The Mule – Not For Everyone.

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Clint Eastwood is both a fantastic actor and director but his latest film, The Mule, may not be for everyone.
The movie stars Eastwood as a 90-year-old man who turns to drug smuggling after he loses his source of income.
It is based off the true story of elderly drug smuggler Leo Sharp but Eastwood’s version of the story takes various liberties with the story.
Most notably, his version of Leo Sharp is named Earl Stone instead.
Eastwood does a great job as Stone, portraying a man who, despite being fragile physically due to his age, becomes a successful drug mule.
Along with this, a big focus of the film is how Stone has neglected his family and him coming to terms with this.
Both storylines work very well together, thanks, in no small part, to Eastwood’s performance.
My favourite scene of the film came when Stone has a conversation with DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper) and offers him advice about family, without Bates knowing Stone is the drug smuggler he is hunting.
The scene offers great acting from Eastwood and ties in with the themes of the film well.

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The actors all do a good job and help tie the film together. Especially Eastwood.

However, even if you are a fan of Eastwood, this film may still not be for you.
The Mule is a very slow paced film and does not even have an opening hook.
The film begins by showing Earl’s life, long before he becomes a drug smuggler, and while this carries into how Earl eventually becomes the mule known as “Tata”, it honestly made The Mule a little boring to begin with.
It does pick up though once the drug smuggling begins but, even then, the film holds a very slow pace and even has a few pointless scenes like when Eastwood runs into a group of lesbian bikers for some reason.
Some of the film’s messages also get a bit muddled.
For example, The Mule appears to be trying to tackle topics about racial profiling in some scenes but because of the way these scenes are handled it becomes very unclear about what the film is trying to say.
Ultimately though, I will say the film narrowly clears these faults, mostly due to Eastwood and the other actors’ performances, along with most of the themes.
The Mule is a decent film but you will not be missing much if you skip it.


Glass: A Bittersweet Conclusion.

4 stars
is a film I was incredibly excited to see because of the way people have responded to it.
I have heard so many different opinions on this film.
Some love it, some hate it, some thought it was good but that the ending ruined it.
With so many varied responses, I was exited to see what my reaction to the film would be.
After viewing Glass, I clearly understand why there are so many  opinions on this film.
After a slew of terrible films, M. Night Shyamalan has been making a surprising comeback lately and many hoped Glass would see him return to his former status.
However, I find that unlikely considering how divisive this movie is.
Shyamalan made some bold choices in Glass but these choices lead to be an ultimately bittersweet conclusion to the trilogy he started, all the way back with 2000’s Unbreakable.
Picking up from the huge twist in Split, that the film takes place in Unbreakable‘s universe, Glass sees David Dunn (Bruce Willis), nicknamed “The Overseer”, hunting down Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), nicknamed “The Hoard.”
After being captured, the two are transported to a mental institution where they are treated by Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who believes their superpowers are a part of their own delusion.
However, the criminal mastermind Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) is also in this institution and slowly begins to implement his plan to escape and prove their existence to the world.
For starters, the acting of the three main actors of McAvoy, Willis and Jackson are great.
McAvoy again steals the show with his terrific performance of all Kevin’s personalities.

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James McAvoy is amazing as Kevin Wendell Crumb and his various personalities like Hedwig, Patricia, Dennis, and, of course, the Beast himself.

Then there is Willis whose subtle performance as David Dunn in Unbreakable carries on into this film.
Finally, there is Jackson as the titular Mr Glass who is surprisingly not in much of the film, making me wonder why it is named after him, until the final act where he really shines.
The other returning actors all do a great job as well.
Then there is the cinematography, which is also very well done, creating some great shot including a fantastic use of P.O.V shots.
As for the soundtrack, composed by West Dylan Thordson, it is nothing short of phenomenal.
Not everything is though, sadly, since Shyamalan’s notoriously sketchy dialogue does appear in some places, although not enough to derail the film.
However, whether the story of Glass does get derailed depends on the viewer’s perspective on the ending, which is quite divisive.
The ending is incredibly bittersweet, offering an ending that will either satisfy some audiences or leave them disappointed and maybe even angry, again, depending on the viewer.
Personally, I think the ending fits in well with the story Shyamalan was trying to tell but it could have been executed better.
I found the way one one of the characters’ story ends to be bitterly disappointing, due to the way it is executed and I think there should have been reshoots to fix it.
Still, this problem I had did not kill the ending for me, although it certainly will for many others.
Overall, I would say this is the most divisive movie ending I have seen in a long time, with both sides having valid arguments to this being a good and bad ending.

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The way Glass ends will put some people off, while for others it will be a fitting end for the story.

It is subversive, bold and a massive risk on the part of Shyamalan.
Whether this risk pays off is up for each person who watches Glass to decide.
I think it does pay-off but I can certainly understand the other side of the argument.
I would encourage you to watch Glass just to see what your take on it will be.

Train to Busan: Best Zombie Movie Ever?

5 stars
I am a big fan of the zombie genre.
I watch The Walking Dead, read the comics, and play The Last of US fairly often.
So, whenever a zombie movie gets some buzz, I am sure to check it out.
I have seen a lot of zombie movies, yet I was still completely blown away when I first watched 2016’s Train to Busan, under a year ago.
Since then, I have watched it numerous times and have recently come to the conclusion that it is my favourite zombie film of all time.
Directed by Yeon Sang-Ho, Train to Busan is a South Korean film that follows a group of survivors attempting to survive a train full of zombies heading for Busan.
It is, admittedly, a simple premise, but the film milks that premise for everything it is worth and it works brilliantly.

