Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The End of all Things: A Look Back at the Movies of 2010

Another year has come and gone,
One life ends, another begins,
And in a world where time goes fast,
We come to the end of all things.

We saw great triumphs and journeys,
Valiant heroes and despicable villains,
But for everyone of these that we saw,
There were others destined to fail.

On a cold and warm planet,
That sees equal parts of love and hate,
Anger, fear and aggression,
We must always remember one thing,
That we must never turn to the dark side.

It was also a year that we saw great journeys,
On this world as well as others,
Where the cinemas all stand,
And the popcorn pops on.

So at last, we come to that time of the year,
The time where we not only look back at the year behind us,
But also to what the future holds,
But for now, we are at our end.
The end of all things.

Just wanted to have a little fun with you readers, who says that these types of editorials can't have that little something in them eh.

With that out of the way, it appears that we must indeed look back at the movies that we saw in 2010, the good times, the bad times, the misfires and the missed opportunities but before I go specifically into that I want to talk about the year as a whole.

And that is that 2010 on the whole has only been an okay year for movies at best, in comparison though last year (2009) started off bad and only got worse before James Cameron's Avatar swooped in at the last minute to snatch a key victory from the jaws of defeat, but this year wasn't so fortunate I think.

And that's mainly because a lot of movies released this year suffered from one big problem: The lack of a coherent and finished script, there is nothing more important to a movie's survival than that, it sunk last year's Transformers sequel Revenge of the Fallen and it also sunk a good number of movies released this year, guys look I know you have hundreds of millions of dollars, big name celebrities and state of the art special effects, but you cannot let those elements alone carry a film, you have to have a script, this one inefficiency is making me VERY angry and I've really lost patience with it, now I know some of you have made the criticism that I'm a bit of a grouch but nothing pisses me off more than seeing people pay they're hard earned money on something that they've wanted to see only to get nothing in return, it really gets on my nerves and I wish it would stop.

But hey like I said before, it wasn't that bad of a year overall, but it also wasn't all that good of a year either, as it started off fairly flat and only showed a few signs of life from there, here's hoping 2011 can rise above the last few years of mediocrity but from the looks of it on paper, the signs aren't promising, what is though is a return to the dead zone that dominated the 00's, well for now at least, but I could be wrong.

Now, let's get down to business shall we:

The favourites of 2010:

4. Green Zone/Kick Ass: One of two ties on this list mainly because I didn't like one more than the other, I enjoyed both about the same but for different reasons which are outlined below.

Green Zone was a great reminder of the action days of yore, when action and story blended together to create a satisfying movie as a whole, here not only did you have some pretty terrific action scenes helmed by director Paul Greengrass but also there was a compelling story about WMD's in Iraq, effortlessly carried by Matt Damon, who has now proven himself to be the real deal as an actor.

Kick Ass meanwhile was a very dark, very violent and also very funny comic book movie, my main line about this has been that this is what Iron Man 2 should have been, a smart action comedy that didn't over complicate it's story, if there was any justice in the world, Chloe Moretz would get an Oscar nod for her role as Hit-Girl, how someone so young can carry themselves so confidently on screen is something I'd like to find out.

3. Shutter Island: Martin Scorsese for me has been a little iffy since his 1990 masterpiece Goodfellas (yes I think it's that good) mainly because when you make a movie that's that impressive, it can be hard to follow it up as was the case with his 2006 Oscar winner The Departed, which was ridiculously long and really an attempt to recapture the success of that film, only for it to fail to do so rather miserably.

Getting back on topic, what Scorsese has done here is simply a high end "Haunted House" complete with the rustling weather, local crazies and the "Da Dum" soundtrack, and all of it makes for a movie watching experience that is certainly a lot of fun and Scorsese's best work in years.

2. Inception/The Social Network: Again we have another tie, mainly because again I didn't really like one above the other, I liked them both just as much but again they were for different reasons.

Inception (Director Christopher Nolan's follow up to his 2008 blockbuster The Dark Knight) was an impressive affair that juggled not only multiple characters but also multiple realities, as the main group of characters are asked to perform Inception, which is to plant an idea inside a person's mind.

