Wednesday, February 05, 2014

2013 Recap - Film

Here's what yours truly thought about the year in cinema, from most enjoyed to least enjoyed. (*Denotes theater viewing, and the increased expectations that come with it.)

Gravity (3D, IMAX)*

There’s been a lot of chatter about the disliked backstory of Sandra Bullock’s character, and overanalysis of the film’s scientific merit. The discussion should revolve around (GET IT???) its immersive awesomeness. The term “non-stop thrill ride” gets tossed around a lot, but if ever there was a true use for it, it’s the real-time plot of Gravity. Plus, this was the first film I saw in 3D that didn’t make me wish I’d saved the extra few bucks in exchange for a 2D experience.

Fast 6*

The Fast and Furious sequels continue to be the greatest running series of comedy films since the revered Police Academy franchise. Yes, it’s absurd that a street racing series has morphed into a bunch of heist films, but that’s what makes them so great. Ludacris is a gadget expert, like James Bond’s Q? Okay, sure! Vin Diesel can scheme and charm better than Clooney’s Daniel Ocean? Yeah he can! You get all of the great action sequences of a Bond film, and you laugh far more than you would during Mission Impossible or Ocean’s Eleven.

This is the End*

The closing sequence was the most memorable, but I thought they did a great job of making me chuckle throughout.


Whoa, developers in the future are terrible at beta testing! Haha, but seriously folks, Her is an enjoyable and provoking thought experiment about what we need from our relationships, and how our relationships are always evolving. It makes you crave yet another viewing of the thematically similar Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which still totally holds up, and in an unfair comparison, totally blows Her out of the water. Also thematically similar: that episode of Futurama where Fry constantly makes out with his Lucy Liu robot.

The Heat

Quite formulaic, but my funnybone was very much tickled.

Thor: The Dark World*
Star Trek Into Darkness*

Both were okay action sequels. Both had problems. Star Trek played around too much with recycled plots from its Shatner/Nemoy years. It also had two very frustrating moments. First, the whole goddamned spaceship needlessly falls directly on San Francisco, forcing me to think about all the innocent life forms that were just plowed to death. (Had I seen Man Of Steel, I’m sure I’d be making a similar complaint with it.) JJ Abrams couldn’t have plopped that thing down on a sparsely trafficked Bay Bridge or something? Second, while Khan was making a run for it, he took a moment to grab a duster jacket from the back of a chair. No reason, really. I suppose he could have been chilly given that cloudy San Fran weather. More likely, Abrams wanted him to have a cape-looking thing flapping along behind him as he ran. Stupid. That jacket must have slowed the superhuman down enough so that Spock could catch up to him.

But what I really get annoyed by in both these films is how the villain was defeated. In both cases (and in The Dark Knight Rises, and in every Superman movie ever), the hero hit the villain a lot with no success, then got really mad, then hit him again WITH ATTITUDE to defeat him. At least Thor had some scientific help to dispatch his bad guy; Spock was nothing but fists of fury (and a little help from a phaser set on stun).

Iron Man 3*

I thought the middle of the movie was the best part, with the adorable child sidekick and Adam Pally’s newsvan cameo. It’s maddening when he blows up all the Iron Men outfits at the end. What a huge waste! Couldn’t those be used in local bomb squads or something? The least you could do is recycle the metal in those things!

Pacific Rim*

Pacific Rim was definitely a movie about giant robot-thingys fighting giant alien monsters. It delivered on that, for sure, so it met my expectations. My main complaint is that it was sometimes too dark (literally dark, not “grim”) to see exactly how a robot was fighting a monster. Bump up the brightness and contrast in that CGI next time, del Toro!

All Is Lost*

It would be interesting to know how much acclaim this movie would have had if it was released before Gravity, since it’s basically Gravity At Sea. (If you would like its Neil DeGrasse Tyson equivalent, the Sailing Anarchy forum has got ya covered!) I mean, critics like it, but maybe everybody (including me) would like it even more? I’d like to see two alternate versions of All is Lost: 1.> Redford breaks the fourth wall and says a bunch of kooky phrases to the camera, like, “Here we go again!” and “Gimme a break!”; 2.> Redford swears a blue streak during every hardship. This movie only has, like, one half of a swear word! I curse more than that just going through my mail.

The World’s End*

I understand why there was a sci-fi twist, but I thought the movie was going great and didn’t need it. All the subsequent action cut down on the laffs.

American Hustle*

A hundred and thirty-eight minutes! David O Russell, I’ve heard of a LONG CON, but this is ridiculous! LOLOLOLOL. What an extremely well-acted ensemble piece! What delightful cleavage! What a snooze! Man, I could not wait for this movie to end. It’s like some handcrafted antique turquoise lamp that I understand is very valuable but find too ugly to display in my living room. Or it’s not like that at all? Some other analogy?

Frances Ha

This is basically a movie about why I’m glad I don’t date in New York City, or maybe why I'm glad I'm not involved in NYC social life. Filmed in black & white, directed by Noah Baumbach, featuring a plot about a modern dancer, yet this happily falls short of my line of pretentiousness. And Greta Gerwig falls well above my line of good acting.

Warm Bodies*

Whoa, it sure has been a long time since we hit the theater for this thing. It was cute, I guess. You know when the boy zombie has his human love interest in the airplane cabin, and he’s trying to stop her from crying? He puts on a record - it’s Guns N Roses! But wait, he’s spinning “Patience” from the Lies album? Why didn’t he bust out “Don’t Cry” from Use Your Illusion?? Or “Don’t Cry (Alternate lyrics)” from Use Your Illusion II??!?!?!?!? ZOMBIE DJ FAIL.

The Way Way Back*

The movie begins, and the family is headed to the beach in a 1970 Buick station wagon. The kid sings along to REO Speedwagon. Kids at the water park breakdance. Kids carry landline headsets out to the porch to have more private conversations. This was obviously meant to be a 1980s period piece, but was jarringly set in modern times, probably because of a small budget. So that was pretty confusing. And then the kid’s sudden rise from zero to hero was also confusing and seemingly unearned.

The Great Gatsby (3D)*

I’ll be a new parent in 2014, so I’ll certainly see fewer new movies. And when I’m at home, listening to a baby cry instead of watching the latest 3D extravaganza, I will be so happy that I didn’t waste $15 on garbage like Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus

This is barely a movie. I found my mind wandering, thinking about all the work that went into making this thing that could have been better spent on anything else. It’s fun to see Michael Cera act like a bigger a-hole than he was in This is the End, but that’s all.

2013 movies I still want to see and think I’ll like:

Anchorman 2
The To Do List
The Spectacular Now
In A World


Lindsey said...

Hahaha, love this. Especially " Redford swears a blue streak during every hardship. This movie only has, like, one half of a swear word! I curse more than that just going through my mail."

Agree with pretty much all of your points, event though I felt the acting in American Hustle elevated it past it's ridiculous length. Tottaly agree about The World's End. And I just inexplicably love Warm Bodies a little too much. Perhaps I'm still amazed that the ugly kid from About a Boy grew up to be so dreamy.

dn said...

Well, agree to disagree about him growing out of his weird looks: