Movies 2012

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Movies 2012

Movies 2012

2k12/12

  • Day of the Jackal. 7/10. Pretty good, but not really really compelling to a modern audience.
  • Heroes. Season 1. 7/10. Although somewhat derivative and too similar to existing works in comic literature, most notably Rising Stars, the first season is pretty good. After that it derails quickly though.
  • Life on Mars (US). 7/10. The first half of this is really really good. The ambiguity of the central premise, the sheer zanyness of some aspects, the potentially dark characters, and the dark aspects mixed in with sheer comicness make it pretty compelling. Then the show loses track of the central premise and becomes just sort of an ok police procedural, at the same time as all the characters become a lot safer. The final five minutes then proceed to really really trash the whole thing. I have absolutely no idea what the producers and writers were thinking.
  • Terra Nova. 6/10. The basic idea of science fiction and dinosaurs is pretty great, so it's disappointing that this sticks to shlocky dumb kids stories. The commander is actually a fairly interesting character, but everyone else is either boring or annoying. I do though really like when they beam a T-Rex into a future earth military installation to wreak havoc...
  • The Objective. 7/10. I did not realize this was a science fiction/horror movie when I started watching it, which probably helped a lot. Expecting a straight about military drama in Afghanistan, the mystical aspects did a good job of creeping up on me. This does a good job of employing a seemingly pretty low budget. Nothing too flashy, but enough of a good sci-fi story to be interesting.
  • Today's Special. 9/10. Great movie. Aasif Mandvi plays well and has a good supporting cast in this sort of understated romantic comedy, sort of coming-of-age-for-the-middle-aged film. Really nice change of people for this kind of thing from the typical whitebread.
  • Burn Notice. Seasons 4--5. 7/10. The series continues to chug along through these seasons. It remains consistent, but still no great episodes and some of the overarching plot arcs begin to become a bit cumbersome. Definite negative points for falling into the X-Files trap of crafting a web throughout past family history and essentially ordaining Michael as some kind of "The One." Still entertaining though.
  • Glory. 8/10. This is a great movie, though I wish it focused a bit more on the actual soldiers rather than their white commanders.
  • The Last Word. 7/10. This is perhaps a bit more random and scatological than it should be for maximum effect. It hangs on a thread of not being a good movie, but pretty much pulls it off. There are a number of thoughtful components and the characters certainly fairly original. Bonus points for a non-cliched resolution to the central plot threads.
  • The Muse. 7/10. Light, fun comedy.
  • Hachi: A Dog's Tale. 8/10. A fairly standard heartwarming/rending drama, but it's pretty good. Of course it's easy for it to prey on your feelings with its four-legged star, but especially toward the end it packs some good punches, particularly employing how Hachi ages.
  • When Harry Tries to Marry. 8/10. I was only sort of watching this, but I thought it was a somewhat more thoughtful romantic comedy than most. Definitely adds some diversity and unique ethnicity into the equation, which is great.

