New review of Men In Black 3 up on my new blog, Rhode Island Movie Corner. This is where I'll be posting all future movie reviews from now on, so stay tuned...
New review of Men In Black 3 up on my new blog, Rhode Island Movie Corner. This is where I'll be posting all future movie reviews from now on, so stay tuned...
Review of The Hunger Games up at RT
New review of 'John Carter' up at RT.
'This Means War' follows a general plot that, to put it point-blank, has been done about a million times already. You know, the story where two friends suddenly become rivals when they both try to acquire something. There's really nothing new about it, and considering how some of the movies in this genre have turned out, it seems like it wouldn't be that good either. But really, when are we ever going to see a film that stars not just Captain Kirk from the recent reboot of Star Trek but Bane from The Dark Knight Rises as well? That's what got me interested. But, needless to say, this film doesn't start out that well. The humor fell flat and the whole romance aspect of the film was not working to its favor. But, after about half an hour, the film gets back on its feet and the end result is a decently entertaining film despite its flaws.
The two friends in question here are CIA agents FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), whose friendship is put to the test when they both get caught in a complicated situation. Tuck, having gone through a divorce, starts dating product testing executive Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon). The two hit it off well until FDR starts dating her also, not realizing that Tuck is dating her too. Soon both realize the problem that they are in and although they initially agree not to interfere with each other, the two turn to sabotage as both desperately try to outdo each other in order to win Lauren's affections, no matter how crazy things get. Even when they are in the middle of searching for a criminal (Til Schweiger) who vows revenge on the two after an incident in Hong Kong.
For the first 30 minutes of this film, it is very annoying and, dare I say, kind of painful to watch. Sure, the opening action sequence was entertaining but after that things started to go downhill really fast. The humor kind of felt like, well, the humor you normally see in a Michael Bay movie or an Adam Sandler comedy. Considering the former, it really isn't that surprising seeing how director McG is commonly referred to as the 'less successful' Michael Bay. I did find it funny though when a kid's father starts to threaten Tom Hardy because if Hardy was the character he was in 'Warrior' or what he will hopefully be in 'The Dark Knight Rises', he could kick that guy's butt in under a minute. Here, he's noticeably much smaller than he was in those movies.
Anyway, the biggest problem with this film is the romance, and I'm not annoyed about it because its unrealistic,which it is. It's not because Tom Hardy's character is the more suitable guy for Reese Witherspoon's character, which he is. It's not because this is one of those situations that could be over in about five minutes, which it is. It's just that this romance reaches borderline stalker territory very fast. In the film, FDR is the womanizer the same way Kirk was in Star Trek. Tuck, on the other hand, is the nice guy. For one thing, when Tuck first dates Lauren, he doesn't use the CIA's equipment to track her like FDR does. But then, even Tuck uses it in order to monitor the progress between FDR and Lauren. When their co-workers question this, all they do is make an excuse like 'the Patriot Act' or something. They don't get in any trouble for this at all, which again would never happen. It just makes the two guys unlikeable which is pretty much how the formula goes for this type of movie. The emphasis on the romance is so big that the inclusion of the villain played by Schweiger is really unnecessary.
But despite my problems with the film, it does get better. Once the two guys start to sabotage each other while they are on dates, it gets really entertaining. The humor also gets much better although the 'stalker-like' romance was still very creepy. I mean let's face it, the two guys are spies and anything with spies is fun to watch. But the best part of this movie would have to be the cast. Even if this was a rather poor script, the three leads still did a solid job fitting their roles well with what they had to work with. The shining stars of this picture are Pine and Hardy, who work off each other extremely well. Witherspoon does a solid job as well and Pine and Hardy both have good chemistry with her.
So to put it simply, This Means War is one of those movies where if you rent it (which is what I recommend), skip the opening. If this film did not improve after that, then I would've given it a much lower score. I really didn't want to give it that because I was hoping that this film would be good but that opening nearly convinced to do so. Thankfully, things got better but that being said, it's rather hard for me to recommend this movie. There's stuff in it that works and other stuff that doesn't, namely the romance that is the main point of the whole film. If you're into spy stuff, then this film is for you. If you're into romantic comedy movies that just so happen to have action in them, then this film is for you. While I can't say I'm totally against what critics are saying, I do not believe that this is the worst film of 2012 so far. This Means War could have been a whole lot better, but for what it is, it's decent entertainment.
The found-footage genre has certainly become huge in recent years. Ever since the Blair Witch Project came out in 1999, movies like Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity series have become big hits. But is Hollywood overdoing it? Movies like 'Apollo 18' and 'The Devil Inside' have gotten poor reviews from critics and there seems to be a new film like this every few months. But from the vast amount of these movies comes 'Chronicle', a film that does not fall victim to the common cliches of found-footage movies. The result is an incredibly entertaining film with some of the best character development I've seen in a long time.
The film opens when three high-school friends from Seattle, outcast Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell), and their friend Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) find a strange hole in the ground while at a party. After going down into it and finding a mysterious cave, they develop telekinetic powers, allowing them to move objects at will and even fly. At first, the trio use their powers for fun and games, but things soon start to get out of control as Andrew's troubled life unleashes his dark side, spelling danger for them all.