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Train to Busan has everything a zombie film fan would love. 

Train to Busan may start out slow but when it gets going, boy, does it get going.
The film is not just your typical run of the mill zombie film either because it incorporates great political themes for the country and builds on its characters fantastically.
These characters initially seem to fit the stereotypical zombie film tropes.
There are some unlikable businessmen, a pregnant woman, a young couple, it all fits.
But Train to Busan builds on these tropes in such a fantastic way by having the characters move beyond them, to the point that you even care for some of the characters whose names you never learn.
The best example of moving beyond the tropes here is definitely with the main character Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) who is one of the unlikable businessmen I mentioned, initially.
However, as the film progresses, we see him grow from someone who only looks out for himself and his daughter, to someone willing to risk his life for others, and this transition works great.

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The character arc of Seok-woo is amazing, with him going from an unkind businessman, to a caring fighter by the end of the film. 

The other characters are just as great, with one of the stand outs being Seok-woo’s daughter, Su-an, whose child actor Kim Su-an is probably the best actor of the film.
Then there is the capable survivor Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok) who is looking out for his pregnant wife Seong-Kyeong (Jung Yu-mi), both of which have a great dynamic.
You even have a great purposefully unlikable character with the second businessman, Yon-suk (Kim Eui-sung), who I hated more than I had any other movie character in a long time.
The set up for the characters’ arcs are also brilliant, with previously thought to be insignificant things having a massive impact later on.
These characters’ likability adds to the terrific tension of the action scenes because you fear for each and every one of them and, when someone dies, it hits you hard.
Seriously, this is one of those films that will get people crying on multiple occasions.
I will not say who it was but I watched this with my family once and of them was a crying mess by the end.
The film is so good that I have even heard it may be getting an American remake, which I am very unsure of.
Hopefully, it will not end up like the American remake to the Spanish film Rec, Quarantine, but, even if it is good, I doubt it will be as great of a film as the original.
Although, James Wan is supposedly attached so that is a good sign.
Train to Busan is an amazing zombie movie on every level.
It has fantastic action, brilliant characters with amazing arcs, and complex themes to boot.
Not to mention that it will probably make you cry at least once, before the credits roll.
I cannot recommend this film enough.

Bird Box: Strong Performances Cannot Save This Film.

When watching Netflix’s Bird Box it is hard not to think of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.
Both films feature a mysterious event that causes people to kill themselves, leading a group of people to band together in a fight for survival.
Thankfully, however, Bird Box, directed by Susanne Bier, is not laughably terrible like The Happening.
That said, is Bird Box a good film?
Sadly, no.
This is not to say everything about the film is bad.
The highlight of Bird Box, for me, is its strong performances by Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes and others.

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The acting, specifically that of Sandra Bullock, is one of the few things that create any investment in the film.

There are also numerous scenes in the film that deliver pure enjoyment on an intensity level.
The scene where the event first starts happening and chaos ensues is genuinely disturbing and opens up a lot of intrigue about what is going on.
It is by far the best scene of the movie.
Along with this, there are other pretty intense scenes, like an action sequence with Rhode’s character, Tom, and a final desperate attempt to escape, both at the back half of the film.
These scenes only work though because of the performances though, which, sadly, cannot save Bird Box from its own shortcomings.
Among these shortcomings are the characters themselves, who, with the exception of Bullock’s character Malorie, would all be very one dimensional without the solid acting.
Then there is the lack of answers surrounding what is going on.
Although the rules on how to survive the creatures causing this event are clearly set up, it is never explained what these creatures are.
It is like they had a cool premise but could not think of a good way to explain said premise.
Although, given how Shyamalan laughably tried to explain that The Happening’s particular suicide event was caused by plants, it is probably good that Bird Box avoids giving answers.
However, along with the lack of answers there are also serious leaps in logic in the film.
This is especially noticeable in the rapids scene where there were so many things that do not make sense that it pulled me out of the film.

There are so many things about the rapids scene that do not make any sense upon reflection.

Bird Box even tries to implement some comedy, although it fails miserably, with a Trump joke that had me rolling my eyes.
Finally, there is the way the film is structured, which makes it extremely obvious which characters will die, making it difficult to care.
All of this contributed to making Bird Box an intriguing but ultimately lackluster film for me.
It has good moments but keeps you blindfolded when looking for answers.

A Very Late God of War Review.

4 and a half stars
God of War 
was released in 2018 to instant acclaim and yet, despite owning a PlayStation 4, I refused to play it.
This was because I had not enjoyed the previous God of War games.
Sure, they had good gameplay and magnificent boss battles, but I am the kind of person that likes to relate to stories in video games and I, honestly, never clicked with the story of Kratos seeking his vengeance.
Still, God of War garnered more and more praise as the year went on until it even won the Game of the Year award so, naturally, with all of all this praise, I had to play it.
And, even though this game got heaps of praise, I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed God of War. 
It is easily one of the best games of 2018 and its story, gameplay and graphics are incredible.
Picking up long after God of War 3, God of War picks up with Kratos (this time voiced by Christopher Judge) in the world of Norse mythology where he and his “boy” Atreus (Sunny Suljic) go on a journey to scatter Kratos’ dead wife’s ashes from the highest peak in the realm.

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As Kratos and Atreus journey across some of the nine realms they encounter numerous threats like trolls, elves and dragons.

