Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 in Movies!


I have a confession to make… I love lists.

That’s a confession that I think I’ve made before, but it’s also one I haven’t been able to come to grips with. If I’m piddling around the internet and see something like, The 8 Types of Cabbage most similar to Lettuce when eaten raw…. Well, let’s just say that would work a lot better than promises of porn to get me to click a link.

I don’t make lists as often as I want to, but now, with all these year-end lists coming out, I feel like I have permission, at least for the next week or so.

So, right off the bat, here’s a list…

THE 10 BEST SPEC FIC MOVIES OF THE YEAR (That’s the year I saw them, maybe not the year they were released).

Chronicle
10) Chronicle: I honestly almost forgot about this movie when compiling this list. I don’t think it’s much of secret that expectations have a great deal to do with how much anyone enjoys a movie. This flick came out of left-field and stunned me with its story and fx – this was a theatrical release done on a shoestring budget – that’s saying a lot for something so fx heavy.
9) The Dark Knight Rises: This movie disappoints me only in that I would have expected this to be in my top 2 or 3 at the beginning of the year. It was still really good, but I felt it was a bit… I don’t know, it just didn’t move me the way the The Dark Knight did.
8) Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: A giant asteroid is coming to kill us all in a few weeks and there is
nothing to be done except sit and wait for it. Lonely guy Steve Carrell and wacky neighbor team up to avoid being alone. I loved it the dark humor that riddled the movie, as well as the emotional baggage that Carrell didn’t want to have to deal with. Very touching, if a bit sad.
7) Attack the Block: I may have seen this in 2011. As I get older I find that anything I’ve experienced in the past 3 years all feels like the last year to me. I almost put Moon on this list before I checked and saw it came out in 2009… is that right? 2009! Wow. Anyway, this is about some street punks (kids) dealing with an alien invasion. Also, they’re British. Awesome movie.
6) Wreck-it-Ralph: A movie about video game characters that was pretty good until the final act. When it became much better than expected. At first I was turned off because I wanted to see much more game hopping by the main character – but once I realized that wasn’t going to happen I ended up getting swept up by the story.
5) The Hobbit: One of the few movies I actually reviewed, albeit poorly, on the blog. In a word: Awesome. In a few more words: Awesome, but 45 minutes longer than really necessary.
4) The Cabin in the Woods: Another one that kind of hit me out of nowhere. I don’t really watch horror-y movies. But along with Tucker & Dale vs Evil, I thought this brilliantly told a story that toys with our expectations.  
3) The Avengers: This is probably the most fanboyish movie in the history of the world for me. I didn’t even bother dreaming of this movie being made when I was a kid because I knew it would have been impossible. I swear – if I ever get my hands on a time machine I am showing this to the 13 year old version of me. Causality be damned.
2) The Amazing-Spider Man: I was not looking forward to this movie at all. I saw it reluctantly because somebody (whose opinion I respected) said it was really good. I am not one of those people that has a problem with a movie deviating from the source material when the final product is great. Well, that's mostly true, but I did hear some rumblings from some quarters about changes - I'm not too sure what they are though, as Spider-Man has bee retconned so much I don't know what is official and what isn't. All that said, this really made an impression on me.  This was, honestly, maybe my favorite superhero movie of all time. It wasn’t quite perfect, but it was close.
1) Looper: This might be the most logically consistent time travel movie I’ve ever seen. Maybe. Bill and Ted did it pretty well too. Regardless, that means I’m going to have to learn the name of the little kid from Third Rock from the Sun, because he was in several of my favorite movies this year (aside from this and Batman, he starred in the excellent chase movie, Premium Rush – which would be in my top 5 non-spec fic movies of the year, if I created such a list).

THREE MOVIES THAT GOT A LOT OF GRIEF – but I thought were really entertaining:

3) Wrath of the Titans: It did kinda suck, but I was never bored. And that means something to me. That was one movie that felt epic, but just couldn’t quite get the drama part to work as well as the action and fx… I thought it was way better than Clash of the Titans that came out a few years ago. Very watchable.
2) John Carter: Besides being stunned at the production budget (about 20 times than Chronicle – No. 10 on my top 10 of the year), which was twice as high as it should have been (if I were a studio auditor, I’d be peeking my head into the accounting for this flick) I thought it was a pretty fun movie. Working from 100 year old books and trying to make it a modern sci fi movie for the masses was a tough undertaking. It didn’t quite work, but it almost did.
1) Underworld Awakening: I hated the third installment of this series, the straight to video one that took place entirely in the middle ages, but this one I got because the missus wanted to watch a movie and sent me to redbox with the instruction to not come back empty handed. I came back with this, and kept being amazed that I was interested. The series as a whole seems to keep setting up these characters that serve as prophesied messiahs or ultimate creatures, and then once they arrive, they get pushed to the side. The boytoy werewolf/vampire hybrid from the first two movies is the most bizarre example of a super powerful being that keeps getting captured and is always in need of a rescue. This time around it’s the little girl that fills this role. All that said though, this movie was a rollercoaster that I enjoyed.

