2012: The Movie Year in Reviews (January-April)

This is something I do every third of the year to keep track of how I felt about the films I saw. I use these reviews at the end of the year as comparisons to what I thought I’d think about the films (which I’ve not looked at since I wrote them). It’s fun seeing what I thought I’d think and then what I thought (since I won’t look at these until December as well).

Two things to note about 2012 before I get into the reviews: first — I changed the name. The Movie Year in Reviews is the pun I wish I thought up last year. Alas, I came up with it too late. So, I use it now. I’m very proud of this. The other thing is — I don’t remember what 2011 was like, but this year I didn’t watch anything. I mean, I did, but, I didn’t watch anything until April. I got through January all right, but after Ghost Rider I barely watched anything until April. I just did not give a shit about anything at all this year. The first four months are not like the summer, where you pretty much have to see everything within a week of release otherwise you need to avoid the internet entirely because you’re the only person in America who hasn’t seen it yet. So that was weird for me. Just not caring enough to watch the movies until they piled up so high I needed to get to it.

So that’s the preface. Let’s put the break here and get into specifics afterward? Mmkay? Mmkay.

Okay, first thing’s first — I haven’t seen everything. So let’s get rid of those first. Here’s a list of the films from January through April that I haven’t seen (this based solely on the Wikipedia 2012 in Film article and not on what I wrote in January). I’ll do my best to explain why I haven’t seen it and whether or not I’m going to before year’s end:

  • The Devil Inside — I won’t see this. At all. I don’t do these shitty exorcism movies. This should come as a shock to no one that I won’t see this.
  • Underworld: Awakening — Another one that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I haven’t seen the first entry in the series. I refuse to watch sequels without seeing the ones before it. So this is probably never getting watched.
  • Big Miracle — I couldn’t find it. I’m sure I’ll watch this before year’s end. It’s possible this slips through, but at this point, the plan is to see it when I can find it. Though, if the August article comes round and I still haven’t seen this, don’t bet on me ever watching it.
  • Gone — I will never see this. It’s all the same shitty thriller. Every one of these.
  • Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds — Another non-surprise. Seen one, seen ’em all. I leave these to his audience.
  • Wanderlust — Couldn’t find it. Really want to see if it is bad. I will see this before year’s end.
  • Being Flynn — Couldn’t find it. I’ll definitely see this before year’s end.
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen — Again, couldn’t find it. I’ll also definitely see this before year’s end.
  • Jeff Who Lives at Home — Also couldn’t find it. I’ll also see this by the end of the year.
  • Natural Selection — This was an indie movie from last year. It was on the Wikipedia list, so I included it. Questionable as to when I’ll see this, but I’ve heard nothing but great things, so I’d bet on me seeing this at some point. Don’t know if that’ll be by December, but don’t rule it out just yet. It’s early.
  • Bully — Haven’t had the chance to see it. It’s a toss up as to whether this ever gets watched. I guess it comes down to how easily I can procure it and whether that comes during a time when I give enough of a shit to see this. Even if this gets nominated for Best Documentary next year, I still wouldn’t put too much money on the likelihood of me seeing this. I just don’t do documentaries at all.
  • Damsels in Distress — Couldn’t find it, have no idea whether or not I’m going to see it. I’ve barely heard of this, so to me it’s very easily forgotten about and never seen. We’ll see what happens with this.
  • Think Like a Man — Sorry, I’m white. (That means I won’t get anything out of this should I ever see it. I’m not the audience for this. So I’m just not gonna see it.)
  • Darling Companion — Haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet. I will, for sure, 100% see this before year’s end.
  • The Five-Year Engagement — Just came out on Friday. Haven’t gotten the chance to see it yet. I definitely will, though.
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits — Honestly, I’ll probably never see this. I just don’t care.
  • The Raven — Just came out. I’ll see this. Just haven’t, yet.
  • Safe — Also will see this, but it just came out. Haven’t had time to see it yet.
  • Bernie — Just got a limited release, won’t see this until later this year at the earliest. I’ll see it, I just don’t know when.
  • Sound of My Voice — Just got a limited release. It’s the pair that did Another Earth, which means I will keep this on my radar. No guarantee I see it, but they’ve earned a second look.