This is admittedly a simple story but it does not make it any less powerful.
The theme of a parent’s love for their child is executed brilliantly, not just with Kratos and Atreus but the other characters as well.
Speaking of these two, I was surprised by how relatable I found Kratos to be, as opposed to the previous games, and his relationship with Atreus is the heart of the story.
There are many intense and emotional moments of growth from these two, complimented by the great gameplay where Atreus serves as an AI partner, helping you in battle.
These battles are a lot of fun, with many different enemy variations.
God of War also continues the series’ tradition of having amazingly epic boss fights.
The battles with the god Baldur (Jeremy Davies) and a dragon are, by far, the standouts of the game.
Then there are the visuals, which are spectacular and enhanced by the ingenious idea to have the entire game in one shot, excluding when Kratos dies of course.
However, I do have a couple of problems.
One is a bit of character development for Atreus where he becomes mad with power but this felt like it happened pretty quickly for me and made him unlikable for a time.
Then there are some of the bosses.
While I did mention many of them are epic, some are just reskins of earlier bosses in the game.
There are so many trolls to fight that, by the end, I was tried of them.

It is fun the first time you fight a troll but by the fifth time I was tired of it.

Still, these problems are small in comparison to how amazing the rest of the game is.
It is also pretty inspiring to hear the story of the director Cory Barlog, who had to leap through hoops to get the story of God of War told.
He deserves all the praise this game is getting.
But, at the end of the day, does God of War deserve the Game of the Year award?
Well, it is difficult to say.
It is definitely one of the two best games of 2018 but that other game is Red Dead Redemption 2.
Both are amazing games that had me invested the entire way through and it is hard for me to decide between them which should have won.
They both equally deserved it.
God of War is a fantastic game.
Even if, like me, you are not a fan of the older games, I recommend you play it.
You will be pleasantly surprised.

Top 10 Movies of 2018.

2018 has came to a close and, while not offering as many fantastic films as 2017, there were still numerous films that connected with me and were a joy to watch.
Now I am going to count down the top 10 best of those films.
Before I do that though, there are still some films I want to mention but did not get in the top 10 so, quickly, here are numbers 15-11 of my favourite films of the year.

15. Deadpool 2.
14. Isle of Dogs.
13. The Incredibles 2.
12. Ready Player One.
11. Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

With that out of the way, let’s get into my top 10 favourite films of 2018.

10. BlacKKKlansmen.


Based off a true story, BlacKKKlansmen follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), the first black police officer of the Colorado Springs police department, who oddly manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan on the phone.
What follows is a dark, yet at the same time, hilarious film about racism and the cruelty of the KKK.
Both lead actors, Washington, and Adam Driver as Stallworth’s partner, Phillip “Flip” Zimmerman, give great performances.
BlacKKKlansmen can get very dark at times through recounting crimes committed during this time and a KKK couple talking about killing black people during “pillow talk.”
Somehow though, the film also manages to be incredibly funny, especially with Stallworth’s phone conversations with leader of the KKK David Duke (Topher Grace).
Spike Lee manages to craft a great film that is both disturbing and hilarious with how it discusses racism through the scary and idiotic train of thought it follows.

9. Overlord.

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Overlord is not going to win any awards, nor should it.
It is not cinematically brilliant, it does not offer any complex themes.
What the film does do though, and in spades, is provide an incredibly fun experience for moviegoers.
It is clear when watching Overlord that director Julius Avery set out to make a fun, action packed thrill ride that would have the audience engaged from start to finish.
So, while Overlord is not anything special cinematically speaking, it still provides a really good time.
I found it to be one of the most memorable films of the year just because of how fun it was because we got a great war film that just so happened to include zombies.
Even though a lot of the story and characters may seem cliche, they are done in the lovably cliche way as opposed to the eye rolling.
The actors all do a good job, the action sequences are great, and it all provides just enough emotion to care about what is going on.
It is the perfect kind of B Movie, only this time with a bigger budget.
The opening action scene alone is worth the price of admission.
I find it unfortunate that the movie bombed because I think a lot of people would enjoy this film if they had gone to see it.
Overlord is a film that I will find myself rewatching every time I am looking for pure enjoyment factor.

8. Creed 2.

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A great sequel to the first CreedCreed 2 improved on its predecessor in a number of ways.
For one, I thought the story was a lot better and made me sympathize not only with Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) but with the antagonists of the film as well.
It is amazing how they made a follow up to the cheesy Rocky IV serious and with such emotional weight to it.
Sure, Creed 2 may not be directed as well as the first one but Steven Caple Jr. still does a great job.
There are quite a few amazing shots and the montages are top notch.
Most notable though is the tension in the characters, not just in their fights but through what the fights mean to them.
The stakes of the fights between Creed’s side and the Drago family could be felt on both sides.
Creed 2 clearly worked for the rest of the audience I was viewing it with as well because many of them were standing up and cheering during the ending fight.
The film ups the stakes and the story along with it.
Let’s just hope the movies do not get super cheesy after this and they continue with the serious tone they have been going for.

7. Mission Impossible: Fallout.

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Mission Impossible: Fallout is not a film I reviewed in 2018.
In fact, I only saw it recently but it still managed to get to number seven on the list.
Fallout is just an all around great action film.
It may be a bit predictable where Henry Cavill’s character is concerned but the action outshines this.
Tom Cruise once again risked life and limb to make this film, even breaking his leg in the process.
The realism applied to the death defying stunts makes the film all the more epic.
As for Cavill’s predictable villain, he also does a great job, making the mustache controversy of Justice League more than worth it.
The film also has plenty of great character moments and growth for Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.
Fallout just escalates further and further with some great twists and turns complimented, again, by great action.
I honestly have not watched any of the other Mission Impossible movies but this one made me want to.
It is fast paced, action packed and full of solid performances.
The entire plot does get a bit confusing but the action more than makes up for this.
Director Christopher McQuarrie did a great job with this one.

