I'm a Better Dad Than Him. . .

The Ol' Spicy Ranch Movie Round Up

In the past year, I haven't seen a large amount of movies. I'm sure for some that is a badge of honour were you can gloat, "See, I've only went to see one movie, because my life is too full of running and hiking and eating granola to worry about such frivolous things such as movies." But I don't wear such a badge -- actually, I don't wear any badges because I don't need no stinking badges. I look back at a time where I watched almost a movie a week and I see those as being the good days. I can't see me ever possibly going to see a movie a week ever again, but I'd like to try to at least get it close to a movie a month. I remember as a kid being captivated by watching so many larger than life extravaganzas at the cinema, and a part of me has never changed from being enamoured with the magic of film. A good movie actually gets my creative juices flowing and causes me to come up with even more ideas for my own writing. I definitely get inspiration from reading novels and books, and I actually do that on a fairly regular basis (which reminds me, so many book reviews to try to tackle), but I love the different type of story telling that a great movie provides.

I'm hoping to try to catch a few more movies this summer, though there aren't a lot of the big budget summer blockbusters that are really leaving me with the inspiration to pull money out my wallet. Well, except for Super 8, which is probably the first movie that I've actually had child like glee when thinking about watching it -- though, I realize that also really sets me up for some major disappointment. I'm hoping to do a little summer movie season dining and improving on the movie watching resume that has been lacking over the last several years.

But I have seen some movies this past year. Though I really realized how little I've watched when the Academy Award nominations came out and I had only seen one of the films up for Best Picture (Toy Story 3). It wasn't because I wasn't interested in any of those movies, it was actually the exact opposite; I wished I had watched almost every one of them -- though, there is this thing called Blu-Rays that apparently allow me to watch movies after they've left cinemas, so I should check that out.

Anyway, I have watched a few films in the past 12 months or so, and I've been meaning to do film reviews of all of them (and actually did on some), but keep on pushing them back while writing about my career or lack of time instead. So, I decided I would make a list of all the movies (I remember) I watched for the first time (including films that are a few years old) this year and rank them from my least favourite to my favourite (with the total understanding that the list is one that could change a day from now depending on what I eat for lunch or how much my dog farts). I'll also provide a really short review on each film.

Here we go, my rather pitiful list of films I remember watching for the first time over the past year or so:

Battle: Los Angeles: A completely different movie than what the trailers promised and actually has a premise that has so much potential. The fact it didn't properly live up to the potential is what makes this film so utterly disappointing. Instead of being a straight up, glossy science fiction action movie, it tries to create the feel of a gritty, down in the trenches war film, which is a different spin for this genre. Unfortunately, it keeps all the alien movie cliches from Independence Day and Starship Troopers without the over the top epic battle scenes. The poor acting, writing and clichés cause it to totally miss the war movie vibe it wants to create and become an ugly dumb alien movie (and dumb alien movies need to be pretty and shiny with over the top battles).

Hereafter: An interesting premise and idea, but it gets muddled with too many characters and storylines going on. It is far less thought provoking then it thinks it is. For the most part, it is just a really dull movie with no big pay off.

Thor: It's a big, dumb comic book movie, but in a good way. I really liked the parallel of the polished, CGI universe of Asgard with the grittier, dirty looking Earth setting. It is a film that realizes how silly it is and revels in it with some fun moments of humour and over the top action. It does have clichés and has some transport truck size plot holes and overly corny dialogue at times, but it’s a big, budget summer movie so you shouldn't be expecting much else. Though I felt the ending was really anti-climatic (and confusing) and didn't provide the big war that had been building for the entire movie. On the comic book movie scale, it probably floats somewhere in the middle of the heap being a little behind X Men 2 or so.

Predators: Its Predator meets the The Cube, except hundred times less cerebral than anything The Cube pulled off. It is a fun little action movie with the cool kills and explosions that you expect. It didn't redefine the genre or anything, but you should have fun if you turn off your brain and know what to expect (and don’t nitpick how it doesn’t quite follow cannon).

Expendables: A wonderful homage to 80s actions movies, and my only wish was that it left out the annoying camera effects of modern action films and went total 80s here.

The Kingdom: A friend of mine has been trying to get me to see this film for a few years now and I am glad that I finally watched it. The interesting part of this movie is that it shows both the American side and the 'terrorist' side of things, and leaves it for the viewer to sort out their opinions on the matter. It also isn't an overly preachy movie either and has one of the best final chase scenes I've seen in a long. A really good movie that never got it's due when it first came out.

Get Him to the Greek: It is really crude and crass, but it is also absolutely hilarious. I actually went with people who don't normally like this type of movie but they all found it really funny. A movie that really established Russel Brand and Jonah Hill as future stars of comedy films and one of the best buddy films in a long time. Sean 'P Diddy' Combs absolutely shocked me with one of the funniest and craziest performances ever.

Toy Story 3: A sweet, funny and thoughtful movie that confirms why Pixar is the king of animated films. The effects are top notch as always and the story is one that will resonate with both children and adults (especially adults that really liked their toys).

Town: I know there is a lot of hate for Ben Affleck, but he stars and directs a great movie here. He knows his limits and gave himself a role where he didn't need to stretch his acting chops too much and gives the meatier stuff to the actors who can handle it. The characters in the film are deeply layered and help move the plot rather than the plot dictating what the characters should do. It's a compelling tale about a man torn between the only world he knows and the one that he is starting to realize he can be in.

Source Code: I wanted to write a full review on this, but if I never do, let it be known that this was a really great move. It is a science fiction action film that is also thought provoking and emotional, but once it starts making you think and feel too much, it throws in some great explosions and action. A great movie that will get you talking after, either about the concepts it brought forth or trying to work out parts of the plot or just about the cool big bangs that are littered about the film. It has some pretty cool twists that even if you figured them out beforehand (which I sort of did) are still really fun to watch unfold. As a nice change to pace, it isn't just a stupid twist for twists sake, but rather the type of twists that compliments and adds to the story (which is how it always should be). Really, really, really like this movie.

Wow, this can't be all the movies I've seen in this last year! I must be forgetting one or two. I can't remember anymore, which will end up meaning they're my favourites. I have to be one of the most pathetic excuses for a movie buff, ever. Anyway, it’s something to work towards for next year.