Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday Comics: Heroes in Crisis #1

Image result for heroes in crisis #1

I had been looking forward to Heroes in Crisis for a while now.  Tom King is one of the best writers working now.  Some of his Batman stories have been nothing short of amazing.

The premise sounds intriguing: a place for super powered people to recover from trauma.  It is a fertile ground of story and character to explore idea to explore.

The execution?


The art by Clay Moore is outstanding.  And the set-up pulled me in.  We have some interesting dialogue between Harley Quinn and Booster Gold.  We have a terrible sense of urgency and tragedy.  We have intriguing character monologues.  These things kept me interested.

That is until the reveal.

It is not much of a spoiler to say that some famous hero dies in this issue.  DC has been hyping this for a while.  But the way in which it is handled is just plain awful.

Allow me an analogy:

I used to watch Downton Abbey.  One of the strengths of the show was that it got you to care about the status-impacting romances of the upper-class as much as the fight-for-survival struggles of the lower class.  But then in one episode, one of the maids is sexually assaulted.  At that point, the magic spell of the show is broken.  Going forward, I could care less about who wanted to marry who or whose reputation needed saving.  A character I cared about went through a trauma so awful that all other storylines seemed trivial.

When they reveal the death in Heroes in Crisis, it makes the entire rest of the story seem trivial.  In fact, it makes much of the last year of comics seem wasteful.  A beloved character is tossed aside with little care.

I don't think that publishers and producers understand what characters mean to the fans.  Not really.

It isn't simply that we enjoy their adventures.  We connect to them as persons.  We have a real affection for them that, irrational as it may sound, makes us very protective of their wellfare.  Rian Johnson thought he was simply taking the old character of Luke Skywalker into some fresh, unpredictable direction.  What he didn't understand that to fans, Luke is a friend and Rian did things to him that tarnish him.

Characters that writers did not create are characters that do not belong to them.  They are stewards of them and they have a responsibility to take care of them.

Many of the DC characters are friends to us fans.  We grew up with them.  We care about them.  Dare I say without sounding hyperbolic, we love them.

To treat their deaths as pawns in a larger drama is to tell us that you care not about the relationship we have to these characters.

I am not opposed to having characters die, especially when they have meaningful deaths.  Identity Crisis #1 and Countdown to Infinite Crisis are great examples of how this can be done.  In these stories, beloved characters are horribly killed.  And when you read these stories, your heart breaks.  The first time I ever cried while reading a comic book was Identity Crisis #1. 

But Heroes in Crisis doesn't bother with giving us a cathartic send off.  Instead of breaking my heart, the story left me cold and empty.  The death is meant to be a catalyst to the story that Tom King wants to tell. 

But I don't care about that story because he senselessly killed off my friend.

Who is the killer?  Why did they do it?

I don't care.

Just bring my friend back.

If they do not, then it may be that my relationship with DC Comics will be in crisis.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Film Review: The Disaster Artist

Sexuality/Nudity Mature
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Mature
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Mature

I don't know how enjoyable this film is if you haven't seen the source material.

The Disaster Artist follows the true story of Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) who is a shy actor struggling with his confidence.  One day in an acting class he meets Tommy (James Franco), who is a horrible performer, but who exudes all of the boldness and confidence that Greg lacks.  The two strike up a friendship and move to Los Angeles together and try to make it into the film industry with very little luck from their meager talent.  Since they fail to get jobs, Tommy decides to write, direct, produce, and star in his own movie with Greg.  Together they make The Room, the movie that many people consider to be the worst film of all time.

On the surface, the movie appears to be a thematic cousin to Tim Burton's masterpiece Ed Wood.  Both films are about bad directors making terrible movies.  But Burton used all of his amazing skill as a visual storyteller to create an artistically beautiful version of Ed Wood's style, director James Franco cannot quite match that level.  The movie has a strong guerrilla film making vibe, but that isn't exactly what you have with The Room.  Of course, The Disaster Artist doesn't have to mirror The Room's style simply because the latter film is the subject of the movie.  But it would make for a nicer visual harmony.

