glenn criddle | cynical celluloid | dec. 2018
It's that time of year again so let's take a look at the themed holiday awards list that's as awkward as the joke from the value crackers you got from the convenience store. Some are familiar faces and others were neglected due to timing, space or because I wanted to spare you a long-winded rant from a very disappointed critic.
The Boozy Mince Pie Award: “Avengers Infinity War"
One of the biggest complaints about the Marvel universe from DC fans is that it isn't dark enough. Infinity Wars runs with a real sense of weight to the proceedings whilst still maintaining a sense of fun and fantasy and it does it well enough that DC apologists should, by now, at least be able to acknowledge that they deserve a much better-extended universe as well. It's the first Avengers film to commit to that Guardians of the Galaxy feel, something smoothed somewhat by Thor: Ragnarok's change in visual style and, for me, it worked better than I could have expected. While Ragnarok didn't quite cut it for me, I'm glad, in retrospect that they did it because it helped Infinity War work better in bringing the two stylistic worlds together. Of course with that cliffhanger ending, who can wait for the next installment of rich, indulgent goodness?
The Rotten Brussels Sprout Award: “Tomb Raider"
Yet another video game movie that works to prove the rule that the film and games media are very difficult to cross between. Ironically, part of the problem is that it recreates the latest Tomb Raider games all too well which sounds like it should be a good thing but it does so with all the ridiculous excess of the game and without the interactivity that made those overblown moments at least tolerable. The story is passable at best, again feeling like the game, but without the act of puzzle solving it's all a bit thin; as a result Tomb Raider all too often feels like those annoying “quick time events" but with even less for you to do. The only blessing here is that you'll not have to worry about doing it again if you're distracted for a second. It looks right, it sounds right, but ultimately, it's all too much like watching your mate play the game.
The Stuffing in the Turkey: “Hereditary"
Overblown by the hype machine and given a rough ride by the audiences, Heredity is a slow-cooking build up to an unusually horrific conclusion. It's a ride through the uncanny valley on a “Silent Hill" version of Willy Wonka's boat ride and while it's lacking the kind of thrills that a mainstream horror film fan requires, it does smolder with atmosphere and delivers some very disturbing events and dark ideas. For the less active viewer it may seem a bit plain but look inside it a bit and there's plenty of shockingly good stuff(ing) going on.
The Bad Santa Award: “Blockers"
Blockers is an astounding clash of schmaltz and crudity that manages to be shockingly coy at the same time as it does butt chugs. It's the typical American Pie format but it's not at all dated and awful ... no, no, no; this time it's girls after the action, that's new, right? From the prissy marketing, I mean Blockers, get it? No, so we'll shove a cockerel before the title and that'll make it clear, through to the very predictable, cliché-ridden story it's all too often cringe-inducing and awful. That said, it has its moments, though they're too few and certainly not enough to elevate this mountain of crass to being more than a mild distraction from the horrors of life that you occasionally laugh at, then pity.
The Food Coma Award: “A Quiet Place"
It runs like a really good meal that overloads you a bit too much. There's a main course of tension, a big side of suspense and a dessert of fear in an unusually, though deliberately quiet film. But it goes just that little bit too far and the ending is something of a disappointment as the filmmakers try to dish out that wafer-thin mint that just results in everything exploding like Monty Pythons Mr. Creosote. After all the goodness, you may as well take a nap for the ending; it'll be for the best.
The Overcooked Turkey Award: “The Predator"
Shane Black's return promised so much and delivered a lot of it, though unfortunately buried under so many tonal issues, cluttered writing and some astonishingly bad choices including an accidentally lobotomized predator dog that is rendered friendly by a bullet to the brain. Throw in a poorly-handled and perplexingly placed child lead with movie autism (child lead in an R-rated movie? Why?) and we end up with a film that looked pretty good going by the trailer but turned out to be one of the most disappointing films of the year. Overdone and unsatisfying.
Well, that's it for another year. Incidentally, there was a near miss for the awards in the form of Eli Roth's “Death Wish" remake. If Bruce Willis could seem like he gave a damn about the roles he's playing then I'd love to see him in many more films but Death Wish, a couple of cracked smiles aside, is another show of seeming apathy from an actor who I know has far more charm and wit then he lets on. Come on Bruce, give us the Christmas present of an enthusiastic performance, we want you back. Hopefully “Glass" will be that film.
Happy Holidays folks, have a safe and joyous time and see you again in the new year.
--banner image courtesy DocChewbacca
He's British so forgive the extra U's and the use of the letter S instead of Z. If there's one thing that typifies Glenn's writing it's the 'Video Nasties,' a long list of movies that offended all and sunder during the 1980s in the UK. It's those seemingly offensive fringes of cinema that informed his writing on cinema and the more political area of censorship with a more sympathetic approach to those films that push the limits of taste. But don't worry, he does talk about normal stuff too and isn't likely to go off on a horror movie fuelled rampage.