blu-Ray in March of this year. Maybe I should send them this list. FLORIDA STRAITS might work for them – it’s a cool crime-adventure movie starring Fred Ward and Raul Julia. Maybe that’s too classy. Actually, URBAN JUNGLE a.k.a. HOMEBOYZ II: CRACK CITY would be more their jam.

Not un-related, I’m glad I came up with the name Tape Raider for when I review obscure only-on-VHS movies. I’ll have to do more of those soon.

I was a guest on two podcasts, The Pink Smoke (discussing the DEATH WISH remake and series) and Zebras in America (discussing all kinds of shit). I probly need more practice to be a good podcast guest, but I really liked those guys and I appreciate that they have continued to treat me like a pal afterwards.

Okay, let’s get to the pomp and the circumstance and all that.

 


SUPER HEROES:
Every year some wise guy tries to suggest that the comic book shit is gonna run its course. But 2018 was an incredible one for this genre. It’s amazing to think that AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR was such a gargantuan culmination of so many movies and characters built over so many years, and it was thrilling and surprising and even had one of the first great Marvel villains, and yet it’s not even my top super hero movie of the year. I’m not even sure what is, though – either the colorful and moving BLACK PANTHER, the imaginative and groundbreaking SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (review soon), or the couldn’t-get-the-smile-off-my-face absurd fantasy of AQUAMAN. DEADPOOL 2 and ANT-MAN & THE WASP were also entertaining in a more predictable way, and VENOM gave me a few laughs. So better luck next year, guy who’s tired of all those super heroes.


HORROR:
A couple of my top movies of the year are genre-straddlers that might be categorized by some as horror. But when it comes to straight-up put-it-on-the-cover-of-Fangoria genre business I feel like maybe I didn’t watch enough, because there’s not one obvious knockout favorite for me. I pretty much know for sure that the one I’ll end up returning to most is HALLOWEEN, but that’s as much because of my habit of rewatching franchise horror as it is my appreciation for its strong mood, interesting story approach and characters who I root for.

There’s also a chance I’ll become obsessed with SUSPIRIA, which was a very enjoyable experience for me because of its combination of atmospheric, sometimes visceral weirdness and headscratching choices that I continued to think about and argue over with people for weeks after. But that’s most likely dependent on whether or not a second viewing wins me over to all the historical context that felt extraneous and full-of-shit to me on the first viewing. I can see it going either way.

So I think maybe my favorite is HEREDITARY. I don’t have much interest in defending its intentions or decoding whether its mythology makes any sense, which might be a sign that it’s not gonna be a personal favorite ten years from now. But what I can stand by are the feelings it gave me as a more original and enjoyable version of the “weird shit happens and then weird shit happens again” formula of everything from popular-ghost-movie-series A, B and C to Lars Von Trier’s ANTICHRIST, movies that I don’t generally like very much. Here it’s nailed in with an Oscar-worthy performance by Toni Collette (xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE), multiple A+ gore freakouts and the willingness to alienate both normal I-just-want-to-see-a-ghost-jump-out multiplex horror people and I-prefer-not-see-much-happen arthouse ones. And I still seem to be in the minority on this but for me and the audience I saw it with it was the rollicking type of horror with several good laughs.

Also A QUIET PLACE was a cool premise well-executed (but I didn’t think about it much afterwards), HELL FEST was a good not-self-conscious throwback slasher movie, and if you want to call ANNIHILATION a horror movie I enjoyed its ideas and emphasis on mood and imagery.



DTV ACTION:
In the most important category of favorite direct-to-video/direct-to-on-demand (should we start calling it non-theatrical?) action, I think the towering achievement is the one-two-punch of ACCIDENT MAN and THE DEBT COLLECTOR, both starring Scott Adkins and directed by Jesse V. Johnson. The former, an action-packed comedic hitman movie, is the passion project of Adkins, who co-wrote it based on a favorite comic book of his youth. The latter is also funny but in more of a PULP FICTION vein, a grounded story about low level criminals in L.A., and it’s a script Johnson has been trying to get off the ground for years. Both take great advantage of Adkins’ previously un-showcased verbal wit and Johnson’s increasing skill at both storytelling and stretching low budgets and short schedules to accommodate great fight scenes. ACCIDENT MAN has an impressive cast that also includes Amy Johnston, Michael Jai White, Ray Park and Ray Stevenson. THE DEBT COLLECTOR has an “oh shit I need to pay attention to this guy” turn by co-star Louis Mandylor.

