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The Best Films of 2018

Always late to the party, Luke Miksa runs down his favourite movies released in 2018.

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I know I always upload these things way too late to be relevant, but this time I have an actual medical situation, so I’ll excuse myself for being a number of months behind schedule (this time).

As always, due to the unexpected complexities of life, I have not seen as many movies released last year as I would have liked. Sorry Roma and A Star is Born.

Missed the cut:

Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2, Upgrade, Overlord, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Searching, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Aquaman

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10. Game Night

Coming up first is a surprising choice in the unexpected quality of Game Night. With what appears on the surface to be a fairly run-of-the-mill feature comedy, is refreshingly full of some quite inventive laughs, and a plot that borderlines on caper.

The filmmaking team of John Francis Daly and Jonathan Goldstein have become a reputable brand in entertaining comedies (with recent successes including Vacation, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and the Horrible Bosses films), and you can add Game Night into the same basket. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams star, and while Bateman is in his element, the MVP is McAdams; for while she is not particularly known for her comic roles, she is the standout in an already hilarious cast.

Featuring on of this year’s best on-going gags involving Denzel Washington, Game Night is the best pure comedy film of 2018.

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Review: Rampage (2018) — Fun and Frustrating, but Mostly Fun (But Also Frustrating)

Video game movies suck! Is the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson destruction-fest Rampage better than the rest? Luke Miksa tells all:

Based on the classic arcade video game of the same name, Rampage opens with the destruction of a space station, which leads to scattered debris all over the United States. Amongst the wreckage is a mutated pathogen, which comes into contact with a wolf, a crocodile, and an albino gorilla under the care of Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson). As the pathogen mutates these animals into gigantic and violent beasts, Okoye is aided by geneticist Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and Agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in an effort to stop them before they turn Chicago to rubble.

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Kinda like Jaws, but with a dinosaur.

Director Brad Peyton and star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have become quite a successful duo in recent years, releasing crowd-pleasing action fare such as San Andreas and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. While not aiming for high-cinema, these films are the perfect kind of entertaining dumb fun which will always certainly have its place, especially when international markets are concerned. Peyton is quickly becoming this generation’s Roland Emmerich, much like Johnson is this generation’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At heart, Rampage is an old-school monster mash, full of action and quips. But despite the relatively family-friendly M-rating, Rampage is actually kind of violent. It’s not Predator by any means, but there is a certain scene involving Joe Mangianello and his mercenaries going up against the wolf (dubbed Ralph) that is pretty intense. There’s also plenty of collateral damage to the city of Chicago once the beasts convene there, and these scenes do show plenty of civilian deaths.

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The Best Films of 2017

Fashionably late! Luke Miksa presents his top ten movies of 2017.
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Reliably late as always (Sorry I’m Late is the name), it’s that time of the year to once again compile the best movies released in 2017.

I don’t want to spend much time on caveats, but it should go without saying that I clearly didn’t have a chance to see everything, but holy heck I tried my darndest!

It’s also worth mentioning the odd release schedules for Australian cinemas. Down under, we often get the big blockbusters the same time as the US market (sometimes even a day or two earlier due to weird time zone stuff), but the smaller releases are all over the place. For example, La La Land was technically a 2016 release in the US, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t hit our shores until 2017 (and I delayed viewing it until February 2018, and I don’t kid you when I say that if I had seen it in either 2016 or 2017 that it may have topped either list. I love La La Land so much).

But anyway, this is my house and these are my rules. Let’s begin.

Missed the Cut:

Hidden Figures, Kong: Skull Island, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Lego Batman Movie, Dunkirk, Okja, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton

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10. John Wick: Chapter 2

John Wick has a special place in my heart (it did make my list of 2014, after all), so word of a sequel had me plenty excited. More badass Keanu Reeves! More headshots! More close-quarter skirmishes! This is a burgeoning franchise I can totally get behind.

Little did I know of the immense universe building to happen in John Wick: Chapter 2. Not content with simply providing a unique, adrenaline filled world of gun-play and martial arts, returning director and former stuntman Chad Stahelski builds upon a community of secret assassins with a distinct moral code. Combine the returning cast with a strong ensemble of new players, and John Wick: Chapter 2 is about as much fun as you can have with an action movie.

