2012 Movies

by danhollow | created - 02 Mar 2012 | updated - 31 Dec 2012 | Public

Going to keep track of the films I see each year. I'll try and write a little for each.

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1. The Grey (2011)

R | 117 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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64 Metascore

After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step.

Director: Joe Carnahan | Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, Dallas Roberts

Votes: 218,369 | Gross: $51.58M

Once more into the fray Into the last good fight I'll ever know Live and die on this day Live and die on this day

Not a bad film to start the year off with. I was skeptical at first; the trailers looked like another LiamNeesonploitation film. But the more I looked at it, the more it started to register with me. It wouldn't be an incredible film, so to say. It didn't seem to focus on a story so much as the experience of Neeson's character. I took a chance and saw it. It was a fantastic film. Nothing groundbreaking, but an exciting thrill ride with a lot of smart people behind it. It is an intense film, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of it. My favorite piece was the end though.

2. Chronicle (2012)

PG-13 | 84 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

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69 Metascore

Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery underground. Soon they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.

Director: Josh Trank | Stars: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly

Votes: 219,739 | Gross: $64.58M

Only person I knew who'd seen it said it was disappointing. Me personally, I was kind of done with the whole 'found footage" thing, but I gave this film a shot. It was a lot darker and a lot more intense than I was expecting. Props to the young actor (whose name eludes me) playing Andrew. The film was exciting but also to a degree very relatable. The powers and how they develop from the kids' points of view was very interesting, with the best part absolutely being their first flight. With the camera Andrew uses (which remains steady because he keeps it floating in the air with his powers) really captures the exhilaration you'd feel flying at high speeds through the air. I'd recommend this movie for that scene alone.

3. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

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73 Metascore

The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name.

Director: Brad Bird | Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton

Votes: 395,010 | Gross: $209.40M

Forgot to add this one first. This was the first film I saw in 2012, and it was unbelievable. I admittedly never saw the old Mission Impossible TV series, or the second or third movies (heck, I barely remember the first). But when I saw the trailer for this film, it completely blew me away. I went into it with high expectations, and was still surprised in the best of ways. Great acting, great action, intense moments of the kind of tension I always associated with "Mission Impossible", it was a fantastic experience. With the exception of the skyscraper scenes, those were not a fantastic experience; but that stems from my own fear of heights. Above all else, I loved the sense of exaggeration and realism the film had. Everything that could possibly go wrong DOES go wrong, but the characters keep on going and work things out as they come. One of the best, most exciting action movies I've ever seen.

4. The Lorax (2012)

PG | 86 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

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46 Metascore

A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

Directors: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda | Stars: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms

Votes: 84,802 | Gross: $214.03M

Honestly, I was expecting a lot worse. This was the first film I put on my "The Film I'm Most Worried About" list, for good reason. I was afraid it was going to be awful. In particular the marketing and advertising was at fault there. I saw The Lorax with Mazda, iHop, and apparently they made about 70 endorsement deals in all (maybe "endorsement" is the wrong word, but it's the best word I could come up with). This was going against everything the story of The Lorax had stood for! As far as the story, I was very afraid that the (fairly stupid) tween romance between Zac Efron and Taylor Swift would receive more attention than the original moral.

On most accounts, I was proven wrong. And I was rather happy to be proven wrong. Yes there is a tween romance, but they don't linger on it for very long, within 15 minutes of the movie we are hearing the Once-ler telling his story, which I was thankful for (that IS what I came to this movie for). The story is broken up into about 3 tellings, mostly I suppose to prove that this kid is really determined to find out what happened to the trees. He is, and we get an altered, but not destructively altered, view of the Once-ler's story. Yes a lot of it is played towards comedy, but I was pleased to see that it was rarely jokes for the sake of forcing a laugh, they remembered to keep in touch with the story and the characters.

Danny Devito does a fine job as the Lorax, combining good humor with enough longing and warning that we can really believe he "speaks for the trees". Ed Helms may not have been my original choice for the Once-ler (I pictured someone more like William Hurt), but he is able to switch between his young and foolish self and an older man plagued with regret very effectively. We see him getting so caught up in progress that for quite some time the Lorax has no lines, every time he tries to speak he is cut off. Progress moves fast, and great emphasis is placed on the chopping down of the last Truffula. We feel the weight of the Once-ler's regret.

I won't say what happened in the rest of the film. It was really up to that part that I was watching for. it was a good film overall, and far better than I had been expecting. Granted the advertising and one or two of the musical numbers (particularly the pop number during the credits) irked me, but that is my main criticism towards the film.

5. The Hunger Games (2012)

PG-13 | 142 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

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68 Metascore

Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.

Director: Gary Ross | Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci

Votes: 760,516 | Gross: $408.01M

Saw this film as part of a deal with my little sister. She's read the books, I haven't. I'd read the Harry Potter books, she hadn't. I got her to see the films, she started reading the books. So when we started seeing stuff for The Hunger Games, I agreed to see the movie and read the book. In that order.

Story-wise; every year the 12 districts of Panem must offer up tributes to an event known as The Hunger Games, a televised survival/gladiator event. Each district offers up a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18. 24 go in, 1 comes out. As you can imagine, relatively few people jump at the opportunity to fight with 23 other teenagers to the death, so in several districts, a lottery selects the participants. District 12 is a coal mining area, and dirt poor. Katniss Everdeen and her sister, Primrose, are waiting for this year's announcement. Against all odds, Primrose is chosen to "volunteer" her first year. To save her, Katniss offers herself instead as tribute. She meets the other tributes, engages in a few public events at the Capitol, and then; the games begin. I won't say any more.

