Friday, January 4, 2013

Not Fade Away and My Bottom Ten Films of 2012

My Review:   Not Fade Away (2012) It’s 1964, and America is being invaded by musical groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Douglas (John Magaro) and his friends are about to graduate from high school and decide to form a rock band with dreams of a record contract and playing to sold out venues. Soon the boys find out that carrying out their dreams isn’t as easy as they thought, as they end up having to play birthday parties and frat keggers just to get gigs. The best part of this film is the music, which does a superb job of giving the audience a sense of the monumental and groundbreaking music of the mid-1960s. Magaro, as Douglas, gives a satisfying performance as an initially shy young man. When he's given the center stage, he grabs it with gusto and is willing to take the lead singer position at almost any cost. James Gandolfini plays Douglas’ father who disapproves of his son’s career and lifestyle choices.  Gandolfini, though, isn’t given much in the role to play. He only gets to show some of his acting skills near the end of the film when he has a heart-to-heart with his son. I was little let down by the script and disappointed with a screenplay from a talented writer.  I feel I was never pulled into the story, it was as if Director/Writer Chase wanted to share great music but wrote a story to just set up each song.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Not Fade Away Website

My Bottom 10 Films of 2012 (picked from the films that I saw in 2012, in no particular order):
1).  That’s My Boy  (2012)  So, this is an R rated comedy, and, while it doesn't go as far as some of the recent R rated comedies, it still pushes the boundaries of good taste, and too often goes for the easy joke. Sandler's character gets old very quickly. He is the type of guy who is so proud of himself when he gets into a fight and doesn't spill his beer, and he's the guy who wants to be the center of attention and isn't too proud to sleep with not only your mother, but your grandmother. While 80's star Vanilla Ice is funny at first, his bad acting dominates his appearances, and Andy Samberg is wasted as the prim and proper son. I did enjoy Milo Ventimiglia as the Marine brother of Tom's fiancĂ©e (Leighton Meester), but his scenes are too few to make a big difference in a film that just isn't that funny.   That's My Boy Info
2).  Battleship (2012)  You know you have a film that just isn’t going to work when a former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model (Decker) has more screen time than your biggest star (Neeson). I did enjoy Rihanna as a kick ass Petty Officer who likes blowing up things, but the film made it look like she was the only female serving in the Navy. This film’s plot is so full of holes and asks you to believe so many unbelievable things that the audience whom I saw the film with was laughing at almost every twist and turn. It's a big mess of film that thinks it can just put some cool looking alien spacecraft in front of you, and you will be happy with it. If you do make it to the end, and I am not sure you will, there is a bonus scene at after the final credits. And, by the way, no one ever says, “You Sunk My Battleship,” but maybe they should have.   Battleship Info
3).  The Dictator  (2012)   As with all the Sacha Baron Cohen movies, he goes too far with almost all his jokes. I did not like this film mostly because his character is an extreme racist who makes derogatory comments about everything and everybody, and I became almost numb to them. I felt that, too often, he went for the easy joke - the easy pratfall. And, poor Anna Faris, who plays his love interest in the film, is just wasted in this role as an environmental, loving, hippy manager of a health food store. While I didn’t find this movie offensive (though some people will), I just thought it wasn’t very funny.   The Dictator Info
4).  Red Dawn ( 2012)  When Washington state is invaded by North Koreans, a group of teenagers, led by a marine (Chris Hemsworth) who is home off leave, take matters into their own hands and start fighting back using tactics from the more famous insurgent groups of the past. This film lets the viewers down on almost every aspect including its horrible direction with action sequences done with camera work so shaky that, at times, you have no idea what is happening. Chris Hemsworth gives almost no emotional range with his very wooden performance. The original film was fun and full of life, but it was very dull and boring.   Red Dawn Info
5).  Dark Shadows (2012)  This film has no idea what kind of film it is. Is it a comedy, a dark comedy, a drama, a horror film? It just doesn’t know, and the audience that I saw it with didn’t know either. It’s like the director Tim Burton and Johnny Deep just threw ideas against a wall and kept what stuck. I thought the appeal of vampire movies was that they were sexy, but there isn’t anything sexy in this film. And, Johnny Depp's makeup makes him look dead. The film has a great cast with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Helena Bonhman Carter, but most of this talent is wasted on characters that seem to be just that - characters. The film is too long (almost 2 full hours) and feels like it could have used a couple of editing sessions to tighten up its pacing.   Dark Shadows Info
