Every few years, the Hollywood machine dips in to their pool of public domain legends and stories, failing to realize that no one is interested in them. No matter what new spin they put on them, they almost always turn out poorly. “Robin Hood” is on the chopping block once again, with Summit Entertainment trying their damndest to superhero-ify the merry thief. The only problem is that we’ve had a superhero Robin Hood for decades now, and—no one gives a shit about Robin Hood anymore. No matter gloss the studios put on the tale, even turning him in to pseudo-Batman, “Robin Hood” (or “Robin Hood Begins” or “The Dark Hood Returns”) is a swing and a miss, a giant squishy thud that lands in a year filled with some truly stellar action and fantasy films.
John Turtletaub’s adaptation of “The Meg” may not have been everyone’s cup of tea in 2018, but for me it was a damn good time with an eye on being about as novel as possible. While it does pander to the ever important Asian movie going audience, “The Meg” is a weird and wild action movie that feels like an eccentric amalgam of Peter Benchley, Renny Harlin, and Paul WS Anderson. It’s a comedy, a science fiction film, an action movie, a romance, a man vs. nature picture, and a tale of redemption all rolled in to one. It even squeezes in a bang up cast of character actors like Cliff Curtis, Li Bingbing, and Rainn Wilson as an eccentric billionaire thrust in to the extraordinary confrontation with a giant megalodon.
Opens at Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles on December 14th, and at the Quad Cinema in New York City on December 28th. Learn More Here.
Since 1998, “The Animation Show of Shows” has been a small program line up that selects the best in animated short films from all around the world. It’s presented new and innovative short films to animation aficionados at animation studios and schools, as well as theaters in the US and around the world since 2015. 38 shorts since, went on to become Oscar contenders with 11 winning the Oscar. This year, “The Animation Show of Shows” is not bereft of diversity and bold new voices, and it’s all in all a riveting experience, with eyes on personal statements and meaningful ideas.
Even in this day and age, 1992’s “Batman: The Animated Series” remains the definitive iteration of Bill Finger’s Batman. Combining all of the best elements from past Batman lore, Bruce Timm’s iconic animated series is a mature, often compelling take on the Dark Knight that’s action packed enough for children, but sophisticated enough for older audiences to appreciate. Timm approaches the Batman with enough care and delicate creativity to allow the character to flourish in a contemporary setting, embracing the fantasy elements of the character as well as basing a lot of the aspects of the character and his background in reality as much as possible.
After 1966’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and 2000’s “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” we now have 2018’s “The Grinch” (I assume the next reboot will be titled “Gri”). Illumination Studios continues being the C grade Disney Strudios, adapting the Dr. Seuss tale if, for no other reason, than to have their own holiday title out for the market and appeal to a younger audience. There’s not a lot of reason for this adaptation, as Illumination doesn’t offer a new twist on The Grinch. Except for obviously omitting “Christmas” from the title, “The Grinch” is an amalgam of Ron Howard’s live action movie, and the original Chuck Jones short movie–except bland.
I’ve come to terms with “Teen Titans Go!” and I’ve especially come to accept it thanks to the shockingly good feature film. If there was ever a time where the superhero movie genre was ripe for parody and satire it’s 2018, and “Teen Titans Go! to the Movies” manages to do it better than anyone else. For everyone that’s come before, attempting to mock the whole appeal of the sub-genre, “Teen Titans Go!” captures the whole appeal and absurdity of the superhero movie and the superhero mythology as a whole. It also manages to cater to the hardcore comic book buffs in the audience, inspiring some great laughs from obscure references.
It’s not hard to figure out why “The Princess Bride” is considered one of the all time great cinematic fantasy classics. Even today it manages to stand as a movie that’s way ahead of its time and deconstructs a lot of the fairy tale and hero’s journey tropes way before “Shrek” ever popularized the idea. Rob Reiner injects a meta-mold to “The Princess Bride” helping it stand apart from a lot of the other fantasy epics we would have seen from the decade. His choice to make the story of Princess Buttercup told by a grandfather to his sick grandson is a testament to the incomparable experience of being swept away in a good book.
Disney re-visits their staple of public domain tales with another visit with “The Nutcracker,” a ritual that’s annual for most movie studios. No matter what year it is, some studio thinks they can offer an artistic, original, or hip take on “The Nutcracker,” and every year it’s terrible. Even with Disney injecting the classic ballet with the spectacle of Robert Zemeckis, the eccentricity/whimsy of Tim Burton, and a vague cribbing from 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” (bordering on plagiarism), “The Nutcracker and The Four Realms” is a hollow effort to turn the musical composition in to a hit holiday movie. And perhaps a hit holiday movie franchise. You know they’ve focus grouped it and are planning parts two to seven, right now.