Year in Review

coverWell, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve put anything up on my personal page, so anyone that has been yearning for more content, my apologies.  I may get more stuff out in the New Year, but no promises.  2013 is already shaping up to be even more busy than 2012, which is saying an awful damn lot.  A lot of projects, both personal and professional, so stay tuned here or on my Facebook page for that.  Additionally, I’ve added a Twitter feed link on the homepage, so you can click to see my daily stories at JoBlo.com if you’re so inclined.  I’m putting out 3-5 stories a day, plus a weekly column, so if you’re hungry for my words, that’s the buffet.

Now, onto my best of 2012. Obviously, there are some real contenders I haven’t seen yet, including Lincoln, Cloud Atlas, Argo, Les Miserables, Flight, End of Watch, The Master, and Life of Pi, but fuck, man, I work two full-time jobs, go to school more than full time, and still have a kid to raise and a wife to take care of.  Cut me some slack.  In the end, though, I look at the films I chose to see as a more meaningful peek into my year at the movies than anything else.  It’s interesting when you look at what you’ll see when you can, rather than the old days when you could see whatever you wanted.

With that, my Top Ten of 2012:         

1)    The Avengers

There wasn’t a movie on the horizon I was more excited to see come to life than The Avengers.  A decades long dream realized and accomplished with all the action, wit, charm, and comic book greatness one could hope for from the stellar cast to the direction of Joss Whedon.  The success of the film solidified not only the characters within it, but of the strength of a long-dismissed medium that is now recognized as a force to be reckoned with. The-Avengers_large_jpeg_verge_medium_landscape

2)    Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson’s most fully realized film, replete with all the “Anderson-ism’s” we’ve come to expect, Moonrise Kingdom also dives into the coming-of-age genre, handling the themes of young love, loss, heartbreak, and redemption in a warm, funny, and compelling way.  As an unapologetic fan of Anderson’s work, I couldn’t have been happier to see him at the top of his craft.  Great performances from all involved, including newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.

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3)    The Dark Knight Rises

While not the piece of cinematic perfection everyone prophecised it to be, The Dark Knight Rises is no less powerful, tense, and epic, rounding out the Chris Nolan trilogy with power and grace.  Although some of the themes set up from the get go were lost in the shuffle and the burden of reality vs. fiction clouding the overall impact, The Dark Knight Rises will stand as the close of a brilliant piece of the Dark Knight trilogy, even if just for the last five minutes.

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4)    The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Unexpected indeed!  I couldn’t have been less excited for The Hobbit, even if I’m a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring’s Trilogy.  Coupled with the experimental 48 frames-per-second screenings, it felt like Jackson was trying to milk the cow dry.  However, the HFR (high frame rate) absolutely blew me away.  Having not read the Hobbit, I still felt right at home with Jackson’s Middle Earth and swept up by the heroics, humor, creatures, and awe-inspiring visuals.  I’m now officially onboard with excitement for the next two chapters.

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5)    Skyfall

James Bond’s 23rd onscreen adventure, timed perfectly with his 50th anniversary, is the most refined, deep, and atmospheric of all the Bond films.  Yes, that means it’s the best ever, even over your childhood Connery favorites and fan-loving Brosnan outings.  Serving as both an origin and a rebirth story, Skyfall takes us into Bond’s life; his past, his demons, and his future, with the intensity and determination that’s befitting of a character in his position.  With one of the best Bond villain turns by Javier Bardem and a host of engaging support characters, Skyfall brings Bond out of the cartoon world of his past and into the modern era by both paying homage and upping his game.

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6)    21 Jump Street

What?  A Channing Tatum movie in my top 10?  Yes, folks, it’s true.  I absolutely loved 21 Jump Street.  The raunchy humor, the onscreen chemistry between Tatum and co-star Jonah Hill, and the best movie cameo since Bill Murray in Zombieland, 21 Jump Street is disguised as a cookie-cutter adaptation of a cheesy TV show, while being a completely different animal.  Clever, hilarious, and even heartfelt at times, 21 Jump Street is the best comedy I saw this year and one of the only ones I’ve seen multiple times now.  This is my brand of comedy and I hope to see more from team Tatum/Hill in the future.

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7)    John Carter

The controversial bomb of the year.  And, look at that, I loved it.  Now, John Carter isn’t flawless, and like The Dark Knight Rises, could’ve benefitted from some minor script changes that would’ve given major boosts to the overall pic, but that aside, John Carter is an old-fashioned, swashbuckling, sci-fi fantasy adventure that isn’t made anymore (and given the box office, probably won’t again for some time).  It’s beautifully shot with outstanding visual effects, adventurous action, intricate alien creatures, and a landscape that defies time and space.  It’s a great, imperfect romp that never deserved the unsubstantiated hate it garnered.

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8)    Prometheus

Ah, yes, another controversial one.  The pseudo prequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien is a frustratingly awesome sci-fi horror flick that is so ambiguous that I can’t help but love it for trying, even if it doesn’t succeed.  I left the theater with a heavy mind, thanks to screenwriter Damon Lindelof, who did the same number on my head while watching every season of Lost.  Prometheus is an absolute marvel to look at, as we’ve come to expect from director Scott, and it’s chock full of big ideas, silly theories, confusing motives, and straight-up bad science, but man if it’s not fun to dissect.  For that alone, I’ve watched it multiple times and enjoy the hell out of it, both for it’s strengths and weaknesses.