6). The Three Stooges (2012)  While this is a Farrelly brothers creation (There's Something About Mary, Shallow Hal), it's really a family movie, but only kids under the age of ten are going to enjoy it. The film feels, at times, like a bad 80’s sitcom, and you get tired, very quickly, of the Stooges poking each other in the eyes. The best thing was Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) who plays an angry nun. The film has a running time of 92 minutes, but I would swear it’s much longer than that.  If I wasn't reviewing the film I would have walked out, not because it is a bad film (though, it is), but because it was so mind-numbingly stupid.   The Three Stooges Info
7). This Means War (2012) I f you are going to have any chance at all at enjoying this film, you will have to leave your mind at the door because the plot holes are large enough to drive a tank through. I did enjoy a couple of scenes, especially one where there is a nicely choreographed movement where Reese is home, and she thinks she is alone. While she's making popcorn, the two agents stealthily bug her apartment without her or each other’s knowledge. Tom Hardy is the best thing about this movie, and the audience will certainly root for his character over the slick character that Chris Pine plays. Ultimately, though, we just can’t buy the premise, much like we can’t buy that Reese’s character is so dateless that her local restaurant calls her “Sushi For One." And I just couldn’t get out of my mind the millions of dollars of CIA equipment that the two men destroy to get her attention.   This Means War Info
8). Journey 2: The Mysterious Island  (2012)  A young man (Sean Anderson) gets a mysterious coded signal from his grandfather (Michael Caine) and sets out with his step-father (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to find the Mysterious Island that Jules Verne wrote about. They crash on the island in a helicopter and begin looking, along with the helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) to find the grandfather. The island is full of giant bees, tiny elephants, and humongous lizards (which The Rock punches in the face) that they encounter in their travels. This is a horrible film with bad special effects, hardly any use of 3-D and equally bad overacting complete with a storyline that will bore all ages. Let’s sum it up this way: It's a film where The Rock sings, not once, but twice, What A Wonderful World….no it’s not Rock, not if you’re going to make a film like this.   Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Info
9). Taken 2 (2012)  In this sequel to the 2008 film, Bryan (Liam Neeson), is on a business trip to Istanbul when he gets a surprise visit from his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen). But Bryan has enemies, and his wife and daughter are now the bad guys’ targets. Taken was a surprise hit when it came out in 2005, but Taken 2 died pretty quickly at the box office. It’s silly, stupid, and you can tell when an action guy is getting old - the film uses the shaky camera for all the action sequences. This is a film where you just want to tell Maggie Grace’s character, “Shut up, already!” as she seems to scream and cry out throughout the entire film. If you were a fan of the first, don’t see this one because it will ruin it for you.   Taken 2 Info
10).  Silent House (2012)  A young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) is in the process of helping her father and brother renovate their family lake house when things start mysteriously happening. At first, it’s just noises and odd shadows, but very soon it’s evident that someone or something in the house is not happy with the home-occupiers. Things go from bad to worse when Olsen discovers her father was beaten. This film is shot to look like it is one long continuous take, a noble experiment that gets old very quickly and, at times, almost makes you sick from the camera shaking so much. It’s very sad that a lot of audiences got their first look at Olsen from this film because she is so much of a better actress (as proven in 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene) than she exhibits here. This film wasn’t nearly scary enough, was easy to figure out and just wasn’t the exciting ride of a film that the trailer made it out to be.   Silent House Info
Films that almost made it on the list: Wrath of the Titans, Seeking Justice, Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy, What to Expect When You are Expecting, Chernobyl Diaries, High School.
Please note that I had the good fortune of not seeing the following that are making a lot of worst films of 2012 lists: Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, Resident Evil: Retribution, The Watch, Alex Cross.

                                                                   Until Next Time!

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