Thursday, January 31, 2013

Top 11 Films of 2012

 (Because sometimes 10 just isn't enough)

It's that time of year again...where we take stock of all the films we saw for the year and weigh in on which ones were a waste of time and which ones were time well spent. And not like this needs repeating but I will do it anyway, this is a list comprised of films "I" felt were the best of what this past year had to offer us.

2012 was the year that the super hero movie stood tall amongst all others. Such colossal hits as "The Avengers", "Dark Knight Rises", "The Amazing Spider-man",  the moderately successful but no less impactful release "Chronicle" and even the financial bomb but critically praised "Dredd 3D", this was a banner year for super heroes everywhere (let's try to forget that "Ghost Rider" sequel shall we). We also got the triumphant return of James Bond in "Skyfall", the beginning of another journey through Middle-Earth in "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and countless more films that helped define a year that was filled with plenty of memorable highlights and some unfortunate (but sadly expected) low points. So to help commemorate (and narrow down) the best, worst, most disappointing and other miscellaneous picks from the year, here is my list of films that left an everlasting impact on me, both good and bad.

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11.

The Secret World of Arrietty




This is not the best movie to ever come out of the legendary Studio Ghibli animation house, but it is still has my vote for the best animated film of the year. It's traditional hand drawn animation is simply gorgeous and the as per usual outstanding character work and story we have come to expect from the house that Miyazaki built. While the story is a little more simple than what we are used to from the creators of "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke", it still topped every other animated feature released this year by leaps and bounds. It may not go down as another classic from Studio Ghibli, but it fits just fine alongside their impressive catalog of films none the less. It's good to know that traditional hand drawn 2D animation can still outclass the more cutting edge 3D films in just about every category, it's just too bad we have to wait so long to get them.

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10.

Cloud Atlas




In my original review I stated that this was one of the most important films released this year but that didn't mean it translated into the best film of the year...and I still stand by that. It is not a perfect film by any means and there may be more deserving films to put in its place, but the sheer ambition of its production and the level of craftsmanship it took to bring such a complex and sprawling epic story to the screen is nearly incomprehensible. The storytelling at work in "Could Atlas" is on a completely different level and requires a new way of looking at a narrative to fully appreciate what it is trying to accomplish. The Wachowski's may not be recognized for what they created now (especially with how it came and went with nary a whimper), but I rest assured that some day their cinematic triumph will find its audience at some point in the future and finally receive the praise it deserves.

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9.

Safety Not Guaranteed




The underdog of my list, but no less of deserving to be on it. "Safety Not Guaranteed" was unfortunately put up against all the big budget popcorn fare of the past summer and was lost in the shuffle. But if you missed it then, now is the perfect time to discover for yourself one of the most purely entertaining and surprisingly heartfelt romantic dramedy's of the year. Its two lead actors and unique premise of a man who thinks he can time travel and how through his insanity (or is he insane?) connects with another lost soul combine beautifully to create one of  the best off-beat romances of the year. It's aim may have been small, but it leaves a big impact which has stayed with me all year long.

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8.

Argo




There is no doubt left in my mind at this point that Ben Affleck is a masterful director. "Argo", while not his best film, is still one of the best and most exciting political thrillers to come out of Hollywood in a very long time. Taking a premise such as an emergency rescue of a handful of Americans trapped in a hostile country and making it not only entertaining but also making it feel completely authentic and plausible in the process is not something very many directors could pull off, but Affleck does it with an ease and grace that escapes even the most seasoned directors. From the chilling opening sequence with the raid on the U.S. embassy and the blending of unforced genuine humor with a constant underlining tension leading up to the daring rescue attempt, this was a movie that just grabbed a hold of me and never let go.

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7.

Dredd 3D




For this film to not have sucked to hell and back is an accomplishment in and of itself, but if you were to tell me at the outset of the year that the new Judge Dredd movie would not only be on my list of the top films of the year but also turn out to be one of the best overall comic book movies ever made...well, I would have called you a bald faced liar. But here we are, "Dredd 3D" is a one of those rare cinematic miracles that successfully reboots a franchise that next to no one but hardcore geeks could care about and does it with a ton of style and personality to spare. Taking your lead actor and sticking him in a helmet for the entire duration of the film and milking what was likely a shoestring budget for all its worth with some of the best production design and effects (love those slo-mo sequences) of the year is the stuff of legend. This movie should not have been as good as it is, but thankfully for all of us it was. Run out and purchase this movie now, because after a dismal box office return that is the only way to secure a sequel that is not only deserved, but a sequel we need right now!

