We are now at the halfway point in the year. I would like to take this moment to recap all the films I’ve had the fortunate or unfortunate opportunity of watching so far in 2011. Some were great while others I don’t even want to talk about. Here is a recap of the best and worst that I’ve seen so far in 2011.
“Midnight in Paris”
Woody Allen’s latest film is an exciting, hilarious and smart romantic comedy. If you have not seen it yet, avoid reading reviews because they might give away all the surprises. The cast includes Owen Wilson, Rachael McAdams, Adrian Brodey, Michael Sheen and Kathy Bates, all of who give marvelous performances. What I can say without spoiling too much is that English majors and American literature fans will have a blast watching this movie.
“The Sunset Limited”
I think I might have to put this on my top 10 of 2011 list even though it’s a made for HBO film. Two actors. One room. 90 minutes. That’s all “The Sunset Limited” is. The two actors are Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones. The setting is an apartment after Jackson’s character rescues Jones’ character from a suicide attempt. Only known as Black and White, the two discuss religion, the important things in their own lives and the meaning of living. Based on Cormac McCarthy’s play, this is a powerful film and should have been a theatrical release.
Honorable mentions: “Rango,” “Hanna,” “X-Men: First Class”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
The series has completely run out of steam. Johnny Depp’s once great performance is now tiresome and the film just stuffs more and more into its plot than it can handle. It even leaves the possibility of a fifth one. Sigh.
“Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer”
A film with ADHD, “Judy Moody” is another formulaic kids story that doesn’t know when to tone down its “ultra cool, super tubular” effects and focus on making the characters/story somewhat likable.
I know a lot of fanboys/fangirls will get after me for still calling this the worst movie of the year, but I’m sticking to my word. Zack Snyder doesn’t bring anything new to his first “original” screenplay. It’s just a cheap rip off of everything that’s been done before and done better, plus a rehash of some of his earlier work, including “300” and “Watchmen.” I know people have told me I should dig deeper into the themes of this movie, instead of just trashing it for all the visual madness that occurs. I did. It’s a film that wants to show how women can break free from being oppressed and being used for sex, but then it shows them fighting in scantily clad suits and running around with swords, guns and all sorts of other weapons. Hypocritical much? It’s every male geek’s fantasy to see hot babes running around doing this. If they wanted to show women being free from oppression, this is not how it’s supposed to be done. There’s no coherent plot. It’s just all show and the show isn’t even worth the time.
“Atlas Shrugged: Part 1”
Based on Ayn Rand’s 1,000+ page novel, “Atlas Shrugged” is supposed to be a trilogy. But by the time the first one ended, I felt absolutely no desire to know how it ends. The characters are dull, the acting is wooden and the end result is frustratingly anti-climatic. It was only made for $15 million and it’s one of the worst ways I’ve seen such a low budget used. Good films with this low of a budget include “United 93” and “127 Hours.” Of course, both of those movies had directors who knew what they were doing and not some no-name whose first film is this pile of garbage.
UPDATE: Part 2 is on its way. PUKE!
Dishonorable mentions: “Season of the Witch,” “Just Go With It”
The Curious Case of Crappy Carbon Copies:
“The Hangover Part II”
I never did a full review of “The Hangover Part II” because I saw it two weeks after it had been released. I usually get reviews in after the first week, if not before. But there really isn’t much to say about “The Hangover Part II” other than it’s an exact replica of the first one. Main characters get drunk, someone goes missing, they find the wrong guy, almost delay the wedding and then the person gets found in the most random and implausible spot the writers decide to place said character. That’s just a tiny sample of what was copied from the first one. Though I’m not surprised since this is coming from Todd Phillips, whose filmography includes “Due Date” and “Old School,” both of which were carbon copies of better films (“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and “Animal House,” respectively). The humor is stale and slightly offensive in some areas. One of the photos captured that plays during the credits is highly offensive and has no point belonging in the movie. “Hangover II” is just awful.
“Red Riding Hood”
My, what a bad movie this is. Catherine Hardwicke thought it would be a great idea to put a dark spin on the old fairy tale and gear it toward the “Twilight” generation at the same time. And what did she do to try to achieve that? She copied “Twilight,” her previous film, nearly scene for scene, makeup design for makeup design, emo music for emo music and every other thing of which you can possibly think. But this is set in the medieval days, not modern times. It’s nowhere near as dark as it should have been. It’s just campy crap. Of course, the uber die hard “Twilight” fans probably don’t care. Just as long as they can see cute guys go after one girl while a werewolf (yeah, cuz real wolves suck, yo) ravishes the town. And it’s such a shame to see a talented cast including Gary Oldman, Virginia Madsen and Julie Christie wasted in a truly miserable film. The better the paycheck must have been, my dear.
Sleepers: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Started Loving the Film
A sleek, intelligent, sci-fi thriller that had poor marketing; “Source Code” is one of the better films to be released this year. It made profit, but I felt it should have done more. There’s great chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan. It’s also a mind-boggling, 93-minute film that you will be talking about long after it’s over.
Marketed as the female version of “The Hangover,” I had very low expectations for “Bridesmaids,” especially with “Hangover 2” being released two weeks later. But, to my surprise, this was actually very funny. It appeals to both men and women. Raunchy, crude, hilarious and filled with heart, “Bridesmaids” is one of the best comedies in recent years.
I’m still playing catch up on some films, including the new “Transformers,” “Cars” and many others. Check for an end of the summer update around September.
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