Friday, 6 January 2012

Films of 2011

This is the one I've been waiting for, I think I might've gone a bit mad with how much I wrote, but I hope you like what we have to say. Over to me. Then Lewis.


Wow. I wasn’t being very impressed by the films this year until the start of December. I mean, some were ok, but I just didn’t see anything that made me excited about the quality. That was until one week where I watched both Drive and Hugo. Both these films are fantastic. Drive is a dark action film about a get-away driver who gets involved in shady dealings and it brings down his whole world. It’s the most intelligent action movie I’ve seen in years, with some of the best performances this year from Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and a surprisingly dark turn from Albert Brooks (Nemo’s Dad in Finding Nemo). Everyone in this is brilliant, every shot brilliantly put together and it’s a real call back to thrillers from the 80s, which is definitely not a bad thing. It’s one of the very best made films of the year and it’s also right up my alley, exactly the sort of film I like. Oh, and it has a fantastic soundtrack.

Hugo is a completely different affair. It’s a surprising film from director Martin Scorsese, mainly because it’s not incredibly dark and violent for adults only. This is a family film, and definitely the best I’ve seen in years. It’s a magical experience, all the characters are interesting and it has some of the only child acting I’ve actually ever liked in it. It starts off as a moving story of a boy who’s lost his father, but then it changes into a love letter to the art of the cinema, and to the early pioneers. It’s also the only film I’ve ever seen where the 3D adds anything. I won’t give anything more away, because really, just go and watch it right now. It’s one of the best made and definitely the most heart-warming film that’s come out this year. 

This is where things get interesting. Up until about a month ago, I was all set to give the best movie to X-Men: First Class. Now that I’ve seen Drive and Hugo, I see that it’s just because of the poor quality of films this year that I was going to do that.  First Class is a really good film, but it’s really not best film material. But, being one of the good films this year has to count for something, especially as it’s the X-men film that followed the Wolverine movie, which was just awful. It was well made, exciting and entertaining, but at the end of the day it was just a superhero action movie. It was a very good one, but except the Nolan Batman films, superhero films are never going to win any films of the year awards. Definitely one of the best of the genre though.

Another film that would never get a mention on any other best of lists is Hobo with a Shotgun. It carries on the grind house film movement, started by well, Grindhouse, but moves it along a bit, by making a very 80/90s film with a modern twist. It’s incredibly over the top, with mad violence and ridiculous characters like a guy who kills his enemies by putting them down a manhole and pulling their heads off with a rope attached to a car. A really over the top action fest, this is hugely entertaining, but with a brilliant and quite seriously played performance by Rutger Hauer as the Hobo, this film has made it as one of my favourites from this year.

I hate The Smurfs. I’ve talked about it before here, and here. And really, there’s nothing more to say, except it’s definitely the worst film this year.

My reaction to The Smurfs.

But since I actually have to write something here, I’ll talk about what would have been the worst film of the year if it hadn’t been for Smurfs. Green Lantern. I don’t get this film. There are plenty of other superheroes that could have had films made about them, so why didn’t they do someone more interesting? Green Lantern as a character is not interesting. So, was it made for fans? Well it can’t have been. The character of Green Lantern/Hal Jordan is completely wrong as Ryan Reynolds is spectacularly miscast. The main villain Parallax is just a big cloud, instead of what it’s meant to be, and a big cloud is not an interesting villain. There’s also a guy with a big head who’s meant to have back story with Green Lantern, but it’s never shown so it means nothing to us. And there’s Sinestro who’s another Lantern who turns evil, but he kind of disappears in the film and is only evil after the end credits. You can’t do that. That’s like when The Thing (2011) tried to put important story details into the end credits, it’s annoying and when the credits roll the film should be over. Basically half the film doesn’t make sense, like half the connecting scenes were cut out, so things happen and they’re not connected, for example, there’s evil stuff going on in an underground bunker, then BOOM, Green Lantern’s there. How did he know stuff was going down and why is he there so quick? Not explained. A lot like that happens. And there’s too much going on with the aliens at the Lantern Corps, that’s the sort of stuff that’s normally kept for a sequel once we understand what our basic characters are about. So it’s got too much shit we don’t understand for non-fans and it’s all changed from the comics, so fans won’t like it either. Who is this film for? No-one. It’s shit. Oh and since I’ll get a slap if I don’t mention it, the effects in this film are god-awful. Why did they make the Lantern suit CGI? It looks terrible. Superman 4: The Quest for Peace looks better, and that’s complete shite. So Green Lantern should be the worst film of the year if it wasn’t for that one film I hate even more.

