2012: The Year in Reviews (Part I: January & February)

Another year, another set of movies to go over.

Every January, I go over all the movies that are going to come out that year, as they are scheduled at the time. Or not. I’m usually thorough enough to get 90% of the stuff that’s coming out. Usually the only stuff I miss are those independent movies I know nothing about that pop up after hitting all the early film festivals, like Sundance and Cannes and etc. Or ones that just pop up out of nowhere without that. And that’s usually countered by me previewing certain films that just don’t come out by the end of the year or ones that I just don’t really care about that I preview and then never see. Point is — most of what comes out, I’m ready for.

Then, over the course of the year, I keep track of every movie I saw from that year. Every third of the year, I post reviews of all the films I saw, once in April, once in August, and once in December. (The December article will go up tomorrow night. Don’t worry, it won’t factor into today’s article at all, I don’t believe.)

I post links to all those articles in case you don’t believe what I write in these ones and want to double-check me. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have read them at all. Because what these articles are is me excerpting what I wrote about the films in January (which is pretty much what I expected I’d think about them when I saw them, which I do not look at after I write it), excerpting the reviews I wrote as I saw the films, and mediating the two. I post the two sets of comments, then I write my final thoughts on the film, having had time to digest my feelings about them, either over a couple of days or 11 months, depending. Then I’ll decide how close I felt I was in guessing what my opinion of the film was going to be. This is mostly so I can see how accurate I was overall and also so I can get a good handle on which films surprised me for the better or for the worse.

I’ll go over the films two months at a time, and even post an extra article of the films I previewed that didn’t come out at all, and discuss those. And by the end of that, I’ll post my stats for the year, all as preparation for the big end of the year lists — my Unforgivables list and my Top Ten list.

Before we get into the reviews, I feel like I should (generally) explain how my ratings work:

(Also, let me specify that we’re talking about final ratings. Not ones where I’m like, “This will go down come January,” or when I say, “The extra half-star was based on how great the theater experience was.” When we get to the final thoughts, those will be the final ratings for the film for me. For now, anyway.)

* * * * * (5 stars) — I loved the film. Five stars almost guarantees a film a spot in the top ten or top twenty (Though usually top ten). (2011 examples of 5 star movies: The Artist, Hugo, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.)

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars) — I really liked the film, but it’s not an automatic top ten for me. Four and a half is usually enough to get something an 11-20 for certain, and a decent probability of a top ten appearance. (2011 examples of 4.5 star films: Tree of Life, Another Earth, 50/50.)

* * * * (4 stars) — I liked the film a great deal, but it’s not one I’d necessarily single out at the end of the year. It might make an 11-20, but more than likely is a film that’ll end up in Tier Two. It’s one I very solidly liked, and could end up as high as the top ten list if I feel like it. (2011 examples of 4 star films: A Dangerous Method, Shame, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Drive Angry.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars) — A film that stood out to me as being particularly solid. Three stars is for films that are just good but didn’t really stick out to me as being quite noteworthy. Three and a half stars is for films that make me go, “Wow, that was really solid.” Generally, that’s for the films I don’t expect to be that good. It’s a mark of, “This is better than you expect.” But it’s also, for the films that would generally be considered for a high rating, my way of saying, “Yeah, I liked it, but it’s not top tier for me.” Or it’s just me saying, “This film was really solid,” with no expectations involved. It varies. You’ll see what I mean based on how I use it. (2011 examples of 3.5 stars: Kill the Irishman, Contagion, The Three Musketeers, Melancholia.)

* * * (3 stars) — Three stars is for films that were all right. That “I enjoyed it well enough” rating. It’s not totally generic, you got some entertainment out of it, but it’s not really one that stood out as being particularly great. Three stars is usually a rating you look at based on how a film looks like it should have been rated. Like, if you see me rate a film that most people would have expected to be pretty bad three stars, that means it was actually pretty watchable and, all things considered, quite good based on what you’d expect. And if you see me rate a film that was thought to be pretty good three stars, it means, “Yeah, I didn’t like it as much as I expected/as much as the reviews would suggest, but it was all right.” Otherwise — it’s for films that are shoulder shrug “all right,” but are entertaining enough for me to not be indifferent about. (2011 examples of 3 star films: Thor, Immortals, Happy Feet Two, Bridesmaids.)