Another one that really impressed me was KICKBOXER: RETALIATION, the first sequel to the sort-of-remake of KICKBOXER where Gabonese-Canadian stuntman Alain Moussi plays the Van Damme character Kurt Sloane and Van Damme himself plays a different mentor character, Master Durand. Part 1 screenwriter Dimitri Logothetis (SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK) takes over as director and ups the ante on fight choreography and filmatism. Van Damme continues his streak of fun, weird character actor performances and I’m assuming it was his idea to have Master Durand be blind this time.

And FEMALE FIGHT SQUAD is not technically eligible because it’s from 2016, but I only saw it this year. It’s not my favorite vehicle for favorite-new-action-star Amy Johnston (that would be LADY BLOODFIGHT), but it’s her best acting so far in a solid version of an underground fight ring story, and it’s cool that her dad is played by Dolph Lundgren.

Speaking of people who work with Dolph, there’s BRAVEN starring and produced by Jason Momoa, who plays a rugged salt of the earth man who lives in the mountains and has to protect his family from a drug gang. There are arrows and flaming axes involved. Nothing original about it but it’s one of those pure, personality-based action vehicles that I love so much.

Honorable mention: FINAL SCORE, Dave Bautista’s affable low budget soccer version of Van Damme’s SUDDEN DEATH.

MY ACTUAL FAVORITE MOVIES OF THE YEAR: Timo Tjahjanto’s ultra-violent action epic THE NIGHT COMES FOR US is the story of a bunch of killers fighting over a little girl to determine whether or not one guy gets slightly redeemed for all his bad deeds. It’s just a masterful showcase of varied and escalating action choreography, fueled by operatic emotions, taking place in a world teeming with colorful characters whose bodies stubbornly refuse to stop going until well after Death sends its final notice. I saw plenty of great movies this year, but none that exhilarated me like this one.

Technically this is a non-theatrical action movie too. For better or worse you need Netflix streaming to see it (unless you saw it at Fantastic Fest). I wish it was on Blu-Ray too.

also…

Coralie Fargeat’s REVENGE is probly the most beautiful, poetic and inspirational take we’re ever gonna see on the rape-revenge subgenre. I love Jen (Matilda Lutz)’s transformation from discarded toy of a rich asshole to avenging phoenix Rambo without compromising her dangly purple star earrings.


RUNNERS UP:
Though I had to adjust my brain antennas for a while to tune into MANDY, its psychedelic imagery and feelings have lingered in there like a cough. I love it for its smart use of Nic Cage’s unique talents (especially in that long take bathroom scene) and its respect for the importance of taking the time to get an awesome slo-mo shot of him riding a four-wheeler with a fuckin battle ax on his back. And I saw something profound in Cage’s character Red Miller stumbling directly from unspeakable tragedy (feeling his wife dissolve into ashes in his hands) to the absurdity of modern life (seeing a ridiculous boxed macaroni commercial on TV).

And also there’s WIDOWS. Topnotch cast and characters in an artfully directed heist drama with so much going on both on and under the surface. I’m not sure why it hasn’t gotten more attention. I’m sure people will catch up eventually.

And ROMA. Great.

