I’ll admit I’ve been a bit lazy on my New Year’s Resolution to watch a movie per day. Work, friends and family don’t exactly offer several opportunities, but I still try to keep to it and watch as much as I can, which has made for a little over a dozen viewings thus far. To keep things more spaced out than my 2012 recap, I’ll aim for about five movies per post. I’ll gradually get more of these to you, so here you go, hopefully the first of many updates.
This film was torture. What could’ve (and should’ve) been a poignant, engaging piece turned out to be little more than a dragged out, downright agonizing experience. If the filmmakers wanted to make us feel as miserable as the characters in the film, then job well done. Except it felt that awful for all the wrong reasons; a lack of sympathy, awkward and annoying characters, no real story or plot, and numbing boredom.
The Prince of Egypt
Better than much of the material Disney was rolling out around the time, The Prince of Egypt made Dreamworks seem like a serious contender for the next supplier of (near) classic animated features…then we got the Madagascar and Shrek sequels. Regardless, The Prince of Egypt did exactly what any animated feature should, it told a story while taking full advantage of technology and visuals. There’s a surprising amount of heart and development to both the story and especially the characters too, much more than what several live action films afford us (see above).
As an introvert, I found Sideways a very self-reflective piece. I swear I saw myself as Paul Giamatti’s character, and it still scares me. It might be odd to use that word when describing a dramedy, but I think it adds all the more humanity and strength to the film. Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church are a wonderful combination; they’re authentically fleshed out as people who generally don’t get along, but still like and even need each other. And when you’ve got something as strongly forged as that, the rest of the material essentially writes itself.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Even though The Hobbit is a 2012 release, I didn’t catch it until the new year. For the longest time I thought I’d just catch the HFR 3D IMAX showing (look at all those caps), if only for the Star Trek Into Darkness prologue. But the trip and reception didn’t mix well enough for me, so I caught a standard 2D showing. My thoughts? It’s good, just not Lord of the Rings good. What’s odd is that a lot of the things people didn’t like are things that didn’t bother me. I didn’t mind the opening in the Shire too much, the dwarfs obnoxious behavior aside; Radaghast I honestly found amusing and a decent overall character; and even though the sets are clearly CGI most of the time, it’s still a beauty to look at. Plus, I kind of think that’s the point, given the book is seen more as a kind of childhood story for some. The Lord of the Rings is more real and dark, hence the real sets. My problems do come with the length and an apparent misuse of development, especially given the fact we have to wait for two more parts. And while it was great to see Smeagol again, I actually found the whole riddles sequence a bit overrated. Also, none of the main villainous characters really did anything for me. I still enjoyed the film and would watch it again if I could set aside the time, but it didn’t leave me suspended like The Lord of the Rings did.
One of my co-workers lent this movie to me, essentially saying that if I loved Django Unchained, I’ll love this. I still remembered seeing previews for Inglourious Basterds and feeling like it wouldn’t be my cup of tea. Still, I took and watched it and, to be honest, my early impressions weren’t far off. So far the Quentin Tarantino movies I’ve seen have been pretty easy for me to pinpoint my opinion on before I even see it. The only surprises were Pulp Fiction, which I thought I’d hate and wound up loving, and Django which I figured I’d enjoy, but ended up loving the hell out of it. Inglourious Basterds managed to accomplish what I thought no Tarantino movie could or should: bore me. Other than the opening with Christoph Waltz and the “sticky situation”, I couldn’t wait for the movie to end. Even Reservoir Dogs, a film almost devoid of laughs for me, maintained my interest. This just did absolutely nothing for me.