Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 in film.....

or at least the films that i saw! there were a number of films released in 2010 that i wished to see but just didn't get around too. that said, there were a number of films that i did see which turned out to be less than expected. and indeed, as you would perhaps expect, more kids films that would have been usual a few years ago seem to feature on my list, you can guess why!

here, in no particular order, are the 12 that were released during the year that i can recall seeing! and, by the way, none of these were seen in 3D - i am with Christopher Nolan on this, it is a silly gimmick that hopefully everyone gets bored of sooner rather than later.

Toy Story 3 has unsurprisingly been hailed as the biggest moneymaker of the year. at a superficial level it is brilliant, containing just about every emotion you could want from a film and yet somehow making it all perfectly fine family viewing.
i do sometimes raise an eyebrow at how progressively Pixar are just making films for themselves and dressing them up as family entertainment - themes in this and things like Up and in particular Cars seem not really intended for children at least. putting any such concerns aside, this was truly wonderful, and made a mockery of the accepted wisdom that the third film in a series is always worse than those which came before it.

How To Train Your Dragon was not bad at all, but nowhere near as much fun as it could be. all too often concentration wanders off whilst watching this as it takes a while to get going and tends to repeat things a bit too much.
Dreamworks seem to have some sort of rivalry going on with Pixar in regards of making animated, "family" movies. both are pretty much guilty of recently leaning far too much towards "needing an adult mind to understand", but all the same as and when the dragons finally turn up in this move it is rather good fun. i am not sure exactly how many kids watching this are ready for the idea of seeing amputation, so be warned if you haven't seen it yet!

Shutter Island could well be one of the biggest ever wastes of talent and resources to hit cinemas. an intriguing plot, an impressive cast and one of the greatest ever directors involved should have made this a classic. however, for some bizarre reason, the film was promoted with a trailer that pretty much gave you the "plot twist". if that wasn't bad enough, within 20 minutes of the film you got handed a scene that confirmed the giveaway in the trailer was indeed what you thought.
this is indeed a great shame as Leonardo Di Caprio, someone who i have never been all that impressed with, gives the best performance i have yet to see him do. after the dizzying heights reached with The Departed, however, it was a disappointment to see Scorsese apparently slum it with this (at best) b-grade effort.

Shrek 4 (or any of the many names it has been given around the world) certainly wasn't a bad bit of watching, but did test the patience of what should be given a cinematic release and what should go out as a "straight to DVD" sequel.
the film has some charming and witty moments, certainly, but all too often in the space of a (very) short film you get the idea that this one was made for the sake of it, rather than because anyone had some brilliant or inspired idea of a story or adventure for Shrek, Donkey or any of their chums. it struck me as very odd indeed that the most wished to be seen on screen, the "Shrek" babies and the ace donkey-dragon hybrid kids, were just about absent here. all the same, worth a look if you enjoyed the first three, but hardly a essential slice of viewing, sadly.

Predators succeeded as far as making people less angry than usual when a film with these great sci-fi creations gets released. whilst no masterpiece, the film was certainly entertaining when it wanted to be.
the two big surprises this film revealed were that Adrien Brody could cut it quite well as an "action star", and Laurence Fishburne could in fact do a really, really bad acting job when he really couldn't be bothered with the material provided. the actual Predators seem to come into the film quite late on, but when they do make an appearance there are some spectacular action sequences. i am not sure what it is that all these "Predator purists" actually want from a film featuring it, but if it wasn't this then perhaps they should move on to other interests.