It was a good movie. Admittedly, the early shots hurt my eyes a bit (the camera was really shaky) and the Capitol has a sense of "style" that looks like fashion threw up. Literally, neon bright colors that take "gaudy" to a whole new level. However, that actually works out, because it makes hating the Capitol REALLY easy and helps you naturally gravitate towards certain characters within it.

As far as the characters themselves, they're well-acted and interesting. Katniss is a born leader, but at the same time very uncomfortable around all the staring and cheering and gawking of the Capitol. One character I personally couldn't stop staring at was Clove, a 14 year old brunette from District 2, and a willing volunteer from her district. Every time I saw her, I couldn't help but remember the actress (Isabelle Fuhrman) in Orphan; where she'd scared the living *beep* out of me. She isn't much nicer here.

Well, time to fulfill the other end of the bargain and read the books.

6. The Three Stooges (2012)

PG | 92 min | Comedy, Family

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56 Metascore

While trying to save their childhood orphanage, Moe, Larry and Curly inadvertently stumble into a murder plot and wind up starring in a reality television show.

Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly | Stars: Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso, Jane Lynch

Votes: 27,191 | Gross: $44.34M

I was divided with regards to the trailers. On the one hand, there really did seem to be a lot of vintage Stooge-humor; lots of creative poking and bopping and otherwise abusing each other. What worried me were the additions to such old-school comedy, such as iPhone gags, Facebook pokes, and (groan) Snooki. Still, I went in expecting to at least enjoy a few laughs. I didn't have to wait long. 5 words; Larry David as a nun. The Stooges are dumped onto an Orphanage by a speedy drifter racer (seriously, you wouldn't believe how much dust this guy was kicking up), and raised to be good children. Or at least that's what they were going for early on. The next time we see the Stooges, even the nuns have had enough of them. They want them out of the orphanage; now. But no one wants to adopt all three of them (the all-for-one/one-for-all mindset is surprisingly sweet). Fast-forward a couple decades later, and the Stooges have (relatively speaking) grown up. The nuns, however, haven't aged a day. Not sure if that was intentional. The Stooges enter that time-honored tale of "we only have X amount of time to raise Y amount of money or the Z will be closed/shut down". In this case, X is 30 days, Y is $830,000, and Z is the Orphanage. The Stooges venture off to save the day, and I don't really need to say much more of the plot. It is fairly self-explanatory, but at the same time it isn't the most important thing in the movie. Some movies use comedy to poke fun at real issues and problems, others are just funny for the sake of being funny. This movie is unapologetically the latter. This movie is all about the Stooges. We do have some other characters, and they do a fine job, but they aren't what we're watching the movie for. At one point, the Stooges do split up, Larry and Curly end up going off alone to try and raise the money to save the Orphanage, and Moe winds up a cast member on Jersey Shore. Before you groan, know this; we barely see a minute of them where Moe is not abusing them in true-blue Stooges fashion. Pokes, punches, bops, slaps, smacks, anyone with anger issues against the cast of Jersey Shore will have a lot of fun. That's about the end as far as important issues go for the movie. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised and rather entertained by everything. Truth be told, I am not that familiar with the Stooges, I've seen some of a few episodes and I'm fairly familiar with how things usually go, but I admit I don't know them as well as die-hard fans do. Still, I think they may enjoy this movie as much, if not more than I did. I also recommend you take kids to see it, they will laugh; but make them stay for the little end-credits scene where the Farrelly Brothers explain the magic behind the Stooges slapstick. The key word is rubber. Don't try this at home.

7. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

R | 95 min | Fantasy, Horror

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72 Metascore

5 friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Director: Drew Goddard | Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz

Votes: 312,111 | Gross: $42.07M

Saw this the same day I saw The Three Stooges. I'd heard a bit about it while MGM was trying to survive going under, and I worried that maybe too many eggs were being placed in the basket for this horror-comedy film. When I first heard about this movie, I expected more emphasis on comedy than horror. When I eventually saw some trailers, I started expecting more horror than comedy. When I finally saw the movie, I saw a great deal of each. As far as the setup goes, it's fairly self-explanatory (the title is Cabin in the Woods, what do YOU think happens?). But the delivery is definitely very new and very fun. It's amazing what you can do with good writing. The characters are simultaneously some of the dumbest characters you've ever seen in horror movies (par-Friday-the-13th for stupidity), and some of the smartest characters you've ever seen in a horror movie (they can give Scream a run for its money). Yes they follow the stereotypes we all know from countless horror movies, but at the same time, each character is actually likeable. The big twist to this movie (which you'll know if you've seen any of the trailers) is the Men Underground. White-collar workers who sit at computers to customize and terrorize the partying teenagers once they reach the Cabin in the Woods. These guys are so relatable and understandable, you wonder what they're doing as the bad guys in a horror movie. Their job is, once the teenagers are drunk, stoned, or just stupid enough to follow that horror movie cliche we all know and cherish (i.e. going into the cellar), they supply the killing force. To do this, they install such devices as mini-cameras in every room, little vents to produce just the right scent or pheromone or idea into their minds, as well as several more devious and insidious measures. An example, our movie blonde is not an actual blonde, she has had it dyed for this trip; and the dye is actually a product of the Men Underground that basically screws with her reason. Furthermore, our stoner is already so high, there's almost nothing left to do to guide him into his own special death trap. And there's a lot to choose from. So much in fact, that I have to say I wish they could make a sequel; they have enough quality horror movie material to make two dozen quality films. We have a puzzle ball, a ballerina music box, a wedding necklace/dress, a journal with some latin writing, a baby-doll mask, a conch shell, some old film strips, and more than I can even describe. In the end, the winner is......actually, I'm not going to say. It doesn't matter that much anyway, and I think it'll be more fun for people watching to make their own bets for how the characters decide to doom themselves. Anyway, from there we watch the characters die off, one-by-one. The deaths are a bit cliched, but by the end of the movie, it won't bother you much. You already know who's going to survive, or do you? The ending seems certain, but also very premature. Which is where they throw you a curveball. I'm going to stop there, in case people decide to see the film. It is a lot of fun, and a bit scary besides, my only regret is that they probably can't make a sequel.

