2012 so far: film comments

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I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while. I am back now, after an eventful first half of 2012, to hopefully write more than I ever did in my entire life in dog years. I will ease into this endeavour with short comments on the handful of films released this year that I've seen so far:

Men in Black 3 (Sonnenfeld,2012) **1/2 Fun, somewhat of a throwback in the pacing of the film. It's not in a rush to get anywhere. It doesn't really get anywhere memorable either.

Prometheus (Scott, 2012) ***1/2 There's so much to admire in this film, and so much to dislike as well. On the plus side, it's atmospheric, well photographed, and thought provoking (I highly recommend reading cavalorn's analysis). On the annoying side, its characters and entire reasoning behind the "aliens" need a little rework, especially Charlize Theron's disappointing arc and whatever happened to cross-mating aliens. There's little "science" in this sci-fi work. Noomi Rapace has a really cool sequence that, if you think about it, makes no sense. Oh Ridley, you are frustrating.

Moonrise Kingdom (Anderson, 2012) ***1/2 The film is a gorgeous living postcard. Unfortunately, the emotional core - which normally lends weight to Anderson's whimsical pictures - is postcard-sized too. It is stiffly stylized, which makes it the odd one out in Anderson's carefully considered feeling universe. I enjoyed the film. I wish I loved it.

Marvel's The Avengers (Whedon, 2012) ***1/2
So much fun, I almost wished I'd seen it twice. Scarlet Johansson gave her character such surprising depth, almost outshining everyone in the film for me.

Hodejegerne (Headhunters; Tyldum, 2012) ****
An amazingly tight and funny film that deserves to be seen by anyone who loves a good oddball thriller. You should probably watch it before Hollywood steals its identity and turns it into an American film.

The Cabin in the Woods (Goddard, 2012) *** Good time at the theatre - way funnier than it was scary. Except for that Japanese ghost. I hate little ghost girls. So much.

The hunger games (Ross, 2012) ** Talk about a silly picture aimed straight for the under age crowd. If you got more guts, may I suggest Battle Royale?

Serbuan maut (The raid: redemption; Evans, 2012) ***1/2 Speaking of guts, this picture delivers a lot of it, probably in compensation for its brain. But who cares about a good story with nuanced characters when you got some seriously breathless and spectacular chop sockying to do? 


Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

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There's only one word I could think of to describe the Dark Knight Rises (Nolan, 2012) to anyone who hasn't seen it, and it's "epic." The film struts loudly and looks like it's made out of Phoenix tears and diamonds. It's a thrilling conclusion to a very sombre Batman series, the mother of all reboots so far. However, in addition to lacking a striking villain of the same caliber as the Joker, it shares the same problem that plagues the other two installments in the series: it is an utterly silly philosophical musing sold with a straight face.

Watching the latest exaggerated "moral" battle is the equivalent of having a nice dinner at an expensive restaurant with a newly aware 18 year old on a date. The discourse is, of course, topical and interesting. Yet, a closer examination of the ideas presented reveals very little meat on the bones. People in Gothamverse are divided cleanly into "good guy authority figures" and "everyone else." The idea that without a vigilant order enforcer, a society will give in to chaos and death because it is people's nature to steer ourselves that way, really disservices our complex human nature and provides a lazy argument for a police state.

Philosophical immaturity aside, the story of the Batman/Bruce Wayne struggle continues to grow as the soul of the film, and despite some odd provisions here and there about his physical ability, it is quite touching and well thought out. The acting is classy all around, making some awkwardly drawn situations momentarily a bit more palatable (especially concerning Marion Cotillard's character, and that bus load of orphans). The little twist towards the end is predictable, and unfortunately cheapens the already overshadowed villains involved. The Dark Knight Rises is neither fun nor funny. It is a serious ride at the amusement park that you go on for the thrills. It really delivers that way. Just don't expect it to change your life (unless you were in Aurora :(  ).



Recently Seen (out of *****)

  • One night in Miami (King, 2020) ***
  • Mank (Fincher, 2020) ***1/2
  • Coming 2 America (Brewer, 2021) **1/2
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Wolfe, 2020) ***1/2
  • I care a lot (Blakeson, 2020) **

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