This year was not the mind-blowing, cumming-in-my-pants experience that last year was. After all, when 2008 had both the best superhero (The Dark Knight) and animated (Wall-E) films of all time, it's gonna be hard to top it. It wasn't a shit year either, and there were a number of decent films that came out. There was also some shit, but I'll get to that.
Films that were exactly what I expected:
Pixar is still the only sure-thing in film, and this was no exception. For an animated film, it had one of the saddest opening sequences I think I've seen, and you really felt for all of the characters in the film, even the prick. It was jammed-packed with Pixar goodness, and I have to say that the non-human characters were my favorites. Plus, I really like the square-jawed look that Carl had, and its contrast with the fluffy Russell. Like all Pixar films, it was fun just to look at, but had some ridiculously funny parts too. Possibly the saddest thing about this film is that it's gonna be the last original Pixar film for two years, since 2010 has Toy Story 3 and 2011 has Cars 2.
I loved Ali G, loved Borat, and I knew I'd love Bruno. It managed to go even further than Borat did with regard to bad taste and nudity, and the video showed during the "test screening" scene had me laughing so much that it embarrased my girlfriend. The reason this one didn't do as well at the box office as Borat did probably has to do with Bruno being a much more obnoxious character, one who really does deserve the punishment he gets in the film.
Tarantino does a war film, and it's probably the best thing he's done since Pulp Fiction. Yes, it's still heavy on the hommages to previous films, but where this one is different from Kill Bill and Death Proof is that you actually care about these characters, and much of the cartoony stuff is kept to a minimum (the scenes with the Basterds notwithstanding). A film that probably people who don't like Tarantino would like, especially since the theatre that we saw it in was stuffed with geezers.
Drag Me to Hell
This came out the same weekend as Up, and I must say, it was a great weekend. This film is full of the same great, gross humor that Raimi put in Evil Dead, and there's even a scene where a possessed guy is floating in the air, his body jerking back and forth. Add to that a possessed, talking animal, and you have a fun-filled romp! Plus, that gypsy woman's a bitch, and the protagonist really didn't deserve the treatment she got.
Some people should realize that you will never, ever satisfy nerds, especially those who invest so much in a work that's about to be adapted. Thankfully, though I read the comic and loved it, I was not bound to it, and Watchmen as a film stands up as a brilliant piece of work. Hell, I still think the opening credits sequence is the greatest one I've ever seen. It's just a shame that some of the performances were a tad on the "weak" side.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Another Michael Moore film, this one with a larger target than health care, guns, or Bush. As always, he makes some good points. As always, his manipulation of footage is screamingly obvious. There were some funny scenes, some touching scenes, and some embarassing scenes. In particular, his fawning over Obama was ridiculous. There were also some voice-over jokes that were shockingly lame. An enjoyable documentary, just like his last one.
Mind-blowing special effects, a bad script, and longer than it had to be. This is pretty much exactly what I expected from James Cameron's long-awaited return to film, right down to the atrocious song playing during the final credits. It's Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully meet the Smurfs, as damn near every critic has already said. Also, it has every indication of being a huge hit, since its box office has been ridiculously strong so far. The best 3d I've ever seen, and Cameron somehow avoided the dreaded "uncanny valley" effect. Plus, Sigourney Weaver's in it. That alone should make any man with a functioning penis go out and buy a ticket.
To be fair, I only saw most of this, but I'm compelled to comment on it. It starred an actress I hate and another that I'm indifferent to. It was superficial, idiotic, and had a resultion that a blind, deaf, limbless child with down syndrome could have predicted. It was insulting both to men and women, and was loaded with unfunny jokes. In short, this film was everything I expected it to be.
Films that were pretty good
I have little enthusiasm for new horror films, but this one was surprisingly decent. Plus, I loved the twist.
I Love You, Man
Another one of those "bromance" films. This one actually tackled a really interesting topic which I don't think has ever been touched in films before; mainly, men who do not connect well with other men. This is probably a newer issue, but still. It was a damn funny comedy, and while I can't say that it was great, I did like it a lot.
Another Blair Witch-style horror film. This one was alright. Not mind-blowing, and probably not as good as all the millions that it has made, but still pretty good.
World's Greatest Dad
Robin Williams in a dark comedy. Not something that would normally get me excited, but I heard some good things about this one. All in all it was an entertaining film, and much darker than I expected it to be. Maybe not worth buying, but definately worth renting.
Films that surprised me
A damn-near perfect comedy, the only part that sucked was the lame asian stereotype that kept popping up and spewing profanities. I love the way the story unraveled, and while some parts were predictable, it was a completely satisfying experience. I'm looking forward to watching it again so that I can catch some of what I missed the first time.