Okay, so that’s what I haven’t seen. For sure, I can guarantee you that I will not see six movies on that list. And then there are three, maybe four more with a strong likelihood of me never seeing them. That’s actually pretty good. 9 or 10 films out of however many are going to be below. I figure I’m running something close to a 90% viewing ratio (projected) for the year. Not bad for someone who didn’t give a shit this year and wasn’t going out of his way to see things he wasn’t particularly interested in seeing.

Now the reviews. The first six are all 2011 films that I didn’t see until after January 1st. After that, it’s all 2012. You know the drill with these, there’s nothing difficult about it.

Tyrannosaur — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I really enjoyed this one. This is one of those films that I saw because it got traction from word of mouth. During Oscar season, there are always certain films or performances people always bring up in that, “But why not (this person)’s brilliant turn in (whatever movie)?” My opinions of those people aside, the buzz on this was enough to get me to see it, and I have to say — it was very solid. Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman are terrific, and it’s one of those films that I feel most people who see it will say, “Damn, that was pretty good.” Definitely one of the underseen hidden gems of 2011.

Submarine — * * * * (4 stars)

This is another one of those films that got strong word of mouth. I started hearing this film from so many places, and so many different places too, that I had to check it out. And it was very enjoyable. I don’t know if I’d call it a masterpiece, but it is a very enjoyable movie. I suspect this will appeal to a lot of people, since a lot of people will identify strongly with the character. Many people really like these awkward high school films because they feel like they have parallels to their life. I personally don’t go that far, but I did really enjoy this one. It’s a very likable film. Strong, worth seeing for sure, but I don’t know if I’d ever want to watch this one again.

A Better Life — * * * * (4 stars)

I’m glad Demián Bichir got the Best Actor nomination, because it means more people can see this film. The film is basically Bicycle Thieves but in modern day Los Angeles. And I think it was a smart play. Because that story is universal and can be applied to specific situations. And the immigrant experience in Los Angeles is a perfect template for a story like this. This is one of those films that — I feel like, with these independent films, when people like them, they feel the need to really like them. Almost defensively. Like people aren’t giving them the respect they deserve. I talk about this a lot. So, when people spoke of this film, they were dropping phrases like, “best of the year” and “performance should win the Oscar.” I think that’s ridiculous. But this is an amazing film and is really strong.

Chico and Rita — * * * (3 stars)

This film was nominated for Best Animated Feature because of its animation. Not its story — that’s whatever — but its animation. It’s gorgeous. And the animation branch prefers this kind of animation to stuff like Tintin (even though Tintin was the best animated film of last year. That final, single-shot action sequence was astounding). So this is definitely worth seeing for the animation. The story, take it or leave it, but the animation is top notch.

A Cat in Paris — * * * (3 stars)

I saw this because it was nominated. And it was worth it. It was nice and all. The animation, again, was great. But the story wasn’t particularly engaging. It’s a matter of how it looked more than what it was about. It wasn’t bad for 70 minutes. You can skip it though. It’s really only great to see what animation should be like nowadays. Not that computer crap. (At least, not entirely that computer crap.)

Undefeated — * * * * (4 stars)

I actively sought this out. It won Best Documentary, so I figured it had to be powerful. And honestly — it was good. I wasn’t engaged like I was with Man on Wire or The Cove, but I enjoyed it. I love football, so this was a good watch. And I’m glad it won, since I hate when the documentary branch is so self-important. But, this was solid. It got me to watch a documentary, so, that should tell you all you need to know.

Contraband — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Yeah. It was. Standard January action movie. Serviceable, if not that great. It’s 90 minutes. Go in, get exactly what you expect, get out. If it were legitimately bad or boring, I’d have only given it 2 stars. But it was just generic, so 2½. You know what you’re getting here. It’s not good, it’s not bad — it is what it is.

Joyful Noise — * * (2 stars)

Come on, buddy. Come on. We all knew this was gonna be shit. It’s a southern, religious, choir movie. This is about as specific of an audience as a Tyler Perry movie. You know what you’re getting here. With some “Glee” thrown in, just because. I knew the exact plot of this film, point by point, before I’d even put it on. And I knew I wasn’t gonna like it, and I didn’t. So why did I see it? Because despite me knowing what I’m getting sometimes, I still just naturally watch almost everything. And because if I skipped all the ones from January through April that I really wanted to skip, I’d seriously have only seen like a third of this list. And I still can’t bring myself to do that fully even though I was dead on in my expectations of at least half of these.

Haywire — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I saw this one coming from last year. There was really no way this wasn’t gonna be good. It’s a low risk scenario, casting a non-actor as your lead, since she rarely has to speak more than one sentence at a time and she gets to kick ass. And you surround her with pros in these limited roles — there was really no way this would have been less than three stars. What I liked about this was how it didn’t cater to anyone. It didn’t explain itself, it doled out exposition as it wanted to, sometimes it was obtuse, but it always kept you along for the ride. Unless you’re a real idiot, you could figure out mostly what’s going on. I loved that aspect. Plus it moved at a really nice pace and did exactly what it needed to do. A+ for execution here. This was the best version of this movie there could have been. What more do you need?

Red Tails — * * * (3 stars)

Some people hated this movie. I don’t see what the fuss was all about. It was entertaining. It’s clearly not trying to be an Oscar movie, and it’s also not something shitty. And the way I judge these movies is by those mid-range action movies I saw when I was growing up. The Behind Enemy Lines‘s, and stuff like that. Stuff that just did what it wanted to do. And that’s all this was. It was a standard war movie. It was entertaining, hit all the beats you’d expect it to hit, and wasn’t boring. So where’s the problem? Because it was about a topic that could be used to make an Oscar film? Do you really think that was Lucas’s intention here? This was entertaining, was never boring, and was at least a three star movie. And I’ll take this over about 70% of anything that comes out between January and May. It’s a solid mid-range film. And when you view it like that, there’s no way you can hate it. Because think about it — what would you rather Hollywood put out in January? ContrabandAct of ValorThe Woman in Black or this? Because to me, 80% of stuff is the first three, and there aren’t enough of these out there. So for me, I really enjoyed this, even though the movie wasn’t as great as the amount I enjoyed it. I recognize that. But I still support this movie because I’d much rather this than those others that I mentioned.

Coriolanus — * * * (3 stars)

Technically a 2011 film, but it did get its release in January, so I put it here. Either way, really. But this was a solid Shakespeare adaptation. It was well-directed, well-acted, engaging. I’m not the biggest Shakespeare guy, so there were times when I just tuned out. I just can’t listen to iambic pentameter without drifting off. But on the whole, this was solid.

The Grey — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

This was pretty badass. Not that we weren’t expecting that. It’s about Liam Neeson beating the shit out of wolves. The film is really solid, though. It’s more of a drama than anything. Men in the wilderness, surviving. It doesn’t try to do any more than it does and doesn’t add extra frills because it can. Solid film. I’ll bet it’ll end up being one of the more solid ones come the end of the year.

Man on a Ledge — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

This is what’s known as a “high concept movie.” (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for that one.) Those who’ve read this blog know how much I love these types of films. These forgotten midrange films. These are what make years solid. There’s one every year. Last year was The Lincoln Lawyer. There’s always one. I expected to enjoy this film, but I didn’t quite expect to enjoy it as much as I did. It’s a film you go into knowing every story beat it’s going to hit, and even as it hits them, it’s still enjoyable. Everything about this film is expected, and yet, I was with it all the way. I’m gonna end up liking this better than more than 80% of the movies that come out this year. Because it’s simple, and it’s effective. And we always end up watching stuff like this over and over again, even though we end up ignoring it come the end of the year.

One for the Money — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Gotta tell you — I thought this was gonna for a surefire Unforgivable. I was wrong. I mean, it wasn’t good, that’s for sure. But it didn’t make me angry. It was just regular bad. I didn’t expect that.