The best thing about this movie is how it handles its character development, particularly with the character of Andrew. Out of all of the three leads, he is the one going through the most problems. His mom is gravely ill and his father drunkenly abuses him both physically and mentally. If this film was done another way, Andrew would've most likely been a jerk from the very beginning but that's not the case here. You sympathize with him and genuinely feel sorry for him whenever bad stuff happens to him. Steve and Matt are also likeable characters and the three guys have solid chemistry. DeHaan, Russell, and Jordan all do fantastic jobs as well.
The best way to describe the tone of this movie is that it does change as the movie progresses. At first, it's a light-hearted film as the three guys test out their powers mostly by doing pranks. They're not doing this to be mean, they're just trying out their new powers. But once stuff starts to happen, that's when it becomes much more serious. Even with this change in tone, it doesn't feel sloppy. The movie perfectly balances the humor with the sad and serious moments of the film. It all ends with a very exciting final battle where unlike other movies, the camera doesn't go crazy and we can see what's going on. This film was made on a 15 million dollar budget and the effects do look good for a movie of this genre and that kind of budget. This is one of those movies that doesn't need heavy CGI to tell its story.
All in all, Chronicle is a fantastic movie and may possibly remain one of my favorite films of 2012 even with all of the films that are coming out like 'The Avengers' and 'Dark Knight Rises'. For a found-footage movie, it transcends the boundaries of the genre to tell a well-written story with exceptional character development. Even when the movie's tone changes it isn't so dramatic that it ruins the movie. It builds things up at a steady pace with a solid climax that 'might' leave things open for a sequel. If they do decide to do one, I'm interested to see what route they go with it. But even if they don't, that's totally fine.
Red Tails is a film more than 20 years in the making. After being repeatedly denied by studios who weren't willing to finance a movie with a near all African-American cast, George Lucas has finally brought the story of the renowned Tuskegee Airmen to the big screen. This is the first film from Lucasfilm Ltd. in nearly 2 decades to not be associated with Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Considering how some of the recent films in those series have turned out, the primary thing I hoped for going into this movie was that it wouldn't fall victim to the same mistakes made by the Star Wars prequels. Thankfully that wasn't entirely the case, and while it isn't a masterpiece, Red Tails is a well-made film that has deep respect for the Airmen, resulting in an entertaining film that, if anything else, is better than the prequels.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American fighter pilots during WWII. Despite the prejudice against them, Colonel A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) works to convince his superiors that the pilots in the Tuskegee training program are up to the challenge. Sure enough, they get their chance when they are given the task of defending bombers, with their superiors hoping that they will not make the same mistakes that past fighters have committed whose focus was more on enemies than protecting the bombers. Led by Bullard and Major Emmanuel Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.) the men of the 332nd Fighter Group, including Martin 'Easy' Julian (Nate Parker) and Joe 'Lightning' Little (David Oyelowo), work to prove themselves against all odds.
Now even though past Lucasfilm productions were burdened by some bad writing and hokey dialogue, Red Tails really doesn't fall to that same level. Sure, there is one character who only spoke cliched lines (which I'll get to in a minute) but aside from that, I don't think the dialogue was really that bad (and yes, there is some obvious Hollywood influence for some of it (like the 'WE FIGHT! WE FIGHT! WE FIGHT!' chant for example) but it didn't really hurt the movie). While they didn't exactly tell the full story of the Tuskegee Airmen (primarily the struggle they went through just to even join the army), the film truly does show respect and honor for these men.
The actors that played these men also did a great job too and worked well together. Although some characters were more developed than others, the writers did a good job at distinguishing each of the airmen enough so that we can tell which is which,. The standouts of this cast are probably Parker and Oyelowo. Parker is the leader of the group dealing with a drinking problem while Oyelowo is the daredevil of the group. The rest of the cast is good too, though I question why they had Ne-Yo ('Smoky') basically talk like Boomhauer from King of the Hill but that's just me. As for Howard and Gooding Jr, they do their jobs well but Gooding Jr.'s role was rather limited. The same could be said for Howard, but his character was more developed. Of course, we can't talk about this film without talking about the biggest part of it; the aerial fights and they are really entertaining. The visuals are top notch which is something that Lucasfilm's company ILM is known for.
Now as I said before, even if the dialogue in this film was ultimately cheesy and cliched, I honestly didn't feel it when it came to the dialogue between the airmen. But don't get me wrong, there was some really hokey dialogue in this movie, mostly coming from this one German who I'm guessing is the main 'villain', though it kind of doesn't make sense because aren't the WWII German soldiers in general supposed to be the villains? Anyway, this guy really just spoke in cliches saying lines like 'They're only rookies. This'll be easy' and 'Die, you stupid African!'. I'm not saying it's unnatural, but it just didn't feel right.
So in the end, Red Tails might not be that great of a film but for a January release, it is better than most of the films that come out around this time. This is a film that really could've been something great had it been written better, like fixing up the villain's dialogue for example. It also really didn't delve that much into the adversity that these men went through in order to become as famous as they are today. But even though that is the case, the cast still did a good job and the film ultimately does have great respect for the Airmen. Red Tails is kind of like Star Wars because of the doubt that studios had in this film being a hit. I salute George Lucas for, if anything else, getting this film made. It's not exactly as good as the original Star Wars films but it's an improvement over the prequels.