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9)    Dredd 3D

Another box office dud, Dredd 3D is probably one of the saddest disappointments of the year?  Why?  Well, because you didn’t go see it!  This is the hardcore, violent, action-filled comic adaptation fans have been pining for.  It’s like the sequel to Robocop we never got.  It’s tough, silly, awesome, bloody, and ballsy with a tremendous turn by Karl Urban as the titular Dredd.  Some really awesome 3D sequences, particularly with the “slo-mo” drug used in the film,  are mixed with a steady narrative that builds to the finale like a kick ass standalone story from the comics.  Much like the failure of John Carter, it’s a damn shame, because we’ll never see a sequel to either.  I can’t wait to see it again.

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10) Looper

Rian Johnson’s sci-fi time travel hitman epic is nothing short of super cool.  It’s the best thing Bruce Willis has been in for years and another step on the path to stardom for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  It’s wildly inventive and fun, playing with the time-travel element in new ways, which is no small feat given how much the genre has been exploited.  Although Johnson is a little wet-behind-the-ears in terms of executing action, at least he still has action.  In the end, it’s every bit as ambiguous as Prometheus, only with a well-rounded narrative arc, rather than a bunch of ideas left in dark corners.  Hungry for some original sci-fi?  This is it.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS:honorable

11) Wreck-It Ralph

By far the best kids movie I saw this year, Wreck-It Ralph has all the elements of a good kids movie that parents and children alike can appreciate.  The themes of friendship, loyalty, identity, and sacrifice are all handled like a champ, disguised as a big, fat videogame romp.  But, there’s a lot more going on with this one, and I appreciated not having to sit through another booger-and-snot humored fart movie with animated characters.

12) The Five-Year Engagement

I never expected to enjoy this as much as I did, but it shouldn’t be that surprising since it’s from the team that made Forgetting Sarah Marshall, one of my all-time favorite comedies.  Jason Segal reteams with director Nicholas Stoller, bringing along the sexy Emily Blunt and funnyman Chris Pratt in this unconventional romcom that delivers the comedic goods in spades.  I laughed out loud continuously, while constantly relating to the characters in one form or another.  Anyone that’s been in a relationship at any stage can relate to this film.  The story takes us on some unexpected and hilarious side roads that are so true to form they were almost painful in their exaggeration.  Heartfelt and hilarious.

13) Django Unchained

It’s still very fresh in my mind and I think it falls somewhere in the middle of Tarantino’s best, but Django Unchained is no less powerful, funny, and filled with the nuances that make a Tarantino movie so engaging.  Rich, ugly, and intense characters fill the screen, each embodied by stars of old and new, and each bringing a level of showmanship that is befitting of the type of film they’re in.  There are a number of overly-violent scenes and long-winded “chatty” ones, but ultimately it works out to be a win for Tarantino, even if not by a long shot.

Bottom Five of 2012worst

1)    Total Recall

The sole blame for this abysmal turd rests on the shoulders of director Len Wiseman (Underworld), who does nothing to make the film memorable.  It’s a paint-by-numbers reboot, offering an unnecessarily convoluted plot, told completely straight and without the humor and spirit of the 1990 original starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Not even the combined hotness of Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel could save this from being nothing more than ordinary shlock.

2)    Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

A fucking painful ordeal, I don’t even know why I saw this.  Perhaps it was the batshit craziness that the team of Nevaldine/Taylor (the Crank films) usually bring, but they replaced that with batshit stupidity and the most boring, ho-hum action and story they could dredge up.  Nicolas Cage sleepwalks through the role and there’s no one to give two shits about through the entire mess, which seemed like it would never end.  Irredeemable crap.

3)    Hotel Transylvania

I had high expectations for this, mostly because of the involvement of Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Samurai Jack.  However, none of that character’s awesome strengths were emulated in this poo-poo/pee-pee-humored douchefest.  It’s so absolutely boring, which deserves an award in itself given the set-up.  Of course, having Adam Sandler’s usual crew on deck to provide voice work to the asinine characters doesn’t help much, either.  It’s an absolutely joyless affair that I couldn’t wait to end.  I look forward to never having to see this again.  Like, ever.

4)    The Watch

Seemed like a slam dunk, no?  Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill rocking an R-rated alien-invasion comedy?  Yeah, not at all.  Talk about not even trying, The Watch suffers from comedians getting way overconfident in their ability to ad-lib, with nearly the entire film coming off as a day on set that just wasn’t working.  I think I laughed twice, with one of those times being for my stupidity in thinking The Watch might actually be good.

5)    Ted

The biggest comedy of the year and I hated it?  Yup.  I’m also not a big fan of Family Guy, either, so sue me.  It’s a lame-brain brand of humor, in my opinion, and relies solely on pop culture references to balance it out.  Are those prevalent in Ted?  Bet your ass they are.  And it’s so fucking obnoxious and contrived that I barely squeked out a giggle through the whole stuffed affair.  I like Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis looks good with less clothing, but that’s not enough to save this half-baked gimmick to be anything more than a late night stoner comedy.

Most Anticipated 2013:

1)    Oblivion

2)    Iron Man 3

3)    Star Trek Into Darkness

4)    Thor: The Dark World

5)    Pacific Rim

6)    World War Z

7)    The Counselor

8)    Man of Steel

9)    The Lone Ranger

10) The Wolverine

11) The Tomb

12) Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

13) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

14) Anchorman: The Legend Continues

15) Kick Ass 2: Balls To The Wall

That’s all I’ve got!  If you’re in the Twitterverse, you can follow me here for my daily updates or you can just refresh my homepage for the rest of the year to see when something new pops up.  Or, you could just go on living your life.  Whatever’s cool.  Do your thing.  My thanks for stopping by and checking out my list.  I hope it changed your life.

– P

p.s. If I can leave you with anything this year, I hope it’s this…IMG_4999

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