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The Unapologetic Geek


The Movies of 2012 - Page 2

Release Date: Jun 8
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $51.1
To-date: $126.5

Visually staggering and atmospherically perfect, I have tried desperately to fall in love with Prometheus. I want Ridley Scott's return to science-fiction to be triumphant, because Alien and Blade Runner are two of the greatest science-fiction films ever made. Alas, I cannot forgive Prometheus its nonsensical plot, characters with mercurial motivations that serve it rather than themselves, poor narrative logic, and laughably bad science. The acting--most notably from Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, and Idris Elba--is excellent, the music is hauntingly epic, and the effects work is truly amazing, but the story is amateurish at best. There is a masterful subtext underneath it all, but the plot trips over itself to present genre clichés rather than doing its own thing, and that is the film's ultimate downfall.

The Dark Knight Rises
Release Date: Jul 20
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $160.9
To-date: $448.1

Christopher Nolan's task in The Dark Knight Rises is an unenviable one. After all, comic book film series tend to fall apart right around the third entry (see Superman III, Spider-Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand and Batman Forever), and The Dark Knight is arguably the most relevant and poetic comic book movie ever made. Still, he stepped up to the plate and delivered his most intense film thus far. The Dark Knight Rises combines elements of the two previous films and puts them together in a Gotham City that has become a war zone at the mercy of a brutal ideologue. It takes the idea of a fallen hero dragged down to the absolute rock-bottom, forced to climb back up bruised and battered to win the day, to the ultimate extreme, and as such, I wouldn't call the film a fun movie to watch over and over again. At the end of the day, The Dark Knight Rises does not dethrone The Dark Knight, but it still belongs in the same advanced league.

The Bourne Legacy
Release Date: Aug 10
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $38.1
To-date: $113.2

I'm a big fan of the original Bourne trilogy, but I was skeptical that a fourth entry would work. When I found out it was going to be a tangental story that wouldn't even contain Matt Damon's Jason Bourne, my skepticism morphed into utter disbelief. Still, I went to see it with high expectations, buoyed by generally positive reviews and the inclusion of acting greats like Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, and Rachel Weisz. This film works as its own story within the Bourne universe, and Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross manages to be a much more interesting character than Jason Bourne's clean-slate killing machine. My biggest complaint is that it feels too short and simple (a remarkable achievement given its 2:15 running time), with the credits rolling just as you start to really get into it. Here's hoping the film franchise has a bright future, even though it bears practically no relationship anymore with the book series of the same name.

Release Date: Oct 26
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $88.4
To-date: $271.9

Skyfall is James Bond's answer to The Dark Knight. I am hardly the first person to make this comparison, as the two films have more than a few things in common, but to be fair, it's hard not to make it. While not as fresh and ground-breaking as Casino Royale, Skyfall manages to bridge the gap between the hot-headed killer from that film and the Bond of bygone days we all remember. As the end of an origin story, it's a bit odd that Bond should be presented as an outdated war horse battling old age, but from a thematic point of view, it works. The action scenes are far more satisfying than the dizzying vomit-fests of Quantum of Solace, the music is the best in the series since GoldenEye, the villain is incredibly cool and interesting (though maybe a little too much like Heath Ledger's Joker), and the climax is thrilling. I won't call it the best James Bond movie to date--I won't even say it's better than Casino Royale--but it is definitely Bond at the top of his game.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Release Date: Dec 14
Domestic Box Office (in millions)
Opening weekend: $84.6
To-date: $84.6

Though it's a bit tonally confused and long-winded at times, the return to Middle-Earth is a welcome one. Once the action starts, Jackson again proves that he is the perfect man to handle the material, and there are scenes here that will continue to define how modern filmmakers approach fantasy. The most important part of this first third of The Hobbit, Bilbo's encounter with Gollum, is easily the scene that steals the movie, and for that alone, An Unexpected Journey is worth it. I appreciate the creative tying together of various loose ends to connect this tale with The Lord of the Rings, but the early scenes involving Frodo detract rather than enhance. For the first half of the film, it seems as though Jackson can't settle on a tone; it tries to be both darkly epic like The Lord of the Rings and more whimsical and fun like the novel upon which it is based, but this contradiction is lost once the adventure really gets going. I'm not convinced the rest of the novel can fit into two more equally long films, but I am nonetheless excited to see them.

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-e. magill 12/18/2012


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