Any other director could have potentially let this material collapse into an incomprehensible mess, but Nolan keeps his eye on the ball at all times, showing an impressive technical ambition not seen since James Cameron, but since the film's home video release some of the gloss has come off a bit as the visuals don't quite impress as much as they did on a nice big cinema screen.

The Social Network meanwhile was a movie that I walked into with very low expectations, as a movie about the founding of Facebook couldn't be that interesting could it, Could it?

Well, I was dead wrong as for two thirds of the film's 2 hour running time it was a fascinating story that also had the gall to say that Mark Zuckerburg, one of the world's youngest billionaires was a manipulative prick who wasn't afraid to trample on anyone or anything around him if it meant advancing his own personal gain.

Unfortunately though, the last third of the movie lacked that excitement as the threads come together and the film attempts to make Mark look like a nicer person, whereas I really liked the bastard, a real pity as when this film was good, it was dead on.

1. Toy Story 3: Yes folks, my favourite movie from all of those I saw in 2010 was an animated movie, about toys of all things.

But that ain't a knock against this movie at all as it hit it's marks completely dead on, simply put not only did this movie leave me with a big grin on my face almost the entire time with its warmth and humour but it also tugged at the heartstrings with two key sequences towards the film's end showing the softer side of a lot of people, and don't say it didn't happen to you cause it had to of in some way.

But I can't not reflect on this movie and not talk about the new characters created for it, all of whom I'm certain will have the same shelf life as the more iconic characters like Woody and Buzz, from the pink Lots'-O'-Huggin-Bear to the Big Baby doll which looks like some alcoholic serial killer to the rather funny Mr. Pricklepants, voiced by former 007 Timothy Dalton, but lastly this was the only film I saw this year which gave Avatar a run for it's money and I ain't gonna complain about that at all.

But enough of praise for the moment, let's see what didn't impress me this year:

The Worst of 2010:

4. Alice in Wonderland: The first main movie I saw this year and all through watching it one thought came to mind "Didn't I see this a few months ago when it was called Avatar", for it basically it had the exact same things that this movie did:

1. The big scary creatures that chases the main lead only to help them later on
2. The big dragon creature that plays a major part in the final battle
3. The leader who rallies both side for one last battle
4. The eccentric locals who come to the lead's aide

And not only that, this movie had nearly no plot at all and even if it did, it wasn't all that interesting, as it was really just a "oppressed people looking for a champion" story, whoop de doo.

Personally, I wish Tim Burton would quit making movies as he simply doesn't have it in him anymore to knock one out of the park but given that this movie made a billion dollars worldwide at the box office, I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

3. Clash of the Titans: Following his blockbuster success with James Cameron's Avatar, Australian Sam Worthington took on another big project with this remake of the 1981 cult hit Clash of the Titans.

Following a promising trailer which showed giant scorpions, clashing gods and a great big Kraken, what we got was anything but that, instead the great big monsters only got two minutes of screen time and Ralph Fiennes's Hades was one of the worst performances this year, sounding like someone who smoked way too much.

Not only that, the film as a whole was SO deadly dull and boring it wasn't funny, Worthington completely phones it in, Gemma Arterton was dull, Liam Neeson turned one of his rare bad performances and the comic characters were anything but.

2. Predators: One of the two movies this year that got on my nerves the most, Predators was quite frankly a pointless and unnecessary addition to the Predator film series.

And the main reason is that this film lacks any kind of worthwhile story, you see in the first Predator movie there was a good 10-15 minutes at the beginning that set up what was to happen in the jungle, a helicopter carrying a cabinet minister and his aide has gone down in the jungle and they're presumed missing, find them and bring them back, of course it was so much more than that.

In this one, we see Adrian Brody hurtling through the atmosphere which looks like outtakes from the sky diving scene in last year's Star Trek movie and a whole bunch of other characters and most of the time they're asking "How did we get here"?


Sorry about the capitals in that last sentence, but that really got on my nerves, as well as it's pointless ending that should been this movie's last act, but hey this means we have something for a sequel, yay for us.

