e. magill's                        

The Unapologetic Geek


The Movies of 2010 - Page 2

As a new stay-at-home father-slash-househusband, I don't get as many chances to go to the movies as I used to. Still, I managed to catch ten films that were released this year (a couple of which were through DVD releases). I may not have seen all the big Oscar contenders, there are a few flicks I wish I'd had the opportunity to check out, and one or two of the movies I did see this year were seen solely for their entertainment value. 2010 seemed to be a decent enough year in film, though it will probably be some time before Hollywood--and my lifestyle--matches 2008 in terms of sheer cinematic awesomeness.

Jackass 3D
Release Date: Oct 15
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $50.4
To-date: $116.9

Each and every one of us has an immature, juvenile side, especially us men. If you ignore it for too long, you become, well, a jackass. So yes, I went to the theater to see the latest entry in the Jackass series of movies, if you can call them movies, and I am not in the least bit embarrassed by it. And yes, the movie is as retarded, childish, and gross as you think it is, and you will certainly have fewer brain cells when you are finished watching it. Still, it's important that you take your medicine every once in a while. Jackass 3D contains more extreme versions of old gags, way too much human excrement and male nudity, and some absolutely hysterical bits that are surprisingly simple. The latter ones are the ones I enjoyed the most, especially the ones involving midgets. I won't "spoil" anything, but I will say that I enjoyed this movie for what it is, and you can't judge me for that.

Release Date: Jul 9
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $24.8
To-date: $52.0

Predators should be viewed as a tribute to the original. The soundtrack, film grain, tone, and feel of the film are all ripped right out of the 1980s, so if you didn't like that age of filmmaking, you'd best steer clear of this one. For the rest of us, and especially those of us who grew up with schlocky 1980s sci-fi/horror/action flicks, Predators is good entertainment. The action starts from the very first frame and doesn't let up until the very end. The plot is a little sloppy, the characters are painfully one-dimensional, and the one major plot twist in the movie is just plain silly, but I still loved every minute of Predators. If you can reasonably know what you're getting into, you could probably enjoy it too, at least more than the embarrasingly bad Aliens v. Predators films that tried to kill both franchises in two foul strokes.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Release Date: May 28
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $30.1
To-date: $90.8

There is absolutely nothing original about Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but if you go into it expecting originality, you have clearly been misinformed about what this movie is. However, if you like the idea of The Mummy mixed with some parkour, you will love it. As an entertaining action movie, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time delivers in spades and is a whole lot of fun. Even more astonishing is that, as a video game adaptation, it actually works. Though it only loosely follows the plot of the game, it succeeds in matching the feel of it, from the playful and sarcastic chemistry between the prince and his unwilling female companion to the parkour moves that are all very reminiscent of what you can do with a game controller. Most importantly, the film handles the dagger of time well and doesn't overuse it as a plot device. For some reason, audiences haven't really connected with the movie and critics, predictably, have panned it. As a result, it lost over a hundred million dollars in the box office, ensuring that there will definitely not be a sequel. I don't understand this, because for my money, it's one of the only good movies out there based on a video game (I'll probably make a list in the future, knowing me), and it's a better movie than The Mummy, which spawned two increasingly bad sequels.

Release Date: Jun 4
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $7.4
To-date: $17.0

Full of gross-out fleshy things and deviant sexual tension, Splice wants so badly to be directed by David Cronenberg that it never finds its own voice. Still, it's a fun horror movie with some really good acting from Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chanéac. The latter, Chanéac, plays Dren, the main creature of the film, and is easily the star. Dren is creepy and unsettling, but human enough to be sympathetic. There is a duality between movie monster and childlike victim of circumstance, and it sells the movie by making Dren's creators both relatable and despicable. The amazing effects don't hurt, either. There is a great sense of wonder in the first act and tension in the second, but the film's third act falls flat and turns what could have been a great horror picture into something bordering too much on cliché. The "twist" ending is also completely unnecessary and groan-worthy, and can make audiences walk away feeling a little cheated.

TRON: Legacy
Release Date: Dec 17
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $44.0
To-date: $44.0

The biggest fear going into TRON: Legacy is that it's just eye candy and nothing more. I'm happy to report that you have nothing to fear, as long as you aren't expecting anything too deep. Not only are the visual effects and TRON universe a modern-day upgrade, but so is the story. Many of the story beats are the same--the protagonist is taken into the digital world against his will, he is forced to play games including a disc-throwing duel and the ever-popular lightcycles, he escapes, and so forth--but there is a lot more weight and investment given to the characters, even the programs. The stakes are also higher and involve more mind-bending ideas that are wisely not elaborated on. While the first act is the movie's weakest, it also contains many winks and nods to fans of the original movie, like the fact that the protagonist, Sam Flynn, is living in Dumont's garage. However, once you get to the grid, the movie grabs you and never lets go. The action is startling and intense, the soundtrack is phenomenal, the twists are well-deserved (if a bit predictable), the climax can bring an audience to cheer, and the ending is fantastic. The majority of the effects are great, but when it comes to the antagonist, CLU (fans of the original should remember an earlier version of CLU), and any flashback involving younger characters, they all fall victim to the uncanny valley. Since CLU gets so much screen time, it is unfortunate and unforgivably distracting that his face never stops looking like a visual effect. Still, don't get me wrong, I adore TRON: Legacy, and it's also the first film where I think the 3D gimmick is finally justified.

There you have it, the ten films I was able to catch this year. For curiosities' sake, here are ten movies I'm looking forward to in 2011:

Captain America: The First Avenger
The Green Hornet
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The Muppets
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Rise of the Apes
The Thing

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-e. magill 12/21/2010


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