6. Black Panther.

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Directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is, without a doubt, the most unique Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date.
Its setting of the fictional country of Wakanda is spectacular, providing a perfect blend of African cultures and futuristic cities.
The story set in this land is also just as great, with it featuring amazing political themes that makes it a very contemplative film.
This is supported by the amazing characters Black Panther provides.
There is T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) the titular Black Panther and king of Wakanda, his genius sister, Shuri (Letita Wright) and, leader of the Dora Milaje, Okoye (Danai Gurira).
Best of all, though, is the film’s villain Erik Killmonger, played brilliantly by Michael B. Jordan, who not only manages to be threatening but incredibly relatable as well.
These actors came together to give us, what I believe to be, one of the best casts out of all the MCU films.
The only problem I have with the film, which holds it back from getting further on the list, is the big final battle.
It incorporates a lot of CGI and it is very subpar.
The final fight between T’Challa and Killmonger really drew me out of the film because of how bad it looks.
Other than this, Black Panther is a brilliant film with an amazing story, characters and setting.

5. A Star is Born.

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Over the years, many actors have had a go at directing and, if Bradley Cooper’s first outing A Star is Born is any hint, his future as a director looks bright.
Starring Cooper as singer Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as Ally, the aspiring singer he discovers in a bar, the film follows these characters’ tragic love story from the start right to the bitter end.
Having never seen this film, after watching the first half hour you might think this is supposed to be a happy story but, oh, no, this is anything but.
A Star is Born goes on to be pretty depressing by taking a very hard look at subjects like alcoholism and mental health.
This heartbreaking story is bolstered by the fantastic performances by Cooper and Gaga.
Not to mention all the songs are amazing, especially “Shallow”, which shows off both of their singing abilities.
There are even a few impressive shots that, while not anything spectacular, make a for good start for Cooper’s directing career if he decides to continue.
A Star is Born is a powerful film that starts off sad and ends tragically.
Just remember to bring the tissues.

4. Avengers: Infinity War.

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I debated about where exactly I would put Avengers: Infinity War on the list.
It was originally going to be behind Black Panther but, after watching it a second time, I found I enjoyed the experience a lot more.
Initially, I was let down by how it is pretty much certain a lot of the impactful events of this film are going to be undone in the next, but, on my second viewing, I was able to look past that and marvel at what an achievement this film is.
Avengers: Infinity War has the largest cast of any movie I have ever seen.
There is Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland and many, many others.
The fact that I was able to relate to this almost countless number of characters in the film outright states how spectacular of a film this is.
The greatest of these characters in my mind were Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, and Thanos, played by Josh Brolin.
Thor again goes on an amazing emotional journey in the film, but this is still nothing compared to Thanos who, despite being the villain, is also the main character.
Just like Killmonger from Black Panther, Thanos is strikingly relatable.
Even though he does horrific things, you completely understand why he is doing thrm and even come to sympathize with him on some level.
The action is intense, the comedy is hilarious, and the acting is great across the board.
Joe and Anthony Russo killed it with this film and I can only hope that the reversal of the conclusion in the next film does not damper my experience with this one.

3. Bad Times at the El Royale.

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I believe that Bad Times at the El Royale is the most underrated film of 2018.
I was only one of two people in the theater when I saw the film and I absolutely loved it.
Just like Overlord, only more so, this is a film that deserves a lot more attention than it got.
Directed by Drew Goddard, the film follows a group of strangers, each one with secrets, arriving at the El Royale hotel.
As the night goes on, things get crazier and crazier and their secrets unfold, leading to an action packed conclusion.
Goddard did an amazing job with this film, with its amazing cinematography and acting across the board.
Jeff Bridges and Cynthia Erivo are standouts and Chris Hemsworth takes on a surprising role as a charismatic, yet deadly, cult leader.
Bad Times at the El Royale is also very slow paced but, while this may be a problem for some, I feel it more than earns that slow pace and pays it off in great ways.
The only issue I have with Bad Times at the El Royale is that the flashbacks it uses sometimes interrupt the tension.
Otherwise, the film is great and definitely the most overlooked film of the year in my mind.

2. A Quiet Place.

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A Quiet Place was my favourite film of 2018, until I saw the movie that took the number one spot just over a week ago.
Directed by and starring John Krasinski, the film follows the Abbott family in the aftermath of an alien invasion.
The aliens attack based off sound so complete silence is necessary for survival, which the Abbotts are thankfully good at because of their deaf daughter Reagan (Millicent Simmons).
The performances are great across the board, with Krasinski’s wife Emily Blunt being a standout.
A Quiet Place also manages to be incredibly scary, not just with its alien monsters but with how it sets up and pays off certain events as well.
A scene following Blunt’s character and an exposed nail is filled to the brim with tension.
I was on the edge of my seat for most of the film and it also drew a lot of emotion out of me.
I have rewatched A Quiet Place twice, since it came out, and I always cry when a certain scene happens, no matter how hard I try not to.
There is just one thing that holds this movie back from being my favourite of the year and that is the jump scares.
These felt very unnecessary and the film would have been better if it used natural sound for these scares instead.
Still, A Quiet Place is an intense thrill ride and I cannot wait for the sequel.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

