Monday, February 25, 2013

The Not Quite Top Ten Films in 2010 (for me) Jan 08, 2011 12:41AM PST


My next blog is going to be my Top Ten in 2010 Films list, but first I wanted to do a blog with the movies I saw that didn’t make it on the list and why. For the most part, these films aren’t bad, they simply didn’t manage to entertain me on the same level my top ten was able to, and some are even a toss-up that could easily fall on my “good list” and replace something else on my second viewing (I’ll indicate which movies almost made it on my top ten). I saw 24 films that were released in 2010, a large cluster being in my winter break, so the list is far from perfect and of course opinion.

So without further introductory boredom, in no particular order, the films that are not on my top ten films for 2010:

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

 This being shy of my top ten may be shocking to some, especially since this is a gaming website and I’m its core audience. It may be the hype from friends that simply loved it, the hype from critics about its status as a hipster bible, or the fact it took me forever to finally find a chance to watch it making it kind of a short-term holy grail, but it just wasn’t the masterpiece I wanted it to be, unfair hype or not.

 For one, I found it more palatable as an action movie than a comedy, and while the action is really good, I just wanted to laugh more at something created by the guys behind Hot Fuzz (one of my favorite comedies ever). The visuals are impressive, and its quirkiness is endearing, with the always-bored gay roommate being especially fun to watch, but it just didn’t click with me like I though it would.

 While a lot of people pointed to Michael Cera’s character being kind of a dick, I didn’t find him all that offensive, but I do agree with criticisms of his love interest: I still don’t know exactly what, if any, personality she has, other than choosing romantic and sexual partners seemingly at random. I mean, I can see the appeal in having twin boyfriends that can make dragons come from their amps, but her taste in spouses is so all over the place it’s almost tasteless. Well, at least she’s hot.

 Overall, it was still a very fun movie to watch, it just wasn’t as mind-blowing as I was told it would be. I will say that Sex Bob-Omb is an awesome song, and the fight scenes are fantastic, but I guess I don’t feel being catered to with Zelda noises is enough for me to place it in the top 10. It was definitely good enough to be really, really close though, and who knows what a second viewing could do. PS, did you know Blockbuster’s rental copies don’t let you see special features? I was really disappointed after spending $4.99 for this DVD rental, and my opinion might have increased had I seen some of those behind the scenes explanations of references I didn’t catch, so keep that in mind.

 How to Train Your Dragon

 A movie I may have liked more at a lower price ($22 to see it in 3D with a date), this was a very well done 3D animation flick nonetheless. I liked the main character’s gruff but ultimately sympathetic father, and its imagination in creating a debate regarding diplomacy with historically fearsome creatures.

 It was also great fun to watch in 3D and unlike The Fighter, I was very much into rooting for its hero given its plot structure. However, I don’t recall getting laid that night and it cost $22 so it’s not on my top ten. I’m kidding, obviously, but I wasn’t as into it as some other 3D movies on my top ten list.

 A Nightmare on Elm Street

 In general, I’m just not much of a horror fan, and even when I saw the original on youtube, I thought it was just ok. The novelty of a guy that can get you in your sleep is lost on me when he looks this goofy (and no offense to burn victims, but I just can’t help finding the former Freddy’s makeup more effective regardless of its lack of “realism”) and the film’s darkness doesn’t make it creepy as much as it just makes it look bleak to me.

I will applaud something other critics were appalled by though: the change in Freddy’s back story. I don’t know why there was such a backlash to making him a sex offender, but the film doesn’t promote his deeds (whether or not it pays unsettling homage to this unsettling character trait in its dialogue) and in fact provides a real creepiness to the character, at times even offsetting his not-so-scary burn victim face. In fact, my favorite part of this movie was the victims’ research and realizations of this truly evil man’s past.

 Not completely my type of movie, but more intriguing and less repulsive than its Tomatometer rating gives it credit for. I may have liked it better if it wasn’t $8, stupid college town theaters gouge you.

 The Last Exorcism

I should reiterate that I don’t like horror movies, but here I was more interested in the premise: a huckster preacher who’s doing an exorcism one last time to prove it’s a hoax on camera. That premise turns much of the first half of this movie into a more effective drama before its back end goes all supernatural 70’s slasher film. You might be surprised I actually liked the ending given that criticism, but only because I found the ending so jarring I had to admit it was entertaining.

 However, it drags in a few places, and its progression becomes pretty obvious, barring it from my top ten. Also, there’s gotta be one victim of Satanic possession that dresses like a whore; where the hell are these creepy preteen girls finding these Puritanical white nightgowns from the 1800s anyway?

 Dinner for Shmucks

 I saw this at my college’s $1 theater (the school’s Student Activities Association gets the rights to show movies on the school’s own silver screen around the time they’re about to release on DVD) and I enjoyed it enough. Sure, the “shmucks” in the movie are so incredibly stupid they should either be dead or given serious help, but I was able to put this out of my mind and enjoy a pretty standard comedy. Hell, despite its obvious progression, I even had a few gut laughs at the ending congregation of idiots, some of whom actually had fairly impressive and unique things to show. Still, not quite top ten material, and I can’t help but feel I’m making excuses for the cheap price I got to see it for.

 Due Date

I watched this at work when a coworker had up on her laptop. So yes, I saw this bootlegged. Also, I was only half paying attention and I don’t remember being too impressed with anything I didn’t already see in the trailer. Hence, no top ten spot.

 Vampires Suck

Again, though this time I rented for $1 from Red Box rather than watching a bootleg, I sort of zoned out for much of its latter half. It wasn’t as bad as critics said, but it wasn’t good either. If you like pop referential humor, especially digs at the Kardashians, it might be worth a rental, otherwise meh.

 Get Him to the Greek

 It was dark, it was funny, it went where Chasing Amy almost did, but it wasn’t quite funny enough to make it on to my top ten. This was pretty close to making it on that list though, as its ability to blend a serious look at the sad life of a drug addict and an intensely satisfying rock-star comedy was quite impressive. Frankly, I just can’t claim I remember enough of it to rank it in my top ten, but like Pilgrim a second viewing could make the difference.

 Iron Man 2

 I thought the first installment was really good popcorn entertainment. I also thought this was really good popcorn entertainment. I can’t really say much of anything else about it except that Robert Downey Jr. is fun to watch, I’m one of five people that preferred Terrance Howard to Don Cheadle as War Machine, and its comments on weapons manufacturing were interesting. I also liked the Senator in the movie, and its humor was again pretty satisfying. Still, it’s not memorable enough for me to go on my top ten.

 The Town

 Let me say that I actually like Affleck’s acting job as well as his directing in this movie. As clichéd as the movie’s plot is, with Affleck’s Boston bank robber character and the female bank manager becoming romantically involved… well, I didn’t know that was a cliché before reading reviews so I really enjoyed the movie, and found their relationship to be a very interesting plot point. It leads to a lot of tense moments.

 It’s an effective drama with effective action sequences. It’s not The Departed, but it’s closer than you’d think to that quality, and I liked its ending much better than that film at any rate.


 It’s kind of like the female Bourne I guess, but while it was fun, it wasn’t an instant classic with me like Bourne Ultimatum was. It has good action and ridiculous plot twists, but that didn’t make it fun enough for my top ten.

 The Fighter

 I loved Christian Bale’s crack addict mannerism in this (especially after seeing how much he nailed what the real person he based it on acts like) but his story had a negative effect on Wahlberg’s. I rooted for him, but he only has a couple of fights in the movie, and I wasn’t on the edge of my seat for any of them. I felt for him, and wanted him to get out of his depressing situation in Lowell, but I just didn’t feel connected enough to his character to really get into his part in the movie.

 Then again, I couldn’t help but compare it to Cinderella Man, one of my favorite movies of all time. In that film, Paul Giomatti’s performance stole many scenes just like Bale’s character did, but I was just much more into the main character’s fights in that movie. The Fighter was really good, but not quite great in my opinion because it just didn’t quite resonate with me the way that other excellent boxing movie did. It is better than Rocky Balboa though, which is saying something.

 Edge of Darkness

 I almost feel guilty for liking this knowing what an asshole Mel Gibson is, but it is good. An interesting detective thriller about government secrets and what happens to people who don’t keep them, it also features a compelling British actor who must represent what it would look like if Christopher Hitchens had become a gangster.

 It’s not great, but it’s worth a rental, unless you’re against any form of money giving to Mel Gibson at this point, which is understandable.

 Easy A

 I thought this was a really good John Hughes film, mixed with Tina Fey’s Mean Girls humor, and with neither of those people’s actual input if I remember correctly. I don’t buy for a second that the main character or her friend would have trouble losing their virginity, and the spin on the Scarlet Letter really is not that creative (we actually had an assignment in high school when reading that book to put a letter representing one of our vices on ourselves and walk around with it; most, including myself, hastily cut out a “P” for procrastination as an excuse for our letter’s crappy look) but it is a funny movie provided you don’t remotely fit the description of right wing Christian, in which case the very left California slant of the movie has painted you as a bone headed monster.

 It could certainly use more well-rounded characters (especially the aforementioned caricatures of differing political/religious views), but it’s mostly harmless fun. Thomas Hayden-Church is good too. It’s just not that compelling, and therefore not in my top ten.

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