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6.

The Raid: Redemption




Not only the best all out action movie of the year, but the best action movie in at least a decade. How the action flows seamlessly from incredible shootouts, to incredible machete fights and ultimately into some of the most intense martial arts action sequences ever committed to film, this is an action movie lovers dream come true. Sure the story is wafer thin but it serves its purpose in creating this impossibly violent showdown between a small squad of elite cops and an entire building filled to the brim with the scum of the criminal underworld who want nothing more than to kill every single one of them. It's bloody as it is brilliant and don't let the fact it is subtitled or doesn't feature any known actors deter you. Believe the hype and see this movie immediately. Discover what a real action movie can deliver and lose yourself in the mayhem.

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5.

The Avengers




How exactly does the biggest movie of all time land at the number 5 spot exactly? It's simple really, for all its grand achievements and being lauded as the greatest super hero movie all time (which it is), it isn't the best movie of all time, nor is it the best movie released in 2012. What Joss Whedon and Marvel were able to accomplish with "The Avengers" is staggering, a monumental moment in movie history. When it comes to pure spectacle, Joss Whedon's vision of the Marvel universe was beyond most everyones wildest expectations. It took 5 years and 5 films worth of build up to reach this point and what we got was a film experience like no other. This is the standard by which all future super hero movies will be measured by and will likely stay the number one example of the super hero genre for quite a while, at least until "Avengers 2" comes along that is.

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4.

End of Watch




Hollywood loves to glamorize the police. If it isn't a procedural drama like CIS or Law & Order, it is something condemning them as corrupt and untrustworthy like The Shield or countless movies. "End of Watch" was a breath of fresh air in that regard because of how it didn't fit into either of those categories. Instead it provided a much more believable landscape of how our men and women of the L.A.P.D. must adapt to their environment in order to survive their daily grind which usually involves them risking their lives. By letting us get invested in the lives of these two officers and showing us how and why they behave the way they do, it becomes more of a grey area in that instance and we start to see the bigger picture of the world they live in. Comprised of outstanding performances by both Gyllenhal and Pena and a startling glimpse into the lives of our law enforcement, this was one of the most powerful films I saw this year and one that should not be missed.

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3.

The Cabin in the Woods




There are a number of possible future cult classics on this list, but this is the only one guaranteed to attain that status (if it hasn't already). Not since "Shaun of the Dead" has there been a film that has melded horror and comedy together so brilliantly than director Drew Goddard's "The Cabin in the Woods". How it takes the many established conceits of the horror genre such as stupid teens, mystical monsters, an isolated setting and not only turned them on their head, but somehow managed to give an explanation behind them was brilliant. There are countless little references and homages to the horror films of past that any horror nut will lose their mind trying to find them all, but that is just one of the many pleasures of this unorthodox little movie. The only thing to top its many successes is a final act that must be seen to be believed.

Watching the chaos of that final act one gets the feeling that perhaps both Goddard and producer Joss Whedon thought of it as the last chance they would ever have at making a horror film which then spawned one of the most gloriously over the top orgy of carnage to ever grace the screen. Besides being nearly ruined by a horrible trailer that showed way too much of the film (seriously, stay away from it if you haven't already seen it), this is the best, most unique and virtually flawless horror films to come out of Hollywood in the past decade. The fact that Goddard and Whedon went the extra mile and crafted an ending that literally destroys any chance of there ever being a sequel (the bane of every successful horror movie's existence) is a wonderful punctuation mark to one of the best horror films ever made.

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2.

Life of Pi




Never before have I experienced anything quite like director Ang Lee's "Life of Pi". It was one of the most enlightening, good natured and all around pleasant movie going experiences I had all year. With zero knowledge of the book it was based on outside the fact that it had been deemed unfilmable by most of Hollywood, I had little in the way of expectations for the film. The trailer clearly established a beautiful palette of colors and imagery but seemed to lack any real story. It simply looked like a movie about a kid stuck on a boat with a Tiger, but there is so much more to it than that.