Well, after going on for a while about Transformers 3, now it's time to get back on track. Hopefully, I won't be going on for long about any of these few films. So here are my picks for the 4 best films of 2011
Coming in Number 4 just happens to be the fourth entry in this film's franchise. Now when it comes to the fourth film in the series, usually they will follow a rather crappy third film and will be good enough to be better than that film but will not be better as the first two films. Now this film is a different story because not only does it come after a really good third film, but it just so happens to be the best in the entire series.
4. Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Mission Impossible is about teamwork, but if you see the first two movies you probably would think that it is all about Tom Cruise. That is why Mission Impossible really didn't get better until J.J. Abrams took over in 2006 when he directed the third film. It was the first real movie in the series with a solid team. Ghost Protocol continues that trend, but does an even better job at handling the team. Not only is each member given a solid role in the film, but they were also well developed characters as well. Remember, in the first movie Cruise's team was killed off in just about ten minutes and in the second movie, it was really all about Cruise in that film. So in this film, it ain't all about Tom Cruise. Ghost Protocol also shows that director Brad Bird has successfully made the jump from animation to live-action movies. So in short, if they do a sequel and Bird, Cruise, and his team come back, I think it will all be good.
Like I said before, Marvel really kicked ass this year when it came to movies (compared to DC with the disappointing Green Lantern film). Thor and Captain America continued to get us pumped for the Avengers but there was one other superhero film Marvel released this year. A reboot of a franchise that was, for lack of a better term, down in the dumps. Not only is this the best superhero film of the year, it may just be one of the best, if not the best, Marvel films of all time and considering its competition, that's saying a lot.
3. X-Men: FC (Can't say the full title because this site won't allow me to. Can't even show a picture.)
The original X-Men film directed by Bryan Singer released in 2000 is widely regarded as the first major film in the revival of comic book movies of the 21st century. I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of it compared to some of the other superhero movies but it was a really good film with a top notch cast (seriously, can you go wrong with both Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen). Then came X2, again directed by Singer, which up until now was considered the best in the series. I've never seen it in its entirety, so I can't really comment on it. But after Singer left to do Superman Returns (which let's face it, didn't really turn out that well), the X-Men series started to drop in quality. X3 was directed by Brett Ratner. It wasn't that bad (recently it's become a guilty pleasure of mine) but there was something about it that just didn't work compared to Singer's films. X-Men Origins Wolverine... was, as Spill.com would say, Some Ol'BS. It was just unnecessary and also had some really terrible special effects (primarily with Wolverine's claws). Not even Hugh Jackman, returning as Wolverine, could save the film.
So now we have X-Men: FC. Singer returns, but only as producer/writer, but that's fine because I think that just having him back saved this franchise a lot. This time in the director's chair we have Matthew Vaughn, fresh off of 2010's Kick-Ass who was also considered for the same position for the third film as well as Thor. With X-Men, Vaughn becomes one of the top directors in the industry when it comes to comic book movies.The 1960's setting of the filmmakes italmost feellike it's a James Bond movie. There's no better example of this than the film's opening when Magneto goes around hunting for Sebastian Shaw. It makes you wonder why Michael Fassbender wasn't in the running for the role of James Bond.
While the original three X-Men films overshadow the cast of FC in terms of star power (McKellen, Stewart, Hugh Jackman, etc...),this film'scast is actually better on a performance level. The two leads, Fassbender and James McAvoy, are excellent and fit into the roles left by their predecessors perfectly. Admittedly, I was rather skeptical of McAvoy playing Professor X. It's not because I don't think McAvoy's a good actor, but I didn't really see how he could match that of Patrick Stewart. Thankfully, he blew my expectations out the window as he became the wise professor as the film went on. At the beginning of the movie, you can pretty much say he's, well, a pimp. Fassbender, on the other hand, steals the show as Magneto and I had no doubt that he would do an awesome job. As mentioned before, he plays it like he's James Bond at first and then fits perfectly into the role of Ian McKellen. The rest of the cast is solid as well, from Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique to Nick Hoult as Beast (although the makeup (or 'CGI', whatever they did) used when he becomes Beast is rather weak compared to the makeup used for Kelsey Grammer in X3). Kevin Bacon's Sebastian Shaw was the best villain in 2011 because he actually did more compared to the other major villains in this year's superhero films.
There's really nothing that bad I can say about this movie because it did what a prequel was supposed to do; develop its characters and aside from some characters (most notably one character who is introduced and then killed off in about ten minutes), they did a fantastic job. This is pretty much the 2011 equivalent of JJ Abrams' reboot of Star Trek and the way I see it, both should serve as templates for making a prequel. Not only is FC the best superhero film, the best X-Men film, and the best Marvel film of the year but it may also very well may be the best Marvel film of all time.
My pick for the 2nd best film of the year sadly didn't do much at the box office this year. Filmed on a 25 million dollar budget, it didn't gross enough to earn back its budget. That's really sad because not only was this the best sports film in a long time, but it also is a well-made drama that can be very much be the equivalent of another sports movie. And no, I'm not talking about Moneyball...
