2010 in review...

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Remo D
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2010 in review...

Post by Remo D » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:19 pm

The genre year 2010 offered something for pretty much everybody—the highs often attempted to set new standards, the lows were absolutely crashing, and you couldn’t fault anything in the middle for lack of trying, at least. I even found myself reassessing my take on one or two films based on the material surrounding them. So, in my traditional sequence…

THE GOOD

2010 got off to a pretty nifty start with DAYBREAKERS. Sure, it was “yet another” vampire film which perhaps tried a little too hard to dazzle us with visual effects, but the corporate/scientific intrigue woven into it held my interest, Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe always seem to know just what to do, and the climactic chain reaction of violence was both entertaining and original.

Okay, we all know that the new version of THE WOLFMAN wasn’t a match for the Lon Chaney Jr. original, and I think it’s precisely because Benicio Del Toro’s new Larry Talbot was presented as a dark and troubled soul even before getting bitten. Nevertheless, the movie looked great, zipped along and offered some terrific, gruesome action as it paid proper homage to its ancestors.

THE LAST EXORCISM split viewer opinion nearly 50/50 when it came down to the specific resolution of its documentary-style story (which, of course, seriously compromised its own status as an alleged documentary). But few would disagree that it offered one of the very best character portrayals of the year in the form of the charlatan preacher/exorcist himself. Can you give me banana bread? Hallelujah!

Whether or not the Devil actually appeared in THE LAST EXORCISM is beside the point, but there’s nothing left to question when a film is actually called DEVIL. It didn’t quite come together as shockingly as it could have in the end, but this was still a perfectly watchable slice of religion and claustrophobia from the M. Night Shyamalan factory (and no, I didn’t see THE LAST AIRBENDER, nor do I want to).

The remake LET ME IN showed up far too soon after LET THE RIGHT ONE IN to truly shine on its own, and it shied away from some of the most effectively disturbing material in the original (let alone the book on which it was based). But the original wasn’t perfect, either—the remake offered improvements and originality in direct proportion to its liabilities. Oh, and it meant that we finally got to see a Hammer vampire film on the big screen. Too bad it tanked.

Speaking of tanking, one of the very best of the year was the criminally underappreciated SPLICE—this was one of the most mature, moving and frightening looks at out of control science, parental responsibility and family identity since the early David Cronenberg days. Honestly, this really ties as the best horror film of 2010, but if I can pick only one, I’ve got to pick the one that didn’t literally fly out of control before it was all over…

…and I don’t care if it was part of the out-of-control festival of “reimaginings” we’ve been enduring over the past few years… the new version of George A. Romero’s THE CRAZIES was efficient, ferocious, shocking, frightening, cognizant and cynical—all of the things that Romero himself wanted the story to be when he told it for the first time in 1973. And it’s the ONE horror film of 2010 that didn’t make me say “If only they hadn’t…” at one point or another.

THE MIDDLE GROUND

Speaking of George A. Romero, I was quite annoyed that I was never afforded the opportunity to see SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD on the big screen—my perfect attendance record has now been shattered. Nevertheless, coming so soon after DIARY, SURVIVAL had nothing new to say (and Romero was the first to acknowledge that). It’s fun, it’s passable, but it’s scarcely a crucial entry in the saga. Hats off, nevertheless, to Romero for making six DEAD films and making each and every one of them completely different. Wish more people knew how to do that.

I tend to agree with Roger Ebert in finding a film like THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE ‘unratable.’ You’ll never get the taste of the concept out of your mouth, and they found one hell of an actor to play the mad doctor, but when it came time to create an actual story around the sick concept, they still gave us standard flee-and-stalk clichés to stretch things out in the first half, and then they gave us contrivance after contrivance to make sure everybody stayed there in the second half.

ECLIPSE was the third (and most entertaining) book in the TWILIGHT series, so it really ought to have been the best movie in the series (especially coming from the director of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT). So what happened? I really don’t know, but (isolated moments aside), this should have been quite a bit zippier. And by the way, I’m officially done with this movie series—the fourth and final book (BREAKING DAWN) was a stinker and I’m not about to pay twice to see them drag it out in the movies…

PIRANHA 3-D? Well, it did fulfill its promises of piles of gloriously gory, rapid fire trash… but did the writing and editing really have to be so truly awful?