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My favourite film of 2018 has to be Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman.
I only saw this film over a week ago and knew immediately it was my favourite.
It may have come out in 2019 in New Zealand but it came out in 2018 theatrically so I am counting it as a 2018 film.
Spider-Verse is the only film I saw from 2018 that I gave a five star rating to, showing how great I think it is compared to the others.
The film is like a comic book came to life with its unique style of animation, which looks stunning after you adjust to the new style.
The story follows Miles Morales (Shamiek Moore) on his journey to become Spider-Man with help from numerous other spider-people, across the spider-verse.
From Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), to Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), to even freaking Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), all of these spider-people are amazing characters, especially those who get the most screen time.
The action is well shot and fast paced, the soundtrack is incredible, there is just so much to love about this film.
A Quiet Place may have the saddest scene of the year but Spider-Verse has the most inspirational with Miles taking his big “leap of faith.”
The film is not just a superhero movie but a fresh take on the entire genre, just like my favourite film of last year Logan.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is my favourite film of 2018.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Review.

4 stars
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
has come out bringing the story of Toothless and Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (Jay Baruchel) to a dramatic close.
The first two How to Train Your Dragon films are fantastic so I was very excited for this one and, while I still prefer the other two films, this was a great way to end the trilogy, and director Dean DeBlois did a good job.
After becoming chief in the previous film, Hiccup is stuck with a lot of situations like the growing dragon population and people constantly encouraging him to marry Astrid (America Ferrera).
This is worsened by the appearance of feared dragon hunter Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham) who is sent to capture Toothless.
All the while, a mysterious female Nightfury makes itself known to Toothless, starting a hilarious series of failed romantic attempts by him.
The animation and voice acting for The Hidden World are top notch with the stand outs being Baruchel and Ferrera, who have amazing chemistry.

Hiccup and Astrid are a great couple in this movie. They knocked it out of the park here.

Speaking of Baruchel as Hiccup, it is great after seeing this movie to look back on where he was at the beginning of the first How to Train Your Dragon.
His arc from beginning to end, across the three films, is fantastic and tied up nicely here, along with his relationship with Toothless and Astrid.
However, there are some things about The Hidden World that hold it back from being as good as the other two for me.
First, is the side characters, who have little to no arcs.
Worst of all is Tuffnut (Justin Rupple), Ruffnut (Kristen Wig), and Snotlout (Jonah Hill) who are unbearably annoying with their jokes never landed for me.
Finally, some of the events in the Hidden World do seem to just repeat various story beats seen in the previous two films.
Still, these flaws temporarily left my mind when I saw how great the ending is.
It is a fantastic way to conclude the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy, again, tying up the character arcs of Hiccup, Astrid and Toothless perfectly.

hiccup and toothless
The conclusion to The Hidden World not only ends the movie greatly but the trilogy as well.

Despite a few flaws, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World concludes the series nicely and you should definitely check it out.

Attack on Titan Chapters 111 to 113 Review: Zeke’s Grand Master Plan.

Chapter 111: Children of the Forest.

4 and a half stars
Chapter 111’s title, “Children of the Forest”, is one of my favourites in all of Attack on Titan.
It goes incredibly well with the events of the chapter, tying into a fantastic speech given by Sasha’s father, after he learns it was Gabi who killed his daughter.
In this tense scene, Sasha’s father explains how he sent Sasha out of the forest only for her to end up in a bigger one where it was kill or be killed.
He finishes by stating they have to stop sending their children into the forest or the bloodshed will never end,
These lines brilliantly tie into the chapter’s title and, hopefully, move towards establishing Gabi’s first step into realizing how she was brainwashed and not all those on Paradis are evil.
Not everyone is so forgiving of her though, with both Nicolo and Kaya attempting to kill Gabi upon learning the truth.
Both of these moments were heartbreaking, especially Nicolo’s because Kaya tells Gabi and Falco she believes he and Sasha were in love, which adds another layer of tragedy to Sasha’s death.
This and Gabi’s boasting about killing Sasha (unaware of Nicolo’s involvement with her) made Nicolo’s attack on her pretty satisfying.
Sadly, Falco also got caught up in this attack, leading to the shocking cliffhanger of this chapter, which we will get to later.
As for Kaya’s attack on Gabi, this is also incredibly sad because we see someone who trusted Gabi, (for some reason) and wanted to be friends with her, turn on her in an instant after learning the truth.
Again, hopefully the combination of Sasha’s father’s forgiveness and Kaya’s condemnation will lead Gabi down the right path.
Thankfully, the 104th scouts look set to carry her along that path since they arrive at the restaurant to talk to Nicolo in the chapter.
Their story began in a military meeting to discuss Eren’s faction of rogue soldiers, now dubbed the Yeagerists.
Many of the Military Police, including an incredibly unlikable one named Rouge, suspect that some of the scouts may secretly be Yeagerists.
Pyxis arrives to break up the argument and begins planning to use Armin as their main line of defense against Eren and his faction.
Even though it would be tragic to see these close friends become enemies on the battlefield I would still love to see a fight between them.
Pyxis also has a very funny moment when Armin asks if he has a plan and Pyxis just states they should surrender because the Yeagerists have them beat.
While funny, Pyxis’ abrupt declaration that they should let Eren do his thing also makes a lot of sense since they are now number one on Marley’s hit list after the invasion.
More fighting will just lead to less of a chance of them succeeding and, thus, surviving so Pyxis has the right of this.
He is one of the smartest leaders in the series and I hope he is given the chance to step up further.
After this, we have Kyomi telling Mikasa she should prepare to leave with them if things go bad but Mikasa wants to stay and protect her home.
Mikasa also comes to the realization that if Paradis loses then Kyomi’s family is finished, giving her more reason not to rely on her.
However, Kyomi seems devoted to protecting her nonetheless.
Only time will tell if Kyomi really does have Mikasa’s best interests at heart.
Then we have the big cliffhanger of “Children of the Forest”, which sees Nicolo admit that all the wine given to the military higher ups has been contaminated with Zeke’s spinal fluid.
This means Nile, Rogue, Pyxis, many other members of the Military Police, and even Falco will turn into Titans if Zeke so much as screams in their vicinity.
The twist blew my mind when I heard Nicolo reveal it and, as the chapters have gone on, it all adds up to show how smart Zeke is, with this grand master plan of his being played out for years.
It is only now that all the pieces are coming together and Zeke is acting.
He is the smartest character of Attack on Titan, along with Hange and I would love to see the two of them fight in a battle of brains.
“Children of the Forest” was a fantastic chapter for Attack on Titan.
It advanced Gabi’s character development, dealt with other’s characters’ grief over Sasha’s death, and delivers one of the most mind blowing twists of the manga.