2k12/11

  • Arrow. Season 1. 8/10. Surprisingly good! Even Caitlin likes it! Could have easily gone pretty cheesy, but it manages to not fall afoul of that. Better, it does have a lot of interesting things going on with looking at why the Arrow is allowed to kill bad dudes but objects to others doing the same, and so on.
  • Footloose (2011). 7/10. I'm not a particularly big fan of the original, but I actually thought this was probably better in many ways. There's a lot more diversity of both music and people. Not a ton here and all super predictable, but it's reasonably well done and has a lot of visual appeal. The dancing's solid but generally not actually particularly great though.
  • The Grey. 8/10. I have a hard time determining how I feel about The Grey. On the one hand, it's a ridiculous action movie: A pack of wolves is essentially anthropomorphized into the scourge of a group of plane crash victims. Liam Neeson has multiple fistfights with giant wolves. That's both awesome and beyond ridiculous. On the other hand, it's also a much more serious movie. Neeson's Ottway character is given a fair amount of background. Several supporting characters are more dynamic than they might at first seem. There's a strong thread of fatalism and theology running throughout the movie. So, I don't really know what to make of it. Recommended though.
  • Adventureland. 8/10. Somehow I feel like there's just a bit more to this than there really should be. It never reaches extremely good comedy, though it's funny at times. The dramatic elements manage to stop just short of too much, and actually have just a bit of depth to consider to some of the characters.
  • Take Me Home Tonight. 7/10. This could be better, it's a bit explicit in both language and scenes for its tone. However, it's a solid film for '70s/'80s/'90s coming-of-age comedies.
  • Skyfall. 9/10. Has some truly excellent parts, though I think it doesn't quite reach the potential it hints toward. However, it hints at them well enough that the lasting imagery carries it up a tick in my rating: It's basically an 8/10 with some gorgeous visuals, good action, and solid themes, but the theme of Bond as some kind of Ozymandias is enduring and bumps it up to 9/10 overall. Long form review.
  • Burn Notice. Seasons 1--3. 7/10. I suspect I won't particularly remember this for long, but it's certainly fun. Up through the 3rd season or so it impressively manages to stay fairly flat in quality. It's hard to pick out any particularly bad episodes, though the corollary of this is it's hard to pick out particularly amazing episodes as well.
  • The Hunter. 9/10. The Netflix brief for this makes it sound ridiculous: "Willem Dafoe stars as a mercenary sent to Tasmania to track down the last living Tasmanian tiger and obtain its genetic material." It's actually a fairly subtle, deep movie though, well accompanied by lush jungle scenes and all manner of interesting landscapes, critters, people, and lifestyles. Strongly recommended for anyone with any interest in dramatic films.
  • The Producers (1968). 9/10. Absolutely brilliant. Whereas the 2005 version renders the slapstick flat, forced, and overly scripted, Mostel and Wilder make it feel spontaneous and brilliant. Hollywood has probably reached no better height of bitter satire than the dubbed audio cameo of Mel Brooks, with full Brooklyn Jewish accent flying, singing "Don't be stupid, be a smarty/Come and join the Nazi Party," amidst a chorus line of Stormtroopers.
  • Coriolanus. 8/10. I'll have to watch this again. A lot of me wants to absolutely love it, but the strict Shakespearean delivery takes just enough getting used to that it's hard to really engage with unless given your devout attention. Certainly it's very well done though, and I'm very pleased this was able to get a wide release.
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. 7/10. This is actually aging fairly well, in that it hasn't gotten worse. Still not an amazing movie, but it's certainly not bad. Notably, the animation still holds up pretty well. It all looks great and there are some interesting things, but the plot's all a bit too much overt, skin deep mysticism.
  • Mouse Hunt. 7/10. Certainly not the deepest movie ever, but pretty funny. This is how goofy and zany should be, with Nathan Lane's performance showing that the problem with the Producers 2005 edition is by no means the stars themselves but how they're deployed. The mouse is very well done, and the movie really upticks once he's portrayed sympathetically. Bonus points for the great Christopher Walken sequence.
  • The Producers (2005). 6/10. Both the movie and the stars try way too hard. It forces itself to be so precisely similar to the original that the mania is robbed of its spontaneity and humor. What additions there are, like new musical numbers and tweaks on characters, are boring and not funny.
  • Surveillance. 5/10. This movie starts off interesting, then becomes uncomfortable, then uncomfortable and super boring.
  • A League of Their Own. 8/10. This has a lot more cheese on it, particularly around the opening and closing with the overt music and all, then I remember, but it's still a fun, great movie that is aging well.

