The Movie Year in Review (So Far)

I figured this would be an optimal time to review all that’s come out since the year started. After all, we are a third of the way through it.

Remember when I said at the beginning of this blog that I see everything that comes out? I wasn’t lying. I do actually try to see everything that comes out. Though unlike last year, where I literally saw everything that came out, this year I’m more involved with my Oscar Quest. And I have other shit to do. This isn’t college, there isn’t as much free time to waste. Plus, why do I need to see everything? 95% is just as good, especially when, with the other 5%, I’m not interested in them, and I already know what I’d think about them if I did see them. For example, here’s a list of the films of 2011 (so far) that I’ve yet to see, and in all likelihood will not see:

The Rite (I think we all know what the score is here. I hate horror movies, and I don’t think anyone will ever ask, “Hey, did you see that?” And if they do, it’s because they’re trying to be a dick because I said I see “everything” and they’re trying to find something I haven’t seen. We know it’s a shitty horror movie, and that’s that), Sanctum (yeah, a 3D spelunking movie. I’m sure no one will even remember this movie even exists. In fact, did you even remember this movie came out until I mentioned it? I rest my case), The Eagle (sword and sandal movie. Too much sword. Therefore not interested. I wanted more sandal), Beastly (fucking really?), Mars Needs Moms (generic, forgettable kids movie. Don’t need to see it to know that), Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 (haven’t seen the first one, so, I’ll leave it to the kids), Insidious (horror movie. Do not care), Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family (if I wanted to watch unfunny black people stereotypes, I’ll watch white people movies), and African Cats (just because, nature documentary. They’re all the same. These ones are more manipulative). Oh yeah, the Bieber movie too. But are we actually counting that as a movie?

See what I mean? Is there anything on there I really need to see? No. I’m not interested in them. They’re all forgettable, and even if they’re bad, I know they won’t be bad enough to make my Unforgivables list. So there’s no point in seeing them at all. Unless of course someone tells me I should, either because it’s “not that bad” or because “it might actually be worth putting on the Unforgivables.” I’m about 90% certain none of these films will qualify in either of those categories.

Now we have the films that I haven’t seen, and I’m not sure whether or not I will see them. It’s 50/50 at this point. This list includes: Barney’s Version (technically a 2010 film, but it was released this year. Therefore I don’t need to really count it. I don’t like Paul Giamatti, and I will probably end up not seeing this film until it’s literally placed on my lap. Like, Netflix puts it Watch Instantly. That’s my lap. Then I’ll probably end up seeing it eventually, maybe, possibly, whenever I get around to it. Like a lot of films in my Instant Queue. Other than that, really no interest whatsoever, despite the Globe win), The Mechanic (it just feels like a below-average Statham movie. It feels like a chore to sit down and watch, which is why I’ve been avoiding it. Normally I’m willing to sit through it. This one feels like that one phone call you need to make that you really don’t want to, so you put it off as long as you can. Fortunately, I can put this one off forever, so, that’s nice. Maybe I see this one, maybe I don’t), and Take Me Home Tonight (normally I’d just avoid this, but I heard there’s a massive amount of cocaine consumed in this film, and I’m kind of curious to see if that’s actually true. Other than that, not really interested in this at all). Surprisingly short list, considering. I really don’t think I’ll be missing much if I skip all of them.

No, here’s a list of the films that I haven’t seen, but almost certainly will see by some point: Country Strong (because I found it online and have a hard copy. Even though I’m not interested in it, I have it, which is 80% of the battle. I can put this on and watch it peripherally with no effort. So, this will get seen), Cedar Rapids (really excited to see if it’s as bad as I’m expecting it to be), Red Riding Hood (not interested, but all accounts say this has a very good chance at shortlisting for Unforgivable. That makes it a must-watch), Kill the Irishman (All Christopher Walken movies get watched, simple as that), Soul Surfer (really interested in seeing it, because it looks like it could be really good), Your Highness (my initial excitement about this movie has turned to morbid fascination. I’m hearing absolutely nothing good about this at all, and I’m really curious to see if it’s as bad as everyone’s saying it is. Probably gonna wait for a DVD or near-DVD copy on this one), The Conspirator (hoping this either expands its theater count or shows up online in a watchable capacity. This is the most must-watch film on this list), and Water for Elephants (I feel like I need to see this one. I’m sure it’ll be boring and generic, but Christoph Waltz can probably make it salvageable, right?).

