Friday, December 31, 2010

Bottom 10 of 2010

For every up, there is a down. 2010 has been a year of terrible films. Thankfully, I never saw most of them, but I have seen some really disappointing ones.

10. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

It's sad really. This film could have been great; it has the perfect story for a sequel, a passionate director, and an all-star cast who could definitely pull this off. Unfortunately, Money Never Sleeps suffers from lazy writing and fails to deliver any emotional connection or entertainment.

9. Shrek Forever After

What started out as a fun-loving, fresh, new take on the fairy tale genre has aged into... well, a big, stupid, ugly ogre. This fourth (hopefully last) enstallment in this long-lasting series is just as unfun and unfunny as the third and stands to show us that Hollywood has become a stubborn jackass.

8. Step Up 3D

Let's face it, the Step Up franchise has never been about being good films as much as it's been about showing off sweet dance movies, but when you charge money for that, it's just a crime. This film lacks logical dialogue or actual human soul and the "character development" and "drama" is pushed on you at the end. If only the movie had been as good as it 3D.

7. Nanny McPhee Returns

With her return to the big screen, Nanny McPhee brings with her a gassy crow, her magical walking stick, and all types of noisy, boisterous mischief and not in the good way. This film uses up most all of its magic trying to be fun and in doing so, scimps out on story or development of any type. The good nanny should have stayed away.

6. Dear John

More like "Dear God!". This cheesy, chick flick is filled with so much sappy romance that I could taste syrup. Nothing exists as entertaingment here and it spends all of its time trying to get you to cry and by the end, the only tears it was jerkin' from me were ones of bordem.

5. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse


It's rare when a girly, teenage, fantasy novel turned movie pulls you into the story and makes you feel like you're emotionally connected with each character. It's even harder still to find one that has such terrific preformances and amazing script. Yeah, that is a rare thing. Guess we're going to have to keep looking.

4. Grown Ups

Adam Sandler puts out a great raunchy comedy every once in a while, but Grown Ups is not one of them. Screwball antics, grossout gags, and harsh jokes make up this buddies comedy. It's pretty much the same stuff in any other Adam Sandler film only not funny and nothing worth your time.

3. Clash of the Titans

Just when you though Sam Worthington's terrific acting streak was on hiatus, he comes back playing our hero Perseus, who journey's all over to save his city. Speaking of the hero's journey, this entire film made me feel like I was going through katabasis. Terrible acting and terrible writing make this terrible remake.

2. Skyline
When your movie relies heavily upon special effects and you only have a budget less than that of Adam Sandler's Grown Ups, and you only have enough left over to hire Donald Faison, a few B actors, and one setpiece, why would you still want to make that movie, especially after reading that script?

1. The Last Airbender

M. Night Shyamalan has had some big failures these past few year, but man this one is a doozy! There  is no story here, character development is zero, the action is boring, the expensive special effects are bad, the acting is terrible, the script is a disaster, and most of the names keep being pronounced wrong throughout the movie. I cannot wait to not see the rest of the trilogy when it doesn't hit theaters. Here's hoping that Shyamalan has better luck in 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

2010 was a good year for movies. Now, I haven't seen every movie 2010 has to offer, but of the ones I have, these are my top 10.

10. True Grit

I'm done playing pretend. The 1969 version of this movie isn't anything difficult to top; however, the Coens have crafted something beautiful out of Charles Portis' story. With awesome camerawork, a funny script, and a terrific job by its all-star cast, True Grit is one of the best remakes I have seen in recent years.

9. Catfish

I have seen only a few documentaries this year, all of which were good films; however, Catfish takes the cake. What starts off as what seems to be a thriller quickly takes the shape of something much more interesting. After seeing this film, I walked away with my mind completely blown. The less you know going in, the better it will be.

8. Hereafter

Clint Eastwood has put out some of the best movies of the past few years and Hereafter is no exception. Eastwood's gorgeous cinematography makes this one of the most visually stunning films of the year and the cast clicks perfectly to also make this one of the year's most emotionally satisfying films.

7. The Ghost Writer

Every few years Roman Polanski puts out a movie, some great, and others no tso much. The Ghost Writer is definitely a great one. The roles were cast perfectly, the script is smart, and the camerawork is brilliant. Everything comes together just right to make this contemporary thriller one of 2010's best.