 
OTHER STUFF THAT EXCITED ME:
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU really spoke to me with its working man surreal satire. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT is maybe the best of the series, a stunning achievement in summer blockbuster style action. EIGHTH GRADE thrust me into the dangerous world of middle school girl insecurity in the age of Instagram. YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE is an unglamorous arthouse take on badass shit. UPGRADE is a clever low budget sci-fi DEATH WISH with some impressive fight choreography. CREED II gave us the souls of Ivan and Viktor Drago. BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL was a fun bloody cartoon samurai massare from Takashi Miike. MANHUNT gave us tastes of the glory of a few different eras of John Woo magic. And ah fuck I have to admit I kinda felt like I had a crush on A STAR IS BORN, what do you want me to do about it?

KINDA DESERVED MORE DISCUSSION IN MY OPINION: Maybe if the hip hop biopic ROXANNE ROXANNE was on DVD somebody would see a trailer for it. Instead you just gotta know it exists and look for it in the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK warehouse of Netflix Originals. THE LAST MOVIE STAR was a sweet love letter to the career of Burt Reynolds and then he died and people didn’t know they had the perfect tribute right there under their noses so they just watched SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT again. TULLY is not my favorite Diablo Cody but man her and Charlize are a good team. SUPERFLY is much more interesting than most people seem to be aware.

* * *

This was a terrible, no account, backstabbing motherfucker of a year, my friends, but it was a good one too. Because that’s what we do. No retreat, no surrender. Superior attitude, superior state of mind. Dare to believe you can survive. I ain’t got time to bleed. I need time to change. If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change. Dillon, you son of a bitch! etc.

Peace, love and gratitude to all of you, and let’s try our best again next year.

your friend,

VERN

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46 Responses to “The Outlawvern.com 2018 Review Revue”

  1. This was a year when I felt even more removed from whatever the hell the tastemakers of the world think is great cinema, but there were also lots and lots of movies I loved that pushed the art forward without leaving me behind. Thanks again, Vern, for creating just about the only place on earth where a cranky asshole like myself feels like he belongs.

  2. Thanks for the great year of review’s. Looking forward to 2019. Happy New Year.

  3. Seems everyone forgot about INCREDIBLES 2, especially after SPIDER-VERSE.

    Off the top of my head:
    LAMEstream favorite(s): MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-FALLOUT and SPIDER-VERSE
    Indy favorite(s): ACCIDENT MAN, LAST MOVIE STAR
    Movie I thought was a whole lot of fun that everyone else hated: THE PREDATOR

    Other than that I got to discover a whole bunch of new movies I’ve been meaning to watch and were recommended to me. Also got to see a few things in theaters I thought I’d never be able to. So movie-wise, even though I drastically pulled back on going to the theater, it was good.

    I think my favorite thing from you this years was the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and TEXAS CHAIN SAW write-ups. I always love the summer movie retrospectives.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. I had a real big thing I typed but then I accidentally closed out the browser. I just wanted to say Happy New Year to you, Vern, and I am sorry you had to go through some personal trauma this year so I hope 2019 is a pretty easy year for you.

    I also just watched Hereditary and I didn’t like it. The acting was really good but the movie as a whole was really boring and overlong. I also have no idea what was so scary in this movie where people said it was the scariest movie they’ve ever seen. Though I think a lot of it might have to do with me being, at best, agnostic where religious based horror movies just don’t do it for me.

  5. Count me in as another person who thought The Predator was a lot of fun.

  6. Thank you again Vern and may 2019 be a banner year for you

  7. Happy New Year, Vern!

    Thanks for making this terrible year a little bit better with your always top notch thoughts and words.

  8. I don’t have time to read this or tell you much about my year right now, so let’s just settle on another “I love talking to you guys, even if it sometimes get a bit heated” and “Thanks for providing creating one of the very last cool places for lovers of movies and all around cool people, Vern”.

    Because these are my feelings, I’m just too much in a hurry to really articulate them.

  9. Thanks Vern. You fucking crushed it this year. Can’t wait for summer ’99 flashback and WORM ON A HOOK.

  10. Happy New Year to Vern and to all of you wonderful people here. 2018 was not a great year for me either, but I’ve got a good feeling about 2019. Even though there will always be terrible things that are out of our control, I’m going to finally try some changes and do my best to make next year better, and hopefully the universe will respond in kind.

