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2014 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 22, 2015 1 comment

The LEGO Movie - Batman and Benny

I saw so many movies this year, I honestly couldn’t pick the best movie. The selection was so wide because I saw so many, I honestly couldn’t pit movies I just enjoyed versus films I admired. So, this year, I’ve decided to do something different — I separated them into genres. it’s not exactly what you might expect – Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t in sci-fi, for instance, because it’s much more of an adventure film in space.

I’ve ordered these based on gut instinct overall, however, and so you’ll be able to see what I (currently) favored over others. That being said, however, all of these movies are fantastic.

I’m tired of explaining things, honestly. The process of doing the year in review this year was a lot longer than I intended. So, yeah. You know the drill. Read below! Read more…

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Categories: Year in Review Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen

February 7, 2015 1 comment

Under the Skin - Eye

Finally, we come to the films that I actually did see! As with the films I didn’t see, these films will come at you in three parts: the films that were just somewhere in the middle in terms of quality, the films I greatly disliked, and the films I really enjoyed.

I use those qualitative terms just to avoid confusion over what I’m ranking here. The films in this section range from generally bad to generally quite good, but never elevating to excellence or making me fall in love with them or making me hate them with a passion. That being said, I didn’t expect to like some of the films here as much as I ended up liking them, and, of course, I was letdown by others I actually was kind of looking forward to.

If you don’t see the movie here and didn’t see it in the list of films I didn’t see, then you can almost certainly be guaranteed to find them on one of my next two lists, as this is just a portion of the 121 total films I ended up seeing from 2014 as of this writing, whether in theatres, on DVD/Blu-Ray, or through streaming. Read more…

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2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)

January 18, 2014 2 comments

Monsters University - Mike Wazowski

Blockbuster season. Typically the season where most of the most anticipated films of the year — the ones that were hyped perhaps years in advance — are released. Since 2012 was the year when The Avengers gave us the first superhero team-up film and the year when The Dark Knight Trilogy came to a close, 2013 looked like it was going to be rather underwhelming this time of year. I already mentioned that Iron Man 3 was released in April, starting the season early, but Thor: The Dark World wasn’t coming until October!

So that left us with two major superhero films to look forward to: Man of Steel, which divided audiences and critics alike in its more serious, violent portrayal of Superman, and The Wolverine, which made good on its promise to improve upon its abysmal predecessor and managed to be both coherent and quite entertaining. Pixar and DreamWorks continued their rivalries, however, with the release of Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, and DreamWorks’ first sequel to cash-cow Despicable Me. (The less said about Turbo, the better.) World War Z finally came out and, predictably, did very well for itself, what with people being starved for zombie entertainment until the next season of The Walking Dead started. Summer also saw the release of some fairly big “prestige” films, however, the likes of which you’d normally expect to come out during the fall and winter Oscar season: Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, and Blue Jasmine each received widespread critical acclaim.

Perhaps my most anticipated films of the summer were Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, and The World’s End, which were all released during this time, and I personally actually enjoyed each of them immensely, though to also varying degrees. This was the time period where I did get promoted at my job and also got a raise, so I was able to see a few more films that I just wanted to see during this time. Nevertheless, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon… Read more…

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Theatrical Review: “The Dark Knight Rises”

July 25, 2012 10 comments
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan (story)
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Year: 2012

 

Foreword

In the wake of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I felt a bit odd about writing my previous review and preparing for my next, as I was writing it in the late night hours as the events were unfolding, unknown to me until the next morning. Much of what I wrote about The Dark Knight reflected a lot of what was happening there, none of it necessarily original or new information, but it was stirring, all the same.

I had no common connection to any of the victims there beyond our similar interest in seeing this new Batman film, all of us anxious in seeing how this trilogy would end, and, unfortunately, many of them never got to see this film, and many more will forever see this film and be reminded of the horrible things they saw that night. What was supposed to be night of fun and entertainment turned into a nightmare, and it affected me, and still does a great deal the more I hear about the events, much more than I thought it would — not because I thought of myself as some tough, emotionless, apathetic person but because it made me realize how even the most mundane things we take for granted can connect strangers based on a mundane commonality.

This just happened to revolve around a movie theatre, a highly anticipated film, and audiences across the world who waited, maybe not in the same proximity, but with the same spirit that united us all in excitement and, unfortunately, also in an unexpected tragedy. In that spirit, if there is anyone out there who is reading this and was affected in some way to those events, I hope you know that, even if I don’t know you, I send my prayers and condolences to you and your families.

