Monday, January 14, 2013

2012 Movies People Loved That I Didn't Personally Care For

I was going to make a list of the most overrated movies of 2012.  But overrated is not really a fair term. People have called me out for labeling movies like Elf and Finding Nemo overrated.  And even if people like a movie more than I did, at least people like it.  And there are many who would call movies I love overrated.  As much as I may love The Avengers, Argo, Les Miserables, Beasts of the Southern Wild, 21 Jump Street there are people who don't.  So instead of making a list of the most overrated movies of 2012 I am going to make a list of movies that other people like that I just did not really care for.  I am not calling any of these bad movies, but they are ones I don't necessarily agree with the critical consensus on.

10. The Hobbit
I have no hate for this movie, I saw it and I really liked it.  Loved the production design and Martin Freeman's performance.  I just don't have an overwhelming desire to see it again.  Now I may not be completely won over because I hadn't read the books and I've only seen Fellowship of the Ring, but a movie should be able to stand on its own.  As much as I enjoyed a lot of this movie there was a lot I just did not care about.  I appreciated the detail, I just didn't personally need the start of a trilogy to be this long and full of exposition.  It is a good movie, but it is one that I am not the biggest fan of.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 65%
Where I'd Rank It: I'd actually rank this a bit higher than RT at lower to mid 70s

9. Django Unchained
I liked Django quite a bit.  But looking at the movie as a whole it is on the lower end of Tarantino movies for me.  It starts out shaping to be one of his best.  It flows perfectly and builds a lot of excitement.  But then they gets to Candyland and the movie screeches to a halt.  This is where Tarantino's tangents and lengthy diversions take over, however unlike the rest of his work I did not find them too interesting.  There is still a lot of great qualities in the second half, they just don't measure up to the first.  Definitely really like this movie and I support it in the Oscar race.  I just liked other movies more.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 89%
Where I'd Rank It: Upper 70s

8. The Master

Like Django the latter half is what I have a problem with.  This movie could not sustain the surprises and energy of the beginning.  The movie feels very long and drawn out as we are following an extremely static character.  There are interesting motifs, beautiful shots, amazing performances and one of the year’s best scores.  But for me none of these great ingredients made a great final product.  Overall it left very little impact on me.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 85%
Where I'd Rank It: Upper 70s

7. Seven Psychopaths
This is the worst movie on the list, but I am ranking it so low because it doesn't have many passionate followers.  It was a pretty big box-office bomb, but it does have supporters.  This feels like a movie written on writer's bloc, the screenplay lacks a solid lead character or interesting story.  I think it was trying to be something akin to Adaptation., but the script's self awareness seems lazy and unoriginal.  Most of the main characters are dull and uninteresting.  And because of that most of the extreme violence seems unearned and excessive.  There are some well choreographed action scenes though.  On the positive side Christopher Walken delivers one of his best and most interesting performances in way too long.  The highlight of the movie though is unquestionably Sam Rockwell, proving he is incapable of delivering anything less than an amazing performance.  He brings an energy and giddiness that the rest of this movie lacks.  If the rest of the movie was more akin to his great character it could have been over the top fun, but there is a pretentiousness to it that holds it back.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 81%
Where I'd Rank It: Sam Rockwell raises it from 50s to mid-60s

6. Cloud Atlas
Picking on this movie feels like I'm kicking someone when they're down.  But it has some pretty ardent supporters.  When people ask me if I liked this movie I have to say I didn't like all three and a half hours of it.  I liked parts of each of the stories, but as a whole they all seemed rather pointless.  I just got restless in this movie, you need to know when a movie is wrapping up and I had no clue when it would end.  Also on the controversy of yellow face, I know that the point of the story is that we are all the same person but it is a very predominantly white cast with only one Asian actor and three black actors, two of which are barely featured.  For this theme to work they needed a more well rounded cast.  I also had a difficult time following the characters the actors played, I especially got James D'Arcy, Ben Whishaw and Jim Sturgess mixed up quite a bit.  Visually it is impressive, it is very well edited among the storylines, the motifs are memorable and well placed.  This is one of the most ambitious movies of the year and I think that ambition and risk are great reasons to make a movie.  You should see it once, but I really do not want to see it again.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 64%
Where I'd Rank It: Best of intentions would keep it slightly lower, somewhere in lower 60s

5. Frankenweenie
Another box-office bomb, but it is an Oscar nominated bomb.  The best reviewed animated movie of the year is also the most forgettable movie of the year.  I really did not take much away from this movie.    I credit it for having its own visual style and maintaining a consistent theme through the story.  In some ways it is refreshing in an era of unlimited CGI Shrek and Pixar copies that a unique animated movie can be made, but it should still be interesting.  I would charge this movie with lack of heart, and no story about a boy and his dog (especially his dead dog) should be without heart.  Also I found the weird kids irritating rather than funny.  Frankenweenie wasn't touching, funny, scary or really all that interesting.  Can't remember much to critic.  Beautiful looking though.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 88%
Where I'd Rank It: Mid to Upper 60s

