Sunday, December 30, 2012

Movies I Saw This Year

Well, another year makes its way toward the finish line. Which means it's time for LISTS GALORE!

In this post I'll talk about films I saw. In 2012, I made it to the cinemas five times. Twice to see the 3D version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast and twice to view Rifftrax presentations (Manos: The Hands of Fate and Birdemic). I think the only MODERN release I actually saw in a theater was The Dark Knight Rises.

Thankfully, I have Netflix, so I have not been deprived of films in general. I've managed to view a few modern offerings, as well as finally experience some films from the past.

Here are some of the movies I saw this year and what I thought of them.


The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

So the thing with trilogies -- at least in my experience -- is that sometimes the first one is good, the second one is love-it-or-hate-it, and the third one is great, but relatively underrated. Well, that's how it is with Indiana Jones and Back to the Future (therefore it applies to everything!!)  I guess The Matrix and a few other trilogies have been known to just go downhill, into an abyss, never to recover. But then there are the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, and here's the thing. Even though the second one, 2008's The Dark Knight, was a huge moneymaking hit, I didn't like it as much as Batman Begins. I just didn't. But it was still okay. So I knew I had to go see Rises I left the theater thinking, "Well, that was fun," but have no desire to ever see it again, except maybe with Rifftrax. Plus I still contend that Alfred sounds like the Geico gecko.

Captain America (2011)
Meet Steve Rogers. He's a short, skinny guy of the 1940's, with a disproportionately big head and unsettlingly deep voice. But he's tough and won't back down from a challenge. And so -- and I'm leaving a lot of details and steps out here, but -- he eventually becomes tall, buff, and Captain America, hero to all. Then his airplane goes into the sea, he's frozen for 70 years, and thaws in the future. Which is sort of... now. Samuel L. Jackson shows up with his eyepatch and then we are left to wait for the sequel. Which, it turns out, is NOT Captain America 2, but rather THE AVENGERS! Which brings me to....

Marvel's The Avengers (2012)
So for the past few years, Marvel has been making a bunch of superhero movies, and now they're all ready to come together for the good of mankind. You've got Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, a few other people, and of course good old Captain America. They unite in order to fight a guy with a horn helmet who happens to be Thor's lame-o adopted brother, Loki.

Low-Key Loki

Seriously, what a dorky villain. Almost as bad as Jeremy Irons in Dungeons and Dragons (hey, at least he didn't sport a horn helmet (or did he?))There's a part late in the film where Hulk smashes Loki repeatedly, and it is hilarious. Meanwhile, I don't care for Tony Stark/Iron Man. My brother says it's because I have not grown to love him by seeing the other Iron Man movies. But I don't want to see those movies because I do not like Tony Stark/Iron Man. FULL CIRCLE DILEMMA. Anyway, Thor is cool, Captain America continues to be adorable, and I like the Russian spy lady. There's also this guy called Hawkeye, who is actually pretty cute, but then I have a thing for archers. All in all, The Avengers = a couple of hours of action-packed, goofy fun.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Okay, so I don't read Marvel comics. (I'm sure you had NO IDEA.) Everything I knew about Spider-Man was based on A) The Atari game; B) The animated show from my childhood that I don't even really remember; and C) The first Tobey Maguire movie, which I've seen a handful of times. So as I began watching Amazing, the thoughts running through my mind were as follows: "This is like the other movie!" "This part isn't like the other movie." "This event happened in that other one." "This event did not." Meanwhile, Peter Parker's love interest looked like a grad student, not a high school student, and the lizard villain looked dumb. I don't know. It was okay? Sort of?

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
This film is quirky in a way that Zooey Deschanel can only aspire to be. It's about this 12-year-old girl in the 60's who runs away with a scout boy and the trouble that causes. I like to imagine it's what would have happened to Claudia Kinkaid if she'd run away with a boy her age rather than her brother. (Hmmm, this girl and Claudia are both twelve years old. And she has three younger brothers, too. And it's set in the same decade. WAIT A SECOND....)  I love the characters, but boy do weird things happen. It's kind of fun, but kind of unnerving, but also kind of incredible. Recommended if you like things that are wacky.