6. How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon is one of the most prominent and most lovable films of 2010; it combines adventure and humor with a great cast and great storytellers and presents it in a way that kids and even adults can enjoy. Not to mention the best 3D of the year.

5. The Social Network

David Fincher's The Social Network is definitely an Oscar contender with a crazily witty script courtesy of Aaron Sorkin. The amazingly talented cast is lead by my pick for surprise preformance of the year, Jesse Eisenberg. This film is one for the ages.

4. Black Swan  

Darren Aronofsky perfects his vision in this incredibly dark and incredibly grotesque psychological thriller. Aronofsky's work behind the camera combined with pitch perfect preformances from the cast and subtle special effects combine to create this perfectly disturbing, yet beautiful, work of art.

3. Inception

There is no question that Christopher Nolan is a master filmmaker. He knows how to manipulate the camera in a way that fits his vision and tells his story perectly. Inception is the result of a lot of deep thinking, perfect casting, beautiful cinematography, fast paced action sequences, and a highly intriguing story.

2. Mother

Not all great movies come out of Hollywood. Just watch Mother and you'll see what I mean. From the amazing preformance by Hye-ja-Kim as Mother to the perfectly dark tone of the well-rounded story, this Korean masterpiece is better than most American films this year.

1. Toy Story 3

They say big things come in small packages and that couldn't be more true for Pixar's latest and greatest. These toys are some of the most beloved characters in all cinema history and they mean just as much to the kids who grew up with this series as they do to Andy. This beautifully rendered film has more emotional payout and heart to it than most, if not all, live action film this year and bids a touching fairwell to, undoubtedly, one of the greatest trilogies of all time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Co-Review with Alex K: Black Swan

Everything about Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is a good movie. There is a high level of craftsmanship from how intentionally claustrophobic the camerawork is to the special effects which felt natural and not overwhelming; however it is the acting that made this movie great.

Natalie Portman gives an enthralling performance as a young ballerina struggling to obtain perfection in her new found role as the lead in Swan Lake. Mila Kunis works opposite Natalie Portman as the new girl aspiring to take the lead. These ladies play well off each other and make each other's performances feel more genuine.

Aronofsky  perfects the tone of a horror/ psychological thriller in Black Swan with all the blood and "gotcha" moments; however, these things are only minor components to the overall feeling of the movie. To say this is a dark film would be an understatment. There is so much that goes on that, by the end, the audience is just as depressed and craized as Natalie Portman's character and that, within itself, is the true beauty of the film.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: True Grit (2010)

In today's society where entertainment now consists of "What can we recycle and make the most money off of", there are good adaptations and there are bad ones. The Coen Brother's take on True Grit is definitely not a bad one.

True to form, the Coen Brothers continue to startle us with surprisingly successful bounds into new genres, constantly expanding their horizons with every new film. The brothers take on Westerns with their remake of perhaps one of the most notable films in the genre- ever, and prove that there is nowhere they can't go.

With such a classic film,  the cast and crew couldn't have bigger boots to fill; however, one of the greatest things about the Coen Brothers is that they didn't try to fill them, instead, they fashioned their own pair. Now I do not know exactly how much originates itself from the book, but it is obvious that the Coens have put a little bit of themselves into this project, from their darkly humored script to intriguing camera shots, and it makes this film all the more fun.

The cast works magic in coming together to bring the Coens' script to life and speaking of bigs boots to fill, Jeff Bridges does a wonderful job in the role that won John Wayne his Oscar, with a hilarious accent to boot. Matt Damon gives another great preformance, providing a lot of the humor for the film. Josh Brolin, though brief his appearence may be, does a terrific job and makes every minute of his preformance enjoyable. These may be the three big names on the movie's poster, but it is Hailee Steinfeld who steals the show and should, at the very least, get the nomination.

However, when you compare True Grit to other great Coen films such as Fargo or No Country for Old Men, it doesn't shine as bright. The story, though not originally Coenesce, still feels a little exhausted even after all these years, which leads me to ask why the Coens picked this movie to remake in the first place. Even the witty banter between characters is sometimes hard to make out under all those raspy accents and overall, this film just seems to lack that Coen Brothers sheen.

