My Top 88 Movies of 2018: 80-77

80.  Batman Ninja

You know, I’ve really got to wonder about this movie. You’ve got a story about Batman and his entire mythos, rogues and sidekicks and all transplanted into feudal Japan, complete with armies and shogunates and ninjas and samurais and even entire fucking feudal castles transforming into giant mechas to fight each other (y’know, like real Feudal Japan). Plus you’ve got some genuinely gorgeous animation to go with it and some great heavily-detailed character designs.

So with all that in mind, what I’ve really got to ask is how the hell do you make it all so painfully, mindcrushingly booooring!

Seriously, this movie is just plain uninteresting. None of the characters feel like they have any actual… well, character to them and exist mostly to spout off exposition and the most generically flat hero/villain ‘banter’ possible. Their interaction and adaptation to the Feudal setting is mostly surface level at best and is largely boiled down to giant mech fights. Which really isn’t as interesting as you’d think it would be.

And honestly, it’s that absolute lack of character and flair to anything outside the character designs that really ends up dragging the film down. There’s no interest in seeing Batman interact with this Feudal setting because this Batman has no real character to speak of. There’s no interest in seeing him try to survive these deadly battles, because he’s so flat that you don’t care what happens to him and because the battles are so bland to begin with.

Honestly, it’s almost surreal how much stuff is in this movie that I really theoretically should like, but don’t because it’s so bland. Giant mechs, warring armies, Batman & co in Feudal Japan, Batman and Joker having a samurai/ninja battle. But it’s all done in the most boring way possible that makes you almost immediately lose interest. Well, okay, aside from one moment where Batman gets his own mech that was so out-there ridiculous I’m still not entirely sure it wasn’t a fever dream.

In conclusion, while I ultimately ended up ranking Gotham by Gaslight lower than this, because I found it personally kind of unpleasant, I do actually think this is an objectively worse film. It takes so many cool ideas and designs and does the barest of minimums with them. I’ll admit there wasn’t really anything about that I actively despised, like much of the lower films on this list  but that’s only because there’s too little to really feel any kind of emotion towards. Really disappointing for a movie that received so much hype.

79. The Nun

God damn, this movie was such a waste of a great setting. A creepy monastery surrounded by crosses and populated by perpetually silent nuns, one of whom might be a demon? That’s a great place to set a horror movie and has a lot of potential for some really tense and creepy stuff. It was a great premise, the monastery looked nice and haunted and for the first third or so I was actually genuinely fairly engaged by the atmosphere provided.

Which is why it’s such a disappointment that the rest of the movie resorted mostly to scary Valak faces and loud ‘oogedy-boogedy’ noises for its runtime.

Seriously, this movie actively annoys me with how dull and boring the back half of it was. I wasn’t amazingly fond of the Valak climax in the Conjuring 2 and this felt like it took them problems of that and multiplied them by a hundred. There’s no slow dread or tension or inventive scares, just a load of wind and dark and Valak making scary noises (albeit ‘scary’ in the same way that Slender-Man was ‘scary’.)

It’s especially annoying in regards to this film, because every so often I could see moments genuine potential poking through. I already mentioned how the great the setting is, but there are a bunch of genuinely great little scenes and ideas that are just crushed under the tide of uber generic horror monster ‘scariness’ that would make the Haunting remake look embarrassed. For example there’s a great tense little scene where the main character attempts with a bunch of nuns to desperately drive a slowly approaching Valak away by praying which was great and really had a lot of potential. But then everything else about the movie and the finale is just generic, boring and forgettable noise without a lick of genuine tension or actual horror to be found.

Really, this movie feels like the sort of project where people went into it bright and happy and filled with ideas and then a third of the way through just got bored and hastily slapped the rest together. And it’s disappointing to see such a fantastic setting and premise go to waste like that. Still, at least we got one vastly superior entry in the Conjuring cinematic universe this year.

(What’s that? Aquaman doesn’t count as a Conjuring movie? Are you sure? It has fish people fucking. I’m pretty sure that’s a Lovecraftian thing, right? Fine, whatever.)

78. The Predator

Full Review here

77. Skyscraper

Hey everyone, it’s Die Hard on a slightly bigger Skyscraper! Just, y’know, without the humour, excellent action, excellent villain, genuine tension, hardship, likeable protagonist (arguably, it is the Rock, after all) and stakes we give a damn about! But hey, the Skyscraper is taller, right?

Honest to god though, I barely remember a single fucking thing about this movie. It’s probably the most forgettable action movie I’ve seen all year. The only real thing I remember about it is the one skyscraper leap and that was probably because it was in all the posters and trailers. Dwayne Johnson tries his best, but the writing and the direction and the action is just so uninspired and forgettable that it’s difficult to rank it all that high.

Still, I’ll admit I don’t recall disliking it all that much, it more-or-less does what it says on the tin. But, as far as these kinds of action movies go, there are plenty better you can find elsewhere. Or just watch Die Hard again.


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