Written by: Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, Fran Walsh, and Phillipa Boyens, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch
Review: In what’s winding up to be a six (possibly seven?) part Tolkien franchise, I enjoyed this one more than its predecessor. The action, while cartoonish, is fairly consistent, and we get several little treats in the form of cameos, combat barrels, and elves using various enemies as surf boards. Not to mention Cumberbatch and Armitage having a sassy insult throwdown.
Time: 18 seconds
Written by: Mark Protosevich, based on the manga by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi
Directed by: Spike Lee
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli
Review: Well, let’s just say it. This movie is fucked up. Those who have seen the original know that this is not something one refers to in a positive light. At least not without cringing. Americanized remakes will always have that extra hurdle to pass, and thanks to the cast and fight choreography (are you thinking The Hallway of Hammering? Because I am), this one passed muster. But now I’m going to go shower.
Time: 21 seconds
Written by: Drew Pearce & Shane Black, based on the character created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber & Jack Kirby and the comic book storyline by Warren Ellis & Adi Granov
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Jon Favreau and Paul Bettany
Review: Tony Stark. Genius. Billionaire. Superhero. Bit of a dick. And once again, Robert Downey Jr. plays it all out masterfully. Of course, I go to movies for the ‘splode, and that was present in droves as well. If you go more than fifteen minutes in this movie without an explosion, you should make sure you’re in the right theater. And that’s a good thing. It’s also a good thing to finally have a superhero role model who can be an asshole to children.
Time: 22 seconds
Written by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi & Steve Purcell, based on a story by Chapman
Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman & Steve Purcell
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson
Review: Given my Scotch-Cajun heritage, half of me has been very excited about Pixar doing something distinctly Celtic. As usual, they did not disappoint (just ignore all that recent Cars business). The animation was especially rewarding with all the scenery they got to play with, and Billy Connolly fights a Demon Bear. Which I’m sure has always been on his bucket list.
Time: 16 seconds
Written by: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman & David S. Goyer, based on a story by Goyer, which was in turn based on the Marvel character created by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich & Mike Ploog
Directed by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Violante Placido, Anthony Head & Christopher Lambert
Review: Aside from the occasional really fun demon-murder sequences (see spitting bullets, quarry machine hell-steed), I was largely unimpressed. And I’m easy to impress with a fire demon that can kill with a chain. But the biggest disappointment was the fact that you can have Idris Elba in an action movie and have it still suck. Like many things, he loses some appeal when he’s French.
Time: 17 seconds
Written by: Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray and Gary Ross, based on the novel by Collins
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks
Review: First off, no one is happier than me that child gladiatorial combat has become as popular as it is with this movie. But if you’re going to go that route, why are you going to spend half your movie on dream sequences about bread instead of child-on-child brutality? And why is it okay for a movie to pit children against each other, but when I do it with the preschool class at that church on the corner, it’s “an atrocity”? Mine turned out better than the movie, dammit.
Time: 22 seconds
Written by: Joss Whedon, based on a story by Zak Penn & Whedon, which was in turn based on the comic created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Tom Hiddleston
Review: As a Batman Loyalist, I hesitate to say this is the greatest comic book movie of all time, but only for a second. Because it was the GREATEST comic book movie of all time. The action was awesome, no character was under-utilized, and there were four separate instances that made me fall out of my chair laughing with glee. Also because the Hulk is my spirit animal. See it, and be more awesome for it.
Time: 20 seconds
Written by: Michele and Kieren Mulroney, based on the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, Rachel McAdams
Review: While not as much fun as the first one (few things are), it’s still a successful character-driven blow-shit-up-athon. Downey Jr. and Law are just as good as ever, Harris does evil mastermind quite well, and Fry is always good, even while nude. And while the slow-mo zoomy bits are excessive, the visual rewards are there too.
Time: 14 seconds
Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, based on the comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones
Review: The Avengers movies have been, by and large, satisfying. This one not only delivers on awesome action, but will please everyone from the comic geeks (with the first issue of the comic spliced into the film), to the history buffs like me with the Nazi super weapons that were actually attempted tossed in just for fun. I was pleased. You will be too. Unless you’re a commie.
You’re not a commie, are you?
Time: 18 seconds
Written by: Ben Best & Danny McBride
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Starring: Danny McBride, Natalie Portman, James Franco, Justin Theroux, Toby Jones, Zooey Deschanel, Charles Dance, Rasmus Hardiker
Review: It’s difficult to review a movie that consists mainly of phallic jokes and, well…more phallic jokes. Except to say that I laughed uproariously throughout. McBride and Franco have a hilarious Pegg/Frost dynamic going, and Portman sports some of the most poetically homicidal dialogue I’ve heard in a while, not to mention a metal thong. Also, “It’s magic, Motherfucker!” is my new catchphrase.
Time: 18 seconds