    I’m really glad I started watching movies I’ve been meaning to see (The Godfather, The Exorcist, etc..) in 2018. I guess I’ve been “saving” them for a nondescript, hypothetical occasion (I’m kind of a hoarder so I think I try to save EVERYTHING in my life for a later date). But more and more it’s become apparent that the day people wait for often never comes to them. So I guess there’s no time like the present to do what you could do tomorrow? (Or what you should have done yesterday?)

    As for 2018 movies, maybe I’m just overloaded and saturated with content, but even movies I truly liked, like A Simple Favor, Blockers, Game Night, all kind of disappear from my mind. I have no problems with them but I don’t feel right putting them on a Top 10 list. The only three movies I really, really loved – A Quiet Place, MI: Fallout and Creed II, are borderline miraculous in the fact that they exist at all and that they’re as good as they are.

    Least Favorite Movie of the Year: Jurassic World 2. I’m sure there’s “worse” movies out there, but I’ve never been less “into” a movie than this. Completely soulless, corporate film-making that gives popcorn movies a bad name. I prefer the Transformers Series to this, that’s how bad it is.

    Most Underrated: Call me crazy but I actually liked Pacific Rim: Uprising. Everyone else seems to hate it but I feel like I saw a different movie than everyone else.

    Best Rewatch: I thought Last Jedi was only OK in theaters – but when I saw it again on Netflix I was blown away by how rich and layered it was. It might not be the “best” Star Wars movie but it’s the one you can discuss the most, and maybe I’m reaching the point in my crusty old life where I find discussing movies more satisfying than actually watching them.

    Best Movie Experience: Getting real high and watching Step Up 3D on an old 3D tv. I just rewatched it again and it’s even better than I remembered. The underrated script expertly mixes in every single cliche EVER, but does it in a charming and winning way. And the dance sequences are mind-blowing- it truly feels like a movie made by desperate, hungry people who don’t expect to get another chance; who leave everything they have out on the screen and save absolutely nothing for a sequel (even though there’s two!). I.e. it’s the complete opposite of Jurassic World 2. It’s a glorious, positive, feel-good movie that despite being almost 10 years old, is exactly the movie we need right now.

  11. Happy New Year, Vern! Let’s hope 2019 will be a great year for all of us.

  12. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 31st, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for all the superior written entertainment this year, Vern. My sincere best wishes to you and everyone else on here.

  13. the fact that you posted almost 200 reviews this year, and all of them were entertaining and well thought out, is a fucking mindblowing achievement. i had a year of insane highs and brutal lows that got me inspired to finally start posting some film writing of my own publicly, and your encouragement on my meager contributions on that front was a godsend for my self confidence. thanks for kicking ass so hard for all of us. <3

  14. Thank you so much for letting me know about The Night Comes For Us.
    Thanks for a fantastic 2018.
    Thank you for staying strong.
    It ain’t about how hard you can hit it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
    Keep moving forward, Vern!
    Thanks.

  15. I feel the first part of Mr. Majestyk’s post. I think I only went to the cinema about 3 times this year which is bonkers. Didn’t even feel compelled to watch the latest M:I amd I loved the hell out of the previous ones. I just got a bit sick of all the interner hype every week for substandard nonsense that I just kinda blocked new releases out. Caught up with a lot of golden oldies and finally got Netflix in the home so I have managed to come across a lot of DTV gold that was no doubt brought to my attention by this glorious community. Happy New Year to all and to all a good night.

  16. I love the summer retrospectives. I hope you do them each year.

  17. Happy new year, everyone. Apropos of nothing else, something I love about this place is the chance to go back and revisit the films of the past, so I look forward to more of that in 2019. I saw a bunch of movies I liked this year, but I don’t really feel like I’m in a place to rank them, so I guess I don’t have anything more constructive to add than good luck to us all in the next one.