For the very first time we have a film that tackles the deeply layered subject of religion and somehow does it without preaching or condemning any facet of the practice. It isn't about one religion over another, it isn't about if you should believe or not believe, it is simply about what you believe. Pi's story is filled with magical encounters and seemingly impossible events and it is left up to us whether we want to believe if what he recounts is an act of god or just a young boy's imagination run wild. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, there is no doubt in my mind that you will find Pi's life to be one of the most remarkable stories ever told and one of the most beautiful films ever made.

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1. 

Looper





I never cared that much for director Rian Johnson's other two films, "Brick" and "The Brother's Bloom", his third film, "Looper", was certainly the charm though. They say that every director has at least one good film in them that will stand the test of time, at least one good story to tell and that is true of most directors out there. Whether it be Zack Snyder's impossibly excellent adaptation of the legendary graphic novel "Watchmen", Neil Marshall's modern day horror masterpiece "The Descent", Bryan Singer's amazing "X-Men 2" or in this case, Rian Johnson's Sci-Fi/time travel action/adventure/drama "Looper".

With an impressively limited (but never cheap looking) vision of a possible future world, "Looper" single handedly turned me from someone who could care less what Johnson's next project is into someone who is now hotly anticipating his next film. Like any good Sci-Fi flick that's worth its salt, its successes don't rely on flashy effects, cool action scenes or geeky technology. It's focus is always on the characters, from beginning to end what matters most is the story. The time travel gimmick is used (expertly I might add) to tell the tragic story of a single looper named Joe, a man hired by the mob to dispose of bodies sent back through time and get paid for it until his time is up where he is forced to kill his older self.

It's a neat concept that gets transformed into this in depth character drama about a man at literally two different points in his life. Young Joe is looking to the future but Old Joe is looking to secure the future he already had by forcing his younger self down a certain path that he has no intentions of following. There are a number of crazy ideas that get tossed around that will blow your mind and situations only a time travel movie could make seem plausible. This is a first rate example of how science fiction isn't just a tool to make things for us to geek out about, it is a tool to tell compelling stories that could never exist in any other reality, and Johnson not only gets that but he exploits it and squeezes it for all its worth.

Throughout the year of 2012 I saw a lot of fantastic films, some that will likely be forgotten over time, some that will leave a lasting impact and others that will continue to grow in popularity as time goes on. They all offered something a little different than each other which is what makes them so special. Don't let the fact that this one made it to the top and the others didn't dissuade you from checking out the other films listed here. They all deserve to be noticed and they all deserve your attention. But for me, "Looper" was the one film that stood tall amongst all others. The many award shows this season may not recognize it for its brilliance, but I certainly do and so should you.

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Previous Years Picks...




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2012 Honorable Mentions
(Other films I wanted on my list but couldn't find room for)


No different from your average buddy cop flick, the real winning formula here was casting Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum against type, with Tatum turning in a rather inspired comedic performance that helped prove to even his harshest critics that there is more to this pretty boy than generic romance flicks.



How could director Christopher Nolan ever hope to top his 2008 landmark achievement, "The Dark Knight"? The unfortunate answer to that question is that he couldn't. That doesn't mean "The Dark Knight Rises" is a failure though, quite the contrary. This is still the only super hero trilogy to not have a tragically ill conceived mess of a final act and because of that we finally have ourselves a super hero trilogy that we can fully embrace and not feel ashamed of any of its lesser entries. Whether or not Heath Ledger's untimely death impacted the final product or not is anyones guess, but that doesn't change the fact that this was still a proper end to Nolan's Batman trilogy that will hopefully stand the test of time, warts and all.



Other than being one of the only people in the world to see this in theaters, this was probably the most memorable theatrical experience I had in 2012. If for nothing more than watching the lunacy of the Trost Brothers post apocalyptic dance dance revolution gang movie with other people crazy enough to seek out the only theater in all of Southern California showing it. It's not for everyone, but those that get its humor will love it forever.



This was an early contender for my top films of the year, but there ended up being a lot of great films released this year and Josh Trank's surprisingly powerful super hero tale was overshadowed sadly, but that doesn't mean it should be missed. As the only super hero film of the year based on an original idea, it proves that you don't need a big budget or a known quantity to produce a film of the same caliber as the genre's best offerings. After seeing this, it is anyones guess just how awesome the Fantastic Four reboot will be (Trank is currently attached to direct).