Perhaps the prime reason why the 1975 film Rocky was such a great movie was that even if you weren't a fan of boxing, you still found the film entertaining because you root for the main character to succeed. That works the same way when it comes to Warrior. I'm no fan of MMA, but it isn't required for one to be so in order to enjoy this film. It was a well-written, acted, and directed drama where in the end, you root for both of the main characters, meaning that you will have to choose when both have to fight each other.
So why didn't this film do that much at the box office? The way I see it, the main reason why was because there really wasn't any major stars attached to this film. Sure, Tom Hardy is going to be Bane in the 'Dark Knight Rises' next year and he was in 'Inception' but his other co-stars, aside from Nick Nolte, aren't really that notable. But this cast did an exceptional job. Hardy shines as Tommy Conlon, an ex-Marine with a troubled past in what is undeniably his breakout role as a leading man. You feel the pain that he is going through having gone through hell dealing with his father being drunk (Linot being there in his life) and his brother generally abandoning him and his mother when they really needed him. On the other side of the spectrum, we have Joel Edgerton who is also excellent as Tommy's brother Brendan. Admittedly the only real problem I had is that while you do root for both brothers at the end, at first Tommy is kind of a jerk. Edgerton's character, on the other hand, is the one we relate to; a guy down on his luck trying to make ends meet to support his family. But, when Tommy's secrets are revealed, that was when I officially started to like him. Both of these characters aren't perfect but you can sense the pain that each of them went through. But if you want to talk a great performance that is no doubt Oscar worthy, just watch Nick Nolte. Like his two sons, you also see the pain that he went through which in this case was his past mistakes which broke his family apart. I will genuinely be shocked if he isn't nominated for an Academy Award.
If I did not see the film that I picked as the best of the year, Warrior would've been my choice for the best film of 2011. Like with Matthew Vaughn and comic book movies, director Gavin O'Connor (Miracle) has become one of the top sport film directors in the industry. If you didn't see this film when it was in theaters, I highly recommend watching it because you missed one hell of a film.
So before I name my favorite film of 2011, here are 2 films that barely missed the cut on this list.
Moneyball- I know this was the film that got really rave reviews and will probably be nominated for an Academy Award, but compared to Warrior I wasn't really that impressed with it. Don't get me wrong it's a great movie with great performances from Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and a smart script. I mean really can you go wrong with a movie co-written by the guy who did The Social Network?
Rise of the Planet of the Apes- Like X-Men, Rise was a great reboot of the series. Admittedly I had some problems with some of the character development in this movie but it was an entertaining movie with a top notch performance from Andy Serkis even as an ape.
Now last year when I named my best of list for the year of 2010, I listed a film from a certain series as my pick for the best film of 2010. That list was kind of bad actually because I only really listed the 5 best films from the last three months of the year but I still stand by on my decision of the best film of that year. My pick for the best film of 2011 also happens to be part of the same franchise and was a fitting conclusion to arguably the best film series of this generation.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2
Let's face it, movie sequels will usually decline in quality once they go on for a while. The Harry Potter movies have never gone this path. This series has actually gotten better as the series has progressed. This year, it all came to an end with the 2nd half of the conclusion to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Last year, Deathly Hallows Part 1 served as the film to develop the plot more before things all went down in Part 2. Some people really didn't like the slow pace of that film but I really liked it because was different from the usual 'go to school, something happens' story. The other main reason why I liked that film was because it helped me regain my interest in the franchise. In 2009, when Half Blood Prince came out, I hadn't read the books or had even paid attention to the series because I was gaining interest in other movies so when I saw Half Blood Prince, admittedly I was rather mixed on it. It's a great film and worked well with the drama aspects of the story, but was rather weak on action compared to the last few films.
So as you can guess, Deathly Hallows Part 2 brings the HP story to a close in one of the most epic final battles in cinema history. Admittedly when it was first announced that the final book would split into two films, I was rather mixed about the move because I questioned how they would be able to do such a thing. But now I'm fine with it because Deathly Hallows is a big enough book to be split into two films, unlike some other franchise (*cough* Twilight *cough*). If they were to make it just one film, they would have to leave out a lot of stuff and, let's face it, every Harry Potter movie has left out something from the book. Both parts of Deathly Hallows have done good jobs at not leaving out anything major from the books. Admittedly though, that leads to my one main complaint about Part 2 in that they didn't show the deaths of some of the main characters. They are just shown dead and we really don't get much time to react to all of it.
But really can you go wrong with a film like this? It's Harry Potter, the only real franchise out there has never made a bad movie even after a whopping 8 films. Each new film has just gotten better and better as they have gone on so much so that everything is almost perfect here from the cast (especially the 3 leads themselves, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) to the special effects. This film really pulls at your heartstrings at times, most notably the scene where Harry learns Snape's secrets. That part actually got me a little teary-eyed because it's so emotional. I'm serious when I say that Alan Rickman should get some major award for his performance in this movie.
I'm surprised (and kind of annoyed) when a lot of people say that the later films were made only for those who have been following closely to the books because I don't get how this could be a valid argument. That's the point of a 'sequel', to continue the story so really whoever says that must probably not be a fan of the series. I boldly salute both the entire Harry Potter franchise, author/creator JK Rowling, and this film especially for having done such a fantastic job at keeping us entertained. It's truly sad that this great series has finally come to an end.
And that's it for my list for the best films of 2011. Thanks for reading. Till next year, everyone...