Chapter 112: Ignorance.

4 stars
After the shocking cliffhanger of the previous chapter, “Ignorance” brings Zeke’s grand master plan together for another shocking ending.
Before this though, we get the aftermath of  Nicolo revealing the wine has been poisoned with Zeke’s spinal fluid.
He goes on to explain that the wine was brought on the first ships to Paradis and Yelena has been instructing him to feed it to the higher ups in the military.
Connie points out that anyone who consumes Zeke’s spinal fluid freezes up but Hange counter this by stating Zeke could have easily lied.
She also states the magnitude of the impact this lie has, which, again, is proven at the end of the chapter.
However, before anything can be done who should enter?
None other than Eren and his Yeagerists, here to capture his friends so they can led him to Zeke, while dropping a few bombshells along the way.
This is the chapter that essentially destroys the friendship Mikasa and Armin had with Eren.
We have seen the cracks in their friendship grow in more recent chapters but Eren’s actions in “Ignorance” take them past the point of no return.
After threatening Armin and Mikasa with his bloody hand, he tells them he is free and whatever decision he makes it is of his own free will.
In a disheartening turn of events, he then turns on Armin and Mikasa.
First, he berates Armin, saying he is being controlled by Bertholdt’s memories, which have made him gain feelings for Annie, so he is useless.
This not only confirms the theory of Armin’s feelings for Annie being motivated by Bertholdt but it also opens up intriguing questions about how other Titan Shifters are being influenced by their predecessors.
For example, maybe part of the reason Ymir went to save Reiner and Bertholdt was because she was partially influenced by Marcel’s memories.
However, while this did potentially open up many storylines for the future, it also made Eren look like a massive hypocrite.
He tells Armin he is being controlled by his predecessors’ memories, yet he has the memories of three past Titan Shifters in his head and still has the audacity to claim he is free.
If what Eren says about Armin is true, which I think to a certain extent it is, then Eren needs to take a good long look in the mirror.
The biggest bombshell Eren drops, however, is the one where he reveals that the Ackermans were created to protect someone who they recognized as a host to their fullest extent.
So, the only reason Mikasa has protected Eren is because she recognized him as a host when he rescued her from her kidnappers.
Eren goes as far to say that Mikasa is basically a slave and that he has always hated her.
The real question here, though, is whether Eren is telling the truth of not?
Well, the answer is both yes and no, I think.
Eren is almost certainly telling the truth about Mikasa protecting him because of her Ackerman bloodline.
This is supported by Mikasa subconsciously protecting Eren when Armin lunges at him and the symptoms Eren mentions, which includes headaches.
We have seen Mikasa experience these headaches when doubting Eren only a few chapters earlier and have even seen it all the way back in the Clash of the Titans Arc.
However, even so, I still believe Mikasa does care for him, despite her Ackerman programming.
Either way, I think Hajime Isayama needs to be very careful about how he plays this because he is at serious risk of undermining everything Mikasa has done for Eren.
It is not close to Historia levels of undermining character development but it could easily change depending of where Isayama takes this.
I will just have to see where this new plot point goes before I decide if I like it.
As for Eren saying he has always hated Mikasa, I am certain this is a lie.
Eren has been shown to care for her numerous times, most notably when he protect her from Dina, which is the only time he has used his Coordinate ability.
But if so, why is Eren lying?
I think it is to protect Mikasa with Eren maybe trying to use this as motivation for her to flee with Kyomi when things get bad.
And they certainly will because it appears Eren and the Yeagerists have been working with Zeke and Yelena because Floch knows about the poisoned wine.
This is also supported by Eren’s desire to find his brother, which he states after beating up Armin in another great moment.
Watching Armin attempt to attack Eren after he says he hates Mikasa, only to be brutally pummeled by Eren, shows the destruction of their friendship.
This also leads to Armin accusing Eren of being a slave, gaining the only reaction out of him in the entire chapter.
After all this, we get the next big shocking cliffhanger with Zeke using his screaming ability to turn all of Levi’s comrades into Titans after they drunk the contaminated wine.
The build up to this scene is excellent with Levi deciding to put an end to Zeke, orders be damned.
We then get an interesting look into Levi’s thoughts, which seems to suggest that, like Mikasa, he has also identified Eren as a host to protect.
During this time we see Zeke over Levi’s shoulder, taking a big yawn, preparing.
Levi then promises to finally fulfill his promise to Erwin by killing Zeke… only to turn around to see Zeke running away, full sprint, unleashing his deadly scream.
The chapter ends with Levi’s comrades transforming, in terrifying panels, before crashing to the ground, surrounding Levi.
However, even though Levi is surrounded at the end, I came out of “Ignorance” not particularly concerned for him.
This is because it did not feel like it would be the right time for him to die, narratively speaking, and Levi has got out of worse situations than this.
Not to mention his rabid fans who would probably riot if he died here.
If Levi is going to die before Attack on Titan ends, it will be in a much more fitting moment than this.
Chapter 112, “Ignorance” is another good chapter of Attack on Titan. 
I am concerned where some of the plot points started by this chapter may go but, overall, it is still a good read.
Watching Eren, Mikasa and Armin’s friendship fall apart is a tragic highlight.

