This same section of my 2011 in Review had 17 films listed on what I, at the time, called “The Films I Liked.” 2012 being the first full year that I was blogging, I made a concerted effort to see as many films released in the year as I could afford. And, wouldn’t you know it? This list has 31 films on it — films that I realized I didn’t always entirely like, too, but were not necessarily worthy of being put on any kind of definitive “Worst of…” list that I could come up with. I could have been a pessimist and just put all the bad movies on the naughty list or something, but I’m feeling especially upbeat right now, and so I’ve decided to rename this list as a list of the films that were “Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw.”
As the name would imply, these are a mix of films that range from bad to good, but never awful nor excellent. Some of these films are possibly even films that I may not even feel much of anything towards, so I just put them here because I saw them and they met the criteria for making this year in review — that is, they were released (at least widely) in 2012, and I saw them at some point before writing this, either theatrically or on DVD.
There is one exception I made for this list, and I will be making it again for another film in a future list, and that is for the film that is marked with an asterisk (that’s the little star symbol that looks like this: *). It featured previously on my 2012 IN REVIEW: Films I Didn’t See list, and yet I finally saw it now that it’s on video, and I felt that it was good enough to comment on here. I won’t be making that exception for every film I’ve since seen from 2012 since starting this year in review, but I’m making some exceptions and marking them as such.
Anyway, without further delay, here are the films that were neither great nor awful, the good films on down to the bland ones that I saw from 2012: Read more…
My apologies for the slightly longer delay in getting this part out. I kinda got stricken with the flu for a few days, and didn’t exactly feel like writing. But, here it is, the final third of the films I didn’t see in the year 2012. This is the period of time where the summer movies begin to trickle out before coming to a complete stop and where film studios begin their flood of Oscar-baiting dramas and such.
That’s not to say that there are never any good action films released during this time. That also isn’t to say that none of these Oscar-baiting films are any good, too. Far from it. 2012 saw the release of Oscar-worthy greats as Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty releasing in the same time period as cash-grabbing features like the final Twilight film, The Hobbit, and Wreck-it Ralph, all with varying degrees of success. It’s actually a fairly ripe time to watch all sorts of movies, come to think of it. Possibly better than even summer!
Still, it’s not like I’m going to see every film released during this time. If anything, I ran out of time and risked going out of budget for all the films that I did want to see, but didn’t always have time to. Then there were also films that, quite frankly, I could just do without seeing. But, for the purposes of this article, I’ve gone through and examined all these, both enticing and repugnant, some being granted my attention possibly for the last time ever, and have collected my thoughts and impressions below. As mentioned previously in parts 1 and 2, this isn’t my final say on these films, and some of the commentary below is based pretty much on plot synopses, other reviews, skimmings, and a heavy use of Wikipedia and Rotten Tomatoes. I watched the trailers where I could and didn’t for those films that I just basically didn’t care. Which ones are those? Read, and you may just find out! Read more…
It’s funny to think that there ever was a time when superhero movies weren’t really the cash grabs that they seem to be these days. Even after the 1978 release of the first theatrical Superman film brought along with it higher production values and a certain level of seriousness to the material, superhero films continued to largely be considered high-risk material and no one was really able to capture that same level of respect and anticipation as 1989’s Batman. Despite going through another slump in the 90s, these days, it’s hard to imagine a year going by without a few studios trying to cash in on the superhero craze.
With 2012 seeing the successful release of two especially remarkable achievements in the realm of superhero films, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, and with original properties like Chronicle and The Incredibles already proving that superhero films don’t have to be adaptations of pre-existing comic book properties to be successful, it’s very clear that this trend isn’t going to die down any time soon. Heck, regardless of quality, even films like My Super Ex-Girlfriend illustrate that the “superhero genre” isn’t really a “genre” at all, but rather an easily malleable plot device.
All that being said, it can be hard to discern which films are worth your time. Now, I’m no expert on comic books, having primarily grown up getting to know most of these characters from films, TV shows, and video games, but I do have a love for superheroes just the same, and I do consider these mediums to be a part of the ever expanding reach of these characters beyond their comic book origins. As I write this, I also admit I’m running on a superhero high these days, as I just came off a string of reviews for The Dark Knight Trilogy. Also of note is that The Viewer’s Commentary is not only now on its 100th post, but is also coming upon its first anniversary, and I figured that I would do something grand to celebrate.