One of the smart things that the movie does is that it very much humanizes the very strange Tommy.  He is an enigma throughout the film who seems to ape human expression while being confused by human emotion.  But it touches on that deep-seated fear that many of us have that our artistic ambition exceeds our talent.  How many of us get frustrated when we try to draw or sing or dance and feel that we come up short and make fools of ourselves?

I remember in high school I was cast in the lead in the school musical.  It was really the first time I sang in front of an audience.  Some times I sang well, some I did not.  During one sequence I had to sing and dance at the same time, which caused my pitch to go all over the place.  At my graduation party, my parents put on the video of the musical to play in the background.  One of my best friends who hadn't come to the show heard me hitting all of the wrong notes.  Upon hearing that, he turned to me and said, "You wanted me to come and hear this piece of crap."  The sharp flush of embarrassment was all the more painful because he was correct that I hadn't performed well.  I did not, at that time, have enough skill or talent to perform that part well.  And that same pain is conveyed very effectively in The Disaster Artist.

We can all remember a time we were excited about an idea or an activity only to be told that it wasn't good.  Even we push past these criticisms, there is always the nagging question: "Is this thing I love actually terrible."  In Tommy's case, it is.

That isn't to say that there isn't also a great deal of humor to come from the movie.  The movie tries to balance the drama with the comedy.  Most of the comedy comes from watching Tommy's utter incompetence as he orders around a professional film crew who are flabbergasted by the inanity of his choices, like re-creating a brick alley in a studio even though there is one exactly like it on the studio lot or using both a film and digital camera at the exact same time.  I have not been a fan of Seth Rogen for a while, but his constant exacerbation as Sandy the cinematographer brings some of the best laughs.  But as Tommy's behavior begins devolving into more chaos, you begin to have the creeping thought, "This isn't funny anymore."  This is especially true when Tommy becomes close to abusive while filming a sex scene with Juliette (Ari Gaynor).

The other performances are also fairly good.  Dave Franco brings enough earnest joy to Greg that you can't help but root for him and his journey.  Alison Brie does a fine small turn as Greg's girlfriend.  But the central performance is James Franco as Tommy.  This is where knowledge of The Room can make a difference.  The real Tommy's performance in the movie is so legendarily bad that it actually would take a master actor to replicate it and James Franco doesn't quite do it.  Like Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Nixon, Franco goes for a general affectation but doesn't quite get close enough to the real thing.  But as frustrating as Tommy is in the movie, James Franco is able to extract a lot of sympathy for him from the audience.

If you enjoy watching The Room, seeing it recreated is oddly nostalgic.  For those uninitiated, the end credits show side-by-side shots of footage from that movie and the recreations of those scenes in The Disaster Artist as if to say, "We weren't exaggerating, the movie is THAT bad."

But like Tommy himself, you feel a distance you can never fully overcome.  The movie never fully connects in the way that it should.  I wanted to like it more than I did.  But like Tommy, I think James Franco's artistic ambition exceeds his talent.

picture by Yasir72.multan 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday Best: Top 10 Doctor Who Companions Ranked

As we are preparing for the 13th Doctor's premiere series, I thought it would be a good idea to look back on the Doctor's previous companions.  As I am only very familiar with the revival of the series, this will only include companions from 2005 on.

As with any lists, there is an element of subjectivity, but I shall endevour to make my reasons clear.

Beware of spoilers for those who haven't watched the show.

10.  Mickey Smith (Season 2)
image by ibsan73
Mickey never quite fit in to the series.  He was brought on to create a kind of love triangle between Rose and the Doctor.  But what he did have going for him was that he had enough self-awareness to know where he ranked in their group and he knew when to leave so that he could do the most good elsewhere.  He would always be in competition with the Doctor and on the TARDIS he would always lose.

9.  Nardole (Season 9)
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image by Gage Skidmore
This character was here mostly as a comic conscience to the Doctor.  He acted the part of Jimminy Cricket to keep the Doctor on the path that was set out by River Song.  But beyond that, he was a bit one-dimensional about the character.