8. The Five-Year Engagement (2012)

R | 124 min | Comedy, Romance

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62 Metascore

One year after meeting, Tom proposes to his girlfriend, Violet, but unexpected events keep tripping them up as they look to walk down the aisle together.

Director: Nicholas Stoller | Stars: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie

Votes: 84,100 | Gross: $28.84M

A genuinely sweet and romantic movie about a couple as real as Bill and Jan from down the street. The movie follows Jason Segel and Emily Blunt as they are engaged and prepare for their wedding; but life keeps getting in the way. It's a movie for people that like watching movies in the hope that maybe they can find one they relate to.

One thing I must add is that I see a lot of movies, but apart from the two leads and the guy who plays Bill, I didn't know a single actor or actress in this movie. They're all strangers to me, but I loved them all. It's a very diverse and fun cast of interesting characters.

I love Jason Segel for being the kind of guy we all wish we could be, without getting made fun of for it, and I love Emily Blunt usually because she just seems to represent such a level of professionalism and etiquette, although here she finally lets loose and has some fun. Best Scene in the Movie: Her argument with her sister, where she voices Cookie Monster and her sister voices Elmo "C is for condom! That's good enough for me!"

This is the kind of honest romantic movie that doesn't get a wide release these days. They do take a few comedic liberties, but those don't bother you much in the whole scheme of the movie. This is an enjoyable movie that takes to heart the phrase "life is what happens while you're making other plans".

9. The Avengers (2012)

PG-13 | 143 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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69 Metascore

Earth's mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

Director: Joss Whedon | Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner

Votes: 1,086,147 | Gross: $623.36M

The Dark Knight Rises has it's work cut out for it. This movie exceeds our already-high expectations in every area. It's well-acted, fun, action-packed, witty; it's frikin' awesome on every level! I saw it 3 times in theaters.

Greatest Scene in the Movie: Hulk vs Loki Favorite Line in the Movie: "Director Fury, the council has made a decision." "I recognize that the council has made a decision, but seeing as it is a stupid-ass decision, I have elected to ignore it."

10. Men in Black 3 (2012)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

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58 Metascore

Agent J travels in time to M.I.B.'s early days in 1969 to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld | Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement

Votes: 288,248 | Gross: $179.02M

Men in Black, my first Pg-13 movie (that I can remember). Men in Black II; I kinda liked it. But it's been a while and my movie-watching experiences and tastes have changed a lot over time. I went into this movie with relatively low expectations, although I had heard surprisingly good things about it from people. Me, I just wanted to see Bill Hader as Andy Warhol.

This movie was a good movie. Not quite a great movie, but definitely a fantastic third movie (something you don't see much of). It starts off a little slow, but it was nice having Will Smith back cracking lines and attitude, I've missed him the last 4 years. After our little time-travel adventure begins, things start to pick up.

Bill's scene as Andy Warhol started off okay, then caught me off-guard and put me in tears of laughter. But the real standouts in this movie are Josh Brolin's remarkable impersonation of a young Tommy Lee Jones, and Griffin, a truly unique and marvelous character who apparently exists in multiple dimensions simultaneously. Everywhere he goes, he discusses every possibly outcome from every possible future, to great comedic effect. "If this is the future where you have your father's watch, then everything should work out fine. But if this is the future where they offer me cake but no antacid, I'll be in trouble. If this is the time-travel-J future, Boris will blast through that door in 12 seconds, 11, 10, unless...J, did you have chocolate milk this morning? In that case....Donna!"

As far as the ending goes; secrets must remain secrets.

11. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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57 Metascore

In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.

Director: Rupert Sanders | Stars: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Sam Claflin

Votes: 247,065 | Gross: $155.33M

I've been looking forward to this movie since I first saw the trailer. It looked amazingly visual and awesome. It is definitely a very visual film that does some incredible things with regards to the Dark Forest, the Faeries, and above all the Evil Queen Ravenna. Charlize Theron both looks and acts like beautiful evil incarnate; her castle is like a gothic chess set, she eats the hearts of small animals, her gowns could probably strangle a small child just by looking at them, and when she takes them off...she's human. Human, but with a twist. She must consume youth to stay young. Beauty is her Power, and as long as she is the fairest in the land (yes, she does say the line), she is unkillable. Her power is with fairest blood given, and only with fairest blood taken.

Cue Snow White, Ms. Kristen "Bella" Stewart, who actually manages to show a little more emotion than we're used to. She's been imprisoned by Ravenna since her father was overthrown, and the whole kingdom knows she is their only hope, even though no one knows she's still alive.

Let me just say this is a good movie, and the visuals are the main draw. And Charlize Theron's Evil Queen.

12. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

R | 105 min | Action, Fantasy, Horror

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42 Metascore

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

Director: Timur Bekmambetov | Stars: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie

Votes: 137,033 | Gross: $37.52M

I was looking forward to this movie since the moment I heard they were making one of my favorite books into a film. I thought "this could be the movie that allows us to take vampires seriously, for once." The great part about the book had been the amount of attention they paid to historical accuracy. The book functioned as a wonderful biography of Abraham Lincoln, even with the vampire element thrown in.

