Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Movie Releases (In Review)

As has become tradition in the last two years, the end of the year marks the time for me to reminisce about some of the movies that were released throughout the year, to recall the ones I had a chance to see, and regret the ones that looked interesting but that I missed (which makes for a great "to watch" list for the future - not that I have any lack of titles on my ever-growing watchlist...).

But, before we take a look at some of the titles from 2012, let's quickly go over the movies I missed last year that I did manage to get a hold of this year. Of the three I couldn't see due to a frustratingly limited release (i.e., they weren't playing in any theaters near me), I watched two this year (not a bad ratio). Trust was, unfortunately (although not too surprisingly) a sappy Lifetime-style piece of trash, not even worth wasting my breath on lambasting, even as I was looking forward to doing. Texas Killing Fields, starring Chloe Grace Moretz, on the other hand, was really good. It had great music and a very good atmosphere, which is something I can appreciate a lot. I did not, however get a chance to see Shame, although I'd still like to, even though it's another title where I don't expect to like its moral. (I know, I'm a masochist :p).

Of the other movies listed last year that looked interesting but I didn't get around to seeing, I finally saw the remake of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (I didn't properly review it, but made a comment on my review for the original). I had mixed feelings about it, but ultimately I liked it. I also got to see Red State, the Kevin Smith horror film that pokes satire at government and religion alike. It was different, and, ultimately, really good.

Interestingly, looking back at my list of anticipated films of 2012, I managed to see all of them in the theater this year! They are included in the list below, along with the others I saw in the theater over the past year.

The Hunger Games - As planned, I did get around to reading The Hunger Games trilogy before getting to see the first movie installment. Although I did review the books, I didn't get around to reviewing the movie (a theme you will see recur in this post). I enjoyed it, but ultimately, I was too tied up on comparing it to the book - which was just fantastic - that I think it kind of marred my appreciation of the experience a little.

Titanic - For a while, I kind of prided myself on the fact that I hadn't ever seen the movie Titanic, despite its success and positive reputation. What could change that, you ask? Well, I was presented with the opportunity to watch Titanic on the day that marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the real-life RMS Titanic. Come on, how could I resist? It was a good movie. Sappy, yes, but not in a bad way.

Snow White And The Huntsman - When I heard early in the year that Kristen Stewart was going to star in a new adaptation of the story of Snow White, I was thrilled. It looked exciting! So the time came, and I went out to see it. My reaction to it was pretty lukewarm, however...

Prometheus (twice) - Prometheus was one of the most anticipated movies of the year for me (and this was a year that saw the conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy as well as the first installment of The Hobbit). As a humongous fan of Alien, Ridley Scott's return to the universe of the xenomorphs was an absolute must-see. The movie is very well done, if not flawless; and while I did have some complaints, it was worth seeing twice, even if just for the (spoiler!) end scene glimpse of the proto-xenomorph! There weren't enough of them in the movie, but that scene sent a chill down my spine!

The Dark Knight Rises - This was a fitting conclusion to Christopher Nolan's very entertaining and well done Dark Knight Trilogy, a dark and serious look at the Batman mythos. I'm not sure I liked it as much as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight - only because both of those were such good movies - but that opinion may evolve as time passes, and anyway, this movie was no disappointment. Anne Hathaway did an excellent job in the role of Catwoman, by the way (as I had complete confidence that she would), not stepping on the toes of Michelle Pfeiffer's previous portrayal, but not allowing herself to be overshadowed either. All in all a fantastic film to close a fantastic trilogy.

Paranormal Activity 4 - PA4 continues the series' decline into profiteering franchise hell, although that could hardly be considered an unexpected development. If there's any surprise, it's that Paranormal Activity 2 managed to be just as effective as the first. And it was the first's groundbreaking approach to horror movie scares that earned my devotion to this series even as its lifespan seems to be nearing its natural end. PA4 has the dubious merit of being less scary but a lot sexier than its predecessors, thanks to the filmmakers choosing to capitalize on the 'sexy teen webcam' potential of the premise. Well, that's saying something, at least. -_^

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Perks interested me due to two reasons. First, that it was Emma Watson's first post-Harry Potter role (and I kind of became obsessed with Emma Watson thanks to her portrayal of Hermione Granger throughout the Harry Potter series), and second, because it was filmed in a neighborhood not far from the one I grew up in, which is the one the director and author of the book the film is based on also grew up in. Well, it turned out to be a pretty sweet and sensitive high school coming of age sort of story, with some likable characters. But then there's this plot twist at the end that doesn't nearly explain itself well enough and just kind of confuses you and leaves you with a sour aftertaste.

