My Top 88 Movies of 2018: 84-81

84. Teen Titans Go to the Movies

Okay, this one is probably going to be a bit controversial because I know a lot of people out there who really genuinely enjoyed this movie and thought it was great fun. And, to be fair, it’s not like I don’t see why. There’s a lot of great and inventive ideas and jokes about the superhero movie industry and it’s practically jammed full of great blink-and-you’ll-miss-it background easter eggs and gags. So I can entirely understand why other people enjoyed it so. For me, however, I just felt like my personal sense of humour just didn’t quite gel with this movie’s style.

Which is basically my polite way of saying I found this movie insufferably annoying.

I mean, Christ Almighty, this movie would not shut the fuck up for a single second. It was almost painfully ear-grating in its sheer constant obnoxiousness, like the worst depths of annoying memes and youtube videos being scraped out of the bottom of the barrel and pasted all over the screen. The main characters were the most fucking insufferable shits that I have ever been asked to ‘sympathise’ with and, while I’m no stranger to the idea of a comedically sociopathic protagonist, I would at least like said protagonists to actually be funny.

Because the fact of the matter is, I didn’t find anything the actual main story/characters did to be funny. Even shit that entirely should be funny to my personal sense of humour just came off as grating and annoying in the delivery. Going back in time to rewrite various superhero backstories so said heroes wouldn’t exist all so they can get a movie? Hilarious. Do said joke by having an annoying overly long rave party bit on Krypton? Not so much. Even jokes that I thought were hilarious in the trailers ended up feeling unfunny and annoying in the actual movie

Now, I’ll admit I’ve never actually watched the original Teen Titan series or Teen Titans Go, but I was honestly going into this movie expecting to enjoy it. I loved the trailers and the advertising material and the little touches like casting Nicholas Cage as Superman. Hell, I love the very concept idea. A group of fuck-up idiot heroes trying to take down a genuinely capable villain so they can get their own superhero movie because literally everyone seems to have one these days? That’s great. You could get tons of potential comedy from that. But it’s all farted away into the wind here with nothing but loud noises and flashy lights.

It’s especially galling because you know what is funny about this movie? All the background shit! All the little easter eggs and humorous jokes and signs and background details that got more a few decent laughs from me. I never thought I’d say this about any movie ever, but TTG is a comedy where the background is genuinely funnier than the foreground. More or less the sole reason that this didn’t outright make the bottom of this list is because the background artists and writers are apparently genuinely funny people.

Still, I will admit that humour is definitely to some level subjective. And the fact that so many people clearly really liked this movie meant that obviously it definitely hit some of the right chords with them. But I really just couldn’t with this movie. It’s nothing but loud annoying noise, akin to someone jingling keys in your face for an hour, while someone else shrieks in your ear. Sorry TTG fans, but this just was not for me.

83. Bad Times at the El Royale

Yeah yeah, make your own ‘Bad Times at ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’’ joke here.

Seriously though, I legitimately don’t know why this movie rubbed me off the wrong way so much. I really like Drew Goddard’s work, the trailers made it look appealing and I thought this Hateful Eight-esque story of strangers stuck together in a sleazy old hotel genuinely seemed like an interesting idea. And indeed, initially, for the first 20 minutes or so I actually was enjoying myself. The characters and set-up all seemed interesting and I was interested to see where they’d go with it. Yet, by the end of it, I was literally all but begging for this movie to just fucking finish already.

If I had to pick exactly what it was that really got on my nerves about this movie, aside from the unnecessarily long length and meandering story, it’s probably that it clearly thinks it’s smarter and more meaningful than it actually is. So many times it feels like the movie all but stops dead in its track so we can go off onto some side story or so some character can give an emotional dramatic oscar bait speech or so we can have another fucking singing number from Cynthia Erivo, who plays the lounge singer Darleene Sweet. And that probably sounds a bit harsh on Cynthia Erivo, she’s a perfectly fine singer, but the movie actively screeches to a halt every time she has to get a song out and they all without exception end up lasting way too long. Fuck, there was a coolass scene involving Jon Hamm exploring the secret spy passages behind the hotel rooms that ends up taking an enormous interlude so she can get a musical number out, which killed like 90% of the pacing and tension in the scene for me.

Funnily enough, the thing about this movie is that it’s a Tarantino-esque movie that really feels like it could’ve done with being more Tarantino-esque. More humour or action, more liveliness and sharpness to the pacing and, most of all, morestyle really would’ve helped this movie feel more than the tiresome slodge it was. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the moment Jon Hamm (who plays the most Tarantino-esque character in the film) dies is the moment the movie starts going downhill.

Still, the actors give decent performances and, like I said, I genuinely was engaged with this movie for the first 20-30 minutes or so. But ultimately I just found this movie far too overlong, drawn-out and boring to really enjoy. A Tarantino movie without the things that make said films interesting.

82. Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel Part 1- presage flower (~this movie has too many subtitles~)

Boy, there sure seem to be a lot of animated films at the bottom of my list this year, don’t there? This is what, the fourth? And it’s not even the last to make the bottom ten. Plus I never even bothered watching Sherlock Gnomes or the Grinch, so they’re not going to be making the list at all.

