The Darkest Hour oozes cheese at every turn from cut-rate special effects to a script that surely numbers a scant few pages to the oftentimes groan worthy dialogue this is a film that screams straight to video or TV movie of the week. It is nigh dumbfounding then to realize that the film opened wide in theatres during Christmas Day back in 2011 giving money paying moviegoers one big lump of coal as a gift in exchange for their hard-earned dollars.
Skyfall (2012) is the James Bond movie you never knew you wanted full of awe-inspiring cinematography, gripping performances and a return to classical filmmaking devoid of any excessive use of shaky cam or nausea-inducing editing that has plagued modern action films which includes the awful previous Bond installment, Quantum of Solace. Director Sam Mendes has managed to keep enough of the core Bond elements intact while fusing them with a viscerally riveting cinematic experience that works wonders as never before precisely because the film does something totally unexpected by focusing on talking over action.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) is an oftentimes mesmerizing slice of life parable that manages to meld gripping drama with childhood fantasy in a mostly electric fashion. Although it does occasionally stumble in certain aspects overall most audience members will simply fall in love with the movie due in large part to young actress Quvenzhané Wallis who creates a wonderfully precocious character that simply dominates whatever scene she is in. Admittedly, this is not the film for everyone considering the subject matter and lack of grandiose plot but those who want to experience something different might find themselves enraptured by it.
Ben Affleck turns in a triumphant directorial effort helming Argo (2012) making the film gripping, topical and most of all, highly entertaining. It may or may not be the best film you see this year but it is sure to be a crowd pleaser and at the very least will remind everyone that truth is most definitely stranger than fiction.
Actor/Director/Writer/Composer RZA attempts to craft a loving homage to the chop-socky martial arts films of the late 1960s-early 1970s yet despite the array of talent involved the end product is a near absolute mess with humour that constantly misfires, zombie-like acting and miserably filmed action sequences. The plot is totally inconsequential but that is to be expected yet every attempt made to imbue the film with edgy coolness ends up instead grating to the point of abject pain so much so that many will feel compelled to either walk out of the cinema or ram their thumbs with disdain into their eye-sockets.
If I told you that the plot of Silver Linings Playbook could be easily summed up as, “two essentially crazy people meet and decide for their own self-interest to enter a ballroom dance competition” I have a strong feeling that most readers would immediately blanch and quickly come to the conclusion that the film was a silly waste of celluloid. However, Silver Linings Playbook is so masterfully written and skillfully directed that it takes the basic traditional structure of the romantic comedy and turns it on its head in such a way that each scene is wholly unpredictable. It is without a doubt the most romantic film of the year and perhaps even the last decade a fact made all the more unfathomable considering the hugely ponderous and charged nature of its exceedingly dark subject matter.
Meant as a kind of cinematic coming out party for Tyler Perry from his usual role as cross-dressing Madea in his hit series of films Alex Cross (2012) instead is an inexplicable disaster that seems more in common with a rejected television pilot than a feature film with a narrative that has little idea of where it is headed, bland characters and a totally pedestrian sense of direction from long time action-veteran Rob Cohen who finds himself on total autopilot. In a way the film reminds me of the abominable Abduction (2011) featuring Tyler Lautner merely because its director John Singleton also turned in a lamentable effort that Rob Cohen seems to emulate to a fault.
Taken 2 is a completely perfunctory sequel to Liam Neeson’s original sleeper hit that basically turned him into a viable action star yet this new installment does nothing but disappoint. The first Taken movie was a by the books kind of an affair yet it was anchored by Neeson’s standout performance as the no-nonsense Bryan Mills who clearly was not someone you wanted to mess around with. Neeson reprises his role here yet the entire movie from start to finish is rife with a level of absurdity that even the most accommodating viewer will blanch at. When one of the main characters is tasked to throw not one but three live grenades willy-nilly amidst the bustling city scape of downtown Istanbul without hitting someone or causing too much collateral damage just so that Bryan can measure distance through the delayed travel of sound you know you have truly crossed over into the Twilight Zone.