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Archive for January, 2013

Late last year, the internet broke in half when Disney not only announced that they bought Star Wars, but that they are making more movies.

Today, the internet went nuts again when they finally announced the new director….J.J. Abrams.

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Excitement and fear was had by fanboys (as there usually is) but I have ask…what EXACTLY are we excited/fearing for?

Because with all the talk I’ve personally had of more movies (who’s going to direct them, will the original cast come back) surprisingly the least brought up subject that comes up is; what the hell are these movies going to be?

When Star Wars first came out, no one suspected anything with this film. What a difference that was comepared to the expectations and anticipation for the first prequel.

With the prequels, we as fans had a basic idea of where these films could go. We knew we were going to meet Darth Vader before he turned, we knew we were going to see Obi-Wan at his Jedi fighting prime, we knew we were going to meet Luke and Leia’s mom etc. We could speculate all day long what these movies were going to be because we knew where they had to end…they had to end with setting up the status quo for Star Wars: A New Hope.

But these new movies? What are they? Sure, we can come up with our OWN  ideas of where they can go. We can look at the expanded universe novels and comics for possible direction (thought I wouldn’t count on them using ANYTHING from those…)

But the reality is….NONE OF US (outside of the Disney and the new films creative team) have any clue what these movies will be.

The Empire is destroyed. Anakins dramatic arc was fulfilled. Luke has his approval from his ghostly mentors. There isn’t any OBVIOUS place to go from this point on.

….but that does make it exciting doesn’t it?

You know what that affords us? Surprise, something that Star Wars hasn’t had in a LONG time.

The expectations of where the Prequels should/and didn’t go don’t hinder these new films.

They literally can go where they want, and that’s a reason to be both excited and afraid.

So, why do we want these new movies to be good? Anyone can argue that we don’t need them. We COULD just watch the old ones again(plus-minus the prequels/remastered versions/ewok blinking versions….your choice.) BUT, why do we still hope for the best and want these movies to work?

The same reason we wanted Episode I to be good a long long time ago; we want to be excited for the newold.

Newold? That’s what I’m calling this  trend of reboots/or returning of old franchises. The Daniel Craig Bond series, the Nolan Batman films, Tron Legacy, the new Die Hards, Rambo and the 2005-now Doctor Who fall in this category. To me it means we want what we know from the series, but just done differently enough to be fresh.

Also, look at where all those franchise have in common. All these franchises fell apart in some fashion. They became stale in someway or became forgotten. They needed someone to come in, swoop in, dust it off, and remind us why we liked it the first place.

I know that’s what I felt J.J. Abrams did with his Star Trek reboot.

Not gonna lie, I’m an Abrams fan. I will defend Mission: Impossible III. I thoroughly enjoyed Abrams take on Spielberg movies (Super 8). I think the pilot to LOST is one of the best TV pilots I’ve ever seen. And man… I LOOOOOVED his Star Trek film.

Abrams is a right fit, and I think he specializes in Newold movies.

Star Wars needs that person to give it a new shine. That’s why I’m IN LOVE with the new Stars Wars comic that just came out.

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I think it does great newold. It uses the old, classic versions the characters but adds new and differently elements to them. It gives us new dramatic angles to the characters that we never got to see. It also gives us plenty of elements that make Star Wars…well…Star Wars.

So…now we play the waiting game. I personally kinda hope that Disney/Lucasfilms will let Abrams usual secretive style promotion that he’s been known to do. Like I said before, I want to be surprise and Abrams understands that I want that.(I.E. Who IS the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness)

All I can say to Abrams is…good luck. If he though making the Star Trek fans happy  was going to be hard, I’m pretty damn sure he knows that  the Star Wars fans are going to be MUCH worse. To many fans, Abrams is the key to fixing their childhood…which is extreme, but I know they exist.

I’ve personally learned to not be like that. All I want is a fun, adventure filled movie. I want the character interaction to be engaging. I want the score to be rousing. I want the action to be exciting. I want it to be funny. I want the characters to know the stakes and to get emotionally hurt sometimes.

It isn’t that hard for Abrams. In my eyes, he’s pulled it off before. I’m not asking for the second coming, I just want it to be fun.

Just be fun. No pressure. Just be fun, because that all Star Wars ever was in the end.

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And if the new movie is terrible?…hey….we’ve been through it before….

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I personally don’t feel like I’m qualified to define what makes a movie the “best”.

Film, like all art, is subjective. Saying something is the “best” implies (at least, to me) something everyone agrees with. Well, I don’t think I can defend what I think is the best, but I can easily defend what I LIKE.

