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The Films of 2012 You Shouldn’t Ignore

Well before 2011 was over people were already claiming 2012 to be one of the best years for film.  After all, the only thing better than sequels, remakes and adaptations are above average sequels, remakes and adaptations.  But while films like The Hunger Games and The Avengers bask in the financial intake, there are a slew of movies being overshadowed.  Not that they need help to generate revenue, but those who want something a bit different from the publicized crop can venture a look.
Lawless

A Depression-era film starring shouter Shia LaBeouf might not be the best way to kick a list off, but films that deal with law-shrugging gangsters still seem to resonate with many people–and who can blame them?  Plus, we have The Road director John Hillcoat at the helm here with a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman, who make relatively good film choices.  And as an added bonus, we have Jessica Chastain filling in the pretty-face card.  The trailer certainly looks enticing and the film should be a good way to keep our attention between the summer and fall film slaughters of 2012.

Trailer:

Moonrise Kingdom

A few people are keeping their eyes open for this latest film by Wes Anderson, which got very positive reactions at the Cannes Film Festival.  After all, what’s not to like?  It’s a dramedy by a talented and acclaimed director, the premise and scenario is different, the cast includes Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel and–brace yourselves–it’s not adapted!  Between this and the trailer, which implies a perfect balance of charming and awkward comedy, there should be more anticipation for Moonrise Kingdom than Men In Black 3.  Of course, we all know the chances of that happening.

Trailer:

ParaNorman

Even with the misstep that was Cars 2, Pixar still appear to have quite a following lined up for Brave.  But what about the other animated movies?  Frankenweenie has been showing before literally every movie and, quite frankly, sounds more like a bad porno title than anything.  Then there’s ParaNorman, which has a very off-beat vibe based on the trailer…but that’s why it might be worthwhile.  There’s a bit of Tim Burton meets Nick Park here, except the former aspects should be handled well.  And if that turns out to be accurate, then we should have our second promising animated flick this year.

Trailer:

Red Lights

Most movies that deal with the paranormal are little more than campy, B-grade throw-outs, but here’s a movie that could prove to be a little different.  The cast is decent enough, which should help Cillian Murphy continue his slow climb of recognition; shame he’ll probably be as old as Christopher Plummer before becoming a household name.  That aside, Red Lights should work since it might take its audience seriously.  Granted, it’s unlikely this will be a game-changer (since Hollywood hardly know the definition), but the movie can at least raise the standards for its siblings to come.

Trailer:

Premium Rush

Okay, let’s be honest: the main reason people will see this movie is because of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  The man seemed to become an overnight sensation and favorite thanks to 50/50, which isn’t difficult to reason.  Beyond that, this film looks to be a fairly by-the-numbers chase/action-thriller, but that’s just the point.  Everyone knows all the action movies they want to see this year, so hopefully Premium Rush will be a fun by-the-numbers film.  In fact, calling it Speed on a bicycle really doesn’t sound all that crazy after giving it some thought.

Trailer:

Gangster Squad

Oh look, another gangster/mafia film!  Except where Lawless may or may not look merely decent at this point, Gangster Squad could potentially bring us back to the former mafia glory of the 90’s.  Almost all of Ryan Gosling’s recent films have been acclaimed, critic-favorites Sean Penn and Nick Nolte are alongside him and, just for good measure, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi and Emma Stone have parts too.  Not everything about the film is promising, however; let’s be honest, the title is just silly and Ruben Fleischer is at the helm.  This would be fine, except a little number known as 30 Minutes or Less made his other effort, Zombieland, look like Resident Evil with Citizen Kane-like execution.  We’ll just have to hope Ruben has learned from his misstep, much like we’re hoping for Pixar’s redemption after a merely subpar sequel.

Trailer:

The Words

What is it with the sudden surge of movies about writers?  Ghost Writer, Being Flynn, Ruby Sparks and this: The Words.  Though Bradley Cooper did stretch his acting wings in Limitless, this just might make him a card worth taking seriously.  Based on the trailer, it almost looks like the movie wants to shoot for some sort of Academy recognition.  Now, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but the film does look promising.  Drama, some light-hearted humor and, more than likely, a typical Hollywood ending, should make this a modest hit with casual critics–if such thing exists.

Trailer:

Looper

Hey look, it’s Back to the Future meets Inception!  There’s a good chance people have noticed the poster for this movie, but don’t know anything about it.  Audiences seem to enjoy the movies that do away with some laws of logic while keeping others, and Looper is looking to fit the bill wonderfully.  Just don’t expect it to be nearly as huge as either of the aforementioned films, since it’s clear this is more an adrenaline fix than food for thought.

