The 10 Most Surprisingly Good Movies of 2018 (So Far)

6. Teen Titans Go! to the Movies

Teen Titans Go! to the Movies

For how lighthearted the original Teen Titans series is, you’d be surprised by how vicious the fans are. Following the release of the spin-off series, stars and producers received death threats from the unusually grumpy devotees.

To be fair, it was quite the departure from the old series. Teen Titans Go! revived the series with a cutesy art style and a larger focus on situational comedy. They kept the humor but removed most of the action and almost all of the drama. To this day, the Teen Titans Go! television series has been almost universally reviled by anyone over the age of ten. With that in mind, who really expected the theatrical movie to be any better than the rest of the series?

Somehow, against all odds, Teen Titans Go! to the Movies is an engaging and lighthearted superhero movie that’s well worth the time commitment. Thanks to a seamless blend of humor that appeals to both children and adults, this movie refuses to act as a mere babysitter. With its surprisingly smart meta-humor, adults may finally have a chance to enjoy the spin-off series they were so quick to dismiss.

Sure, there’s the occasional fart joke, but these aren’t nearly as common as the clever jabs at just about every superhero movie there is. Sure, we’ve seen this kind of humor before in Deadpool and The LEGO Batman Movie, but Teen Titans Go! to the Movies still has plenty of clever things to say.

While the movie is still lacking the maturity of the original Teen Titans cartoon, it nevertheless offers several things that can’t be found in either series. Whip-smart jokes, surprising cameos, and gorgeous animation all add something to an experience that shouldn’t be half as fun as it is. Haters have probably already dismissed the movie, but they shouldn’t. There’s a special surprise just for them, after all.


7. Blockers


Feminist comedy movies, when done correctly, are awesome. The problem is that these movies are oftentimes handled poorly, which results in a middling experience. Remember I Feel Pretty from earlier this year? Neither does anyone else.

The problem with Blockers wasn’t the concept. This isn’t surprisingly good because the team miraculously handled a silly premise. No, it’s on this list because the trailer painted this out to be a by-the-numbers raunchy comedy that put a little too much of the spotlight on the adults instead of the teenagers who are meant to be the focal point of the story.

Thankfully, the folks that marketed this movie are the only ones who did a poor job, but who can blame them? They needed to sell tickets, and John Cena is more likely to sell tickets than a trio of young adult actresses.

The movie itself, thank the lord, appropriately balances the teenagers and the adults, which results in a moviegoing experience that’s both funny and quite insightful. Nobody is going to come into Blockers expecting 12 Years a Slave, so it’s impressive that this silly R-rated comedy can offer something other than dick jokes. Basically, there’s a whole lot of heart here.

This doesn’t mean that the movie is lacking in raunchy humor. There are plenty of top-notch dick jokes. Luckily, there are also plenty of heartfelt messages about parenting and the daily struggles adolescents face. Again, Blockers isn’t going to win any Oscars, but remember what this list is about. It’s not about movies that are life-changing. It’s about movies that are far better than they looked. This flick certainly fits the criteria.


8. The Cleanse

Oftentimes, these kinds of lists tend to avoid low-budget indie movies because there isn’t enough marketing to really get a gauge on whether or not they’ll be worth watching.

The Cleanse fits this list because the trailers made it seem like an overly quirky and tonally confused Gremlins knock-off with an undeniable identity crisis. To make matters worse, the miniscule budget, which is clearly visible in the trailer, gave off quite the B-movie vibe. Overall, The Cleanse just came across as a mixed bag from the very beginning.

Let’s begin with the bad news: the movie does occasionally have the tonal inconsistencies that seemed to plague the trailer. It tries to balance comedy, horror, and social commentary into too short of a timespan to be completely successful. It leans pretty heavily toward comedy in the beginning only to hurriedly switch to a darker tone during the latter half. It doesn’t work as well as it could have, but it works well enough to be forgivable.

It’s easy to forgive this sizeable issue because of how unique everything feels. This is more than a modern take on Gremlins. It’s also a poignant take on mental health and the lengths people will go to “cure” whatever problems come their way.

Combined with the occasional dose of comedy, The Cleanse is a film that’s greater than the sum of its parts. There are several flaws that are pretty easy to spot within the first half-hour, but it would be unfair to say these are inexcusable. On the contrary, they have a tendency to add to the experience. Seeing how all the mismatched pieces come together is half the battle here. Don’t pay too much attention to the minor shortcomings.


9. Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8 is either a disappointment or a pleasant surprise depending on who you ask. It’s a disappointment for people who believed the all-star cast of actresses would lead to a movie on par with Ocean’s Eleven.

It’s a pleasant surprise for the many cynics who were quick to dub it a disaster because of the new characters and lack of involvement from Soderbergh. Ocean’s 8 is both better than it looks and worse than it should be. It’s something of an enigma in that regard, but it belongs on this list nonetheless.

Gary Ross is incapable of writing a story as fun and exciting as Soderbergh’s first crack at the franchise. Ocean’s 8 is lacking in high stakes and big ideas, but it makes up for that with a winning cast and consistently engaging dialogue.

It also benefits from an undeniable level of polish that’s missing from both Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen. There are obviously going to be things found in the original trilogy that Ross can’t properly replicate, but he is able to provide viewers with a solid amount of heist movie entertainment with forgivable flaws.

Forgivable as these flaws may be, there will be people who just can’t get into this fresh-faced take on the franchise, and that’s okay. There will also be people who refuse to give the movie a chance, and that’s a little less okay. This is definitely worth a look because it offers a lot of the fun the series is known for, even if there are some unfortunate flaws along the way. It’s not going to revitalize the formula, but it’s a fun time at the movies regardless.


10. The First Purge

The First Purge

This may be a controversial choice considering the fairly average reviews being thrown its way, but remember that this is just one list by one person. This particular author believes that the fourth movie in The Purge series should be borderline unwatchable at this point.

It has been fascinating to see the franchise defy expectations following the poorly received first movie, but it’s even more fascinating to see that the folks responsible for these movies still have some original ideas five years later.

The First Purge earns its spot on this list not because it’s a horror masterpiece but because it belongs to a series that somehow improves with each subsequent installment. This one may be the best of the bunch.

For those who have taken a peak at review scores, The First Purge has basically gotten the same kinds of reviews as the last two movies. All three of The Purge sequels are sitting in the fifties on both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. Critics have found that the lack of subtlety undermines any attempt at social commentary. That being said, they have a tendency to find the films to be irresistibly fun.

The First Purge narrowly improves upon its predecessors because, lack of subtlety aside, it does have more to say about society as a whole. It’s not as smart as it thinks it is, but it actually has some insightful things to say for once. This is excellent news because the visceral thrills are still very much present.

The First Purge keeps the gleeful violence the franchise is known for while injecting some themes that actually feel rather important during these times of divided political opinions.

So with all of that in mind, one thing should be kept in mind: The First Purge still fails to live up to all of its potential. After all, there are a lot of fascinating ideas infused into this franchise. However, no viewer is expecting the fourth movie in any series to completely reinvigorate the formula. The fact that this movie can still pull a few surprise punches may just be enough.