Originally, this was supposed to be the blog for my top 5 films of the year but the next film on my list got me writing for a while so I'll release this one now and do 4-1 for tomorrow.
What better way to start things off with a controversial choice. As I mentioned in my last blog, there was going to be one film on this list that will no doubt be on many people's 'worst of the year' list. Number 5 is that movie. Even though this film made a lot of money at the box office, that doesn't mean that it got good reviews. I'll go as far and say that this was the most hated movie of 2011, and most unfairly hated I might add. Now this and none of its predecessors are masterpiece films but I feel like people expect way too much out of them. Not only was this film the best in the series so far, but it was a huge improvement over its predecessor. If you haven't guessed yet...
5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I don't think anyone likes any of these 'Transformers' movies now, which I find really disappointing because I distinctly remember a lot of people liked the first film when it came out back in 2007. Seriously, what the hell happened there? Then of course came Revenge of the Fallen which got incredibly bashed and scored multiple Razzies. I've gone on record and said that even I think that film's a mess but I wouldn't dare call it the worst of the year. Let's face it, aside from Star Trek, Harry Potter 6, and the Hangover, 2009 wasn't really that great of a year for summer movies.
And now Dark of the Moon has come out, yet again getting bashed by critics, and rather harshly I might add. Revenge of the Fallen obviously was a mess of a film, but I fail to see why Dark of the Moon is worse. This was by far the best out of the series, and it heavily improved on most of the faults from Revenge. Now let me set the record straight, I'm not putting this on here just to be a fanboy. Why? Because aside from these movies, I am not a fan of Transformers. I've only seen the original cartoon once and I haven't since. Also, for those of you who don't think I get the picture, don't okay because I do get it. Even I get it that this, as well as any film in this series, is far from perfect, but I'm honestly putting this film at this spot because I genuinely think it's a really good movie that is FAR better than what critics are saying.
One of the biggest problems with Revenge of the Fallen was that it had a very weak plot. It really wasn't until halfway into the movie when it was revealed just what the Decepticons were looking for here on Earth. In Dark of the Moon, the plot is much better (for one thing, it doesn't take them long to explain the plot) and even if it isn't exactly that great, it works for a film of this genre. If anything, it does kind of fall similar to the plots of the last two films but that would be the only problem I see with it. Also, Revenge of the Fallen suffered from having way too much humor in it. Now, I'm fine with most of the humor in Revenge of the Fallen, but did we need to have a joke every five minutes? Here, it's toned down enough that it still works well without being too awkward. The filmmakers were smart enough to get rid of many of the annoying characters from the last film. Some are still there (primarily the parents) but their roles have been reduced.
So one of the main complaints towards this movie is that it's too long. So, we're not going to say that a film like Avatar was too long? Honestly, I don't feel that runtimes should really be a reason why one should like or dislike a movie. Really, the main thing people criticize this movie for is its 'wooden characters and dialogue'. When it comes to this, I would argue this; who seriously goes into these movies expecting strong characters, story, and dialogue? That's the main problem I have with the criticisms directed towards this movie in that I feel that critics expected too much from it. I never go into any of these movies expecting something like 'Amadeus'. This film, as well as the first two Transformers films, are perfect examples of summer blockbusters that don't need to be well-written to be entertaining. No film is perfect.
I know that none of the performances in this film are Oscar worthy, but again I feel that it works for this kind of the film. There's no better example of this than of the two leads. Unlike a lot of people, I don't hate Shia LaBeouf and I think he was perfect for the role of Sam Witwicky. As for the new female lead Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, I don't see how she is worse than Megan Fox. To be honest, Fox makes Whiteley look like Audrey Hepburn by comparison. She was ten times better than Megan Fox mainly because of one reason; her relationship with LaBeouf was much more believeable. Fox's character really didn't seem that interested in Sam. It seemed like she was just dragged along when things started to go down and really, for Whiteley's first film, she honestly isn't that bad of an actress. True, this may not've been the best choice for a film debut, but she wasn't that bad. I salute Bay and Spielberg for making the decision to get rid of Fox.
I also want to talk about three things in the film that have been heavily criticzed by some people while I find it utterly ridiculous to list as a valid complaint towards this film. The first is a line spoken by Sentinel Prime. The line, 'The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few', was spoken by Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ironically, Nimoy voiced Sentinel Prime in this movie. Many are saying that they butchered the line but aside from the fact that a line never determines whether or not a movie is good or not, I would argue that it was a unique take on the line. In Star Trek II, Spock says this to remind Captain Kirk that 'the needs of the many' are more important than that of just one person. In Transformers, Sentinel is the villain whose goal is to restore the planet of Cybertron so when the Autobots try to stop him, he thinks that they don't care about their fellow Transformers. This line wasn't just added just because it would be cool to have Nimoy say it again, but it is actually given a sinister take on the meaning.
The second thing that many have noticed is that during the highway chase in Washington DC, Michael Bay uses two shots from the 2005 film 'The Island'. While it is undeniable that those shots were from that film, how do I put this lightly? Oh yeah, Bay directed that film too. The thing is, an extra got seriously injured while they were filming this so I'm fine if Bay decided to use a shot, mainly because it was from a movie he did. Sure, if it was from some other director's movie, that would be a big problem but because it was from one of Bay's movie, I don't mind.
