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Review: “Stand by Me”

Stand by MeDirected by: Rob Reiner
Produced by: Bruce A. Evans, Andrew Scheinman
Written by: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon (screenplay)
Edited by: Robert Leighton
Cinematography by: Thomas Del Ruth
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Starring: Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss, Bradley Gregg, Casey Siemaszko, Marshall Bell, Frances Lee McCain, John Cusack
Based on the novella The Body by Stephen King
Year: 1986

 

Based on the Stephen King novella The Body and reportedly being the first film adaptation of King’s work that he fully approved of, Rob Reiner’s adaptation, Stand By Me (renamed due to the producers apparently thinking people would think the novella’s original sounded a little too dark or even perverse) is one of those quintessential “coming of age” films – indeed it may be the coming of age film. So much so that watching it for the first time these days after nearly three decades of imitators may take a little bit of adjusted expectations – you may have seen this done elsewhere. Stand by Me sets itself apart, however, with emotional honesty and engaging performances on the part of its four young leads. Read more…

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2012 IN REVIEW: The Best Films of the Year

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment

At last, we come to the climax of my review of the films of 2012. To those of you who continue to keep up with me, I one again apologize for the slow updates — I saw so many movies this past year and have been doing so much this past month that it’s been hard to keep up with a regular update schedule!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

This is how I felt ALL WEEK!

I’m currently in the process of moving, with my best friend / roommate moving back to his hometown to be closer to family, so it’s been tough keeping up with the blog, hanging out with him a few more times after seven awesome years of being roommates, while also just figuring stuff out for the next period of my life living as a single person for the first time. It’s tough, but thankfully he lives where my family lives, and it’s only 100 miles away. Lucky for any fans I may have (Hello!…?), it’ll likely result in me doing more reviews, though the higher amount of rent I’ll be paying will undoubtedly impact my ability to go to the theatre as often as I have been.

On that note, before I get to the meat of this final entry, I want to thank everyone who has been reading this blog, regularly or even sporadically. I may not know you, but I appreciate you! This may be a hobby of mine, but it’s meaningful to me and keeps me sharp. I started The Viewer’s Commentary in September of 2011, after lots of personal setbacks and a good long while of feeling stupid and even being made to feel stupid for wanting to start a blog about movies, and by the time I finally decided to just go for it and not listen to the negativity, I still didn’t really know whether I was going to still be writing in even a few months’ time. So to already be in the middle of my second year and still be having a blast getting my thoughts and opinions out there about one of my favorite subjects has truly been a great experience. To those of you who have read, continue to read, and even to those of you I know personally who encouraged me and maybe don’t even share my passion and probably aren’t even reading this now but you supported me all the same, thank you again for being there! I’m definitely looking forward to what 2013 promises to bring! (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS! FINALLY!)

The film's villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn't going to end well...

The film’s villain amongst a bunch of red shirts. This isn’t going to end well…

Anyway, enough self-reflection! You’re here for the rundown of the best films of 2012, aren’t you? I assume so, since you are continuing to read this. I’ll let you get to that, but first, let me explain how this list is working, as I’ve changed it up a bit from last year and from most other “Best Of” lists.

First off, last year I did it in multiple parts (here, here, and, finally, here – in order). None of that this time. You’re getting this all in one big wave!

Secondly, and this is related to the third alteration, there are no longer just 10 films on this list, but rather a whopping 17. Why?

Well, that’s because the third alteration I made is that I’ve decided that a lot of the best films of the year weren’t necessarily my favorites, but I wanted to recognize their greatness by putting them on this list anyway, rather than lump them in with the films that were just average. (I did something similar with the “Films I Liked” this year after realizing I didn’t necessary love nor despise a lot of films enough to put them on the worst or best of lists.)

Honestly, what the hell?!

This did not make the list. This shouldn’t make any listsBECAUSE IT SHOULDN’T EXIST!

So, while the films below are all fantastic films and deserve to be considered among the best of the year, their order has everything to do with favoritism over quality. After all, lists like these are highly subjective, and while it’s certainly possible to objectively call a film “one of the best,” ultimately by ranking such diverse works against one another, you just have to acknowledge the fact that you’re playing favorites.