Just when you thought you have seen it all, in comes this little gem of a movie that takes the end of the world concept to new and disturbing heights. Part love story and part doomsday movie, "Perfect Sense" works on both levels, giving us two characters whom meet amidst an epidemic where the entire world is systematically having each of their senses ripped away from them. Using their budding love for one another as a way to show us the effects of having your senses removed is an extraordinary way to show how the human spirit persists even when there is little hope left in the world.



This is yet another little film released earlier in 2012 that received a lot of acclaim at the time of its release yet it seemed to have simply vanished later in the year. Featuring a powerful performance by Adrien Brody, the heavy handedness of its message about the school system being over burdened and overlooked by parents and teachers alike is made more tolerable by the importance of its message and the strong cast of supporting actors sprinkled throughout.



This movie got a bad rap upon its theatrical release. Promoted as a film about Liam Neeson taking on wolves after surviving a plane crash is a little more than misleading. Fortunately the film we got was much better than anything that trailer promised. It may not pack the visceral and literal punch most were expecting, but as we watch these men fight for their lives against a pack of blood thirsty wolves, it is difficult not to become emotionally attached to them as they struggle for survival.



I will be honest with you on this one, I really wished this would have made my list of the top films of the year. Even though I thoroughly loved this movie, I couldn't help but realize that even though Peter Jackson once again provided us with a splendid new journey through middle earth, we have seen all this before in one form or another. So, it was taken out to make room for more obscure and equally deserving films, but that doesn't change the fact that I had more fun with this film than any other I saw all year. It's that good.



Poor poor John Carter (and Taylor Kitsch who starred in not one, not two, but THREE bombs this year, ouch). If only people had come to their senses and saw you for what you truly were, a brand new Sci-Fi adventure with plenty of action, romance and adventure to sustain future sequels that will sadly never happen now. Even though it is too late to save this franchise from the depths of cinematic hell, it isn't too late to find out why this movie deserved more love than it received.



Who would have guessed that ten years later we would not only get another Men In Black movie, but that it would actually be good...and worlds better than that atrocity of a sequel before it. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their iconic roles, but it is Josh Brolin as a young agent K that steals the show at every turn. With a fun time travel gimmick, a villain that once again feels dangerous and a surprising amount of heart behind it, "Men In Black 3" was the biggest surprise to come out of last summer and good enough to even warrant another entry into this once thought dead franchise.



The very last film I saw in 2012, and what a great way to end the year. Featuring stellar performances from the entire cast, including a star making performance from the young Tom Holland, this recreation of the catastrophic tsunami that was responsible for over 220,000 deaths back in 2004 is harrowing tale of one family's struggle to locate one another amidst the destructive aftermath of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history.



The most difficult film to find last year (at least for me) was "Compliance". Only after it finally hit video a couple weeks ago did I get to discover what all the talk was about. While it most certainly held up to the hype, it remains to be seen how others will react to it. It's subject matter, which is reportedly based on actual events, will leave most people doubting anything like this could ever truly occur and others doubting who is really on the other line the next time they answer the phone..



Is "Ted" the best comedy of the year? Yes, but only by a little. Mark Wahlberg proves once again that he should do strictly comedies from now on and Seth McFarlane finally got his moment to shine. Even for those of us who can't stand the comedic shenanigans of his Family Guy television series, there is no denying the inherent genius of the concept involving a guy and his magical teddy bear who both share dreams of getting high and hanging out. Even with all its narrative hiccups, this was the most consistently funny movie of the year.



Denzel Washington is the reason to see director Robert Zemeckis' new film "Flight". The story about a boozing, druggy, degenerate airline pilot who pulls off a one in a million miracle landing of a doomed flight is a fairly engaging experience, but its the way Washington relentlessly punishes us for caring about him that really carries this otherwise simple film that examines how we view our heroes into compelling territory. A strong supporting cast also rounds out Zemeckis' first live action film in over a decade.



Apparently this is the number one contender for best film of 2012, wish someone would have told me that! Anyway, all joking aside, this is yet another solid offering from director Steven Spielberg that just so happens to feature yet another stellar performance by Daniel Day Lewis, this time as President Lincoln. As far as covering all the ins and outs behind the signing of one of the most important amendments in U.S. history it is near flawless film. As a documentation on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, it was sorely lacking. If you go into it with the knowledge that you will learn nothing of who Lincoln was as a person you will likely find the film very engaging from beginning to end, otherwise you might be better off watching "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter" for a little more back story on one of our nations greatest leaders.