1. Robin Hood: Yes folks, the bottom of the barrel for 2010, Ridley Scott's take on the Robin Hood legend.

Well, no it wasn't as quite frankly it was Gladiator 2, only this time it was Robin Hood and it's story shoehorned into that framework, Russell Crowe's accent changed more times than someone changing their underpants, Oscar Issac was nothing more than a 50 pound ham as King John, but the real kicker was Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian, who doesn't have any fun with this role whatsoever, she plays it as someone who has convinced themselves that they're an AC TOR who has to act not do silly stuff like this, because of that Blanchett will have to do something pretty special to get back into my good books.

But wait there's more, two more things that got my goat:

1. The story making no sense whatsoever as one minute Mark Strong's character is plotting behind the king's back, the next he's collecting money for him, dude make up your mind will ya.

2. The very end of the movie says "And so, the legend began", you know you could have said that TWO HOURS AGO and given us something more rather than once again, makes us wait for a sequel to give us what you promised the first time around, I mean fair go mate fair go.

Yeah, this movie got on my nerves much more than Predators did, now I know that we laugh at Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg and even George Lucas for some of their recent pictures but this movie was made by Ridley Scott, the same man who gave us Blade Runner, how on Earth could he have made this movie, he's above all this mediocrity, oh well, hopefully he'll have something good in mind with his Alien prequel.

The Disappointments of 2010:

One segment that I feel is worth talking about are the movies that disappointed us, you know the ones that you hope will deliver the goods based on what came before and what director did beforehand that you really liked but sadly you just walked out feeling really let down and wanting to cry on someone's shoulder, with that let's mark the top three disappointments of the year.

3. Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps: The follow up to Oliver Stone's 1987 original, I had been very enthusiastic to check this one but unfortunately the cruel hand of fate had other ideas and was left to wait another month before seeing it, but if you've already read my main review of this movie, you'd know this story by now.

The reason it's here on this list is that when I walked out of the movie one thought came to mind: "All this time, and THIS is what I get"; a half baked family drama, a subpar financial story and a lacklustre villain that felt like 3 separate stories rather than 1 glorious whole which was the case in the first movie, don't get me wrong Douglas was terrific but there were a few moments where he was Gordon, in control and calling the shots and you just thought "Where's that movie" but everything around him felt flat and that was a shame.

2. Iron Man 2: The first trailer for Iron Man 2 came out the day I saw Avatar, in fact at last year's Comic Con, the IM2 presentation was said to be better than the Avatar one, which had me convinced that people were looking forward to that film more than Avatar, needless to say I felt that the trailer released that day captured the heart and humour of the first and set up the same wild ride that was just fun on the bun, so I guess my hope was that this movie would stand up to Avatar in the same way that the first film did with the Dark Knight, hopes to be positive about or not?

Sadly, I was wrong as the film didn't have any of the energy, humour, heart and straightforward storytelling the first film did, instead this film was rushed from start to finish, no doubt so the Paramount executives could triple their bank accounts, I mean why couldn't it have been saved for 2011, as it would have mopped up the box office and given fans the sequel they deserved as well as something to look forward to, alas that isn't to be.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Yes folks, the biggest disappointment for me this year, Scott Pilgrim was director Edgar Wright's follow up to 2007's Hot Fuzz, which I LOVED so very much, the trailers looked promising for the same kind of high energy, fast pace and quirky characters.

Sadly, my hopes were dashed as this movie had a dead weight hanging around it's neck in the form of one Michael Cera; quite frankly he isn't leading man material whereas Simon Pegg was, and the reason he isn't is because he talks in a very slow and whiny fashion, totally at odds with the rest of the actors and Edgar's style, which is fast and furious.

Not only that, Scott himself was a total smeghead, moaning on and on all the time when the other characters are trying to get it through to him that you have to step up, now I know that some will forgive that and hey, that's your prerogative I'm not going to stop you and nor should I, but this isn't some background person, this is the centre of the movie, you cannot make a massive mistake like that, unfortunately as a result despite high praise from fans and critics, the movie Bob-ombed at the box office earning only $10 million in it's opening weekend.

So, that's that for 2010's movies, hopefully 2011 will be good but considering the offerings, I'm not going to get my hopes up as it looks like a return to the dead zone that dominated the 00's, well we'll just have to wait and see what happens won't we, until then, see you at the cinemas.

No comments: