I probably have around 10-20 films waiting to be ‘reviewed’ by my now-late 365 Film Challenge.
Work and the 3 hours I lose everyday on travel don’t let me, though. But I will find a way to pester all of you with my inane ramblings on movies! Just you wait hahahahaha.
35/365: Movies of 2012: Dark Shadows (2012, US)
Johnny Depp again reprises his role as lead actor for another Tim Burton film in Dark Shadows, a film adaptation of a 1960s soap opera dealing with a family of has-been town royalty who has a vampire as an ancestor. Barnabas Collins, said vampire as portrayed by Depp, tries to adjust to his now two-centuries-forward life in the 1970s. He works to bring back his family to riches, sate his appetite for blood, and settle some scores with the witch who made him a vampire.
It was no surprise to me that Dark Shadows was helmed by Burton, who is known for his gothic and very stylized approach in his films (other than using Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter in almost every movie he directs). The treatment he gave the movie was nothing short of my expectations, with the camp turned up to eleven. While the treatment was good and interesting, the story, sadly, didn’t do anything for me. I do think television shows have really spoiled me on terms of story development and establishment; the story felt rushed to me, with a lot of things feeling like they popped out of nowhere.
While my opinion of the story still stands, I did laugh a few times during the movie and enjoy the lavish costumes and production design made for Shadows. I might have enjoyed it more if I was able to watch the original show, but with my being born a few decades after its run, the movie would have to suffice.
I’d give it a one-word rating of ‘steady’ with a slightly see-sawing hand gesture to match.
34/365: Movies of 2012: American Reunion (2012, US)
The awkward moments in my life - trust me - never seem to end. So there I was, staring at the movie schedules printed out on the newspaper, trying to convince my older brother and father to pick something else other than American Reunion. I have never seen any American Pie movie, and the fact that I’ll have to sit through a sex comedy with my family (if they pick said movie) is something I’m not sure I could stomach.
Cut to the three of us sitting on the back row of a full cinema, watching Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan try to relieve their sexual frustrations on screen. While I eventually got to ignore the awkwardness of watching American Reunion with family, I found myself laughing at a lot of the shenanigans even if I didn’t watch any of the prequels. The movie still has its comedic kicks, even if it’s already the nth sequel to an R-rated franchise.
I’d recommend it as a stress-reliever movie, filled with R-rated comedy that… I do think you’d rather not watch with family members. ; )
33/365: Movies of 2012: Just Go With It (2011, US)
This movie probably took lessons from some Korean television series.
Just Go With It shares the exploits of rich plastic surgeon Dr. Maccabee, as played by Adam Sandler, as he philanders his way through life, making up a fake wife per girl he targets. In comes his assistant, played by Jennifer Aniston, once he needs an accomplice to a grander scheme to get a girl he deems to be ‘the one’. Wacky hijinks ensue, with lies upon lies that would make a standard Koreanovela proud.
A fun and enjoyable movie. The script was nice, and the chemistry between Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston was OK. She was likeable in this film, well-supported by the child actors who played as her kids and Adam Sandler’s comedic cues. I’d give it a one-word-rating of ‘fun’.
32/365: Movies of 2012: The Lucky One (2012, US)
On the weekend wherein Avengers is totally slaying ticket sales, to the point that screenings until the next day are sold out, we had to go through a throng of people to get our tickets for this Zac Efron movie. Based on a book by Nicholas Sparks, The Lucky One was definitely different from the blockbuster Superhero fare occupying 99% of the cinemas.
So there we were, getting into our seats just in time, with teamwork worthy of being called an Avenger-ian effort. The opening seemed promising - waxing poetic about life with pretty visuals - and with Efron as its leading man, for girl like me it seemed like a success already.
But unfortunately Efron and the cinematography are the movie’s only saving graces. Nothing else surprised me (the steamy scenes between Efron and Taylor Schilling were a close exception haha); but I should not have been surprised. Being based on a Sparks novel, it went on to the usual Sparks routine - beautiful setting, stranger to the locale, somebody dying, them getting together.
Some of the scenes were disconcerting, however, with how they were written and executed. Some of the supposedly intimate scenes (Schilling on her grief, that weird makeout session) came off more as contrived rather than emotional and engaging. And it also doesn’t help that while Efron was supposed to be this tough-as-nails Marine, I always found myself staring at his long eyelashes.
His performance in this film was very different from High School Musical, I’ll tell you that. He tries to capture the hundred year gaze most soldiers have after war, and I found myself nodding in belief. It’s just that…well, his eyelashes are just too thick and full for a Marine, haha.
A mediocre movie; best watch it not expecting anything other than Efron’s pretty behind. :))
31/365: Movies of 2012: The Avengers (2012, US)
What I would say as one of the most-awaited movies of 2012, Avengers was able to make me watch it twice in the cinema - something I’ve reserved only for movies that really left a mark on me. As of yet I’ve only done so for the following: Inception and the final two Harry Potter movies.
The script was great. I’m not familiar with the comic book canon but as a non-fan I found it easy to understand and enjoyable. I laughed many times during the course of the movie, my eyes were very happy with the cinematography (and eye candy) and how they handled such a heavyweight ensemble cast was amazing. While Iron Man does seem to have a bit more of time in the spotlight compared to the others (it’s understandable, though - I love RDJ’s Tony Stark), they were able to juggle the cast in an otherwise balanced manner. Even Phil Coulton was given his proper minutes of fame.
