Wednesday, January 16, 2013

10 Movies I Could Take or Leave in 2012

If you're just now tuning in, I'm counting down the 43 movies I saw in the theater last year. The bottom of the barrel was in this post, so we pick up with Number 30 this week: the part of the list where I found things in each movie to like and dislike, in more or less equal amounts.

30. The Bourne Legacy



I was more eager for this than I should have been. I hoped it would be a decent placeholder for the series until Matt Damon found a reason to come back, but it was a tired plot with very low stakes. Nice performances from Jeremy Renner and Rachel Wiesz, but they didn't have much to work with except for a couple of really effective action pieces.

29. Man on a Ledge



Another thriller in which the excellent cast is wasted on a generic, predictable script. Genesis Rodriguez steals the movie and brings Jamie Bell along with her though. I want another, better movie about just the two of them.

28. The Woman in Black



An effective, spooky movie with a welcome performance by Daniel Radcliffe. That ending though... It's designed to clear the road for Woman in Black 2, but is so cynical and obvious about it that it not only kills my interest in a sequel, it also makes this one un-rewatchable for me.

27. Men in Black 3



I'm not a fan of the Men in Black movies. They're disposable entertainment that I tend to forget about as soon as I leave the theater. This one actually stuck with me, but I haven't made up my mind about if that was for the right reason or not. The movie's point is unclear, but whatever it is, it makes it in a memorable way.

And Josh Brolin is super entertaining as Young Tommy Lee Jones.

26. Hotel Transylvania



I would've liked it a lot more if Dracula didn't sound like Adam Sandler doing a Lugosi accent. I mean, that's exactly what's going on, but I wish it wasn't so distracting. Other than that, it's a funny movie with some amusing interpretations of classic monsters.

25. The Expendables 2



The first one was pretty miserable, but they got me back to the theater by adding Chuck Norris to the mix and promising to expand the roles of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. There were still some huge, ridiculous plot holes, but I loved the finale as everyone used their best moves (and best lines) to show each other up. What it has over the first one is "fun."

24. Flight



Not the movie I expected. I thought it was going to be more of a legal drama, but not being that doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Taken on its own terms, Flight is a powerful, effective film about addiction and the lengths people go to deny it and cover it up. I liked it a lot for that and enjoyed being surprised by it, but it's a difficult movie to watch and I can't imagine I'll ever want to see it again.

23. Argo



Nice thriller with some laugh out loud moments, some harrowing ones, and a couple of great, touching ones when reluctant participants in the escape plan decide to commit to it. Unfortunately, the script goes to great lengths to ramp up the tension in unbelievable and cheesy ways that kept reminding me this couldn't be how it actually happened.

22. Prometheus



I already wrote a long post about this one, but short version: There are some truly great and fascinating ideas in this visually stunning movie. It's just too bad that they're executed so very, very sloppily.

21. Brave



I just rewatched Brave the other night and liked it better than I did the first time. I don't know if I liked it well enough to move it out of this section of my list, but maybe. I'm certainly not as disappointed this time.

The biggest thing is that I was able to spot the moment where Merida and her mom resolve their conflict. It was right where it was supposed to be, but the first time around I missed an important, but subtle line of dialogue and some equally vital body language. Turns out, the point of the movie really is about compromise and the bravery it takes to do that when you haven't yet exhausted all the stubborn tantrum-throwing you'd planned on doing. It's a much sneakier message than I was prepared for, but I liked it more for that. Maybe next time, I'll like it even better.


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