8.  Bill Potts (Season 9)
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image by Gage Skidmore
There was something about Bill that always seemed off.  Unlike Nardole, she was given a strong arc on the show.  But she always had a smarmy, "I-know-better-than-you" attitude that the Doctor found very appealing (because he probably saw a reflection of himself in her).  But I never saw the level of chemistry with the Doctor that I saw with other companions.  She wasn't a bad companion, but I've seen better.

7.  Rose Tyler (Seasons 1-2)
image by Rach
Rose set the tone for the modern Who companions.  She was rough around the edges, but she was adventurous.  She was also the first human companion to really draw the Doctor in romantically.  But Rose never came off as that particularly special.  Or at least I could never quite see why the Doctor would be so head-over-heals for her in a way that he wasn't for other companions.  Although their parting was one of the most heartbreaking moments in the entire series.

6.  Martha Jones (Season 3)
image by DavidJohnson
I know a number of people don't care for Martha, but I enjoyed her more than Rose.  She was at least more impressive than Rose in most ways.  She was smart and brave.  Her only drawback was that her unrequited affection for the Doctor made her look a little less self-possesed than she should have been. 

5.  River Song  (Seasons 4-8)
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image by Daniel Benavides
She is the Doctor's equal in many ways.  She attracts and frustrates him in the way that he does to everyone else.  And all the while, her tragic destiny looms over her sly, knowing smirk.  She is a helpless romantic who hides under a cynical shell.  The saddest thing for me is that her best chemistry was in her final appearance with the 12th Doctor.  I have watched that episode many times and am always impressed how natural their relationship feels at this point.

4.  Amy Pond (Seasons 5-7)
File:Karen Gillan as Amy Pond.jpg
image by Alun.vega
Amy's story is a tragic fairy tale.  The magical Raggedy Man enters her life in his magic box and her childhood is changed forever in both good and bad ways.  She is bold and defiant, but always seeks to do better.  She is flawed in her impulsiveness, but she grows to a great maturity by the end of her run.  In her final episode, you can see how she moved on from a girl with an infatuation to a mature woman who understands that marriage means taking the leap of the cliff with your spouse, till death do you part.

3.  Donna Noble (Season 4)
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image by GabboT
I did not think I was going to like Donna at all.  Her first appearance was one where she complained the whole time and then opted not to join the Doctor.  When she finally did become his companion, she was one of the best.  As I've written before, she jettisoned the idea of the companion as a romantic interest.  The Doctor/Donna was a companionship of equals, a companionship of friends.  She would challenge the Doctor to do more and be better and there was something compelling enough about her to make the Doctor listen.  The chemistry between her and the Doctor was some of the best in the entire series and her departure in many ways was the most tragic.

2.  Rory Williams (Season 5-7)
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image by GabboT
In a lot of ways, Rory is everything the Doctor is not.  He is a human man who is straightforward, decent, unassuming, and honest.  Like Mickey, he is in competition with Doctor over someone's affections.  The difference here is that the Doctor is rooting for Rory.  And what makes Rory stand out is his selflessness.  For me, the most important part of Rory's story is when he stood guard over Amy for over two-thousand years just to keep her safe.  That level of devotion makes him one of the best companions.

1.  Clara Oswald (Season 7-9)
File:Jenna Coleman & Steven Moffat (11030237754) (cropped to Coleman).jpg
image by mrgarethm
For some reason there are a lot of people who think Clara was one of the worst companions.  I think they are completely wrong.  Like Donna, she held her own as an equal to the Doctor.  On top of that, they were still able to pull off an unspoken romantic chemistry.  She spoke to the Doctor in ways that no one had or no one could.  When her doom become certain, she didn't ask the Doctor for any promises.  Instead, she gave him a order.  She knew that his care for her was so strong that he would listen.  Clara was always brave, modest in apperance, quick of wit, and stout of heart.  She had to remind the Doctor who he truly is to prevent him from repeating his greatest mistake.  That was the kind of influence she commanded.  It was an influence of moral authority.  And that is why she is the best companion.