* * ½ (2.5 stars) — Two and a half stars are for films that are perfectly competent that I just didn’t care about. This is the ultimate indifference rating for me. Three stars is, “It was okay, but I liked it more than I didn’t,” and two stars is for, “I didn’t really like it.” This is — “It was okay, but I really didn’t care about this at all.” Generic films, ones that are watchable but not really memorable, ones that are those films you see and get through all right, but you won’t remember anything you saw in a week. (A few examples of 2011 2.5 star films: 30 Minutes or Less, Colombiana, Priest.)

* * (2 stars) — A two star rating is almost exclusively for a film that’s mostly competent in its filmmaking, but is one I just didn’t like. Either it’s because it wasn’t for me, or it’s because I just thought it was bad or boring or whatever. Effort was clearly put into them, but the film just didn’t turn out to my liking. Here are examples of 2011 2 star films: (Green LanternLarry CrowneCrazy Stupid Love.)

* ½ (1.5 stars) — One and a half for me usually a film that’s pretty horrible but not necessarily Unforgivable. I really didn’t like it, but it’s because it’s one of those shitty thrillers or shitty horror movies or one of those movies. Usually one and a half is reserved for movies like that. Or for ones that are pretty competent and should be two stars, but I hated them too much to rate them that. (2011 examples of 1.5 star films: Red Riding Hood, The Roommate, Monte Carlo.)

* (1 star) — A film I really didn’t like. One that I thought was really bad and almost unwatchable. It may end up being Unforgivable, but might end up being saved for various reasons. (Though almost certainly will a one star film end up in the bottom 25 of the year for me.) There’s really not too much difference between this and zero stars. I mostly just put what feels right (or based on how angry the film makes me). (2011 examples of 1 star films: Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, Jack and Jill, What’s Your Number.)

0 stars — It means I hated the film. Guaranteed Unforgivable. It’s a film that I feel is the bad side of cinema. One that has no redeeming qualities and actually made me angry while watching it. (A 2011 example of a 0 star film is Just Go With It.)

Now that’s all explained, let’s start recapping 2012:

January

The first 12 are 2011 (or even 2010) films that got released in early 2012. I’m not counting them all toward the 2012 films (just the ones I previewed), but I saw them in 2012, so I’ll put them in the article.

The Secret World of Arrietty

What I said about it back in January:

“I thought this was a Miyazaki movie at first. Nope. Just something he wrote. Someone else is directing.”

“I assume this is a 3.5 star film at worst. Even if I don’t really care for it and it’s a 3 star movie, the animation always bumps it up a half-star. This will be entertaining.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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).”

4 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Loved this.

(Note: This won’t appear on my Top Ten of 2012 list, since it’s a 2011 film. It’s going to be added to one of the tiers of the 2011 list. Tier 2. That’s where it would have been for 2012 as well. I just don’t want to get into the murkiness of the years, so I’m just putting it on 2011.)

4 stars.

How close was I?: Better than I expected.

W.E.

What I said about it back in January:

“This is a 2011 film.”

“This is also Madonna’s directorial debut.”

“It’s about the affair between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.”

“If you remember — it was a pretty big plot point in The King’s Speech. It’s how he became king.”

“Honestly, I don’t see what we need to see that we haven’t already seen. And they shot it in two different time frames, with a modern day woman researching the story of these two. So, like Julie & Julia. Yeah, I’m sure  this’ll be much more interesting than The King’s Speech. That film didn’t get any recognition anyway.”

2 stars. I really don’t want to have to see this one. This is actually something I consider torture.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

2 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah — didn’t like it. At all.

2 stars.

How close was I?: Exact.

Girls, Guns and Gambling

What I said about it back in January:

This actually was on my 2011 Films Without Release Dates article, and it never got released. It still hasn’t gotten released, though I managed to see it.

Mostly the only reason I was interested in it was because — “It’s Gary Oldman as Elvis, what did you think was going to happen?”

“That’s really the only reason I was interested in it.” I also said, “I’m sure it’ll wind up on DVD within a year, and I’ll rent it, and it’ll be decidedly mediocre, and the excitement I had for it will have just been me getting worked up over nothing. But hey, I still have this stage.”

What I thought about it:

(I still have it and haven’t seen it yet. But since it won’t factor into the end of the year tallies, I’m not in any particular rush to see it. But I will see it soon enough, and will update this as soon as I do.)

Final Thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

Undefeated

What I said about it back in January:

“Weird — a documentary with a release date. This must have gotten some huge notices somewhere.”

