As far as the movie calendar goes, February is like the first person of the opposite sex to show you some genuine interest and charm after a messy break-up. Your previous suitor (January) was messy, cold, and underwhelming in just about every way, breaking your heart into many, many pieces with pummeling mediocrity (and a slew of terrible movies).
But then the calendar shifts to February where everything seems a little better. There’s quality all around, and you have a few more smiles at the theater now that Hollywood is done dumping its trash for the time being. It’s like when an attractive boy or girl makes eye contact with you from across the room which later facilitates a slightly flirtatious and fun conversation. You’re on high alert after the past pain, but things are good, and you’re going to see where this road takes you.
Okay, enough extended analogies. The point is, February was a pretty good month in film. Let’s get to it:
#3: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
The Hidden World is the capper on what is one of the more impressive trilogies of the last few years. Though it failed mightily to keep its title format in line — go back to numbering your sequels, Hollywood! — it succeeded in bringing closure to a wonderful world with wonderful characters in it.
One of the more impressive pieces of this series has been Dreamworks’ stunning animation, which somehow continued to improve with this film. The landscapes bordered on photorealistic with bright color and a sense of elegance. Great, great stuff, animation team!
You love these characters, and it’s so wonderful to see them get a solid conclusion with considerable stakes.
*To read the site’s review of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, please click here.
#2: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
It’s hard to live up to a shockingly great film, but The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part somehow manages to stay fresh and inventive by doubling down on the plastic brick insanity. I didn’t know I wanted raptors playing tennis in my life, but I do now! (In fact, I need it.)
If I were made a producer, which would be an awful idea by my hypothetical superiors because I would green-light some WEIRD films, I would give Phil Lord and Chris Miller a blank check at this point, because everything they touch turns into hilarious gold. They have such great imaginations and understandings of popular culture; every project is yet another dose of salt on the still open wound left from Solo. (I will forever be bitter that we didn’t get to see a $200 million, meta Star Wars movie.)
*To read the site’s review of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, please click here.
#1: Fighting With My Family
Many are calling Fighting With My Family one of the first legitimately great movies of the year. With the underrated Stephen Merchant behind the camera and heavy involvement from none other than The Rock, it’s easy to see why.
We get a lot of underdog movies…and a lot of underdog sports movies. At this point, this kind of movie probably can’t do something revolutionary, but it can change the particulars around to make the entire effort worthwhile. Fighting With My Family takes all the usual tropes — the troubled family dynamics, being an outsider, earning others’ respect, etc. — and adds wonderful little touches to each of them for everything to feel real. Generic is not part of this movie’s vocabulary. (And not a single ham-fisted attempt at a love interest! Amazing!)
Specificity makes stories universal. I hope other filmmakers are taking notes from this one.
*To read the site’s full review of Fighting With My Family, please click here.
In Case You (Or I) Missed It
February was a wonderfully deep month in terms of entertainment with many films providing their own version of quality. Here’s a few more that made me smile:
High Flying Bird
Steven Soderbergh continues his use of iPhone cameras in a small-scale, play-like film about an NBA Lockout to great effect. I think there’s still a lot to improve upon in telling a story this way, but you can certainly see where it’s headed.
This is arguably Soderbergh’s most emotionally present film in quite some time as the wickedly talented André Holland and Zazie Beetz get to flex their muscles as the headliners of a very fun cast. High Flying Bird won’t change your life, but it’s clearly well-constructed.
Though it may be difficult for some to put aside Liam Neeson’s recent troubling comments about his personal life, Cold Pursuit is a solidly crafted film with plenty of memorable characters and moments which go beyond the typical Neeson shoot-’em-up. I appreciate how it relaxes and takes time to showcase all these characters and their quirks, which causes the tone to shift in ways that is always delightful.
This is NOT Polar, the other cold-themed movie starring Mads Mikkelsen that is just the worst. Arctic is a simple survival story that is told to great effect. There aren’t saccharine ties to the main character’s past life that weigh down the film; it’s all about a man’s quest for life, and that’s enough to make it worthwhile.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on the best movies of February 2019? Comment down below!
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