Adam Brannon

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An avid lover of all things film, Adam Brannon has grown up with a huge passion for cinema that can be traced right back to his favourite childhood movie, Steven Spielberg's smash hit, Jurassic Park.

After graduating from the University of Lincoln with a degree in journalism, he now writes film reviews for his own website, Movie Metropolis and for the Press Association.


Goodbye 2018, it’s been a blast! And I mean that. 2018 has been an absolutely astounding year for film. The industry has broken records, surprised, delighted and thrilled us like none in reason memory. In typical Lincolnite fashion, we are counting down the top picks for best films of 2018 and the worst films of 2018.

These ten blockbusters represent the cream of the crop and the absolute stinkers of the last twelve months based on reviews, box-office success and of course, our own personal opinions. Strap yourself in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.


The Best Movies of 2018

Let’s start with the best shall we? Here we have my picks for the very best blockbusters of 2018. If you haven’t seen these five movies, where have you been all year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


Ready Player One

Ready Player One was a massive gamble for director Steven Spielberg. There had been talk that the undisputed king of blockbuster cinema was losing his touch a little after moving away from crowd-pleasing blockbusters and into the realms of indie and low-budget flicks. We needn’t have worried. Ready Player One is a beautifully realised film packed with exquisite imagery and that typical Spielberg sentimentality. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s the perfect family film absolutely full of Easter eggs.


Christopher Robin

Disney is absolutely dominating the global box-office at the moment and with the acquisition of 20th Century Fox earlier in the year, 2019 looks to follow the same pattern. Christopher Robin is another lovely family-friendly film that is simple and relies on terrific special effects and understated performances to sell itself. Ewan McGregor is astounding as the titular character and seeing Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger back on the big-screen in seamless CGI is too lovely not to enjoy.


Avengers: Infinity War

There would be something wrong with me not to include this film on the list. After grossing over £2billion worldwide, Avengers: Infinity War is a massive movie that needs to be seen to be believed. Amassing a cast of this magnitude was no easy feat for directing duo Joe and Antony Russo, but they managed it, and then some. Avengers: Infinity War may be one of the most ambitious films of all time but it still has poignancy and heart – and that is the sign of a truly great film.


Love, Simon

At first glance, this rom-com starring Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson could seem rather shallow. But beyond the surface is something truly special. Love, Simon is the first LGBT rom-com for mainstream audiences. It’s acted beautifully and feels like any other cracking romantic comedy – that is the biggest compliment you can pay this film. It doesn’t pander, it doesn’t preach, it’s just there and that’s absolutely wonderful.


Mary Poppins Returns

This film had no right to be this good! Damn you Disney! In a year that proved the House of Mouse is becoming an unstoppable juggernaut of delectable celluloid treats, Mary Poppins Returns stands out as one of the best sequels the studio has ever released. Emily Bunt is sublime as the titular British nanny and everything from the songs to the imagery is practically perfect in every way. Sorry, but I had to get a pun in there somewhere.


Honourable Mentions


Aquaman

Jason Momoa and his fishy friends proved that there is life in the DCEU yet, and for that I am thankful. Director James Wan brings his own vision to Aquaman and it feels all the better for it. It’s gorgeous to look at and features a cracking CGI battle that actually related to the story of the film. Whatever next?


Halloween

Director David Gordon Green’s sequel to the horror classic hits all the right beats. It cleverly puts the PTSD of Laurie Strode to the front with Michael Myers’ killing spree in the background. The kills come thick and fast, but this is a very clever film that rights all the wrongs of the last three decades.


Most Underrated Film of 2018


Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

A deeply divisive film from visionary director J.A. Bayona that performed well at the box-office but was savaged by critics. Upon re-watching the film, it proves itself to be the best sequel in the series and is filled with stunning imagery and some of the most realistic animatronic creatures ever filmed.


The Worst Films of 2018

Oh dear, we’re in the mire now. Not only were these films universally panned for everything from their script to their special effects, some of them didn’t even perform at the box-office which makes their sins even more unbearable.


The First Purge

The Purge series is one of my favourite horror franchises. Why? Well, I think the premise of a legalised night of crime in the US to be utterly riveting, yet somehow, the films have managed to evade the most interesting theme – how did the Purge come to be? With 2018’s The First Purge,unsuspecting audiences finally thought they’d get the answers they had been looking for. Instead we got another generic horror movie entirely set on Staten Island.


Venom

Oh Venom! You could have been so much better. With talent like Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams in leading roles, Venomhad the potential to be a cracking adult superhero flick in a similar vein to Loganand Deadpool. Instead, it felt 10 years out of date with a dull and poorly edited story and some laughably poor special effects. The symbiote deserves so much better. Thankfully, it made enough dosh at the box-office for Sony to give it another go. Here’s hoping Venom 2 is everything we wanted.


The Favourite

This one was really hard to sit through. Not released theatrically in the UK until January, I unfortunately managed to bag myself a press-only screening. Bizarrely adored by critics, this mish-mash of comedy and drama starring Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman of all people is just surreal. For me, that’s not in a good way. See what you think yourself and let us know your thoughts on The Favourite.


