The Year of 2018: The Surprises

Everyone loves a good surprise. It makes us feel like there are still things out there that we haven’t seen nor experienced. It can also bring a decent film up a level to a good film. Here are the five films that surprised me the most in 2018.

I also get excited for a Clint Eastwood film. Maybe it was my upbringing or maybe it is because he is a great filmmaker. In fact, the latter half of his career has brought some of his best films. Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, and Changeling are all fantastic films that are not to be missed and prove that Eastwood still has some pep in his filmmaking step. So you can understand when the trailer for 15:17 to Paris hit how excited I was. I was all set to see the film in the theater, but then the reviews came in. I don’t think that Eastwood had ever had a worse reviewed film. The critics were saying that this is possibly Eastwood’s worst film (had they not seen American Sniper?) and that Eastwood should hang it up. I don’t really listen to critics, but then the audience reviews were coming in and they were saying it was awful too. I really was shocked. Even a poorly reviewed Clint Eastwood film would connect with audiences, so why didn’t this one? I decided to wait it out and see what would come of it on blu-ray.

To my surprise, when the film was released on blu-ray, it turned out to be a good film. It isn’t a classic like the aforementioned films, but it is a good film. Sure, the acting is not the greatest and there are some scenes in the film that will make you cringe with embarrassment, but those scenes are few and far between. What the film is really about is the friendship between three guys, their strong moral compass, and their bravery in the face of some really real danger. I thought that guys playing the friends (the actual guys I might add) were fine in their roles and the build-up to the train scene is pretty suspenseful. I think that Eastwood really made a good film here and more people should give it a first, or even a second, chance.

Spike Lee has been in a bit of a slump as of late. While his documentaries are fantastic, his narrative films have been not so great. He remade to films in Oldboy and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, and both films were not very good. His sequel to Do the Right Thing was ok at best, and Chi-Raq was a misguided film. I didn’t really have high hopes for BlacKkKlansman.

To my surprise, the film was really good. The performances, especially from John David Washington, Adam Driver, and (something that really surprised me) Topher Grace, are really good and the film is both funny and horrifying. The film hits all of the right buttons and never feels like it is trying to be something that it isn’t. It is really good to have Lee back making good films. I just hope he keeps it up and doesn’t make another Girl 6 or She Hate Me.

If you told me that I would really enjoy a film about a heist that happens during a hurricane that was directed by Rob Cohen I would have told you that you were full of it. I walked into Hurricane Heist without any preconceived notions. I had no idea if this film was going to be good or bad as I had never really watched a trailer for it. I just went to the film because it was called Hurricane Heist.

I really liked the film. The film tries to be better than the material it is given to work with and it succeeds for the most part. The action scenes are really well done and are not over edited like Cohen’s Alex Cross film. The acting isn’t bad and the effects are surprisingly good. There is also a bit of suspense that you don’t normally find in a film like this (most films try but fail at this). If you go into the film not prejudging the film I think you will end up liking it.

I know what most people are going to say when they see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on this list. They will say that the film was stupid and boring and full of shit. I can’t say that I agree full heartedly on any of those points, but I will say that I liked the film more than I thought I would. Yes, the film is dumber than a bag of rocks, but the director, J.A.Bayona isn’t really concerned with that. He knows that this film is stupid schlock and he makes the most of it. This is the first film in the series, since the first film, that plays really well as a horror film. The opening scene alone should tell you this, but Bayona gives us, even more, scares than any of the other sequels combined. This elevates the film from being just another Jurassic World film to a really good monster film. I can’t deny that the film and its script are dumb as shit, but the film is also a really fun ride.

I really liked the original The Strangers film. I found it to be a very scary and atmospheric gem that not a lot of people know about. When it was announced that there was going to be a sequel, I thought that we really didn’t need one. I figured that it would be a soulless cash grab. As it turned out, the film is actually really good and offers up the same formula while giving us something different at the same time. We are given characters who we don’t automatically hate and some great scenes of suspense and terror. Topping everything off with a killer score, The Strangers: Prey at Night is a film that got lost in a sea of other films and deserves to be sought out.


While I was writing this piece, I went and saw Bumblebee, the new Transformers film and I can say that I was not really expecting to like it as much as I did. The film has enough action to keep the kids excited while also having a great relationship between Bumblebee and Hallie Stanford. The film is not an insult to Transformers fans like the Michael Bay films and actually has the Transformers looking like they’re supposed to. The film has a lot of heart and soul and isn’t just mindless action.

So there are my surprises of 2018. Here’s hoping that 2019 has a few up its sleeve.

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