So that’s what I haven’t seen. Which is why I’m posting this article now. It’s the work-in-progress article. Then in January you get the complete article. After I’ve seen everything I’ve needed or wanted to see. Now I’m just gonna post my brief reviews (and ratings) of what I have seen (I will also do this at the end of August. 1/3. 2/3). Then in January, I’ll do my year in review where I’ll post all my ratings and reviews from the entire year, along with what I thought they would do back from this past January. Remember when I posted the Release Calendar and guessed what I’d think about every movie? Well, I’m gonna compare what I thought to what actually happened. Including what got bumped and stuff. Really excited to do that. You could do now yourself if you wanted to do the work, but, me, personally, I don’t want to spoil it. I’d rather do it all at once. Plus, even if you did do that, when I do it in eight months, you’ll probably have forgotten all about it. Plus there will also be more than a simple number comparison. It’s like downloading a leaked track off an album you really want. It’s okay, but, once the mixed track is released, that’s the version you want to have.

So, without further ado, here’s my list of quick reviews and ratings of all the films I’ve seen so far from 2011. (I will not be posting synopses. If you don’t know what they are/really want to, go to IMDB.)

Note: I’m pretty sure we can pretty much count this as seeing “everything.” Anything that would come up in a conversation, aside from like, three big movies (all of which came out in the past three weeks), I’ve seen. That’s pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say? (You know, along with the fact that I’ve watched like, 200 Oscar movies since January. Which, update on that coming soon too.)

Season of the Witch — * * * (3 stars)

This is a typical Cage movie for 85 of its 95 minutes. It’s passable at points, and it’s laughably bad at points. And you wonder what compelled him to do it. But, like all Cage movies, especially the “bad” ones, it has ten minutes that are just so batshit insane that they redeem the entire rest of the movie.

For example — I could not tell you what happened for most of this movie’s runtime. They made allusions to witches, Cage and Ron Perlman fought some battles, then they transported a lady in a cage, then a lot of them died, and they went somewhere. It’s all a blur. What I can tell you, however, is that, in this movie’s final ten minutes, Nicolas Cage fights the most hysterical-looking CGI demon I have ever seen. It looked like a cross between a gargoyle and a turd. Plus, let’s rewind this for a second and pause to restate — Nicolas Cage. Has a fistfight. With a demon! That idea is so fucking insane that it redeems every bit of the rest of the film. Therefore, solid 3 stars. Another Cage movie worthwhile.

The Dilemma — * * (2 stars)

This movie was exactly as I thought it would be — schizophrenic. It didn’t know what it wanted to be. It’s a drama, yet they tried to market it as a comedy and tried to insert comedic moments. This is not a comedy at all. It’s pretty dramatic and not all that interesting to boot. The premise is basically explained in the trailers. You see those, you’ve basically seen the film. The film actually ends with everything coming out and them dealing with it. Like adults. It’s actually like an anti-movie in the sense that, after a certain point, everyone acts like mature adults and deals with things very rationally. It’s like that joke in Family Guy, when Stewie is gonna tell the black joke, and looks high and low in case some black people will hear and get offended. It’s like that, but if the joke were just told on its own. Like, “Okay, okay, two black guys walk into a bar — and then they paid for their drink and were very courteous and went home.” That’s what this movie is. And you’re surprised because you’re like, “and no wacky hijinx ensued at all?” Because, they don’t. You can see where maybe they tried to put some in, but, they just aren’t there. It’s very strange. I’m not really sure why this movie even exists. I really can’t explain it.