Chapter 113: Violence.

4 stars
About a week before Chapter 113, “Violence”, came out, I heard a spoiler that Levi would kill Zeke.
After reading this chapter, I can say that I have never been more happy for a spoiler to be wrong.
Hajime Isayama killing Zeke off at this point would be terrible storytelling because we do not know Zeke’s true motives yet and we have barely got any interaction between him and Eren.
Thankfully, instead of Levi killing Zeke, he only captures him… after completely
eviscerating him that is.
Seriously, I have no idea how Zeke survived Levi shooting those thunder spears at him because his guts were hanging out and he was severely burned.
Still, I am glad he did survive and the fight between him and Levi is great.
I said in my review of Chapter 112 that I was not concerned for Levi when Zeke turned all of his comrades into Titans and, while this continues with this chapter, I did like the level of intensity Isayama brought to the fight.
The Titans here are a lot faster because of Zeke’s spinal fluid and Levi is also hesitant to kill his former comrades.
So, even though I knew Levi was not going to die, it made the battle have a lot more impact, especially when Levi caught up with Zeke.
Zeke kills the remaining Titan and throws it at Levi, again showing his brains by killing the only Titan Levi can feed him to and then using it as a weapon.
His desperate tactics do not save him though, with Levi capturing him and making it impossible for him to escape on his own.
He does by sticking the thunder spear into Zeke’s stomach and then placing the wire to its detonator around his neck so, if Zeke moves in the slightest, he will be blown to bits.
I have heard a few people wondering why Levi did not just feed Zeke to one of the Titans to stop the threat but I think there is an answer to this in the chapter.
It is possible that Levi intended to feed Zeke to the last Titan standing but Zeke killed it before he could do so.
Whatever the case, there is the question of where Levi is now taking Zeke.
In my opinion, the place that would make the most sense it to Historia, where she can inherit Zeke’s powers.
However, there is a problem with this.
It has been stated multiple times that Historia turning into a Titan could kill her unborn child so this could be a real dilemma about what will happen with the baby.
Personally, I am just hopeful that we will we get to see some kind of explanation about what all the foreshadowing with this baby means?
Is Eren the father, or is the baby fake, or, god forbid, is everything as it seems and Historia has gone completely against her character?
I need to know!
Answers for this, however, will probably not come in the next chapter because, based on the cliffhanger, it looks like the focus of that one will be a flashback that finally explains Zeke’s true motivations.
The cliffhanger itself shows Zeke as a child, playing baseball with a mysterious man, who was seen all the way back in Grisha’s flashbacks comforting Zeke.
His name is Xaver but we do not know anything else about him.
A lot of people are speculating he is the previous Beast Titan, which would be very interesting.
He obviously holds some importance to Zeke because he is shown to be wearing the glasses Zeke now wears (or wore because they were most likely obliterated by Levi in this chapter).
All of this set-up has me very excited for the next chapter but not everything about “Violence” is good.
There is one scene that feels out of touch with the rest of the chapter and this is when Floch goes to recruit some fresh cadets to the Yeagerist cause, with Hange in attendance.
This scene did not make much sense to me because Floch appears to have been sent by Eren to find Zeke, which, based on how dire the situation is, is of the utmost importance.
So why is Floch going to recruit soldiers when he has a much more crucial role to play?
Could he have not got someone else to do this?
On top of this, there is a joke that really flats for me and that is when Keith Shadis is beaten up by the cadets who decide to join Floch.
This joke is very similar to an earlier one where Annie beats up Reiner but, this time, the joke just does not mesh with the chapter’s darker moments.
The scene just felt very unnecessary and, unless these cadets that got recruited play some sort of vital role in the future, it will probably not change.
Other than this though, the rest of “Violence” is really good.
It does a fantastic job of setting up the endgame for the series, with Zeke mentioning how the world’s forces will soon be converging on Paradis.
It will be interesting to see how Hajime Isayama will wrap up the series with this final arc.


On another note, I have now caught up with the entirety of the Attack on Titan manga so will now be reviewing each individual chapter as they come out. 

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse… Wait, Sony Made This!?

5 stars
Who would have thought that my favourite film of 2018 would not only be an animated movie but one made by Sony?
Initially, I was not very interested in seeing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse because I was not familiar with the Miles Morales character and, again, the film is made by Sony.
However, the trailers got more and more interesting and the word of mouth was so good that I just had to see it.
Given this positive word of mouth I was expecting the film to be good going in, but it still blew my socks off.
Right from the opening film studio logos I knew we were in for something special because they were shown in such creative ways.
From here, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse gets better and better as it goes on.
As I said, coming into Spider-Verse, I did not know much about Miles as a character and this made the surprise of how fantastic he is all the better.
Voiced by Shameik Moore, Miles is an incredibly relatable character with his own strengths and insecurities that make him a completely different kind of Spider-Man.
All of the other spider-people brought to Miles’ reality are also just as unique, with the best of them being a disillusioned and tired Peter B. Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson) and a Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfield) who took on the mantle after being bitten by the radioactive spider.
Watching these two spider-people grow alongside Miles was great and led to many emotional moments.

the spider people.jpg
Miles, Peter and Gwen are the best spider-people and I hope we get to see them all in a sequel.