Oh, and speaking of 3-D… its above-average deployment was just about the only thing that saved RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE from my personal slagheap. Look—I like Milla Jovovich. I’ve always maintained a grudging bit of affection for this eager-to-please series. I don’t want to start hating it. And I DID like the scene with the war hammer. But this overblown slice of empty-headed MATRIX riffs brought my threshold of patience down rather dangerously.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 attempted to capture lightning in a bottle for the second time—it actually did a decent job of tying in with the original and it did provide the single biggest jump scare of 2010. But now that we’ve been keyed to expect just what’s what with this premise, there was no way that this prequel/sequel was going to pay off in a similar way at the end. And it didn’t.

The ‘arthouse’ film MONSTERS made plenty of critical “ten best” lists, and I certainly thought it was a good and worthwhile effort. But I also felt that since we were really supposed to be spending time with our two central characters (as opposed to the minimally-encountered creatures) throughout the film, then we should have received something significantly more satisfying than the rush-job “movie’s over” fadeout we were finally handed.

I’m still not convinced that I should regard BLACK SWAN as a “horror movie,” but Darren Aronofsky’s application of horror technique certainly provides it with some excellent moments. It’s only too bad that what could have been a brilliantly acted and directed take on Roman Polanski’s REPULSION got caught up in a rehash of every “price of fame” showbiz melodrama you’ve ever seen in your life.

And finally? The leftover CASE 39 goes completely fruit loops by the time it reveals its true colors, some of the scenes seem to be in the wrong order… and if it’s an utterly unsatisfying ending you want, look no further. Originally, I dropped this one into the basement. But since the first twenty minutes were actually very good, and since the director had already proven where he could go with better material (PANDORUM), and since I’d rather sit through this again than the truly worst films of the year, I bumped it up to the Middle Ground anyway. Don’t take that as an actual recommendation of the film, though!

THE BAD

Oh, sometimes “bad” is glorious. If it weren’t for dunderheaded, theologically chaotic cliché-fests like LEGION, you wouldn’t get to see winged angels duking it out, using automatic weapons or running in slow motion to escape the explosion when they hear someone mouthing a catchphrase and flicking a cigarette lighter. This has nothing to do with religious profundity and everything to do with trying to disguise a blatant TERMINATOR ripoff with everything but actual harps and halos.

Okay, a lot of people really liked SHUTTER ISLAND. And yes, it’s well-acted, handsomely produced, etc. I thought the film spoiled itself in the first five minutes and then took two hours walloping me over the head in an attempt to convince me that it was “big and important.” I’ve enjoyed many a film in which I guessed (or already knew) the ending in advance—it’s not that simple. Short version: I much preferred watching the same actor journey to similar revelations in a much better film released the same year…

Granted fairly and without reservation: I acknowledge and respect that REPO MEN was not, repeat, not intended as a ripoff of REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA. Of course, that’s about the only film it did not rip off. What a good cast in such a derivative, unsatisfying jumble.

Hats off to Jackie Earle Haley for tackling the dangerous and intimidating task of becoming the new Freddy Krueger. Truth be told, he himself did a fine job. It’s too bad that the new NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET itself was beneath his talent. Wes Craven’s original became a sensation (and later a classic) for a number of very good reasons. Had there been no such thing as Freddy Krueger and had this hash opened as an original film, we’d have already forgotten it by now.

How can you take such a dependable premise (THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME), populate it with dependable creatures AND dependable actors and still come up with something boring (intelligent or not)? The makers of PREDATORS found a way.

Unrelated to the RESIDENT EVIL film of the similar subtitle was AFTER.LIFE. See the remarks on THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. Something truly compelling and disturbing could have been made of the premise (is Christina Ricci really dead or is Liam Neeson simply a nutjob?)—instead, we get a non-stop parade of Horror 101 cliches and contrivances intended to prevent anybody from actually getting anywhere until it’s finally time for the pre-telegraphed finale.

SKYLINE ends with what might have been a terrific midpoint for such an alien invasion story, and it has its occasional moments, but the amount of time you’re expected to spend with such an uninspired and hokey set of characters (not to mention the horrendous dialogue with which they’re saddled) makes it a true chore to sit through.