  18. I am sorry to learn that your mother passed. My condolences for your loss (they leave us but stay always in our heart). She must have been proud of your gift. Everything you write is so damned entertaining. Loved your review of The Villainess. That movie really put my heart in a meatgrinder. I think The Meg was the most fun thing I watched this year. I really wanted more when it ended. The Favourite tested the limits of my restraint as I refrained from screaming “Piece of Crap” at the screen when it ended. I see many movies I would like to watch or re-watch in your summation, but I really like only Action Movies and there are not enough true Action Movies (with cheesy one-liners/trash talking, that leave you pumped up–as opposed to movies with action). I hope that is changing (they seem to be on the rise again). I’m the “guy who’s tired of all those super heroes”. I wanted to love Aquaman, and the kid in me was appreciative of the cool costumes (brought The Chronicles of Riddick to mind) and visuals–they even got in some seahorse riding, but it just felt like I was watching Jason Momoa be Jason Momoa. What did I want from it that I didn’t get? I don’t know, but I don’t want to watch it again and I would not buy it (and I was a huge Aquaman fan). I really think a campy version would have been better with a blonde like Dolph Ziggler. 2019 brings another Rambo movie and another Terminator movie. The rest is gravy for me.

  19. Thanks for another great year! A list of quality films from a name you can trust.

  20. I wish for all of us to have a better year

  21. Okay, more in detail: Great year writeup as always, Vern. My favourite of yours was definitely the 1998 retrospective, because of all the personal nostalgia from my side involved. (As I mentioned there several times, it was the year when I really started to get into movies.)

    Personally 2018 wasn’t good, but surprisingly low on really bad shit happening to me. It just wasn’t much good stuff either and in the end it was more extremely stressy than devastating.

    Moviewise I fell one movie short of my yearly goal of watching at least 150 movies. I blame the extreme heatwave in the summer, that killed my movie watching mood for a longer stretch. Only 11 of them were 2018 releases, which is more than I expected, but I guess the shorter release window between theatrical release/home video/pay TV helps. Four were Netflix originals (productions and licenced).

    My 2018 favourites were:

    – GAME NIGHT: I expected to not like it, because it was directed by the people who made the awful VACATION reboot and I rarely laugh about studio comedies these days, but this one had a tight script, stylish direction, great jokes and was very low on endless improvisation scenes.

    – DEADPOOL 2: As expected, it lost the “We did it because it’s funny” freshness factor from part 1 and felt more like “It’s funny, because we did it the last time”, also unlike in part 1, the emotional beats didn’t feel earned at all, but I will be damned if I didn’t laugh my ass off.

    – THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS: Not each episode was equally great, but some belong to the greatest things that the Coens ever did.

    The worst one:

    – INFINITY WAR: Sorry, but the Russos are still the worst that has ever happened to the MCU. The movie was overstuffed, the actionscenes were badly filmed (although still better than their CAPTAIN AMERICA joints) and that the next movie will most likely be the biggest reset button in movie history and even un-kill everybody who died before the fingersnap, doesn’t give me an excitement boner either. Of course maybe I am wrong and the MCU suddenly decided to go into the GAME OF THRONES business of killing popular characters before they run their course, but…nah, I don’t think so.

    Special award for not being as bad as I feared:
    – READY PLAYER ONE: Yeah, it was bad, but Spielberg actually found a way to make the nostalgiaturbation less awkward than it is in real life. It felt surprisingly natural and unforced. Still, it was a movie about some bland kids trying to stop the bad guy from putting pop-up ads in 2nd Life, while quoting 80s shit.

    In conclusion: Bring on 2019!

  22. Thanks for a great read, and thanks for another great year of reviews and commentary and humor and insight.

    That said, I must start reading you more regularly. My sincere condolences for your loss, Vern.

    Happy New Year and again, a sincere thank you, bud.

    Tom

  23. I also love the summer retrospectives and wonder if there’s a way to do a holiday season equivalent. It would be a little different as the holiday movie season is shorter (thanksgiving to Christmas really, maybe starting Nov 1) and it’s not as marketed with toys and fast food tie-ins, but there is hype aimed at kids home from school, families forced to spend time together and Oscar hopefuls.

