BattlinMurdock Reviews: The Sensational Summer of 2012
Check out these short reviews from Battlin'!
1. The Avengers
What might be the biggest geek-fest in years easily came with The Avengers. Smart, funny, action-packed, and the conclusion of years of hard work and films, Joss Whedon's ensemble packed a punch that landed Marvel's final Phase One film in the third spot on all-time take-ins at the box office. Everything and everyone delivers; seeing The Avengers was not just a night out, it was an experience; those lucky enough to see it at a midnight screening know exactly what I'm talking about.
2. The Dark Knight Rises
The conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, the emotionally charged three-quel found a few issues in muddled pacing and writing, but really brought to the table a group of new and interesting characters, a wonderful villain, and a nice, well-rounded arc to what Nolan started in Batman Begins. A respectful and exciting goodbye to Batman, the franchise doesn't overstay its welcome and plays it fairly safe.
The best animated film of the year (so far), Paranorman is a brilliant, smart, and admittedly scary feature from the makers of Coraline. Grappling with issues most children's films steer clear from, Paranorman never forgets its very human characters in its very ghost world. Funny, energetic, and filled with fantastic animation (and 3D), Paranorman is easily one of the best films of the year.
Prometheus suffers from a few things, but it primarily falls victim to the fact that it is the precursor to one of the most influential science-fiction films of all time. Had the ties been cut from Alien, the movie would be a grand spectacle, thought-provoking, and an exciting ride. A faulty third act keeps this movie from reaching its potential, but it still ranks with the better films of summer '12 with its stellar cast and gorgeous visuals.
5. John Carter
The long gestating project from Disney came, was hardly seen, and most certainly didn't conquer. However, it did prove that Stanton could handle large set pieces, live-action, and a big budget; though it's also possible the Disney-favorite bit off a bit more than he could chew. With pacing issues and some boring bits, Carter is still illuminated with a strong cast, good action, and (potential, but unlikely) fantastic set ups to a new cinematic universe to be explored in sequels.
6. The Amazing Spider-Man
Marc Webb's take on the web-slinger was fairly enjoyable, but massively cut and seemingly thrown together. While rehashing elements of Raimi's films from just years prior, the movie takes a rougher tone than its predecessors, and, because of it, has major hits and misses. An electric cast leads the film, but performances aren't enough to elevate a superhero film. Emotionally strained and lacking some impressive fight scenes, The Amazing Spider-Man is that "a little better than good" film that Spider-Man (maybe?) needed after Raimi's last entry.
Pixar's newest film falls neatly in the "good" category. It's a sub-par film for Pixar, but it's a strong animated film. While it lacks the fun of the previous animated features, the female protagonist is still a strong one, though the story itself is very predictable. The animation is top-notch and ranks among Pixar's best; but the characters are rather bland and while the story promises to take us to distant lands, the movie never really finds legs strong enough to get anywhere breathtaking.
8. The Expendables 2
A fun romp, the biggest problem with the boys' return is the fact that the movie has almost no identity whatsoever. It can't decide if it's a serious slam-bang-em action movie, or a homage/spoof of past careers with some of the worst writing you'll hear all year. It's a movie that capitalizes on the "geek" factor The Avengers evokes, but falls into a major problem; these guys aren't taking on each other, they're splitting screen time to battle Jean-Claude Van Damme. Surprisingly, he's the best part. That, and when Chuck Norris comes along to tip his hat and obliterate people from distances comparable to the great beyond.
9. Snow White and the Huntsman
When Rupert Sanders wasn't ignoring Charlize Theron for Bella Swan, he was able to come up with a fairly entertaining battle-movie that stretches the classic fairytale and makes Kristen Stewart swing a sword in front of Thor. That's about it. Impressive visuals can't distract from a horrible script, flimsy acting, and characters that are, for lack of a better word, lacking.
10. Men in Black III
The sequel no one was asking for, MIB3 succeeds in not only bringing nothing new to the table, but getting rid of what made the first (and, yes, second) movie(s) such a success. No talking pug, no worms, and more of the same white vs. black, young vs. old jokes thrown in with "Oh, and this celebrity is an alien/agent!" Also sporting the biggest plot holes of the year, MIB3 is nothing more than a paycheck and realization that Will Smith is still around.
11. Total Recall
I'm on board with most things Kate Beckinsale, because, quite frankly, I'm only a man. That being said, this is another unnecessary remake with shoddy writing, passable acting, and impressive special effects. The good: it's paced quite well. The bad: it ain't short. It'll pass for a nice Friday afternoon TV filler, but nothing more.
12. The Bourne Legacy
I'll admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the original Bourne films, but this one definitely didn't do me any favors. Tedious, boring, and so obnoxiously trying to remind you that it's a part of a franchise of better movies, this is one legacy that I would have preferred left alone. Renner and the supporting cast are decent, but are given nothing interesting to do. Thrill-less, shine-less, and drab, Legacy doesn't deserve another shot with another 'Bourne.'
13. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
I love stupid films. Black Dynamite might be one of the funniest movies I've ever watched. I can't decide if this movie was too stupid, or not stupid enough. It's all practically based on a joke that feels like a stoner comment, and for that alone shouldn't bear more than a Saturday comic strip. I've never read the book, but the movie doesn't push the envelope in a fun, slapsticky way for me to want to see any more. Go hard or go home. I should have gone home.
No one had high expectations for this, and you shut your brain off going in. That's how you come out alive. It isn't awful in that regard. In the regard that you're expecting serious entertainment, edgy action, and playful fun on action stereotypes, Battleship couldn't disappoint more. It should be a rule that if, by mid-movie, the action is too boring in a Liam Neeson movie, someone should steal his daughter.
15. Dark Shadows
Johnny Depp wears makeup. Tim Burton still giggles to himself when Depp does and he brings his wife along with him. Everyone gets dressed up by Colleen Atwood. Next time you wonder if a Burton film will be good, look at it like this: Burton's movies are good when there's one character against the world (Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands), not when a world is against one character (Willy Wonka, Alice in Wonderland).
I like Family Guy. I think Family Guy's funny. I like offensive humor. This movie didn't offend me. This film was so absurdly unfunny that I sat slack-jawed for all of it, looking over at my friend who could merely shrug. Ted's biggest problem is that it's an absurd premise that recycles jokes that we've all heard before in some capacity. And then it shifts gears and falls into incredibly absurd humor with Giovanni Ribisi gyrating his hips in front of a television screen because the movie forgets it's not a YouTube video. It's nothing but a string of references, sarcasm, and off-the-wall stupid to the point that it doesn't even know what kind of funny it wants to be. It seems the movie's rule is "If it makes them laugh, do it." And that's fine for some people. But I, personally, like movies with a sense of identity in its genre.
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