Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2011 Year in Review

So once again, we are at the end of the Award Season.  Here is a post I created at the beginning of Award Season...it seems appropriate to revisit it now!  The good news is that now, for the rest of the year, we can focus on only fun movies!  Anyway, enjoy the following!

Entertainment Weekly has published their list of the 25 movies you should see before Oscar night.  I – being the obsessive movie fan that I am – will list those for you, then list (in my opinion) the top movies from last year.

So – here’s EW’s list:
  1. The Artist – black and white, silent movie.  Both leads are rumored to be up for Actor/Actress Oscars.  It's a story about the fading glory of a huge silent film star in the advent of ‘talking’ movies.  Jimmy Fallon is swearing it’s one of the most amazing movies he’s ever seen…I do trust Jimmy Fallon.  However, I saw this movie and hated it. I rarely 'hate' films, but sheesh, I did not get this.  In my opinion (only an opinion :), the silence caused the emotions to be choppy.  To the credit of the actors, the emotions were clear, despite not having dialogue to describe them, but they did seem to go from emotion to emotion really quickly.  And the score of the film, which becomes insanely important when there is no dialogue, at times did not seem to fit with the actions.  All that being said, I will admit it was an original idea (not that original - Mel Brooks did it) and it was very well put together and expertly performed.  It did just win the Oscar for best picture, but would not have been my choice.
  2. The Descendents – George Clooney stars in a family drama about a man trying to put his family back together while his wife lays in a coma.  Shailene Woodley plays the older of the two daughters and steals most of the movie…the parts left over that Beau Bridges's hair and Matthew Lillard didn’t already steal.  I did see it, thought it was well done, and thought Clooney was amazing.  The first time I have paused and thought to myself, "wow, he's really good at this."
  3. War Horse – Spielberg’s epic WWI horse movie – apparently based on a play? Or there’s a play based on it?  I don’t know…I really really really don’t want to see it.  Like every Speilberg movie - score by John Williams.
  4. The Help – A story about civil rights era African-American maids in the south.  I saw it – thought it was well done, and beautifully acted, but did not enjoy it.  Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were both nominated and Emma Stone proves once again how amazing she is.  Also – that chocolate pie should probably have been nominated…and watch for Nelsan Ellis proving he could have a future beyond Layfayette.
  5. Hugo – Scorsese’s first family-friendly film.  Apparently has a film-preservation plotline.  It won all the technical categories.  Really?  Better visual effects that Transformers?  Hmm...I'm afraid I have no interest.
  6. Midnight in Paris –  My parents both liked it.  It’s a Paris-set fantasy in which Owen Wilson meets famous people from the past. I did see it - and so far it's my favorite Woody Allen movie - but I hated all the others, so what is that really saying?  It was entertaining, but really Owen Wilson (the Wilson I like the least) plays a young Woody Allen.  The scene stealing star is Underworld's Michael Sheen playing a character who is like that one guy we all know and really cannot stand.
  7. Moneyball – Brad Pitt eats his way through a slow baseball based story.  Best Actor nomination for him, and  for supporting actor Jonah Hill.  Jonah Hill nominated for an Oscar, who would have thought?  He did give a very good, understanted performance.  I did see this, and I found it interesting, but very very boring.  I actually love the scene at the end, where BPitt says "how can you not be romantic about baseball?"
  8. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – the American version by David Fincher.  I am still angry with Fincher for giving me nightmares with Seven and I hated Fight Club, so I really dragged my feet on this one.  I read the book and finally saw the movie.  I hated it, but will admit it was well done.  Dark and violent, and very intense.  Rooney Mara was amazing - but any movie that kills a cat immediately loses me.  Can't help it - I'm biased.
