As I have chronicled previously in the space, I have the opportunity to view a considerable number of movies. At work, I attend at least a few showings each month at the local theatre, and at home Sheila and I often enjoy a good movie. Lately, I have cut back somewhat on my movie intake. At work, our choice of activities leans towards the outdoors as we are smack in the middle of Prince George's extremely short summer season. At home, my media player device is acting up again so our use has been curbed considerably. This is not to say I am not seeing any of the new releases, I just have been leaving the theatre on a number of occasions with a sour taste in my mouth. While I claim that my movie viewing has been curtailed, it seems that a quick peek at the current top 50 box office earners for the past week shows that I have seen exactly 9 of the top 50. Wow. For someone who has been "cutting back", that is a little excessive. 8 of the 9 were working trips, and there has been a few trips where I was just simply not in the mood for a long sit in a stuffy theatre. I know what you are thinking, if that is my idea of a work-related complaint, perhaps I best clam up now. I was inspired to make this post after last night's trip to the theatre to watch "The Dark Knight Rises" which quickly found it's way to number 1 on my list of movies of 2012. A quick ranking of the 9 movies I have seen that currently find themselves in the top 50.
9) The Watch - Comedy at it's worst. Slap a few funny actors together, build expectations, then watch people laugh at the "jokes" because they have been convinced everything involved should be funny. I described The Watch as "shitty toilet humour" and it is just that. Tasteless jokes done poorly. One more notch on Vince Vaughn's belt as he tumbles off the face of the comedic planet.
8) Dark Shadows - I generally like the Johnny Depp and Tim Burton combination. I knew going in to see this one that it was going to be a bit different from their usual fare. A soap opera style movie about vampires. I had no knowledge of the tv series that this movie was based on so I came at it from a completely fresh point of view. The movie had it's high points, but as I recall the last 20 minutes were a completely convuluted mess that was difficult to get emotionally invested in. The odd joke sprinkled throughout most of the movie kept it light and kept me tied in. Tim Burton decided to do away with the jokes at the end and managed to produce a mess that may just be his worst effort yet.
7) The Three Stooges - We went to this movie on a slow week. We had seen a few of the other movies playing already and unfortunately we sat down to see this. Numerous times during the movie I was asking myself "What the hell am I doing here?" The Farrelly brothers bit off a little more then they could chew with this one, I really can't see any conceivable way that this could have been funny. Perhaps going ahead and making this a kids movie would have been better, but at the same time, how many kids would have interest? Just bad, really, really, bad.
6) Marvel's The Avengers - Admittedly, when viewing this blockbuster I was quite distracted and entirely not in the mood to be sitting in the theatre. Knowing I would be sitting through 2 and a half hours of movie made me even more surly. As it turns out, I just didn't like this film. I am not a huge fan of the super hero flicks, but I quite liked both "Iron Man" and "Thor". As it turns out, this was just a longer, explosion filled action film with no proper resolution. The movie was filled with endless noise. Loud explosions, constant gunfire, "The Hulk" getting angry, it was just entirely too long. I believe the point could have been made in a much shorter time frame. Sorry to the 96% of breathing humans that liked the movie, I can't agree with you. (source: Rotten Tomatoes)
5) Snow White and the Huntsman - High point: Chris Hemsworth. He is getting roles with his muscles and looks, but I'll be damned, the man can act; see: Thor and now this movie. Low Point: Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart. Generally, I think Charlize Theron is a solid actress, but she really didn't fit this role as an "evil queen" and her acting was clunky and uninspired. Kristen Stewart on the other hand, would struggle to act her way out of a paper bag. I understand the idea of piggy-backing on her Twilight success, and hopefully for the film makers they added a few extra million to the box office numbers with her appearance. She just added so little to a movie that had plenty of potential, most of which was left unfilled.
4) Ted - This was a solid, dependable comedy that had me laughing plenty of times. Seth McFarlane stayed close to home with predictable humourous style, but who can blame him? It works, and it works well. The pairing of Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis was great, and while the "Ted" character did start to get tiresome towards the end, the small twists in the climatic ending were well done and exciting. This is the type of movie you can enjoy a second time.
3) The Hunger Games - A blockbuster of a movie, it was difficult to comprehend the amount of hype that this movie generated. While I didn't know a thing about the book series, it was funny to hear commentary from other people in regards to the flick. In the end, it most definitely delivered. Jennifer Lawrence was called "the most talented young actress in America" by Rolling Stone, and I would have to agree. Her work in Winter's Bone was incredible, and while The Hunger Games is much more commercialized and overproduced, her talent still has plenty of room to shine. With excellent supporting work provided by Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks, I went away more then pleased after watching The Hunger Games.
2) Madagascar 3 - Jasmine and I went to the theatre to enjoy this one, and enjoy it we did. We were there with a friend of mine and his daughter, and it almost seemed the adults laughed harder throughout then the kids did. I love going to this movies because I enjoy watching Jasmine have a good time, and I will be honest, some of my favorite comedic movies of the last couple of years have been cartoons.
1) The Dark Knight Rises - This movie possesses the single most important quality I look for when watching a film; the ability to grab my attention completely and hold it throughout. Clocking in at just under 3 hours running time, The Dark Knight Rises does not feel overly long and it really isn't. Gripping action coupled with very good acting makes for a winning formula. The explosions were well done, and not overkilled. The intense scenes involving the Hell prison were awe-inspiring. Bruce Wayne's eventual escape was one of my favourite scenes of the movie, as the movie took on a cliff-hanger feel. The constant twists, most notably Miranda Tate's last minute turn had me surprised, and added a great dimension to the climax of the movie.
Christian Bale is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors to watch. He gives the impression that the role of Batman was made for him, a quality that is most important when attempting to enjoy a film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a very intellegent actor who endeared himself to me with his role in 50/50 last year which I counted as one of my favorite films of the year. While it most certainly is a no brainer to get involved in the Batman series, I credit Gordon-Levitt with being a excellent "role selector", someone who knows who he is as an actor and puts himself in position to succeed. I liked the little tease at the end of the film that just may lead into yet another Batman movie, when it was revealed that his character's real first name is Robin. Quite possibly the best performance turned in was that of Tom Hardy who played the sinister villain Bane. While most North American movie goers would be unfamiliar with Hardy, I have had the pleasure of seeing him perform in "Bronson" a 2008 film about a serial killer of the same name. Tom Hardy convincing plays a psychopathic man who is blood thirsty and ruthless, if the character Bane didn't do enough to convince you of Tom Hardy's immense talents, give "Bronson" a try.