The Green Hornet — * * * (3 stars)

This was a very weak three stars. A very limp three, if you will. It got three because, I wasn’t ever really bored while watching it. I just wasn’t all that interested. It was a bad idea from the top down, with bad choices in every single role, from star to — strangely — director. A misfire through and through. The only scene I really liked was the one where they sing “Gangsta’s Paradise” in the car. That and, there were some action scenes I thought were interesting and well-staged, and might have been more so if they were in a better film. Other than that, very forgettable. I feel the best review of this movie was, “It — was.”

No Strings Attached — * * (2 stars)

Whoa boy. Here’s a film I assumed would be Unforgivable. Right from that first trailer. Then I read the script. Which was actually pretty good. A bit to sitcommy, but, overall good. It had like, 60% 4-star dialogue in an overall 3-star movie.  Which I thought would mean, if they shot it right, a 3 star movie. But, like all movies nowadays, it seems they cut all the good lines from the script and just had the characters speak plot (note, this problem will crop up again later). It wasn’t interesting at all. Instead of all this intelligent dialogue about them sleeping together, it was just, “let’s add emotion to it, and have crazy wacky supporting characters who echo the main character’s emotions, and then make it about them getting together instead of about them fucking.” Because the script spends like, 60 pages with them fucking and having fun. Then it spends about 15 of them fighting because one wants a relationship and the other doesn’t (and it’s the guy, which actually is intriguing), about 5 pages on useless shit (which, was cut from the movie, mercilessly. Though, in favor of different useless shit), and the rest was the tying up of sitcom/Rom Com plots. Though, the way they went through the hoops was actually entertaining. So ultimately I was on board for a 3-star movie. Yeah…it didn’t work out.

However, I will say, I believe this movie will not make the Unforgivables list. It’s still a bad movie though. But I don’t think it’s quite bad enough to warrant an Unforgivable tag. Though I will say, putting it on there would make my life so much easier, because there’s a lot to write about with this turd. But since when do I ever make things easy? I doubt it’ll be on there. So instead we’ll just have to leave it at, someone mentions this movie in the future and we all just shake our heads like, “Damn shame what they did to that dog.”

The Way Back — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I really enjoyed this movie. I just didn’t love it. It’s very engaging, it’s just — nothing really happens. They get in the gulag, then they escape, then they just — walk. The last hour-plus of the movie is just them walking. They walk, say shit occasionally, some people die, they get new people, they die, people leave, and that’s it. It’s engaging, but, I just didn’t love it. You could do worse though for a film released in January. Though, this is really a 2010 film. So, I guess, there’s that.

The Company Men — * * * * (4 stars)

Really liked this movie. Also a 2010 release. I was with this movie all the way. It got a bit depressing at moments, and also a bit — overbearing — at times (like, you have these realistic scenes of people losing their jobs, and then these movie manufactured moments thrown in too. Not terrible, but, it just felt like, “you’re fucking up the good groove. I want a smooth ride”), but on the whole, a very good movie. Surprised it didn’t get more attention. This is like the opposite version of Up in the Air, as in, what happens to the people after Clooney fires them. Very, very well-done. Great performances all around, especially by Affleck, Cooper, and Jones. Big fan of this movie.

The Roommate — * * (2 stars)

Forgot about this one already. Only realized I’d seen it when I saw it on this list. Standard shitty genre thriller. Roomie is weird, kinda crazy, kills people. She dies at the end. The end. Bad but not awful awful. It’s one of those you just avoid knowingly (kind of like The Rite). It’s not Unforgivable so much as it’s, just regularly bad. But we all knew what this was gonna be, didn’t we? Not sure why I watched this, actually. Maybe I was on a good run, one day and just threw it on. But it was bad, as these movies often tend to be.

Gnomeo and Juliet — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Really enjoyed this. Totally harmless kids flick, made better by some smart references to the Shakespeare. There’s also some great wordplay in this, along with some very suggestive lines, which I like to see in my kids movies. A little something for everyone. Pretty enjoyable all around, and very minimally annoying. You could do worse for a kids movie.

Just Go With It * (1 star. Maybe not even.)

