Oliver has written 32 reviews for films rated ★★★ during 2018.

  • Oldboy

    Oldboy

    ★★★

    The problem with Oldboy is that instead of being an exciting or emotionally gratifying revenge thriller, it becomes cumbersome when it tries to be profound and philosophical—containing a confusing, ineffective narrative that does not translate its ideas well into film. It is also morally unsound, and while its story does not seem to be justified for the film’s message, even the excellent performances are overshadowed by a confusing plot and an unsurprising twist, which is a crucial mistake in a film that relies so heavily on its reveal.

  • Solo: A Star Wars Story

    Solo: A Star Wars Story

    ★★★

    Ron Howard is successful at bringing the Star Wars stories to a satisfying conclusion that makes up for its sometimes tedious and rationally predictable but occasionally entertaining plot with enough competence across the board—featuring some solid performances and an adept combination of cinematography and visual effects to make for an easygoing movie experience.

  • Ready Player One

    Ready Player One

    ★★★

    Ready Player One is mildly entertaining thanks to its colorful visuals and plethora of pop culture references while still being flawed due to a superfluity of exposition and a harmless narrative but most notably a surprising lack of logic when it comes to developing a compelling universe and coherent plot.

  • A Simple Favor

    A Simple Favor

    ★★★

    A quirky and fairly entertaining neo-noir full of wit; a clever, stylish direction from Paul Feig; and some solid acting, but where it suffers mainly is in its fast pace and rapid-fire dialogue that makes the film even more confusing than it should be and less tense than it could be.

  • Anatomy of a Murder

    Anatomy of a Murder

    ★★★

    Although it should set a record for being enormously tedious at times, this is still an interesting courtroom drama bolstered by a sharp script and a a talented cast—with James Stewart giving the most noteworthy performance as a humble but passionate lawyer.

  • Enemy

    Enemy

    ★★★

    With a starkly intricate and thought-provoking narrative, excellent cinematography, and impressive mise-en-scène, this mature and mind-bending exercise into a troubled man’s subconscious mind showcases yet another strong performance by Gyllenhaal. Yet it is curious to see such a complex and fascinating story with such a tense atmosphere become tiresome in the end with allusions that draw little resemblance to reality and eventually become unavailing and dull. However, this is a good example of what fine art looks like.

  • Enemy

    Enemy

    ★★★

    A slow-burning, mature mind-bender containing an unusual but engaging story that leaves you guessing until the end, only to finally leave you wondering what it all meant. But even after thorough investigation, the final result is more admirable than interesting.

  • Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

    Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

    ★★★

    An explosive, tragic, and occasionally enraging documentary that should undoubtedly be an essential viewing for everyone, as these are the kinds of stories that need to be told. But the rapid-fire pacing and projected self-importance can make it exhausting to watch, if not tedious, and forgettable after it’s over.

  • Hardcore Henry

    Hardcore Henry

    ★★★

    It may be an incredibly unique film in its own right, boasting terrific stunt choreography while also containing an engaging plot full of suspense, but it fails to deliver an emotionally satisfying story, and the final result is ultimately contrived and uninspired—with a seemingly pointless narrative. On the other hand, it is successful at being an entertaining, action-packed thrill ride shot entirely like a first-person shooter video game.

  • The Devil's Rejects

    The Devil's Rejects

    ★★★

    It’s a ridiculous, over-the-top grindhouse B-movie with grueling violence and heavy vulgarity, but it also proves to be unexpectedly engaging with a storyline denser than paper-thin and is usually entertaining on its own merits while also being a (supposedly) superior sequel to the “atrocious” House of 1000 Corpses. Still, the final product is easily dismissed for its despicable protagonists that challenge the viewer’s morality, and the film makes a trade for style over substance in its consequently overlong conclusion.

  • The Meg

    The Meg

    ★★★

    The Meg is a B-movie creature feature that would’ve benefited from an R rating, and despite being predictable and fairly clichéd, it is often a joy to watch thanks to a narrative that isn’t downright stupid and does actually make sense as well as Jason Statham’s ferocious performance that works well because he also knows not to take himself—or the rest of the film—seriously.

  • Eighth Grade

    Eighth Grade

    ★★★

    Bo Burnham’s impressive directorial debut is an unexpectedly raw, atypical character study featuring a phenomenal performance by a young Elsie Fisher in what is a tough sit-through that is borderline exempt from all previous coming-of-age tropes and will likely stir up inside an undesirable taste of bitterness and uncertainty, but that seems to be what Eighth Grade so desperately yearns for.