As for the movie, we had Tim Burton producing and Timur Bekmambetov directing, as well as the author of the book adapting it. From the first trailer I was excited. And every additional trailer they posted (which I watched) only increased my enthusiasm.

As far as the lead, Mr. Benjamin Walker, I'll admit I was unfamiliar with his work prior to this film; but hearing of his starring role in a rockumentary called "Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson" made me feel like this was the man for the job. I was also looking forward to Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, and Rufus Sewell.

I saw this movie in 3-D because I couldn't make a 2-D showing. Despite how dark the film was, the 3-D didn't bother me much; possibly because they strayed away from fast-editing. The film itself looked wonderful, with particular care given to the costumes and scenery of the time period.

The film moves somewhat fast, because it has Abraham Lincoln's entire life to cover in under 2 hours, plus a vampire ass-kicking story squeezed in as well. Benjamin Walker may look the most comfortable in his 20's swinging his axe like a swirling cyclone of death and dismemberment; but to be perfectly honest, I believe his best work was as the elder Abraham Lincoln, beard and all. He exhibits maturity and experience brilliantly. For an actor so young, he has an incredible amount of talent and versatility at his disposal.

The rest of the film varies between coming-of-age, kung-fu action, and historical vampire movie, with enough romance thrown in to make Abe's wife a complete character. The action scenes may use a lot of slow-mo, but they use it very well and there is definitely a lot to enjoy from Abe's many dealings with the undead. My one regret is that they chose not to show Abe's assassination by (the vampire) John Wilkes Booth, but I can get over it.

A good movie for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, action movies, or watching vampires get axed by the dozen.

13. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

PG-13 | 136 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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66 Metascore

After Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically altered spider, he gains newfound, spider-like powers and ventures out to solve the mystery of his parent's mysterious death.

Director: Marc Webb | Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Irrfan Khan

Votes: 493,780 | Gross: $262.03M

I made a deal with a friend of mine that we would see this movie together, even though it was currently the "Movie I'm Most Worried About". I went in with few expectations outside the obligatory "It Won't Be As Good As Spiderman 2". Put simply, I enjoyed it.

This movie is a reboot of the Spiderman franchise that is aimed at tying in with the rest of the Marvel Universe more smoothly than Sam Raimi's films would have (given they came out before the establishment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). They cast new people and tried to make something new that could still measure up to the old Spiderman films as well as stand out on its own.

I pride myself on my ability to put my thoughts and feelings into words to better help people understand the points I try to make; but I'm have trouble describing the differences between the films with any real degree of detail. The main underlying themes are very different (Great Power = Great Responsibility vs Secrets We Keep + Secrets Kept From Us), and the movies play out differently (different characters, different love interests, different costume, different origins).

One thing I can definitely say is this movie really put more emphasis on the teenager aspect of Peter Parker, and on comedy. Sam Raimi's films have funny moments, yes, but this one you can really tell they tried for teen funny. My favorite scene is Peter Parker getting bit by a spider, going to sleep; morning, alarm clock rings, swings hand to turn it off, *SMASH* goes the alarm clock! I laughed so much harder than I probably should at that.

Much more I can't say, but I will discuss the villain of the new movie, Curtis Connors aka The Lizard. I was worried they might abuse/exploit a talented actor like Rhys Ifans with a one-sided psychotic scientist villain, but they actually did a much better job developing him than the trailers suggest. He does have an edge to him, and he could be classified as a little unstable, but no more than your average person who had their life's work pulled out from under them. As The Lizard, I was upset he didn't wear his distinctive lab coat much, plus he didn't have the snout I know and loved in the animated series, but his fights with Spidey are definitely well-done, if not too flashy (it's a mutant brawl, not The Avengers vs The Chitauri). Furthermore, they definitely took steps to show a redeeming side to Dr. Connors, a repentant side to him, a side that knew what was wrong and wanted to fix it. I admired that.

As for Andrew Garfield as the new Spidey; I'll say this much. This role meant as much for him as it would for any true comic book fan; more for him because he's idolized Spiderman/Peter Parker since he was 3 (and he's british). I can't think of anyone more qualified to play a new version of Spidey.

14. Ted (2012)

R | 106 min | Comedy, Fantasy

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62 Metascore

John Bennett, a man whose childhood wish of bringing his teddy bear to life came true, now must decide between keeping the relationship with the bear or his girlfriend, Lori.

Director: Seth MacFarlane | Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale

Votes: 512,053 | Gross: $218.82M

I saw this movie on a whim with some friends. It looked decent enough (I was most looking forward to Ted beating Mark Wahlberg up in a hotel room after being told "I should have gotten a Teddy Ruxbin!"). After seeing the movie, I can say this much; it's basically an R-Rated episode of Family Guy, and a good one at that. Seth MacFarlane (who writes, produces, directs, and motion-captures/voices Ted) is one hell of a funny guy, and it's good to see he hasn't run out of ideas (not even close if this movie is any indication).

One thing I definitely learned is that Seth has been holding back on Family Guy. Much of the stuff he says as Ted I can't repeat, or even censor or rephrase, it's so raunchy. This is not by any stretch of the imagination a movie to take your kids to see; I don't care how nicely they ask you.

Mark Wahlberg definitely isn't afraid to get a little bit into this movie, he isn't afraid to act like a 34 year old man afraid of thunder who can't get rid of his Teddy Bear, he isn't afraid to get a little emotional and look a little ridiculous. I respect that. He got the crap beaten out of him by a Teddy Bear, for God's sake!