Chronicle — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

It was certifiable guarantee that I wasn’t going to like this movie. It’s a found footage superhero movie, done in the style of Cloverfield. I fucking hated Cloverfield. Hated it. So, taking that, and putting superheroes on it — there was no way I was ever going to enjoy this. But I almost got through it. Which is why I gave it 2½. I almost did. But honestly — I can never watch a movie shot like this, because it makes me go crazy. Who’s editing it? Why would they be filming all this stuff anyway? And if this is some person filming all this, why is it so cleanly edited and why do you manage to capture all the important plot points on that video camera? I can’t stand it. I don’t even want to continue, because all I’d do is start attacking this movie. And I have nothing against the movie. They shot it cheap, they made money, good for them. It’s just this style of movie that I fucking despise.

W.E. — * * (2 stars)

Another 2011 film (it was Oscar-nominated, even). But it got its release here, so here it goes. This — was not good. I can either attempt to explain everything or just say — watch it. And I’m choosing the latter, because — honestly, I don’t want to waste the effort. Some people might get something out of this, but I felt The King’s Speech handled this story better, and it was only a subplot there. But on the plus side, I do now officially get to call this “Academy Award nominee W.E.” So that’s nice.

The Woman in Black — * * (2 stars)

I honestly only watched this because it was there. Otherwise I’d have never even bothered, because I could have answered with mathematical certainty that I’d have given it the exact same rating. People try to do the whole, “But you don’t know until you see it.” And I say, “Bullshit. I’ve seen enough movies to know — yes, I know exactly what I’m going to be getting with this movie.” And you know what? I’m always right. There’s a difference between me saying that for a movie I’m going to see. I’ll say I know exactly what I’m gonna think of Battleship, but I’m definitely going to see Battleship. I’m talking about the movies I say I know exactly  what I’m gonna think about them and then don’t see them. Not once have I been wrong. Example: last year, The Rite. This year, The Devil Inside, Gone, any Tyler Perry movie. I know exactly what I’m getting with them and I know exactly what I’m gonna think about them. Would I be wrong? On any of those? No. This movie is exactly the same as those. I knew what I was gonna think. It did not, for a second, defy my expectations. It was there, I didn’t like it, the end. Basically this is me saying that, in the future, I really should not see certain films that I know are gonna be like this. Every year I say I’m gonna be looser about seeing everything, and every year, stuff slips through. Point is — come on. You knew I was gonna give it two stars.

Journey 2: Mysterious Island — * * * (3 stars)

Who didn’t see this coming from a mile away? It’s a kids adventure film. They’re not terrible, they’re totally harmless, and they’re perfectly watchable the one time. It’s not magic. That’s what these movies are. They’re not meant for anyone over the age of 15. You gonna dock this points because it was too kiddie for you? This was totally harmless and was perfectly fine. Of course it’s not gonna be groundbreaking. Three stars, decent enough, let’s just move on.

Safe House — * * * (3 stars)

If you asked me back in December which movie I’d like better, Safe House or Man on a Ledge, I’d have said this, hands down. But you know what? I didn’t love this. I barely liked it. I almost gave it two and a half stars. To me, this was bland, generic, and didn’t have the element of fun that Man on a Ledge had. At least that film knew what it was. This one felt like it was trying to be dramatic. No one was having fun. And Tony Scott wasn’t behind it, so it didn’t have that energy, either. This was just kind of there. This, to me, is bad generic. Give me Man on a Ledge any day. Including Sunday. You can charge that to the game.

The Vow — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

You knew what you were getting here. Let’s not pretend like you were expecting Love Story when you put this on. It’s a harmless romantic comedy. It wasn’t shitty, and it wasn’t good. I got through it perfectly fine. I would have given it 3 stars except it veered a little too much into cliché for my tastes. The two were perfectly charming in it, and the film did do enough for me to consider it a three star movie. Only they fucked it up and added too many awful genre conventions. I hate when films feel the need to throw in those standard genre scenes, especially romantic comedies (or, I guess, romances, in this case). It reeks of studios thinking people won’t like something unless it has the same scenes they recognize from all the other movies that made money of the type. So the fact that one of those popped up nearly every time this film did something right, I docked it. So 2½. Still, it wasn’t terrible, and anyone who says so was going to say that regardless.

Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Boy, did this suck. Don’t get me wrong, it was adequate and all, hence the 2½, but boy, was this not interesting at all. The first one was barely passable. This was worse. Maybe they should just give up on the character, because I don’t think there’s any way they can make an interesting movie out of it. This movie was barely 90 minutes and still felt long. Seriously, there’s no reason for anybody to see this movie. It’s utterly forgettable in almost every way. Which is a shame, because it’s Cage. And I love Cage. But this is one of the few movies he’s made in the past decade that I just don’t like (the others being Trespass and Bangkok Dangerous. The rest I can at least find something to like about them).

The Secret World of Arriety — * * * * (4 stars)

This is a 2010 film, technically. So this is gonna get all sorts of fucked when it comes to the year-end list. But I’ll tell you right now that I loved this film. It had all the character and charm of a Miyazaki film, and was just as good as many of his. It was amazing. Ghibli knows how to make amazing films. Just — see it. I’s impossible to not like this film. Also, since this can’t really count for the year-end list (I’m very specific about years), just know that it would be a tier 2 film for me (maybe tier 3, if tier 2 is particularly strong. Either way, I really liked this).

This Means War — * ½ (1.5 stars)

You’ll hear more about this one in January.

Act of Valor — * * (2 stars)

This is like a commercial for the army. It’s so — bad. I mean, good for them, using active duty Marines and all, but this film is just shit. The writing, the plotting, the acting (and fucking voiceover! — everything is shitty) — how you gonna do a movie about active duty marines and give it a plot like this? Seriously? Bad guys doing evil things like a fucking Bourne movie? What the fuck? This was just — it’s not gonna be Unforgivable. I don’t hate this movie. But it was shitty, so it’ll be more like one of those 11-20 worst films of the year for me. It’s really not good.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax — * * * (3 stars)

This was exactly what I expected it to be. It was a perfectly harmless children’s movie. Though I can’t help but feel like it again proliferated the alarming trends in animation nowadays (which, I guess, is rubbing off from live-action), which is a crazy reliance on action scenes over character, as well as just unnecessary unreality. Humans moving the way humans don’t move. There’s no reality there whatsoever. At least Disney would have their human characters mostly adhere to the bounds of — you know — gravity. This isn’t Looney Tunes. I’m not a fan of that stuff at all. But, this was a harmless kid’s movie, so you’re getting exactly what you think you’re gonna get here.

Project X — * (1 star)

I fucking hated this. And I knew I would. First off — documentary style. I hate that. Second — it’s so goddamn stereotyped. And everything that’s said is so one-dimensional. The kid that wants pussy. The parents saying their kid is a loser. The “cool” kids bullying the “loser” kid. All the standard dumb “high school” party scenes. I hated this. There’s no logic to this whatsoever, and it was clearly designed to make money. This movie is like Iron Man 2 to Superbad‘s Iron Man. They just escalated the party chaos and cut out the story. That does not a good movie make. Maybe it’ll be Unforgivable, maybe it won’t, but I guarantee you this will be in my bottom 25 for the year.

A Thousand Words — * ½ (1.5 stars)

What a piece of shit.

John Carter — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I don’t get this movie. Why make it? It’s not like the story isn’t particularly interesting. You’ve seen it dozens of times over the years, since this text is basically your template for most modern sci-fi. And the movie — it’s fine. I got through it. I just don’t understand why it needed to exist. It’s kind of like spending $200 million to make a new type of shoe, one that ends up being exactly the same type of shoe as all the others, and doesn’t seem to stand out in any way, shape or form, outside the fact that you know they spent a lot of money to make that shoe. So what’s the point? The movie was entertaining enough, and it was well-made, but I still don’t see why it needed to be made at all. It broke no ground, did not differentiate itself from anything else, and by the end of the year, it’s not like I’m gonna remember this as being particularly good. I’m gonna remember it is, “Yeah, it was okay.” I will honestly put Man on a Ledge closer to my Top Ten list than I would this. Because at least there, I gave a shit about what I was watching. I was actively entertained, rather than, “Yeah, this isn’t bad.”