Review

Let me just say this now: Christopher Nolan is destined to go down in history as, if not one of the most influential or important filmmakers in blockbuster history, at the very least one of the most revered and respected. The man hasn’t made a bad movie in… well pretty much ever! Some have varied in quality and appeal, of course, but none have been able to cross the general consensus threshold of being considered anything less than a quality film: FollowingMementoBatman BeginsThe PrestigeThe Dark KnightInception. All masterful works of not only high art, but high entertainment. No other filmmaker since maybe Spielberg has managed to pull this synthesis of style, spectacle, and skill as well as Nolan has. And now, with The Dark Knight Rises, we have been given this amazing film that not only provides plenty of thrilling action, but is also an intelligent and thought-provoking conclusion to what will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest film series of all time, The Dark Knight Trilogy. Read more…

Special Review: “The Dark Knight” – An Essay on Ethics and Excellence

July 20, 2012 13 comments
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Produced by: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Charles Roven
Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer (story)
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Eric Roberts, Ng Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell
Year: 2008

 

Can a film based on a comic book superhero really be considered a “masterpiece”? Even up until and including the amazing Batman Begins, this was a hard question to answer. While certainly a great feat of audience-pleasing entertainment and thoughtful craftwork merging together, Batman Begins was certainly more like a skilled adaptation of a popular character’s story than it was a profound examination of humanity. While this doesn’t inherently disqualify it, the film’s appeal and impact is limited somewhat as a result. The film was largely a study on how one man is driven to the point of becoming a masked vigilante, striving to become a symbol of hope and justice in a city infested with criminals and the morally bankrupt. Yes, Begins had scatterings of a universal message regarding the redemptive ability of humanity, but overall, it really was mostly Bruce Wayne’s story — and that’s really all it had to be. Read more…

Review: “Batman Begins”

July 18, 2012 7 comments
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Produced by: Emma Thomas, Larry J. Franco, Charles Roven
Written by: Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer (screenplay), David S. Goyer (story)
Cinematography by: Wally Pfister
Music by: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Mark Boone Junior, Ken Watanabe, Colin McFarlane, Linus Roache, Sara Stewart
Year: 2005

 

I was planning on going through the whole story about how much the Batman franchise was in dire need of a reboot, but I quickly found that I was going on about so many things that didn’t need repeating. The basic and short version of the story is that, after two rather strong films (Batman and Batman Returns), Warner Bros. and DC Comics shot themselves in the foot by allowing, nay demanding, for the rather awful Batman Forever and Batman & Robin to be unleashed upon the tortured fans in the name of making more money off of merchandising, only for critical reaction to slam the films and tickets sales to drop. Instead of going forward with what was in hindsight the rather ironically named fifth film, Batman Triumphant, both companies decided to take a break from the superhero films business and think about where they’d gone wrong.

Of course, in that time, their rivals over at Marvel were apparently seeing this as a window of opportunity, and they began production on and even released several rather strong films over the following years, namely the two first films in each of the BladeX-Men, and Spider-Man trilogies, each with increasingly better reception from audiences and critics. At that point, it was clear that after years of being in the shadows, it was time for Batman to emerge once again. Read more…

Review: “Quest for Camelot”

June 19, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Frederik Du Chau
Produced by: Andre Clavel, Dalisa Cohen, Zahra Dowlatabadi
Written by: Kirk De Micco, William Schifrin, Jacqueline Feather, David Seidler, Frederik Du Chau (screenplay)
Art Direction by: Carol Kieffer Police, J. Michael Spooner
Music by: Patrick Doyle (original score), David Foster and Carole Bayer Sayer (original songs)
Starring: Jessalyn Gilsig, Cary Elwes, Gary Oldman, Eric Idle, Don Rickles, Jane Seymour, Pierce Brosnan, Bronson Pinchot, Jaleel White, Gabriel Byrne, John Gielgud, Frank Welker; Andrea Corr, Bryan White, Celine Dion, Steve Perry (singing voices)
Based on the novel The King’s Damosel by Vera Chapman
Year: 1998

 

I had been thinking of this movie for quite a while, contemplating whether I should watch it or not. Every now and then, the itch would hit, and I’d consider it, but then I would reconsider and decide to skip it for either a much better or (when the mood struck) worse movie. I’ve actually owned this film for probably over ten years, but, to be quite honest, I think the number of times I actually watched the disc could be counted on one hand, and for the longest time, the film kind of just stood in my collection as the lone Q in my alphabetized shelf, only to find its would-be partner, Quantum of Solace, stashed way up top with the rest of the Bond films in the B section (for “Bond” of course — I like my film series in sequential order, therefore U.S. Marshals is up there in the F section since it’s a sequel to The Fugitive. It makes sense to me!).

But before too long, the itch got too intense, and with the impending release of the Pixar film Brave, I figured it was probably about time that I gave this superficially similar-looking film its due before it was inevitably blown out of the waters of my mind by what is likely to be a far superior film. And so, like a forgotten relic rediscovered, I dusted off my old DVD copy in those awful cardboard snap cases Warner Bros. always used to use in the early days of DVD, set aside the old paper inserts still residing within that marveled at the wonders of this disc-based movie viewing technology, and threw the old double-sided disc (film on one side, special features on the other) into the PS3 to see if I could relive the magic… Read more…

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