4. Brave
Okay yes it is Pixar not doing a Cars sequel, people default to loving it.  And I completely understand the need for strong female characters.  But Merida really was not a good character.  Sure she did not fall in love and she was a good archer, but those are her most defining qualities.  Like Frankenweenie this also lacked heart, but it also lacked creativity.  The family dynamics are extremely rote and none of the other characters serve much of a purpose.  I credit the marketing for hiding the plot twist, but it is a pretty lame plot twist.  It is basically a reverse Brother Bear, and while Brother Bear was on of Disney's lesser movies it told that story way better.  There is no consistency in the characterization of the mother and the mother as a bear, in fact the bear is probably the most dull character in the picture.  The animation quality is top notch but there is nothing overly creative or unique in the design, visually there is not much that is memorable.  I feel like people where harder on Cars because it was not as amazing as the rest of Pixar's output.  But I feel like people loved Brave because of their built up good will.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 78%
Where I'd Rank It: Lower 60s

3. Amazing Spider-Man
I do not have a problem with a new Spider-Man franchise coming out so soon after the Raimi one.  These are characters that are designed to be reinterpreted and handled by different creators.  I do have a problem that this did not have an interesting take on the wallcrawler.  I was bored by this movie.  I saw it a second time just to make sure I wasn't wrong about it and I was even more bored by it.  A lot of people seemed to love Garfield's Peter Parker, but he rang extremely false to me.  He seemed to be doing an impression of an angsty, nerdy teenager rather than embodying it.  His tics seemed so intentional and unnatural.  The movie wasted Sally Field and the character of Aunt May.  I feel like Emma Stone made a career misstep tying herself to this franchise as it gave her little to do.  The design on the costume has little personality to it, the eyes lack the versatility and ability to convey emotion that the traditional Dikto design has.  The Lizard was a wasted opportunity, in a story focusing on Peter's lack of parents they should have used the family man Connors but instead Connor's was a generic evil British guy.  And the redesign on the Lizard was ugly and unappealing, even if it is a grotesque character he should be interesting to look at.  On the positive side the choreography is creative and Martin Sheen is a perfect Uncle Ben.  Martin Sheen got me through this movie and gave one of his best performances.  But I am a huge Spider-Fan and I could not watch this movie without critiquing it to death.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 73%
Where I'd Rank It: Low 60s

2. Dark Knight Rises
People have seemed to have forgotten about this movie.  No one is angry at the Oscars for not rewarding it like they were for The Dark Knight.  But this summer it had a pretty vocal following calling it the best superhero movie ever.  Those claims drove me absolutely crazy, mainly because I was really let down by this movie.  It seems to ignore most of what was beautifully set up by The Dark Knight (seriously I know they were trying to respect Heath Ledger, but did everyone in Gotham just forget about The Joker?).  The story seemed to stop being about Bruce Wayne as his character development takes a backseat to the overhyped Bane and Blake.  The escape from the Lazarus Pit should have been the heart of the movie and called back to the other films, but it was really glossed over.  I really did not get into Bane, the mask and the voice hid Tom Hardy's ability to emote and he was undeservedly good at everything.  He lacked the complexity and provocative themes of The Joker or Ra's al Ghul.  I really do not understand his motive.  This movie took itself way too seriously for me to ignore the gaping plot holes (really Bruce Wayne, the most famous person in Gotham just waltzes into town while it is in lockdown and happens to find Catwoman first?).  I am all for a serious superhero movie, Chronicle did that well earlier this year, but I didn't care enough to justify the misery.  I could have used some enjoyment.  Like Uncle Ben in Amazing Spider-Man this movie has Selina Kyle as its stand-out.  Anne Hathaway was perfect casting and the movie knew exactly how to handle her character.  But other than that it mainly frustrated me.

Also the ending wasn't deep or daring, it was confusing and poorly handled.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 87%
Where I'd Rank It: Low 70s

1. Lincoln
I refuse to consider this the best that filmmaking can be.  This is the one that might take best picture and a lot of people seem to really, really want that.  I just don't get it, I really don't.  Production wise, it is very competent and I love the costume design.  It is beautiful to look at and has an impressive cast list, but I do not see a masterpiece here.  Even Daniel Day-Lewis, while he gives a consistent, grand performance, I never got a feel for who Abraham Lincoln was.  He seemed more like a vehicle for long-winded speeches and boring analogies.  The movie is really poorly structured.  It jumps around from Lincoln to the issue of slavery to the Civil War.  It focuses on all of these and lacks an emotional center.  Is this a biopic on Lincoln, a war movie or a lesson how slavery is wrong?  Movies like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty have been able to make familiar events seem suspenseful and fresh, but Lincoln just seems to be lecturing you.  I have read how this is a smart movie, but no matter how pretentious something is you need to take something away from it.  Movies need to be accessible and with Lincoln's incredible box-office I'm surprised that it isn't.  Again this is by no means a bad movie.  Great costumes, it is great to see Sally Field delivering a great performance again and it is the best Spielberg movie in way too long.  I completely agree that slavery is wrong, but that doesn't mean I need to see this movie as the best thing ever.
Rotten Tomatoes Ranking: 91%
Where I'd Rank It: Lower 70s at the Most

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