We're more than half way through the year and so far it's been lean times at the multiplex, which has been competing for eyeball time against the likes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. Here's what we've scoped out recently:
You just can't miss with impossibly giant robots sluggin' it out with trans-dimensional giant monsters.
Jax Teller, Stringer Bell, Charlie Kelley, and Hellboy make for entertaining casting.
Kudos to Guillermo for not attempting to shoe-horn a love story into the action.
Some of the brawling was zoomed-in too close to follow. That's always frustrating.
Dialogue and story often plain ridiculous. The line between "purposefully over-the-top" and "silly" is very fine.
The ratio of "talking" to "punching" in Act Two was grossly out of balance.
For whatever reason, this movie has the Iron Man soundtrack. Which wasn't a great soundtrack.
Man of Steel
Solid acting, solid soundtrack (if a little repetitive).
Absolutely no shortage of fist fights and destruction.
Hank Cavill fits the tights, no problem.
Took itself just a little too seriously.
Not nearly enough of Clark Kent wandering the Earth having adventures and finding his identity, which was by far the most interesting stuff. Would've been happy with 2 hours of just that.
I prefer my heroes to have a simple, iconic look - the redesigned super suit was entirely too ornate.
The fight sequences get tedious by the end of the movie - it becomes a bit of a grind (Superman punches bad guy into building, Bad Guy punches Superman into building, repeat x 10).
Didn't mind the liberties taken with the origin story, but Pa Kent goes out like chump.
Star Trek Into Darkness
All the terrific casting, pacing, and sparkling dialogue of the first JJ Trek outing.
Once again, the future just looks fantastic. It's as if it were entriely Made by Apple in California.
This story has, ultimately, been told before.
The Klingons were powerfully disappointing. Those helmets shouldn't have been pulled off until JJ was prepared to reveal a truly fearsome war-loving race worthy of the Into Darkness budget. What we got was bland and unimaginative - like, out of Next Gen. How about something closer to Peter Jackson's Uruk-hai?
The film plays out with a very distinct visual style tightly integrated with the soundtrack. Joe Kosinski pulled this off to the same great effect in "Tron: Legacy".
That soundtrack (M83) and the sound effects (drones!) give everything an extra dimension of awesomness.
Many of the story elements felt a little too familiar, particularly in the final act.
I'll never really be sold on "memory wipes" as a plot device, no matter how attractive the application.
2012 Year End Review
The curtain comes down on 2012 and the ultimate goal of two-movies-per-weekend continues to elude! The final tally at the Movie Manifest came to 102, just a couple shy of the mark. The two-per average will make for a nice target in 2013, which will be the 20th anniversary of the Manifest. We also failed to knock out our final two Kurosawa films (Dreams and The Quiet Duel). No excuse for that.
The five winners this year were 13 Assassins, Looper, Django Unchained, The Hobbit, and, let's say, Cabin in the Woods.
There really weren't any films that stood too far out from the pack in 2012. Cabin in the Woods or Looper could easily be swapped out with Trollhunter, The Raid Redemption, Ip Man, or Argo. Other solid entries to the lineup included Safety Not Guaranteed, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Front Line, and Prometheus, which fired on every cylinder except story, which is almost forgivable given how flat out gorgeous the whole thing looked. Almost.
Losers were The Wolfman, Green Lantern, and Cars 2. I'm convinced Cars 2 went to theaters instead of straight to DVD just to get a lemon on Pixar's previously unblemished track record and take off some of the pressure. Other movies we wish we could unsee for 2012: The Grey (despite what you may have heard, it was blah.), Resident Evil: Retribution, Taken 2, and The Amazing Spiderman.
Looking into 2013, expectations are high for: Only God Forgives (Nicolas "Drive" Refn and Ryan Gosling), Pacific Rim, Elysium (Neill "District 9" Blomkamp), Oblivion, and of course Star Trek Into Awesomeness. We'll also be gettin' The Hobbit 2: Smaug Alert next Christmas. World War Z and Man of Steel each contain the ingredients necessary for greatness, but the recipes are tricky and prone to failure.
"Besides, you look good in a dress. Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you.Maybe if we felt any human loss as keenly as we feel one of those close to us, human history would be far less bloody. I can't. As much as I care about you, my first duty is to the ship. Now, how the hell do we defeat an enemy that knows us better than we know ourselves? Well, that's certainly good to know. Congratulations - you just destroyed the Enterprise. I'll be sure to note that in my log. Computer, belay that order. Your shields were failing, sir. Fate protects fools, little children and ships named Enterprise. Come on. Let's get out of here, Commander."
The trailer for Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim has at long last been unleashed, and it does not disappoint:
Giant monsters erupting from the molten belly of the Earth? Check. Unprecedented destruction, city-wide panic, and crowds fleeing in terror? Check. Impossibly huge robot suits engaging in ridiculously inefficient but undeniably awesome hand-to-hand monster combat? Check and check!
I assume at some point in the finale a couple of those robot suits fuse together to form a super-mecha-Voltron-style-fist-firing emancipator of monster oppression.
Finally a big budget monster movie with a director capable of delivering the goods. Can't wait. Made for IMAX. Fingers crossed it isn't in 3D.
This seven minute clip from the low budget Australian zombie film Wyrmwood is completely fantastic. Full-screen HD viewing is highly recommended:
It's being funding via some Kickstarter-like deal called "indiegogo". They've surpassed their goal, which presumably means we'll be getting 83 additional minutes of apocalyptic undead gloriousness sometime next summer.
Thank the Gods
This Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome series is finally kicking off with a ten-part web series. First ep is Nov 9th. Hopefully this whole "Internet" fad lasts long enough for us to get in all ten.
Ronald Moore's name is conspicuously (disappointingly) absent from this project, as are any actors from the 2004-2009 series (makes sense, being a prequel and all). Bear McCreary did provide the score though, which is an absolutely critical component to these new BSG offerings.
The webisodes will be collected into a movie for the Syfy channel next year.
The point of these demonstrations is to show off what's been digitally added, but in this particular instance I'm way more impressed by the volume of set pieces that are real. Castles, cliffs, and camps - an alliterative cornucopia of meat-space locations. This show has got to cost a fortune to produce. Money well spent.