But the complaint that angered me the most is that many consider one of the tracks from the score, 'It's Our Fight', a ripoff of the trailer music made by Zack Hemsey for Inception. Yes, the tracks are similar in how they work but I fail to see how it ripoffed Hemsey's work. This may be because I'm getting so tired of everyone calling this as such because in all serious, this was the best score of the year. Believe me, there were some really good scores this year from films like Patrick Doyle's score for Thor or Henry Jackman's score for X-Men.But the reason why I think this is the best score of the year is because composer Steve Jablonsky's score equally mixes emotional and serious themes with some really epic action music. With this film, Jablonsky has become one of the best composers of the industry in my opinion.
Now I do have one main complaint with the film in that I feel that it was rather mispromoted. Before it came out, it was being marketed by those who worked on it as a 'really serious' film but in the end, it was still just your basic Transformers movie. I don't think that's honestly a bad thing, but if they really wanted to make a really serious movie they should've done some more stuff. Aside from one of the main characters, the only major characters who die in this movie are just the Transformers themselves. Sure, the death of Ironside was unexpected but maybe the film would've been more serious is they killed off one of the main characters, perhaps Josh Duhamel or Tyrese Gibson's characters. I mean, Gibson doesn't appear until an hour into the movie.
But that's really the only real complaint I have with the movie, and it doesn't affect my opinion of the film in anyway. I would also like to point out that out of all of the films I've seen this year, Transformers Dark of the Moon is the best 3-D movie of the year because it it was actually filmed in 3-D. I've figured it out that if a movie is post-converted into 3-D then usually it isn't really that good. This film used 3-D the right way. That's where I'll end talking about this film. Will my opinion matter in the long run? Nope! This film will still get nominated for multiple Razzies and will probably win many of them. This will still be on a lot of people's 'Worst of the Year' list. But I feel that Transformers: Dark of the Moon has been rather unfairly criticized mainly because I think that many people expected too much from it and like him or not, Michael Bay is the best action director out there today. I'm happy that this film got a billion dollars and I'm proud to have contributed to that total twice (both times seeing it in 3-D).
Well, I actually have to end the blog here because this went on longer than I thought. So, check back soon for the conclusion where I list the Top 4 films of the year.
Well 2011 has come to close so now having posted my Top 5 worst films of 2011, it's time to note the 10 best films of the year. Now as my friend Matt Goudreau pointed out, 2011 was kind of a slow year for movies. Don't get me wrong, there were some really good movies this year but 2011 was also plagued by multiple sequels (there were like 28 all together, or something like that) and news of reboots coming pretty much every month. So here's hoping 2012 will be a big year, as films like 'The Dark Knight Rises', 'The Avengers', and 'The Hobbit' are to come out. But for now, here are my Top 10 films of 2011, starting with numbers 10-6.
Before I begin, let me just say that of course I didn't see every movie that came out. To be totally honest, actually, I'm betting that the majority of films that will be nominated for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards will be films that most people have never even seen or heard of. So to any major critic out there, don't be surprised that films like 'The Artist' or 'The Tree of Life' aren't on here because, well, I haven't seen them. Those aren't the movies I see.
Also, if you see a film on here that you don't like (believe me, I know one film on my list will be on most people's 'worst of the year' list), don't go saying 'Oh you suck for picking that film' because A.) comments like that will be deleted and B.) respect other people's opinions, please.
And finally, there may be some spoilers.
So to start things off at Number 10 is one of only three movies in this entire list that isn't a straight up action film. But there's no reason why this film shouldn't be regarded as one of the best films of the year. Not only was it a welcome return for a franchise that hasn't been around in a long time, but it was also a incredibly charming and heartfelt film that will please both newcomers and veterans of this license.
When it comes to past Muppet movies, admittedly I've seen each only once and even so, it had been a couple of years ago. Of course, being that I was born in the 90's, I didn't grow up with the Muppet Show. But one of the first video games I ever owned was this Muppets racing game for the PlayStation and I've seen the 3-D show at Disney World a few couple times so I could argue that, in a way, I did grow up with the Muppets. But easily the main reason why this film got my interest is its marketing campaign, which was without a doubt the cleverest marketing this year with all of these parodies of some of this year's big-name movies like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Paranormal Activity. But all joking aside, this was an outstanding movie that clearly shows how devoted writer/star Jason Segel was to this project.
After 3 years without a film, Steven Spielberg returned to the director's chair this year... twice in the same month. That is where my pick for Number 9 comes in, a drama that is both emotional and heartfelt, arguably Spielberg's best live-action film in a long time.
9. War Horse
Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse can kind of be called the horse version of 'Forrest Gump' because it's the same general premise of the main 'character' traveling around and meeting many different people. Admittedly, at the time I am writing this, I had just seen the film yesterday so I don't really know how to talk about this film but it really is a great film. It's what you would expect from a Spielberg film; a really solid cast, top notch production values and visuals, and John Williams' score (that's all you need to know about that). Admittedly, the one problem I had with this film is that some of the characters that this horse meets along the way are actually killed off in just a few minutes. Like I said, I can't fully explain why it is such a good movie, but this definitely deserves a spot on this list.
