Greetings! Periodically, I write posts about the various punk genres. We're being flooded with punk genres in literature, movies, video games, and especially the Internet. Naturally, some of these genres are more reputable and well developed than others. You might have seen the word Cattlepunk floating around the worldwide web and I want to talk about it. Should we take Cattlepunk seriously or is it just a random word that's using the punk idiom? I'll explain below.
Essentially, Cattlepunk is an alternate version of the American Wild West with a big emphasis on science fiction or fantasy elements. It's a pretty sketchy genre, but I suppose a few examples would include HBO's Westworld, Jonah Hex, Cowboys and Aliens, and Stephen King's The Dark Tower. Technically, the Westworld television series is probably the best example because it actually has a lot of punk elements. The series focuses on an adult theme park called Westworld that gives visitors unlimited entertainment and control over human-like robots in a Wild West setting. It's basically a futuristic version of LARPing. Visitors can literally do anything with these robots, ranging from killing them, sleeping with them, and more. Gradually, the robots form an uprising and turn against their human masters. The show is a commentary on cruelty, humanization, loss of identity, marginalization, and other themes.
Jonah Hex is a comic book series and film adaptation that takes place in the American Wild West with supernatural elements. The titular character is a Confederate soldier who was murdered along with his family. A Native American shaman used mystical powers to resurrect Jonah, although his face remained heavily disfigured. Ultimately, the former soldier becomes an antihero and hunted down his family's murderers. John Hex doesn't appear to have supernatural powers, but he seems to have a strong connection with death.
Cowboys and Aliens is another comic book series and movie. The comics and film don't share the same characters, but the basic idea is the same. Aliens ambush a small town in the American Wild West and begin abducting people. The townspeople have to save their city and possibly the entire world from an alien invasion. It's a wacky adventure with a ton of sci-fi elements, including shootouts between cattlemen and alien spaceships.
The Dark Tower is an epic dark fantasy and western by Stephen King. The 2017 film of the same name is loosely based on the book series. A gunslinger from another dimension named Roland Deschain is the protagonist. He's the last remaining member of a knightly order who is searching for the mystical Dark Tower. Along the way, Roland recruits helpers from Earth and other dimensions. They pursue a demonic entity known as the Crimson King and hope to save multiple worlds from his minions. The series has magic, monsters, interdimensional travel, and more.
Do I think Cattlepunk holds up very well? Not at all. I wouldn't say it's a separate genre from dark fantasies, steampunk, or other genres that use Wild West settings. Slapping the word punk on numerous labels seems to be a huge fad. Cattlepunk seems to be missing the punk spirit and other stylistic elements that are important for major genres. Some properties are just sci-fi tales set in the Wild West and that's perfectly fine. Plus, steampunk incorporates the Wild West frequently as well.
Luckily, many punk genres fit very well in pop culture and I'll discuss more of them during the year. Leave a comment if you have anything to say about this post. On a separate note, congratulations to the Rams for punching their ticket to the Super Bowl! I'm looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday. Take care and I'll see you guys next week.
Welcome back! It's that time of the year! January is the month when I usually rank every film on my review list. What movies impressed me the most? How many films landed on the bottom of my list? Truthfully, 2018 was a perplexing year in cinema. It seems like film studios were worried about creating a massive amount of blockbuster movies. Unfortunately, many of them bombed at the box office and received poor critical reception. What's the point of spending so much time and money on films if they're destined to fail? Luckily, I saw many great movies as well. Many films are breaking barriers in the blockbuster mold and creating some really interesting content. I would like to see more original content in blockbuster films, but that's a story for another day. Let's see what happened in 2018.
32) Mile 22
This is my biggest disappoint of the year. The trailers look amazing, but the actual film is terrible. It's almost unwatchable because the cinematography is so dizzying. Plus, the story and characters are really bad. None of the characters are remotely likeable and the action scenes are stilted. I might be hesitant to watch more films directed by Peter Berg. Mile 22 has a great concept, but nothing came together.