“It’s a documentary. I’ll tell you right now — I won’t see this unless it’s nominated for an Oscar. And even then. I just don’t watch documentaries. I still haven’t seen Exit to the Gift Shop, and that shit’s supposed to be incredible. So I won’t watch this. Not gonna rate it either, because you can’t pre-judge documentaries.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

4 stars.

Final Thoughts:

This was good. Don’t remember it, but it was good.

4 stars.

How close was I?: N/A

Norwegian Wood

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I didn’t really hear about this until mid-year.

What I actually thought about it:

(Still haven’t seen it yet. It’s not gonna factor into my tallies, so I’m not in any particular rush to see it, even though it’ll happen soon enough that I’ll just update the article with my thoughts on it.)

Final Thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

Submarine

What I said about it back in January:

Didn’t hear about it until late in the year.

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

“It was very enjoyable. I don’t know if I’d call it a masterpiece, but it is a very enjoyable movie.”

“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.”

4 stars.

Final Thoughts:

4 stars. Maybe 3.5. Solid, though.

How close was I?: N/A

Turn Me On, Dammit

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I didn’t know about it. I forget who recommended it to me. I think it was someone who saw it at Tribeca or something. It was just one of those things I happened upon because someone recommended it.

What I actually thought about it:

I liked it. It was a late addition to this list, so no reviews article. But I enjoyed it. It was a good film. Not life-changing or anything, but definitely enjoyable.

3 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, 3 stars.

How close was I?: N/A

Tyrannosaur

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing, didn’t know about it.

What I actually thought about it:

“This is one of those films that I saw because it got traction from word of mouth.”

“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.”

3.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Really solid film. Great performances.

3.5 stars. Almost 4.

How close was I?: N/A

A Better Life

What I said about it back in January:

Didn’t know about it.

What I actually thought about it:

“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 an amazing film and is really strong.”

4 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Really liked this.

4 stars.

How close was I?: N/A

Chico and Rita

What I said about it back in January:

Didn’t know about it until they nominated it.

What I actually thought about it:

“This film was nominated for Best Animated Feature because of its animation. Not its story — that’s whatever — but its animation. It’s gorgeous.”

“That final, single-shot action sequence was astounding.”

“This is definitely worth seeing for the animation. The story, take it or leave it, but the animation is top notch.”

3 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Gorgeously animated, not particularly interesting, story-wise. But the animation makes it definitely worth a watch.

3 stars. The animation is 5 stars.

How close was I?: N/A

A Cat in Paris

What I said about it back in January:

Didn’t know about it until they nominated it.

What I actually thought about it:

“I saw this because it was nominated. And it was worth it.”

“The animation 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.)”

3 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, it was all right. Animation again. 4 star animation, 3 star film.

How close was I?: N/A

Coriolanus

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m actually pretty interested in this. For some reason, I’m not a fan of Shakespeare films, but this one, I’m intrigued by.”

3.5 stars. Maybe 3. I’ll go 3.5, though. I think this can be good.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

3 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, 3 stars. It was good, I just didn’t give a shit about most of it. There’s only so much Shakespeare I can do before I turn out.

How close was I?: Off by a half a star. I expected the location would lead to more action than it did. I forgot how often these things devolve into theatricality and staginess.

Margaret

What I said about it in January:

Well — long story here. I wanted to see this from back in 2011, and was tracking it since like, 2007, but then it never came out, and was finally coming out, and then it was impossible to find. And finally I got to see it in like, May or something. It was really late. So I wanted to post my thoughts of this here, since it’s really one of the forgotten movies of 2011, even though everyone who saw it pretty much loves it.

What I thought about it:

“It was really good. Not amazing, to me at least, but this is the kind of movie that some people will find amazing. And for that reason I’m telling you that you should see it.”

“It’s really strong on its own (that accident scene is intense), but this is definitely a movie some people will see, and they’ll think it’s one of the greatest things ever made. And for that, people should see this. (Plus, given all its legal troubles, almost no one has. So that’s another reason you should see it.)”

4 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Very solid film. Should be seen because no one has.

4 stars.

How close was I?: N/A

– – – – –

Okay, now for the actual 2012 films…

– – – – –

The Devil Inside

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh boy, oh boy, another exorcism film.”

“I remember when these got dumped in September and at the end of the summer, like The Last Exorcism. But I guess The Rite makes these go to January now.”

“I’d give it a rating, but I know I’m not gonna see this at all. But if I do see it, I guarantee you I’ll give it 2 stars. But I’m not gonna see it.”

What I actually thought about it:

Guess what? I didn’t see it. Big fucking surprise.

How close was I?: I knew I wasn’t going to see it. I’d say that’s pretty exact.

Contraband

What I said about it back in January:

“Mark Wahlberg loves these shitty action movies, doesn’t he?”

“This seems generic. The January release date tells me this won’t be particularly great.”

“I’m gonna say 2.5 stars. If it’s really generic, 2 stars. If it’s watchable, 3 stars. My guess is it’s more likely to be 3 stars than 2. Still – 2.5 stars.”

“I’d be more optimistic about it if they weren’t releasing it the same time they released Max Payne. Not sure why they want me to mentally compare the two.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

2.5 stars

Final Thoughts:

That sounds about right. I honestly don’t remember this, which means it was probably generic and watchable. So I’ll stick with 2.5 stars.

How close was I?: Exact.

Joyful Noise

What I said about it back in January:

“Well, you know who’s starring in it. I bet you can guess what it’s about too. In fact, I’m going to do so, synopsis unseen: It takes place in the South. Dolly Parton’s presence guarantees it takes place below the Mason-Dixon line. Plus the white and black thing — totally in the South. And it’s gonna be about Gospel choirs. That’s why Latifah is there. It’s gonna be like The Fighting Temptations. They’re gonna fight to save the church through singing. Latifah is a sassy black single mother and Parton is the good southern matriarch who works with her. There is a subplot with two of the young choir members finding romance, and a minor racism subplot, just to remind you that shit still happens, and this is a movie you’ve seen dozens of times before.”

2 stars. Like I’d ever watch this. I know it won’t be Unforgivable, and I know I’ll hate it. So I’ll never watch it. When you can correctly guess the entire plot of a film from just the poster, and know you’ll hate it without even a moment’s hesitation — you don’t need to see the film. I’ll probably never see this. (Then again, watch me end up seeing it and hating it. I know me. It’s a possibility.)”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

2 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, didn’t like this at all. Solid 2 stars. Didn’t like it, didn’t care, but it wasn’t offensive to me. It just wasn’t good.

How close was I?: Exact.

Haywire

What I said about it back in January:

“This was on my Rest of 2011 article. It makes sense that they bumped this to 2012.”

“This is a perfect release date for this film. (It still won’t make money regardless, because that’s how America works, but it’s still a perfect release date.)” (Mike Note: $23 million budget, $19 million domestic gross.)

“Simple, effective, sounds badass”

“The cast is amazing. Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Michael Angarano and Matthieu Kassovitz. Know what that says to me? It’s one of those films where people get clipped quickly. They pop in, one or two scenes — then, boom, dead.”

“I’m excited for this. My guess is 3.5. stars. I’m not gonna presume 4 stars, just because I’m not entirely positive it’ll happen. And 3 stars just feels too flat for a film like this, with a cast like this. So I’ll say 3.5. That feels right. I hope it’s awesome, though.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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?”

3.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Exactly.

3.5 stars.

How close was I?: Exact.

Red Tails

https://i0.wp.com/www.enterteenmentnews.com/images/movies/redtails1sheet.jpg

What I said about it back in January:

“I was excited for this — until I saw the trailer. Let’s just say it didn’t inspire too much confidence. Nor does this release date. Though I remain hopeful.”

“My big worry about this film is that it’s being dumped released in January. Maybe it’s a money thing, them trying to make more for it, or maybe they think no one will see a war movie about black people. Either way — I have reservations. About it. Not for it.”

“I’m gonna say 3 stars. This story is too interesting to not be at least 3 stars. There’s a possibility it drops to 2.5, and a decent shot at it being 3.5 (not to mention an outside chance at 4, but I’m not gonna hold my breath), but I’m still gonna say 3 stars and let the film show me why it’s being released in January.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

“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?”

“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.”

3 stars.

Final Thoughts:

I stand by the 3 stars. It was perfectly watchable, and in terms of everything that came out in January and February, this was one of the better films.

How close was I?: Exact.

Underworld: Awakening

What I said about it back in January:

“Gonna be honest with you — I haven’t seen any film in this franchise.”

“It’s not that surprising. I don’t do these types of films. Sci-fi action, sci-fi anything, really. They’re just not my thing.”