The Meg

The Meg committed the cardinal sin of monster movies: it took itself far too seriously. With Jason Statham in a leading role, you’d be forgiven for thinking this shark-attack film was going to be a light-hearted romp, but instead it lulls around like a rowing boat with no paddles. The special effects range from ok to poor and the cinematography is flat and lifeless. Oh dear.


Robin Hood

Taron Egerton has made quite a name for himself as the plucky Eggsy in the Kingsman franchise, but this revamp of the Robin Hood story is an absolute turd of a film. After last year’s lifeless King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the writing really was on the wall for this overblown adventure that spectacularly achieves nothing in its running time. Can you get a refund at the cinema?


Dishonourable Mentions


A Wrinkle in Time

This should have been a whole lot better than it was. Disney’s live-action adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time was a monumental flop at the box-office. Why? Well, poor word of mouth and a poorly realised script didn’t help matters, and the film just wasn’t that good.


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

I am not a fan of the first Fantastic Beasts film and that’s because they really didn’t need to exist. J.K Rowling’s globally adored Harry Potter series has now become the overblown Wizarding World franchise. With David Yates directing, there was hope it could bring back the magic of Potter. Unfortunately this second instalment just felt like a stopgap until the next – and the next – and the next.


Most Overrated Film of 2018


Deadpool 2

Currently sitting at 83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the inexplicably adored Deadpool 2 is not a bad film in the slightest, but it’s just a bit dull. It relies far too much on the same formula that was so fresh in the first instalment, but now we’ve had Logan and the genre has moved on. Ryan Reynolds is as fantastic as ever in the role, but Deadpool 2 plays it far too safe and I was bored.


Join Adam next week for a look at the most anticipated films of 2019. For now, what have been your favourite and least favourite films of 2018? Let us know in the comments.

An avid lover of all things film, Adam Brannon has grown up with a huge passion for cinema that can be traced right back to his favourite childhood movie, Steven Spielberg's smash hit, Jurassic Park. After graduating from the University of Lincoln with a degree in journalism, he now writes film reviews for his own website, Movie Metropolis and for the Press Association.

You could be forgiven for being rather sceptical walking into the cinema to see Aquaman, and it’s easy to see why — an uninspiring set of trailers preceded by the DCEU’s reluctance to resonate with audiences.

Of course, Wonder Woman was a sterling effort by Patty Jenkins, only hampered by a poor final act and the feeling that the female superhero couldn’t quite shake off the trappings of Zac Snyder’s overarching vision for the DC Extended Universe.

Justice Leaguewas a steaming pile of mediocrity and Batman vs Superman was fun if entirely forgettable. Aquaman arrives on the scene with the hopes of Warner Bros. entire franchise on its shoulders. But is it any good?

Dolph Lundgren and Amber Heard in Aquaman. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

After the events of Justice League and the defeat of Steppenwolf, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) finds himself caught between a surface world that ravages the sea and the underwater Atlanteans who are ready to revolt.

Much like the murky depths of the many oceans the film takes us to, Aquaman is at times, a clouded and muddled blockbuster that lacks the subtle nuances of the MCU, but do you know what, it’s actually really rather good.

Jason Momoa takes to the role of Arthur Curry like a duck to water and gets to prove his acting prowess in some of the film’s more poignant moments. Nicole Kidman marks her superhero movie debut as his mother, Queen Atlanna and she looks like she’s having a royally good time. Elsewhere, Amber Heard battles against a truly ghastly wig as Momoa’s love-interest and sidekick – she’s fabulous, wig aside.

Jason Momoa and Amber Heard in Aquaman. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

The supporting cast is also very strong. We get to see superhero veteran Willem Dafoe having a great time as wise Vulko and Patrick Wilson as Aquaman’s scaly brother, Orm. It’s a cracking cast that bolsters a film that is well-written and enjoyable throughout.

Director James Wan, mastermind of the Saw franchise and director of Furious 7 brings his trademark filming style to the superhero blockbuster. There’s some stunning imagery throughout and it’s up there with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom as one of the best-looking films of the year. There’s something delightful to look at lurking in every frame and it’s leagues ahead of anything the DCEU has thrown at us.

The underwater world of Atlantis is brimming with life, albeit of the CGI variety. The neon colour-palate works incredibly well and it feels at times like you’re watching a Star Wars cloud city, but in the depths of the ocean. It’s nicely detailed and very well put together.

Patrick Wilson in Aquaman. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

The special effects are on the whole, a bit of a mixed bag. The underwater worlds look fab and the sea creatures too have been improved after the critical mauling they received in the trailers. Nevertheless, there are some moments of shaky CGI, normally involving surface dwellers or Atlantean individuals, rather than scenery or creatures. That’s a shame as it distracts from a gorgeous looking film.