Earlier last week I wrote a statement that read “Sometimes I judge a movie because I think the 9 year old version of me would flipped for it.”  I want you to keep that in mind when you look at my top ten favorites of last year.

Wow, last year. 2012 was quiet a year for movies. An abundant of riches of a wide array of films. While figuring out my top ten, I seriously had to make some hard decisions.

First, I’m gonna give you my top four runner ups. Trust me, some of these jumped back and fourth in the top ten. All of these I saw only once, so in due time, when I see them again, maybe one of the top ten movies will be bumped off.  Any other year they would have easily been in the top ten, but man, it was just that kind of year for me. So, starting with…

Les Miserables– Stunning performances from Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks and Eddie Radmayne, the film really brings the famous Broadway musical to big epic life. The songs and numbers are spectacular, but sadly Russell Crowes performance as Javert isn’t perfect (though I don’t hate like the rest of the internet does) it does hold back the film to go higher on the list. That being said, I still have the songs and numbers stuck in my head so I can’t wait to revisit it again.

Argo– Ben Affleck gave me the kind film that I miss seeing. Smart, tense, mature and exciting. The final sequence was tension filled to the brim. This is my favorite of Afflecks directed films, and I can’t help to think he’s only getting started.

Wreck-it Ralph– The Pixar film I didn’t get this year (sorry Brave…you looked very pretty though!) The film surprised me how emotionally invested I got with Ralph and more surprising…Vanellope Von Schweetz. Sarah Silverman gives one of her best performances voicing Vanellope, and her story really surprised me.

Cloud Atlas– It’s big budget art, and I have to respect that. I love the fact that I know that I lot of people hated it as much as the people who loved it. I couldn’t help but be impressed. The scope, the performances from Tom Hanks, Bae Doo-Na, and Ben Whishaw. I also dearly loved how they edited this film. It constantly challenges you to pay attention, to not look away. Look away, you might miss something.

Ok…here we go, my top ten….

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10.) Chronicle

Surprises are nice. I love surprises. Surprises for films being released are hard to come by nowadays. When I saw the trailer to this, I had very little interest in watching another found footage movie. Here comes the surprise, it’s not. It’s wants to be better then that. It’s got characters I legitimately give a damn about.  It’s wonderfully directed. It’s smartly written. The acting is great. It’s a fresh take on the this subgenre of “superpowered” people movies/tv shows we’ve been getting lately, and most of us didn’t knew this thing existed until a few weeks before it came out. It’s made $64,314,970 in the US and Canada alone. Like I said, I love surprises.

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9.) The Raid: Redemption-

Straight up, no bones about it, this a modern action movie classic. BRILLIANT! AMAZING! FIGHTS! A simple (but effective) story. Great directing and editing. The score kicks ass. Oh, and did I mention how GOD DAMN AMAZING THE FIGHTS ARE?!?! This is pure adrenaline movie making, the kind that they don’t make as much as they used to.  You see this if all you want to see is spectacle and action, and you will NOT be disappointed.

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8.) Moonrise Kingdom

While I always like Wes Anderson films, I haven’t always loved every single one. This the first time I truly connected with one of his movies since Rushmore, which is my all time favorite one of  his. The quirks that makes Wes…well…Wes, truly shine, making this strange coming of age/love story  a special movie.  Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward give remarkable performances as Sam and Suzy. Loved Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Bruce Willis.  Loved the music.  It’s the most Wes Anderson-y movie that Wes has made, and I loved every second of it.

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7.) The Cabin in the Woods-

Being too clever can be a dangerous thing for a film. It can sometimes feel like the filmmakers are trying too hard to impress you as oppose to just tell the story.  So when a movie does BOTH, it’s an exciting thing. Director/co-writer Drew Goddard and co-writer/producer Joss Whedon (hmmm….that name sounds familiar) crafted a movie that feels both familiar yet different. OH, and it’s gory, hilarious, exciting and so much fun. This has to have one of the best third acts of ANY movie this year. Just a blast. We horror fans should feel so lucky to have this film.

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6.) Skyfall

The Bond film that reminds us all why we go and watch Bond films. It blends the aesthetic that made the Daniel Craig era of Bond so appealing to the new fans yet brings back the fun of the original films. It’s also one of the most BEAUTIFUL looking films of the year, thanks to Roger Deakins amazing cinematography.  Javier Bardem also kills as one of the best Bond villains in the series history. I now can’t wait to see the next Bond. A great film to celebrate the 50th anniversary.  Now…..BRING BACK BLOFELD!!