I have a huge issue with this movie. It's a sci-fi story about a young teenager who finds an alien gun and runs away with his older brother. Parts of this film are horrifying because they go on armed robberies, gamble away stolen money, and attend strip clubs. The younger brother is only fourteen! Kids get into enough trouble. We don't to need to give them bad ideas. This film is in second to last place because the cinematography is fine. Otherwise, it might be on the bottom of my list.
30)The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Another disappointment. I not a fan of the script and the VFX are really bad. More importantly, the humor is crude and infantile. It's supposed to be a family movie, but I'm pretty sure a lot of children will find the movie scary. Jack Black and Cate Blanchett gave serviceable performances, but they couldn't save the film.
29) The Predator
Quite possibly the worst Predator movie ever. It's at least comparable to AVP: Requiem. This film has fun action scenes and very few pacing issues. However, the plot is nonsensical, the characters aren't memorable, and the entire product is a huge mess. I do want to give some praise to the musical score. It's a really nice throwback to the original Predator film.
28) Maze Runner: The Death Cure
The Death Cure is a mediocre film, much like the other Maze Runner movies. Sometimes this film is really slow and boring. It's a familiar premise that we've seen in other YA adaptations. I appreciate the central message and the action scenes are surprisingly good. Some of the lead actors are pretty decent as well. Regardless, the plot isn't great and it doesn't bring anything new to the post-apocalyptic genre.
27) The Girl in the Spider's Web
I expected this movie to be much better. It's a direct sequel to The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo. The mystery elements aren't very good and it's probably one of the most boring films in 2018. Also, the protagonist is almost like a superhero for some reason. I want to acknowledge Claire Foy's performance as Lizbeth Salander. She's a fantastic actress and I'm looking forward to more of her movies. I also enjoy the cinematography. This film has solid world building and lovely environments. Beyond that, it's pretty disappointing.
I'm not a fan of the new Halloween movie. Sue me, already. It just seems like another silly Halloween sequel. Granted, there's a huge audience for this type of film. I don't find it particularly scary. But it has some redeemable elements. Jamie Lee Curtis is still a terrific scream queen. The musical score is a fun throwback to the first Halloween movie. Ironically, some of the humor is pretty good. It wasn't great, but I saw much worse in 2018.
Is this film good or bad? I'm not sure. Maybe something in between.Winchester is interesting and spooky. Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke gave solid performances. Unfortunately, the script isn't very good. It has a lot of plot holes and doesn't come together very well. I find the production design disappointing as well. This film would have been much higher on my list if the writing was better.
24) Robin Hood
Honestly, this is a lousy film. Robin Hood has a bad story and the performances are awful. It's also combining Medieval and modern themes, which doesn't work at all. Why is this movie number twenty-four instead of dead last? It actually has fun action scenes and decent entertainment value. I walked away amused. But I still believe this film was a huge missed opportunity.
23) Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider isn't terrible, but it doesn't make me feel excited for sequels. I think Alicia Vikander is great as Lara Croft. She's a talented actress and a good fit for the film's protagonist. However, the other elements aren't impressive or entertaining. It has some pacing issues, the story isn't very interesting, and I'm not a fan of the other characters. This film is an accurate representation of the video game series and I appreciate that part. Action movie fans and gamers might like this version of Tomb Raider.
22) Ant-Man and the Wasp
Why does anyone like Ant-Man? I just don't understand. He's such a damsel in distress. The plot is also a jumbled mess. I don't even find this movie funny. Luckily, it has some redeemable elements. Ant-Man and the Wasp has a great supporting cast. The Wasp kicks butt and she might become a good addition to the Avengers. Her parents are charming as the original Ant-Man and Wasp. Ghost is an interesting villain and stark raving mad. I also enjoy the visual effects.
21) Pacific Rim: Uprising
I wish this movie was better because the first Pacific Rim film is awesome. It's a fun action flick with a lot of robot action. But the story and characters aren't particularly good. It's kind of like a video game. At least it's not boring. I saw worse films in 2018. Sadly, Uprising might be a franchise killer. I doubt we'll see a third Pacific Rim film.