Silent House — * * * (3 stars)

I’m torn about these movies — this one and the original. I love the conceit of the horror movie done in one take. You can really do some great stuff there. Unfortunately, the original film is pretty bare in terms of tricks. There’s not really much to make things scary. And then there’s that twist they threw in — what the fuck was that? This movie suffers from the same narrative problems that one did, though it does overcome it by having Elizabeth Olsen in the lead. She does a good job with it. Though unlike the original, this one isn’t done in one continuous take. (That one might not be either, but at least there, it feels more like a continuous take.) This one was done in segments edited together. This wouldn’t be a problem, if the narrative was stronger (see: Rope), but this has the same twist in it. And for that to be the twist, it really ruins the point of the single take. So, while it’s a decent film — it’s not great. I feel like a stronger narrative, and more work into actually trying to make things scary, would have made this a much better movie.

21 Jump Street — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

I owe this film a huge apology. I know I do. I went into this thinking it would not be funny. But it was. Really funny. To the point where this almost managed to make 4 stars. It’s like a 3.75 for me. Gave it a 4 on Netflix and a 3.5 here because I don’t want to overrate it (as people tend to do). But this was very funny. I laughed consistently all the way through and was thoroughly entertained by all of it. So I will very publicly say that I was very wrong about this film. It was very funny.

Casa de mi padre — * * (2 stars)

Meh. Just not my thing at all. All in Spanish, based on Telemundo soap operas. Which I know nothing about. I didn’t really find anything in it funny, and was pretty bored during the whole thing. And it was only like 80 minutes long too. Which is saying something. But, I didn’t hate it, I just — didn’t like it.

Goon — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

The rating I gave this feels high, but honestly — it’s just 90 minutes of people beating the shit out of each other. There’s no plot here to speak of, and it’s so childish it’s sickening at parts (Jay Baruchel, what the fuck were you doing in this movie? Did anyone actually find that funny?). But you know — it’s entertaining enough. And the fact that it moves along, and doesn’t give a shit about trying to tell a story, I’ll bump it up the half-star. This was really a 3-star for me. The half-star is purely because they got in, got out, didn’t add any frills, and they literally beat the shit out of each other for almost half the movie. I respect that. This isn’t a good movie, but if you’re at home (probably drunk), and want to see people beating the shit out of one another — this isn’t a bad choice.

Detachment — * * * (3 stars)

It’s watchable, but it thinks it’s way more clever than it is. The visual cutaways, and the one-dimensionality of the characters — it feels like the work of a first time writer who thinks they’ve written the greatest thing in the world. The finished product’s not that bad, and it has lots of famous faces in it, but on the whole it’s just okay. Watch it for the actors, because otherwise, it really doesn’t offer much in the way of value. But it was decent enough. (Though it does seem to represent teachers and students about as well as Avatar represented scientists and soldiers.)

The Hunger Games — * * * * (4 stars)

I expected this to be, at the very least, good. The concept isn’t Twilight, so I expected this would be an interesting film. And I was right. Though I didn’t expect it to be quite as good as it was. They really didn’t try to make it young adult at all. And I respect that. I also liked how they doled out exposition. They never really laid it out all at once and did it as we went along. It was nice. This film did a lot of things right. And I went in knowing absolutely nothing about it. I deliberately avoided all trailers, I never read the book, I knew nothing about the film except the barebones of the concept. And while I’m slightly upset they cheated the central conceit, I understand it, and think they at least did it in a way I can get behind. Plus I like how they set up for the rest of the franchise. So, I really did like this, and this will definitely be on the upper end of my year-end list. (Though those Battle Royale comparisons — completely warranted.)

The Raid: Redemption — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

This was fun. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s the closest thing to badass action movie since District B13. I’m excited to see the next to they’re planning for the trilogy. This will almost definitely be a tier 3 film come year’s end.

Mirror Mirror — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

This movie, to me, is exactly why I’ve stopped watching trailers. Because when this trailer came out in November, it looked bad. I mean really bad. I thought this was gonna be a huge train wreck of a film. And you know what? When I saw it — I liked it. I liked it quite a bit. Sure, it’s got its bad parts, and stupid parts, but ultimately, this is supposed to be a fun, goofy family film. And it succeeds admirably. Plus you have Tarsem, and his predilection toward great sets and costumes, so really, anything that’s a bit too kiddie for me still ended up not being that bad. The film does have a great deal of charm to it. The scenes with Lily Collins and Armie Hammer are jaunty. (I already used charm. Jaunty felt like a fun alternative.) Plus, I give them major props for showing some love to dwarf actors. Overall here, the good greatly outweighs the bad, and I bet I wouldn’t have been nearly as down on this film had I not watched that trailer. Sometimes I just won’t learn.

