Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Year in Review

Instead of doing my traditional top 10 and bottom 10 of 2011, I have chosen a different route. I feel that I haven't seen enough films this year to do a fair top 10 list, so I have decided instead to write about all the films I have seen this year.

2011 was not a very good year for film. It took me about 3 1/2 months to even see a new film at all. That film being Red Riding Hood, I was pleasantly surprised with this film. When I first saw the trailer I was split, it looked too much like "Twilight" and it was
even directed by the director of "Twilight", but the film was actually pretty good.

Following that came Scream 4 a film I was very much looking forward to and was slightly let down by. The film clearly didn't live up to what eve
ryone thought it would be, but the film was at least half way decent.

After that it was another month before I saw another film, that being The Hangover Part II. This film was great and it was the best film I had seen so far in the year. A lot of people complained that the film was too much like the original and I do agree with that, but at the same time there really wasn't anything different they could do. They kept the basic premise but added new things to it.

After that I'm not sure what I saw next but there were films during the summer like Cowboys & Aliens, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Final Destination 5 that I did go see in the theater. Cowboys & Aliens was another film I was looking forward to and that was a major disappointment. A very boring film that was incredibly predictable and as a friend of mine put it should have been called, "Cowboys with the Occasional Alien". Harry Potter wrapped up the story nicely and Final Destination 5 was a welcome addition after the major disappointment of the last film.

The biggest surprise of the summer was Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which I thought was going to be terrible and it ended up really impressing me. The best film I saw in 2011 was surprisingly The Muppets. I was looking forward to the film and it really impressed me. I grew up watching "The Muppets" and this film really made me happy with it's good story and incredible soundtrack.

The film wasn't without it's definite terrible films. With such films as: No Strings Attached, Your Highness, The Green Hornet and Kevin Smith's terrible film Red State. With the exception of Your Highness none of the other films really looked any good anyways.

Other films I saw this year that I was pretty much indifferent on were A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, which I thought would have been better, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which honestly I didn't expect much from and Jack & Jill, that looked funny and disappointed, Al Pacino really saved that film.

Overall, 2011 was a pretty disappointing year. I didn't see films like Captain America or Green Lantern yet, but I do plan on it. Once I see those films I will definitely review them and put them up.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (2011)

"Don't stop believing"

"Glee" is a phenomenal TV series. It's kind of looked down on as being a tween series that is full of politics and gay undertones. However, I feel the series is actually really good. I find it funny and dramatic and the musical performances are outstanding. That being said, here we have "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie".

The concert footage is fun and entertaining. The movie is very simple it's a "mockumentary" / documentary. The Glee stuff is the mockumentary, since these are actors playing the characters who are putting on a concert. The rest of the footage is the documentary part. There are stories of teenagers who say that "Glee" has changed their lives (i.e. a gay teenager, a dwarf cheerleader, etc.). The performances are obviously the main part of the movie and they are also the best part. Most, if not all, the songs performed in the movie are songs they have performed on the series. So it's fun to see these amazing young performers do their thing on stage.

I feel that the movie is kind of odd, because the actors are playing their roles but they are performing a sold out concert. On the series the characters are "losers" and are constantly "slushed" (having a slushee thrown on them in the hallways of school) so it's kind of difficult to accept the characters being able to perform a concert like this. But I guess it's all suspense of disbelief. The movie is here solely to entertain and the movie does it well. One thing I don't like about concert documentaries is when they cut away from the concert to add other stupid crap I don't care about. I don't care about fans talking about the series or characters or how the show has changed their lives. The three stories of the different teenagers talking about their lives and the series, I feel wasn't really needed. I know that it's a special series to their lives and whatnot, but I don't care. I know the message of the TV series is that is that it's okay to be different and don't care what others say about you, but honestly the people who saw this or watch this want to see the performances.

The movie was entertaining and the performances were amazing. I feel this film probably didn't perform as well as the producers felt it would at the theaters because it's a concert film. Not many concert films perform incredibly well, so it's understandable that it didn't perform very well. Plus the movie was only in the theater for 2 weeks. And for some stupid reason they chose to present the film in 3D. There was absolutely no reason to release this film in 3D. There was no part in the movie where 3D was utilized well at all. That being said, the movie is entertaining very much. Also, stay after the credits for an additional performance!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Smurfs (2011)

"You smurfed with the wrong girl!"

