Into the Spider-Verse Swings to the Top


The Golden Globes have come and gone, and the winner for Best Animated Picture (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) has been crowned. With new, big-ticket animated movies like Frozen 2 on the horizon for 2019, it’s time to look back at the best–and worst–animated movies to hit cinemas in 2018.

The Top:

Number One – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Those who haven’t seen the newest entry in the Spider-Man franchise may wonder why this movie has been crowned the “Best Animated Picture” of 2018. Those who have seen it know exactly why it won that honor.

Into the Spider-Verse combines snappy writing with stylish, evocative animation and slick city environments. The urban environment of New York is a vibrant backdrop for Miles Morales’ rise as his universe’s Spider-Man, bright and peppy one moment and dark, flashing neon the next. Sony has already begun patenting the technology used to make this film, a brilliant blend of 2D and CGI animation that sets a new and very high bar for computer-generated animation as a whole. Into the Spider-Verse’s cast of characters is immediately charming, combining both humor and humanity, and its twists leave the viewers perched on the edges of their seats.

Many already consider this movie the best Spider-Man movie of all time–with apologies to the wonderful Tom Holland of Spider-Man: Homecoming fame, of course.

Reviewer Rating: 10/10


Number Two – Isle of Dogs

The number two animated film of 2018 is not for children, but animation as a whole should not be considered a “childish” art form in the first place. Isle of Dogs, directed by visionary Wes Anderson, is the story of a boy who is willing to sacrifice everything–his position in the eyes of his family and friends, his health, and his chance at an ordinary life–to save the dogs he loves, who have been banned from his city. The film uses stylish and, at times, eerie and violent images to evoke strong emotion in the viewer, along with a witty script characteristic of most of Anderson’s films.

Those who enjoy films like Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, or Wes Anderson’s previous animated movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox, will fall in love with this unusual yet alluring film about something everyone can relate to: absolutely loving dogs.

Reviewer Rating: 9/10


Number Three – The Incredibles 2

While The Incredibles 2 doesn’t quite hit the same mark as its famous predecessor, it’s still one of the most fun, action-packed, and heartwarming family films of 2018. While its animation, unlike the top two films, is pretty average for a big-studio CGI film, it is still an aesthetically pleasing movie with hilarious writing and excellently handled subplots.

Lovers of the original film will enjoy seeing Helen–or, rather, Elastigirl–fight in a dramatic train-chase scene, and throw down with a very menacing villain, the “Screen-slaver.” Jack-Jack, the baby of the family, also has a sizable role in this movie, as the super-powerful and very unpredictable newest superhero on the team.

The plot, while a bit formulaic, has an excellent twist in the third act, and its new characters are a well-designed treat to look at.

Reviewer Score: 7.5/10


The Bottom:


Number Three: Hotel Transylvania 3

This movie is the third installment in the Hotel Transylvania series, and definitely the worst. It isn’t offensively bad, like the next two movies picked for the list, but it is unnecessary at best and unfunny at worst during its hit-or-miss 97-minute run time. Hotel Transylvania 3’s fast pacing and bright colors are good for keeping small children interested, but adults and teenagers will probably find it obnoxious and repetitive.

Watch it on a rainy day–or don’t. This film is just okay.

Reviewer Score: 5.5/10


Number Two: The Grinch

At first glance, success would seem inevitable for a Grinch film with its titular character voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, the smooth-voiced British actor who voiced villains like Smaug in The Hobbit and heroes like Doctor Strange. However, the creators of the film completely undercut any excellence this film could have achieved by lowering the script to cheap gags and making the Grinch, who was once an entertaining, evil character, into an extremely ordinary, if somewhat spiteful, guy.

The film isn’t awful. The animation is very smooth and festive, with Christmas cheer dripping out of every frame, and the dog Max is adorable as ever. Unfortunately, unnecessary characters, scenes, and songs bog the movie down, and every bit of filler tests the watcher’s patience. While cute and quirky at times, the film fails as a whole, and come on–Benedict Cumberbatch should have used an evil British accent, at least!

Reviewer Score: 5/10


Number One: Sherlock Gnomes

This movie instills in me an emotion stronger than disgust. No viewer of the far superior previous movie, Gnomeo and Juliet, could feel that this sequel should exist in any way, shape, or form. While most of the film is just intolerably dull and boring, some especially awful moments shake me so deeply that I question why any just and merciful higher power would allow this movie to exist, much less hit theaters.

The original film, Gnomeo and Juliet, is a retelling of Shakespeare’s most famous play with garden gnomes from two different yards playing the characters. It is a surprising, yet fairly funny film, with enough wit and references to carry it to its conclusion without too much tediousness. Sherlock Gnomes is the result of one unsuccessful pun involving garden gnomes trying to follow up a more successful movie based on a pun about garden gnomes, and it has all the momentum of a rusting, stationary lawn ornament.

The only moment in this film that does not feel like an FBI interrogation technique used to extract information from prisoners is the brief, 2D animated sequence in which Sherlock Gnomes himself visualizes the problem he’s trying to solve in his head. The animation in this scene is so crisp and creative that I wished that the whole film could be in that style, and not about lawn gnomes. I wished it could be just a story about Sherlock Holmes solving mysteries. Be warned: this single bright spot is NOT worth the rest of the film. Look up the “mind palace” clip on Youtube if you wish to see the only decent part of Sherlock Gnomes.

To those who still wish to see it, I leave you with just a few choice details of this movie:

  • Gnome in thong
  • Extended scene where a gnome kisses a frog
  • Twerking gnome dance line
  • Gnome in thong
  • Thirty fart jokes
  • A character saying “No SHIP, Sherlock!” as though it’s actually funny
  • Gnome in thong
  • Multiple gnomes dabbing, for no reason
  • A random, racist depiction of a Chinese salt shaker, who speaks in broken English.
  • Oh, hey, did I mention the gnome in the thong? Because for some reason, the filmmakers wanted to include:
  • Gnome in thong.

Reviewer Rating: 2/10