For those of you who’ve seen my previous lists, you would probably know it’s mostly made up ‘blockbusters’/action type of movies.
Here’s my previous lists:
2011 – 1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2) Warrior 3) Super 8 4) Kung Fu Panda 2 5) X-Men First Class 6) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol 7) 50/50 8) Rise of the Planet of The Apes 9) Captain America 10) Fast Five
Now on to the list!
10. Expendables 2
I loved the first one for what it really was but not for what it was trying to be. The first movie had some sort of identity crisis – it tried to be a homage to the macho over the top 80s action movies but also tried give out a poignant message as seen from the struggle of the lady character and Mickey Rourke’s emotional speech. They delivered the first aspect but fell flat on the emotional side of it.
The sequel minimized all the preachiness and cranked up the 80s action homage. So what you get is a much more enjoyable movie. Sure, they tried to add some emotions to it with Liam Hemsworth’s character but it was simply as a plot device to get things moving. You have Arnold, Bruce Willis (clearly having so much fun here), Chuck Norris (best cameo) and Van Damme (welcome back to the big screen my friend) all in one movie. I didn’t like how Dolph Lundgren’s character cheated death in the first movie but now I’m glad they did that because he was simply hilarious in this movie. All the right inside jokes were there (Arnold excessively saying ‘I’ll be back’ much to the annoyance of Bruce Willis, Dolph’s real life chemical engineering degree, Chuck Norris facts). The only downside is that it sidelined Terry Crews and Randy Couture (Jet Li’s short appearance was due to scheduling conflict).
EXPENDABLES 2 is a fun over the top homage to the 80s action movies. It doesn’t try to be more than that.
Personal Highlight: CHUCK NORRIS brought the house down with his epic cameo.
9. The Amazing Spiderman
Tobey Macguire’s Spiderman series was still fresh in people’s minds. I thought Spiderman was goofy but enjoyable. Spiderman 2 was the ultimate Spiderman movie (I still think it is despite the new one being good) and the third one was bad. But do we need a reboot? Yes but not this soon, I initially thought. I love Spiderman but I’m tired of it and needed to take a break from any cinematic portrayal of the character. This ‘Spiderman fatigue’ did sort of affected my views on the movie. Despite the ‘Untold story’ tag line, it was pretty much the same shit story beats but with tweaks to make it more ‘grittier’, ‘realistic’, ‘faithful-er’ and other stuff just for the sake of being different from the past movie.
But this movie had a great cast and they were the ones that kept my ‘Spiderman fatigue’ to a minimal. Martin Sheen and Sally Field made for a better Uncle Ben and Aunt May. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy was perfect and Andrew Garfield…I really liked Tobey Macguire in Spiderman 2 but Garfield made a much better Peter Parker.
Personal Highlight: After butchering Gwen Stacy’s character in Spiderman 3, they finally portrayed the character the way it deserve in this one. I also love that they withheld Gwen’s major plot point from the comics in this movie. That was a smart decision and the impact of that inevitable event would be much more powerful in the latter movies. Emma Stone did a great job with the character and I hope Shailene Woodley can do the same for Mary Jane in the sequel. I liked Kirsten Dunst but she was not feisty enough as Mary Jane.
One of the coolest sci fi movie this year. The plot was intriguing but I also loved the future world that Rian Johnson created (there were two future time periods in this movie by the way). Time travel is kinda tricky and I really liked how it was handled in this movie. They didn’t try to delve too much into it (Bruce Willis’ character even said it bluntly that he doesn’t want to talk about time travel) but the movie showed us enough to understand the rules of time travel in this world….and it’s interesting take on the subject.
Bruce Willis and JGL were top notch in the movie with Bruce playing his most badass role in recent years. But the one who stole the show was that talented kid who played Emily Blunt’s son.
Personal Highlight: JGL as young Bruce Willis was brilliant. The make up got a bit distracting when he shared a scene with Bruce Willis but all the stuff before the dinner scene was great. JGL was eerily spot on as a young Bruce Willis – not just in the face but the mannerism as well.
7. John Carter
I enjoyed JOHN CARTER. Yes, some of the dialogues were cheesy but there were humour, exotic locations, great battles, a respectable leading man, a hot badass princess and a sidekick that makes kids go ‘awwwww’.
The failure of the movie in the box office came mostly from the marketing. I hated how they removed ‘Of Mars’ from the title. It’s even worse that the trailers and promos didn’t even mention anything about Mars so what we got are just bunch of scenes of him fighting aliens in an alien planet. The fact that it was set in a fictional version of Mars is what set this movie apart from Star Wars or Avatar. Hell, they didn’t even market how John Carter was based on a 100 years old novel that inspired Star Wars and Avatar (Watchmen used the significance of the original graphic novel as part of their marketing).
Personal Highlight: On a personal level, the movie (and the recent landing of the Curiosity rover) re-ignited that childhood fascination with Mars. What I love about the idea of Mars exploration is that it is the most feasible one in my lifetime. If only we can put our heads together and channel our resources to the right places, we can go to Mars within 10 years. So just imagine what I felt when I saw that final image of Mars with ‘JOHN CARTER OF MARS’ – what the title should have been – written over it and accompanied by Michael Giacchino’s soaring music. It had that great sense of optimism.
Opening on a beautiful shot of the Icelandic landscape (really breathtaking if you’re sitting on the front row of a 20m high IMAX 3D screen) with a majestic music score, you can immediately tell that this is not ALIEN. This isn’t about some space monster lurking in the shadows. This movie is all about the terrors of the grandness of what could be out there. Something so grand that we humans aren’t prepared to come face to face. I would say it’s like…ummm….a group of innocent wildlife bunnies discovering the humans are doing animal testing on labs or built an animal zoo – a definite mindfuckery for those wild bunnies.
I had no problem with the unanswered questions and I didn’t expect them to answer them anyway (because it tackles too big questions and Ridley already talked about a sequel anyway). Some of the answers can be reached if you think about the available information that were given by the movie. So my problem with the movie wasn’t so much about the mysteries but some of the character/plot stuff were a bit underwhelming.
The last half hour or so where it just became some sort of slasher film was not as good as the stuff early on. I love the exploring bit in the beginning and trying to piece out about what happened to the crew of the ship. I wished there were more exploration within the chambers and they find more weird ass stuff. I wish the ruins/derelict they found was a ‘character in itself’.
Personal Highlight: I love the Engineers. They looked simple but there’s just something majestic and terrifying about them. Can’t wait till we learn more about their homeworld in the sequel. Michael Fassebender also gave a great performance as David the android – walking that fine line between being creepily untrustworthy and being fascinating with his childlike curiousity.
5. The Raid
Hands down, the most fun I had in theatres this year! The plot of this Indonesian movie is simple: 20 SWAT members raids an apartment where a mob boss lives with his group of gangs. Things gets screwed up and they are trapped inside. So they have no choice to fight the bad guys with guns and martial arts. Yeah, there were
surprising obvious twists and turns but it’s mostly a straight forward 90 minutes of constant intervals between tension filled moments and explosively fast violent actions. The action kept on escalating to near ridiculous level (I still dont get why the hero and a bad guy starts running across the table to fight??). I saw it in a packed cinema in London and everyone was just into the whole thing with the ‘oooohs’ and ‘woahs’ at the right moments in the movies.
THE RAID is a pure adrenaline roller coaster ride with great martial arts action and an awesome memorable villain.
Personal Highlight: If there is one thing in this film that can be rightfully called a ‘show stopper’ then it has to be the two-on-one final fight scene. F***ing Balls to Walls!
4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I couldn’t help but smile as soon as I heard the shire music playing over the scene with old Bilbo and Frodo in the beginning. It was like meeting an old friend. Yes, this movie was not as epic as LOTR but that was to be expected anyway. What you get is a much more magical adventure with a much more likeable cast of characters. I’ll say that this was better than Two Towers and a tie with Fellowship of the Ring. I love Bilbo way more than Frodo. I found the Dwarves – despite not remembering any of their names – were very likeable…well, after they stopped acting like annoying douchebags in the dinner table that is. You kinda feel sorry for them and I pitifully admired their pride and courage. They were the ultimate underdogs and a bunch of nobodies including their leader Thorin despite his past badass exploits.
On the opposite end is Gandalf who has proven again that he is the most badass character in the LOTR/Hobbit movies. Like what LOTR showed us, Gandalf isn’t just a wizard…he’s a goddamn foreign policy strategists. He was the one who sensed that there is a rising threat from Sauron over the horizon and thought far ahead about killing the dragon before he falls into the wrong hands.
Personal Highlight: Nice to see Gollum again. He’s still both terrifying and amusing. When will Andy Serkis get the recognition he deserve?!
3. The Avengers
This was a dream come true. Who would’ve thought that we would see Thor and Hulk fighting – each other AND side by side – in a movie?! Wait a minute…
…ok fine, who would’ve thought that we would see Thor and Hulk fighting in a movie that is done well?! There are many moments throughout where I was thinking “Did that just happened? Did I just saw Iron Man deflect his blast on the Captain’s shield? Did I just witnessed the Tony Stark/ Bruce Banner bromance on screen? Did I just saw Thor hitting Hulk with his hammer? Did Captain America just fight with Loki?” This type of stuff only happened in the cartoons and here it was being played out on the big screen and acted out by really good actors like Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddleston.
And the best part was that it was a HUGE HIT! I loved Joss Whedon in his Buffy and Angel days on television and he is a very talented writer. So I am really happy for him that this huge gamble was worth it! What the Avengers did was it gave the studio people a wake up call. They now finally realize that big money comes from the fans and so they better damn well respect them. You can clearly see the impact of the AVENGERS on other studios – Sony is banking on their new (and better) Andrew Garfield Spiderman franchise, 20th Century Fox is giving us (hopefully) the Wolverine movie we deserve and going all out with the new X-Men movie (I am personally excited for that one! They’re going to tackle one of the more memorable storyline from the comics – Days of the Future Past). And Warner Bros is now thinking of linking the upcoming Man of Steel movie with their planned Justice League movie.
The Avengers is the ultimate geek wet dream and I’m glad that wet dream has become mainstream.
Personal Highlight: I liked Eric Bana and Edward Norton for playing versions of Bruce Banner that were appropriate for their movies. Mark Ruffalo is perfect for Bruce Banner in this type of movie.
When Daniel Craig stepped out and uttered the line “My name is Bond. James Bond” at the end of CASINO ROYALE, I was beyond excited to see at the potential of this new modern and more layered version of 007. QUANTUM OF SOLACE felt like any other modern action movies (aka the Bourne imitators). But SKYFALL finally delivered on that promise at the end of Casino Royale and showed us the true potential of what a Bond movie featuring Daniel Craig’s take on the character can be like.
The first half of the movie felt like a typical Bond movie or specifically, the Daniel Craig Bond movies where he went around exotic locations, fighting bad guys, looking good in a suit, banging unimportant hot chicks, getting clues on the next target.
And then Javier Bardem made his grand entrance…and everything that followed after that elevated this movie into one of the best James Bond movie ever. The cool moments of the second half came from the way they gave modern twists to the classic Bond element – over the top eccentric villain played by Javier Bardem and his memorable ‘confrontation’ with James Bond; classic character Q appears as a younger version; Sean Connery era Aston Martin car makes an appearance as well.
But most of all, I love how the second half of the movie took Bond to a new exciting direction. Firstly, Bond doesn’t spend much time overseas during this part of the movie. Instead, the battles are fought in homeground as we see Daniel Craig chasing Javier Bardem in London. I think it’s kinda appropriate to heavily feature London in this one considering the many British milestone this year – Queen’s diamond jubilee, London Olympics, 50th anniversary of 007 films.
The finale took Bond and M – Judi Dench is given a bigger and more important role here – into an even more exciting territory where we actually get a bit of a backstory for Bond for the first time. And I couldn’t be much happier about the ending when all the chess pieces were in place and everything came to satisfying full circle. It was the perfect ending.
SKYFALL is not only one of the best Bond movie but the best action movie in recent years.
Personal Highlight: I loved the cinematography. From the shadow fight in Shanghai, Javier Bardem’s entrance scene and Bond standing on top the roof overlooking London. Bond movie has never looked (and sounded) this good for a long time.
1. The Dark Knight Rises
The promos promised a conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy and what an epic conclusion it was! Chris Nolan had to find a way exceed the previous installment, the groundbreaking ‘The Dark Knight’. I believed that he may have done it despite not having any iconic performances by Heath Ledger as the Joker nor did it have the same game changing status of The Dark Knight. I have to admire that Nolan and his team took my favourite superhero and put him in a grounded (not realistic) world or mythology.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES tried to cram a lot of things and had some pacing as well as plot issues. But I have to admire the fact that the whole thing mostly stick to the landing and deliver a grand scale epic despite all the over reaching efforts of Nolan and his team.
I loved the mixed tone of this movie – it had the serious urban crime drama aesthetic of The Dark Knight but also the more comic book superhero sensibilities of Batman Begins. This was epitomized by the villain, Bane. He was a terrorist/revolutionary mastermind not unlike his real life counterparts but he also had that over the top more-elaborate-than-it-should-be evil Bond villain plan for Gotham. Actually, his plan can be summed as this: he wanted to destroy Gotham but he was also a total asshole and wanted to have little fun with the people first with all his revolutionary bullshit.
But thankfully, the main focus of this movie was rightfully on Bruce Wayne. Christian Bale taps back into that Batman Begins Bruce Wayne angst and reminded us why we were invested into this character in the first place. The visual call backs to the first movie didn’t hurt either – Bruce Wayne in an exotic prison, all the talk about finding his fears back, the look of the well, the swarm of bats. The three veterans – Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine – sadly had smaller roles in this one than in the previous movies but they were utilized in the right scenes especially Michael Caine.
Personal Highlight: Nolan and team set out to make this movie grand in scope – not just in terms of the plot and the actions but also in terms of the visuals and sound. Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister upped the ante with the use of the IMAX cameras. There were many breathtaking IMAX scenes on this one. My personal favourite was during the stadium explosion sequence. There was one shot where the camera followed the mercenaries out to the stadium seats and you see an awesome view of the stadium (skip to the 2:44 mark in this video) It’s moments like that when you know that IMAX is way more immersive than 3D. As for the sound, Hans Zimmer went all out on this one with the score. He built upon the sound of Batman Begins/The Dark Knight and injected it with the grandiose of his Inception score.