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5.) Sleepwalk With Me

Hilarious, real, and mature. Writer/director/star Mike Birbiglia crafted a first film that many would call Woody Allen-esque. I won’t, I’m calling it Birbigliastic….or not, you can ignore that. As I wrote in my Blu Ray review of the film: “Birbiglia crafted a film that wonderfully balances the humor and the drama. It feels so effortless clever in how it allows us to understand Matt (the character that Mike plays) and really get into his headspace. It would be very easy to accidentally have us dislike Matt, what with the some of the choices he makes throughout the film. Thankfully, the smart writing from Birbiglia (along with co-writers Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia and Seth Barrish) never falters, and I remained invested with Matt’s story…even when he messes up.” Since owning the Blu Ray I realized I ended up watching it 4 times that week.  I look forward to Mikes next film, especially since his first film that is as good as this.

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4.) Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino makes movies. No shit right? But you don’t understand…he makes…MOVIES. Movies that know how to BE movies. Films that firmly live in the fictional world they live in. Characters that move to music that, while they shouldn’t know there’s music, seemingly feels like they DO know there’s an awesome song being played for them as they walk and stand. Characters that know what they should be doing in the genre they’re in, but refuse to act the typical way they are suppose to act in the genre of film they’re in.  Tarantino writes dialogue you wanna memorize. He makes films that you wish had a 100 sequels/spin offs, just so you can spend more time with the characters. He helps give actors memorable roles that they clearly are having fun playing.  He creates soundtracks that you wanna own. He creates moments that he knows will get a crowd excited. Tarantino makes MOVIES, and I love him for doing so. Django Unchained is no different. He made another badass film, and I am dying to see it again.

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3.) Looper

Had the film been ONLY about Bruce Willis chasing Joe Gordon-Levitt in the near future, that would have been enough. BUT, it’s not just that. It ask big questions about morality, and it does so in the only way a Sci-fi film can. It does it originally too. Writer/director Rian Johnson continues to make films that are more then what it seems and he never fails to impress. The big winner for the film to me is definitely  Joseph Gordon-Levitts incredible performance as Joe. Never being a parody of Bruce Willis, he brilliantly takes the essence of Willis and creates a character that is all his own. Add that to the great storytelling, action, and exciting world building that Johnson crafted, Looper is another unique notch in Johnsons film catalog.

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2.) Beast of the Southern Wild

This film lives in it’s own world. It’s a larger then life fable. It’s emotionally gut wrenching. It’s sensational filmmaking that takes you on a trip. You will meet characters that are fascinating, strange, but utterly compelling. You will see one of the most charismatic performances of the year from the 9 year old actress, Quvenzhane Wallis. You will hear a score the tells as much story as the images on the screen (and it’s my personal favorite score of the year, give a little listen to it here.) After I saw the film, it didn’t leave me for days. If you like to watch movies to be transported, then I suggest to take a trip to this film.

and finally my number one pick is….

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1.) Battleship-

Now, I know…this film gets a lot of shit, but …hear me out. I truly thinkBWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn’t do it! I can’t keep a straight face about that. Ok…for reals, my number one is pretty obvious…..

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1.) Marvels The Avengers

This movie is the film I’ve dreamed of seeing since childhood. I got into movies the same time I started reading comics. I grew up watching/reading the good and the bad superhero stories. I love this genre too much. This movie bottles what makes reading all those comics that I’ve read and finally put it on the big screen. This film is pure joy to me. Any flaws it has in it’s script, it goes away by charm and personality. As a Joss Whedon fan, I’m happy to see him make something that connected to not only the comic fans, but to everyone else too. I’m happy to see a cast that brings it’s “A” game. I’m happy that it’s hopeful and bright. It’s a crowd pleaser that makes watching a movie in a room full of strangers a great experience. I love it when you and the rest of the audience is laughing together, clapping together all because your sharing this one big movie. It’s the reason why I saw the thing 10 times (?!) in the theaters this year. I want to relive that excitement again and again. Those are the kind of movies I grew up loving, and I am glad to know I can still feel that way about seeing a flick.

Whew….2012. That was quiet good. So 2013, lets see what you got, but I’m not gonna lie, 2012’s movies were quiet a doozy.

And there were so many more that came out that I HAVEN’T seen but I still want too:
Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Jeff who lives at Home, The Master, End of Watch, Seven Psychopaths, Lincoln, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Holy Motors, Silver Linning Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.

This list could STILL change.

2013, not to put any pressure on ya, but you have a hard act to follow.

How about you guys? What’s on your list?

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