And then there was SAW 3-D. The people had spoken. The series was done. End it with VI. Quit while you’re ahead. They didn’t. And they stretched the story out with idiotic, unbelievable twists until they finally betrayed the entire concept as set up by what was once one of the most original, innovative and consistent villains in genre history. Okay, there are still one or two good “cringe” moments, but when these films really worked, the scripts had just as much to do with their success as the gore. The 3-D, by the way, was mostly pointless, but at least it was “real” 3-D and not a lousy post-conversion job…

…which is more than could be said of the desperate technique applied to MY SOUL TO TAKE, a film which was in no way, shape or form intended as a 3-D film. Nor is it in any way, shape or form an interesting, intelligent, amusing, original or even slightly suspenseful film from a director (Wes Craven) who’s quite capable of making all of the above when he really wants to. This was not an attempt to create. This was an attempt to lazily push all the pre-packaged buttons he thought the audience would automatically bring to the theatre. This was the worst film of the year.

Unseen by me: the I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE remake… and doubtless others.

Fantasy served me well this year, especially as I avoided the phony 3-D options where they were applied… I had no problem at all with the new CLASH OF THE TITANS as it delivered the fun and spectacle that it promised. The new HARRY POTTER and NARNIA films were both fine adaptations of their source material: the Potter film suffered necessarily by representing only the first half of its epic, but it’s all going to come together quite amazingly; while DAWN TREADER easily exceeded PRINCE CASPIAN (because it was a better book in the first place).

INCEPTION was one of the best films of the year: I was never less than completely enthralled by the way it juggled so many realities and timelines and still managed to account for itself. Too bad if it’s a crime to request that an audience pay attention to a film and think about it… those who DO will be treated to one of the best final shots I’ve seen in a long time…

KICK-ASS was a surprisingly strong, violent, humorous and engaging look at the “superhero” concept, and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD was a riotously funny and visually energetic delight from beginning to end. As for IRON MAN 2? It offered plenty of spectacle but the intense potential supplied by the trailer in the form of Mickey Rourke's villain was, sadly, not lived up to.

The release of JACKASS 3-D may well have convinced me that I have now seen everything I could ever possibly want to see in that particular format. And then some.

Got my Luc Besson fix (once removed) from the harmless FROM PARIS WITH LOVE and the redundant (but still entertaining and Parkour-packed) DISTRICT 13: ULTIMATUM. And speaking of martial arts, the title may have been pointless, but the KARATE KID remake had a great role for Jackie Chan—and the “kid” was very, very good indeed.

Michael Caine showed us in HARRY BROWN what might have happened if someone had tried to make a serious DEATH WISH sequel in which Charles Bronson had been allowed to act his age.

We were offered a largely enjoyable trip back to the grindhouse with MACHETE. Too bad Jessica Alba tagged along and did her best to kill it.

The guys who made BAGHEAD proved that they could make a much better film. CYRUS wasn’t a horror film, but it was the sort of comedy that could make you cringe in pain all the same.

If anyone thought that spending eighty minutes in an elevator in DEVIL was a successful conveyance of claustrophobia, they should have seen what others pulled off with Ryan Reynolds in BURIED.

And in the space of a single year, we were treated to all three installments of Steig Larsson’s “Millennium” trilogy, known to us as THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST. If you didn’t like the way the books were condensed, you may want to see what David Fincher does with the material… but nobody in the world is likely to eclipse Noomi Rapace’s performance in the role of Lisbeth Salander—perhaps the most intriguing and original literary character of the past decade.

Okay—that’s my year at the movies—let’s see what happens next!

All best,
Remo D.
Last edited by Remo D on Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Darth Tanner
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Re: 2010 in review...

Post by Darth Tanner » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:32 pm

Great recap Remo. Now for my turn:)

Along with the previous year, 2010 was much better than 2008 in getting me out to the theatre a lot more. However I only saw 15 movies in the theatre in 2010 compared to 21 in 2009. But I did catch up to five 2010 releases as rentals bringing the list to an even 20. Plus I also added a noteworthy title at the end as a bonus. Despite the fact that the majority of what I saw were remakes, I would up enjoying just about everything I saw this year (with my top pick being perhaps one of the few original films this year). I also didn't take in many genre titles as Remo since there didn't seem to be many out there that interested me. But I feel like I covered 2010 pretty well. So read on and enjoy...