You haven’t heard the last of this one. I watched exactly six minutes of this movie when it was first put online and immediately pegged it as an Unforgivable. I’m waiting for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it in its full glory, because I think we’ll have a nice rant to go on with this one. I’m excited to see the depths of my anger. I guarantee you this is a near-lock to make the Unforgivables list.

Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son — * (1 star)

It’s terrible. But we all knew that, didn’t we? Will it be Unforgivable? Maybe. I doubt it, though. I dislike putting sequels on there, just because. But if I need padding, this is one of the first films I’ll go to. (Note: Get it?) It’s definitely awful though, so, we won’t rule out an Unforgivables appearance. Let’s all just hope this is the last entry in the series. I mean, they took her house, what more can they take? (Note: Apparently not her dignity.)

I Am Number Four — * * (2 stars)

Shitty, generic action teen movie. Knew this one was gonna suck going in. I was not interested at all from moment one. It’s really just not interesting at all. There’s really nothing else to say. It’s kind of like Jumper in that sense. Boring, generic, and after you see it you almost immediately forget about it. Don’t bother with this one. The quicker you forget about it, the better.

Unknown — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Not as good as Taken, but we’ll take it. It was actually more engaging than I thought. I assumed, that since he wasn’t beating the shit out of people, that it would be bad. But, actually, it’s almost a solid three stars. I was able to get through it once. Of course, I do love Diane Kruger, so that had a lot to do with it. But, still, if you had to watch this movie, you could do a lot worse. Would I tell you to go out of your way to watch it? Hell no. But, if you had to pick a January or February movie from this list, this is one of the more tolerable ones. It’s like — you need to get shot in the arm, the leg, or the hand. Probably the arm is the safest and least painful. Right? Less arteries and shit. This is like getting shot in the arm, while the other ones are like getting shot in the hand and the face.

Drive Angry* * * * (4 stars)

Oh dear god, this movie was fucking incredible! I really did not expect this kind of greatness. I expected fun and crazy, but this was fun, crazy, and really fucking crazy.

Okay, let’s set the mood. The movie opens with a car driving out of hell. Hell looks like a castle with a drawbridge and a moat. The car jumps that, while a voiceover uses the phrase “bad ass motherfucker” no less than twice. Then, Cage shows up in Los Angeles, runs a car full of 20-somethings off the road and proceeds to execute them all. Then, he shows up at a roadside diner in the middle of nowhere and within about thirty seconds talks a waitress into wanting to fuck him. This is all in the first six minutes of the movie. The rest of the movie is about him trying to protect a baby from some satanists, and William Fichtner as hell’s “accountant”, who basically has a free pass from hell to chase Cage and is having so much fucking fun going around blowing shit up. Plus, there’s a scene where Cage fucks a woman and kills people. We’ll set the scene again. Cage is sitting on a bed, fucking a woman in the lotus position. He’s wearing sunglasses and is holding a bottle of Jack Daniels. She is having the best sex of her life. For him, it’s Tuesday. A bunch of men come in, ready to kill. Cage, mid-coitus, rolls off the bed, maintaining insertion, and kills them all. She, naturally, orgasms just as he puts a bullet between the eyes of the last guy.

I guarantee you, there is no universe that I exist in, in which a movie like that does not get at least four stars. This will go down as one of the best movies of 2011 for me. Definitely will not make the top ten list, but believe me, I’ll be mentioning it several times among my favorites come year end.

Hall Pass* (1 star)

What a god-awful unholy piece of shit this movie is. I saw this coming. The Farrelly brothers haven’t made a watchable movie in eight years, and even that was Stuck on You. So, I’ve come to expect bad things from them. This, however — was so fucking boring. Nothing happened! At all. And when it did, I just stared at it, blankly, amazed that someone thought this would be entertaining. This is an almost certainty to make my Unforgivables list. (Which, I’ll announce now. Since I did so well last year and had so much fun with it — will be ten films this year. Oh yeah. Get psyched.)

The Adjustment Bureau* * * * (*) (4 stars. Bordering on a five.)

