Friday, January 25, 2013

Movies of 2012, Honorable Mentions

            I did not watch a hell of a lot of movies in 2012.  I was busy, worried about money, and was not drawn in the way I have been in years where my brother and I motivated each other to go see more movies.  But in the later half of the year I got a little bit more of a drive to see more and I think that (overall) this was a really good year for movies.  There is also a lot of crap too, but I think I mostly dodged those, aside from my "Worst Movie of the Year" which I will talk about later.  So there are some holes in my analysis, this is just my own limited perspective on what movies I liked and hated this year.  For the next couple days I'll go over them, but before that I want to give out some tiny awards that I think need to be given out.

Most Overrated Movie of 2012: "The Dark Knight Rises" (Trailer)
            While good (here is a longer blog about it), this thing is a mess and doesn't measure up to its predecessors.  There are issues with character development, scene placement, timing, and just real world logic on how things work.  For instance, "Who would have known, Bane's one weakness was getting hit in the face really fucking hard; who would have guessed that mask was his weak point like a video game boss".  Or, "Well, of course all of those financial transactions that happened during that terrorist attack went through and cost Bruce Wayne his money."  Or most egregiously, "Why is Batman keeping that power source from public consumption?  We already have atomic bombs and mustard gas, what makes this thing so uniquely powerful as a weapon?  Iron Man uses the power generator in his chest as both a life saving device, cheap power source for his company facilities, and as a weapon... Wouldn't Batman get real use and have better security for the device if it were up and running?  This doesn't make any sense."
            To be fair though, while I do not think that it deserves all of the love it is getting, it also does not deserve all of the hate.  People have too strong a reaction to this film over the entire emotional spectrum, and it really just deserves to be the mediocre final chapter to an overall very potent film franchise.  If I were to offer a suggestion on how best to fix it, make it two two-hour movies instead of one movie that runs for not quite three hours.

Most Disappointing Movie of 2012: "Prometheus" (Trailer)
            I like science fiction.  I like the idea of Ancient Astronauts, lost knowledge, and the drive to discover god.  I also believe that people who are supposed to be scientists should act like scientists.  I believe that movies advertised as prequels to other movies should resemble the other movie thematically.  I think that this movie made numerous stupid mistakes to the point in which it just stopped working.

Best Performance in a Bad Movie: Michael Fassbender in "Prometheus" (link is to a longer previous blog)
            For all its faults, Fassbender was not one.  The android character, David was hard to pin down, but his motivations, his plans, his ultimate goals are all very mysterious and intriguing.  Fassbender made this character come alive with his rigid movements, his not quite human reactions and voice, the subtle wrongness of how he behaved that belied a character who acted human, but was not human.  If "Prometheus" had not been such a mess, I think this performance would have landed a Best Supporting Actor nomination by the Oscars.

This movie fell so short of what it could have been, it makes me kind of mad.

Missing the Point because of Marketing: "The Hunger Games" (Trailer)
            This might be the first movie I have ever had to look away from because the constant shaky camera made my stomach turn.  There is no moment in which this movie is not shifting and twitching and otherwise making me ill, the reason for that is so they can destroy the whole point of the movie.
            This movie is about the mass ritual killing of children for the political oppression of the weak, and the entertainment of the powerful.  More than 20 teens are murdered by other teens.  And I will say this unequivocally: if you can't show children being murdered by other children then you can't make this movie.  "The Hunger Games" uses shaky camera to hide the blood and death that is the whole message and point of the story.  Without that visceral punch the movie is just weak and flaccid bullshit.  It is at best bland and unfocused.  It totally missed the point.

The Deserved More Respect Award: "The Amazing Spiderman" (Trailer)
            This movie has gotten shit on so much, and really isn't that bad.  What leaves people with a bad taste in their mouths is that the movie was made in a rush by Sony or they would lose the rights to Spiderman back to Marvel, who would then be able to put Spiderman on future installments of "The Avengers".  The movie has a very simple story, doesn't do enough to distance itself from comparisons to the Sam Rami trilogy (they could have easily replaced Oscorp with another fictional Marvel company like Roxxon), but overall I really liked how funny Spiderman was, how they show visually how he evolves from a vigilante out for revenge, and then step by step into a hero; all of which is done by having his costume evolve from Pete, to Pete in a mask, to full on Spiderman.  Martin Sheen does a great job as Uncle Ben, playing a father rather than just a too nice to be real old guy, when he yells at Peter I felt as if he was behaving like a real dad would instead of just being "disappointed" in a soft spoken and condescending way.

The Really Not all that Bad Award: "Snow White and the Huntsman" (Trailer)
            For whatever reason, I actually have no idea why, people have decided that Kristin Stewart is a bad actress.  I don't know how they reached that conclusion as she so rarely acts.  In this movie, she did fine, so did everyone else.  This movie has an interesting world filled with cool set pieces, mostly in the form of a very toned down fairy garden, and a rather Tim Burton-esc haunted wood, nothing in it really fails or offends, it is just sort of okay.  A little slow in sections I suppose, but it overall works, it deserves less hate and a few more viewers.

Making History for the Worst Reason: "John Carter" (Trailer)
            This movie wanted to be "Avatar" so much.  It might have the worst marketing so far this century and is the single biggest financial disaster in the history of film costing hundreds of millions of dollars utilizing state of the art movie making technology, and making roughly enough money to cover catering and maybe gas enough for a beer run.
            And what is really sad, this movie could have totally worked.  The source material is very rich and kind of messy, written in an era in which modern science fiction tropes and conventions did not exist.  The source materials predates "Star Wars", "Star Trek", "Flash Gordon", "Conan", and the entirety of the Superhero genre, it has an odd perspective on space travel and science in general, it could be great if it did not take itself so damn seriously and cut down on the weird stuff.  Pull a "Lord of the Rings" and film a trilogy, cut out the unnecessary stuff, and explain in elegant fashion the more esoteric.  As is it is messy and over stuffed, but really, it just did not meet its potential.  And it paid the price by being a legendary money loss for Disney, which is sad.

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