2012 is quickly drawing to an end and seriously, where has the time gone? I’m seriously running behind in reviewing all of the films that I’ve seen in 2012 so, in the interest of getting caught up, here are six quick (and late) reviews of some of the film that I saw earlier this year.
(Fortunately, seeing as how we live in a world of Netflix, DVD, Blu-ray, and On Demand service, it’s never too late to review any film.)
1) Atlas Shrugged: Part II (dir by John Putch)
Picking up where the first Atlas Shrugged ended, Atlas Shrugged: Part II continues to tell the story of how America was ruined by elitist do-gooders and how the smartest people in the world responded by uttering the phrase, “Who Is John Galt?” and then vanishing.
There’s a lot of bad stuff that I could say about Atlas, Shrugged Part II. I could point out how close to nothing actually happens in the film. I understand that this is the second part of a proposed film trilogy but, seriously, that’s all that Atlas Shrugged Part II has in common with The Two Towers. With the exception of the great Patrick Fabian (who has a lot of fun playing a weasel), the cast isn’t memorable and the film is full of slow spots.
Part II was made by a different director and with a far more professional cast than Part I but that proves to be a mistake. Part of the odd charm of Atlas Shrugged, Part I was that it was such a low-budget, pulpy affair. Atlas Shrugged, Part II is a lot more slick and, as a result, it feels a lot less sincere.
That said, I couldn’t help but enjoy Atlas Shrugged, Part II because, much like For Greater Glory, the film flew so completely in the face of conventional cinematic political statements. Atlas Shrugged Part II might not be a great (or even a good) film but it annoyed all of the professional film critics and it’s always amusing to watch the same critical establishment that embraced Avatar whine about how any other film is too heavy-handed.
Am I, therefore, recommending Atlas Shrugged, Part II? Not really. I tend to learn towards the Libertarian point of view when it comes to politics and even I found the film to be tedious. That said, if you ever really want to annoy your wannabe hipster friend (the same one who leaves a hundred comments a day over at the A.V. Club), Atlas Shrugged, Part II might make the perfect holiday present.
2) Project X (dir by Nima Nourizadeh)
In California, two loathsome high school students — Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B.(Johnathan Daniel Brown) — throw a birthday party for their friend Thomas (Thomas Mann). Thomas is a stereotypical nice guy but he’s also friends with Costa and J.B. and that makes him loathsome by association. The party quickly gets out of control and eventually, houses are destroyed and a SWAT team is called in to restore order.
Oh! And the entire film is presented as being a bunch of “found footage.” What that means is that we have to sit through all the usual stuff of people acting awkward in an attempt to convince us that we’re not watching a movie, despite the fact that we clearly are.
Project X fails on so many levels that it’s hard to even know where to begin.
It’s impossible to sympathize with the film’s three main characters and let’s just say that Oliver Cooper is no Jonah Hill.
There’s no real build-up to the party getting out of control and hence, most of the film’s comedy falls flat. This is the type of film where a midget happens to show up at the party just so he can then be tossed into an oven. Uwe Boll would probably call that genius but, for the rest of us, it just feels like desperation on the part of the filmgoers. (You can just here them going, “Midgets are always funny!”)
Finally, worst of all, Project X is the latest film to use the whole found footage gimmick as a way to try to explain away the fact that it’s just not a very good movie. Seriously, mediocre filmmakers of America — it’s time to move on to a new gimmick!
3) This Means War (dir. by McG)
Two CIA Agents (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) set aside their friendship and go to war when they realize that they’re both attempting to win the heart of the same woman (played by Reese Witherspoon). Fortunately for them, they’ve both managed to fall in love with the one woman in the world too stupid to realize that there’s anything strange going on. Chelsea Handler is also in this film. She plays Witherspoon’s best friend and delivers all of her lines in this kind of depressed monotone that seems to suggest that she’d rather be co-starring with Whitney Cummings. Eventually, a lot of things explode and well, anyway … bleh.
Seriously, This Means War has absolutely no right to be as boring as it is. Outside of this film, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are both hot, Reese Witherspoon is likable, and even Chelsea Handler still makes me laugh on occasion. And yet, when all four of these people are put together in the same film, the end result is a mess that just gets more and more annoying with each passing second.
Most of the blame has to be put on the director. McG never finds a consistent tone for his film and never seems to be sure whether he’s parodying or celebrating the conventions of both action films and romantic comedies.
Myself, I just find it funny that people actually address him as “McG.”
4) A Thousand Words (dir by Brian Robbins)
Jack (Eddie Murphy) is a literary agent who talks too much. So, one night, a tree with a thousand leaves magically appears in his back yard. Every time that Jack says a word, a leaf falls off of the tree. Luckily, Jack happens to know a new age guru (Cliff Curtis) who explains that once every leaf has fallen, Jack will die. As a result, the formerly glib Jack learns the importance of saying just the right thing and he becomes a better husband, father, and son as a result.
A Thousand Words is just as bad as the above plot synopsis suggests and that’s all that really needs to be said about it. Wasting a thousand words talking about A Thousand Words would be a mistake indeed.
5) Trouble With The Curve (dir by Robert Lorenz)
Widower Gus (Clint Eastwood) is an aging baseball scout who is slowly losing his eyesight. Mickey (Amy Adams) is Gus’s daughter, a driven lawyer who has a strained relationship with her father.
And together … they solve crimes!
No, not really. Instead, Gus is given one last assignment and Mickey, who is both concerned for her father’s well-being and wants to try to repair their fractured relationship, accompanies him. At first, Gus doesn’t want Mickey around but she eventually proves her worth to him and gets to flirt with a young scout played by Justin Timberlake as well. So, it’s a win-win.
I don’t know much about baseball (beyond the fact that my sister Erin yells at the TV a lot whenever the Rangers are playing) but Trouble With The Curve is such a predictable movie that you really don’t have to know much about the game to be able to follow the plot. That said, Trouble With The Curve might be predictable but it’s also a genuinely sweet and likable film. Timberlake and Adams make for a really cute couple and it’s always fun to watch Eastwood growl at a world that never fails to disappoint him.
6) The Vow (dir by Michael Sucsy)
Paige (Rachel McAdams) and her husband Leo (Channing Tatum) are in a horrific car accident. Paige is sent flying through the windshield and when she recovers consciousness, she no longer remembers being married or anything else about her life after she first met Leo. While Leo attempts to get Paige to fall in love with him for a second time, Paige’s parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange) attempt to convince her to divorce him and return to her previous life as a pampered law student with a rich fiancée (played by Scott Speedman).
The Vow is a lot like Trouble With The Curve in that it’s totally predictable but, at the same time, it’s so sweet and likable that anyone who complains about the film being too predictable probably doesn’t have a heart. Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum have a lot of chemistry and anyone who complains that this film is too much like a Lifetime movie has obviously never experienced a really great Lifetime movie.