Though not their best work, the Coen Brothers have successfully breathed new life into an old, western classic thus proving that even on an off day, their work can still go toe-to-toe with the best.

See it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: TRON: Legacy

At first, Jeff Bridges vs. Jeff Bridges sounds like some crazy, awesome trip. Now add light cycle battles, Olivia Wilde, and the fact that it's all in 3D. What more could you possibly ask for, right?

Well, to start, some decent character development would be nice. Outside of Jeff Bridge's Kevin Flynn, character development almost doesn't exist. Sam Flynn was orphaned as a child, gets trapped inside his father's crazy game, has to fight to stay alive, falls in "love", and, by the end, never seems phased. Don't worry, he's not the only one; almost every other character remains static throughout the film which provides for a nice dose of  yet another boring Disney movie.

However, lack of character development is just a symptom of Tron: Legacy's overall affliction. Lazy script writing is what really plagues this film. Sure this film is not entirely boring, but nothing in this film is brought to its full potential. None of the characters were developed as well as they could have been, the cheesy dialogue gets cheesier as the movie progresses, and towards the end it becomes quite apparent that the writers started running out of ideas and after 28 years, this sequel should be better.

So what are some good things about this new TRON? Well, fans of Jeff Bridges will likely be brought back to the days of "the Dude" as Kevin Flynn ends many of his lines with "man" or "dude". Other than that, the 3D is actually quite good. Nothing is "in your face", but the 3D does add depth to the scenes that were intended for 3D viewing. Also, the soundtrack by Daft Punk is pretty freakin' sweet.

Sadly, the 3D itself is no reason to rush to the theaters. But like I said, TRON: Legacy is not entirely boring and will provide enough entertainment if you're not doing anything on a Friday or Saturday night.

Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Narnia is once again in need of rescuing, but this time only two of the Pevensie children answer the call. Does this mean that Voyage of the Dawn Treader is only half as magical?

Of course not. Though as off as things may seem at first, the loss of elder siblings Susan and Peter does not at all take away from the story. Watching the youngest of the Pevensies grow up is just as much fun as it was with the High King and Queen.

Actually, this third enstallment fits comfortably into the big shoes left behind by the previous two films. All the action, adventure, and magic is still there and it all comes together nicely in such a way that makes this movie both fun to watch and emotionally satisfying.

I bring up emotionally satisfying because this film has more emotional payout than any of its predecessors, making this movie feel even more worth it in the end. C.S. Lewis expresses many life lessons throughout his series, making the moral of the story just as important as the story itself and that comes through in this film through the interaction of the characters themselves and each character's individual development.

Though The Voage of the Dawn Treader may feel stranded during a few scenes, it always finds its way back on track. This film raises the bar for Narnia movies to come and is worth the voyage to the theater.
See it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: Catfish

Earlier this year David Fincher's The Social Network brought us the history of the online social juggernaut Facebook while Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost's documentary, Catfish, examines both the positive and negative roles it can have on users' lives.

Much like Exit Through the Gift Shop there is much speculation as to whether or not this documentary is legit, but once again the moral outweighs the verifiable facts of the story. There is so much to take away from this film that it feels gratifying just to watch it, even if the story isn't all that interesting, and it is.

What starts off as awkward, online relationship quickly develops into something way more interesting. As we follow these young filmmakers on their journey to uncover the truth, things start becoming more clear and the film asks a lot of questions of what it truly means to "be" somebody in this day and age.

Another awesome aspect of this film is the total shift in feel. What starts out as a surefire thriller quickly takes the shape of a more serious yet benevolent story of both admonish and forgiveness. It does this transistion so well that even if you're looking forward to the thrilling sensation, you cannot be let down by the end result.

What is the end result? Catfish stands out as a jewel of modern documentary filmmaking and should be relished by this social networking generation.

Definitely see this film.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Final Word: November

Here is the final word on the movies I saw in November.

Megamind: Rent it.

Due Date: Rent it.

Skyline: Skip it.

Winter's Bone: See it.

Secretariat: Rent it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I: Rent it.

Tangled: Rent it.

Grown Ups: Skip it.

Coming this month, look for my reviews of Tron: Legacy, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Coen Brothers remake of True Grit, Black Swan, and possibly The Tourist and Faster.