Really great movie - one of those blockbusters truly worth your money. And with how ticket sales are going around, Avengers certainly made itself worthy of the actors’ time.
30/365: Movies of 2012: Anonymous (2011, UK/GER)
Back to my movie staples: period drama, beautiful old-school historical costumes and a plot convoluted in a way that would make my inner geek happy. This was what Anonymous was to me, and with a tagline of ‘Was Shakespeare a Fraud?’, it was an instant to-watch movie once I saw the poster.
Starring Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave and Sebastian Armesto, Anonymous tackles the story of what its tagline says so simply: what if Shakespeare was a fraud? The movie (directed by Roland Emmerich) explores the theory of the real writer of the plays being Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. We are shown up to what lengths he goes to ensure his anonymity, and his motives. Set against the succession crisis of Elizabeth I, the movie does not lack in drama, political intrigue and tragedy that would befit a Shakespearean work.
Really great film. I just loved it. The performances from its actors - Rhys Ifans, epsecially - were all so moving. Writer John Orloff’s treatment of the film was a bit confusing to get at first (with the flashback-within-a-flashback treatment) but it is the complication that makes it exciting to watch. Roland Emmerich also does not disappoint - the film was very beautiful. Costumes, of course, were beautiful beyond words, earning its costume designer Lisy Christl a nomination for an Academy Award.
A total recommend. Pity the cinema was only filled by what, 20 people when I watched it? Felt ashamed after, too - because there were no other people in the cinema within a two-row radius from us, my friend and I aired out our comments during the movie most probably for everyone to hear. Alas, we have become what we had loathed! :))
29/365: Movies of 2012: Young Adult (2011, US)
Charlize Theron stars in this Diablo Cody-penned movie as Mavis Gary - a young adult novel ghostwriter who was once the belle of the ball in her small hometown of Mercury, Minnesota. Now an alcoholic and a divorcee, she goes back to Mercury to try and get back her highschool sweetheart, who had e-mailed her pictures of his newborn daughter with his wife. Crazy self-absorbed logic is applied, and Young Adult then shows us how Mavis tries to find a place for herself in her old hometown.
A piqued look into how, as their tagline calls it, ‘everyone grows old; not everyone grows up.’ The movie is an interesting study of how we cope with stumbling blocks and long for the glorious past we’ve left behind. Young Adult delivers these themes by being thought-provoking and humorous in a subdued manner reminiscent of 50/50 or The Descendants. It tackles less grave subjects that they have, though, but it was thought-provoking all the same. Charlize Theron captured Mavis Gary’s affected manner down pat to the point I myself got a bit irritated while I was watching the movie.
Good, but not great. I still prefer 50/50 or The Descendants.
28/365: Movies of 2012: Tower Heist (2011, US)
When I first saw the title, I thought this followed the usual parodies of famous genres. We’ve had them in their genre’s more general descriptors: ‘Scary Movie’ for the horror genre, and ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ for - you guessed it - teenage movies. With Heist’s genre-descriptive title, I thought it was a parody on spy thrillers/thieving-centric films, like Mission Impossible, Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job.
I was proven wrong, and I was glad to be. Tower Heist tells the story of how the staff of a high-end luxury serviced condominium tower in Manhattan try to get their money back from their swindler of an occupant. The movie shows glimpses of the lives of the people behind the people, as portrayed by Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck and Gabourey Sidibe. It also reflects how lives have changed throughout the financial disaster of the last decade with top investor Arthur Shaw as played by Alan Alda, and a down-on-his-luck banker portrayed by Matthew Broderick. Finishing off the triangle would be the police, primarily embodied in Tea Leoni’s portrayal of a special agent.
Being of the thieving movie variety, it also follows a pattern - scheming, planning, complete with suspenseful scenes with the ‘will they or won’t they’ feel, just of success and not romance. What I really liked about this film, though, was how it focuses on the ‘ordinary’ people, and how it looks into the lives of those who are usually relegated into the background.
A fun and enjoyable movie. Ben Stiller had always been a favorite of mine, and seeing that I liked it a lot, I will be recommending it.
27/365: Movies of 2012: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011, US)
Ghost Protocol, starring its now also producer Tom Cruise, is the fourth installment to the Mission: Impossible franchise. Having been absent from the game since 2006, it spices up the franchise with the addition of several names: Jeremy Brenner as William Brandt, Paula Patton as Jane Carter, and Michael Nyqvist (of Dragon Tattoo fame) as its main antagonist Kurt Hendricks. Simon Pegg reprises his role as Benji Dunn, tech wizard.
The film - live-action directorial debut by Pixar veteran Brad Bird - was shot in several locations: Moscow, Dubai, and Mumbai. They also make use of what’s currently the highest tower in the world, the Burj Khalifa, to make some heart-stopping action scenes that probably got audiences around the world (especially those with acrophobia) clutch their chests. Needless to say some of the action scenes did make me gasp. I also gasped at Tom Cruise’s high-waisted pants.
A pretty okay movie. Spy thriller, action scenes, attractive operatives + sexy female agent - you get the gist. Sort of run-of-the-mill spy movie. What made it interesting is I read somewhere that they’re planning to have Renner replace Cruise as the main operative if he chooses to walk away from the franchise. Looks like Renner will run both M:I and Bourne. :))