Underworld Awakening - A welcome update and return to form for the Underworld franchise after a frankly pitiful 3rd film. I really do like Len Wiseman's dark modern world view of the eternal struggle between the warring clans of Vampires and Werewolves and his missus, Kate Beckinsale, always puts on a good show as the lycra clad Selene.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - Despite the cast this was a nicely put together amalgum of Vernian adventure, far superior in my view than a lot of the turgid TV movies we've had over the last few years. It reminded me of those happy Sunday afternoons I spent watching Doug McClure battling prehistoric monsters in The Land that Time Forgot and Lionel Jeffries in his bid to become The First Men in the Moon.
John Carter - An awesome film let down by a terrible PR campaign making it the biggest box office flop of the year (until Battleship). If you haven't seen this movie, buy the DVD you will not be disappointed. Andrew Stanton really deserves credit for bringing Edgar Rice Burroughs hero to a new generation in such an epic way.
|John Carter fights two Barsoomian white apes|
Iron Sky - The hype which preceded this Sci-Fi Nazi comedy was too much for the film to live up to in the end, but there were some really great visual and comedic moments. How many films have ever seen which feature gigantic space zeppelins discourging Nazi UFOs?
Looper - A really enjoyable dystopian sci-fi movie and probably my favourite film of year, not perfect by any means but a neat idea well executed. The star of the film had to be Pierce Gagnon who played the supercute but scary Cid and totally stole the show from Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt whenever he appeared on screen. I loved the cobbled together tech vision of the near future in particular the café racer inspired jet engined hover bikes.
Prometheus - Ridley Scott's confused Alien prequel (or is it?) could not live up to expectations and I suspect that he shot an amazing film but it just ended up on the cutting room floor. It was beautiful in every respect other than story so let's hope Prometheus 2 explains what the hell is going on.
Dredd - Although I loved the grim gritty reality of Dredd's interiors, it just failed abysmally to capture the Mega-City I know and love, t was just so flat and 2 dimensional. Where was the hover traffic, the suspended train line or the high-level megways which bind the blocks together? I appreciate that this was most likely a plot device, let's face it you can hardly trap Dredd in a tower block if you have ready access to H-wagons. It's what results when you rehash the basic premise of the vastly superior Gareth Evans directed martial-arts movie The Raid: Redemption.
Don't get me wrong it's not entirely worthless, it just wasn't as visually rewarding as I expected... damn you expectations!
Total Recall - Although it was a smörgåsbord of cyberpunk visual effects, the rehashed storyline was a confused mess stemming from the brave but flawed decision to set it on Earth. For example, if you had the technology to build an advanced security android why would you then bus thousands of migrant workers through the center of the Earth every day as a sweat-shop labor force to assemble them? Would you not just have machines which made them? To then ship them back to the other side of the planet as an invasion force, it just didn't make any sense.
All human history points towards conquest being driven by the avaliability and exploitation of natural resources. I'm sure if any of the bean counters had gotten wind of Cohaagen's plan they would have just told him to offshore production to the Colony ready for the invasion at a later date.
Eclipsing the 90's Paul Verhoeven version was always going to be a tall order, and the film contains some excellent and worthwhile homages, but in this version you never got the feeling that you knew which version of reality Quaid/Hauser was experiencing.
There were a few movies I caught this year whose PR managed to totally evaded my consciousness but I enjoyed enough to recommend:
Cockneys vs Zombies - An ensemble cast kicking zombie butt in London's East End and perfect inspiration for a game of Fiasco using the cockney London.
Grabbers - An Irish monster movie in the style of Tremors for which I wrote an earlier more in-depth post.
Headhunters - A gritty Norwegian crime thriller originally penned by Jo Nesbo with more twists in it than a pair of iphone headphones. Like 2009's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo it has some brief nausea inducing moments in it that are not recommended for those with weak stomachs but the cast, including the very talented Aksel Hennie and Game of Thrones star Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, are convincing giving you a real sense of jeopardy throughout.
|Aksel Hennie gets trapped in the privy in Headhunters|
Coming soon... The 2013 Movie List