The video game world has been mistreated in Hollywood for over two decades now. While Disney's latest non-Pixar animated feature isn't exactly flawless, it is the first film to feature the digital playgrounds we love to get lost in with a semblance of respect and a clear understanding for the nostalgia they invoke in everyone over the age of thirty. That we got a really sweet (pun intended) tale of friendship and self discovery was only icing on the cake (that was also intended).



James Bond's latest flick is the most (financially) successful entry in the decades long franchise ever, but that doesn't mean it was the best. While certainly better than his last foray into the world of terrorism and espionage and featuring breathtaking cinematography by industry legend Roger Deakins, "Skyfall" falls just short of the standards set by Craig's first outing in "Casino Royale".



Nobody does (fill in the blank) like Quentin Tarantino. Leave it to the master of pulp to give us a western the likes of which have never seen before. If it weren't for the stable of quality films released this past year, this would have certainly secured a top spot in my list for the years best. If you like yourself some quality Tarantino action with a western twist, "Django Unchained" will leave you most satisfied.


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Most Disappointing Films of 2012
(Films that I was looking forward to that sadly let me down)



PT Anderson is a masterful filmmaker. He has made some undeniable classics, but for the first time in his near exemplary catalog of films he has delivered something that for a lack of a better term is...underwhelming. Featuring outstanding performances from his principle cast, he gives them material to work with that goes absolutely no where. With such a tantalizing subject as Scientology and cults in general at his fingertips, doing absolutely nothing interesting with it was a crime against writers  and filmmakers everywhere. It was one of the worst debacles of the year for me.



Given all the pressure that Sony was under to rush another Spider-man movie out the door before they lost the licensing rights to the property, this could have turned out much worse. That being said though, with a very miscast Andrew Garfield in the title role and a strong sense of deja vu while watching the first hour along side some unnecessary 11th hour edits made to cut out Spidey's origin, the finished product felt hopelessly fragmented and became exactly what we feared it would be, a rush job.



I know that my opinion on this is in the minority, but with all the potential behind the premise of Pixar's latest animated film "Brave", it just didn't click with me the way it should have. Featuring a great build up in the early parts where we see Merida stand up for herself to break free from the chains of tradition, it all gets washed away with an admittedly sweet tale of a mother and daughter bonding, but pales in comparison to the tale of self worth that it was leading up to. In the end, the direction it goes half way through works, but it isn't nearly as promising or engaging as that opening half of the film implies.



I bit the bullet on this one and bought into the hype machine and then for my blind dedication I got bit in my ass in return. With the "Twilight" franchise thankfully done (for now), there of course needed to be a new love triangle for all those lovesick teenage girls to latch on to and this seems to be it. Suffering from a poorly constructed future world, a game that not only feels derivative of countless other books and movies before it but completely falls apart and becomes a scattered mess of ideas and rules by the end of it all, "The Hunger Games" is the perfect franchise to carry the torch for bland, lifeless and uninspired story telling.



It is a miracle that this series has kept its quality up for as long as it has, but this fourth outing has finally shown some dents in armor of this otherwise fun series of haunted house movies. It doesn't really do anything the others haven't which is the real problem here unfortunately. While the previous sequels have found ways of keeping the material fresh despite revisiting the same scenario over an over again, this time it all just felt so uninteresting. A significant lack of paranormal activity didn't help the situation either. Here's hoping the inevitable fifth film will put this series back on track.



It may sound silly to have been disappointed by yet another video game adaptation gone awry, but that first film from back in 2008 was so good that one can't help but feel disappointed in this sloppy sequel. With a fantastic premise that just screams with potential for disturbing and grotesque imagery, it is a dam shame that the filmmakers decided to cut just about everything out of this sequel that made the first trip to Silent Hill so memorable.



There are two words that can sum up why this landed in this category and they are not the words you are likely thinking of. Those two words are Charlize Theron. Why her? Because, she was the best thing in this piss poor adaptation of the Snow White fairy tale and her talents were completely wasted. This is the first time in movie history where the heroine (Kristen Stewart, horribly miscast as Snow White) is the person we DON'T want to see victorious, but instead we wished the evil queen (Theron) thwarted her and covered the land in an eternal darkness. How's that for some harsh criticism?