2k12/10

  • Greg the Bunny. 6/10. Almost really funny, but never manages to take off.
  • Take Me Home. 9/10. This is a surprisingly good small movie. Definitely one of the better romantic comedy and road trip movies I've seen in a while. It's very understated, and I think more realistic because of it. No one's really a huge jerk, there's no major denouement, it's all just kind of the gradual movements of people. Great soundtrack to boot.
  • Downton Abbey. Series 2. 9/10. The show definitely grows on you over time. It helps a lot that many characters become less offensive in the second season, while others devolve the other way. It's super well produced and gorgeous to look at throughout.
  • Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. 10/10.
  • Redbelt. 7/10. I was very disappointed by this. A few places had talked it up fairly highly, and it's clearly got a lot of potential, but falls a little flat in the end. It's definitely not really a fighting movie as the few action sequences are very downplayed and short. However, the drama is just kind of unbelievable. Especially in the beginning there's just a ridiculous sequence of things happening that seem to have no motivation or cause other than setting up the story. Then at the end, the same thing happens, and you have to presume on an awful lot of backstory. I was particularly looking for a great showing from Chiwetel Ejiofor but he doesn't really have much to work with. Good to see Tim Allen in a pretty reasonable, quiet role for him though.
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. 8/10. It's interesting watching some of the older style pacing of this movie. There's tons of bits of dialog and actions here and there that just aren't necessary. It's a good sign of the strength of the movie that I remember it from long, long ago, and that it doesn't really suffer from knowing the spin at the end. Bonus points for the bit about the black farmhand reciting the Declaration of Independence and Stewart remarking "Some people forget that.''
  • Being Human (UK). Series 1--2. 7/10. The first season of this is actually pretty good. It decays a little bit as it goes on though. I'm not super sure why, but suspect it's again because of the increasing emphasis on the werewolves vs vampires plot rather than the characters themselves.
  • Mission: Impossible III. 7/10. Much better than the first movie. Still not amazing, and way too much ridiculous tech, but at least you start to care a little bit more about the characters here.
  • Mission: Impossible. 6/10. It's not exactly awful, but it's not good either. There's just so much magical tech and the cliche of him being cast as a traitor, and ultimately you just don't really care about anybody.
  • Tommy Boy. 7/10. A guilty pleasure that I like a lot more than I should. "BEES! BEES! SAVE YOURSELVES!"
  • The Walking Dead. Season 2. 8/10. I thought this was much better than the first season, which I also thought was fairly good. To me it was a positive improvement that it slows down a lot more and focuses a bit more on characters and less on zombie cliches. I especially like the formally tragic arc for Shane.
  • Super 8. 8/10. Still a great movie the second time around. Has a nice mix of childhood nostalgia and scifi special effects. Really the story of the two dads pulls it all together and gives it real heft.
  • Freaks and Geeks. Season 1. 10/10. Amazing show. Like a Wonder Years that doesn't drown everything in saccharin nostalgia. Larger review.
  • Warehouse 13. Seasons 1--3. 8/10. A little goofy, but awesome! Larger review.
  • Heartbreakers. 6/10.

2k12/9

  • Max Headroom. Seasons 1--3. 7/10. Still a good show but sadly hasn't aged as well as you might hope. It's just really clear that it came from the 80s.
  • Friends with Benefits. Season 1. 7/10. Caitlin show! Very immature, but pretty entertaining.
  • Alphas. Season 1. 8/10. Only so-so to start, but it becomes really good so far.
  • Downton Abbey. Series 1. 7/10. I have some trouble with a show based on everyone being snobby to everybody else, but there's no denying it's pretty well done.
  • Payback. 5/10. Awfully, NetFlix has posted the director's cut of this under the Payback name, which is absolutely awful compared to the theater edition, which is actually pretty good. It's actually interesting comparing the two and seeing how much a few edits and a few minutes' worth of extra footage really really matter.
  • Runaway Bride. 7/10.
  • Failure to Launch. 7/10.