“Not that I’ll ever see this, but I have to assume I’d find this to be a 2 star movie. But I’ll never see this, so it’s irrelevant. I’d have to watch the first three before seeing this, and that’s not gonna happen.”

What I actually thought about it:

I didn’t see it.

How close was I?: Said I wasn’t gonna see it, didn’t see it. No surprise there at all.

The Grey

What I said about it back in January:

” love how January has become the go-go month for the “Liam Neeson beating the shit out of people” film.”

“This one features Liam Neeson beating the shit out of some wolves.”

“My guess is either this is a 2.5 star or a 3 star movie. I’m not sure which. Let’s go with 3 stars. It’s gonna be one or the other, though, I think. This film really needs to wow me to be 3.5, and I know that won’t happen, and I don’t think it’ll be bad enough to get a 2. So it’s either 2.5 or 3. I mean, come on — he beats the shit out of wolves.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

3.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

It wowed me. Really solid film.

3.5 stars.

I’m always happy to be wrong about a film when the rating is higher than I expected.

How close was I?: Off by a half a star. This was better than I expected.

Man on a Ledge

What I said about it back in January:

“I’m actually kind of intrigued by this. I saw the trailer, and normally with something like this (nowadays) I’d think it would be shitty. But for some reason (maybe it was just my mindset that day), it reminded me of one of those 90s thrillers (I love so much). And that made me think this would be okay.”

“This could be contrived as hell, but it’s gonna have to do a lot to not be at the very least watchable.”

“I have to assume this is a 3 star movie. Have to. It’s possible it does more or less, but not much more or less. This feels like solid three — decent enough, watchable, but not great (hence the January release date). I haven’t seen a 4-star film in January that wasn’t a holdover from the previous year’s Oscar season… At best, January movies are 3.5 stars. So I say 3. If it’s better, 3.5, if not, 2.5. (It really needs to fuck up to be a 2.) This one seems easy.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

“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.”

3.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

This reminded me exactly of those 90s thrillers I love so much. I’m leaving it at 3.5 stars. Don’t know how much I’d rewatch it, but I’ll definitely look back fondly on this one.

How close was I?: Off by a half-star, but it was for the better, so that’s good.

One for the Money

What I said about it back in January:

“I marked this as Unforgivable from last year. It was tentatively scheduled for the summer, but they hadn’t even released so much as an image from the film, so I figured they’d bump it. And looked where they bumped it to…”

“Tell me you don’t see this and think “Unforgivable” … It’s The Bounty Hunter, but reversed.”

1 star. 80% chance it’s Unforgivable. I’m so excited to write terrible things about this movie.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

2.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

It’s probably a 2 star movie that I put as 2.5 because I really expected it to be Unforgivable. Either way, I was wrong about this one.

How close was I?: Off by a full star. Not as bad as I expected.

– – – – –

Here are some notes on January:

Films I liked: Haywire, Red Tails, The Grey, Man on a Ledge

Films I didn’t like: Joyful Noise, One for the Money

Films I’m indifferent toward: Contraband

Films I didn’t see: The Devil Inside, Underworld: Awakening

Now to cover the extra stuff I said in January about the films…

I said “An Oscar holdover will win the weekend the first week of January. Tintin, War Horse – something. Depends on what hits.” I was wrong. The Devil Inside won.

I said Beauty and the Beast 3D would win the second weekend and that  “Contraband looks like a $13 million opener at best.” Contraband won the weekend with $24.3 million.

I said “Red Tails shouldn’t do more than $15 million,” and “Underworld has a chance to take first place over Beauty and the Beast, but — I don’t know. Lion King did fucking bananas business.” Red Tails did $18.8 million and Underworld did win the weekend with $25.3 million. Isn’t it fun seeing me be totally wrong?

I said “One for the Money will probably win the last weekend of the month (because America is stupid and loves Katherine Heigl). Man on a Ledge is a $10-12 million opener at best, and The Grey – maybe Neeson takes first place with a $15-17 million opening.” The Grey won the weekend with a $19.7 million opening. One for the Money made $11.5 million, and Man on a Ledge only made $8 million.

I also said the two potential decent films in January were Hawyire and maybe Red Tails. Those were right. I said “Contraband should be generic but watchable (at least, not awful)” — corect — “Man on a Ledge should be watchable, possibly good” — it was good — “and The Grey will be a Liam Neeson January movie. They are what they are.” Well, that one was actually good.

I also expected One for the Money to be Unforgivable. Wrong. Surprisingly.

– – – – –

February

Big Miracle

What I said about it back in January:

“Yeah…all I’m thinking about here is Dolphin Tale.”

“I’ll see this, but I won’t like it.”

2.5 stars. Most people will find it a 3. But I won’t like it. I doubt it’ll be as shitty and pandering as Dolphin Tale. We’ll go 2.5 stars. I’d expect a 2 normally, but let’s stay positive.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I really want to make this Unforgivable. I think it might make it, too. This was a horrible movie.”

“Here’s a movie that wants to be one of those uplifting 90s movies, like Free Willy, only it comes off as so pandering and horrible that it’s actually offensive.”

“This film’s message is so horribly off-base. All the characters are unlikable and are only out for their own self-interests. Not to mention — how the saving of the whales happens is so horrible. They put it on the news as a two-minute story. And America — ignoring the other 28 minutes of murders and war and horrible things — decides to focus solely on that and make that the number one story in the country. What the fuck is that?

“This has to be Unforgivable. And if it’s not, it’s bottom 15. I fucking hated this movie.”

1.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

You’ll hear them next week.

How close was I?: Full star off. I think I learned to just not be positive and assume it’ll suck just to be right.

Chronicle

What I said about it back in January:

“This poster doesn’t make me think good things. It reminds me of Skyline. And boy, did that suck.”

“Yeah — this’ll suck.”

“Oh god. I just found out it’s a found footage superhero movie.”

“It’s Cloverfield all over again.”

“That means everyone’s gonna go apeshit over this and I’m gonna have to hate it more than I should be hating it.”

2 stars. I hate these types of movies.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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… 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 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.”

2.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, I didn’t like this. I tried to be diplomatic, but I didn’t like it.

2 stars.

How close was I?: Exact, ultimately.

The Woman in Black

What I said about it back in January:

“At least Radcliffe is trying to be a real actor. That’s nice.”

“Supernatural thrillers are not my cup of tea, and there seem to be lots of them. Supernatural and sci-fi.Great…”

“Maybe 2.5 stars. Period pieces tend to go over slightly better with me, but I’m not expecting much here.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

“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.”

2 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, 2 stars.

How close was I?: It did not defy my expectations for a second, yet I wrote 2.5. So technically I was wrong, but I’m calling it correct. This was exactly what I thought it would be.

Journey 2: Mysterious Island

What I said about it back in January:

“Didn’t we say all we needed to say with the first Journey film? Do people even remember the first Journey film? It was a remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth. It apparently made $100 million domestically, which I guess necessitated a sequel. (Notice the move from summer to February.)”

“I’m guessing this will be a 3 star movie. Conventional wisdom says 2.5 stars, but I like Dwayne Johnson. I think this will be a 3 star movie. Weak 3, utterly forgettable, but enjoyable enough. Kind of like Race to Witch Mountain.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

3 stars.

Final Thoughts:

I said it all.

3 stars.

How close was I?: Dead on.

Safe House

What I said about it back in January:

“I love how Denzel, at the same time, has stopped trying and doesn’t make bad movies.”

“So when I see this, plus Ryan Reynolds — I see a movie that should be released later on in the year. February is notorious for being the worst month of the year for movies.”

“Plus, Vera Farmiga is in it, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Patrick, Sam Shepard — this is a solid supporting cast. I refuse to believe this is shitty. The trailer makes it look thoroughly entertaining.”

“This, to me, seems like an easy 3.5 star film. I won’t presume 4, but I have to assume 3.5. It could be 4, it could be a 3, but I refuse to believe it goes any higher or lower than that. 3 or 3.5 is most likely. I’d stake my reputation on it, but, let’s face it — I don’t have one to stake.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

Final Thoughts:

Nah, son. 2.5 stars. I was totally indifferent to this. It was not entertaining at all.

How close was I?: Off. I really thought it would be 3.5. Full star off. Wrong, even though based on what I wrote, I should have been right.

The Vow

What I said about it back in January:

“Aww…the Valentine’s Day movie…. somebody get me a rope.”

“Oh, you bastards…you’re trying to go all Notebook here, aren’t you?”

“If done right, this could be decent. Or even good. Or it could really suck. It’s February, so the ceiling on a film like this is 3.5 stars. And that’s if I really like it. I’m expecting 2.5 stars as a blanket, just because, it could win me over and be 3, or it could suck and be 2. Let’s take the middle ground and say 2.5 and let the film succeed or fail on its own terms.”

“(Looks like it’s gonna fail though, doesn’t it?)”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

“Still, it wasn’t terrible, and anyone who says so was going to say that regardless.”

2.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah — 2.5. Harmless, not great. They were pretty charming, though. This seems to be Channing Tatum’s year.

How close was I?: Exact.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

What I said about it back in January:

“Oh yeah. Our first Cage appearance (“and maybe my last“).”

“I did not like the first Ghost Rider movie. At all. But, this one gave me hope. Why? It’s directed by Neveldine and Taylor. They may not make brilliant films, but their action scenes are interesting as hell. I think that’s what this franchise needs. I think this will be better than the first film.”

“I assume the action stylings of Neveldine and Taylor assure this to be a 3 star film. If I really enjoy it and it’s wonderfully batshit, then it’ll be a 3.5. But I won’t presume. We’ll stick with 3 and let the film be badass and win me over.”

“The trailer has a shot of him pissing fire. How does that not automatically create a 3-star movie?”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

Final Thoughts:

Yeah… not good. I might even say it’s only a 2 star movie.

How close was I?: Off by a star.

This Means War

What I said about it back in January:

“A film starring Reese Witherspoon and being directed by McG.”

2 stars.”

(Then I looked a the plot to justify the quick reaction)

“Actually, I’m glad I did that. Because now the film’s on Unforgivable watch. It’ll need to be truly bad to make it on, but it’s a distinct possibility.”

“I’ll be watching this one closely. This sure looks like a pile of horse shit.”

What I actually thought about it:

“You’ll hear more about this one in January.”

1.5 stars

Final Thoughts:

Wait a week.

How close was I?: Well, I was waiting for it to be Unforgivable, and it was, so — I think that means I was pretty correct.

Act of Valor

What I said about it back in January:

“Poster is decent, but I don’t like what it suggests. It seems too, “soldiers are a brotherhood!” I don’t like that. Tell me a decent story, then make your statements.”

“Also, before I see anything about this movie aside from the poster: -1 star for a scene of them sitting around a fire or dinner table, talking about what things are like back home and what they’re gonna do when they do back there. (Huge movie pet peeve of mine.)”

“(Also, for prospective writers out there — never use the words “So what about you?” in your script. It’s the most ham-fisted lead in for exposition you can possibly have. Example: Soldiers are sitting around, shooting the shit. They joke for a while, talk about how one of them wouldn’t know what a woman looks like. Everyone laughs. Then they cut in close on one of them as his laugh turns serious. And he goes, “Man, I can’t wait to get back home.” And he starts talking about all the great things he did back home — family, women, food, whatever. Then he looks at the guy next to him and goes, “So what about you?”, and then he starts talking about the shit he’s gonna do when he gets home. Every war movie does this (except the really good ones). It’s awful. I cringe and automatically dock the film a half star when I hear it. And it happens in other films too. It’s not an isolated epidemic. So, if you want to write movies — don’t do that. Be better.)”

“I bet you this film has that scene, though.”

“I… really don’t care. Not even a little bit. I’m sure I’ll see it (mostly because I feel like I’ve been willing to skip almost everything that’s come out on this list until this point), but I don’t think I’ll like it.”

“(Also, I don’t care that this includes active duty marines in it. I’m still taking this on a movie basis and not automatically being like, “Oh, but its the troops,” — fuck you and your bumper stickers. This is cinema. Them being in the marines has nothing to do with it.)”

2 stars. Almost definitely.”

What I actually thought about it:

“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.”

2 stars.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, really didn’t like this one. Also, totally right about that scene being in there. You can just tell when a movie’s gonna be poorly written. Really bad. Definitely in the bottom 20, but not Unforgivable.

2 stars.

How close was I?: Exact.

Gone

What I said about it back in January:

“The only film from January and February that didn’t have a poster when I started doing prelim work on these articles (mid-November). That doesn’t bode well for it. Films should have posters within three months of release. Films that don’t tend to get bumped. Remember that shitty Julianne Moore thriller from last year? They bumped that. I’ve a feeling this might get bumped.”

“If this doesn’t get bumped, it’s gonna suck, and I probably won’t want to see it.”

2 stars. Maybe 1. If it comes out.”

What I actually thought about it:

It came out. I didn’t see it.

How close was I?: N/A

Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds

What I said about it back in January:

“Ah, one of Tyler Perry’s bi-annual abortions of cinema. Never fails.”

“I don’t care what this is about, I won’t see it, it will be bad.”

2 stars.

What I actually thought about it:

Didn’t see it. Big fucking surprise.

How close was I?: I could have told you I wasn’t gonna see this before they even announced it was going to be made.

Wanderlust

What I said about it back in January:

“I don’t know what to make of this. David Wain’s directed three movies so far. First, was Wet Hot American Summer. I don’t really like that film. I mean, I have a passing respect for it, but people are fucking rabid for that movie. I just don’t get it. Then he made The Ten, which is pretty meh. I found some parts of it funny, others awful. And then he made Role Models, which I fucking love unconditionally. It’s hysterical. And because of that, I said, ‘This has to be funny.'”

“Then I saw that he cast Jennifer Aniston. And my smile faded a bit. Then I saw the trailer, and my smile faded a bit more. By now, I’ve lost about all hope for this one.”

“I’m really worried about this. I’ll say 3 stars, because I have to assume Rudd and Wain will make this worthwhile — but I’m terrified of that. This can really, really suck. But I’ll stick with 3, and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I’m gonna be tentative as hell around this one.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This movie — it wasn’t what I was expecting. In either direction. With the people making it, I expected it to be funny. But, on the other hand, with certain elements (Aniston) and that trailer — I expected it to be awful. What I got was — meh.”

“It was okay. I didn’t really laugh, but I was able to watch it. So I was gonna give it 3 stars, but — it’s a comedy. I’m supposed to be laughing. So — 2.5.”

“Pretty flat, overall. Just not my thing. But on the bright side, Aniston will, for the first time in a while, not have a movie go Unforgivable. So I guess that’s a plus. Still not the biggest fan of this.”

2.5 stars.

Final Thoughts:

2.5 stars. Not good, not bad. It was.

How close was I?: Pretty close, but not exact.

– – – – –

February recap:

Films I liked: None.

Films I didn’t like: Big Miracle, Chronicle, The Woman in Black, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, This Means War, Act of Valor 

Films I’m indifferent toward: Journey 2: Mysterious Island, Safe House, The Vow, Wanderlust

Films I didn’t see: Gone, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds

 February has become a worse month than January.

Here’s what I said about the box office back in January (I’m thinking I won’t make this mistake again this year):

“I guess Big Miracle wins the first weekend of the month. Wow, that’s gonna be awful, that weekend. That’s gonna be  like Labor Day, when a film wins having only made like $12 million.” Chronicle won with $22 million.

It’s interesting that, because of all the re-releases in 2011 that made money, I assumed all the re-releases would make money this year. They released The Phantom Menace against Safe House and Journey 2: Mysterious Island. “Safe House will do $16-21 million no matter what. So one of those won’t be making bananas money. Maybe it’s Phantom Menace. Dunno. I guess I’ll just take Safe House, and be on the safe side. They must really have no faith in Journey 2 (or not be expecting much out of Phantom Menace, since it’s part of the new trilogy). Interesting weekend, though. Oh, and The Vow is that weekend. Really? Something’s gonna change, there. No way they open all those films against one another. (This is looking more and more like they’re expecting Journey to open to less than $10 million.)”

Ready for this? Safe House made $40.2 million. The Vow made $41 million. Journey 2 made $27.3 million. Phantom Menace made $22.5 million. They all made money.

Then — “Ghost Rider. That’s an easy winner. (Right?)” Ghost Rider made $25.5 million, but lost to Safe House, which made $27.5 million. So I wasn’t so off there.

Then — “Tyler Perry. He always wins his weekends.” He lost to Act of Valor. By $10 million.

“Any potential good films in February?: Safe House.” Nope.

Ghost Rider should be entertaining. Not sure if it’ll be good.” It wasn’t.

Secret World of Arrietty should look gorgeous. Not sure about overall quality.” Quality was great.

Journey 2 will be bad, but kiddie enjoyable, the way many of Rock’s movies have been recently.” Correct.

“The rest look forgettable or outright bad.” Absolutely correct.

“Unforgivables?: Honestly, potentially Wanderlust. Anything with Aniston automatically gets a look. It’s like in football when they say, “Which film will finish with the worst record this year?”, and every year, they always look at the Cleveland Browns. Because the potential is always there… Jennifer Aniston is the Cleveland Browns of cinema.” I was wrong, but I can’t fault the logic at all.

– – – – –

Tomorrow is March and April.

http://bplusmovieblog.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.