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, since Peter Jackson was involved and all. Still, this was a great film, with cgi that wasn't annoying and some great acting all-around. Aside from the obvious references to apatheid, I thought the evolution (in more ways than one) of the main character was fantastic, going from a regular suit who doesn't give a shit about the "prawns" to the scrounging, homeless, tragic figure he becomes later. Plus, Christopher Johnson is still the greatest name for an alien that I've ever heard.
How the hell did this turn out to be so good? It had everything working against it! Anyhow, I am more than willing to admit that I was wrong about this, and have to say that it was so much fun that I can't wait for the inevitable sequel. I just hope that he brings back the nerds who wrote the script to this one to work on the sequel.
Fantastic Mr Fox
I was not expecting this. Maybe it was the bad taste of Where the Wild Things Are, but I did not think that this was going to be all that great. I was dead fucking wrong. This film is full of so much energy and was so fun that my girlfriend and I could not stop smiling even after the film was over. This film may even be the most entertaining adaptation of a Roald Dahl story I've seen. Everyone needs to see this film. NOW.
Observe and Report
Nobody...seriously, NOBODY that I know likes this movie. My girlfriend hates it and constantly uses it to describe what she doesn't like in new comedies. Scott says that it made Paul Blart Mall Cop look like Citizen Kane. I'm getting tired of having to defend this movie, but I know I'll have to keep doing it, since that's just how I am. This film is a dark, psychotic comedy, with an unlikeable protagonist and a bunch of other characters who are either crazy, stupid, or just assholes. A lot of what goes on in this film may or may not be part of Rogen's imagination. The "sex scene" does probably count as date rape. Yes, there are a lot of obnoxious scenes, but I enjoyed the hell out of this film, so much so that I bought the DVD. So up yours, viewing public.
Films that disappointed me
Where the Wild Things Are
I was so fucking excited to see this movie. Then it started. I can't remember the last time I saw a movie where I continuously wondered what time it was, and how much longer the movie was going to go on. I hated Max, hated the wild things, and think that, instead of a piece of chocolate cake, Max should have gotten his ass whipped for being such an insufferable prick. As an arty movie, it's ok. As a children's movie, it's a total fucking failure. I'm still shocked that they somehow managed to make such a great children's book boring.
Woody Allen and Larry David. How the hell could this not have been mind-blowing? It wasn't, though. David is unlikeable, but not in a funny way. He's really just an arrogant prick, and I was not able to believe for a second that the young girl he starts dating would put up with his bullshit. Also, the ending is so fucking unbelievably ridiculous that it almost made me hate Woody Allen. That said, there are a lot of funny jokes, but mainly because it is so much less than the sum of its parts, I can't recommend this to anyone.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The last film in this series was a let-down, but I chalked that up to it being an adaptation of my favorite book in the series and sucking some of the life out of it. After seeing this, I came to the conclusion that the schmuck they have working on these new films can't tell his ass from a hole in the ground. The biggest problem of this film was that the film focuses too much attention on a bullshit love story, and ignores the half-blood prince. In fact, the whole half-blood prince aspect of this film is so minimized that it might surprise you that it was actually the main focus of the book, so much so that IT'S IN THE FUCKING TITLE.
Funny people? More like FROWNY people. It takes a lot of work to make dick jokes unfunny, but goddamn if they don't succeed in this film. It's a bloated, pretentious fucking movie, and Sandler does a great job of making you hate him. Rogen is also somewhat of a sap, and it's hard to feel bad for him since he seems to invite all of the abuse he gets. The stand-up scenes are bad, the celebrity cameos are lame, and the romantic secondary plot seems thrown in and pointless. The worst Apatow production so far.
I hate running zombies, and I should have known that I wouldn't like this film. The film has a lot of lame frat-boy humor in it, a lot of "look at how clever I am!" humor in it, and a lot of annoying, bullshit characters. Also, how the fuck do you screw up a Bill Murray cameo? There was also much less zombie killing than I hoped for, which was really the only reason to see this piece of shit in the first place.
Films that I really wanted to see, but didn't:
The new Mike Judge film. I heard that it's his worst one, but still. I'll get this as soon as Netflix is able to send it.
The Lovely Bones
Peter Jackson's back. Another film that's been getting average reviews, I still have to see it because Jackson has never, ever disappointed me.
The reviewers say it's a great, intelligent sci-fi film that plays more like a personal drama. Can't wait to finally see what the fuss is about.
My god, did I want to see this movie. Unfortunately the run was limited, and after a mere two weeks it disappeared from theaters. Now I have to wait for the DVD.
Films that I wanted to see this year, but have to wait until next year to see:
Why the fuck did they move the new Scorsese film to next year? Was it Avatar? Was it some weird Oscar thing? This doesn't make any fucking sense to me. Regardless, Scorsese is consistently good, and I doubt this film will be an exception. Plus, it looks like there are going to be some horror elements involved, which makes me even more excited.
The Wolf Man
Another film that got bumped. Honestly, after seeing the trailer, it doesn't really look that good. But maybe I'll see it, just because I love the wolf man story so much.