26 March 2012

Good and Bad of 2011: Movies - Vol. 5

Welcome to Day 5 of 6, the last of the movie chronicling. I've given accolades, I've listed my favorite ten flicks of 2011, and now it's time to discuss the really shitty productions of last year, the ones I don't have a place for, and the flicks I'm really looking forward to in the coming months.
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The SHAMEful Side of 2011

Green Lantern
This movie has not aged well. Just the other day, Green Lantern began airing on HBO, and I decided to sit back, relax, and take it all in. After all, my original review was critical but forgiving, having found myself enjoying the narrative despite it's miscast of Hal Jordan and poor handling. Now, I look at nearly every frame of this movie, and I see what could be improved, what should be changed, etc. Hell, the whole damn movie needs to be retooled, starting from the ground up: the screenplay is absolutely, faceplam-worthy horrible. I don't want to get into specifics, because I'll be writing all day, but what I'm just going to say is that characterization is non-existent, or at best thinly drawn. Additionally, Ryan Reynolds is not Hal Jordan. The story is weak and unspectacular. The special effects needs lots of tweaking, although I will give the creators credit for trying something new. Basically everything about this movie needs help in one way or another, and it's unfortunate that Green Lantern was thrown into theaters in this state, effectively destroying its ability to leave a good impression on audiences and, for that matter, franchise possibilities. Oh well. I hope this isn't the last we get of Green Lantern, but if that's the case, something major needs to happen with the next one to pull people in, because that's what it's going to take to make people interested after this. [Review Here]

Shark Night 3D
1999, Mall of America, at the age of 9, I sat in a movie theater and was scared as hell by the Mako sharks of Renny Harlin's Deep Blue Sea. I was terrified, but oddly enough, that cemented my long brewing fascination and love for sharks. By that age I was already a Creature Feature Connoisseur [e.g., Carnosaur, Crocodile, Alligator, Octopus, etc.), so I devoured those nifty animals-on-the-loose flicks that showed on Sci-Fi Channel often. I'm saying this so you understand that I had semi-high hope for Shark Night 3D. Every inch of me felt that this was going to be a disaster, absolute horrible rubbish, but I also foolishly clung on hope that in this day of age with big special effects and decent 3D in gory horror flicks, that this might be a fun adventure. I was wrong. It took many days for the hatred I felt for the people involved in this 'movie' to alleviate - it's still there, sorta - but I can now come to terms with how much money I wasted for the 3D glasses, and how much money was wasted by the studio bringing this piece of shit to the big screen. This wasn't the return of Creature Features as I had really wanted, this was the extinction of hope that there was any chance of good animal/creature-on-the-loose coming out anytime soon. Fuck you, Shark Night. [Review Here]

Hangover Part II
Entertain me. That's all I wanted. The Hangover didn't wow me back in 2009 like it seemed to most all the kids my age. It had a few chuckle-worthy moments, but not a movie worth all the applause and accolades. So here we have Hangover Part II, which had a lot of pre-buzz because, obviously, the success of the first one. I saw it, expecting to be entertained, like I said at the beginning. I was not entertained. Not even a little. I did not chuckle. I found no humor in this comedy. Now, as for the complaints about sameness, yes, this movie is highly guilty of that. What I expected was the same premise, that these dudes don't remember what the hell happened last night. Okay, we got that. But after that bit, I expected the movie to deviate, defy expectations, go crazy routes that would be laugh-out-loud funny. Instead, the humor was right on track for sixth graders, and the film's content really does feel like a regurgitation of scenes and even dialogue from the first. Bring some damn intelligence to the equation, guys. Because this doesn't work. [Review Here]

Sucker Punch
My roommate can confirm: I was soooooo looking forward to Sucker Punch. Just look at the trailer! What an amazing trailer! And Vanessa Hudgens, Vanessa Hudgens is going to be in the movie! And dragons! There are dragons! And...big...samurai...bad guy thingies... Whatever, point is, I was curious how everything was going to be connected, and I was highly looking forward to the fight scenes. I love me some fight scenes, especially sci-fi/fantasy fight scenes. And then that thing happens where you see the movie you've been looking forward to, and it disappoints you to no end. Nothing mattered here. The fights - well, they're all happening in her head, everything pretty much was happening in her head as a method of escape from reality. Nothing mattered. So why should we care? There wasn't a real emotional stake in the whole damn thing, not even when the other girls got involved. Hell, Zack Snyder even made action scenes seem boring and far too long. Action scenes! That should be an impossibility, guys and gals. What Sucker Punch is, is an mess. One, big, sloppy, enormous mess. [Review Here]

I Am Number Four
Alfred Gough and Miles Miller, writers of this wonderful teen superhero epic, took everything bad they did during their tenure writing a young Superman in The WB's Smallville, and put it on the big screen for all the world to see. Every nanosecond of I Am Number Four is a message to aspiring writers: "this is NOT how you write a superhero movie, let alone something resembling a movie." I don't want to waste another second on this piece of garbage, other than to say: big pile of stupid soulless, mindless shit.