Wrath of the Titans — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Holy shit, was this boring. I mean, the first one was boring too, but at least I got through it. I guess because it followed the outline of the original and because all I really wanted was to see Liam Neeson say, “Release the Kraken.” But this — I checked out by about fifteen minutes in. I couldn’t tell you what happened for long stretches of this movie. It was competent and all, but goddamn, who wants to see this? (Apparently everyone but America, because this movie’s done more than double its domestic business overseas.) Unless you’re really looking to shut your brain off or have no taste in movies whatsoever, don’t even bother with this. Seriously, there’s nothing of value here whatsoever.

The Deep Blue Sea — * * * (3 stars)

Yeah, it was all right. Not particularly memorable, no wholly forgettable, pretty watchable. That’s it. Just decent across the board. Flat 3.

American Reunion — * * * (3 stars)

It was definitely watchable, I’ll give it that. It’s a bit too in love with the franchise, though. It references events the way people reference inside jokes. But also in that movie way that also sounds a bit like exposition. Plus — if you’ve seen the other three movies, you know the deal by now. This is them doing it again. And it’s not bad. It’s a bit too — it doesn’t have the charm of the first two, because it’s trying to tell a story and make you care about the characters, but on the whole, if you made it this far, this is a perfectly acceptable film.

The Cabin in the Woods — * * * (3 stars)

Here’s the thing with this one — I thought it would be a standard shitty horror movie. It wasn’t. The original premise was very smart. I don’t want to give it away, because saying anything about it gives away its secrets. To me — the original conceit was great, but it’s that second twist on it (the real horror/sci fi twist) that just makes me lose interest. I can buy the first twist if it’s grounded in realism. That supernatural shit is just not my bag at all. So right there, the film drops down for me. But it has fun with itself and generally has some intelligent moments. So I will give it three stars. That said — I didn’t love this, and the amount of stuff people will be saying about it for the rest of the year (every top ten list I see this on, I’ll stop reading right then and there), really makes me want to rate it even lower. But it’s worth three stars. So I’ll give it that. Still — I’d have liked it so much more if they kept it realistic and didn’t explain why this was happening. Don’t tell me this shit, just make me think about it for a while and come up with my own explanation.

Lockout — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

It was enjoyable. I liked it. It’s your standard action movie, wise-cracking protagonist going in and kicking some ass. Simple premise, good execution — decent movie. This is all you really need. (P.S. You know I love these kinds of movies. This was an inevitability as soon as it didn’t suck.)

The Three Stooges — * * (2 stars)

I thought this was gonna be a guaranteed Unforgivable. But you know what? I didn’t hate this. I mean, it was awful, but it wasn’t awful enough to make me angry. It was just bad. You’ve got to show them a little respect for the fact that they went for it. They stuck with that style of comedy all the way through. And it did suck, but I don’t think you can really hate this like you could some other bad movies. It’s more one you wonder why they even bothered. It’s 2012. So this will probably be a bottom 25 film, but I don’t think it’ll be Unforgivable. (Though that Jersey Shore stuff might put them closer come years end.)

The Lucky One — * * (2 stars)

Like it wasn’t going to be two stars.

The Avengers — * * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Yeah, it’s a 4-star movie, but it’s too comic book-y for me. This movie, to me, while entertaining, would be like if you sat me and a group of my good friends at a table of people who don’t really know us but have met us all separately, and like us, but now they’re in the middle of all these references and shorthand that we have, and they don’t know what the fuck is going on. I know this is a good movie, and I know I enjoyed it, but I’m not a part of this world. I know nothing about the comics, and all I know about these characters is based solely on what I saw in the previous Marvel movies. So the shit that’ll probably have fans of the comics go apeshit (as well as the people who go apeshit over any blockbuster and want to look cool by posting good reviews of this movie) really just made me shrug and go, “So what was the big deal?” I expected this to be what it was. That said, I can’t in good conscience rate this a 4-star movie because I just don’t know what the point of it all was. I can see where people would geek out over this stuff, but — there was nothing for me to geek out over. You know what movie I geeked out over? The Artist. HugoThat’s when I geek out. Not here. This isn’t me. I respect what they were doing and enjoyed the film, but while I know this was a 4-star movie, I can’t rate it that. So I’m just not gonna waste my time and give it 4 now when I know in 8 months I’ll just put it back down to 3.5.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — * * * (3 stars)

