Friday 28 December 2018

RETROSPECT - Most Anticipated Films of 2018

Now after viewing all of my five most anticipated films of the year according to my original list, it's time to follow the tradition of discussing my final opinions on each of them in retrospect. Some have turned out to be rather different indeed...

#5 - Ralph Breaks the Internet

Very odd that I find my most anticipated film of the year now sat at the bottom of my new list; but alas, that is how the cookie crumbles. Ralph Breaks the Internet sadly ends up being naught but a mediocre disappointment compared to its predecessor, arguably one of my favourite modern Disney films, that just becomes more obsessed with parodying pop culture and the numerous franchises the house of mouse now owns than it does with constructing an interesting storyline. It has many of the positive traits from the original; the same talented cast, the same superb animation we expect from Disney, and it's not without some genuinely funny moments, I'll give it that. But the comedy too often becomes irritating more than it does amusing; the story itself is also average and dull, with cliché morals that are hurried in without much thought so that the the key focus can simply be, once again, obsessions with parodying all sorts of pop culture through the film's internet setting. The end result is once again a big letdown compared to the original.

#4 - Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

Facing competition with Disney's live action take on The Jungle Book throughout production, leading to numerous delays and issues with marketing, Andy Serkis' version of Kipling's classic tale was eventually dismissed from a theatrical release and instead premiered on Netflix just last month. Viewers fond of Disney's gargantuan 2016 success will find Mowlgi vastly different in tone and overall structure; the film explores the darker side to the source material, which I won't pretend to be extensively familiar with, but this has been an aspect of the film that perhaps isn't as well balanced as one may hope. Such an attempt at this style of tone makes way for some well executed emotionally stirring moments, but also some unnecessarily bloody and strangely creepy ones, generating some unwanted, unsettling vibes; this alongside the story generally being poorly structured makes things generally awkward to follow throughout. I was keen to see how it'd pan out compared to Disney's superb reimagining of their animated hit, and Mowgli's effects and vocal performances are certainly impressive in their own right, yet both them and the obsession with being "dark" seemed to be the key focus and little more.

#3 - The Incredibles 2

Oh dear...many people will want my head on a platter for my words on this acclaimed hit. The first Incredibles film is one of Pixar's many masterpieces, and a fun twist on the superhero genre for audiences of all ages to enjoy, but this sequel I sadly didn't get into as much, despite it being my second most anticipated of the year. Its truck sized box office takings and widespread acclaim would certainly suggest I'm with a tiny minority, and while I'm not claiming that the film is at all bad (more decent at best), it was just a shame to see it disappoint overall. My key grudges lie with how it handles the characters; we focus on Elastigirl this time round, who is certainly entertaining as a leading role, but the way the remainder of the family are left on the back burner for the most part (namely Mr. Incredible as some sort of comic relief babysitter) is a huge disappointment, and one that messes up the overall pacing and the plot itself when the main characters themselves don't feel as well connected. The general entertainment value fluctuated throughout for myself also; one minute I was engaged, the next a tad bored, all at an unsteady pattern. It's a decent animated flick, but given the standards it had to set, I certainly didn't find myself as won over as most were.

#2 - Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin was at the bottom of my original list, but I think it being on there to begin with shows that I didn't really think out the list very well before writing it up in hindsight. That's not an insult aimed at this film in any way, but there's no real reason why I would've been truly hyped for it, and I even say in my original post that no trailers or posters were published at the time but that I was just curious to see how the filmed panned out. Hmmm...yeah, sure.

Regardless, the film still did interest me more and more as it neared release (when marketing material actually was published), and I was still keen to check it out. In the end it was another film I found decent at very best, for whilst it's definitely charming thanks to the efforts of Ewan McGregor in the lead role and of course the beloved Winnie the Pooh characters and the superb visual effects used to bring them to life, the story bringing them all together is relatively thin, and concludes with a fairly rushed climax that seems keen to get things over with as quick as possible. The relationships between McGregor and those around him, be they his cuddly cartoon friends or his depressing family, is not truly developed much; we're not expecting an Oscar winning drama, but this lack of development does result in a somewhat forgettable experience regardless. Overall, Christopher Robin is a decent and charming live action take on the Winnie the Pooh characters, one that I enjoyed when watching but wasn't dying to check out again when it was over.

#1 - Pacific Rim: Uprising

Pacific Rim: Uprising was fourth on my original list; it was a film I was keen to see despite not having much publicity or general hype surrounding it due to my liking for the original. The end result is far from a masterpiece, another come and go experience pretty much, but while its storytelling is forgettable and relies largely on clichés, the majority of the film finds itself bolstered by some superb action set pieces. Having tons of action isn't a perk that'll win audiences over in this day and age, as was evident by the film's mediocre box office takings, but fans of such stuff will find a decent amount of entertainment value in Uprising; and there's of course some fantastic visual effects to admire within each of the set pieces on offer. There's not much else to the film overall, for once again all this action is admittedly connected by a second rate storyline, but there's nothing truly bad about the finished product, just nothing truly incredible either. What we have as a result is an enjoyable action film, what it strives to be overall, though I can't deny that it doesn't leave much of a lasting impression.

Not many films this year really grabbed my attention at first glance, it has to be said. The coming twelve months look more enjoyable in the long run.

Thanks for reading!