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random reviews and other thoughts

2011 Hits and Misses

I was looking over all the movies that came out this past year and realized that I saw a good number of movies. Some good, some bad, some so bad they were good. Looking back it’s the ones that surprised me that really stand out, the ones that surpassed my expectations are the ones I remember most. On the flip side, it’s the ones that failed to live up to their hype (even in my own head) that I look down on most. But more on those below. Here are my 2011 most entertaining and disappointing …

Most Entertaining


X-Men: First Class
After “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” I was a bit leery of another prequel in the X-Men saga, but I’m a sucker for a Marvel movie so I checked it out. And it was really good. A strong cast led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as a young Prof. X and Magneto respectively. I’m a big fan of the original trilogy and it was fun to see where all the characters come from since I haven’t read any of the source literature.


The Descendants
George Clooney. Win. Beautiful Hawaii setting. Double win. Dramatic and heartfelt story in the hands of a capable director. All around, it’s a win. It may be a bit slow for some but Clooney doesn’t disappoint as a soon-to-be widower of a philandering wife. He and his daughters island hop in order to find out what is comatose wife was up to on a journey that brings them all closer together.


Captain America
Again, I have a big soft-spot for Marvel movies. Chris Evans surprised me as Captain America. I’m use to him playing more snarky and sarcastic roles (“Fantastic Four,” “What’s Your Number”), but he gave real depth to the red, white, and blue hero. Plus, it was a sneak peek into the upcoming “Avengers” extravaganza that I can not wait to see!


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
I eagerly awaited each of the previous Harry Potter films, almost as much as I eagerly awaited each of the books to come in the mail, but with this one … I don’t know … it just made me kind of sad to have it all finally coming to an end. That being said, the last installment didn’t disappoint. It was well made, had exceptional effects and stayed relatively close to the original story.


Midnight in Paris
I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. It’s a Woody Allen movie, and you can tell, but the story was something unexpected and it has an amazing cast that helped bring characters like Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, the Fitzgeralds, Ernest Hemingway, and Cole Porter to life. It’s a wonderfully fun and surreal film.


Lincoln Lawyer
At first, I resisted “The Lincoln Lawyer” but I forget that when Matthew McConaughey puts on a shirt, he actually does know how to act. A good story is key to a good movie. Here, it is completely engrossing. You aren’t really sure who’s lying or who’s not. You aren’t really sure who you want to believe either. Once the truth does come out you don’t really know where it will lead everyone. I was hooked from beginning to end.


Win Win
Another small film that really surprised me. Paul Giamatti is an excellent actor and chooses really good characters. In “Win Win” he’s a struggling lawyer and volunteer high school wrestling coach who takes in a clients grandson. The story is engrossing and heartwarming and makes a great film that more people should definitely seek out.


Friends with Benefits
So, I still might have a tiny crush on Justin Timberlake from his ‘N Sync days, but that doesn’t cloud my judgement of him as an actor in the slightest. He and Mila Kunis make a perfect couple in this rom-com that does a good job of balancing the romance and comedy. Woody Harrelson is great in his supporting role. It’s predictable, but it’s fun. Will Gluck (“Easy A”) is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors.


Crazy, Stupid, Love
Yes it’s another rom-com but there’s a more dramatic feel to it. Plus, listen to this cast: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon, and Marisa Tomei. It was a delight to watch all of these actors work off each other and weave together the multiple storylines that don’t feel forced or overworked. A lot of things could have gone wrong here, but didn’t. It all worked.


When Will Reiser sat down to write the semi-autobiographical “50/50” he didn’t try to write a comedy. He tried to write a real and honest story about a man with cancer. The result, like life, is emotional, poignant and at times really funny. “50/50” is an uplifting and touching film about life and death and finding humor wherever you can. It’s a must-see for anyone who enjoys a beautifully scripted story and well-rounded characters.

The films below may not be bad films, just ones that I was expecting more from. But some of them just are bad films.

Most Disappointing


Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bring us a movie for the fanboy or fangirl in all of us. Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of either “Shaun of the Dead,” or “Hot Fuzz” you’re going to be disappointed. “Paul” wasn’t terrible and does provide some laughs. Most of them come from the titular character. And I never thought I’d be saying that the best part of a movie was Seth Rogen.


Cowboys & Aliens
With a name like “Cowboys & Aliens” expectations can’t be too high. But with the caliber of the cast, and Jon Favreau directing, I just expected more. It’s almost like the film took itself too seriously. I’m not made at it, just disappointed.


Straw Dogs
The original 1970’s version starring Dustin Hoffman wouldn’t make a list of my favorite movies either but this version didn’t help. It’s well acted but is way, way, WAY too slow. Although I did appreciate all the topless Alexander Skarsgard scenes.


Sucker Punch
What promised to be a badass girl power movie wasn’t more than an excuse to dress up hot chicks in as little as possible and give them weapons. The movie starts and ends with empowering messages about finding your inner strength, but the majority of the film abandons that idea completely. I believe there is a good story idea in there somewhere it’s just underdeveloped. I guess no matter how short the skirt, or how big the gun, nothing can make a lobotomy sexy.


Shark Night
You know those movies that are so bad, so over-the-top cheesy, so ridiculously horrible that they go full circle in there crappiness and become good again, or craptastic if you will? “Shark Night 3D” isn’t one of those. It’s just bad. Not bad … terrible. No, not terrible … but totally and utterly horrendous. Some might call it the blatant rape of ones eyes.


3 thoughts on “2011 Hits and Misses

  1. I actually really loved Paul – possibly because I went into it with fairly low expectations. I’d already heard it wasn’t anywhere near as good as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, so I expected it would really suck. I surprised myself by laughing out loud several times. I totally agree about Cowboys and Aliens, though. The first half of the film was really good, but the second that gal got up out of the fire, the whole thing went right to hell. We were disappointed.

    Posted by Marci Sischo | January 2, 2012, 5:00 pm
  2. I also had high expectations for Paul. Maybe their script only works if they work with Edgar Wright. The Descendants is a really a great movie, but it’s a sad heartfelt drama, because I found myself crying in some parts rather than being entertained. Source Code is pretty entertaining too.

    Posted by thatfellow | January 6, 2012, 8:32 pm

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