Review: Holiday Release Recap

‘Anna and the Apocalypse’ is a zombie musical that you’ll be singing along to in no time.

So many movies come out at any given time that it is hard to keep track of all of them. This is especially true around the holiday season.

Sometimes you may miss out on seeing the next classic in theaters and must wait months for it to come out on Blu-ray, either because of money or you just do not realize that a certain movie actually came out.

That is where this article comes in. This is a rapid-fire review of nine movies that either came out earlier in 2018 that you may have missed or came out around the holiday season that you may want to check out, in no particular order.

‘Fantastic Beasts and The Crimes of Grindelwald’

“Fantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald” is the second movie in the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise. A prequel to the Harry Potter films, starring Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander and his case of magical creatures.

The main focus of this second chapter is a hunt for a powerful obscurus, a dark and parasitic force, inside a young man named Credence, played by Ezra Miller. Many different groups want to get a hold of him and use him for their own agendas.

It is an interesting and compelling premise, but it falls short of gold. The first half is very slow and dialogue heavy, meaning there’s not a lot of action. For a Harry Potter fan, these scenes will be fun to find all the hidden meanings and Easter eggs, but other than that, nothing really happens.

After the first half, the movie starts to pick up, and when it does, it is great. Johnny Depp delivers such a creepy character in his portrayal of Gellert Grindelwald that he makes you compelled to learn more. However, you can feel that this is nothing but filler, and thus it feels incomplete.


DC has had a hard time with their movie universe, relying too much on dark plots, slow motion and trying to compete with Marvel. “Aquaman,” however, is a step in the right direction that will hopefully continue.

It is the story of a man who can talk to fish, but it is so much more than that. Jason Momoa, who plays Aquaman, and Amber Heard, who plays Princess Mera, just have fun with their roles, and the movie acknowledges its weird factor and takes control of it.

People riding sharks, weird giant crabs and amazing action set pieces all add to the appeal of this superhero movie. Instead of quick cuts like Marvel movies, the action is set up to look like it was taken in one long shot and it looks beautiful.

If they continue down this path and take things from both “Aquaman” and “Wonder Woman,” then the DC Extended Universe could stand a chance to be great.

‘Mary Poppins Returns’

“Mary Poppins Returns” reminds viewers what it was like to be a kid. Magical adventures and having a blast abound in this distant sequel.

Emily Blunt delivers a great Mary Poppins, though nothing can beat the original. Lin-Manuel Miranda also delivers a strong performance as a lamp lighter.

Together with the children of the children from the original movie, they go on an adventure to save their home from the bank. The music and the sets are fun-filled and beautiful.

A couple of the songs will get stuck in your head, and that is not a bad thing.

‘Anna and the Apocalypse’

“Anna and the Apocalypse” is another musical, but this one has a strange premise. It’s a musical that takes place during a zombie apocalypse.

Sounds weird, but it just works. The songs are upbeat and catchy, the movie is funny and the characters are strong.

This is not a very well known movie, as it’s an indie film from the U.K. that is just arriving here. If you get a chance to see it, you really should. The music will for sure get stuck in your head and will never leave.


The Transformers movie franchise is known for large explosions and CGI and not so much for the characters or heart. However, “Bumblebee” changes that.

Think of it as a live-action “Iron Giant.” The movie is all about childhood, as well as protecting an alien robot from the government and evil alien robots, so maybe not a typical childhood.

This acts as a prequel of sorts to the Michael Bay movies, but under a new director and style. The Transformers look similar to the animated show instead of the overly complicated ones in the Bay films.

Hailee Steinfeld delivers a great performance despite her main co-star being completely CGI. This is a movie for both Transformers and non-Transformers fans to enjoy, though if you only watch it for the explosions, there are considerably less here.

‘Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom’

“Fallen Kingdom” was needlessly bashed by critics when it came out. If people are expecting in-depth plots with deep characters, they are watching the wrong franchise.

“Fallen Kingdom” is the second Jurassic World movie, or fifth Jurassic Park movie, and it feels like all the others: giant dinosaurs eating people and the people trying to survive.

Yet it shares more in common with “Jurassic World” because it is the direct sequel. It continues the genetic modifying (never a good idea) that was in the first.

“Fallen Kingdom” marks the end of an era since the first half of the movie is all about a volcano destroying the island we have been with since 1993. Then the movie spends the second half setting up the next era for the Jurassic franchise, an era that looks to be different, but similar and very intriguing.

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

Probably one of the most heartfelt animated movies in some time, it is all about alternate realities and all these different Spider-Men (and women and pigs) converging to stop Kingpin.

Each “spider person” comes from a different background with their own problems and variation of powers. The main focus is on Miles Morales and alternate reality Peter Parker helping him become who he is meant to be.

The animation style is beautiful with some shots looking like they came straight from a comic book. Most of the movie looks like it is a comic book thrown onto the screen, and that is great.

‘Mortal Engines’

Have you ever wanted a unique take on the post-apocalyptic genre? “Mortal Engines” is that unique take.

This movie is all about cities on wheels and a fight for resources. It’s over the top, and the soundtrack is stellar.

The first 10 minutes are the best first 10 minutes in a film in a long time. The cities are beautifully realized, and the world is intriguing.

The characters aren’t top tier, but the spectacle surely is. Sadly, we most likely won’t see any more of this world because it did not do very well at the box office, so enjoy this while it lasts.

‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’

This is not the sequel that “Wreck-It Ralph” deserved. It is kind of like ‘The Emoji Movie,” but done a little better.

The logical next step for the crew in the first one was to go to the internet apparently, but by doing so it left everything that made the first one great behind. That isn’t to say this movie can’t be enjoyable because it can be.

The movie has some great scenes with heart, and the Disney princesses are wonderful, but compared to the first one it falls short. There are Easter eggs and references everywhere if you know where to look, but it seems that may be the only true purpose of this movie.

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