To get back on subject though, for those unaware, Fate Stay Night is a fairly popular franchise/waifu simulator in Japan about famous mythological figures being summoned by wizards to fight and kill each other to claim the Holy Grail. Originally starting as a visual novel, it has since gotten sequels(ish), a fantastic prequel series (Fate/Zero), comedic spinoffs, alternate universe stories, video games, numerous anime series (I count at least 6 offhand, 7 if you count Carnival Phantasm) and much much more. All fairly impressive for a series about making King Arthur your waifu.

Speaking of anime though, the series got new interest a few years ago when animation studio Ufotable decided to adapt the Unlimited Blade Works path of the original light novel and made it look fucking amazing in the process. Say whatever you want about the actual story, there are legit criticisms to be had, but the fights were almost univerally top notch and looked outstanding. So when I heard that the same studio, Ufotable, was going to adapt the third path of the light novel and cover it through three movies I was naturally kinda hyped.

Turns out I really shouldn’t have been. Because as film adaptations go, this is less Lord of the Rings and more ‘The Hobbit’.

I mean Jesus, everything feels almost ridiiiiculously drawn out in this movie. I’ll confess to never actually have read/played the original visual novel (although I picked up a lot of the plot beats via osmosis), but I struggle to think that it was this dull. I barely even remember what happened in half of it aside from two of the mains making googly eyes at each other and a lot of emphasis on archery.

Now, on the positive side, I will say that are quite a few things in this movie to compliment. Ufotable’s animation is gorgeous, the villains have great designs and looks and, like Unlimited Blade Works, the fights in this movie were genuinely really good. It’s just a shame that it barely feels like there are any in there. Seriously, there’s maybe what, 2 or 3 battles of any actual note (which look great) and 90% drawn out boring lifeless ‘drama’ between the two mains? Seriously Ufotable, I get that battles probably cost more budget-wise, but you could’ve sped up the pacing a little more and maybe added a few more serious confrontations in there, right?

Seriously though, this was a disappointment and not a great start to what was a fairly anticipated trilogy to me. Hopefully the pace will pick up some more in the second film, which looks like to have a lot more meat to it, but as beginnings go, this really wasn’t great.

81. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

If you followed my 2016 Year’s End list, you’ll know that I wasn’t particular fond of the first Fantastic Beasts movie. To me, it felt like two entirely different movies haphazardly together, each with differing tones, main characters, styles and so on. It was two plots that didn’t fit together and never felt like part of the same story.

Well, in some ways, Crimes of Grindelwald arguably does the exact opposite to the first Fantastic Beasts. In that it simultaneously has zero plot and fucking too much plot. I mean seriously, let’s count the plot threads here.

-Newt being forced to pick a side
-Newt looking for Credence
-Newt looking for and apparently having a thing for Tina.
-Newt being banned from international travel
-Newt previously having a thing for Leta and dealing with emotions surrounding that
-Newt having a difficult relationship with his newly introduced brother
-Jacob trying to find and make up with Queenie
-Queenie wanting to get Jacob to marry her
-Queenie apparently being seduced to the dark side by Grindelwald
-Tina investigating Credence
-Tina investigating Yusuf in an attempt to find Credence
-Credence searching for his real parents and/or why he was abandoned
-The Ministry attempting to find and kill Credence (with that one asshole turncoat auror who kills the nanny and then disappears entirely from the movie halfway through.)
-Yusuf attempting to find and kill Credence
-Everyone trying to find out if Credence is actually Corvus Lestrange
-Grindelwald attempting to seduce Credence to the dark side
-Grindelwald working to establish his power base
-Grindelwald setting up a big meeting of his followers
-Theseus and the ministry attempting to find and ambush this big meeting
-Leta getting married to Theseus
-Leta dealing with her backstory and dead brother
-Dumbledore trying to work against Grindelwald
-Dumbledore being investigated by the ministry
-Nagini… exists?
-Nicholas Flamel… also exists?
-That one assistant of Newt’s who appeared in one scene and initially seemed like she’d be important but never appears again… also also exists?

-Oh, and I think there are supposed to be some Fantastic Beasts around the place as well.

I mean Jesus, fucking Infinity War didn’t have that much going on and that had almost 20 movies leading up to it. This had one movie leading up to it. Of questionable quality. And, as mentioned, almost none of these subplots actually get time to be properly developed. Several characters feel like they’re barely in the movie most of the time (including Queenie and arguably Grindelwald), several feel like they could be removed outright with no problems (Nagini, Nicholas Flamel, (hell, minus the stuff in the finale, arguably Grindelwald again), we barely get any convincing insight into most character’s motivations, there are obvious editing problems here and there from stuff that was presumably cut or changed and overall the entire thing is a goddamn mess.

Hell, I probably couldn’t even tell you what the main plot of the movie was, there was so much mess. The trailers make it sound like it’s about stopping Grindelwald, but Newt barely interacts with him or his minions or anything even remotely resembling him for most of the movie. Newt’s primary motivation for most of the film is finding Tina and then finding Credence and then he stumbles almost accidentally into Grindelwald’s big meeting towards the end. I suppose it could arguably be about finding Credence, but he also feels like he’s barely in the movie enough for that and he and Newt have only shared about 5 minutes of screentime together in this entire franchise.

If you personally enjoyed the movie, cool, more power to you. I just thought it was a huge mess from a spinoff franchise that has been nothing but confused and disappointing.

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