In the same vain of "Scooby-Doo", "The Flintstones" and "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle" Sony Pictures has decided to bring another classic animated TV series to the big screen. Did it work or not?

"The Smurfs" was a Hanna-Barbera animated series that aired during the 1980s. It was an incredibly popular series, so it made sense to bring the series to the big screen. The only problem with that is that Sony Pictures decided to bring the characters to the "real world" for no real reason. The Smurfs wind up in New York City after trying to escape Gargamel (brilliantly played by Hank Azaria) during the Festival of the Blue Moon. When they get there, Clumsy winds up falling into a box and taken home by Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris), once there Patrick and his pregnant wife, Grace (Jayma Mays) decide to try and help the Smurfs figure out how to get back to their own world. Meanwhile, Patrick is trying to keep his job by making up an advertisement for his pushy boss.

The movie plays out very cliched and feels like a cross of "Alvin & the Chipmunks" and "Enchanted". The story line is incredibly basic and nothing to special comes from it. At the same time the movie has some really funny moments, mostly from Azaria as Gargamel. The movie has tons of moments where the characters don't understand basic things from the real world and humorous things follow (i.e. Gargamel not knowing what a Port-a-Potty is), but some of these fall on their faces. There are many moments in which the characters do some really stupid things that are meant to be funny but in the long run feel forced or even juvenile. For example, there is a moment when Smurfette (played by Katy Perry) gets a new dress and stands over a vent and has a little Marilyn Monroe moment. As much as I enjoy Perry (and her portrayal in this film) her acting was pretty awful during this scene and then they have to throw in the Scottish Smurf deliberately standing on the vent having the air blow up his kilt. The whole sequence was pretty terrible and just throwing in that last bit felt like an incredibly cheap joke for children.

Even though the movie had plenty of cliched moments, I felt the movie was entertaining and deserves a good look. I did enjoy how they included the original backstory of Smurfette the way it was in the cartoon series. I did like how they included the mentioning of "Peyo" who created the Smurfs comics. I loved how they mentioned the theme song being annoying, since that's been a pretty popular statement since the series originally aired. Overall, I felt the movie was funny, it didn't stoop down to bathroom humor like many other children's movies do nowadays. I think the movie (and many others like this) get a bad rap because it is based on a popular TV series and people have a preconceived notion about it. Honestly, I think everyone should give it a shot.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)

"I have to stay here and smoke this weed, otherwise I won't get high"

Harold & Kumar have come a long way since they made their way to a White Castle way back in 2004. The H&K movies are known for their extreme comedy and their marijuana jokes. This special Christmas installment doesn't lack any of those, but it falls short of the previous 2 installments.

The film has a pretty simple plot, Harold has his in-laws over and his father-in-law wants the perfect Christmas tree. Harold and Kumar haven't seen much of each other since Harold got married and Kumar is living on his own. His girlfriend, Vanessa, shows up to tell him she's pregnant, shortly after that he has a packaged delivered to him that is supposed to go to Harold. Kumar makes a trip to Harold's and they open the box to discover a giant "joint", somehow the joint falls in the "perfect" tree and burns down. And so begins the journey of Harold & Kumar trying to find a replacement tree before his wife & father-in-law return from midnight mass.

The plot is always pretty simple in these movies but for whatever reason this film just didn't feel like a H&K movie. There's a running gag in the movie of a baby getting high on pretty much every drug out there (marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, etc.) which was pretty funny, but honestly had run its course by the end of the film. It felt to me that the drug humor was incredibly toned down and the "adult" humor was toned up. This is a very "adult" Christmas movie. There's even a part in the movie that reflects the scene in "A Christmas Story" where the little boy gets his tongue stuck to a pole, but it wasn't a tongue in this film.

Finally I felt that this movie didn't need to be made in 3D at all. They used the 3D far too much and way to obviously. There were quite a few times in the movie when something was thrown at the screen and it would slow down in bullet time. It was so incredibly unneeded and stupid. I have a feeling that in 10 years time we'll be looking at this movie like we looked at the 80s 3D movies back in the 90s and think the movies were simply made to cash in on 3D. This film could have worked just fine without the 3D.

Overall I enjoyed the film, but I felt that it lacked something that the other 2 films had. Would I include this in my annual Christmas viewing? I don't think so, but a 2nd viewing could change all of that.