Trailer:

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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Theater Feature: The Avengers (2012)

This past weekend brought the ultimate wet dream for comic book fans as The Avengers hit theaters, meeting with a pleasant amount of praise along the way.  Factor in that it’s the latest in a long line of films from the past 3 years to set an opening weekend record and it’s bluntly obvious just about anyone remotely interested has already seen it.  At this point it’s literally pointless to ask-then-answer whether the film is good or not, so I’ll be taking a less conventional approach with this review.  In case you haven’t seen The Avengers, be warned this review will be FULL OF SPOILERS.  If you just want my quick thoughts on the film without having too much ruined, all you need to know is that The Avengers is a damn good time and perfect for a theatrical viewing.  Also, if you’re going to watch it in 3D, then be sure you catch it in IMAX, since this is far from the 3D quality seen in the first 15 minutes of Hugo.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Like I said, the film is a great time and one of the few that can warrant more than one theatrical viewing, if your wallet/bank account is feeling overly generous.  While a lot of this has to do with the well done action scenes, I actually found myself most invested when the characters were simply talking to each other.  Literally everyone has wonderful chemistry, whether the playfulness between Bruce and Tony or the family problem feuds between Loki and Thor.  Call me crazy, but I actually wanted to hear more of the big argument scene around the halfway mark.  Perhaps it’s a testament to the writing and/or characters, or maybe I’m so used to watching dramas and wish every argument could be a film itself (much like 12 Angry Men).  But I digress.

Another reason the film works so well is the humor, which definitely derives from the writing.  Just about any scene involving Tony Stark or the Hulk is comedic gold and if you disagree then your laughing strings are beyond withered.

One question I’m surprised hasn’t been asked more frequently is who everyone’s favorite Avenger is.  Tony Stark is his usual, brilliant, egocentric self; Thor is rash but good-hearted; Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce/Hulk is a great combination of thought and comedy; Captain America is the typical (but terrific) relatable, all around good guy; and Black Widow and Hawkeye are the determined, somewhat dryly humorous agents.  It’s truly a clash of awesomeness, which is a testament to this film’s build up and execution.  The last Avenger movie I saw leading up to this was Captain America–while it was still in theaters, so quite a few months separated my attachment from The Avengers.  But much like Fast Five, that didn’t matter; the characters were enjoyable and likable, so connecting wasn’t much of an issue.

If it sounds like The Avengers is the perfect summertime action film, that’s because it is.  But of course, like its predecessors (whether spiritual or not), it isn’t without a few problems.  Many of these might be nitpicks, but they exist.  First off, there’s a rumor that about 2 hours of footage was cut, which definitely show.  For a 140-minute movie, The Avengers really flies by, and even on my first viewing I had a feeling of where certain scenes were likely cut.  It’s a shame studios won’t give us everything up-front; films like Das Boot and each Lord of the Rings have cuts going for about 4 hours or more, each far superior to the theatrical version.  I suppose it’s just one more way to gip us when the movie comes out on DVD/Blu-ray (then we’ll have a longer cut for a gigantic box set that’ll make Harry Potter roll in his grave).

There were also a few small, unanswered questions I had throughout.  One of the biggest ones was what happened to Peggy from Captain America?  Sure, she probably got old and passed away, but I thought she’d at least get closure.  What also surprised me is that we never see Captain America ask about her, but we get confirmation that Thor’s love interest was flown out.  Speaking of which, what about Bruce Banner’s love interest?  We never even get a hint about her in this film.  I guess Gods really do get everything while humans get screwed over.  Sure, I’m not much for romantic subplots, but they should at least be resolved if included, instead of simply being cast aside.  Hopefully these are things that Thor 2, Captain America 2 and the next Hulk film will answer.

Also, I’m not sure if I’m alone on this, but did anyone else feel a bit of sympathy for Loki?  Yes, the film does do one hell of a job portraying how ruthless he can be, but I always got the impression he had some reluctance and was constantly trying to set it aside.

Despite my questions and quibbles, The Avengers does still stand as a fine way to start the summer off.  It might be easy to say that it’s all downhill from here for the season and superhero films, but I’d categorize the film as almost-amazing rather than flat-out awesome.  The Avengers certainly doesn’t hold a torch to The Dark Knight and I’d be surprised if The Dark Knight Rises happens to be inferior, but we are talking about very different films.  Ultimately, I’m in agreement and on the bandwagon: The Avengers is just a great film.

 

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