This movie, for me, was the best movie of 2011 so far. At least, as of March. As of today, I think it’s the second best film to come out. Still, high praise. I’m hesitant to call it a five-star movie just because, I saw it once. I need at least one replay value to see how it plays. I’ve got a hunch that it’s really only four stars and I’m pushing it to five because of all the crap that it’s surrounded by. Still though, this was a wonderful, wonderful film. And the reason it was wonderful was because it was, first and foremost, a romance. The sci fi aspect was dialed down. And even when it was the foremost plot element, the romance was always the primary goal. There was good dialogue between the main characters, there was chemistry. This is a film Hitchcock would have made (though he’d have been a bit more overt with the sexual references). I’m not kidding when I say that. This is a prime example of a Cary Grant and Grace Kelly Hitchcock movie. Do yourself a favor and check this movie out if you haven’t seen it. It’ll be the best (or second best) thing you could see all year (as of April).

Rango* * * (3 stars)

I really enjoyed this movie. It was a bit too indulgent in — whatever it is it wanted to indulge in — but, it was very fun to watch. There was something about it that made me not give it a 4, but, it’s still a very strong 3. I did enjoy the movie a lot. I’m also in love with the fact that it’s a western and that kids went to see a western. There’s a big part of me that hopes the western makes a comeback and they start making those again. I’m not kidding when I say, I could probably dedicate myself to making nothing but westerns and be totally okay with it. That’s how much I love that genre. So, the fact that a kids movie was made as a western, I’m all for it. In terms of conception, this is a five star movie. For me, watching it, just three. But still, that’s all it needs to do. I’ll speak well of this movie whenever it comes up.

Battle: Los Angeles* (1 star)

I can’t put it on the Unforgivables list because — I didn’t get angry when I watched this. It made me upset, but not angry. Though, what I’ll probably do is — I’ll have my 10 Unforgivables, and then I’ll have a list of ten really bad movies that I hated, but couldn’t call Unforgivable for one reason or another. This will certainly be on that list. I fucking hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated it.

My problem with this movie is — it’s all terrible action and no plot. You’d think that would be okay. But, unlike something like Shoot ‘Em Up, this one didn’t have fun with it. This was a deadly serious movie. It was like, marines, aliens, fighting. Shitty stock soldier dialogue, “What will you do when it’s all over?” “Ha ha, I bet you’ve never even slept with a woman!” “Oh, man, I want to have sex with your sister when I’m home.” That kind of dialogue. Then, they shoot stuff. And do so for the rest of the movie. This is what the rest of the movie sounds like if you’re just listening to what they say: “Get down!” “Move move move!” “Cover me!” “We have to destroy that tower!” “Sarge!” “You’re in command now!” “I’m getting you out of here! I promise!” “We have to do this, for America. For us.” “Shoot it! Shoot it now!” “Watch out!” Etc. Etc. Etc.

This is not a good movie. This is explosions strung together. I have no difficulty in saying, if you liked this movie, you are an idiot, and I’ve lost just a little bit of respect for you as a person.

Limitless* * (2 stars)

This movie actually surprised me. That trailer was nothing short of Unforgivable. Really. really bad. I expected the movie wouldn’t be Unforgivable, but there was a chance I’d make it one anyway just because I could go on a nice rant about it. But, turns out, the movie was pretty passable. I mean, it wasn’t good, but, I’d rather this be the bad early year movie that comes out instead of some of the other shit they throw at us. But, I have to say, I wasn’t really bored during it. I did laugh at it — a lot — but I was never bored. So that’s always a nice surprise.

Paul* * * (3 stars)

This movie was exactly what I expected it to be. I knew they wrote it, but, I knew it was an homage to sci fi movies, which meant I wouldn’t be totally on board. I knew that it probably wouldn’t be as good without Edgar Wright involved. And I knew that Seth Rogen voicing the alien would be okay, but not great. How right I was. This movie was enjoyable, but not memorable. It was nice, but not great. I watched it once, said, “Okay, that was pretty worthwhile,” then moved on and never thought about it again. That’s what this movie is. Standard three-star diversion.