Best Moment: Flash Gordon punches through a wall!

15. To Rome with Love (2012)

R | 112 min | Comedy, Romance

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54 Metascore

The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.

Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page

Votes: 75,526 | Gross: $16.69M

My Mum invited me to this movie with some of her girlfriends. Having never seen a Woody Allen movie (I know, I know, stone me if you must), I was interested in giving it a try. Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, and Alec Baldwin were also definitely a draw.

I don't generally watch a lot of foreign films, but this one was definitely fun. A whole series of separate stories all centered in Italy: Alex Baldwin reminisces about his time as a young architect in Italy where he (played by Jesse Eisenberg) slowly fell for an out-of-work actress who just broke up and is practically asking him to do her.

Woody Allen's character and his wife visit his recently engaged daughter and her fiance's parents, who include a Mortician who can out-sing Andrea Bocelli, but only in the shower.

Penelope Cruz is a call girl who visits a young man by accident and is forced to go along and pretend to be his wife as he meets some of the most important people in Italy (and wouldn't you know it, most of them already know her). Meanwhile, the young man's wife gets lost in Italy and winds up in nearly in an affair with her favorite actor.

And an average Italian man becomes an overnight success and one of the most famous people in Italy (and he has no idea why or how).

I enjoyed all the little vignettes and had a fantastic time. I laughed often enough and I'd absolutely recommend this to anyone with a soft spot for Italy. As for all the critics who said it wasn't good enough; screw them.

16. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

PG-13 | 164 min | Action, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
78 Metascore

Eight years after the Joker's reign of anarchy, Batman, with the help of the enigmatic Catwoman, is forced from his exile to save Gotham City, now on the edge of total annihilation, from the brutal guerrilla terrorist Bane.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman

Votes: 1,284,106 | Gross: $448.14M

Took me a couple weeks to post this for technical issues, as well as on account of the Colorado Shootings, it just didn't seem like the right time. Well, now I'm going to take a crack at this and see what I can come up with.

My opinion of Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy is as follows: Batman Begins = Favorite The Dark Knight = Best The Dark Knight Rises = Halfway to Both

This was not my favorite of the series, nor did I think it would be remembered as the best. But I will say this, this is a truly incredible Batman movie; scratch that, THE most incredible Batman Movie. It combines the brilliant reworking of the Batman Mythos that I loved about Batman Begins, and the down-to-earth crime drama and grittiness of The Dark Knight. It doesn't exceed either, but it blends the line between them the best. This is the movie that pulls it all together.

Continuing Comparisons: Bane vs Joker Joker wins, but Tom Hardy definitely reinvented a classic but commonly misinterpreted Batman villain. One thing I find funny is that Bane's voice was what critics focused on in the trailers, but really, his voice is the most interesting and exciting part of the character. A slightly distorted oxygen mask sound that is always brimming with professionalism and confidence. And brutality. He is a little hard to understand at times, but he has all the charisma the Joker brought.

As for the rest of the film and characters, they all get plenty of screentime and great moments. As for the story, I won't give anything away, although I will mention that it is a little hard to follow in the beginning, but you'll figure it out eventually. As for the plot twist, I won't say a word.

This was truly a monumental film. That much I can say with certainty.

17. The Bourne Legacy (2012)

PG-13 | 135 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
61 Metascore

An expansion of the universe from Robert Ludlum's novels, centered on a new hero whose stakes have been triggered by the events of the previous three films.

Director: Tony Gilroy | Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn

Votes: 254,536 | Gross: $113.20M

I never really got into the Bourne series. I didn't see The Bourne Identity until well after I'd seen the Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum. My cousin took me to Supremacy, and I kind of followed along, I didn't really understand what was happening. When I saw Ultimatum, I followed along better, but I still actually thought I was seeing Identity for a while until I got Ultimatum off Netflix and saw it again. By the time I actually got around to Identity, there wasn't much surprise to have.

So the Bourne movies have never really been my thing. Still, when I heard/saw the new one coming out, I decided maybe it was time to give it another chance. I am a fan of Jeremy Renner, and Ed Norton. Maybe this would be the movie to get me into this franchise.

The story for the movie was that (and most of this you can piece together from the trailers and promos) Jason Bourne and Treadstone were not the only special agent project in the world. All manner of organizations produced their own programs and operatives. One of them was Outcome, which focused on experimental work with the human chromosomes in the form of blue and green pills. But when Jason Bourne makes another appearance in Manhattan (no Matt Damon besides his picture), Outcome is now facing a public reveal of the work they've been doing and decide to burn it all down and start again in secret. First step, eliminate all evidence; namely all Outcome agents and researchers. They got 'em all, except Aaron Cross and this unfortunate lady who just did her research and wrote down the trial information.

The movie itself was good, I love the sense of distance and scope it has for its chase scenes, and the time they devote to passing through security checks and creating false identities. What surprised me the most was the ending; it came seemingly premature. Almost nothing had been resolved despite the massive amount of exposition and characters to deal with. It really felt like the movie ended a half hour too soon. All that was resolved was we saw a character introduced 20 minutes (who had no lines) meet a sudden and very shocking end (one of those out-of-nowhere "ohmygod!" kind of deaths that only happens on motorcycles). The CIA (or whatever) characters are still out there, and still looking for Bourne, yet somehow this is supposed to resolve things?

