I didn't get out to the movies as much as I wanted to in 2011 so I'm still waiting to catch up on a couple of releases on DVD. That being said, I saw enough to be able to compile a couple of lists so, that's really all I need to be going on with...
(in no particular order)
1) Mission Impossible 4 - The last movie I saw in 2011. Plenty of action and stunts, some excellent set pieces, cool gadgets and a splash of humor made this the best in the series so far. I would definitely go see another one with this team. Great live action debut for the Pixar man Brad Bird as director.
2) Captain America: The First Avenger - Another glut of comic book movies in the first half of 2011 saw Cap and his shield come out on top. Eye-popping action, a group of Howling Commandos, a great bad guy in Red Skull and all anchored by an earnest performance by Chris Evans in the lead role. Also, we mustn't forget the feisty and gorgeous Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter. We should take a moment now to thank director Joe Johnson for the scene with Peggy in the red dress.
And plaudits for the musical number written by Alan Menken. It didn't hurt that the show-stopping Star-Spangled Man with a Plan song montage was both funny and gave credence to the gaudy superhero suit sported by Cap. Win win!
3) X-Men: First Class - I'm a huge X-Men fan and after X3 and a cheesy Wolverine offering I wasn't looking forward to the next in the series but this one surprised the hell out of me. I'm sure endless discussion could be had between comic geeks on who was in the team and why but I was won over by Magneto. The Magneto: Nazi Hunter bits were brilliant and Michael Fassbender is easily one of the best actors on the scene today.
4) Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Yeah, it's silly and yeah, I didn't care. Apes is much better than you think its going to be and that's because they thought of a story for it. Sure, it was a good excuse to show off some technical skills with some stunning special effects but thanks to Andy Serkis as Caesar you have a reason to root for the Apes. This movie got me interested in seeing a sequel and that surprised me.
5) Bridesmaids - Best comedy of the year by an easy margin. Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are seasoned Saturday Night Live performers so their skills are unquestionable but it's their easy and normal friendship that is the core of this funny comedy. Despite the high estrogen levels in the cast, men can find plenty to enjoy in this movie. This isn't just a "chick comedy" so do yourself a favor and watch it if you haven't already. Melissa McCarthy steals the show and I'll be watching out for her in future movies.
1) Vanishing on 7th Street - What initially looks like a creepy, high concept thriller turns out to be a yawn-fest full of whiny, dull and unlikable characters. The trailer made it look spooky and it starts off that way but it drags its feet and then devolves into dumb.
2) Priest - Ugh. Just ugh. Just stupid and pointless and did I mention stupid? Paul Bettany deserves better than this. Avoid at all costs.
3) Conan - I'm all for some sword and sorcery fun. I can relax the old gray matter to watch some cleaving and spell-casting but this just turned out to be one big, pointless fight scene with the occasional crummy cgi effect thrown in. Didn't even have the saving grace of some Austrian ham-acting in it. Jason Momoa was better in Game of Thrones so you should watch that instead.
4) Sucker Punch - I love Zack Snyder's style as a director. Everything he shoots looks gorgeous. This one seemed like a no brainer: Cute girls, machine guns, samurai swords, dragons, and the slow-mo combat Snyder basically taught the world in 300. The trailer looked great and the effects looked astounding. It's just a shame no-one bothered with a story. Or a story that made one tiny bit of sense. This movie is as confused as any I've seen. The visuals are a geek boy's wet dream but the story is weirdly misogynistic and even more dumb. There's no thread holding the concept together and it becomes fantasy within a fantasy within a...who cares....it's just not any good. No amount of razzle dazzle saves it.
5) Cowboys and Aliens - The reason I threw this one on here is because it should've been a whole lot better. It really wasn't the worst movie...maybe not even in the top five worst movies but I wanted to include it just to make the point that Jon Favreau, Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Sam Rockwell were all involved in this movie and it still wasn't very good. The story was lame and the big alien bad guys were stupid. On top of that the movie was too serious about itself. I get that they didn't want a comedy or a simple tongue in cheek, winking effort but the characters were all humorless and dull. And I can't even begin to tell you how disappointed I was that Rockwell was so underused. I can't even talk about Olivia Wilde's character because my head exploded when her back story was explained.
I'm just going to come out and say it - Transformers : Dark of the Moon.
An almost 3-hour car and toy commercial shot in glorious Michael Bay-O-Vision. That's all it was. I liked Transformers. It was enjoyable. Transformers 2 was pitiful. I thought a 3rd effort would maybe return to...at least as good as the first one. No. Not even close. Horrible movie. We should all make a pact and never go see another Transformers movies again. Who's with me?
I sat through every minute of it and I'm not sure why I bothered. At no time did the movie become good. Shia Lebeouf is so grating and annoying now that I just shudder if he's mentioned as being in the cast of a movie. He brings the same Shia-schtick to this as he does to everything he is in and it still doesn't work. And he's the most thought out human character in the movie.
Terrible in so many ways and it made a fortune at the box office...and I helped it. That's the ugliest part of all.
Anyway, let me know what you think of those choices...if indeed you dare...lol.
I will return soon with my MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIES of 2012 list.
Happy new Year!!!