Two films in this list with Kristen Stewart at the helm? Isn't that surprising? Nah, not really. There really isn't much to say about this final chapter into the loathsome series other than how they had the potential for one of the best finales in film history and completely glossed over it so that everyone could live happily ever after. Oh, did I ruin that for you? Sorry, but yeah, nobody dies, everyone lives, even the bad guys. What a tragedy this series is.



Total crap. Total insult. Total ass. Total BS. Total disappointment. Total waste of my time, your time and the time it takes to write this little blurb up. There hasn't been a more vapid or unnecessary remake than Len Wiseman's "Total Recall" in recent memory. Watching this only solidifies the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger Sci-Fi action/adventure as one of the best action films ever made. Kate Beckinsale does look hot though, so there is that I guess...



I don't get it, I just don't get it anymore. Maybe I have outgrown director Wes Anderson's whimsical flights of fancy or he really does need to step out of his comfort zone. In any case, his latest film is exactly what you would expect from the man who brought you "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "The Life Aquatic". If that is what you were hoping for then you will likely fall in love with this quaint little film about young love. All others need not apply.



This should have been awesome. This loving tribute to the Kung Fu movies that writer/director/star RZA grew up on somehow became this experiment gone horribly wrong. The cast was a mixed bag, Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu showed up ready to play while RZA and Dave Bautista showed up ready to read lines...poorly. The real tragedy of this tale however is that RZA clearly shows some real passion for the material but was unable to attain the skills needed to make it into what it should have been, a kick ass kung fu flick!



How do you take a simple money grab and totally screw it up? Just look at this follow up to the hugely successful first film. The recipe for making a horrible sequel seems to have been to take away all the suspense, all the tension and all the excitement from the franchise by taking away Liam Neeson's balls and replacing them with a couple of sour grapes. Taken indeed.



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Top 5 Worst Films of 2012
(The worst of the worst. The ones that made me want to stop watching movies)

5.



The "American Pie" franchise isn't what I would call a favorite of mine. I have enjoyed them for what they were, high spirited teenage sex romps for the most part, but I have never held them in very high esteem as others seem to. But even I could recognize the need for a proper wrap up for the series, a proper end to bookmark the lives of all these characters many have come to really connect with. Which makes the fact that this perfect set up, a class reunion, to bring all these characters back together for a final farewell such a disaster. It isn't funny, it isn't nostalgic, many of the relationships built up over the course of the four films feel undercooked as if the people who wrote this never watched the other films and worst of all, the don't really even end it. This should have been a last hurrah but it ended up being a last meh.

4.



This sequel to the 2009 horror movie throwback of the same name (minus one of those "D"s) is a shameful follow up to a film that shouldn't have been that difficult to make a sequel to. It's simple really, just give us more blood, more gore and a ton of innocent teenagers to get gobbled up in new and inventive ways and that would have been enough. But nope, instead we get a film that was made for no more than a few bucks or whatever they found under the couch cushion, a story that...wait a second...there was no story...not even a bad one?! This was just a flat out bad movie and an even worse horror movie. Do yourself a favor and swim upstream to avoid this one, not even fans of the original should see this dreck.

3.



The worst special effects sequence of the year, hands down. Is one really lousy scene worth the number three spot of the worst films of the year? No, not really I suppose, but the rest of it sure is. I love Guy Pearce as an actor, he is one of strongest male actors working today, but he is just totally wasted here. It looks like he had fun making this "Escape From New York" meets "Die Hard" in space action flick, but sadly we don't have any fun watching him have fun. That's because from the thinly drawn characters, to the wafer thin and highly predictable plot, this wanna-be space action/adventure just never reaches orbit and crash and burns in the atmosphere instead. Plus, that opening chase scene...what were they thinking?


2.



Hollywood put out a lot of crap this year (it's amazing that Battleship didn't make this list), but nothing tops Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" when it comes to pure pain and torture. With a stellar ensemble cast comprised of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Moretz and the always delicious Eva Green, it was one of the biggest crimes of the year how underutilized their many talents were. Featuring flat jokes, a comical but somehow unfunny Johnny Depp, a series of plots and subplots that go nowhere and mean absolutely nothing and a final showdown that comes out of left field and derails the already crashed train. No other film had this much potential and came crumbling down as "Dark Shadows".


1.



