The more I procrastinate, the more likely my Top, Special Mentions, and Bottom Lists will appear in the middle of the year. So without further ado, I present to you my top 5, my special mentions, and my bottom 5 for the year 2012.
Top 5 for 2012
1. Wreck-It Ralph: How I wish that I could enter the cinema not knowing what to expect and come out feeling like I just discovered the most valuable treasure known to man. All I knew was that this film was (based from the marketing) Toy Story with videogames. By the gods, that totally doesn’t give this film justice. It’s more than a nostalgia trip for those who grew up on videogames. It’s more than *wink wink nudge nudge* look at Bison, Bowser, Q-bert, etc., the Easter eggs serve a purpose (namely the world building, in that the videogame references make this world believable). But what tops the spectacle of this film is a truly thought-provoking story, including a passage which, I believe, is the main argument AGAINST the Pro-Choice Movement.
2. The Avengers: Yeah, this was bound to be found here, if not only for the sheer balls Joss Whedon and Co. had in attempting a Marvel Cinematic Universe ala the comic book universe. Featuring some of the wittiest banter, Whedonisms, and flat-out effective filmmaking in general, Marvel’s The Avengers is definitely one of 2012s highlights (despite the somewhat dragging 2nd Act).
3. Skyfall: I was honestly quite scared for this film when I saw the teaser trailer as it brought memories of another Sam Mendes flick which featured an action-packed trailer, only for the film to be Waiting for Godot in Iraq (Jarhead). Just imagine the relief as the film turned out to be everything the trailer hinted at, and more. Forget the fact that I’m not a huge Bond fan (having only appreciated Casino Royale, and to an extent, From Russia with Love), but this film actually made me want to be a Bond fan. The action sequences were well shot and choreographed, the tension in certain scenes were certainly palpable, and the image of an even more human Bond truly made Skyfall a worthy addition in this list.
4. Rurouni Kenshin: The original anime and manga was one of my very first fandoms. I recall a time when my bestfriend and I had a pretty heated debate on who the better swordsman was: Himura Kenshin or Haijime Saito (personally, they’re equals). I recall a time when I pretty much memorized all the moves of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryuu. I remember the chills that crawled up my spine when Yukishiro Enishi’s ultimate move defeated Kenshin’ Amakakeru Ryu no Hirameki. *sigh* Those were the good days. Oh wait, I’m sorry, why Rurouni Kenshin despite the pacing issues, and lack of characterization on Sanosuke, and the amalgamation of certain characters for the sake of a smoother narrative? Because this is one very interesting and successful experiment on adaptations. Despite the changes, the film remained true to the spirit of its source material. By focusing on Kenshin, the filmmakers capitalized on his atonement, a very important theme of the source material.
5. The Expendables 2: Do I really need to explain why this is one of my top movies of 2012? =)) If Wreck-It Ralph gave me a good time because I didn’t know what to expect, The Expendables 2 gave me a good time because I was expecting some manly action, corny one-liners, really bad over-the-top acting from Van Damme, and explosions worthy of a Michael Bay film, and the film exceeded those expectations. Plus, the fact that the filmmakers actually decided to follow up on the humanity theme from the first film really got to me. Not only was this a pretty good vanilla cake: this was a pretty good vanilla cake topped with delicious frosting.
Special Mentions of 2012 (once more, in no particular order)
1. The Dark Knight Rises: Yeah, I guess it was pretty good, and I think that was its problem. A film directed by Christopher Nolan can’t be “just good”. That’ll be like Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw saying that Silent Hill 2 was “just pretty good” (for the record, that’s Yahtzee’s favorite videogame). If you recall my review of the film, I mentioned that it didn’t opt for the cheap visceral thrills offered by The Dark Knight, but instead went for a more cerebral take on comic book heroes, specifically an examination of Bruce Wayne’s definite redemption for his being a vigilante. Overall, I think that The Dark Knight Rises is what Superman Returns should have been, if in the hands of a more accomplished filmmaker.
2. Les Miserables: This film is no perfect. Complaints to it includes the sometimes admittedly silly moments when the characters would sing out when dialogue is preferable. Most critics are quick to bash Russell Crowe‘s singing. Personally, the only problems of Russell Crowe are that: he’s Russell Crowe the douchebag, and he’s playing Javert, who happens to have some really cool songs. Other than those things, Russell Crowe’s performance was functional (neither good nor bad, it’s just okay). But the film had way more serious problems than the singing. Strangely, I wasn’t too distracted with the actors’ singing here, but rather the cinematography and the direction of the musical sequences. I plan to expound of this detail some more if I get the chance to write a review of the film, but the film’s lack of flair in its musical sequences is what ultimately led this film down. Still, these complaints are somewhat overshadowed by emotionally moving performances by Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Samantha Barks. Those are good enough to overcome the film’s limitations.
3. John Carter: I actually enjoyed this movie. It was pretty fun: the action sequences were well directed, the visual effects look pretty, and Taylor Kitsch gives a pretty good performance here. The only weakness was that this film had an overly complicated (yet solid) plot, and it lacked focus, most especially on the villains. It’s such a shame that this film bombed at the box office for I am honestly hoping to see the next installment of this film.
4. Ruby Sparks: This was another one of those pleasant surprises this year. The story travels the path of the Pygmalion myth, where an artist falls in love with his creation. For a film which oozes of hipster culture on the surface, Ruby Sparks actually presents a very thought-provoking discussion on free-will.
5. Battleship: I know this film appeared on many bottom list of 2012, but shut up, I own this blog, and I think that Battleship, though admittedly a film which could have been A LOT BETTER, actually serves up more than enough fun and creative moments, despite it being based off a freaking board game. This is one of those rare films where it could actually be possible for Michael Bay to work his magic and present a significantly superior film than the current release. I’m not saying that this film isn’t bad: it is pretty bad. It is pretty bad because of a really insulting storyline where Taylor Kitsch must learn to be a responsible man, yeah, America F*ck Yeaah! And what else? Nothing! Everything else in this film is serviceable; from the action sequences, the visual effects, and the circumstances of the alien invasion (which admittedly, is quite plausible). This is a far from perfect film, but for all the really bad stuff this film contains, it managed to be entertaining enough at times (especially that dumb burrito sequence).
1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2: I haven’t seen it. I’ll probably pirate it off the web because this franchise deserves to lose money. And I don’t care if you guys mention that the epic fight in the end is awesome. I’ll prolly watch that sequence when somebody decides to post it on Youtube. But to sit in the cinema while waiting for that scene to arrive? F*ck no! It’s almost as bad a watching a Lav Diaz movie where the protagonist washes his carabao for a full 45 minutes (and no, “washing his carabao” is not a euphemism for self-abuse you bloody pervs).
2. Prometheus: This falls on the bad kind of prequel. Wait, scratch that: this film was bad precisely because it decided to be a prequel to Alien. Read my review and post-review analysis for my complete thoughts on it. It’s definitely one of the biggest letdowns of 2012.
3. The Grey: I remember giving this film a pretty high score early in 2012, and it’s precisely this film that I decided to discontinue my star ratings. This film is extremely frustrating because its first two acts are really good in terms of the man against nature story, as well as it being a meditation on death. What killed this film: the ending. Some might argue that thematically, the ending makes sense because it’s the hero accepting that he isn’t afraid of death. But could we argue in the sense that because he has decided to fight the Alpha Wolf, he is still afraid of death? Why not show the fight scene, have him kill the wolf, and upon discovering that the protagonist as a potentially mortal wound, he still moves on towards safety? Doesn’t the act of moving on despite having a potentially deadly wound reinforce the theme of the acceptance of death much stronger than cutting the film right before a climactic wolf fight?
4. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: … Yeah, it has vampires and a president fighting vampires. Who would’ve thought that extremely lazy filmmaking would make an exciting genre-film trope so freaking boring?
5. ALL THE FOUND FOOTAGE FILM RELEASED IN 2012: Paranormal Activity 4, V/H/S, etc. Dear indie filmmakers and Paramount, Cloverfield worked because it had a plot, and because it presented a monster film from a ground zero perspective. Pretty much, Cloverfield is the only film where the found-footage technique works. Fine, even if everybody died in the end, at least the character arc was resolved. P.A.4 and the rest are pretty much us knowing that they will die in the end. All we’re treated is see how idiotic these characters are, and how much we’re rooting for them to die because they’re idiots, and they deserve they fate.
Whew, that was a mouthful. Hehe. Welcome to 2013, my fellow minions!