  9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – post 9/11 drama about a son who loses his father.  Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock provide the star power, but from what I’ve heard, the breakout star is the boy, Thomas Horn.  My brother is claiming this is one of the best of the year (on this list).  It’s going to take a lot to get me to see it.
  10. The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick’s (the New World, Thin Red Line) latest offer.  Apparently the story is about three boys in the 1950s.  And the loss of innocence.  I don’t know, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are in it – no interest.
  11. Beginners – Christopher Plummer stars as a widower who comes out of the closet and begins enjoying his life.  Ewan McGregor stars as his son.  Saw it and really want to argue with the marketing on this - it is not, repeat NOT funny.  It is very sad and slow and boring.
  12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2 – or you know, HP7pt2.  I did love this, it was a good ending to a great series.  It tried to tie up all the ends from the stories and I really enjoyed it, darker and moodier than the rest of the series, a real action picture disguised as a kids movie.
  13. The Iron Lady – Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher. Best actress Oscar winner, I'm not sure anyone else ever had a chance. I didn't know anything about Margaret Thatcher before seeing this, I vaguely remember some of the events.  The movie was good and very interesting, and well done, in a non-linear kind of way.
  14. Rango – Gore Verbinski’s animated western.  I actually enjoyed this movie quite a bit.  Johnny Depp was great as the title lizard, but my favorite part was Timothy Olyphant as the “spirit of the west”, an absolutely brilliant bit in the middle of the film.
  15. My Week With Marilyn – Michelle Williams channels Marilyn Monroe and Kenneth Branagh plays Laurence Olivier.  I don’t like Michelle Williams, but I have a passing interest in this.
  16. Shame – Michael Fassbender (2011 was the year of the Fassbender) stars as a sex addict.  Also – he gets naked…full frontal naked.  I suppose I should see this, you know for the art of the film….
  17. Albert Nobbs – Glenn Close first originated this role on stage, and co-wrote the screenplay.  The story is that women are passing as men in 19th century Ireland.  That description bored me - so good luck getting me to see the film.
  18. The Ides of March – Clooney directs this political movie featuring next-big-thing Ryan Gosling.  For the record, Gosling was in the Mickey Mouse Club the same time as JC Chasez, Timberlake, Aguilera, Brittany Spears, and Glee’s Matt Morris.  Just remember that while he continues to be a great actor.  I rented this and could not finish it...sooooo boring.
  19. Kung Fu Panda 2 – I enjoyed this, maybe more than the first, especially JCVD’s alligator, but was this really the top of animation last year? Sheesh.
  20. Bridesmaids – Perhaps the movie of the year, certainly the comedy of the year.  Absolutely fantastic on just about every level.  And yes, Melissa McCarthy should easily win best supporting Actress – if there’s any justice, but the academy tends to not think comedy is worthwhile.
  21. J.Edgar – Clint Eastwood’s annual December Oscar-y film.  Heavy-duty biopic about J.Edgar Hoover.  I’m sure it’s well done, but, you know…yawn.
  22. We Need To Talk About Kevin – Tilda Swinton plays the mother of a budding psychopath.  Yikes.  No thanks.
  23. Drive – Ryan Gosling stars in a weird violent movie.  Everyone I talk to seems to hate this movie.
  24. Young Adult – Charlize Theron in a Diablo Cody written piece.  A “dark” comedy.  She moves back to her hometown in an attempt to steal her high school boyfriend away from his wife.  Yikes and no thanks again.
  25. Paradise Lost 3:  Purgatory – the documentary about three West Memphis teens who were maybe wrongly convicted of murder.  Triple Yikes...big time avoidance on this one.