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9. Baby Driver

Edgar Wright is one of the best filmmakers in the world. His Cornetto Trilogy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are iconic, and Scott Pilgrim vs the World is totally underrated and a personal favourite.

Baby Driver is a kinetic caper, starring Ansel Elgort as Baby, a supremely skilled driver under the payroll of crime kingpin Doc (creepo Kevin Spacey), who uses his talents behind the wheel to ferry a rotating crew of robbers (including Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm). Baby suffers from tinnitus, thus is always listening to music through an iPod. And here lies the genius of Wright, as Baby’s playlists are the soundtrack of the film, and the film’s stunt-driving and action scenes are all set in time to the music. It’s a musical with stunts instead of dancing! Baby Driver is so much fun and adds another winner to Edgar Wright’s impressive resume.

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San Diego Comic Con 2017 — Trailer Roundup and Good Stuff

Holy heck there’s a lot of news coming out of Comic Con. It’s lucky Luke Miksa has your back with a roundup of the best stuff.

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Ready Player One

Based on the wildly popular novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is set in a dystopian future where humanity now escapes the now-harsh reality by spending every waking moment in a virtual reality called Oasis; an adventure world filled to the brim with 80’s and 90’s nostalgia. Directed by Steven Spielberg — himself responsible a lot of that nostalgia first-hand — Ready Player One is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated movies of 2018. Between the Iron Giant and the DeLorean time machine, how many Easter eggs can you spot in this trailer alone?

 

Thor: Ragnarok

If you had any reservations at all about the direction Marvel’s Thor universe was headed, this trailer should rectify that. With an inspired choice of director in Taika Waititi, the neon-soaked, synth-laden trailer for Thor: Ragnarok appears to be the absolute business! October can’t arrive soon enough! Let’s have some fun!

 

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TV Review: GLOW Season 1 (2017) — An Easily Binge-able Show That Piledrives All Expectations

Luke Miksa loves wrestling. Did you know? He also loves great television, so let’s find out if GLOW is a match made in heaven.

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GLOW is a largely fictional series based upon the short lived wrestling promotion from the 80’s: the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie, Community), a struggling actress based in Los Angeles, attends a casting call for a new television program, but Ruth quickly realises that this is no normal audition. The creative director (Marc Maron) informs everyone that they are auditioning for a new all-female wrestling program, siphoning off the surging mainstream popularity of professional wrestling in the 1980’s. They will ultimately become the stars of GLOW: the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

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Probably as painful as it looks.

GLOW is a new Netflix exclusive series from some of the minds behind the hugely successful Orange is the New Black. It’s a comedy-drama ensemble set amongst the world of professional wrestling, and if anyone knows me at all knows that alone made this show an absolute must-see based on premise alone. The good news is that GLOW is sensational! It is oftentimes hilarious, heartfelt, sad, confronting, and triumphant all in a single episode. It’s an easy watch, with each episode cracking through its relatively short run-time leaving you wanting more. The cast characters really shine, and you will end up having your own favourites after these initial ten episodes are through.

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Review: Alien: Covenant (2017) — A Chest-Bursting Return to Form for the Xenomorphs

Luke Miksa finds out if Alien: Covenant has what it takes to return a long mediocre franchise to past glory.

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Following 2012’s disappointing Prometheus, director Ridley Scott returns to the well once again, continuing the origin story of the Alien franchise with Alien: Covenant; a series which began all the way back in 1979 with horror classic Alien, launching Scott’s career in the progress.

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Not a spoiler: Most of these people die.

The year is 2104 — fifteen years since the events of Prometheus — and the colony ship Covenant is carrying two-thousand colonists and human embryos to the remote planet Origae-6. After a devastating neutrino storm hits the ship, the crew is woken from their stasis by the synthetic Walter (Michael Fassbender), who was overseeing the trip on its extended journey. The crew, including new captain Oram (Billy Crudup), scientist Daniels (Katherine Waterston), pilot Tennessee (Danny McBride), and security Lope (Demian Bichir), intercept a human transmission from a nearby planet, and decide to investigate the source. Once on the surface, the crew must begin a desperate escape when they find out that there are more dangers on the planet than first expected, but not before dealing with the source of the transmission: the wreck of an Engineer ship, which was piloted by Elizabeth Shaw and synthetic David from the Prometheus mission.

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