So the story was a bit disappointing, but Renner was a lot of fun as Outcome agent Aaron Cross. My favorite quality about Renner is the unmistakable edge he always brings to his characters. He works great as a military officer/soldier without being stiff and formulaic, bringing an interesting kind of realism to the roles he plays. He isn't exactly Brad Pitt for looks, his dialogue is rarely straightforward, and he can lose his cool without looking foolish. All these qualities are present as Aaron Cross, and it really makes him the most interesting character to watch.

Technicals; the movie was shot well, less super-fast shot changes, which makes the action easier to follow. The action scenes are good and hard-hitting, and there's a particular scene with a lone gunman that really pulls you into what it feels like to be facing a sudden shooting in the middle of your office. Every bullet fired feels like a kick in the stomach.

So; good movie, disappointing ending (probably setting up sequels), great introduction for Aaron Cross, nice sound mixing.

18. The Expendables 2 (2012)

R | 103 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
51 Metascore

Mr. Church reunites the Expendables for what should be an easy paycheck, but when one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge puts them deep in enemy territory and up against an unexpected threat.

Director: Simon West | Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Liam Hemsworth, Randy Couture, Jean-Claude Van Damme

Votes: 265,489 | Gross: $85.02M

This movie is very simple to describe. A handful of words can properly depict what you should expect from The Expendables II: "Expendables I, but more."

More as in more action, more explosions, more fight scenes, more action icons, more Willis, more Schwarzenegger; more Expendables.

The story is....hell if I care. Most of the Expendables return, with the exception of Mickey Rourke, also Jet Li leaves early on. New characters include Maggie, a Chinese agent who gets to ride along (and fight along) the big boys, and Billy the Kid; played by Mr. Liam "Hunger Games" Hemsworth. And did I mention...(cue Walker, Texas Ranger Theme)...Chuck Norris?

What you'll see in this movie: Massive amounts of gunfire, explosions, action movie cliches, and terrorists being thoroughly and creatively destroyed. If all spec ops mission had these kinds of body counts, I think the world would run out of terrorists in about 3 weeks. Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins as the villains, Chuck Norris as Booker, a "Lone Wolf"; and a massive gunfire scene in an airport with Schwarzenegger, Willis, Stallone, and Norris all on screen together (and the rest of the Expendables).

If you wanted to see this movie from the trailers, you'll love it. If you don't absolutely love the whole idea of it, this will probably strike you as a very stupid action movie.

Highest Points: Every scene with Chuck Norris and Schwarzenegger in it, Stallone vs Van Damme, "1 left, shoot him!" *5 characters open fire on one terrorist*, and Chuck Norris making a Chuck Norris joke.

19. End of Watch (2012)

R | 109 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
68 Metascore

Shot documentary-style, this film follows the daily grind of two young police officers in LA who are partners and friends, and what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves.

Director: David Ayer | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera

Votes: 200,866 | Gross: $41.00M

Been a while since I went to the theater, and I wanted to change that. Torn between Looper, House at the End of the Street, and End of Watch, I chose this film because Training Day has been on my list of "Must-See"'s for too long and this is from the same guy.

I went into this film with a few expectations. Shaky camerawork being one of them, cop action another. That was the end of my expectations. I'm actually kind of glad that was all I went in expecting; because I got the best cop movie I will ever see in my life.

For decades movie makers have tried to bring the excitement and drama of the real world into films. They do research about something they think will transfer well, and then they try and sell it to their audience. Some films don't work, and everything feels forced and unrealistic. Others succeed and we can even forget about reality for a bit while we watch. This realism and depth of this movie are like nothing any movie has ever managed before.

This film is the Ultimate Cop Movie. It feels as much like a documentary as a film, but it is exciting and enjoyable beyond what any documentary could hope to accomplish and realistic and down-to-earth like no action movie can be. This movie leaves the words "believable" in the dust, there's no question to the level of realism this movie has. Never have I seen a movie this complete and refined.

There is no doubt in my mind that this filmmaker knows cops and knows cop movies, and knows everything about them. There is an enormous amount of police know-how and understanding in this movie, and it never tries for anything beyond what could conceivably happen. Some would call this retreating from unknown territory, but it allows us to see a fully-realized viewpoint of what being a cop is like. There are no weak points or forced issues or points, this filmmaker demonstrates absolute mastery over the world he shows us.

Stepping back from my absolute appraisal of everything this film is; let me mention a few guidelines for people wanting to see it. The film is gritty and realistic, there is some gore and some pretty nasty stuff. Furthermore, the characters swear more than you've ever seen in a movie (when you're a beat cop in Crip and Blood territory, the word *beep* is a lot more effective and useful than "please" or "stop").

20. House at the End of the Street (2012)

PG-13 | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
31 Metascore

After moving with her mother to a small town, a teenager finds that an accident happened in the house at the end of the street. Things get more complicated when she befriends a boy who was the only survivor of the accident.

Director: Mark Tonderai | Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows

Votes: 63,269 | Gross: $31.61M

It took a little adjusting to watch this film only the day after End of Watch, mostly because End of Watch exhibited total mastery of everything within it while this was just a regular horror film, but I managed. September is a rather boring month and I rather hate it. I can never wait for October when the horror movies come out to play. Even with October only a couple days away, I gave in and saw this to get some horror movie back into my system.

I know I have this movie included on my list "Looks Like Crap". Fine, I am a weak man. Getting passed that, this was an effective movie.

Horror movies today are gravitating in a direction that encourages remakes, sequels, ripoffs, shakycam, and supernatural entities. This is an old-school horror movie that isn't based off any prior film or work, uses traditional camera shots and cinematography, and exists within a believable degree of reality. All these factors work in its favor, but it still probably won't do well.

