Shmee’s Top Five Movies Of 2018!

I had ton of fun at the movies this year, and since the box-office set records, I am guessing a lot of you did too. This year instead of picking the ‘best’ movies like I am some kind of Oscar voter, I am just picking my most memorable ones. The ones that stuck with me. Here they are in reverse order!

5: A Simple Favor!

You don’t get a good thrilledy every day, or even once a year, so when Paul Feig creates one with two fantastic leads, I think it is worth watching. While I am not sure this movie will end up on a lot of people’s lists, I found it fascinating, and it shows how talented people can make something that shouldn’t work, work. Also, it makes me want a martini.

4: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies!

I laughed so much at Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. The jokes came fast and furious, and it showed that you don’t just have to be crass to make a superhero comedy. You can also use a lot of poop jokes, or just make fun of the state of the DCEU. On top of all that the songs were catchy. I don’t know what it says that my favorite DC movie this year was an animated farce, but here we are.

3: Black Panther!

This movie was soooooo good, and Marvel finally had a villain that was smart and had some moral high ground. Then in true Marvel fashion they killed him…. Hey Marvel, quit killing all your bad guys! Especially the good ones! I guess they are getting a bunch of new rogues from the Fox merger, but Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) was fantastic. He was the first MCU villain who I would watch a solo movie about.

2: Won’t You Be My Neighbor!

It turns out the loving and wonderful person that Fred Rogers was on screen wasn’t an act. He really was that person, and his love made the world a better place. He let us know that we are all special and loved, and his show was a safe space for us all. There has been a Mr. Rogers shaped hole in the world since he left us, and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ reminded us of that.

1: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I never thought I would pick a Spider-Man movie to be my favorite film, but here we are on the last day of 2018, and Spider-Verse is the movie I can’t get out of my head. Everything about this movie was so well done. When I think about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse it is literally just a list of superlatives. Better yet, it is still in the theaters, so there is time for you to get out to your local multiplex and see it.

That was my very flawed list, I would love to hear yours, or just have you tell me why I am wrong. Until next year!

Mary Poppins Returns To Do It All Again!

I was skeptical when Disney announced that they were bringing back Mary Poppins, but those fears were squashed when they hired Emily Blunt. Who like the character she was tasked with bringing to life, is practically perfect in every way, and while Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda do great work as the main performers, I think the movie lets them down a bit by not letting them have an adventure of their own. Instead taking us on adventures we had last time Mary came in on the east wind.

This time around the Banks children are all grown up, and Michael (Ben Whishaw) has three kids of his own. He is not dealing with the emotional and financial fallout of recently losing his wife well. His sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) is doing her best to help, but things are falling apart. That is until a certain nanny blows in just when things seem to be at their bleakest.

As you can see the biggest change, other than the cast, for Mary Poppins Returns is that it has a slightly darker edge, not much, but it is there, and it carries through the film. I don’t think it is a bad thing since it gives the movie some emotional stakes, and it also gives Michael more of a reason to be distant and cross with his children. You understand why he is having a hard time. Other than, “that is just the way British Bankers are!”. I wish that would have changed up more of the film as well. Because a lot of it feels like retreading old ground.

There is an animated sequence, they visit one of Mary’s odd friends, the lamplighters have a big song and dance number, balloons instead of kites. Apart from one or two sequences it all feels like they just wanted to do their own twist on things we have seen before, and it all looks great and the songs are good. I just wish they could have been a little more original.

I have no bad things to say about the performers. Blunt and Miranda are fantastic. The kids are all quite charming, and Whishaw really plays the father on the brink well. You can see the pain in his eyes and the struggle to keep it all together. Mortimer is fine, but she isn’t given a lot to do other than be cheery and helpful.

I wouldn’t say there is anything technically wrong with Mary Poppins Returns. In fact, there is a lot to like, love even. It was just the writers’ not wanting to break the mold that kept this movie from really being something special. As it is, it is still more than worth watching, and if Mary Poppins Returns again, I will be there.