Venom is so bad, it's good. This movie is hyper self-aware and like a throwback to the campy superhero flicks of the nineties. It's silly, ridiculous, and over the top. I kind of like this film, even though it's a total mess. It has a weak villain and the story is utter poppycock. Apparently, even bad movies can be entertaining. Tom Hardy plays Venom and that's a perk. He always finds a way to elevate films.
19) A Wrinkle in Time
I'm willing to be lenient with this film. A Wrinkle in Time has a ton of heart and really good characters, but subpar directing created a lot of issues. It's full of plot holes and super preachy. I'm also disappointed with the visual effects. In some ways, it's a nice story and quite uplifting. This film is in the middle of the pack for me.
18) The Darkest Minds
Truthfully, The Darkest Minds isn't a bad movie. It's just not particularly memorable or special. Amandla Stenberg and the other young actors are pretty good. Although the adult characters are lousy. It has some pacing issues and doesn't seem much different than the other YA dystopias. But it's an okay film. I just wish it was released a few years ago. The film would have been more popular when post-apocalyptic movies were a big deal.
Here's why this movie is so high on my list. It has a wonderful story and incredible cinematography. This film is dreadfully slow and it feels really long. Serious pacing issues almost killed this movie for me. At least it's a nice story about a boy and his dog set in the stone age. It's an interesting concept and I really like the ending. Alpha would be a good film to check out on streaming.
Bumblebee is a cute film with a lot more substance than any of Michael Bay's Transformers movies. I really enjoy the friendship between Hailee Steinfeld's character and Bumblebee. It's a girl and her robot with some humor, whimsy, and periodic action scenes. Unlike some viewers, I didn't go bananas for this movie. I think it has pacing issues and the supporting cast is unimpressive. But it's a good step in the right direction for a soft reboot in the Transformers franchise.
This was one of the biggest surprises in 2018. Overlord is a really good horror film with frightening monsters and the destruction of war. It's not complex. This is strictly a straight forward horror movie with a combination of scares and camp. The practical effects are amazing and it's bloody violent in the most impressive ways. Yeah, it's kind of like a video game. Big deal. Some of us appreciate those types of movies.
14) A Quiet Place
Definitely the best horror film of the year. A Quiet Place is a fascinating tale of survival with suspense, despair, and a little bit of hope. The central family is relatable and the monsters are quite scary. I really like the screenplay and the overall film is very unique. Unfortunately, it has a lot of horror tropes and the family makes several boneheaded mistakes. It also has a few pacing issues, but the movie is still great.
13) A Simple Favor
This film is special. A Simple Favor might not be one of the best movies in 2018, but it's still a really good mystery with strong performances. It's much better than the mysteries on the Hallmark and Lifetime channels. The story is a test of wits, problem solving, and maintaining secrets. Everything makes sense and yet it keeps the audience guessing. I just wish the film wasn't so long and slow. It probably would have landed on my top ten list with better pacing.
12) Bad Times at the El Royale
What can I say? This movie is super weird, but awesome! It's a fun crime thriller with a terrific ensemble cast. I don't think the marketing was an accurate representation of the film, but it's still great for niche audiences. I love the setting, production design, and dark humor. Much like A Simple Favor, this movie is too long and it can be pretty slow sometimes. Will you enjoy Bad Times at the El Royale? Give it a shot on streaming and decide for yourself.
11) Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
I went both ways with this movie. The Crimes of Grindelwald is disjointed, long, and pretty boring at times. I wasn't enamored with many of the characters except for Grindelwald and Dumbledore. But it's also quite interesting with cool creatures, great action scenes, and plenty of magic. I appreciate some of the social commentaries as well. This film has powerful moments, but the overall product is middle of the road. I find the first Fantastic Beasts movie a lot better.
10) Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Yeah, this film received bad reviews. But it's right up my alley! The new Jurassic World film is entertaining and wacky with a dinosaur extravaganza. The action sequences are really good and it has several moments of intense dread. The franchise seems to be getting silly at this point, but I'm not sure what the studio can do otherwise. Fallen Kingdom is a great popcorn movie and it's nice to go along for the ride. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.
9) Ready Player One
Steven Spielberg never disappoints. Ready Player One is a blockbuster with huge visual effects, pop culture references, great characters, a nice story, and plenty of heart. This film has broad appeal, despite focusing on video games. It has valid social commentaries and seems oddly thought provoking for this type of movie. It's a really enjoyable surprise.
How did Rampage become my number eight film? 2018 must have been a weak year for cinema. I just like this movie for some reason. It's entertaining, Dwayne Johnson and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are great, the VFX are top notch, and the whole experience feels like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes a few giant monsters on the literal rampage are exactly what the doctor ordered.
7) The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Critics were really hard on this movie, but I actually find it pretty good. It has a nice story and the actors were much better than I expected. This film is shockingly impressive on every visual level, ranging from VFX, costume design, hair and makeup, production design, etc. It's significantly different than the Nutcracker ballet and I don't mind at all. Ultimately, it's entertaining, the pacing is good, and I left the theater feeling wonderful.
6) Mission: Impossible-Fallout
Fallout is probably one of the best action films in the modern era. It's unbelievably ambitious, exciting, and violent. The story has quite a bit of substance, although it's somewhat convoluted. Tom Cruise is still one of the best action stars and Henry Cavill gave a breakthrough performance. Ironically, the Missions Impossible series appears to be getting better as the years go on. What more can a hardcore action fan want?
5) Mortal Engines
This is another great movie with a bad rap. Mortal Engines is a fantastic combination of steampunk and post-apocalyptic elements with breathtaking world building. It's very creative and bold with an interesting story. I really like Hugo Weaving as Thaddeus Valentine and Jihae as Anna Fang. However, the lead characters, played by Hera Hilmar and Robert Sheehan, are underwhelming. Everything else holds the film together and showcases a unique experience.
4) Solo: A Star Wars Story
Another underappreciated film. Honestly, I think Solo is one of the best Star Wars movies under Disney's management. Alden Ehrenreich is spot on as the titular character. He captures the attitude, swagger, and spirit of Han Solo. I also find Donald Glover's performance as Lando Calrissian quite accurate as well. This film seems like a legitimate Star Wars tale with smuggling, space battles, swashbuckling, and eclectic characters. It's not overly complex either. Overall, Solo is a lovely homage to the original trilogy.
I've never seen anything like Aquaman. It's a grand underwater epic. The characters are surprisingly well crafted. Some of the VFX are inconsistent, but for the most part, they look brilliant. It's definitely one of the most creative films in 2018 with tons of creatures, elaborate battle scenes, intricate world building, fascinating subplots, etc. Granted, it might be too wacky and over the top for some viewers.
2) Black Panther
This is another rare and special film. It's not just another chapter in the MCU. Black Panther has a compelling story, wonderful characters, interesting costume design, and beautiful world building. It has relevant cultural themes and has more substance than a lot of Oscar bait movies. I don't know why anyone would dislike this film. It has action, romance, political intrigue, and all kinds of fun elements.
1) Avengers: Infinity War
We finally reached my number one movie of the year! Infinity War is an epic event and we probably won't see anything like it for a very long time unless Endgame pushes the boundaries further. Sure, the characters don't have a lot of chances for development. However, Thanos is the best villain in the MCU and he's a surprisingly thought provoking character. The action scenes are incredible and the entire film feels like a huge adrenaline rush. This is the culmination of every chapter in the MCU and it pays off in spades. It's both dramatic and tragic in some ways. The story ends on a cliffhanger and I can't wait for the sequel.
All right! You made it through my entire list for 2018! What movies did you enjoy the most last year? Did you have any major disappointments? Tell me everything in the comment section. That's all for now, but I promise to post another fun and interesting topic for next week. Be safe and I'll see you guys next week.
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