Film Flash: Life Itself

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Nowhere nearly as profound/interesting as it wants to be. Narrative structure works against purpose.

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image by Yasir72.multan

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Trailer Time: Captain Marvel


Marvel has a lot riding on Captain Marvel.

Not only is the first female-led film in the MCU, but the plan is for her to be the lynchpin character for the franchise after the original Avengers retire after Infinity War Part 2.

This is our first taste of what this film will be.

Here are some assorted thoughts:

-I love the fact the trailer throws you immeadiately into the 1990's by showing you a Blockbuster.  I wish the rest of the trailer had a stronger '90's vibe with some Nirvana music or Stone Temple Pilots.

-Visually, the film looks excellent.  The special effects are top notch and it should give us a wonderful spectacle.

-I have no sense of Carol Danvers personality in this trailer.  One of the things that Marvel banks on is the personality of its heroes.  Iron Man could never have have established the MCU if his personality had not be as strong and funny.  I get no feel from Captain Marvel.

-I have no sense of the story from this trailer.  I know as a fan of the comics that this is somehow going to involve the Kree/Skrull war.  But it all seems very vague.

-They are leaning very heavily into the fact that Captain Marvel is a woman.  That's fine.  They did the same thing with Wonder Woman, and that was a great super hero film.  I'm just hoping that the film isn't primarily based in identity politics.  In other words, I want Captain Marvel to be a superhero who happens to be female, not a woman superhero. 

-Brie Larson is a great actress, but I don't get a chance to see much of her performance in this, other than she seems very confused.

-I really dig the young Nick Fury.  He feels more grounded, like the man before he became the legendary head of SHIELD.  I would like this film to really explore his character in a way even deeper than The Winter Soldier.

Overall, my reaction is fairly positive.  I would like to see more, but I generally like what I see so far.


Monday, September 17, 2018

New Evangelizers Post: Reflections on Humanae Vitae Part IV: The Fruits of Contraceptives

I have a new article up at  

In our last article in this series, we focused on the ills that Pope Paul VI predicted would happen if contraceptives became widely adopted. And it turns out that Paul was a prophet to our generation, one who has been largely ignored. However, there are two other great issues that have become much more common in our world because people ignore Humanae Vitae: abortion and homosexuality.


One of the reasons the Church opposes contraceptives is because we oppose abortion. It should be noted that many things that are sold as contraceptives, for example IUDs, are not actually contraceptives. A contraceptive, by definition, is something that prevents pregnancy from occurring. But there are many medicines and devices that are used in a way that does not prevent fertilization. Instead, these things prevent implantation of the embryo and cause the unborn child to be aborted at a very early stage. So instead of using a contraceptive, these women are actually using abortifacients.

But there is more to it than that.

I have heard people argue that if the Church would only allow for contraceptives, then there would be less abortions. The argument goes like this:

“Abortions are the result of unwanted pregnancies, since people who want pregnancies don’t get abortions. Contraceptives reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies, since the people using them, by definition, do not want a pregnancy. Therefore since contraceptives reduce the amount of unwanted pregnancies, they will reduce abortions.”

The argument seems practically logical on its face. But it turns out that one of its premises is false.

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Best: Greatest Doctor Who Episodes for Non-Fans

Doctor Who's 11th season will begin airing this fall.  We have a whole new Doctor in Jodie Whittaker.  We also have a brand new showrunner in Chris Chibnall.  This is the second time since the reboot that the show has had such a radical change over, the last time being when David Tennant and showrunner Russel T. Davies left and were replaced with Matt Smith and new showrunner Steven Moffat.

Doctor Who has been on the air in some form on and off again since the 1960's.  This new series has been running since 2005.  As with any long-running series, it can be intimidating to jump in.

So here are the ten best episodes of the rebooted Doctor Who for those who are non-fans and want to get a good sampling of the show.  There may be some better episodes than the ones listed here.  But someone who is curious about the show and wants to get a sampling of what it is like,  I would recommend checking out these 10 episodes.