I watch a lot of films, so I really see all of them I want to. So I can’t really do a ‘wish I’d seen’ for film. If I did it would end up having to say I wish I’d seen Breaking Dawn, Fast Five or Cars 2, which would just be a lie. Well actually I would like to see Cars 2 but that’s just so I can see the first bad Pixar movie and I don’t think that’s a legitimate reason. So instead, I’m doing a ‘wish I hadn’t seen’, for the films that weren’t the worst of the year, but they were still a complete waste of my time to watch. One of these is the new Pirates of the Caribbean film. It’s not awful, it’s just dull. There’s none of the original cast except the first mate, who’s alright but hardly a major character, Barbossa, who’s character has almost completely changed until he’s almost unrecognisable and Jack Sparrow, and Johnny Depp just seems so uninterested in the film, it’s like he’s only there for the pay cheque. Oh  wait. The new character aren’t interesting, the new thing they’re looking for isn’t interesting, it’s blandly directed and just nothing gets me involved. It just sat there bored waiting for it to end, because I didn’t care. And I really liked the other films, so I especially disappointed.

There were other bad films this year, Bridesmaids, where not even Roy from The IT Crowd could make it the slightest bit funny, Alvin and the Chipmunks 3: Chipwrecked, which was truly awful, but it is the third one so by now anyone seeing it should know what they’re getting into, The Tree of [Fucking] Life, which is just wildy pretentious and unbelievably boring, probably the hardest film I had to sit through this year and so on, but I think I’ll drive myself mad if I keep going. Here’s hoping I survive 2012.


BEST: Evangelion 2.0: You Can (not) Advance

I’m a huge fan of the 1996 anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, which in itself was stunning, wonderful animation and design, with a complex and absorbing plot. Some fans -I must say, I am not one of them- were largely unimpressed with the ending, which was rushed through on a lack of time and money. This led to an alternate ending being released as End of Evangelion, which replaces the final two episodes as a film, showing a more physical version of the ending, rather than the artistic and psychological end in the series.

In more recent years, the studio behind NGE have decided to make a reboot of the series, released as four films. You Can (not) Advance is the second of these, where the plot is more different from the original than the first film, which sticks closely to the series. The visuals were beautiful, and the re-imaging of the plot was superb, it was truly faithful to the fans of the original series, but still make it justified for anyone new to the concept. I seriously can’t wait for three and four, now.

RUNNER UP: Hobo With A Shotgun

This. Film. Is. Mental. Oh my goodness, Hobo With a Shotgun is a modern exploitation film following a hobo who seeks to clean up a terrible city with his trusty shotgun. It features ridiculous gore, gangsters, swearing, assassin cult orders, swearing, blood, drugs and other 18-rated filth, all presented with an old-school area of baaaaaad production values -done on purpose, of course.- This B Movie style horror was exceptionally well done, and thoroughly enjoyable.

WORST: The Thing (2011)

I’m so surprised this was actually made, a prequel to the incredible ‘The Thing’ from 1982. I honestly thought this was one of those passing rumours about remakes and sequels that just fizzles out quietly, (often to the relief of fans) but this actually got through to completion, and release.

Frankly, and as obscure as this sounds, I think it’s too modern. It has too many elements of modern horror bringing it down, as well as not very effective covering up of the change from a remake to a prequel, with sequences and events happening suspiciously the same as the original. I’ll admit it wasn’t horrendous, but still not good, and nothing in comparison to John Carpenter’s original.

Full Review HERE

WISH I’D SEEN: The Adventures of Tintin

I used to love the comics and the animated series of Tintin, and this modern film looked pretty damn good, but I just never found an ideal time to go see it, so hopefully I can get my hands on a copy in 2012, as I’m really disappointed I missed this.

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