Saturday, January 5, 2013

Movie review roundup

My boys are old enough that I've begun catching up on movies I missed.  Here's brief reviews of movies I watched in 2012 (or tried to watch) and haven't already written about.

1. The Hunger Games: Is there better praise than to say I hope Gary Ross directs the new Star Wars movies?  Great performances, great costumes, great sets, great movie.

2. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: I'm a sucker for happy love stories and had an enormous lump in my throat by the end of this one.  In fact, Maggie Smith's character arc following her personal growth from useless racist to loving, competent executive was absurd, but I fell for it, too.

3. Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. There's a fine line between an inventive, thrilling, light-hearted adventure and a cartoon, and this movie is more like a Three Stooges episode than a thriller. Other than the brief moments when Josh Holloway and Léa Seydoux were on the screen, I didn't enjoy a single moment.

4. District 9: One of the best movies I watched all year.  Exciting, funny, thought-provoking, and featuring tremendous design.  Relatedly, if you've never seen it, here's the Halo short film Neill Blomkamp directed.

5. Let the Right One In: Depraved and disturbing (and tediously slow-moving). I stopped watching after 40 minutes or so, after the bully whips the main character, because I didn't like the direction the movie was going.  I then read the Wikipedia entry, which just confirmed that I made the right choice.

6.  Cloverfield:  Unwatchable.

7.  Viva Riva: A solid crime drama that owes a lot of its value to the freshness of its setting in the modern day Congo.   One or two reversals of fortune too many, though.

8.  13 Assassins: Another movie that I turned off after about 20 minutes on account of grotesque violence.

9.  No Country for Old Men: I tried reading the book years ago, and only made it a few pages before deciding I hated the writing style too much to continue.  But the movie was riveting throughout.  (The fact that I enjoyed this movie just shows how disturbing the violence was in 13 Assassins and Let the Right One In.)

10.  Hot Tub Time Machine: Boring and unfunny.  I only made it about halfway through.  Maybe you'll like it more if you think drug use is hilarious?

11.  Knowing: This movie has three incredible disaster scenes (the plane, the forest fire, the subway (dramatically superior to the one in Skyfall)).  Otherwise, it's pretty bad, especially the last 30 minutes.

12.  Prometheus: Let's remake Alien with beautiful, stupid people!  In a morbid sort of way, I kind of like the idea that the Aliens were created by muscle-head space bros incompetently playing with a chemistry set.  And that the space bros are angry at us because we killed Jesus, who was a space bro.

13.  Paranormal Activity: Great slow build with creepy chills expertly mixed in frequently enough to keep tension high.  It also had a solid payoff, although the characters' final decision to stay in the house seemed moronic.  I wonder how much of the movie's success is owed to the lead's cleavage.

14.  Paranormal Activity 2: Nothing happens for the first 60 minutes, and when it does, the action is more slapstick than creepy.  The night vision concept was totally wasted.  And the wise Latina housekeeper trope was embarrassing.  The shots of the pool cleaner were the only thing I liked.  So, I guess my review is, "there should have been more pool cleaner."