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2013 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 1, 2014 2 comments

Elysium - Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga

I apparently watched a lot more movies in 2013 than I had realized… The films below represent not the worst, not the best, but certainly not always good, but also certainly not always bad movies that I saw in and from 2013. Only films released theatrically were counted, and film festival debuts did not count. Some of these films were truly great, others were truly awful, but none of them were seen fit to be placed in “the worst,” “the best,” nor “my favorite” categories. And so, they go here. Here are some of the films I watched in 2013, in order of release! Read more…

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2012 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 2, 2013 3 comments

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.”

Dredd - Karl Urban as Judge Dredd

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…

The Ultimate Evolving Superhero Movie List – Part 3

September 8, 2012 Leave a comment

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 not only reached its 100th post with the first portion of this list, but it 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.

In this, the third and final incremental portion of this list before it goes into periodic updates, I present to you the current films in the latter half of “The Good” films section and, finally, “The Excellent” films, as well. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Brave”

June 26, 2012 8 comments
Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Produced by: Katherine Sarafian; Pete Docter, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton (executive); Mary Alice Drumm (associate)
Written by: Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi (screenplay); Brenda Chapman (story)
Art Department: Emma Coats, Nick Sung (storyboard artists); Mark Cordell Holmes (graphic artist); Jason Merck (artist)
Music by: Patrick Doyle
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, John Ratzenberger
Year: 2012

 

Many have worried, and even after seeing the film continue to assert, that Brave is a step backward for Pixar in terms of quality and storytelling. The film’s current score of 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, while nowhere near as low as last year’s 38%-scoring Cars 2, still puts the film just barely above the first Cars (74%), and just below the recent Madagascar 3 (76%), and though I haven’t seen the latter, I doubt these films would ever be considered in the same league as Pixar’s masterpieces like Up, The Incredibles, the Toy Story films, and Finding Nemo. Audiences and critics alike are seemingly seeing signs that this studio, once heralded as being home to the kings (and queens) of their craft, is taking its first steps towards the abyss of mediocrity — an assertion only further enforced by the fact that Brave had Pixar’s lowest grossing opening weekend of any of their films, despite taking the number one spot. But is Brave really the harbinger of a string of “just average” films to come? Has Pixar lost its edge, its brilliance, its originality? To be quite honest, I don’t see Brave in that light at all. Read more…

2011 in Review: The Top 5 Worst Films I Saw

January 17, 2012 5 comments

Some would say that 2011 as a very disappointing year for film. While there were definitely fewer films that I wanted to see this past year than in years past, or at least ones that I was totally looking forward to, there was hardly a shortage of films that I did see and love, all the same.

But before I get to those films, we do have some filth to get out of the way, first. Though I try to avoid them at all costs, sometimes a bad film is just too hard to avoid, whether it’s because I saw them out of obligation to someone else or, as is the case with many of the films I saw this past year, I developed a case of morbid curiosity. Sometimes it paid off. Sometimes it didn’t. And while there were some films I did see from the past year were truly very poor ones, there were some that were just downright disappointments, too.

I’ve already gone through and told you about the films that I liked, and I already have a list of my favorite films of 2011 coming to you, as well, but before we do that, let’s get this out of the way, first.

Here is a definitive list of the Top 5 Worst Films I saw from 2011 that I did see, in ascending order from bad to worse to just absolutely awful…

5.  Gnomeo & Juliet (February 11)

As if this story weren’t retold enough, here comes Canadian animation studio Arc Productions’ gimmicky little collaboration with Disney, a comedic and decidedly un-tragic retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Honestly, it’s not a horrendous film and likely wouldn’t have made this list had I seen some of the more horrible-looking films this past year that I managed to avoid (which is why it’s at the bottom of this list); but Gnomeo & Juliet‘s biggest failing isn’t that it’s awful, but that it’s like that friend who cracks all those corny jokes all the time, who gets everyone laughing but only because, you know, they’re friendly enough and generally nice to have around, but you really can’t bear to hurt their feelings and tell them that they’re not as clever as they think. The title, though, should give you an idea of what kind of humor lies within the film — puns aplenty and a smearing of self-aware sensibility so heavy that you’d think the animators kind of knew they were making a rather bland film and decided to compensate for it. Read more…

10 Movies That Have Made Me Cry (…or at Least Tear Up): 5 – 1

November 11, 2011 6 comments

<< PART I – Entries 10 – 6

Here I continue to explore the final five of ten films that have made me cry… or at least tear up at certain points. While I cannot guarantee that they will make you cry, these have and definitely will continue to have the same effect on me that they did the first time around. And while this is not a definitive list, this half of the list does contain the one definitive film that will always get me choked up whenever I sit down to watch it, so read on through if you’re looking to see a grown man cry. That is, if you can see through your own tears, of course. Read more…

10 Movies That Have Made Me Cry (…or at Least Tear Up): 10 – 6

November 10, 2011 3 comments

I recently watched the movie Radio for the first time. I was told that it could possibly make me cry by several people before, and the movie had been sitting in my Netflix queue for quite a while, though I hadn’t watched it because, let’s face it, who wants to just watch a movie that will just make you cry? But then, I sometimes am that person. I thought to myself, “You know, after watching The Walking Dead, I could really use a movie like that.”

It wasn’t that the episode of The Walking Dead I had just watched was just particularly grim, or anything, but I felt like watching something emotionally uplifting and inspirational. Radio seemed to fit that bill, and so I threw it on and… nothing. Nothing came out. Sure, it had a few recognizably tear-worthy moments but, overall? Nothing. Not even tears of joy. I was profoundly disappointed.

Am I the only one who wants to have these emotional outbursts with movies sometimes? I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t extraordinarily tired. I just wanted to watch something profoundly, emotionally true. Unfortunately, Radio is just not that great of a movie to begin with. And while I don’t normally find myself crying at movies, I doubt that I’m a cold, emotionless jerk. Afterall, there have been more than a few movies that have gotten me to that breaking point — even ones that aren’t particularly good, come to think of it. (Man… did Radio just suck that much?)

So, I submit to you this list. A list of ten movies that, in some way or another, have made me either cry or, at the very least, tear up consistently. Watch these movies, and I dare you to not feel emotionally touched, at least at some point during the movie. (Also, I’m apparently a very sensitive man, so please be nice…) Read more…

Fifteen Minute Freewrite #2… in 3D

October 4, 2011 Leave a comment

So, Disney has just announced that they’re going to be releasing even more 3D conversions of classic films in the coming years, thanks in large part to the success of The Lion King in 3D the past few weeks. As of this writing, the film is still in the #3 spot at the box office, though for two weeks or more it held the top spot, and it’s likely to set the home market on fire again thanks to today’s Blu-Ray release.

What’s particularly astounding is that this is both good news for animated films of the 2D nature and also, possibly, a good sign for 3D films. While Sony has announced plans to charge audiences yet another premium for using the glasses starting in February, Disney has found another way to convert 3D film tickets into money by converting their older films. Re-releasing movies in theatres is hardly a new thing, especially for Disney, but charging a premium probably seems counterproductive. The Lion King would beg to differ.

Sony must be nuts if it thinks charging more for unproven films that are made in 3D. Disney’s re-releases of Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, Monsters, Inc., and  Beauty and the Beast (already on Blu-Ray and about to be released in 3D on the home market, too!) have already proven to be classics that everyone loves, so it makes sense that Disney would follow the success of The Lion King with these four films.

Then again, the first two Toy Story films didn’t do so hot when re-released in 3D, and that was building up to the surefire hit Toy Story 3, which was simultaneously released in 3D and performed under expectations. That the first two films’ performances convinced Disney to hold off on re-releasing Beauty and the Beast in 3D around the same time just confuses me, though it’s plausible that the apparently poor translation into 3D that they did on those films has been updated using the newer conversion tech they used on The Lion King, and I’ve already heard good things about it at a test screening.

I write all this to say… I have no idea what’s going on. I do have to clock back in, however…

The Viewer’s Commentary: Coming Attractions

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Hello everyone! I just wanted to thank you all for this past week. I’ve been figuring out scheduling and, while still quite a bit shaky, I am of course going to keep the articles coming. I’ve got some big things planned, but haven’t had much time to do it all thanks to a birthday party, church, and work, but I figured, in the spirit of cinema, that I would give you all a set of previews for some upcoming attractions I have coming that I’m really excited about!

REVIEWS – I’ve seen a few films this past week that I’m eager to get reviews of. One of them still in theatres, one of them well into its senior years, and two that are just now starting to toddle around. … Okay enough with the age analogies. Want some hints as to what these movies are? Well, the first one involves an epidemic so epic, I can list at least 8 major actors by name who appear in the film and still not touch on the number of people involved. The oldest film I plan on reviewing is actually a recently released Blu-Ray involving a pachyderm who rises to the big top. Hint hint… As for the other two, one is a fictional account of the assassination of a legendary outlaw, and the other revolves around a couple determined to be together despite a cosmic, all knowing bureaucracy. Hope you like variety! I’ve also got reviews of the Blu-Ray editions of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi lined up – the discs are literally sitting in my living room waiting to be watched, and my eagerness to get to other movies is definitely going to motivate me to get those watched.

PIXAR IN REVUE – While this is primarily a prelude to a feature I’ve been planning to do since long before this site was even registered, I will be going through each of the major Pixar works, from the first shorts to Toy Story in 1995 to their recent and hopefully brief flirtation with pure commercialization in Cars 2, and then to infinity and beyond. All that will lead up to my most ambitious idea yet…

WALT DISNEY FEATURES: THE FEATURE – Similar to what I’m doing with Pixar, I will continue to express my love of animated films by going over each of the 51 Disney animated features and  take a look at some upcoming works and related works. This one will take me the longest to do, so it will likely become a weekly-at-least type of feature, while I try to not only review and opine on the films, but also hopefully provide some historical context for each of the films, pertaining to not only Disney, but animation and even the world. I plan on doing an overview of each film as a primer before setting out to look at each on an individual basis. This is going to be quite difficult, especially since I plan on continuing work on other films, too, but I’m up for the challenge and I’m really looking forward to tackling this the most!

HORROR FILM MONTH – As always, October is going to be the month I begin focusing on horror films. This year, I’m planning on getting in touch with some of the more famous horror films I’ve always managed to avoid (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween) while going over a few of my favorites, such as 28 Days Later, The Sixth Sense, Alien, and Psycho.

LISTS – Not so much a special thing I’m planning on doing as much as it is a regular feature I plan on doing, many of you may already know that I’m big on Top 10 lists, so expect me to fan the flames of discussion and discord while I make arbitrary lists of films and film-related things!

It’s about to get serious, and I appreciate both my friends and family who come here to support me as I indulge in my interests publicly and all of you who may possibly pass by this blog and find something worth your attention. I am but one man, but I do hope I can meet not just my own expectations, but yours too, and, again, I appreciate any support I get!

Thanks again everyone! I hope you are all as excited as I am!

An Ode to Pooh: Melancholy Ramblings on the State of Hand-Drawn Animation

September 20, 2011 3 comments

Pooh and Christopher Robin head off into the sunset.

It’s the question on the lips of every animation buff’s lips: Is hand-drawn animation on its way out? Let me get this out of the way, as you likely already know my perspective on the matter: I certainly hope that it isn’t.

As of this writing, I’m eagerly anticipating the release of the Blu-Ray release of Disney’s 70-year-old classic Dumbo, a movie I haven’t seen in probably over a decade — I can’t even remember the last time I did see it, in fact! But outside of film, animation, and Disney uber-fans, is there any truth to former Disney dictator Michael Eisner’s supposition that, much like black and white movies, these movies no longer appeal to general audiences? Read more…

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