 

So, yeah, anyway to review and summarize: These are, in my opinion, THE BEST FILMS OF 2012, but they are ORDERED ACCORDING TO FAVORITISM. Make sense? I hope so! If not, then just keep reading on, ’cause I think you’ll get it, anyway! Read more…

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Theatrical Review: “Dredd” 3D

October 10, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Pete Travis
Produced by: Alex Garland, Andrew MacDonald, Allon Reich
Written by: Alex Garland
Cinematography by: Anthony Dod Mantle
Music by: Paul Leonard-Morgan
Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Wood Harris, Lena Headey, Domhnall Gleeson, Warrick Grier
Based on the comic series created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
Year: 2012

 

Let me get this out of the way first: Before this movie, I had next to no familiarity with the character beyond the existence of an apparently terrible Sylvester Stallone adaptation that broke with tradition and revealed the face of its main character. And my familiarity with that film itself largely extends to a preview on some forgotten VHS tape that I used to watch a lot and the existence of a pinball table located in a bowling alley from around the same time period that I watched said tape.

That being said, I was pretty excited to see Dredd, largely because I had heard about its spectacular 3D effects and slo-mo footage, which was shot using Phantom Flex cameras at 1,000 FPS, and also because word from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con showing was largely positive. By the time I finally went and saw the film in theatres this past weekend, it had only out for 3 weeks, but was already dwindling in show times, especially for 3D films. The fact that three family films (Finding NemoHotel Transylvania, Frankenweenie) are currently occupying the 3D auditoriums probably has something to do with this fact, but also likely due to the relative obscurity of the character, at least on American shores. Luckily, I was able to locate a theatre not far from where I live, and so my roommate and I were able to treat ourselves to what is possibly going to be the most under-appreciated movie of the year. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Looper”

October 2, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Rian Johnson
Produced by: Ram Bergman, James D. Stern
Written by: Rian Johnson
Cinematography by: Steve Yedlin
Music by: Nathan Johnson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo, Pierce Gagnon, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Summer Qing
Year: 2012

 

If there’s any one element to appreciate in Looper, it’s the fact that writer/director Rian Johnson has committed to this sort of matter of fact tone with the film. Sure, there’s a bit of exhibition in the form of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s noir-ish narration, but, for the most part, this is a universe that we’re thrown into, given a bit of explanation for, and are asked to just accept. Though the world of the future as portrayed in the film from the years 2044 – 2074 is one that is relatively plausible in appearance (you’re not going to be seeing any androids, aliens, or regular use of spaceflight), it’s important that we accept this world for what it is despite its more fantastical elements, such as the mutation of telekinetic abilities in some members of the future population, as well as the film’s portrayal of the discovery of backwards time travel. The reason for this is because, though these elements play a great deal of a role in the story, the story itself is not necessarily about these elements. You’re not, for example, going to be getting an explanation as to how time travel was uncovered, just that it exists and is being used for nefarious purposes.

It’s almost impossible to sum up the narrative of Looper without delving into too many specifics and spoiling the plot for you, but I’ll try my best to summarize the premise without giving too much away. Read more…

Review: “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker” The Original Uncut Version

March 23, 2012 7 comments
Directed by: Curt Geda
Produced by: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, Bruce Timm, Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan
Written by: Paul Dini (screenplay); Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, Bruce Timm (story)
Starring: Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Angie Harmon, Dean Stockwell, Teri Garr, Arleen Sorkin, Tara Strong, Mathew Valencia, Melissa Joan Hart, Michael Rosenbaum, Frank Welker
Music By: Kristopher Carter
Year: 2000

 

Batman: The Animated Series was and remains one of, if not the greatest animated adaptations of a comic book character ever put to screen. Premiering around the same time that Tim Burton’s Batman Returns released in 1992, the series could have easily been an easy cash in on the latest Batman craze, an episodic commercial for a heavily hyped and star-studded sequel to the 1989 film that shoved aside the campy Caped Crusader persona Batman held in the mainstream public’s eye and replaced it with the reinvigorated Dark Knight that had been making a comeback in the comics. Read more…

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