Your Highness
Look at that adorable face. Right there, on that frame, James Franco is enjoying himself far more than I did at any one second of Your Highness. I was looking for a clever satire on the fantasy genre. Instead, what I got was a stoner sword & sorcery pile of shit that relies on tired jokes and gags and boasts not one ounce of originality or, more importantly, funny. I roll my eyes in your general direction.

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And the In-Betweeners

Super 8
I so desperately wanted to fall madly in love with Super 8. J. J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg were gearing up to unleash a movie that was made directly for me, it seemed. First and foremost, you always get my vote if there's a monster in your movie, always. Secondly, J. J. Abrams, I love that man, and I love lens flares. Third, J. J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, both men I have tremendous respect for and love their work. Fourthlyish, children as protagonists, striking the vibe of E.T. and The Goonies, but this time with some sort of alien problem. I so completely support this idea and love it, and it was executed just fine. But why, then, do I just not feel anything towards Super 8? It's gorgeous to look at, the score - as I have already mentioned - is amazing, and the young actors are tremendous, each and every one of them. But there's some sort of emotional disconnect that forces me not to fall in love with the movie as I expected. Even now, months past, and multiple rewatches later, I can't articulate what doesn't quite do it for me. There's just not enough of the emotion, there's not enough of the human element, I feel, at least not enough for me to connect and be wrapped up in their story. And beyond the children, I also have some rather sizable disappointment in the presentation of the creature, which echoes the monster from Cloverfield far too close for comfort, and whenever the beast is onscreen, save for one scene, he's nearly indistinguishable against the darkness. I want to love Super 8, it just seems to be missing something, that big, vital ingredient... [Review Here]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Not good enough. Simple as that. Rooney Mara wasn't the girl with the dragon tattoo, she was the girl trying desperately to be the girl with the dragon tattoo. The screenplay was just fine, it actually improved and clarified elements of the story that left me puzzled/lost in the Swedish film, so I was thankful for that. Daniel Craig was fine, but just fine. David Fincher brought his Fincherness, but that was that. There is nothing remarkable about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and if this Fincher version was the first (or only) I had seen, I would be very underwhelmed. With Noomi Rapace in the role, there was an inherent badassery and mystery to the character of Lisbeth Salander. You just had to look at her and you knew everything you needed to know - that she could kick your ass, that she was independent and a bit of a loner, that she was skilled in many ways, etc. Rapace was Lisbeth. And for me, the success or failure of this Fincher version depended squarely on the shoulders of Rooney, and that didn't work out quite as they planned. It was a fine effort, but like I said, just not good enough.

Midnight in Paris
Yeah, yeah, go ahead and disagree. This has been on enough ‘best of’ lists to know that I’m in a very, very small minority. Nothing about the flick resonated with me. Sure, there were some funny bits of dialogue, because Woody is, as we all know, gifted with that sort of thing. But the actual content, looking at the movie as a whole, just didn't dig it. I felt that Scoop was a far stronger effort [yes, yes, go ahead and block me, I get it]. None of the characters were defined all that well, not even protagonist Owen Wilson. The supporting characters were given the bare minimum of pretty much anything. And maybe I'm just thick, but I didn't get it until near the third act that Wilson was, I believe, transported in time to this era of artists. I assumed he was hanging around a bunch of blokes who liked to play dress up. Whatever this movie is, I get that it has struck a positive cord for some people, but for me, the entire time, I kept waiting for the answer to my question, 'What's the point?'

Water for Elephants
When Christoph Waltz was not onscreen, I did not care. I didn't care for the 'romance' between Reese and Robert. It wasn't important, and it wasn't believable. I did not care for the elephant. I did not care for the story. I did not care, period. And for what Water for Elephants strives to be, that isn't a good thing.

Red State
Last year, Red State was on my list of Most Anticipated films, and when it finally was released via Video On Demand back in September, I pounced on the chance to watch it. Ultimately, after all that wait, maybe I had too high hopes, because as the credits rolled, I didn't feel much of anything. I had plenty of sporadic thoughts, but not enough to form a coherent opinion. So here I am, several months after the fact, and I still don't have a complete review, don't fully know what to say. What it boils down to is that I think Smith wrote a damn good script. Like, really, really good. There's still flaws: Cooper, primarily, and the general feeling that there should be more, more to the story, more to the characters, more everything. As for what we have onscreen, the performances, the cinematography, editing, etc., it feels hollow. I love me some Michael Parks and all, but it feels like he's just recycling a Hannibal character, not giving the audience something new and spine-tingling. Smith has the camera always in motion, because it's that type of movie, alright, I can deal, no problem there. But the whole enterprise feels hollow, and I don't know why. From everything Smith says, he is clearly passionate about the project, obsessively so, it's just bizarre that it doesn't translate. One of the year's true oddities.

