With the year already half over, it’s time to take a look back at the big films that will be remembered for years to come.
The Lego Movie
Released in the middle of last year, The Lego Movie was a bright spot amongst the chaos that was 2018. Although it was beaten by numerous other films at the box office, it went on to become one of the most successful animated films of all time, earning $449 million worldwide against a budget of just $90 million.
The film was the directorial debut of Phil Lord, who also wrote the screenplay. Lord was previously best known for working on the rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, while the film’s producer, Kevin Lima, is the ex-husband of Bridesmaids star Ellen Page. The result is a film that is both entertaining and funny, and perfectly blends the best of both worlds: stop-motion animation and live action.
The Year of the Rooster
The Chinese New Year is a time for celebrating, and not just in China. All over the world, people take time off work to go home and spend time with their family and friends, feasting on delicious food and drinking champagne or other sparkling wine in celebration of the start of a new year.
One of the most interesting Chinese New Year films is The Year of the Rooster (also known as New Year’s Eve), a Chinese comedy directed by Feng Xiaogang. The film is set in 2019 and follows the misadventures of Zhou Bing, a cowardly Chinese New Year pig who leaves the safety of his home in search of better opportunities. On his journey, he ends up in a variety of odd jobs, from delivery driver to security guard to bartender, and even tries his hand at gambling. Throughout all this, he’s pursued by a jealous husband who wants to kill him for disrespecting his woman.
There’s plenty of romance in the air as Zhou Bing meets three women on his journey: the independent and athletic Ling Ling (Gong Li), who takes a liking to him; the voluptuous Jiang Shan (Zhao Shaoqin), who pursues him; and the rich Yu Yue (Angelababy), who treats him like a son. The women help guide Zhou Bing towards a better life, and although he doesn’t always want to admit it, he comes to realize that the best thing for him is Ling Ling.
The film is full of wonderful comedic performances (Zhou Bing is played by actor Chen Xiao) and high-energy dance numbers, and there are many memes and spoofs on social media platforms such as TikTok, where the film has gained over 27 million views.
You don’t need to look far to realize that 2018 was a big year for cinematic villains. From Marvel’s Black Widow to DC’s Killer Croc, audiences had quite the array of baddies to choose from.
One of the most interesting villains of 2018 is Dr. Frank N Furter (voice of Bob Hoskins), the mad scientist who seeks to seduce and impregnate women through technological means. Although Furter is not the typical green-skinned extraterrestrial that you might expect, he is, in fact, a British expat living in Germany, who dons a cheesy grin in almost every scene. For some reason, the director thought it would be funny to have an Englishman speaking German with a British accent, and now those who love British comedy will have the opportunity to speak German with an English accent every Tuesday night.
With Black Widow, Disney and Marvel brought a breath of fresh air to the cinema with their first female-led superhero film. After months of intense buildup and speculation, Captain Marvel finally hit theaters on March 8, 2018, and went on to become the third biggest superhero movie of all time, earning $647 million worldwide against a modest budget of $200 million.
Set in the future, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a highly trained Air Force officer whose DNA is fused with that of a humanoid extraterrestrial, resulting in superhuman strength and speed. In order to pay for her education, Danvers drops out of the Air Force and becomes a mercenary, taking on jobs that typically involve fighting either for or against other superhumans in an effort to make extra cash. One of her more memorable battles in Captain Marvel involves her taking on Blockbuster, a hulking ex-military man with a weakness for movie theater snacks.
It’s funny how fortune favors the brave. A mere month after Captain Marvel came out, Deadpool 2 was released theatrically, and proved that not even three months could bring down the high energy and hilarious comedy of Ryan Reynolds and company.
The sequel to the 2016 blockbuster Deadpool stars Reynolds as the titular anti-hero, as he embarks on a mission to rescue a young girl from the clutches of a drug lord. The journey not only delivers Reynolds into the arms of the beautiful Elizabeth Monroe (voice of Gina Carano), but also allows him to recruit a rag-tag group of allies, including Blind Al, the world’s foremost expert in making the dead talk; Colossus, a genetically engineered human being; the hulking Viking Berserker; and Weasel, a knife-wielding troublemaker who eventually grows to love Deadpool.
For fans of the first film, the opportunity to see Reynolds’ deadpan humor and iconic one-liners delivered by another unforgettable cast is surely worth the price of admission. What’s more is that even those who haven’t seen the first film will probably still have fun with the witty banter.
The Dark Knight Rises
Another big hit for DC was The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Although the film was released in 2012, it didn’t hit cinemas worldwide until July 6, 2018. The wait was worth it, as The Dark Knight Rises became the fourth highest-grossing film of all time, earning over $1 billion worldwide against a budget of just $160 million.
The Dark Knight Rises is an interesting case because it is the final film in the trilogy, but also acts as a prequel to the upcoming Dark Knight television series, where we will learn more about Batman’s early days. In this way, the film satisfies both audiences: those who want to see Batman’s final adventure, and those who want to see how he became the Dark Knight.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Lucasfilm and Disney teamed up once again to bring us Solo: A Star Wars Story, the ninth installment in the Star Wars saga and the last of 2018. The final chapter in Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) adventures became the fifth highest-grossing film of all time, earning $1.033 billion worldwide against a budget of $250 million.
The film is set five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, and sees Solo taking on a bigger role in the Rebellion, traveling to various corners of the galaxy in his quest to help others in need. Unfortunately for Han, that often means teaming up with some unsavory individuals who end up being even more trouble than they’re worth. In an act of selflessness, his own greed ultimately causes him great personal pain.
Solo has been receiving somewhat mixed reviews, with many critics panning the film, while others have praised it. The verdict appears to depend on how much you saw of Ford’s character in the trailers: if you saw a man with longish hair and a scarf wrapped around his neck, chances are you didn’t see too much of Ford, and thus, the film’s flaws may be hidden from view.
The Shape of Water
Last but not least, let’s not forget about Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. The director had two big films this year: the highly anticipated and much-heralded sequel Crimson Peak, and this year’s winner, The Shape of Water. With The Shape of Water, del Toro continues his exploration of strange and beautiful creatures, following the story of a young woman named Elisa, who works as a cleaning lady at a government laboratory and falls in love with a shape-shifting creature named Elisa.