The movie is clever and original with its story, even if it isn't exactly groundbreaking. It does fall for a lot of horror movie conventions, but it does try and break from an easily recognizable formula. The best part of this film is that it is not a slasher, there are very few deaths and little blood. More emphasis is put on the characters and story than just killing people off one-by-one; although the characters are generally dull and the story isn't exactly moving.

The movie isn't scary in the traditional sense, or, well, there are jump-scares here and there, but that isn't the main focus. It's more like American Horror Story in that it revolves around a horror story as opposed to really being one.

The dialogue can be a bit dull, but Max Thieriot in particular manages to be convincing even with very little. Ms. Hunger Games doesn't do too badly either, although her singing is a lot better than the character they gave her.

I do enjoy the way they hide the killer in plain sight and grounded in a believable degree of reality, although I can't help feel that there is a better movie in here and certain elements/characters just got in the way. But all in all it's a good original piece, and worth a watch during October and Halloween.

21. Argo (2012)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
86 Metascore

Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1979.

Director: Ben Affleck | Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin

Votes: 503,197 | Gross: $136.03M

Been wanting to see this film since I saw the trailer. It looked interesting, exciting, and intense. I did worry the fake-movie-production crew might distract from the importance of gettings these men and women out alive; but these worries were fortunately fruitless.

The story is simple, there are no plot twists or secret deceptions/betrayals. It's quite straightforward, and that works to its advantage. If you're expecting shootout scenes or hand-to-hand combat, watch something else. This is a drama and an intense and exciting one at that.

It does little-to-nothing to stretch the truth of the situation or make certain people seem unbelievably good or perfect. These are people, not characters.

The movie has its share of laughs as well, particularly during the Hollywood sections. John Goodman and Alan Arkin are great to watch, and it was so much fun to get to see John Chambers (famous for his groundbreaking special effects work) portrayed.

Ben Affleck is steadily building up a catalog of well-crafted movies. I guess we'll have to stop cracking as many jokes at his expense.

Saw it again with family, they all thought it was great. Lots of compliments about the level or realism and believability.

22. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

PG | 101 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
72 Metascore

A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.

Director: Rich Moore | Stars: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman

Votes: 305,629 | Gross: $189.42M

I've been looking forward to this movie since I first saw the trailer. I just saw so much imagination and heart in the characters and the story that I was hooked. I saw it the day it came out.

End of Watch is my choice for Best Movie I've seen this year. But this is my Favorite Movie of the year. This movie is absolutely bursting with imagination and creativity, but also with genuine human emotion and feeling. Wreck-It Ralph is a bad guy for the game Fix-It Felix Jr., his job is to wreck the apartment building where the "Nicelanders" live, and Fix-It Felix's job is to fix Ralph's messes, hitting broken doors and windows with his magic hammer, collecting pie power-ups and ultimately a medal at the end when he wins the game. After Felix wins, Ralph gets thrown off the top of the building into the mud.

After 30 years of being treated like a bad guy and sleeping in a dump while Felix gets all the attention and love, Ralph has had enough. He's not actually mean, he just plays the villain. All Ralph wants is a little recognition that his life is a little hard. He thinks a medal will earn him that recognition. So he leaves his game to find one and bring it back.

More about the plot, I won't say. What I really want to talk about is just the unbelievable creativity and feeling put into this whole world and its characters. The world is similar to Toy Story, but with more emphasis put on how the video game characters accidentally give themselves away to the gamers. One thing you will become aware of is just how much untapped potential there is for video game movies. 30 years of development and evolution, but this is the first time we're really seeing it all explored. And it's because there is so much territory waited to be explored that the movie finds so many clever ideas to build this movie upon.

The character of Wreck-It Ralph is someone we can all relate to, with a deep-seated desire to be accepted and seen as more than just a villain, and to do something besides wrecking everything he touches. There's a little bit of Edward Scissorhands in there.

I felt for Ralph, especially as I'm currently in the middle of a production that forces me to play a pretty unappealing and loathed character, meanwhile I'm in the middle of trying to rediscover myself and try to put my best foot forward. I can relate to a nice guy tired of being seen as just a villain. I'll admit this movie made me cry.

This is one of the only movies to make me cry, and has earned itself a tying spot with Spirited Away for my Favorite Animated Movie of All Time. I needed this movie.

I saw it three times. Didn't cry the other two times, but one scene in particular still hits me really hard where it hurts.

23. The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)

R | 95 min | Action

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
51 Metascore

On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.

Director: RZA | Stars: Russell Crowe, Cung Le, Lucy Liu, RZA

Votes: 56,473 | Gross: $15.63M

This looked like fun, so I gave it a shot. Not a hip-hop fan or a big Eli Roth fan, but I do love kung fu flicks.

I wasn't really blown away by anything I saw. Basically, if you liked the movie from the trailers you should enjoy it, but it isn't quite over-the-top enough to fit in with the Grindhouse flicks, nor is it funny enough to go on a shelf with Kung Fu Hustle, nor is it action-packed and awesome enough to go in with The Protector or Bruce Lee. It's a bit of all three, but not nearly enough of any of them.

Plot is standard, costumes are fun, characters are....characters, I guess. Russell Crowe definitely seems to be having the most fun, and his character has some great moments. RZA does a good first time directing, I suppose. All in all, nothing really blew me away.

24. Skyfall (2012)

PG-13 | 143 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
81 Metascore

Bond's loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Judi Dench

Votes: 564,842 | Gross: $304.36M

Saw it because I wanted to, and also because I heard so many people praising it to the stars as some great masterpiece. I'll admit I don't know a lot of James Bond, I haven't seen most of the movies. Really, there are only a few I can even remember well, mostly Daniel Craig's films and a couple of Pierce Brosnan's. Suffice it to say I am not a huge Bond fanatic.