Cowboys & Aliens
I so, so wanted Cowboys & Aliens to be a runaway success, to be something extraordinary where I could turn to my non-geeky friends and say, 'look at this super awesome fun action flick where there's cowboys...fighting aliens!' I've given this movie a lot of thought, and I've come to the conclusion that Jon Favreau was faced with a no-win scenario, really. Every consumer was entering the movie with a different want. It would be bloody difficult to please. And trying to find that right balance, that right match shifting between cowboy and alien flick, man, it must have been tough for the guy. I get that. The western element of the movie is spot on. They adhere to it perfectly. Where the movie falters, though, is the aliens. Furthermore, the reason they've set up camp. It was one of those explanations where I just thought, seriously? This is why? There needed to be more aliens onscreen, there needed to be a bigger threat, and there needed to be this sense of jeopardy, that lives were at stake. I got none of that. Sure, characters died, but nothing felt legit. Now, I enjoyed Cowboys & Aliens, and there is the framework of a movie that could have been truly excellent. I don't know what they needed to improve it - make it grittier? Emphasize the aliens? Make Daniel Craig's character more interesting? Make it longer? Make it more epic? More personal? What? Suffice to say, the flick needed a few more drafts to find that right tone and direction, and then it would have been brilliant. As it stands, it's a fun two hours, but it's not a product that's worth the man power and millions of dinero put behind it. Sorry, Craig and Favreau, you gave it your all.

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2012: Must See

Wrath of the Titans

Do I expect it to be good? No, I learned my lesson from Clash of the Titans. That said, I do expect to be entertained, or, at the very least, be in awe at the beautifully rendered CG giants that ravish the lands. I am, first and foremost, a monster movie fan before I am anything else, so that chance to see monsters brought to life on the big screen in this day 'n age - it's too wonderful of an opportunity to pass up. Succeed or fail like the first, doesn't matter. Monsters are back, Liam Neeson is Zeus,

The Avengers

Analyzing publicity photos, screenshots, writer/director/actor quotes, and dissecting trailer after trailer, and I still don't know exactly how I feel about The Avengers. It could go either way. What I really want to know about at this point of the game is character development and story, which we haven't got a real crystal clear picture of yet. But right now, I'm going to say that it doesn't matter. I Believe in Joss Whedon, through thick and thin, and I believe he will deliver us a good Avengers movie. So my ass is there.

Prometheus

Do you know what it's about? I sure as hell don't. Origin of the universe, you say? That's interesting. Noomi Rapace, it says? Sci-Fi? Big budget sci-fi? There!

The Amazing Spider-Man

Cannot wait. With each new bit of information and/or footage, this looks to be the Spider-Man movie I've always wanted. So very much excited. And look at how badass that suit is, man!

The Dark Knight Rises

There is nothing I look forward to more than this. Not even if I was getting married this year.

Dredd

I loved me some Stallone Dredd, now it's time for the spectacular Karl Urban to knock my socks off with his no-doubt spectacular portrayal of the character.

Skyfall

I was never a huge James Bond fan until Daniel Craig took over the role with Casino Royale. It was about as perfect of a James Bond movie as I could ever want. And then Quantum of Solace destroyed all the good will Casino Royale acquired, and now I'm back to being hesitant about Bond and just not caring all that much. Still, that said, I want to see where the story goes, I want to see Daniel Craig as Bond, and I want to see if they can redeem themselves for one hell of an abysmal second outing. I don't know if Sam Mendes is the man for the job, or if Javier Bardem is going to be a good foil

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Over the last couple of days, I came up with a brilliant way of not doing homework: throwing in the two extended edition discs of each of the Lord of the Rings movies, watching them in their entirety, and then going back and listening to the writers/director commentary. Translation: time well spent, homework successfully postponed. But by watching those movies again, I was reminded how much I love the Tolkien universe, and I am beyond static that I have the opportunity to theatrically jump back into that world of hobbits and wizards and elves. The Hobbit clearly is bridging this wonderful style of being both familiar and quite, quite different from the Holy Trilogy, and that, too, makes me excited. Basically, there's nothing about the movie I'm not excited for. I don't even mind the wait another year for the second part, just means I get more Tolkien.

Django Unchained

I'll follow Quentin Tarantino to the ends of the earth and back [actually, I would quite like to see a Tarantino movie about that; be nifty, wouldn't it?], so naturally, I'm quite psyched by this latest outing. The casting has me a bit...hesitant [Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Fox in a Tarantino movie? Weird], but hell, it could have the worst word of mouth in the universe and I'd still see it.

Riddick

So many people hate 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick, and has been a subject of discussion many a time during my tenure at my old movie store, but no matter the hateration from my fellow movie buds, I love it without compromise. Ergo, naturally, once this third Riddick outing was announced, simply called Riddick, I became a squealing fanboy doing a jiggy dance of happiness. Frankly, the dance was pretty good. The '04 film ended on a super interesting note, and although the premise of this second sequel sounds phenomenal - Riddick left for dead on a shitty planet, mercenaries from all over the galaxy come to claim his head - I can't help but be a little sad that Riddick as king or whatever won't be explored all that thoroughly. Whatever. Until I see a trailer, I'll withhold any complaints. As of right now, I've waited long enough for another Riddick movie, and this film better the hell come out this year damnit! Screw the bloody Fast & Furious franchise and just concentrate all your power on popping out more of these, and the world will be a better place. [TBD]

1 comment:

Alan Grimm said...

I'm right there with you on Daniel Craig as Bond. I have high hopes for Skyfall, and I'm worried that if it does poorly, it could be the last Bond flick for awhile.