Yeah, it was okay. Standard ensemble movie. Nice to see all these people in the same place. Otherwise — you get the storylines you’d expect out of a film like this. It’s not particularly memorable, yet isn’t bad by any means. It’s just there.

Battleship — * * (2 stars)

(Oh yeah. I saw this.) Ha ha. This — they spent $200 million on this. They spent $200 million on this. They spent $200 million, on this. This movie — they spent $200 million to make it. This movie wants to be Michael Bay so badly it’s hilarious. Combine Transformers, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, and you have this movie. Throw in some Battleship: Los Angeles too. More like Battleship: Los Angeles. You know Michelle Rodriguez turned down the Rihanna part. What — what the fuck is this? What — I — I don’t even fucking know. This is just — fucking Hollywood.

The Cold Light of Day — * * ½ (2.5 stars)

Apparently this got bumped to September. And also in that week that has nothing. It feels like a Labor Day weekend release. It just — is. It’s like Columbiana last year — it’s just sort of there. Not good, not bad, you can watch it, you get nothing out of it, and you forget it an hour later. That’s practically the definition of a 2.5’er.

– – – – – – – – – –

Apparently I did this for the first one last year but not again. I kind of want to bring it back. I liked that I did it. It’s basically a list of what my five favorite films were at that point in the year, as well as which ones I disliked the most. I can see why I only did it for the first group, since the middle group was getting closer to a Top Ten list and I don’t want to give anything away (though I think I can get away with doing this in August), and the third one is actually right before the Top Ten list. But I’ll do it anyway. I like it.

My Five Favorite Films (only 2012 films, now) of 2012, as of April, are (and keep in mind, this is not in any order. In fact, I’ll do it alphabetically, just so people can’t read into it):

  1. 21 Jump Street
  2. The Grey
  3. Haywire
  4. The Hunger Games
  5. Man on a Ledge

I’d expect Hunger Games to end up in tier 2 come year’s end. The rest of them feel like tier 3 at best, with maybe one or two contending for tier 2 if I see them again and really love them or if the year is really weak. Other than those five, I’d expect John Carter to have a good shot at tier 3. Avengers‘ll probably make it. Maybe The Raid. That was good. Lockout too. Really liked that one. Everything else feels like it’ll fall by the wayside. If anything from this third makes my top ten list, that means this year was the worst in over a decade.

And the five films most likely to make my Unforgivables list out of this bunch are:

  1. Battleship
  2. This Means War
  3. Act of Valor
  4. A Thousand Words
  5. Project X

So that’s where we’re at for April. Seems like business as usual. Pretty sure last year I didn’t see any Top Ten contenders early on (though strangely I did have two from this section on the Top Ten last year).

Here’s hoping May through August is stronger.

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2 responses

  1. Lots of interesting stuff here! And lots of obvious work. Thanks for gathering it all up. I’m wondering if you can talk about why something “unforgivable” like Battleship was good enough to earn two stars, or 50% goodness. There are a lot of high scores, but not a lot of good movies. Enjoyed reading.

    April 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    • My ratings have nothing to do with whether or not I mark something as Unforgivable. Generally, for me, 2 stars is something bad, but competent. Battleship was a competently made film. They put $200 million into it. That said — they put $200 million into it. That just doesn’t need to happen, especially given the product they put out. (Kinda like Green Lantern.) And most of the time (I don’t think about what I rate, they just sort of feel like the right one), anything less than 2 for me is something that’s awful, shouldn’t have been made, and barely qualifies as a film. Watch A Thousand Words. You’ll see what I mean.

      April 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm

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