The Lincoln Lawyer* * * ½

I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. I keep telling myself I don’t like Matthew McConaughey, but that’s just because he makes such bad movies most of the time. You put him in a decent or even good movie and he’s totally watchable. And dare I say, even a pretty good actor. This movie was based on one of those pulp-bestseller books. That’s what I call all those books like, John Grisham, that Patterson dude — the people who pump out two books a year that are all standard legal thrillers and stuff like that. They’re not bad books, they’re just mass-market entertainment. You don’t necessarily want to read them when you see them on the shelves, but once you start reading, you get immersed. It’s enjoyable from cover to cover. But only, really, from cover to cover. That’s what this movie is. A cover to cover movie. Very well-done, actually. Even the parts people didn’t like I thought were fine, because, that’s the kind of shit they put in these books. This is actually a very enjoyable movie. I was surprised. It was like it was the 90s all over again. Hollywood, put out a film like this? No action scenes? It was like they were drunk at the time and didn’t know what they were doing. But, whatever, I’ll take it. This movie far exceeded my expectations. As in, they were low, and I figured, at best, three stars. I got 3.5. That’s awesome.

Sucker Punch* (1 star)

This movie is almost certain to be Unforgivable. Not high on the list, probably between 8 and 10. And it’s not even because of the content of the movie itself. It’s mostly because of what that content represents. Sure, the movie is bad. I think we all know that. I watched it and wasn’t angry so much as dumbfounded as to, “What the fuck is going on? Who thought this would be a good movie?” But, thinking about it, this is the extreme example of all the terrible movies Hollywood has been pumping out for the better part of the past decade that are terrible yet make ridiculous amounts of money. So that’s why this will ultimately be Unforgivable. It truly was god-awful. Don’t bother watching it unless you’re drinking, and are in a place where you’re going to make fun of it with at least one or two other people. It’s bad.

London Boulevard* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I read the script for this movie a while back. I had my eye on this when it was first announced. A London crime drama, written and directed by the dude who wrote The Departed, starring Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, and Ray Winstone. Sold. When I read the script, I said, “Yeah, this is pretty good,” but I wasn’t blown away. It just was, good. It was weird. Then I saw the movie and it was just that. It was, just, good. That’s about it. I liked it but, it’s not great. Just, good. I don’t really know what else to say. You’ll know if you see it. You won’t dislike it, but you won’t love it either. I’m curious to know what attracted Monahan to the material.

Arthur * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Okay, there’s a lot to say here. First, this is NOT a remake of the original Arthur. It’s not. They took the barebones premise — heir to a family fortune, gets drunk all the time and does stupid shit, often publicly. Then, his mother makes him marry a woman he doesn’t like or else she’ll disinherit him. Meanwhile, he falls in love with a quirky working-class woman. That’s what they kept, the bare bones of it. However, everything else, they changed.

The script, which I read, out of curiosity, maintained many of the same lines from the original movie. They were funny, they worked. Then they updated the parts that needed updating, and overall, if they shot it as was, it would have been a 4-star movie. But, when I saw it — they changed the entire script! The entire — fucking — script. They took all the witty dialogue and made it about a plot. Like, there’s plot here. And then shitty “wacky hijinks” scenes thrown in too. It’s really upsetting. But, on the other hand, the original will still stand alone as a brilliant film.

Now, you’d think based on what they did to the film, I’d hate it, vote it one star and make it Unforgivable. On the other hand, I’m actually pretty happy about it. It didn’t taint my version because the two are so far removed from each other they’re practically different movies. I mean — here, they actually make him sober up and go to AA meetings. What the fuck? Plus, he doesn’t drink past the opening scene, past a reference to vodka being in a water bottle and a shot of him carrying a bottle of whiskey around. Not the same thing. So, this isn’t an Arthur movie. And it was pretty bad on the whole.