There you go – the list according to the critics.  And now, my list of the top movies from last year:
  1. Captain America:  Long time coming and it delivered.  It will be a solid foundation for the upcoming Avengers dynasty.  Well crafted, simple and clean.  Cap is an important hero, and this country was due for a reinvigoration of good, old fashioned patriotism, played with just the right tone.  Chris Evans did a fabulous job.
  2. Thor:  A complete surprise for me – directed by Kenneth Branaugh (the reincarnation of  Shakespeare) with epic drama flair.  I wasn’t expecting much – so this blew me away.  Beautiful and exciting with my favorite subtle 3D.  Another great piece in the Avengers puzzle.
  3. Bridesmaids – Never mind all the talk about how ground-breaking this movie was: you never see raunchy comedies featuring all women, and who knew an all female cast could carry a film, how it was the 'female' Hangover, etc.  Just accept that it was far and away the funniest movie of the year. No other adjectives.  Period.
  4. Fast Five – A complete surprise.  The definition of simple and pure action popcorn movie.  Good looking dudes, fast cars, lots of action, hey…if it ain’t broke…
  5. Transformers, Dark of the Moon:  I have already gotten on my soapbox about Michael Bay movies.  This one was big, loud, aggressive and over the top – and I loved every minute of it! Again, beautifully subtle 3D.  Also – still have a crush on Bumblebee.
  6. X-Men First Class – I was suspicious about this, did we really need a re-boot?  The answer is yes!  Again, smart and funny with the right amount of action.  Good for fanboys and new viewers alike.  Also – perfect casting, who knew McAvoy was the young Patrick Stewart and even better – Fassbender wasa stand-out as young Magneto…year of the Fassbender!
  7. Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol – surprisingly fantastic.  Excellent non-stop action – supreme popcorn-y magic to finish out the year.
  8. Warrior – If you missed this when it was out, because you thought it looked too much like last year’s The Fighter and starred two non-americans as two American brothers, put it on your Netflix list now.  Fantastic drama about two brothers entering a round-robin MMA tournament.  Tom Hardy removes any of your "but will he be a good Bane" questions.  Amazing performance from Nick Nolte – worthy of a nomination.  Also – fun Kurt Angle cameo. Which doesn’t always help a film – see Dylan Dog…
  9. The Eagle – Netflix this one too – It’s much better than you think.  Channing Tatum plays a Roman legionnaire who goes searching for a golden eagle standard that his father’s company lost in the wilds of 14 AD Scotland.  Jamie Bell shines and Mark Strong shows up, and Donald Sutherland plays Donald Sutherland in a toga.  Compelling and beautifully shot – although I will admit I like the sword and sandal genre – so I’m biased.
  10. Crazy Stupid Love – Undefineably good.  Seriously funny, funnily serious – a demonstration that good small movies are out there.  Steve Carrell is really good.  Again, Emma Stone is genius and Gosling's abs steal the movie.
  11. Sherlock Holmes, Game of Shadows – Wonderful sequel.  Fast-paced and intelligent. Good acting, quick jokes…and of course, urban camouflage.
  12. Muppets – Yay! Finally another good Muppet movie!  I love it – great jokes, fun songs, awesome celebrity cameos and Camille the chicken.  The man or muppet song was great – but my favorite was Me Party – I’m having a party just for me!
  13. Immortals – Sword and sandal movies can be a tough sell – as previously stated, I’ve always liked them, and I thought this one was very good.  Tarsem is an exceptionally visual director, and pieces of the movie looked liked paintings.  Good action, and a good intro to new Superman, Henry Cavil.
  14. Adjustment Bureau – Interesting and unexpected.  A twisty movie with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt running from Zod and a bunch of other guys in snappy hats playing with peoples’ fates.  My favorite scene is the chase through one door as they are escaping, and the man chasing them opens it and it’s a closet! Crazy!        
  15. Tower Heist – Better than I thought, maybe marketed poorly.  Brett Ratner’s comedy with a little action, or thriller heist movie with a little comedy…I’m not quite sure how to classify it, but I did enjoy it.  Who knew Alan Alda could pull off smarmy so well?
  16. Unknown – Early in 2011 Liam Neeson went Euro action-y again with this twisty piece.  I’m happy anytime something has an end I did not see coming!
  17. HP7pt2 – I really want to think of pt1 and pt2 as one movie, but pt1 was a lot of set up and anticipation for pt2.  Very entertaining and a satisfying finish.
  18. Source Code – Very interesting little sci-fi action piece with Jake Gyllenhall reliving the same 8 minutes over and over until he stops a bomb.  Again – an ending that you won’t quite see coming and might need to discuss, so far everyone I have talked to had a different idea about what the end meant!
  19. Battle Los Angeles – Cloverfield with soldiers and smaller aliens.  Really small, tight, intense and pretty believable.  Scary and tough, with many scenes that look like the embedded footage from overseas.  Also – props to Nee-yo for living all the way through the end!
  20. Limitless - Bradley Cooper brings back a little Will from Alias in this clever piece about a pill that removes all your limits.  Really well done - slow start but really picks up.  DeNiro plays DeNiro in a suit, but Cooper proves he's a real movie star.  The problem with this movie is it makes everyone want that pill.
  21. Season of the Witch – okay, go ahead and disagree…but you all know how much I love terrible movies in which everyone acting in it is fully aware it’s a terrible movie and sets out to have a good time anyway.  Lush landscapes, crazy red-eyed wolves, creepy maybe-witches, a plague-ridden Christopher Lee (take that Dooku!) and a huge CG demon.  And oh yeah, the key to everything: Ron Perlman.  Awesomely terrible, terribly awesome.