Hick - I did finally get to see Hick, though not until it left the (very limited) theaters it was playing in. It was a cool, country-fried coming-of-age story totally carried by Chloe Moretz's uncanny charisma. That girl is a star. And not even old enough yet to drive a car!

Silent Hill: Revelation - As huge a fan as I am of the Silent Hill video game series, I felt bad about skimping on my duties as a reviewer for this title, but there it is. As a matter of fact, I didn't realize they were even making a sequel to the first Silent Hill movie until mere weeks before it came out! So I went and saw it, and I can say, as a Silent Hill fan, it's pretty good. It doesn't perfectly capture the mood of the games, but then, that was never possible with a film adaptation of a video game series whose atmosphere was inspired by countless sources, including other films - so I don't really rate the Silent Hill movies on that aspect, and I can enjoy them. They're actually pretty faithful, with much material that fans can enjoy. And this one actually does a really good job of tying together a lot of the games' convoluted plot threads, especially in a way that's not completely out of whack with the narrative liberties the first movie took. For that alone, the filmmakers deserve credit. This movie is based on Silent Hill 3, where Heather, grown into her teenage years, is drawn back into Silent Hill to find out the truth about her origins. I don't know that I'd go so far as to praise it - it certainly is not without its flaws - but on the other hand, it's pretty good. I think fans of Silent Hill will enjoy it, even if it's not what a Silent Hill movie could be (for that, you probably have to watch some of the original game's inspirations, like Jacob's Ladder or most things by David Lynch, etc.).

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - The much anticipated Hobbit trilogy (I know, it's not supposed to be a trilogy...) finally begins with this first leg of the journey! This is another movie I really should have reviewed, being an enormous fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy world (I even marathoned the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back-to-back (in a twelve-hour long extravaganza), in anticipation of seeing The Hobbit), but I didn't really have much to say about it. I wasn't overly impressed nor disappointed with it - it was pretty much exactly what I was expecting, knowing what Peter Jackson is capable of, and knowing his plans for the movie(s). It has a bit of a more lighthearted touch than The Lord of the Rings, which is appropriate to the tone of the book, and I'm very interested to see the 'added' portions of the story about all the stuff going on in the background - with Gandalf and the Necromancer and all that. Plus, I really appreciated the references to Gondolin and Ungoliant - there are some stories in Tolkien's extended works that would make for some fantastic one-off tales. I like Bilbo as a character very much, by the way. I am looking forward to the continuation of his journey!

Now for the movies that came out this year that I wanted to see but didn't, or look interesting but flew under my radar.

The final installment of The Twilight Saga finally came out. I'm actually not real interested or the least bit excited about Twilight - it's just that because Dakota Fanning played a role in them (even if it is a minor role - yes, I'm that obsessed), I dedicated myself to watching them - but I decided I'd wait till they were all released so I could just go through them all at once and not drag it out. So, probably sometime in the next year would be a good opportunity to finally do that.

I guess Cabin in the Woods came out this year (after long studio delays)? I didn't see it in the theater, but I did see it on the recommendation of two of my good friends. If you've been following my blog, you'll know about my spirited reaction to that movie, but it's really not bad, and is actually fun to watch. It's when it tries to be intelligent and insightful that it all breaks down.

I've heard a lot of good reception to the new Bond movie, Skyfall. I actually like James Bond movies, even though they don't fall under the realm of horror. But the espionage theme really gives the over-the-top action sequences a fun flavor. Some people have complained about Daniel Craig being too "James Blond", but I don't mind his portrayal of the character - I watched Casino Royale, and liked it. I'm thinking that maybe I should pick out a spot some time and catch up on Quantum of Solace, which I never saw, and then watch Skyfall. That sounds like it could be fun.

The Woman in Black looked interesting. Not interesting enough to get me out to the theater, but interesting enough that I might watch it at home sometime. Django Unchained - being a Quentin Tarantino film and all - does look interesting, but it's one of those that I think I'd just as soon wait and watch at home than rush out and see it in the theater.

As for next year, it looks to be another exciting year for movies. Kick-Ass 2, Catching Fire (the followup to The Hunger Games), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - lots of good-lookin' sequels. Then there's World War Z - although I'm ashamed to admit my friend gave me a copy of the book years ago and I still haven't read it. :-x And then of course there's the new remake of Carrie - starring Chloe Grace Moretz! I'm excited!

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