10.  "The Eleventh Hour" (5x01)

This is the first episode of the 11th Doctor's run.  For those who are brand new to Doctor Who, it provides a much better jumping on point than any previous episode.  The Doctor regenrates and befriends a little Scottish girl named Amelia Pond.  While maintaining the rich history, this episode provides wonderful clean slate to dive in and follow the Time Lord's adventures.

9.  "The Waters of Mars" (Season 4 Special)

This might be one of the scariest episodes of Doctor Who and that is saying a lot.  The 10th Doctor arrives on Mars in the not-too-distant future where a group of human scientists have started the first Martian base.  But they've unfrozen something in the waters that possesses whoever touches the water and turns them into freakish zombies.  It becomes a massive race against time as the crew and the Doctor become outnumbered and run out of places to hide.  The design of the zombies are horrifying and are the stuff of nightmares.  It also finds the Doctor faced with some of his most dire moral dilemma's involving time travel.

8.  "Heaven Sent" (9x11)

The 12th Doctor finds himself alone in a castle on an island in the middle of the ocean.  There is no one there except for a mysterious, slow-walking hooded figure who constantly stalks him.  The place is his own "bespoke prison."  With only a handful of clues, the Doctor has to figure out why he is there and how he could possibly escape.  The last ten minutes of this episode pack an incredible emotional wallop.  As it moved toward its conclusion, my jaw dropped and my heart broke.  A great episode to reveal how the Doctor's mind works, but also how he is almost insanely obsessive.

7. "The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion" (9x07-9x08)

This two-part episode starts off like a conventional adventure.  But the second part contains one of the best moments on the entire series.  The 12th Doctor has both the humans and the shape-shifting Zygon's at a stalemate as they are poised to genocide each other with the press of a button.  What follows is Peter Capaldi at his best and a speech by the Doctor about the nature of war, peace, and forgiveness that reminds you what good writing is like.

6.  "The Fires of Pompeii"  (4x02)

This is the first real adventure of the 10th Doctor and Donna Noble.  Donna is a breath of fresh air.  She has amazing chemistry with the Doctor, but it is in no way romantic.  She is a woman who holds herself as an equal, not a girl who moons over him.  And this connection is forged, literally in fire, as the Doctor realizes his connection to the destruction of Pompeii and its consequences.  We also see why the Doctor needs a human companion to travel with him or else he is lost.

5.  "Midnight" (4x10)

The 10 Doctor is on a train car on a planet with a deadly atmosphere.  The passengers are only on vacation, but something deadly attacks them.  What follows is fear and paranoia.  While there are strong sci-fi elements here, this one is a strong psychological horror episode and the first Doctor Who I ever watched.

4.  "Human Nature/Family of Blood." (3x08-3x09)

The 10th Doctor hides out in early 20th Century Britain and becomes human so as to not be found.  He even has his entire identity changed so that he does not know that he is a time lord.  As the show progresses, his new identity, John Smith, has fallen in love with woman.  But as his hunters begin attacking the populace, John must return to being the Doctor.  One of things that makes this episode stand out is that John sees himself as a person and not simply an identity.  In his mind, he and the Doctor are two different people.  For John to turn into the Doctor, that means that John must die.  Tennant gives a stellar performance that makes us believe that two different people lived in that body.  The episode will pull at your heartstrings.  At the same time, you will know how truly dangerous the Doctor can be.

3.  "The Girl in the Fireplace" (2x04)

This is the Tv Threshold episode; it is the episode you have to watch up to in order to really understand the show.  The 10th Doctor finds himself and his companions on a derelict space ship that has all of these strange doors that lead to 18th century France.  There, the Doctor encounters a girl who sets them on an epic encounter with a terrifying adversary.  It is a touching and tragic tale that will stay with you after it ends.

2.  "Blink" (3x10)

This is an exceptionally good episode for non-fans to watch because the episode has the 10th Doctor as a supporting character.  Sally Sparrow finds herself in a strange and scary adventure involving one of the scariest creatures in Doctor Who history: the Weeping Angels.  Our hero has to solve a strange non-linear puzzle in order to save herself and possibly the world.  But the Weeping Angels are always present and create a fantastic sense of terror throughout the entire episode.

1.  "Silence of the Library/ Forest of the Dead." (4x08-4x09)

Not only is the best episode for non-fans, it is the best episode of the series.  This two-parter introduces us Professor River Song and one of the most consequential relationships in the entire Doctor Who cannon.  It also explains to us why we have a primal fear of the dark: because we are not alone.  The story is an emotional rollercoaster, alternately funny, scary, sad, and heartwarming.  It is everything that a Doctor Who episode can and should do and would serve as a great introduction into this wonderful world of the Doctor.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Film Flash: A Simple Plan

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Vile, perverse, nihilistic, boring, ugly, and stupid. Paul Feig is disturbed. Worse than his Ghostbusters.

image by Yasir72.multan

Film Flash: The Predator

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Better than Predator 2. Predators was better, but The Predator was more fun.

image by Yasir72.multan

Tuesday, September 11, 2018



Absolute Horror.

Horror met with Heroes.

Heroes to the end.

17 years ago.

Never Forget.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Sunday Best: 2018 Summer Box Office Review

Summer Movie Season has come and gone once again.  And what is our conclusion?

In terms of box office success, it was a mixed bag.  Movies took in about 14% more from last year in terms of money, but attendance was down to the second worst in 25 years.    

Before I go further, there were a number of movies that I did not get a chance to see, so I cannot speak intelligently about them.  

In terms of box office, the top 10 highest grossing films of the summer are as follows (I am going to make a projection that Mission Impossible - Fallout will make at least $2 million more and pull ahead of  Ant-Man and the Wasp and that Crazy Rich Asians will make another $3 million and beat out the current 10th place film Ocean's 8):

1. Avengers: Infinity War
2. Incredibles 2
3. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
4. Deadpool 2
5. Mission: Impossible - Fallout
6. Ant-Man and the Wasp
7.  Solo: A Star Wars Story
8. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
9. Crazy Rich Asians
10. Ocean's 8

My predictions were as follows (along with my rationale):

1.  Avengers: Infinity War

Even though Age of Ultron did not win the summer box office, I think build up to this one is unprecedented and they are spring-boarding for the biggest hit of the year so far: Black Panther

2.  Solo: A Star Wars Story
Solo A Star Wars Story poster.jpg

The last three Star Wars movies released in theaters were the highest grossing films of their year.  But between the blowback on the last two and the rumors about this one, I think this will get a healthy silver medal.

3.  The Incredibles 2

Finding Dory was a PIXAR sequel that ruled the summer box office a few years ago.  I think that The Incredibles has the same level of appeal.

4.  Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.png

There hadn't been a Jurassic movie for decades until the first Jurassic World.  So I don't think this one will have the same draw, but it will be significant because of the brand name and Chris Pratt.

5.  Deadpool 2
Deadpool 2 poster.jpg
This, I think, will be the only R-rated film on this list.  The first one engendered a lot of good-will from its fan base and I think this one will perform very well too.

6.  Ant-Man and the Wasp
Ant-Man and the Wasp poster.jpg

I think that Infinity War will be such a big hit that people will be thirsting for any window into the aftermath in the MCU.  This will raise this movie up in potential box office.

7.  Disney's Christopher Robin
Christopher Robin poster.png
Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast were gigantic live-action hits based on animated films.  And there is so much affection for Pooh in the general culture that I think that even adults will be drawn to the heart of this story.

8.  Mission: Impossible - Fallout

MI – Fallout.jpg
The last one in the series was the 5th highest grossing film of the summer it came out.  The competition is a little bit more fierce this year and Cruise may have to pick himself up out of the bomb of last year's The Mummy.

9.  Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Hotel Transylvania 3 (2018) Poster.jpg

This will be the all-ages alternative to The Incredibles.  I don't think that many adults will be interested in this like The Incredibles, but parents would be fine bringing their kids here.

10.  Ocean's 8

This movie looks like an actually fun heist movie and exciting enough to draw in a crowd.  So far the marketing campaign hasn't been antagonistic like the reboot ofGhostbusters.  If they maintain that good will, I think this will be a hit.


Last year I got 8 out of 10 correct.  This year I improved to 9 out of ten.  I did even better on the order, though Solo underperforming and Mission:Impossible over-performing caused a lot of fluctuation.

So here are my conclusions.

Marvel/Disney did phenomanally well.  Two MCU movies are in the top 10 (one of which is the highest grosser), a Fox/Marvel film also made the top 10 (Deadpool 2) and two more Disney films made it in the top 10 (Solo and Incredibles 2) . So fully half of the top 10 are related in some way to Marvel/Disney, even though one was a dissapointment (more on this later)

2. Franchise Films
Only Crazy Rich Asians is the non-franchise film in the top 10.  Critics constantly complain about the glut of franchise films, but they clearly are a safer bet at the box office if you build up good-will with the audience.  Many franchises did some of their best numbers this summer with Infinity War and Mission: Impossible.  Even the horrible Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again has made about $120 million so far.

3.  Tom Cruise
Last year, people were lamenting the bomb of Cruise's The Mummy (a movie that I actually enjoyed very much).  But those writing his box office obituary have egg on their face now.  The 6th M:I not only was a fantastic film, it was the highest grossing in the franchise.  Not to mention it was, in my opinion, the best of the series.  This movie is exactly the shot in the arm Cruise needed after last year to put him back on top.

4.  Crazy Rich Asians
The only film I didn't predict to make it into the top 10.  This was the summer's sleeper hit.  It has outgrossed the nearest film in the genre of Rom Com this summer (Amy Schumer's I Feel Pretty) by about $100 million.  As I wrote in my review the film opens the audience up to a fascinating world while feeling familiar and universal.  With a assumed budget of $30 million, this is a bonafide money-maker.


1.  Star Wars
I loved Solo, but it clearly disappointed at the box office.  I place the blame not on this fun and charming film, but on the previous two Star Wars films that soured so many people on the franchise.  This does not bode well for future films in the Saga.  We will have to see how Episode IX does and if it can recover from this.

2.  Other Comedies

Besides Crazy Rich Asians,  very few full-out comedies did well.  Raunchy comedies like Blockers and The Spy Who Dumped Me as well as more traditional comedies like Life of the Party couldn't get more than $60 million.  None of them can quite crack through to general audiences.  Because comedy is so subjective, perhaps someone needs to come along who has built up enough audience good will to draw them in.  

3.  Dwayne Johnson

I hesitate to call him a "loser," but the last two summers have been disappointments.  Last year's Baywatch failed to catch on.  And this year, Johnson had two big profile films come out Rampage and Skyscraper.  And while they did moderately well, neither were able to cross $100 million domestic (as of this writing).  Even though his foreign box office is strong, his star power is not enough to catapult his numbers higher.  He is still a draw and if given the right material, he can help make a genuine hit (see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle).  But he needs a vehicle that will with make his movies an event in the same way Cruise did with Mission: Impossible.  

I'll be finishing up my summer movie reviews soon, but there was a lot of hit or miss this year.  

Here's the thing: I want to go to the movies.  I am willing to spend my hard-earned dollars to be taken away inside of a darkened theater.   But if you don't give me a good quality, I will save my money and binge-watch Stranger Things Season 3.

But in terms of ranking by quality, here are the rankings of the summer movies I saw in 2018.

Avengers: Infinity War
Mission:Impossible - Fallout
Incredibles 2
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Deadpool 2
Disney's Christopher Robin
Crazy Rich Asians
The Equalizer 2
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Ocean's 8
The Spy Who Dumped Me
The Meg
Mamma Mia!  Here We Go Again
Life of the Party