Before beginning part 3 of my year-in-review opus I’d like to acknowledge how truly great a year we’ve had this year in regards to movies. For as many films and performances that will be nominated for awards, there will be just as many that have a right to feel snubbed. There were so many quality indie, genre, and franchise films that even the stingiest of movie watchers could easily find one movie they really enjoyed. This year was so great that they didn’t even abide by the normal January-February as dumping grounds mentality, releasing movies like Haywire, The Grey, Chronicle, and Wanderlust, which are all vastly superior to the normal dreck that’s usually released at the beginning of the year. Even some of the more disappointing movies of the year were at least interesting to discuss, like Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises.
Some Romances Are Stronger Than the Bonds of Time
Safety Not Guaranteed received quite a bit of love as the indie darling of the year. So much so that I assumed it would end up being this year’s annual indie movie that makes my top 5. Turns out, I didn’t like it nearly as much as everyone else. A lot of that had to do with my expectations being way too high, but the movie is far from flawless. As much as I like Mark Duplass his character is essentially a male version of a manic pixie dream girl and serves the purpose of being an eccentric person whose love saves the main character, Aubrey Plaza, despite being completely unrealistic to real life relationships. Jake Johnson has his own clichés to fight against as the guy who is a jerk but is funny enough where the audience doesn’t hate him. Then they find out his jerkiness is based around his unhappiness so they start to love him and he goes through a predictable character arc. Despite my complaints I still think the movie is good, just not as good as every other person seems to think.
Looper was writer/director Rian Johnston’s third feature film which starred Hollywood’s newest big man on campus Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis, or was Bruce Willis an old Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Time travel being used as a way for mobsters to have people killed with no evidence left behind? Awesomely brilliant idea, especially by having Jeff Daniels as the guy who traveled back in time to run it. Having numerous people have slight telekinetic powers? A little jarring and way more unbelievable than the idea of time travel for some reason. There was also a romantic sub-plot with Emily Blunt which felt a little forced, but since JGL and Blunt are so good, they made it work. That’s how the movie feels as a whole, though. It definitely has its problems and plot holes, but overall it’s so original and well-made/acted that it’s easy to forgive them.
And the Winner Is: Looper - but speaking of time travel let’s go back in time a few decades ourselves.
“Why is he splitting them up?”
“Why are they so long?”
“Why must he take something we love and ruin it?”
No these are not reviews for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. They were the assumed reaction of the tens of people who read Part 1 of my 2012 wrap up; where I dissected the year of Channing Tatum, had two Lincolns square off, and looked at one of the two live action Snow White adaptations. Part 2 will start with…
2 Films, 20 Dwarfs
Snow White and the Huntsman featured Chris Hemsworth as a hunter whose prey is apparently trees since his weapon of choice is an axe, and Kristen Stewart as a Snow White who went to the distinguished school of parted lip acting. There’s a love triangle that nobody cares about – and I’m not talking about director Rupert Sanders, K. Stew, and R. Patt – and Charlize Theron acting with as much subtly as a nuclear explosion. The dwarfs were entertaining but tragically underused.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was what I expected. It’s similar to The Lord of the Rings trilogy in a lot of ways but is not as good as any of them. Where we came to know and love every character in that series we only really get to know Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin in this. Meanwhile there are a mess of other dwarfs that are only distinguishable by variations of hair above the neck, and sometimes that doesn’t even do enough to make them stand out. Did it need to be a trilogy? No. Is the book being dragged through the mud? More like dropped in a puddle before quickly being grabbed and dried off quickly. As long as fans of The Lord of the Rings series don’t go into it expecting it to be world shattering they should enjoy themselves. I should mention I didn’t see it in 48fps but I heard mostly negative things about it.
And the Winner Is: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - even though Peter Jackson obviously thinks “dues ex machina” is Latin for giant eagles.
Last year I decided it would be in my, and by extension your, best interest to do a year-end review in the Flickchartiest way possible. The four people who read it were very vocal about how it was an adequate way of spending their break at work therefore I decided to repeat the feat this year. Luckily for you I watched an absurd amount of movies this year – too many – and to make me feel like I didn’t waste much of my time and money I will be doing a series of battles throughout the next few weeks. To get us warmed up for the ensuing blood bath, the first movie will be about a bunch of teenagers killing each other…
Women Be Shootin’
The Hunger Games was the first big release box office wise of the year. While it seemed to satisfy most of the diehard fans of the franchise many people who hadn’t smashed through the books in 5 total days had reservations. The biggest complaint was that it took too many ideas from Battle Royale, but it also garnered a heavy amount of questions beyond potential idea borrowing. Why did the elite have such bizarre hair styles? Why did the citizens of District 12 give their children such dumb names? What the hell was going on in those shaky-cam action scenes? Am I not supposed to be disconcerted with the idea of children killing each other? Some of these complaints will be satiated by Gary Ross being replaced by a new director for the sequels. A director who hopefully doesn’t keep his camera at the end of a rope that he is swinging around in a circle above his head.
Not to be outdone in the “first” department, Brave was the first big disappointment of the year for most people. Pixar has been spoiling us for so long that when they released a movie that was simply “good” we as a society rejected it and marked it as a major let down. While it had its problems I still think it was a good movie and a nice change of pace from the normal princesses that young girls get to see in movies. It’s important that they see strong females on the screen whose sole purposes in life are not finding the perfect man.
The film opens on Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper), a writer who has just hit the jackpot with his first book “The Window Tears.” It has brought him all of the fame and fortune he has ever dreamed of. There’s only one catch: Rory plagiarized it. How and why sets up the first third of the film, where we learn how Rory was an aspiring writer who had written a couple of mesmerizing short stories, but no one was willing to publish him.
For the last six years, we’ve been waiting patiently for the sophomore effort from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The husband-and-wife team responsible for 2006‘s Little Miss Sunshine, one of the finest films of the last decade, has finally returned with Ruby Sparks, an innovative romantic comedy that brings to life a fantasy most writers only dream about. It asks the question: What if those dreams came to life?