Films of 2012
So, to the second half of my favourite films of 2012!
Bond’s return to the big-screen, hampered by financial issues at distributor MGM, was nicely timed with the series’ 50th anniversary, and thus it was inevitable the film was to feature many of the trademarks which made it the number one franchise in film history. Alas, subtle nuances are included, but for a modern day Bond, things must be kept fresh, and so it is this, the new ideas that help make ‘Skyfall’, stand out as current Bond, Daniel Craig’s best installment, and certainly one of the best ever, the figures just have to tell you that. It’s become the first EVER film to gross £100 million in the UK, following chart-topping feats all around the world. Bravo Sam Mendes! Ironically, I can remember fears when Mendes was first announced as director, that Bond would be character-driven, possess little action, and be ruined as a result. Rubbish!
A careful balance of character, Javier Bardem’s dastardly portrayal of baddie Silva and Judi Dench’s heartbreaking M, and the norms of Bond action, proved to be a winner as audiences voted with their money and praise. Best Bond ever? Maybe, just maybe…
A great surprise, ‘Chronicle’, first intrigued me with its viral trailers, of teenagers messing around with superpowers, given to them via a mysterious ‘hole in the ground’. Said ‘messing around’, starts to turn bigger and more dangerous, as the plot and action ramp up drastically. What I liked most about ‘Chronicle’, was the daring approach of casting virtually unknown actors in every role, making the ‘found footage’ style of shooting even more realistic. Initially, the teens only want to use their powers to play practical jokes, as many kids would do, rather than become a superhero and save the world, as films often make you believe. The second half, as we see one of the boys become a twisted, out of control beast, is even more interesting, building on the backstory, so much so that you understand why he wants to take revenge on the world, as he has been bullied and ignored all of his life.
‘Chronicle’, was a fresh way of tackling the unoriginal ‘superpowers’ moniker that so many films carry nowadays, going places where others wouldn’t dare, with some smart styles of filming, CCTV in the hospital?!, a great bunch of performances by the three leads, and a daring, shocking finale. Let’s hope the proposed sequel stays true to it!
Seeing ‘Ted’s trailers, I wasn’t sure what to think. Sure it’s Seth MacFarlane, the creator, director and star of one of the funniest TV shows around, ‘Family Guy’, but his debut feature film, in which he also directs and stars, seemed such a high-concept risk. However, the risk paid off in spades, as ‘Ted’ pulled in masses of money at the box-office, and was full of laughs, both from MacFarlane as the titular teddy bear, and, surprisingly, Mark Wahlberg as his best friend John Bennett. Whilst MacFarlane rightly steals the show and the plaudits with his turn as Ted, Wahlberg must be applauded, building on his first comedic role in ‘The Other Guys’, with great success, and showing he is more than just an action star. The jokes are rude and sometimes crude, it’s sweary, has Flash Gordon himself in, and Ryan Reynolds has a brilliant cameo. Then there’s THAT creepy dance scene, by the father of one of the scariest kids in cinema. Do yourself a favour and watch ‘Ted’, now!
Best. CGI. Bear. Ever.
2. Avengers Assemble
The amalgamation of 4 years of build-up, the ‘Avengers’, or ‘Avengers Assemble’, as it was known here in the UK finally came to fruition in May 2012, and it was excellent. Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye-all in one film! For some it may be number one of the year, it’s light, even comedic at times, due to director/writer Joss Whedon’s influence, but whilst I loved it, I simply preferred the darker tone of ‘TDKR’. That being said, there is most definitely a place for the ‘Avengers’, it has so much going for it. I remember seeing it in the cinema and being in awe at so many big stars and superheroes crammed into one motion picture, it’s a credit to all those involved that it managed to work so stunningly well. Loki, Thor’s villainous demi-god brother, is a great baddie, but his alien armada lacks originality, and purpose, it’s the only sour point of a great 2 and a half hour cinematic romp.
A sequel is pencilled in for 2015, as each superhero squeezes in their own individual film in between now and then. Along with new superheroes and a strong villain, the sky is the limit for Marvel’s massive franchise…
1. The Dark Knight Rises
In all honesty, it couldn’t have been anything else. Sure ‘Avengers Assemble’ was as much fun as a rollercoaster, a relentless ride of action and humour, but Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated ending to his magnificent trilogy of Batman films, exceeded my expectations. From the opening scene, Bane’s introduction and prompt escape from a plane, to the cliffhanger, ‘did he or didn’t he’ ending, and the potential for succession for one character in particular, the film delivered on so many levels. Whilst it may not have featured as many superheroes as its Marvel rival, the cast was sure an ‘Avengers’ of the acting world.
Let’s give it a go: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy and last but not least Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Phew! Yet Nolan manages to justify each character’s use, sure I could’ve done with more Freeman and Caine, but instead we got development on Gordon Levitt’s cop, John Blake, and the origins story of Hardy’s mega-villain Bane. I wouldn’t say it matches the peak of predecessor, ‘The Dark Knight’, but they are different films, with different themes of redemption and the threat of Bane, a physical brute, in comparison to the mentally challenged Joker of ‘TDK’. No, both films are outstanding in their own ways, with ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, proving the be a fitting ending for the trilogy, and the best film of 2012!
Honourable Mentions: The Amazing Spiderman, The Woman in Black, The Art of Rap, Silver Linings Playbook, Untouchable, The Dictator. Films I haven’t yet seen: The Hobbit, Argo, The Imposter, Killer Joe, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Sightseers, The Impossible, End of Watch, Ruby Sparks, Shame
Next: 2013’s Biggest Films!