This movie almost defeated me. I have sat through some outright bad movies over my lifetime. Some were laughably bad, others were boring and trite and a very select few are what I like to refer to as extremely trying experiences. But never have I wanted to stop a movie as often as I did with "Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie". Don't get me wrong here, I know these guys have their fans and I respect that. I am fully aware that comedy in general is a very subjective thing. But while many comedies just fail to connect, this one was just outright offensively bad in every sense of the word.

The comedy found in Tim and Eric's movie is beyond the lowest common denominator. It sometimes feels like a sketch comedy and other times feels like maybe a parody about our lives if we happened to live on another planet. You have such hilarious highlights as teenage kids shooting fecal matter on to adults for pleasure, a man who runs a used toilet paper store that has his child kidnapped by Tim so he can be a dad and plenty of jabs at the Hollywood system that are so blatant and over the top that they would be lucky to elicit a groan from the viewer. Oh and did I mention they throw a kid into the air and then blow him up?

I will admit that perhaps there are worst films out there and that choosing this as my worst film of the year is based mostly off the fact that I just didn't get it. However, even if the comedy had clicked with me I still doubt I would have looked up the film any more favorably. In the end it is just a badly made movie. None of it makes any sort of sense, the two main characters are one note jokes that don't have any real distinct personalities and (spoiler alert) by ending it with it all being a dream shows even more contempt for the audience as it is revealed to be even more senseless than we were led to believe. Unless you have some sort of misguided affinity for the shenanigans of Tim and Eric, I cannot imagine a world where this film is looked upon with anything other than extreme contempt.


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Reactions:

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice list altogether but you seem to disregard how well some movies are actually created, like "The Master", and you do not give credit where credit most certainly is due.

While every list is opinionated, you put together a list of your favorite films, not the best films (by quality, acting, production, directing, storytelling, concept, screenplay, cinematography etc.)

All in all, great read, with superb english but the list makes very little sense to me.

David Weaver said...

I understand that a film like "The Master" is well made, but in the end it just isn't a good or entertaining film...and I consider myself a fan of P.T. Anderson.

As for my criteria when putting this list together, it is certainly based on what I believed to be the best of the year which automatically equates into my favorite films of the year ( I don't understand how you distinguish between the two). But to say the films I listed did not have quality acting, production, directing, storytelling, concept, screenplay or cinematography makes no sense to me.

Sure, each one may not be a stand out in every single one of those categories (very few films are), but I believe that each of my picks has an equal number of those bullet points to earn a place on that list. For example...

Looper - quality acting, screenplay, directing, storytelling and one of the best concepts for a Sci-Fi/time travel film to date.

Life of Pi - quality acting, production, directing, storytelling, cinematography.

Then you have films that may not be everyones cup of tea like "The Cabin in the Woods", "Dredd" or "The Raid", but you have to keep in mind that each of those films is a standard bearer for their individual genres, just because they are fiction, have horror elements or is a simple action flick does that make them any less worthy to be recognized for their monumental achievements in their respective genres.

To say something like "The Master" (which is the only example you gave) is disregarded because I chose to recognize films not usually recognized because they are not "serious films" is quite honestly ridiculous. I gave "The Master" low marks for being a near incomprehensible mess of a narrative. Sure, the acting is amazing (as I mentioned in my review), the cinematography is outstanding (as I also remarked in my review), but when the experience leaves you feeling empty and unsatisfied by the end, what is the point of those qualities if they weren't used to support a good film?

I appreciate your feedback and hope you don't take this as an attack, I am merely trying to state and defend my choices for what they are, which are my favorite (and what I believe to be the best) films I saw last year.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You are implying that I took "The Master" as an example because it is a serious film? Well maybe I should´ve taken more examples and I apologize for that as I have nothing against different genre films. As a huge fan of Asian films in general, I was incredibly happy to see you include "The Raid", which was spectacular.

Best does not equal Favorite, purely because there are some films that I despise with my heart and soul but does that make those films bad? Most definetly not, I am still able to see the brilliance in films, whether I like them or not. Like for instance, I dislike all Godfather movies... but thats just personal taste, the 1st Godfather movie is incredibly well made, so I cant just give it a low score because of my taste, while it will most definetly pull the score down a bit. I still judge movies heavily on the way they were created.

Also, "at least until "Avegners 2" comes along that is."

There´s a small spelling error in the last line when you write about "The Avengers".

Just so you know, I do not take discussing things as an attack whatsoever, Im very open minded and willing to listen to other peoples opinions, ideas and their thought process, I think that that makes us all better writers.



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