When it comes to villainy, both the DCEU and MCU have struggled to create compelling bad guys and unfortunately the same is true here. Yes, Patrick Wilson’s scheming brother is fun to watch, but he feels like a poor man’s Loki and that’s exactly what he is. Then there’s Black Manta, portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II from The Greatest Showman. Despite being part of one of the film’s best sequences (a fantastically filmed rooftop chase in Italy), he doesn’t get to do a lot and his motives are very Killmonger-esque.

Willem Dafoe, Jason Momoa, James Wan, and Amber Heard in Aquaman. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

And therein lies the fundamental flaw with Aquaman. For all its flashy special effects and excellent cinematography, it feels wholly unoriginal. From Star Wars to Harry Potter and Thor to Black Panther, elements are borrowed here and there until they make up a film that at 143 minutes is a good 20 minutes too long.

But, it doesn’t take itself too seriously (a problem the DCEU has suffered previously) and Jason Momoa somehow manages to make that Aquaman suit work very well indeed. As far as the DCEU is concerned, this is by far the best film the franchise has put out so far – there’s life in the old dog yet. Aquaman is cheesy, campy fun, and I have to say, I absolutely loved it.

Aquaman rating: 7/10

An avid lover of all things film, Adam Brannon has grown up with a huge passion for cinema that can be traced right back to his favourite childhood movie, Steven Spielberg's smash hit, Jurassic Park. After graduating from the University of Lincoln with a degree in journalism, he now writes film reviews for his own website, Movie Metropolis and for the Press Association.

1987 feels like a long time ago doesn’t it? In fact, some of you reading this I imagine weren’t even born way back in the late 80s. I mean, I was only a twinkle in my parents’ eyes at that time. But I digress.

What’s so special about 1987? Well, it was the year that Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked serious alien butt in the first Predator movie. Of course, the franchises now infamous fall from grace is the stuff of legend, and along with Alien, the original remains a true high point in the sci-fi horror genre.

Rebooted for 2018 with Iron Man 3 director Shane Black at the helm, The Predator aims to revitalise the public’s interest in this flagging horror franchise. Looking at Shane Black’s unusual resume, he seems a strange choice to take charge here, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. But just how good, or bad, is The Predator?

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home. The universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biologist can prevent the end of the human race.

The aforementioned ragtag crew of ex-soldiers includes Boyd Holbrook, a vastly underused presence in last year’s Logan, that thankfully receives much higher billing here. Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane and Augusto Aguilera make up the rest of the team and whilst their backstories are limited to one scene on a bus, they feel fleshed out enough to carry the film.

Less successful is Olivia Munn’s Casey Bracket. Biologist and when required by the screenwriters, experienced military personnel, she’s probably the most badass biologist you’ll see on screen this decade, when the script requires it of course.

Finally, we have the ridiculously talented Jacob Tremblay as Holbrooks’ son, Rory. His subplot which surrounds his daily struggles with autism is poorly realised but should be praised for bringing awareness to the condition in a mainstream Hollywood film.

Thankfully, Shane Black injects his trademark dark humour throughout and surprisingly, it works better than I had anticipated. The jokes are well-placed across the running time and each one manages to at least raise a titter.

Now let’s get to the part everyone reading this is interested in; the Predator’s return. Portrayed by stuntman Brian A. Prince, this Predator is virtually identical to the 1987 original in every way. And that’s a good thing, because when the 11ft hybrid shows up, it spoils the party a little. Rendered in CGI, rather than practical effects, its movements are a little too fluid and lack that sense of realism you get with a real man in a suit. The addition of the Predator Dogs however is an inspired choice and they work well despite some sloppy CG at times.

Nevertheless, the film is shot very well and the copious amounts of gore are both restrained and animalistic. It earns its 15 rating most definitely as the Predator works its way through a massive number of victims, but it never crosses the line in which you’d have people saying ‘enough is enough’.

The special effects are on the whole, very good indeed. Considering a relatively modest $88million budget, there are only a few instances of poor CGI and the practical effects used throughout are a nice touch. There’s some incredibly poor editing in the film however. A couple of character decisions will leave you scratching your head as you wonder how on earth they knew that.

But this is very much fan service to the original and for that, you’ll either love or hate it. There are many references to its predecessors, some subtle, some smack you in the face obvious. The classic Arnie line “get to the chopper” is there, but that’s definitely in the latter camp, and it’s one reference that doesn’t quite hit the spot.

Overall, The Predator is definitely the best film since the original, although that really isn’t saying much. And that’s a little bit of a disservice to what Shane Black and the cast has managed to achieve. It’s a confident film with a cracking sense of humour, good special effects and just enough call-backs to please series diehards. Is it a horror movie like the original was classed to be? Absolutely not. But it’s worth a watch for both Predator fans and those looking to scratch their sci-fi itch.

The Predator rating: 6.5/10

An avid lover of all things film, Adam Brannon has grown up with a huge passion for cinema that can be traced right back to his favourite childhood movie, Steven Spielberg's smash hit, Jurassic Park. After graduating from the University of Lincoln with a degree in journalism, he now writes film reviews for his own website, Movie Metropolis and for the Press Association.

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