However, what saves this from being a simple 2-star movie is — Russell Brand is actually pretty charming in the role. The movie does have a good heart, which is why I gave it that extra half-star. It’s not good, but it’s kind-hearted and non-threatening to the real version of Arthur. So, I’m cool with it. Definitely not Unforgivable. Just, forgettable.

Source Code* * * * (4 stars)

This is a 4-star movie. In terms of how much I liked it, it was like a 3.5. But, overall, it was still worth 4 stars. It came from a well-regarded script and was directed by the guy who directed Moon. So, I was reasonably certain the result would be a 3-4 star movie. Which is exactly what it is. What makes the movie so worthwhile is the fact that it doesn’t waste time with anything. It skips the exposition, thrusts you immediately into the situation, then lets the exposition come out along the way. It moves briskly, so even if you disagree with something they do, they just keep going and don’t let it linger. Plus, on the whole it’s pretty well-done all around. So, I do recommend this movie. Will it be top ten? Nope. Will I think well of it? Yup.

Hop* (1 star)

Yeah. I knew what I was getting with this one. An Easter Bunny movie by the guys that brought you Alvin and the Chipmunks. Not happening. I knew it was gonna suck. I gave it a shot anyway. It was brutal. It was really, really terrible. It won’t make my Unforgivables, because, it’s a kids movie. I can’t hold them to the same standards. They’re meant to entertain people under seven. Sure, it can be done better than this, but, with the amount of animated movies that come out, one of them by default has to be shitty. This is just that one. This is the Alvin of this year. You know it sucks so you avoid it. At least the Marmaduke of this year hasn’t come out yet (and hopefully won’t). Bottom line: it sucks.

Hanna* * * * * (5 stars)

I fell in love with this movie hardcore. I loved every minute of it. Most people would probably see it at 4 stars, and it probably is, but I’m giving it a five. Just because it’s so far and above better than every other film around it (save, like, two). I loved everything about this movie, right down to the standard Joe Wright tracking shot, which takes place — okay, let’s set this up — it starts with Eric Bana entering a bus station. He walks through it and the camera pans up and around and swivels as he looks around. And we, the audience, can spot that there are agents tailing him as he walks. He goes outside, looking around, walks across the street and down into the subway, and as he does we see that he’s now being followed by one of the agents. Then, as he gets in the subway (and we know he knows about the agents), they all show up to confront him. And he proceeds to beat the living fuck out of all of them. All of this in a single shot. Let’s recap: Into bus station, outside of station, down into subway, fight scene (well-done fight scene, where you can see everything that’s going on and are not confused at all), kills people, picks up a radio, then leaves. All in one single shot. That’s why this movie gets that fifth star. It’s also awesome. That’s the other four.

Scream 4* * * (3 stars)

Yeah, I knew what I was getting here. I was holding out hope and thinking the extra time off would make this be closer to a four star movie. But it was a solid three, and I’m very grateful for that. All the other films in the series were a solid three (save the first one, which was four).

I thought they were gonna play with the shitty conventions of horror movies as they stood today, and they kinda did. The first ten minutes of the movie are a lot of fun. Then the movie gets back into its old routine. I did like though that they gave every character in the movie motivation to be the killer (save one person, who was the person I thought the killer should have been), and basically kept us thinking, “Well, maybe it’s this person,” and postulating about who it was gonna be for most of the film. That way we didn’t really sit and critique what happened. But then, once they revealed who the killer (s) were (because you know it’s got to be two, that’s what this franchise was built on), you just went, “Really? That was obvious.” But then as you watch the rest of the movie, you do see them being troopers about it. They went through the motions with complete conviction. And I appreciate that. So, I say, this was a good movie, but wasn’t anything that would make it memorable any more than just another entry into a pretty good franchise.