Shmee Was Rocked By Bohemian Rhapsody!

Bohemian Rhapsody is now the top grossing musical biopic of all time, so reviewing it now seems a little late since everyone has already seen it, but I am going to do it anyway because that is what I do here.  Between Rami Malek’s standout performance and Queen’s epic track list it is no wonder this movie has topped the box-office.  Anytime the movie slows down, or the side characters get a little too goofy, another Queen song starts, and this movie gets going again.

Bohemian Rhapsody starts just as Queen becomes Queen, but this movie is really about Freddy Mercury (Rami Malek).  His life and struggles, and how even though he was a genius, he could never quite fit in.  Almost everyone else in this movie is either comic relief or antagonists.  Except for Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton).  Mercury’s lifelong partner and friend.

While if you hit up Wikipedia or read a book about Queen, you will realize that they changed a lot of things to make Queen’s history fit nicely in to a movie format.  However, according to the band and people that lived through this, the film makers got the feel of what happened right.  So, while this is not a documentary, you will at least understand what happened to this band and its flamboyant front man.

Even though there are a lot of good actors in Bohemian Rhapsody, it almost feels like a one man show.  This is Rami Malek’s movie, and he owns it.  The movie sings every time he is on screen, and it suffers every time that he is not.  There is a reason Fox is pushing for Malek this awards season, and I am sure he will pick up a few.

This movie was made for people like Queen and want to know more about the man that lead them, and it does what it is supposed to do.  Throw in a bunch of Queen’s songs and you’ve got a hit.  Which it already is.  For Queen fans, Bohemian Rhapsody is your movie, but who isn’t a fan of Queen?

Shmee Swims With Aquaman!

Thanks to Amazon and Atom Tickets I was able to see Aquaman a week early, so I am able to get a review out before the movie opens for once.  Aquaman is the sixth movie from the DC Extended Universe, and its second best.  Which to be fair isn’t hard, but it is still a good movie.  It is strange to think in this era of superhero films that an ‘A’ list hero created in 1941 is just now getting his own movie, but thanks to the 70’s animated cartoon Super Friends we think of Aquaman like this:

And not like this:

Anyway, the new movie from James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) and Warner Brothers seeks to change all that, and for the most part they do.

Aquaman takes place right after Justice League, but in no way do you need to know what happened in that film, just that it happened, and Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman (Jason Momoa) reflects on how he came to be.  He has also started being a hero full time.  That is until Princess Exposition  Mera (Amber Heard) shows up and tells Arthur that he needs to come to Atlantis and claim the throne from his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) before Orm can declare war on the surface world.

Aquaman has the pretty standard origin story flow.  He is a misfit kid dealing with some trauma (though not as bad as most superheroes), and he is a reluctant hero until he gains the confidence to fight.  Now that may not have sold you on this film, but what should, is that this thing is non-stop action and spectacle.  It is always showing you something cool or crazy.  I mean there are sharks with lasers fighting giant crabs, Black Manta has his big dumb helmet, and if that is not enough Julie Andrews plays a kraken.  None of this will win an Oscar, but it is all peek ocular cotton candy.

Sadly, it has a few things that bring it down.  This movie is over two hours long and at that it still has barely enough time to tell its story, so a lot of things feel rushed or at least very convenient.  I didn’t like Amber Heard at first.  She was stilted and wooden, but that is because she was given nothing but exposition to say for the first hour.  Once she was done with that she got much better and was clearly having as much fun as Jason.  Willem Dafoe also spouts exposition, but he is much better at it.  It is a gift it seems.

Aquaman revels in being a popcorn movie.  One covered in cheese with some candy on the side, and you can tell the actors were all having a lot of fun with it.  I mean there are dinosaurs in this movie and nobody says anything about it.  They just exist.  Why?  Because they are cool, and that is this movie’s MO.  If you are going in expecting more than that, you may be disappointed, but I had a great time.  It is strange to think that Aquaman is this year’s fourth best superhero movie, but it is still pretty good, and worth your time and money.