December Streaking

Needing 17 more films to reach my goal of 100 for Film Quest ’18, the start of December found me optimistic and determined. Needing to see a film at least once every two days that I had never seen before was a pace that wasn’t nearly as daunting as it seemed at the start of November, but I decided to take a big cut out of the total in the first part of the month. With the last week of the year typically bringing about quite a bit of time away from screens due to holiday get-togethers, a strong start was imperative.

So I went streaking.

Now I find myself victorious in the Film Quest 2018, having reached 100 with my in-theater experience last night. With so many films to run through, I might not touch them all, but here is a look at how the final month of the year played out so far.

December 1st – Ralph Breaks The Internet was great, more enjoyable than its predecessor (which I also enjoyed). This has been a great year for animated movies, with Incredibles 2 and Teen Titans Go! To The Movies proving to be very enjoyable trips to the theater, and Spider-Man Into The Spider-verse coming up. (RALPH Rating: 85 out of 100)

Then later in the day, I watched 9 To 5, the Dolly Parton film from 1980 that I mostly forgot even existed before seeing it listed On Demand. It was an interesting movie to watch, especially with the #MeToo movement. (9 To 5 Rating: 81 out of 100)

December 2nd – As I get a bit older, I’ve been trying to broaden my perspective to take not only a larger world-view, but also get a better historical sense of why things are happening today based on events leading us to this point. History repeating itself, to some degree, but also events triggered by a series of specific efforts along the way. That in mind, GET ME ROGER STONE did a great job of helping me understand the current political climate. This documentary is almost an auto-biography, in that they seem to have made it with significant assistance from Roger Stone himself. The fact that he seemingly enjoys vilification helps provide a somewhat balanced perspective on him and his influence. With friends and family on both sides of the political spectrum, it was a documentary that I’m highly recommending. (Rating: 80 out of 100)

December 3rd – Woman in Red was a movie I remember seeing on HBO back in the day, and as I probably wasn’t supposed to be watching it, I hadn’t seen it from the beginning, nor had I seen enough of it to have the full picture of what it’s about. Having not even been old enough to drive when I last saw parts of it, looking back, I certainly wasn’t able to appreciate its message without the life experiences I have today. 2019 will almost certainly find more Gene Wilder films on my television, even if this wasn’t a great movie, it was above average, and it’s easy to understand why people enjoy Wilder. (Rating: 70 out of 100)

December 4th – I always really liked the Tomb Raider video games, and pairing that with an appreciation for Angelina Jolie and just about any movie she has ever been in, I didn’t have this reboot high on my list of things I was interested in watching. Availability through HBO and the need to mass consume films this month lead me to watch it, and although I’d recommend people skip most of the first 15 minutes, it actually serves well as an origin story. Alicia Vikander is a very talented actress, but doesn’t have much opportunity here to show it. She did enough that I’ll be interested in seeing whatever sequels stem from this movie, which I believe will be more true-to-form for the Lara Croft character I know and loved. (Rating: 55 out of 100)

December 5th – A fortuitous opportunity to take my wife to the theater allowed us to see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald together. Having seen the other Potter-verse films together, I wasn’t going to watch it for the first time without her. I know reviews on this film might be mixed, but I enjoyed it, certainly a bit more than its predecessor, as it escaped the need to establish EVERY character. As much as I’d like to say Jude Law wasn’t a great choice to portray Dumbledore, the more I thought about it while watching things unfold, it’s actually a good choice. I’m not usually a fan of his, but I was here, and while Johnny Depp can be hit-or-miss for me, not only did I think he did a great job here, but I really like how they portrayed the character overall. (Rating: 85 out of 100)

December 6th – Mostly out of necessity for adding to the list, I watched Neighbors 2, despite not being thrilled with its predecessor. Adults acting childishly and thinking they’re decent parents when they’re actually horrible parents isn’t really my type of movie. I’m also not a fan of movies where bad things continually happen to people, deserved or not, and audiences are supposed to laugh at the situation. I’ll have a list at some point, but this is probably one of my 10 least favorite movies of the year. (Rating: 45 out of 100)