Machete started off as being a joke 2 minute trailer in front of the ill-fated Grindhouse film and managed to be better than anything on display in the 200 or so minutes which followed it. the idea of turning this joke trailer into an actual movie gained some swift support, then, and there's no reason at all to be disappointed with what became of it.
the film is littered with ludicrous acts of mindless violence, something for which the intended audience are very, very thankful for. Robert De Niro, a man who seems to have given up on making proper films, is wonderful as he is allowed to go as overboard as much as he likes, and any film which presents a bearable Steven Seagal is worth applauding. special praise, of course, to title star Danny Trejo. glad to see he got a shot at being the main star of a film instead of forever being in the background, and my is he impressive.

i have not watched all of The Last Airbender film adaptation, and i suspect i am not alone in this regard. the premise of the stunning animated series always seemed a bit too involved and long to condense into a conventional movie. it certainly didn't help that they gave the project to M. Night Shyamalan, a terrible film-maker whose one and only well received film, The Sixth Sense, looks more and more like a stretched out episode of The Twilight Zone each passing year.
the best advice i can give you in regards of this film is do seek out the magnificent animated series on which it was based and do not, under any circumstances, bother trying to watch this adaptation, not even for a bet.

I'm Still Here is a film that should have been a 21st Century, post-modernist masterpiece. it isn't, sadly.
after sacrificing close to two years of their careers and a lot of money to make this film, it is very odd that Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck decided to take inspiration from Shutter Island and announce to the world that the whole project was indeed a hoax on the eve of its release. the whole point of appeal for the project was the question "is Joaquin going off the rails for real or not?". giving the answer to that mystery made seeing the actual film somewhat pointless, for you knew the whole thing was fake and thus all you were watching was a (very) badly acted home movie.
it will be interesting to see how much long term career damage the two of them have inflicted upon themselves, all for next to no reason, gain or point made.

Hot Tub Time Machine is very possibly one of the funniest films that i have ever seen. it got lukewarm reviews so i was somewhat wary of it, but it turned out that i pretty much laughed myself silly from start to finish.
the vulgaraties and coarse nature of some of it means that it is not for all, but those who are not too easily offended should check this film out as soon as possible!
there are some glaring errors in the film - what's a poster for Rambo III doing there in 1986, for example - but you get the sense that many of them have been placed deliberatley for people to spot. beyond that, great to see John Cusack return to the kind of performances he gave in High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank, and it is always ace to see the underused Crispin Glover in anything!

The Expendables, sadly, joins the films on this list that could have been so much better than it turned out to be. something close to a dream cast (for 80s action film fans) was assembled for this project, all for them to more or less stand aside and let Jason Statham be the star of the show. not that there's anything wrong with Statham (far from it, i am quite the fan), but we were all looking forward to Stallone, Dolph and a few others battling away.
the film features sporadic, seemingly toned down action sequences and enough one-liners to keep you interested. the hugely anticipated on-screen match up of Arnie, Sly and Bruce Willis, however, really isn't worth the 90 or so seconds that it lasts. oh well, maybe if they do make the intended sequel this will get redone, only better.

Despicable Me was a revelation. i laughed out loud when i first saw the trailer for this film, and the actual film itself surely did not let anyone down. i would argue that this was perhaps the best of the animated films released this year, no matter how much praise is being heaped on Toy Story 3.
the plot really isn't much more elaborate than an increasingly marginalized "super villain" with more than a passing resemblance to Dr Evil out of Austin Powers trying to use children to unleash his masterplan only to end up caring for them a very great deal indeed. however, it's exceptional fun watching this getting padded out, thanks in great part to the presence of the wonderful minion characters. the name and artwork for the film might not be the most attractive when browsing for films, but trust me, it's well worth watching.

The A Team was finally made into a film and released this year. the track record of TV shows being made into films is dodgy - every time someone gets it right (Dragnet, for instance), several get it wrong (Miami Vice, Starsky & Hutch and I Spy were all truly, truly awful adaptations). it is good, then, to report that they got the magic and appeal of the TV series absolutely spot on with this film.
The A Team manages to stay loyal to the source material much loved by us children of the 80s, yet it introduces enough subtle changes so that it can be appreciated and stand alone for what it is. immense, insane set-piece action sequences are supplemented with fine actors having as much fun with the material as they respect it. probably the best action film of the year, and one of the funniest too.

well, there you have it! of the films that i haven't seen in 2010, i really do wish to watch Inception, True Grit and Iron Man 2 at some point, as well as Wall Street 2. hopefully i get to them sooner rather than later, but time is seldom my own!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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