Rio* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

This is by far the best animated movie to come out this year so far. It has its problems, which is why it didn’t get 4 stars, but it’s very enjoyable. This is the stuff the good animated films of the past decade are made of. My only problems with it are the pop culture references and the terrible songs. What happened to good songwriting? When’s the last time an animated movie had good original songs in it? Tarzan? Maybe Emperor’s New Groove? That’s ten years with nothing good at all. They all just use preexisting songs. Or, if they do write original songs, they aren’t very good. (See: Tangled.) Oh, scratch that. Enchanted. Enchanted had fucking amazing songs. But that was Alan Menkin. That dude’s a legend. So, I guess it’s only been like four years. But still, one in ten years is fucking disgraceful. Oh, also, the pop culture references. They ruin any timelessness your film can have. Learn from the best, people. Pixar. Their references are either coded, subtle, or universal enough that they translate. For christ’s sake, they had a Great Escape reference and a Telemundo reference in the same movie last year. So, anyway, Rio is really enjoyable. You won’t remember it in three years, but, it’s enjoyable for right now. (Side note: How many non-Disney, non-Pixar, non-Ghibli films have had staying power over the past decade. Maybe the first Shrek, but it’s been diluted by all the sequels. That’s about it.)

Super* * * * (4 stars)

Holy shit, this is one fucked up movie. I only watched it yesterday, but — wow. Just — wow. This movie is disturbing on every possible level — which is what makes it so fucking great. There’s a series of three “real-life” superhero movies that have come out in the past year — this, Kick-Ass and Defendor. Of the three, Kick-Ass is the most unrealistic. It’s the most comic book. There’s a fucking rocket launcher and jet pack in it. Defendor is more realistic, and perhaps the most realistic. Both of them dip into how fucking unnerving it would be for a real life superhero to exist — with Hit Girl and how fucked up it is that this dude trained his daughter to be a cold blooded killing machine. Then Defendor, it’s how this dude is mentally unstable, and is now running around as a superhero, and is getting the shit kicked out of him. This one, though, is the extreme on both counts.

Rainn Wilson’s wife leaves him for Kevin Bacon, and he believes he’s been sent a message that he needs to become a superhero. He believes he gets his powers by being tentacle raped and having his brain touched by god. Yeah. Then he goes around, beating the shit out of people with a wrench and shouting, “Shut up, crime!” This dude is just beating the fuck out of people with a wrench. And then Ellen Page is a fucked-up girl who works in a comic book store and becomes his sidekick, and she’s the most fucked up one of all. Holy shit, I loved this movie. Insanely so. This, to me, is top three for the year so far, along with Hanna and The Adjustment Bureau.

That’s all the movies. Everything else is either really limited release and/or is something I really don’t care about. Well, it’s definitely the former, and only part of the latter. Most of them I just don’t care about. The others I really don’t care about. You have to draw the line somewhere. Complete perfection will kill you as you try to attain it. I’m cool with a simple mastery. Anyway, let’s recap:

Top Five Movies Thus Far:

  1. Hanna (Great all around.)
  2. The Adjustment Bureau (Great all around.)
  3. Super (Awesome in how fucked up it is.)
  4. Drive Angry (Awesome in a crazy Cage/B Movie kind of way.)
  5. Source Code (Above average all around.)

(Best 2010 movie released in 2011: The Company Men.)

If you remember how I ranked my movies from last year, I’d say 1 + 2 probably have outside shots of making my top 20 (ish. Maybe 25. We’ll see) for the year, depending on how the rest of the year goes. If not they’ll be in Tier 2. 3 + 4 will certainly end up in Tier 2, while 5 will end up in Tier 3.

Worst Five Movies Thus Far:

  1. Just Go With It (75% Unforgivable. Just because I haven’t seen it all the way through yet.)
  2. Hall Pass (80% Unforgivable. Just really terrible all around.)
  3. Sucker Punch (90% Unforgivable. For reasons explained above.)
  4. Battle: Los Angeles (50/50 Unforgivable. We’ll see how the rest of the year goes.)
  5. Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son (Won’t be Unforgivable, but is terrible. Very terrible.)

Avoid these movies above all others. They’re the worst.

That’s it, really. That’s the year in review so far. I’ll check back in after the summer’s over and then we’ll really have fun. Since now we’ll all have the same frame of reference, having seen most of the same movies.

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