Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 10 Films of 2011

Continued from my complete list of 2011 films started yesterday.

10. Thor (4 Stars)

I loved the production design of Asgard, but the story felt flat. There never seemed to be much as stake on Earth. And very little on Asgard. In fact the only real threat was against the evil Ice Giants, upon whom Thor attempted to commit genocide. At the end of the movie nothing had really changed for Thor. He was no longer exiled to Earth, nor had he ascended to the throne of Asgard. (Daddy was still alive!) His brief tenure on earth did not convince me he was in love with Natalie Portman, nor that he cared enough about humans to ever return (ya know, in later movies).

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow: Part 2 (4 Stars)

In general, I have liked each successive Harry Potter film more than it’s predecessor. A pretty good trend for an 8-film series. While this a last movie is a fun and satisfying conclusion, its “Part 2” nature makes it feel like an extended third act of the previous film.

8. The Muppets (4 Stars)

A strong return to the big screen for the long absent Muppets. Jason Segel and company manage to not botch the spirit of original films or the beloved characters. New Muppets – Walter and 80’s Robot – were great additions. Unfortunately, the film spends too much time telling us to feel nostalgic for the Muppets without giving us much new to be nostalgic for down the road. With a couple exceptions the music was unremarkable, as were most of the human casts’ performances. The biggest problem is that the story belongs to Walter and Jason Segel as opposed to Kermit, Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo and the gang. Still it’s got all the silliness, bad jokes, and good-natured zaniness you hope for from the Muppets.

7. X-Men: First Class (4 Stars)

I could watch a whole movie of just this young Magneto traveling the globe exacting revenge on his foes. Loved seeing him and young Xavier working together then becoming enemies. However, didn’t much care for the so-called first class of other new mutants. Special effects are sub-par here and there.

6. Captain America: The First Avenger (4 Stars)

This movie had the thankless task of tying together all the other Marvel films – Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor – before the upcoming Avengers. I thought it did that delicate dance perfectly. The film was fun and struck a tone of All-American heroism without being cheesy.

5. Super 8 (4 Stars)

Those darn kids were great in this homage to E.T. and all things 1980’s-Speilberg! The monster was okay too, I guess.

4. In Time (4 Stars)

Director Andrew Niccol’s latest sci-fi thriller has similarities to, but is not quite as good as, his previous film Gattica. But I’m a sucker for dystopian future sci-fi with themes of class warfare, immortality, and the like. Justin Timberlake (almost) always takes on interesting projects, but he usually has a stellar cast to prop him up. Here he’s the lead and most everyone else’s performances are average. The film takes a strange, unearned turn toward future-Bonnie and Clyde toward the end. I’m giving this film a high ranking simply because it’s an original, thoughtful, beautifully shot piece of sci-fi.

3. Drive (4 Stars)

This film is flawed, and at times, even felt sophomoric. However it’s original, and I’ve spent more time discussing this film’s merits than any other of 2011, so I’m giving it my number three ranking. First, for something called “Drive” there very little actual driving. Second, it’s problematic that the getaway chase during the opening 10 minutes was more interesting than the rest of the film. Third, sometimes the story’s internal logic felt compromised for the sake its extreme violence. (Common gangsters would, I believe, kill each other with guns, not stab each other with forks or down a guy in the ocean – very difficult.) But director Nicolas Refn makes bold choices as he unravels his dark tale. And I’ve had plenty of conversations about whether the film is moody and cool or cheap and gimmicky, and whether Ryan Gosling’s character is brave and heroic, demented and violent, or just a fella in love.

2. Real Steel (5 Stars)

I don’t have any kids (yet), so it’s rare that I get this excited about a PG-rated kids movie, unless a.) it’s by Pixar, or b.) it’s based on something form my childhood, like The Muppets. Despite what the trailers would have you believe, this is actually a touching father/son story that would be cool for an actual father to take his 6-11 year old son to see. Plus it’s got awesome boxing robots. What else do you need?!

1. Bridesmaids (5 Stars)

From PG-rated family fare to this – an R-rated comedy where one woman takes a dump in a sink while another woman takes a dump in the street. It’s embarrassing putting this “chick-flick” (but really it’s not) at the top of my list, yet it was one of the best movie-going experiences I had this year. I’ll console myself with the fact that there is serious talk about nominating Bridesmaids for “Best Picture” at the Oscars this year. This film was purposefully (and smartly) mis-marketed as “The Hangover for chicks.” But (despite what was advertised) the movie is not about a gaggle of girls who suffer the consequences fom a weekend of debauchery. It’s about one woman’s struggle with friendship, rivalry, and attempting to be someone she’s not. (But how are you going to market that stuff to guys?) Plus it’s frickin’ funny.


A Certain Man said...

Thanks for the list! I am the total opposite with my movies this year, seeing the dramas and art house films. I would add Another Earth, Of Gods and Men, The Tree of Life to your list.

About the one's I've seen:
Bridemaids: I agree, but was not expecting that from Kristen Wig. "It broke in half, literally in half." The embarrassing, jaw dropping, vulgar moments in this film were almost too many for me, but Kristen really pulled it off with a great character arc and hilarious bridesmaid characters.

Muppets: The only one I think you treat too kindly and in which I was bitterly disappointed. I though the opening was great, but they focused way too long on Kermit's reminiscing, not enough time with the muppets themselves, Chris Cooper was plain annoying, and then most of it felt like how to throw a plot together and keep it from falling apart. The climax of the telethon and Walter whistling at the end had no emotional impact and I was left wanting to laugh which I hadn't done since Amy Adams was singing to a hosed window. Her song in Mel's was deeply awkward, sad, and out of place, and you are right that the music sucked (and that was where I thought Bret McKenzie would make it hilarious!). I think Jason's writing just didn't come up to snuff for this one. The NPH cameo was seriously the best part of the movie.

Super 8: Well said. A fun, heartwarming homage.

Will go see now:
-In Time. The adds looked so bad, but I didn't know it was from the Gattica guy and too love scifi. That mixed with the fact it has Roger Deakens behind the camera makes me want to see it now!
- All the Marvel films. Especially since I just found out that JMS is at the helm of it all.
-Drive, Immortals, M4

Don't bother seeing Rum Diaries: Depp's character has a goal he really doesn't chase after and that is weakly challenged. Nothing was on the line but his alcohol intake. Only a few funny moments. The rest was aimless.

The Prince Of Esgares said...

This film is gorgeous, I love all these movies

Md. Eftekhairul Islam said...

Titanic is my favorite.
the way of development