2k12/8

  • The Best and the Brightest. 5/10.
  • Planet of the Apes. 8/10.
  • Superman. 6/10.
  • Riverworld. 7/10.
  • Small Soldiers. 7/10. Definitely a kids movie, though it's holding up well.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger. 6/10. It has a lot of appeal with the period costumes and such, but it's just kind of silly and the action sequences overwrought. Not the worst super hero movie ever, but definitely doesn't live up to its potential.
  • Rescue Me. 8/10. This becomes a bit hard to watch, it's fairly graphic, but a lot of this is pretty daring and brilliant.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes. 9/10. James Franco is basically terrible, which is unfortunate as he's the lead human. The abuses of scientific procedures are also so simplistic and gross as to push the suspension of disbelief a bit too much. However, the apes really save this movie. It's much better than it has any right to be, and well worth watching for sci-fi fans.

2k12/7

  • The Dark Knight Rises. 8/10.
  • Appaloosa. 7/10. Doesn't really stand out much, but it's a solid Western with a few interesting twists and turns. The closing moments and their internal motivations really make the film.
  • Thor. 6/10. Really pretty much nothing to commend this movie. Flat characters, flat costumes, flat and outlandish plot.
  • The Six Wives of Henry Lefay. 6/10. Not offensively bad, but nothing much to commend it either.

2k12/5

  • The King's Speech. 9/10.
  • Sherlock. Series 2. 10/10. Excellent take on the Reichenbach Falls story. Excellent acting all around---Moriarty continues to be amazing, Watson provides the human component, and Sherlock shows some vulnerability. Good use of music in addition.
  • Special. 8/10. This movie is kind of depressing so it won't be everyone's thing, even with the superhero theme, but it's quietly pretty good. The only part I don't really get is why Maggie let Les leave the convenience store in the morning... She seems smarter than that, and him receptive to staying. Unless it's all in his mind from there?! Whoah! Mind = blown! In any event, this movie has a lot of that kind of thing going on but manages to not be annoying about it like many other movies. Recommended for people interested in superheroes and melancholic, quieter movies. Good musical score as well.
  • The Tick. Season 1. This is pretty absurd, but actually pretty good. The Tick's speeches alone pretty much make it worth it for any comic book afficionados.
  • Luther. Series 1, 2. 9/10. The first couple episodes are a little flat, but this is amazing by the end. The thing is that it's played as a straight crime series, but you actually have to look at it as a live action graphic novel. Then it's brilliant and pretty deep.
  • Everything Must Go. 8/10. Ferrell shows off great drama chops here.
  • WALL-E. 6/10. It's fun, it's cute, it's for kids and a little preachy.
  • Black Swan. 8/10. Not the most pleasant movie to watch, but certainly very good.
  • Monsters. 7/10. Oddly forgettable, when it should be a great movie---fairly novel tone and approach. I guess the characters just don't click enough or something.
  • Bottle Shock. 7/10. Ok feel good dramedy. Some silliness and simplifications, some pretty good moments.

2k12/4

  • Rango.
  • Inglourious Basterds.
  • Ghostbusters.
  • Ugly Americans. Season 1.
  • Outcasts. Season 1.

2k12/3

  • Sons of Anarchy. Season 3. 9/10. The closing of this is excellent, in no small part because of the great musical score.
  • Avatar.
  • Calendar Girls.
  • Fat Man & Little Boy.
  • The American.
  • Ghost Dog.
  • Archer. Season 1, 2. 8/10.
  • Sherlock. Series 1. 10/10.
  • The Lincoln Lawyer. 8/10.

2k12/2

  • True Grit. 9/10.
  • Lilyhammer. Season 1. 8/10.
  • Bed & Breakfast. 6/10.
  • Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. 10/10.
  • The Punisher. 7/10.
  • Sherlock Holmes.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Season 7. 9/10.

2k12/1

  • Jim Gaffigan: Beyond the Pale. 7/10.
  • Office Space. 7/10.
  • That Thing You Do! 8/10.
  • 'Star Trek: Deep Space 9.'' Season 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 9/10.
  • My Boys. Season 2, 3, 4.
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