Not making the top 20:  Mechanic ( I love Statham, but not as much as I dislike Foster), I am Number 4 (wasted potential, but yum Timothy Olyphant and Kevin Durand), Chronicles of Narnia, Super 8 (just okay for me), New Conan the Barbarian (sigh, I loved the first one so much, but it just didn’t…), The Descendents (whatever), The Help (also whatever).

In my opinion, these were the worst of the year:
  1. Breaking Dawn – ugh, the worst vampires, and lamest werewolves and the absolute worst role model for girls ever.  Can this just be over with already?  We need to get Buffy up to that town to wipe out everyone.
  2. Sucker Punch – Horrible storyline and insulting to boot - when will men who make movies stop trying to sell us this nonsense?  It’s about strong kick-ass chicks! Is it? Really?  Then why are they 15 and dressed like hookers?  Chicks can be badass without looking like fetish models in some weird European porn.  Might be time for some women to make action movies where women can be action stars.  Here’s hoping for Haywire…
  3. Green Lantern – Oh, I had such high hopes.  It just had the tone all wrong.  I love Ryan Reynolds but he is not Hal Jordan (David Boreanz is), he is Wally West.  All the parts of this movie not set on earth looked beautiful, but again, tone…geez.  Green Lantern is an intergalactic cop.  Make it like a cop movie – serious – If Christopher Nolan has taught us anything, it’s to expect more from your comic book movies.  Thor and Captain America delivered, Green Lantern did not.
  4. Green Hornet. Good lord see the above comment.  Jay Chou was the best thing about this movie.  Seth Rogen was the worst.  Ick.
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides:  This is one of those where my expectations were far too high – but all the interviews and previews assured that this was going to be better than the previous two terrible installments.  Too many characters, too loosely connected, too weird.  I might have had enough Captain Jack for a while.
  6. Priest – Remember how I said I love when people in bad movies know they’re bad and have a good time anyway?  The flipside to that is if people are in a bad movie and try to pretend it’s good.  Priest – based on an asian graphic novel, could have been terribly great…instead was just terrible.  A shame too, because I like Paul Bettany in action sci-fi pieces.  This was just awful.
  7. Cowboys and Aliens – another piece where my expectations were way too high.  I thought this movie just did not deliver.  Average effects and a bunch of characters (a lot of characters) that I just didn’t care about.
  8. Three Musketeers – This made me sad because I love love Paul Anderson movies.  Maybe it’s because I love the 90s version one so much – you remember, the one with Charlie Sheen (before he went crazy), Keifer Sutherland, and Oliver Platt, introducing Chris O’Donnell – featuring that amazing song by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting? Here’s that video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofA3URC1wyk Come to think of it, the best part of this new one (aside from Ray Stevenson – love him!) was the Take That song over the end credits.  Here’s that video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlVw6eGpY5g&ob=av2e
  9. In Time – Again, wasted potential, and too high expectations, and a movie with a plot that just trailed off.  Such a cool idea, but just not developed correctly.

Wow, that was exhaustive – if you’re still reading, thank you!  As always - feel free to disagree - just my opinions after all!  Looking forward to a great 2012 with tons of great movies!