A Plethora Of Movies About Ye Olde England's Royals (1998-2009)

The Queen, The Young Victoria, Mrs. Brown, The Lost Prince, The Other Boleyn Girl... it's like I couldn't get enough of the British monarchy this year. I'm not obsessed with them, really! It just kinda happened.

Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

Someone once told me there are two types of Die Hard fans -- people who like #1 and #2, and those that like #1 and #3. And while I can see why it'd be hard to like #2 AND #3 -- they're so different -- I think I fall into a third camp. I liked #1, I thought #2 (which I saw a while ago) was sad and depressing, annnnd I thought #3 was about the corniest dang thing I've witnessed since... well, since... well, pick ANY OTHER movie where New York is in mortal peril, and there you go. I'm sorry to say... it doesn't hold up well in a post-9/11 world. If that means the terrorists have won, I'm sorry -- but that's the way it is. A fun popcorn flick, but that's about it. (I just know I'm going to get hatemail for this.) Oh, and Jeremy Irons? SO NOT INTIMIDATING! (That "performance" in D&D has officially ruined him for me forever.)

Friendship's Field (1995)

A "family-friendly" straight-to-video romp from the mid-90's, this is the story of two kids, one American and one Mexican, who become friends over a summer back in the 60's while dealing with prejudice and whatnot. This would be fine, had their story not been bookended by narration from a blah mom talking to her blah daughter, or had it not a dozen plotholes. I swear, these family friendly movies seem to spend so much energy making everything sweet and lovely and learn-a-lessony that sometimes they forget about things like basic story structure and editing skillz. I've certainly seen worse, and the two main kid actors shine, but overall it's a mess.

Pride & Prejudice (1940)

In one of the most hilarious movies I watched this year.... Yep. 1940's Pride & Prejudice is so goofy, it's actually entertaining in a way I'm sure Jane Austen never quite intended. The film is, of course, based on the book, but it tries to condense everything into about an hour and a half, thereby throwing most of the book right out the window. Then you've got the fact that they've changed the setting -- not only the location (now it's in the American south? I think?) but the time period as well (nearly 50 years later -- howdy, Scarlet O'Hara wannabes!) It's pretty crazy, but it's yards better than some of the other book-to-film adaptations of the day (1934's Anne Of Green Gables, I am specifically referring to you.)

In vain I have struggled; it will not do. Kiss me, you fool!

Emma (1972), Emma (1996 TV version), and Emma (1996 Film version)

Okay, I may have overdone it on the Emmas, but I like to see different version of the same story... to see how they're the same or different, to see which one I prefer.  I've decided I really don't care for any of the movie versions of Emma that I've seen. (GASP.) If I had to choose, I'd probably pick the 2009 TV one (which I saw a few years ago), but the truth is, I prefer Clueless. Go ahead and hit 'send' on the hatemail, but I just find the Emma character kind of immature and unbearable. Give me Elizabeth Bennet any day.

Girl With A Pearl Earring (2003)

Between this, The Other Boleyn Girl, and The Avengers, it seems to have been the year of Scarlett Johansson around here, but I didn't plan it that way. I was probably in the middle of a Firthathon when I rented this. (For the record, Firthathons are like dark chocolate and a pile of kittens the way they bring happiness -- have you ever noticed that? I have.) I thought Pearl was okay -- I mean, beautifully shot, beautifully acted -- but the story is quite understated and it's certainly not for everyone.

Witness (1985)

After years upon years of avoiding this film for reasons unbeknownst to even myself, I finally decided to just watch it. After all, I do love Harrison Ford -- especially 1981-1993-era Harrison Ford. So I watched it. Afterward, I was left with two questions. 1) How in the world did this film win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay over Back to the Future that year? And 2) Was the movie swallowed by a giant Casio synthesizer? The music -- if you could call it that -- was so obnoxious. I get that it was the 80s, but for pete's sake, cut the electro-vibey moonglow tunes and just strike up some bassoons or something. That aside, Harrison Ford is totally adorable, and the love story is nice and the kid is cute and the plot is actually kind of intense. Worth watching once? Yes. Are there better Harrison Ford movies? Heck yes.

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