Initially, I was thinking, “Why not do an updated Top 10 Superhero Films list?” but that just came off as being not grand enough, and doubling that number still didn’t feel ambitious enough. So I set myself on a much grander mission: To make an ever-evolving list of not just the best or worst superhero films, but of ALL the superhero films I had ever seen, leading to the creation of this list you see before you.
Currently, I am limiting this list to just theatrically-released films, as that still provides me with a lot of ground to cover, though it will definitely begin to include exceptions for non-theatrical features such as Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Furthermore, I am abstaining from listing films that I have yet to see or have not seen in quite some time and, thus, do not feel comfortable passing judgment on. As such, there will be omissions, some of them obvious, some of them not so much, but that’s the beauty of the idea behind this project: It’s an evolving list.
So, as I see newer movies, re-watch forgotten ones, and also discover the ones that have somehow gone unseen by me, I will continue to add them to this list, which is also being given its own all-encompassing page here on The Viewers Commentary. Films will be neatly separated into the five easy categories – The Awful, The Bad, The Average, The Good, and The Excellent – and each film within each category ranked from least to greatest in quality (all my opinion of course). Do not consider this list or the commentary to be definitive reviews, but if I do have a review for the movie, rest assured that it will be linked to.
And so, I present to you the first part of this list for your reading pleasure, coming from the bottom of the barrel, the current inductees to The Awful and The Bad lists! Read more…
Since this blog’s inception, I’ve posted 85 times, and while that is not necessarily one of those significantly recognized numbers like, say 25, 50, or 75, I must say, I didn’t know whether or not that I would stick with this blog for as long as I have, and while I’ve at times wondered if I could continue writing for this, 85 seems like a good enough number to definitively say to myself, “Yes, this is what I’m meant to be doing, even if it’s not for a living.”
You see, even though I might not be getting paid for what I’m doing here, there’s still a significant part of me that absolutely loves the cinema, even the crap movies sometimes, and I love discussing them with people when I can. Writing this may be a somewhat of a one-way street, as I’m still not entirely certain how significant my readership is here, but the more I write about it, the more I know that my audience will grow, and even if I’m not getting quite the comments level that I probably naively expected/hoped, hopefullyThe Viewer’s Commentary has at least helped in elevating this art medium that I love so much, if even by a small amount.
Going forward, I hope to have more reviews and commentary up more often. Going through a few sites around the blogosphere, I’m inspired to stop caring so much about the scope of my posts as much as I am posting from both my gut and heart and only worry about the high concept stuff when the mood strikes me just right. This will enable me to not burn out after work in trying to do a ton of research only to decide to abandon all plans to write that night. Less pressure, more pleasure, I guess you could say.
And, so, with this, the 86th published post, I’m going to make good on that promise to myself and my readership with a follow up to my very first article on the site — Here are, in no particular order, five more films that I would consider to be, more or less, my favorites!
Inglourious Basterds – I initially fell asleep during this movie. There. I said it. I blame my friend, who was also present with me during our recent viewing of John Carter — another film I fell asleep during. (Though, with that film, it was likely the fact that it was a midnight showing after a tame hockey-game bachelor’s party — that and it was also kind of a boring flick in general.) That bad luck for me apparently rubbed off once he got married, as he was also present when we went to go see The Avengers, and I was glued for that. (Honestly, Inglourious Basterds was also a late night showing during a very hectic and busy school schedule for me, so it wasn’t great timing.) But I’m digressing. Read more…
Hey, did you know that there’s a new James Bond film coming out this year? Yup! After a four year hiatus, thanks in large part to MGM’s troubled financials, Bond will be back on the big screen in the 23rd canonical James Bond film titled Skyfall, directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.
The film features the return of Daniel Craig to the role for his third time, joined by Oscar-winner Dame Judi Dench as “M,” Oscar-nominee Javier Bardem as the villain, Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe as the Bond girls, Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes as a government agent, Ben Whishaw reviving the role of Q, and Albert Finney in an undisclosed role but lends even more credentials to the cast and crew with his five Oscar nominations. That’s a lot of Oscars, and a lot of expectations to live up to!
Of course, with every new Bond film, there comes a new Bond theme song, which carries its own set of high expectations. The themes of the Bond films have themselves become an institution, and, with music proving to be far more divisive in my own experiences than films, the title song for Skyfall, which would traditionally come at the beginning of the film, will arguably influence how audiences connect with the film to follow. The best thing that the filmmakers can do is look back on the previous films’ themes and see what worked and what didn’t.
Now, I’m not at all knowledgeable about music (In fact, music appreciation, which is a lot harder than it sounds, was one of the small number of Cs that I received while in college, so the following article is far more casual and amateur than my more film-centered articles. Please, if you have any experience in musical composition, performance, etc., feel free to tear me apart for saying something stupid.), but, as they say, I do know what I like, and I do have some strong feelings about some of the previous themes. While we look forward to a new Bond film this year, I thought this would be a great opportunity to look back on Bond themes past and give my assessment, first chronologically and then, of course, in rank.
WARNING: Heavy Flash video use ahead! Read more…
3. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (December 21)
This film barely made this list. For the longest time, it was actually on the Notable Films I Managed to Avoid list thanks to its late December release date. In the middle of writing these 2011 in Review articles, however, I managed to run out into theatres and catch an early morning showing a couple weeks ago while it was still on a properly large-sized screen. I’m glad I did, too! Read more…
Now we come to a portion of the list that, by pure coincidence, I am dubbing the nerdiest portion of my list. Three comic book films and a semi-obscure sci-fi film from a director who did an even more obscure sci-fi film with Sam Rockwell a few years ago.
This was the final year in which we got pre-Avengers films for the last two superheroes who would be getting them (with Hawkeye and Black Widow likely to be given their own post-Avengers films after that is an undoubtable success), and it was also the year that superhero films began to experiment with formulas, styles, and audience taste.
The three comic book films here largely exemplify what studios need to strive for in order to keep this genre alive and interesting, while the other film, the more obscure film, is itself a great example of using a familiar genre and its tropes to catapult a film into a touching and yet still intriguing human story.
7. Thor (May 6)
When The Avengers were slated to get their film debut sometime in the future, I doubt anyone could have thought that this film would be any good, let alone be better than either of the Hulk’s two major film adaptations (though I did still pretty much like 2008′s take). While nobody really balked at the thought of adapting the story of a radioactive scientist who, you know, hulks out when he gets angry into an entertaining film (likely thanks to that character’s familiarity to audiences through various smaller mediums, especially the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno 70s TV series), somehow the story of the tortured dichotomy of Bruce Banner and the Hulk comes off as far more believable and, more importantly, relatable on a metaphorical level than Thor — a being who, depending on what version you go with, is either from a parallel dimension who inspired the Norse god of thunder or, more classically, actually is the god of thunder himself. Read more…
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite film of all time, but with a year like 2011, it wasn’t that hard to narrow down my choices for favorite films over the past year.
After making my selections and arranging them, I’ve realized a lot of my choices for 2011 involved some combination of whimsy, science fiction, or fantasy elements. While I love a good realistic film — and indeed, had this blog existed at the beginning of 2011, I would have likely been talking about how much I loved True Grit and The King’s Speech – I always seem to go back to the more whimsical ones the most, and 2011, for all its faults, was full of some wonderful films of this ilk.
I had originally intended to place all ten of my favorite films here in this one article, but around the time I had completed the tenth place film and began writing the entry for the ninth (the rankings of which continued to evolve themselves, so that was its own dilemma for me as I love them all, some more equally than others), I began to realize just how much I had to say about the films I loved this past year. If you read my past articles on the films I didn’t see in 2011, the ones I liked, and the ones I hated, you can see that there wasn’t a huge number of films that I especially wanted to see that was new, so perhaps that is why I ended up feeling so compelled to write so much about these films.
Ultimately, I am my own editor, and I know I can be quite wordy, but it is my hope that, in writing these analyses on my favorite films of 2011, I can impress upon you what it is about these films that I love so much and maybe compel you to love them similarly and, if not, defend your position, retort with your own, and perhaps feel compelled to introduce others, including me, to something they had never considered seeing before. That being said, this is a perfect jumping off point for the first entry on my list, so here they are, Entries 10 – 8 of My 10 Favorite Films of 2011: Read more…