In comparison, the other Spider-people do not get as much development or screen-time as these three, but they still get their own share of emotional moments and laughs.
Even the main villain, Kingpin (Liev Schreiber), gets plenty of development that actually makes us sympathize with him somewhat, even if he is at fault for all he has lost that drove him to this point.
Along with all of this, Spider-Verse is very funny, delivering on a multitude of jokes, many of them great examples of meta-humor concerning the numerous version of Spider-Man in film and media.
As for the animation, it is very unique to other animated films and often captivating.
That said, for the first few minutes you may find this style of animation to be a little jarring and, at worst, off putting but this quickly fades after these first few minutes and, from then on, the animation is stellar.
This is all accompanied with a fantastic soundtrack that works amazingly well with every scene.
All of this fantastic character development, animation and music combine in what is probably my favourite scene of any film in 2018 when Miles embraces his role as Spider-Man and leaps across the city.
This is a very inspirational scene that I will find myself replaying over and over when the film comes out of theaters.

Miles Morales.jpg
Watching Miles embrace his new role as Spider-Man was the most inspirational scene all year.

If I had one issue with Spider-Verse it would be the fate of one of the characters.
It felt like they could have had a massive impact on the story in a sequel but after seeing the film in full, this does not feel like that will happen.
I do understand why this choice was made though, as those making the film probably did not know if they would get a sequel.
Still, this will not affect my rating for Spider-Verse because I did not find it to be overly detrimental to the film.
Speaking of the film makers though, it is even more surprising when you learn that there were three directors for the movie, Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rotham.
Usually, having more than one director can be problematic for a film because it can result in a conflict of ideas but it is clear these three directors came together to complete a vision, based on how fantastic Spider-Verse is.
I still cannot get over that this is a Sony film, considering their track record.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is without a doubt my favourite film of 2018 and I highly recommend it.
It definitely deserves an award for best animated film.

The Walking Dead Issue 187: What Happened to the Conflict?

3 stars
The Walking Dead 
Issue 186, “The Powder Keg” ended with an amazing cliffhanger that set up not only a conflict between Rick’s communities and the Commonwealth but, more importantly, between Rick and Michonne.
I was excited to read the latest issue 187 “The Road Back” to see where Robert Kirkman would take this newly developed conflict… only for him to downplay it with the two characters oddly making up.
It was incredibly jarring to see Rick go from saying he would never forgive Michonne last issue to him immediately apologizing to her this issue.
What is especially weird is that the cover of Issue 187 seems to point towards the two’s conflict growing when in reality the exact opposite happens.
There might be more tension between them in the future but, for now, this scene makes it seem that Kirkman has thrown any potential storyline of the two being at odds in the trash, which is a huge disappointment.
Even Rick’s character seems to have done a complete 180, with him seeming to have come to Dwight’s opinion that Pamela needs to be taken down also strangely being forgotten with him now pushing for peace at the beginning of the issue.
This is an unusual case of bad writing from Kirkman.
It really is a shame because the rest of the issue does a great job of building on the growing conflict in the aftermath of Dwight’s death.
The best parts of “The Road Back” came from Mercer and surprisingly Princess who both go through a great amount of character development.
First there is Mercer, whose frustration with the Commonwealth finally boils over with him giving a speech to his fellow soldiers about rising up against Pamela and the rest of the Commonwealth leadership.
This is unfortunately overheard by Lance who looks ready to arrest Mercer by the end of the issue.
Mercer really sucks at making sure people do not overhear his secret plans, first there was Siddiq and now Lance.
As for the Princess, I was surprised by how much I liked the development she got this issue.
She leaves Mercer and the Commonwealth, explaining that the abuse she suffered from her family as a child has led to her to like being alone.
This left me feeling sorry for her, which is a nice change considering I found her to be a mostly annoying character up until this point.
However, even though Princess left, by the looks of the cover of the next issue, it appears she will be drawn back into the conflict.
We can see Carl, Jesus, Aaron and Siddiq rushing towards her in the cover of Issue 188 and all of these characters are sent to see what was happening in the Commonwealth by Magna and Maggie this issue.
With things clearly about to explode in the Commonwealth because of Dwight’s death and Mercer’s soon to be arrest, it is clear they will play a vital role in the story.
Another thing I was surprised to find how much I liked was the portrayal of the love triangle between Carl, Lydia and Sophia.
I usually hate love triangles but here it is portrayed rather nicely.
Sophia finds she actually gets along well with the new kid Carl tried to set her up with and Lydia gets jealous of her and Carl.
This leads Carl to tell Lydia she and him work together because they are both monsters, (which is obviously a really bad thing to call your girlfriend) causing Lydia to storm off.
Then, when Carl departs, he explains what he meant, stating they are both the only ones who can truly see who they really are after all they have done.
This is a very touching scene that had me routing for their relationship in ways I have not before.
All of this is fantastic stuff but again it is weighed down by throwing out Rick and Michonne’s conflict, which could have been very interesting.
The rest of “The Road Back” is good but I just wish Kirkman had kept this conflict going.