The movie does not wait long to kick off, although I will say I was kind of waiting a bit in the beginning wondering when we'd see the big villain I'd heard so much about. But once we met him the movie really started to pick up. Before I knew it we were at the final act of a 2 and a half hour movie. That really impressed me, that ability to draw you in to the point where you completely forget how long you've been watching.

The film looks beautiful; Shangai and Macau are absolutely luscious and filled with incredible colors and light. London and Scotland are fairly drab by comparison.

The title sequence (featuring Adele) is definitely the best title sequence I've ever seen (but then, I'm not a huge Bond fan, so make of it what you will), and gave me chills. Deep, dark, new, nostalgic, ravishing and beautiful.

Javier Bardem plays a truly great villain. I imagine his opening speech about rats will be quoted in acting classes and auditions for years to come (it deserves to be). His character may seem somewhat goofing and flamboyant at times, but I must say nothing in recent memory scared me more than when he threatened M in his prison cell. Here he was, imprisoned in a cage, at their mercy, and just hearing him describe what happened to him and what he went through, seeing what a cyanide pill does to a person, and seeing him stare at M with that look of complete driven vengeance...I have never been more afraid of someone in a prison cell.

As to what Skyfall is, the movie's more than half over before you find out, but I won't spoil it. For me, this was a Bond movie that was more about the characters and the look than about the story or plot. Again, maybe that's just me, but that was what I took from it during both of my viewings.

I thought it was a fantastic movie, maybe not quite the caliber people led me to believe it would be (little things, just little details I won't go into). But I'm chalking that up to me not being a huge James Bond fan.

25. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

G | 92 min | Animation, Adventure, Comedy

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
78 Metascore

In order to power the city, monsters have to scare children so that they scream. However, the children are toxic to the monsters, and after a child gets through, 2 monsters realize things may not be what they think.

Directors: Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich | Stars: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi

Votes: 671,457 | Gross: $289.92M

My favorite Pixar movie. Between John Goodman's instantly likable Sulley, Steve Buscemi's slimy Randall, and the incurably cute Boo; I loved every second of this movie. When I heard it was coming back into theaters, I jumped at the opportunity to go see it again with my little sisters, especially since Boo reminds me so much of one of them.

To a degree, it reminds me of Wreck-it Ralph, both in terms of the premise and some of the character arcs. In particular, two scenes strike me as similarly emotional and heartbreaking *SPOILER*: Sulley scaring Boo and Ralph smashing Vanellope's car *END SPOILER*

I still love this movie. So psyched for Monsters University in 2013!

26. Les Misérables (2012)

PG-13 | 158 min | Drama, History, Musical

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
63 Metascore

In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter. The decision changes their lives forever.

Director: Tom Hooper | Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried

Votes: 268,292 | Gross: $148.81M

3 weeks ago I had no interest in seeing this movie. But when a classmate of mine did a piece from Les Mis for our Acting final, he showed me a video of a production as he searched for the part he wanted to learn. The first song hooked me, it was weighty and crushing (look down, look down, you'll always be a slave; look down, look down, look down, you're standing in your grave...) and I was hooked.

I also saw Anne Hathaway host SNL and do some impressive singing for her opening monologue. I did not know she could nail those kinds of notes.

I pride myself on never being at a loss for words, this film left me speechless. Still, I feel I must try and put the intense feeling and admiration I had for this experience into words. This was the most powerful musical I've ever seen. The characters, the acting, the tragedy surrounding everything, the redemption, the music; everything was above and beyond. Admittedly, the most compelling material is in the first half of the film. Once it takes a step back from Jean Valjean; no, once the young love begins, it loses its grip and engaging power.

Valjean, Fantine, Javert, Eponine, and Cosette are the most interesting of the characters. The corrupt innkeeper and his wife are the main comic relief in the film (played hilariously by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter). Hugh Jackman gives his most powerful performance in memory as discharged convict Jean Valjean. Russell Crowe is intense as authority figure and face-of-the-law Javert, who's life goal is to put Valjean back behind bars. Fantine is played by Anne Hathaway. Don't let the rumors that she gives a knockout performance color your opinion; they are absolutely accurate, as watching her part will convince anyone. She's in the film less than half an hour, but if she earns any less than every female acting award available to her I'll consider it an insult to the art of acting. Amanda Seyfried is desirable and angelic as a grown Cosette saved by Valjean, and Samantha Barks is a fascinating dark beauty in the character of Eponine.

However, once the film moves into Cosette's teenage years and the French Revolution, it loses its momentum and intrigue. The teen romance is decidedly boring compared to Valjean's struggle, and I found the actor portraying Cosette's love interest to be the most boring ever put on film (Edward Cullen was at least handsome). The kid who runs everywhere and dips into every situation is a far more engaging performance than this guy was. Every character in the film was more interesting than this guy. His most compelling moments were when he was unconscious (I'm not joking).

Once the film starts to lose its momentum, it gets long. Still, the beginning was so compelling and gripping that I still hold this film in the highest esteem. Among its interesting factors is this; the lines are all sung on-screen, not recorded separately lip-synced in. This can get a little grating, but it also allows for much more powerful delivery and characterization during songs. Not all of the cast have great singing voices, Amanda Seyfried probably has the best singing voice (she looks AND sounds like an angel). Still, what some may lack in sounding pretty, they more than make up for with emotion and conviction.