  24. Thanks for that, Vern. I’m sorry for your loss Vern, but seen from here 2018 was a great year for your work.

    I didn’t get to the cinema much, but I’d be lying if I pretended that PADDINGTON 2 wasn’t at the top of my best-of-year list (with one possible exception), a list that also includes WIDOWS and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT. The best talking animal movie since Babe stopped making them!

    Elsewhere, THE FOREIGNER was a big surprise, and shows that with the right co-star and script old Jackie can still deliver.

    I also loved SHOCKWAVE/SHOCKWAVE TUNNEL which is ’80s action with a Hong Kong spin.

    I’m still struggling with Netflix, but I know this isn’t the place to argue against DTV.

    But my exception in the list above was seeing the 4k restoration of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK on its limited release here. It left a smile a mile wide and reinforced my view that nothing beats a great movie in a dark auditorium full of strangers.

    Happy New Year to everyone.

  25. Happy New Year, everyone!

    2018 was a great cinematic year for Nic Cage and Dolph Lundgren and a great DTV year for Scott Adkins.

  26. I can’t anything better than what Ron said, so I’ll +1: Thanks for kicking as so hard for all of us. Your work and your struggle mean a lot.

    A lot of joints listed that I have not seen, but I also really enjoyed HALLOWEEN, HEREDITARY, MANDY, CREED 2, and FALLOUT. Liked-didn’t-love HELL FEST and DEATH WISH. EQUALIZER 2 was a lot of fun. Did that even get a review? THE PREDATOR was a choppy mess of a film, and I loved it’s sense of unbridled orneriness and it’s great cast. It exist beyond good/bad and is simply fun. ANNIHILATION DVD has been sitting here waiting to be watched for some time. SUSPIRIA is on the wait-for-video list.

  27. I’m glad people mentioned INCREDIBLES 2 and PADDINGTON 2. I enjoyed both but did not review them, so I forgot them when I went through my reviews to compile this list. Another one that was very interesting was Joseph Kahn’s BODIED. Like DETENTION I saw it early at the film festival and didn’t see much use in reviewing it after people already knew about it but before they could see it. Both of those would be worth revisiting and writing about at some point.

  28. Ever thought about using letterboxd Vern?

  29. PADDINGTON 2 was a 2018 release? Then I have to name this one on my list of favourites too!

  30. It’s getting a lot of hate due to the kinda shoddy looking CG and deviations from the source material, but gun to my head the new WATERSHIP DOWN adaptation is one of my favorite films of the year. The story is much more fully realized than in the previous, and John Boyega’s voice acting is fucking thunderous.

  31. Thanks for another year Vern and the surprisingly high percentage of the commentators who are super cool

  32. Wow Broddie, the last year I saw only three films at the cinema was 2012: (The Avengers > Iron Sky > Prometheus). Still kicking myself over missing Resident Evil V at the cinema (first one I paid to see on Youtube officially as opposed to the cinema, some of it would have looked great in 3-D). Also still kicking myself over seeing Resident Evil 6 all on a DVD rented from a Blockbuster in the Year of Our Lord 2018 for $1 (it was still $1 too much).

    My recommendations of the best films I remember seeing in the last year or so.

    Firstly the ones to see knowing nothing, not even a trailer.

    Radius (2017) – made for the princely sum of about $500,000

    Circle (2015) – made for even less

    Triangle (2009) – (I know what it looks like but seriously!)

    Cube (1997) – (OK, well just about everyone’s seen this one, I’m sure but I might as well cap the theme here.)

    Salvage aka Gruesome (2005 or 2006) – the even more princely sum of about $25,000.

    But really seriously, some of the best and most innovative projects I’ve seen in the last year or so (and the ones I’ve rewatched the most) have been practically made for next to nothing which makes the effort even more remarkable in my book.

  33. Shan, did you do a geometry marathon on purpose? :)

  34. Yes I did Franchise Fred. Yes I did. You of all people would understand.

    I left Curvature out of this list because even though there was a novel twist in the presentation, the presentation itself left a lot to be desired.

