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Ramblings of a Pop Culture Junkie: 1st Quarter, 2018 – Ten Films That Won’t Suck (Probably?)

1st Quarter of 2018 in Film

The 1st quarter of any year has often been thought of as a dumping ground for films; especially January, where more people are catching up on the future Oscar winners of the previous year than watching a movie where Treat Williams fights sea creatures (Deep Rising – January ‘98) or Chris Elliot tries to forge a film career (Cabin Boy – January ‘94). Over the last couple of years, this has definitely not been the case. In 2017 we had movies like Get Out and Logan popping up on many people’s year end Top Ten lists. We also had movies like Split, Lego Batman Movie, John Wick Chapter 2, and Beauty and the Beast (the 2nd highest grossing movie of 2017) entertaining audiences. So, will 2018 follow this trend? Let’s dive into it to see. So, without further ado:

1st Quarter, 2018 – Ten Films That Won’t Suck (Probably?)

1.      The Commuter (1/12) – Look, I get this “old man Liam Neeson kicking ass” thing is getting a tad ridiculous. Even he agrees, and is claiming this will be his last action/thriller. However, Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra, have made three fun (not necessarily great) films together already. I see no reason for this trend not to continue with The Commuter. It has a fun, crazy Hitchcockian premise which I’m sure will lead to an ending that divides audiences. Remember, the title to this is “Films that Won’t Suck” – I never said they would all be great.

2.      God Particle (2/2) – I’m still not convinced this movie is coming out in a little over a month, but it’s still showing as being on the schedule so we’ll go with it. I’m also confused about the name since IMDB still lists it as “Cloverfield Movie,” but we’ve had what I believe is a legit teaser trailer that calls it “God Particle,” so we’ll go with that. Regardless, it’s the third movie set in the Cloverfield universe, and I enjoyed the first two so I’m down for this one. Very little is known other than it involves astronauts on a space station and Earth vanishing. I love this idea of a series of movies set in a sort of modern day Twilight Zone universe. The lack of press makes me somewhat nervous, but I won’t be missing it.

3.      15:17 to Paris (2/9) – The latest directorial effort from Clint Eastwood is based on the true story of three Americans facing a terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris. Eastwood has been VERY hit or miss over the last few years, and honestly, Sully might be his only hit and it’s a small one at that. However, the subject matter for this film is just awesome; this is a crazy story that seems unbelievable the more you read about it. And we know Eastwood can direct the hell out of a thriller, so here’s hoping.

4.      Black Panther (2/16) – Black Panther’s introduction was possibly the best thing (outside of the Airport sequence) about Captain America: Civil War. The trailers for this movie have not been the most exciting, and have made it look like a pretty generic outing for the MCU, but I’m being optimistic based on the talent involved and the unique setting.

5.      Early Man (2/16) – I haven’t seen a single frame of film from this movie, but Aardman Animations has my butt in a seat no matter what the movie is. Along with Laika and Pixar, I don’t think there’s another animation company easier to trust even if they don’t get the return either of those companies (especially Pixar) do. Shaun the Sheep was an animated bright spot a couple of years ago, and hopefully Early Man will keep that hot streak going. For anyone not familiar with their earlier work, go watch Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit, Flushed Away, and Arthur Christmas ASAP.

6.      Annihilation (2/23) – Annihilation is based on the first novel in the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vander Meer. These books have been on my TBR pile for a couple of years now at least because I’ve only heard great things about them. However, after seeing the trailer to Annihilation, I might wait on reading until after I see the movie, because it looks intriguing as hell and I don’t want to be spoiled (any more than I already have been). Much like 2016’s Arrival, this looks like thinking man’s sci-fi, which is my favorite kind of sci-fi so I have hope. Plus, we get a movie with both Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh in it, and there can’t be much wrong with that.

7.      A Wrinkle in Time (3/9) – Hot YA properties (if you consider a book from 1962 hot) can go either way when it comes to film adaptations, but the previews for this one look promising. I will say I read this book more than once as a kid and remember next to nothing about it. My daughter and I are about to start reading it together, so my interest could wain either way in a couple of weeks. This seems like really cool world-building, and could make for an interesting franchise that isn’t as dark and dour as Hunger Games or Maze Runner so I’m down. Plus, any film like this or Early Man that I can take my daughter to and have some interest in is always a bonus, because I see EVERY film you could take a child to and a lot of them aren’t winners.

8.      Gringo (3/9) – Comedies with really funny previews don’t always give you the goods; see 2017’s The House. However, David Oyelowo (who to this point has only really done high-minded drama), seems to be giving it is all. If the moments in the preview equal up to much it’s going to be a really fun performance, and I’m always in on an actor going against type. Add in Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton, who are both on fire at this point, and a first-time director (stunt coordinator Nash Edgerton) only it makes things more interesting.

9.      Thoroughbreds (3/9) – Hit films at Sundance are 50/50 at best, but this one looks interesting enough to me to include. Oliva Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy are two of the more interesting actresses working today, so put them in a film together and try and keep me away. The description leaves a lot to the imagination, but my gut tells me this is a black comedy in the vein of Heathers. Also, I believe this will be Anton Yelchin’s last performance, so hopefully he goes out with a good one.

10.   Unsane (3/23) – A horror movie directed by Steven Soderbergh with Claire Foy and Juno Temple. Oh, and the whole thing was shot on an iPhone. Could be as pretentious as it sounds, or could be the experimental masterpiece that I’m hoping for. Regardless, it should be interesting.

 

Five Films to Be on the Fence About

1.      Game Night (2/23) – If we’re doing a list of movies I’m most excited about, Game Night is at the top of the list. I’m always looking for a Murder Mystery comedy to capture the magic that Clue did, and while it probably won’t be Game Night, I’m willing to give it a shot. It’s really hard to pull off this kind of comedy, but it can be done, and with this cast (Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, etc.) I’m hoping that’s the case here. Jesse Plemons slowly walking backwards into the darkness of his house is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while.

2.      Red Sparrow (3/2) – I love the source material, but I’m just not sure. Jennifer Lawrence feels miscast in this role as it is on the page, but you just never know. I’m hoping for the best – this is a really fun series of books. However, I’m getting a weird vibe from everything I’ve seen on it so far.

3.      Alpha (3/2) – My wife and I saw the trailer to this before The Last Jedi, and she turned to me and said that could either be really good or unwatchable. I feel the bigger possibility is that it will just be kind of boring. However, a story set 20,000 years ago about a caveman and a wolf he encounters trying to find their way back home under some very unpleasant elements could be a really entertaining ride or it could just be blah. The special effects look a little sketchy, but I have a hard time judging F/X in a trailer that could still be cleaned up quite a bit. I don’t know; I’m curious, but I don’t have high hopes at this point.

4.      Isle of Dogs (3/23) – Wes Anderson’s first return to animation since the amazing Fantastic Mr. Fox is a reason to be excited, but then you watch the trailer. This looks like the most Wes Andersony film since The Life Aquatic. The whole time I was watching the preview I was thinking about the great SNL sketch about a Wes Anderson horror film that aired a few years ago. I’m just hoping this is a really hard movie to market and it ends up being amazing, but I’m very uncertain about that possibility.

5.      Ready Player One (3/30) – I’ve read this book, and I’m kind of torn about it. It’s a lot of fun, but at the same time kind of annoying. It’s essentially a pop culture overload, and I mean OVERLOAD; you could go into the diabetic version of a Pop Culture coma if you read it too fast. However, it’s Spielberg, which always makes a film worth at least checking out.

 

What are some movies you’re interested in, not interested in, or on the fence about from the 1st Quarter of 2018? Let me know! 

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