THE WOLFMAN - As a longtime fan of the classic Universal monsters, this was one remake I was looking to. It was actually pretty enjoyable while remaining faithful to the original. A great way to start the year for me!

THE CRAZIES - A rare instance where the remake was undoubtedly better than the original (despite the fact that it bombed and was despised by a lot of people). Revisiting the film recently on Blu-Ray, I felt that it still held up really well.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND - This is one of the 2010 titles where I probably stood alone in liking it. Granted it wasn't among Tim Burton's best work, but I still thought it was not as bad as everybody said.

CLASH OF THE TITANS - I'm ashamed to admit that I have yet to see the original. But this was another one that delivered the fantasy/adventure goods and Grwas a great way to spend an afternoon matinee.

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET - Not the worst movie I've seen all year, but still pretty bad and boring. Despite a decent performance by Jackie Earle Haley and the limited presence of Clancy Brown and Katie Cassidy, there was nothing worth sitting through this worthless remake for. Worst part is that the girl who played Nancy in this one (who I thought was absolutely boring) is slated for the starring role in David Fincher's adaptation of GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. Lord help us all!

IRON MAN 2 - A pretty solid sequel that I thought was every bit as good as the original. The only thing that could have been improved on was using more of Mickey Rourke (who was a great villain in this).

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE - Caught up with this as a rental while on vacation. I enjoy 80's comedies and John Cusack so this seemed like a sure thing for me. While I didn't find it as great as most people did, I still enjoyed it pretty well and would recommend anyone interested in those types of movies to check it out.

PREDATORS - No doubt the worst movie I'd seen all year. An unneccessary sequel with lousy writing, bad photography and unimpressive KNB effects that was a real chore for me to sit through. The only good part was I didn't have to pay for it since I had a coupon for free admission in my Blu-Ray of the original PREDATOR.

TOY STORY 3 - I've enjoyed all the Pixar movies and this one was no exception. A good clean flick that is fun for the entire family. But I would have enjoyed it just as well without the 3-D effects.

INCEPTION - The best movie I'd seen all year. Great acting, story and visuals all around. I can't praise this movie enough. Christopher Nolan is one of the most interesting filmmakers out there and I can't wait to see what he does next.

THE EXPENDABLES - Delivered the 80's action goods that I expected and I couldn't have asked for anything more out of this.

PIRANHA 3-D - This was another remake where I had never seen the original, but it was a slice of exploitation goodness that really delivered in the "stupid and fun" department. There is plenty of boobs, blood and sleaze to satisfy anyone looking for that. My only complaint is that the 3-D effects were really lackluster and not really needed.

MACHETE - Another exploitation classic that really delivered the goods. I had been anticipating this ever since seeing the trailer in GRINDHOUSE and I wasn't disappointed one bit. Alongh with PIRANHA 3-D this was the most fun I had in the theatre this year. The Blu-Ray will definitely be mine when it comes out.

RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE - Another entry where I stand alone. I'm not a big RE fan, but I still found this to be an enjoyable mindless action movie with some impressive 3-D effects. Don't know if it would have much replay value for me though.

SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD - An utter disappointment and IMO easily the worst of Romero's "dead" films. I'm still hoping he'll come out of his creative slump and give us at least one more good film before he retires.

THE RUNAWAYS - This is one that I wish I had seen in theatres, but had to settle for a rental thanks to a limited release. Kristen Stewart put in a good turn as Joan Jett, but Dakota Fanning really stole the movie with her portrayal of Cherie Curie. Also a great performance by Mike Shannon as the sleazy manager.

COP OUT - Another big disappointment for me. Not a bad movie but a very unusual offering from Kevin Smith. It's your standard cop comedy with Bruce Willis that lacks anything associated with Smith's other work. I hope whatever he does next is a return to form.

THE BOUNTY HUNTER - Not much to say about this one except that I like watching Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston in almost everything. This one is alright for a date movie or on a lazy afternoon, but nothing worth going out of your way for.

SOCIAL NETWORK - A pretty good film from David Fincher althought I didn't find it to be on the level of his other films. I may go back and revisit it at some point just for a second opinion.

RED - Standard Bruce Willis action vehicle that was fun and better than expected. Also some good performances by Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich. Nothing too special but still watchable enough to kill a few hours.