  35. I too love all y’all. Weird to think I’ve been chatting with some of you guys since I was…maybe all the way back to high school. Jesus. Definitely as an undergrad. It has been interesting to revisit old Vern reviews and find old Tawdry replies underneath.

    This year wasn’t bad for me. Screenwriting May have become a real career instead of a pipe dream. Also, my all-time favorite musician (Andrew W.K.) released a new album for the first time in 10 years. I went to some great concerts and made a few great memories. Politics sucked. But they have sucked for almost every year of my life because I grew up in the wake of Ronald Raygun.

    I feel hopeful about the future. Maybe that’s naive.

  36. Deep thanks to Vern et al. for 2018. I am amazed at the stats summarizing the pursuit of excellence ya’ll have exhibited. Thanks for being the best commentators on the internet. Actually the only ones I read anymore, when it’s comments time. Thanks for leading the way Vern and being so damn reliable and finding interesting new corners of cinema that keep it alive for us.

    Glad to see Mandy made the best of list. Its unique combination of my favorite things made it my movie of 2018.

  37. Great year-end write-up, Vern! I finally sat down with THE NIGHT COMES FOR US and it did indeed blow the damn doors off. Easily the goriest, most wince-inducing straight action movie I’ve ever seen. And I’m watching THE RAID as I type this (not that it’s especially gory, but it IS very wince-inducing). Anyway, just a fantastic film, top-to-bottom, with one of the best endings I’ve seen in quite a while. Well, keep on keepin’ on and we’ll all try to do the same, I guess.

  38. much love to all and best wishes for the new year etc okay with that out of the way did anyone else on here catch up with the latest Pascal Laugier joint (INCIDENTS IN A) GHOSTLAND?

    one of my faves of the year but also super troubling both inter and extratextually. i know that there is a lot of love for MARTYRS and THE TALL MAN on here (with good reason) so if you consider yourself to be in that camp i implore you to check his new shit out. there is a LOT to unpack in there and it is a legitimately punishing ordeal but i also think it’s a fine and fitting end to the thematic/spiritual trilogy of films he’s made so far. and much like the other two, the less you know going into it the better.

  39. 2018 wasn’t excactly a prize winning year, but after the hellish 2016 and 2017 I will at least talk about it sort of fondly. And I actually remember a few of the movies I saw. REVENGE, THE FOREIGNER, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT and THE NIGHT COMES FOR US deserves to be in my bluray collection.

  40. I’m not going to speak to the year as a whole, although, I did go see more movies this year than I have for the past few and I think, overall, I had a good time. I will say 2018 ended and 2019 started out rather well for my movie viewing. Over the holiday break I saw SPIDERMAN INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE and THE RETURN OF MARY POPPINS. I had a double feature for NYE of THE MEG and HURRICANE HEIST, which was a perfect pairing. On New Years day I went and saw AQUAMAN and then had dinner with some friends and watched BAD MOMS. I can’t claim all of those were masterpieces, but I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one in a different way. I know that last one maybe shouldn’t count because it’s older, but that’s the first time I’ve seen it, so I’m including it.

  41. Maybe this has come up and I missed it, but any chance of a review for Peppermint?

  42. Mixalaot — I saw INCIDENT IN A GHOSTLAND, but I thought it was kinda a terrible mess, with maybe a few effective adrenaline sequences but a lot of narrative clutter that doesn’t really work at all. And what’s up with all the Lovecraft stuff, stuck into one of the least Lovecraftian horror movies imaginable?

    Genuinely curious, what did you like about it?

  43. Fuck this movie

    How 'Green Book' And The Hollywood Machine Swallowed Donald Shirley Whole

    In August 2018, Edwin Shirley III sat in disbelief as he...

  44. Renfield: just yesterday or so one of the writers tweeted that we all saw Muslims dancing in the street during 9/11.

  45. When it won screenplay I was shocked it was written by three old fat white guys.

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