My pick for the Number 8 film of the year is one of those rare films this year that wasn't actually based off of anything. Hell, it even has '8' in the title.
8. Super 8
In a year full of sequels, reboots, and remakes it was nice to see a film like this do something different. This prime example of a summer blockbuster is another great film by J.J. Abrams which pretty much is his tribute to the films of his producer, Steven Spielberg. Now one of the more common complaints about this film is that the film pays homage Spielberg's films way too much. I wouldn't say that's a bad thing because halfway through, I actually forgot that Abrams directed this because it feels so much like a Spielberg film.
One of the best parts of this movie is its cast, which actually doesn't really have any major stars attached to it. The biggest names of this cast are Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights and Dakota Fanning's sister Elle Fanning. Most of the cast consists of just kids, some of which are making their film debuts. But even so, they all do a great job, especially the lead Joel Courtney (my pick for the 'Best Male Newcomer' of the year). He really sells it in this movie, making you feel the pain his character goes through having lost his mother and currently being in an estranged relationship with his father. That leads to another good thing about this film is that some parts of it are pretty emotional but none of them are cheap.
If I had to list one complaint about this movie, out of all of the homages to Spielberg, one of them I feel doesn't work today and that was how, like Jaws, you didn't see the monster until a while into the movie. But again, that would be my only real complaint with this film. Maybe the ending was a bit abrupt (another major complaint about this movie), but this was a breath of fresh air in a year filled with sequels.
You want to know why 2011 was such a slow year for movies? Well, really it wasn't until April/May when films actually starting being great. To me, the first real good movie of 2011 was Source Code but it wasn't until after I saw my pick for the 7th best film of 2011 when I finally saw that movie so to put it simply, this film was the first great film I had seen all year.
Like everyone else, I too questioned how Marvel would be able to adapt a character like Thor to the big screen, especially considering that he was going to be one of the main members of the Avengers. Well, Marvel did succeed in doing this but it was mainly thanks to two people; director Kenneth Branagh and Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. Without these two, this would've probably been a really cheesy film, but Branagh's previous films show that he was the right man to direct this film and Hemsworth shines as the god of thunder, making it one very entertaining movie.
Branagh has been known more for doing Shakespeare material than action, but that actually fits the movie perfectly. Let's face it, that's the only real way this story could be told, otherwise we would all just laugh at it. As for Hemsworth in his breakout role, he perfectly transitions from an arrogant future king to a dashing and noble superhero as the movie goes along. The rest of the cast is solid too. Anthony Hopkins as Odin is, well, Anthony Hopkins. Really, even if he's been in a bad movie, he is always great. I do admit I had some problems with the other two leads, Natalie Portman as Thor's love interest Jane and Tom Hiddleston as Thor's brother Loki. Don't get me wrong, they both do a good job but I feel like Portman wasn't given that much, especially considering that she just won an Academy Award for Best Actress. As for Hiddleston, he did a great job as Loki (believe me, having seen 'Son of the Mask', I'm happy that they actually got the character of Loki right) but as the main villain, he was more of a 'jealous' brother. Thankfully, from what we've seen in trailers for The Avengers, he will hopefully be a much more badass villain.
But there's also one other major thing about this movie which also shows how good this movie is in that is has some really good humor. I'll be totally honest, 2011 was a really crappy year for comedies, at least for me anyways. Most of the comedies I saw this year were Adam Sandler comedies (and believe me, 2 of them were godawful) or some comedies that honestly weren't that bad but not memorable either. It must show a lot because the best comedy in a film this year happened to be in a film that was not a comedy film, and Thor is that film. It works here because it isn't that cheap humor that is obviously trying to get the audience to laugh. It's the good banter between the characters, again showing that it was a good idea to get Branagh to direct this.
So at this moment, they are working on a sequel (that is coming after The Avengers, of course). Unfortunately, it already seems like it has gone through some trouble already. First of all, Branagh will not be back to direct, but even so they have had trouble finding a director. At first, it was going to be Patty Jenkins (who had directed some TV episodes) but then she left due to some apparent 'creative differences'. Now the guy in charge is Alan Taylor, who directed some episodes of Game of Thrones. I've never seen that show, but that's exactly the kind of show that I think is enough qualification to direct a Thor movie. But right now, this sequel is looking like a mess already. I hope not because Thor was not only one of the best movies of the year, it was the first movie all year where afterwards I thought to myself, 'That was a great movie'.
Number 6 just happens to be another superhero film from Marvel (they really kicked ass this year when it came to movies). Now in many ways, this film is actually a really basic film compared to Thor. But there are some things about it that are the main reason why I thought it was better than Thor. I'll even go out and say that after Iron Man, this was the best pre-Avengers movie that Marvel has done.
6. Captain America: The First Avenger
I guess that one of the reasons why I like this film so much is because when I first saw it, I had just seen the previous film adaptation of the character, the unreleased 1990 Captain America film. To put it simply, that was a really bad film, not because it was a low-budget film but for how it portrayed its main characters. Captain America was pretty much portrayed as a wimp who ran away from everything, and I'm sorry, but you are not a great superhero if you pretend to be sick and then steal someone's car. As for the main villain Red Skull, he was actually developed well as an actual villain, but after Captain America awakens from being frozen for literally decades, he ditches the red skull. Why is he called Red Skull if he doesn't have a friggin red skull?