Honorable mention:

NEVER SLEEP AGAIN: THE ELM STREET LEGACY - I normally wouldn't include stuff like this, but I'm making an exception as this was beyond a doubt the best horror documentary I've ever seen. Daniel Farrands went all out on this one and as much as I enjoyed his HALLOWEEN:25 YEARS OF TERROR and HIS NAME IS JASON documentaries, I have to say that this one easily trumps them in terms of quality and content. The documentary itself is nearly 4 hours and covers everything regarding the Elm Street franchise. Plus nearly all of the cast from the movies are featured and for the most part look good if not better that they did way back then (but can someone out there please explain what in the world happened to Tuesday Knight and Leslie Deane?). I would recommend this highly to anyone who is a fan of documentaries as well as casual Freddy fans.

So there is my take on 2010 in a nutshell. Not too bad of a year. I'm hoping 2011 will be good but there doesn't seem to be much in the immediate future that grabs me:(

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Kimberly
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Re: 2010 in review...

Post by Kimberly » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:43 pm

Nice job guys! :)

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Chris Slack
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Re: 2010 in review...

Post by Chris Slack » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:39 am

Thanks guys! Here's my brief list:

(True Grit belongs here as well but since I didn't go until last night it's not there.)

* indicates what I believe to be Academy Award deserving films

Black Swan* – Darren Aronofsky hits another home run with this film about a ballerina driven to the extremes to achieve perfection. Natalie Portman should get an Oscar nomination with her performance as said ballerina.

Enter the Void* – Gaspar Noe pushes the limits of cinema in this hallucinatory view into existence and life after death. This should get Oscar nods for the cinematography if nothing else. “Enter the Void” allows the viewer to experience a hallucinogenic “trip” without taking drugs. Do not watch this film if you have any chance of seizures due to strobe effects!

Brooklyn’s Finest* - Three unconnected Brooklyn cops wind up at the same deadly location after enduring vastly different career paths. Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle and Richard Gere are very convincing in their portrayals of the cops. Bonus points go out to the film for having some of the cast from “The Wire” in supporting roles.

Toy Story 3* – Best of the series and one of Pixar’s finest moments. I like it when a film can be sentimental without being overly sweet.

Restrepo* – Kick ass documentary on a one year deployment of a company of soldiers in Afghanistan. I particular liked the fact that the filmmakers didn’t make any effort to convince the viewer that the military action there is right or wrong.

Inception* – Christopher Nolan is one of the few directors who can make an original Hollywood blockbuster. Why the film confused so many people is behind me. I suppose it’s asking too much for the masses to have to think in order to make sense of a film.

Winters Bone* – A teenage girl tracks down her missing drug dealer dad in rural Missouri while taking care of her family. A very bleak movie with very seemingly realistic portrayals of the type of people one would expect in the hillbilly drug trade.

Piranha 3D - Alexandre Aja delivers a fun filled drive-in styled monster movie with lots of boobs and blood.

Machete – A popcorn flick for the ages. Robert Rodriguez still has the ability to make a good movie!

RED – The film’s title is an acronym for Retired and Extremely Dangerous. It was based on a graphic novel that I have not read so I have no opinion on how the adaptation was. All I know is that this had a fantastic cast and was a lot of fun.

Honorable mentions:

The Expendables – Brainless testosterone filled action with a veritable who’s who of action heroes.

Devil - M. Night Shyamalan shows that he is much better at writing than directing. Very good stuff, somewhat like an extended Twilight Zone episode.

Babies – Documentary about the first year in the lives of four babies from different parts of the world.

Winnebago Man – A look into the real life of the Youtube sensation Jack Rebney, a very crotchety old dude who made his mark on the Internets via outtakes from some industrial films from the ‘70s.

Buried – A guy is buried alive in the middle east and tries to escape via a cell phone. This tense and claustrophobic film shows that Ryan Reynolds can actually act.

The rest of my lists (music, concerts, etc) can be found at http://mortado.com/gravemusic/index.php ... -2010.html

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Remo D
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Re: 2010 in review...

Post by Remo D » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:07 pm

M. Night Shyamalan shows that he is much better at directing than writing.

Perhaps you meant that the other way around?


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Chris Slack
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Re: 2010 in review...

Post by Chris Slack » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:29 pm

Remo D wrote:M. Night Shyamalan shows that he is much better at directing than writing.

Perhaps you meant that the other way around?
Crap, I thought I changed that... thanks boss!


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