December 8 – Partially watching it to bond with my son, I found myself enjoying Pokemon: The Power of Us a bit more than I expected I would. I really liked the way they established the new Zeraora character as this “legendary” or “mythical” being, and built a story around it. If I’m being honest, these Pokemon movies actually do a decent job of that time and again, as I’ve witnessed at least a couple other times this year. (Rating: 80 out of 100)

Keeping clear of anything too serious, I also watched Rampage, my interest stemming from the video game back in the 80s and being a fan of “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson. It wasn’t an easy concept to turn into a movie – over-sized animals who decide to decimate cities with their bare claws – but they did an alright job with it. I’ll be surprised if it ends up in my bottom 10 for 2018. (Rating: 70 out of 100, probably lower)

December 9th – The previews for Gringo were way better than the film itself, and whoever edited the footage to make it seem lighthearted and fun deserves a raise from the production company and a reprimand from people who paid to see it. I’m not saying it was a terrible movie, but it’ll probably be one of my biggest disappointments of the year. (Rating: 55 out of 100)

December 10th – Wanting to see its Christmas-themed sequel, I caught Bad Moms and although my expectations were somewhat low going into it, it didn’t end up being something which will likely stick with me going forward despite its potential. I don’t regret having seen it, and I still intend on watching A Bad Mom’s Christmas, but it could’ve been better. Much better. (Rating: 60 out of 100)

December 12th – A buddy of mine LOVES Christmas movies, so I asked him for some recommendations for things I hadn’t seen yet, and that’s what lead me to watch Holiday in Handcuffs on-demand. The first third of the movie, I struggled to get interested in it, but somehow once Melissa Joan Hart straightened her ridiculous hair and Mario Lopez’s character seemed to have a reasonable plan for himself, it really took shape. Now I find myself thinking that I’ll probably watch it again next year and see how my wife likes it, because in the end, it actually does have a good bit of heart to it. (Rating: 62 out of 100)

December 16th – From the first time I heard about “The Room” by Tommy Wiseau, I was intrigued… though I was barely able to make it through a clip montage of the “best” scenes from it. Despite wanting to make another attempt at the source material before watching it, I decided to just go ahead with The Disaster Artist anyway. I’m not a big fan of James Franco, at all, so my expectations were low… and it turned out alright. I like how they portrayed Wiseau without really making fun of him or the movie for which he’s best well known. (Rating: 65 out of 100)

December 17th – After having initially been disinterested in Parks & Recreation, I’ll now see just about anything with Nick Offerman, hence my interest in Hearts Beat Loud – which turned out to be a great “father-daughter bonding” movie with a good story and good made-for-the-movie music. WAY more enjoyable than I was expecting. (Rating: 81 out of 100)

December 19th – After a day’s rest, my boy and I watched a movie we’ve been anticipating for quite a while, and we were NOT disappointed in the slightest. Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse is a tremendous movie – animated or not – and since then I’ve seen it multiple times. It’s something I’ll probably watch at least once a year going forward – probably because my son will make sure of it, but I’ll enjoy it each time. (Rating: 94 out of 100)

December 20th – Part of my overall Film Quest is to see as many Best Picture Winners as possible, and having seen everything dating back through the 1980s, Kramer vs Kramer {1979} was next up. Having parents who got divorced when I was at a similar age to the son in this movie, I could relate a bit. Plenty of movies show how hard it is to be a single mom, and I was glad to see single dads getting a chance to get some appreciation. Fantastic acting, a good story, and although I don’t see myself watching it again, I’d probably watch it for a few minutes if I happen upon it on television somewhere. (Rating: 90 out of 100)

December 27th – As a big fan of the DC Comics movies (despite them not getting great reviews elsewhere), I had to see Aquaman in theaters, as it was cleaning up at the box office. It’s a big, somewhat-dumb action movie with great special effects and a decent story with some great characters. I’m looking forward to owning it on blu-ray and adding it to the collection! It probably deserves a more comprehensive review, and at some point I’ll do it. (Rating: 78 out of 100)

And that’s how my year shaped up. I didn’t hit 101, but I finished right where I wanted to be. It was quite a sprint (at least for me), but I enjoyed every minute of it!

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