Anyway, in this movie, there is another problem with the character of Red Skull. You would think that wouldn't be the case because he actually keeps that Red Skull for the duration of the film and is played by Hugo Weaving. But unfortunately he is rather underdeveloped as a villain. He does have presence (you feel that he is a threat throughout the movie) but he didn't really do much. But while it was an underdeveloped character, Weaving was perfectly cast and did a great job. As for Captain America, Chris Evans nailed it as both Steve Rogers and Captain America. As Rogers, his character shines through and we can relate to him. Even when he becomes Captain America, he still maintains that character throughout the film.
Why do I think this is better than Thor? Well, there was one part of the film that I think that outshined all of the superhero films this year. That is the romance and chemistry between Evans and Hayley Atwell, who plays Captain America's love interest Peggy Carter. Let's face it, the romance in Thor was kind of rushed. Here, it's a very different story. It is very believeable, both Evans and Atwell have great chemistry, and it ultimately leads to the one thing that this film did that other superhero films didn't. The ending was actually really emotional, more than any other superhero film ever made and it was because of the romance between the two leads that made it work. So while Captain America may be a rather basic superhero flick, it works exceptionally well because of its main hero, his relationship with the main love interest, and just the sense of adventure that director Joe Johnston brings to this movie.
That's it for numbers 10-6. Check in tomorrow for my Top 5 films of 2011.
When it comes to the Mission Impossible movies, I've been rather mixed on them. The first film directed by Brian De Palma was all right, but I feel that it's kind of underwhelming by today's standards. The second film, unfortunately, was the worst of the series for focusing too much on Tom Cruise and for really being nothing else than just a straight up action movie. Thankfully, things got better with the third film directed by J.J. Abrams as it did something that the last two movies didn't do; give more development to the team instead of just focusing on Tom Cruise. So that leads to Ghost Protocol which, like its predecessor, gives Cruise a solid team and even ups the ante by giving each member a solid part in the film. Because of that, Ghost Protocol is not just the best of the series, but also shows that director Brad Bird has made the jump from animation to live action quite well.
When the Kremlin is blown up by a bomb, the Russians blame the U.S. (primarily the Impossible Missions Force AKA the IMF) for the event, calling it an 'undeclared act of war'. In response to this, the President initiates Ghost Protocol, disavowing the entire IMF organization. This leaves IMF team leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team (analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), new field agent Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg, reprising his role from the last movie), and agent Jane Carter (Paula Patton) on their own as they must find the man responsible for the attack, Kurt Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), before things get even more complicated between Russia and the U.S.
Basically, the biggest problem with the first two films was that it didn't give much development to the main team and instead focused on Tom Cruise. The first one killed his initial team off in barely ten minutes or so and the second one, while it didn't kill off the team, didn't develop them that much. Hell, there was only one other team member besides Hunt, Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames, who has only a cameo in this film), and the female lead. MI3 improved on this and developed Cruise's team much more. Ghost Protocol does the same thing, but does an even better job at developing the team, giving Patton, Renner, and Pegg's characters all equal roles in the film. This is the best team out of all of the movies without a doubt.
But that isn't the only main reason why this film was so great. It had some of the best action sequences of 2011. Believe me, having seen this in IMAX (along with a real kickass prologue to The Dark Knight Rises, btw), this film will keep you on the edge of your seat. One of the main reasons why is because none of the action sequences in this movie are over in just a few minutes. The prime example of this is the sequence that takes place in Dubai at the Burj Khalifa. As soon as it 'supposedly' ends, it continues back up again in full force. That's what I call a well-made action movie. This actually feels like a summer blockbuster. The only thing is, it's released in December.
In the director's chair for this film is someone who is more known for animation. Making his live-action directorial debut is Brad Bird, who made some of the best animated movies of all time with The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille. Bird is one of two Pixar alums (the other being Andrew Stanton with next year's John Carter) to make their live action debuts as directors and Bird makes the jump with incredible ease. If you had any doubt that he could do a live-action film, just watch the Incredibles. That film is a full fledged action/superhero movie that just happened to be animated so why should he be just an animation director. Another reason why Bird is such a great director is that, like Christopher Nolan and J.J. Abrams, he is one of the best 'story-telling' directors in the industry today.
Now if I had to list one main problem with the film, the main villain, Michael Nyqvist's character, wasn't really that well defined. That may be because there were apparently a lot of villains in this movie but unfortunately, that meant that Nyqvist's character was ultimately just a basic villain with a kind of outdated plan (I don't know, the plot of 'using nuclear weapons' feels kind of old now for a movie plot). But really that's the only problem I had with this film. Ghost Protocol is the Mission Impossible film that finally realizes that there's no I in team and that it ain't all about Tom Cruise. It gives each member of Ethan Hunt's team a solid role in a movie that has some of the best action sequences of 2011. It clearly shows that Brad Bird has made the jump to live-action movies simply because he is an excellent story-teller. If they make a sequel and Bird, Cruise, and this team return, then I'll definitely see it, maybe even in IMAX. This, paired with a badass prologue that can get anyone pumped for Christopher Nolan's final Batman film, is the best movie deal I've seen in a long time.
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