THE THREE WORST MOVIES OF THE YEAR in Spec Fic:

3) Total Recall: I really wanted to like this movie. It was beautiful to watch - the actors and the scenery - but I had such a hard time sitting through this. I was bored, I didn’t care who lived or died, and I didn’t find anything at all that improved on the Arnold Schwarzenegger version from 20+ years ago.  And I would point out that it was a remake of THAT movie, not the Philip K Dick story. I found that even more bizarre. Who made that decision?
2) Dark Shadows: The most bored I have been watching a movie all year. I found almost nothing about this movie worth watching. Was it really about a 200 year old vampire trying to reopen an old fishing cannery?
1) Battleship: Look, I honestly thought the movie was okay. Really. What makes me get all shaky and angry about this is that somewhere, a studio head decided they had to have a tentpole movie for the summer. It threw a quarter of a billion dollars into a project and swore that they had to make it something amazing. Instead of finding a worthy project (either from the literary world or a something original) the braintrust decided to make something had to have been an SNL skit at one time and turn it into this. I swear, I think we’re on our way to seeing a 300 million dollar ‘Tic Tac Toe: The Movie’ within a decade – hell, maybe before then.

AND THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR:

Prometheus: I had pretty high expectations for this, fueled mostly by Michael Offutt’s marketing machine. When it finally arrived I was awed by the beauty of this movie. I was so awed, in fact, that I really loved it while I was in the theater. I did have issues as I watched, like the map maker guy that got lost, along with the biologist that decided to play with the alien thing as soon as he discovered it. My wife is fond of saying that any movie that requires the characters to be morons in order for it to make sense is probably not a very good movie. I tend to disagree, as I like Dumb and Dumber quite a bit, but I’m guessing that this is more the type of thing she was talking about. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was one of the most poorly constructed stories I’ve ever seen on film. It’s a mess from very beginning and only gets worse. Very Disappointed.

And there it is. The year in movies.  I think I’ll put another post up soon with another list. Because I’m all about indulgence right now.

14 comments:

Brinda said...

I loved the sets in Total Recall. actors and actresses were beautiful, but it lacked something. I didn't care for Prometheus either.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Looper number one!!! Was two on my list, and John Carter third.
Could not agree more about Prometheus.
Ironically, I didn't care for the third Underworld either. See what happens when they take away the Kate? Bad things, people!

Jo said...

Gives me an idea what to watch out for.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

So glad Attack the Block made the list. I think it's the most realistic Alien invasion Movie I've ever seen.

I turned my mind away from Battleship the second I knew Rihanna was in it. Love her as a singer but until she proves she is an actress/singer...yeah I'll watch Battleship when it comes out on cable.

Still haven't seen Looper yet but from all that I've heard I expect it to be awesome. Excellent list!

Andrew Leon said...

I feel like I want to respond to each of your choices, but, well, that would be kind of silly. I'll just say I agree completely about Prometheus. I'd say more, but I already reviewed it.

Tonja said...

I've only seen four of these. I thought the alien-birth scene in Prometheus was fantastically disgusting and realistic.

Wrath of the Titans was so terrible I turned it off.

Wreck-It-Ralph made me sleepy at first and then was OK. It didn't scare my little guy, so I give it a thumbs up.

Avengers was great.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

Prometheus hater! It got a sequel! So there :P

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Yay, another Prometheus hater! To Offutt I always say that lots of shitty movies get sequels. Like all those Resident Evil movies. Or Saw movies. Or Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, etc.

Anyway, I haven't seen all those on your list. If you haven't seen it, you should rent, "Safety Not Guaranteed". That was a really good low-budget indie sci-fi movie.

Lara Schiffbauer said...

Loved, loved, LOVED Avengers! I bought it for my kids, watched it with them, put them to bed and watched it again. I've been eyes Chronicles for some time now, so I guess I'll have to give it a try.

Trisha said...

I was one of the real rarities who thought THE AVENGERS was just "okay". I don't even know if I want to buy it on DVD, that's how "just okay" I thought it was.

This is a great list to go by, though, and I see a lot of titles on here that I haven't watched but want to!

Christine Rains said...

I haven't managed to see all the ones on your top ten list yet, but I agree with the ones on your other ones. It was sad that Prometheus was so disappointing.

Cindy said...

I like your list. The only thing I don't get is why so many like the Dark Knight Rises. To me it was just continual torture of innocent civilians while Batman struggled to get out of a hole-like prison.

Nicole said...

I did love the Avengers (who didn't?!), but John Carter drove me nuts.

Misha Gericke said...

Scary thing is, I'm seeing so many movies I wanted to watch at the time but lost track of. How did that happen?!