Marvel's The Avengers
The year is practically over, so I guess its official that Marvel's The Avengers is the highest grossing movie for 2012. But I'm sure you already knew that. Which is only fair, considering how highly anticipated the movie was. But I always knew it had little hope of surpassing the records set by Avatar and Titanic, not with such stiff competition. The thing I like the most about Avengers is its lighthearted and comical nature, because truth be told, the story wasn't any more complex than the likes of Transformers. These aren't shortcomings, but rather limitations imposed by the movies' source materials. The fact that he was able to circumvent those limitations and create a film that pleased fans and critics alike is a testament to Joss Whedon's magical touch. Michael Bay take note: when you spend the climax of an entire movie (Transformers) showing a city getting blown up due to a fight between giant robots, the sequel (Transformers 2) needs to acknowledge that the event took place. That was one thing that was handled very well in The Avengers. The aftermath.
The Dark Knight Rises
The last movie in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy might not be the best, but there is no denying that it was a movie that exceeded all expectations. The acting was superb, as should be expected; Michael Caine needs to be considered for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award next year. Then again, we've always known he was brilliant, haven't we? Tom Hardy on the other hand gave one of his best performances, showing us a darker side that was barely glimpsed in Warrior. At almost 3 hours in length, the movie is the lengthiest Batman till date. But what I've always loved about Christopher Nolan movies is getting to watch all the clues and seemingly disconnected scenes slowly coming together at the end of everything. The only thing missing in this case is the Joker. A brief appearance or even a slight reference might have solved the problem. But as things stand, it was very hard for me to imagine that level of chaos taking place in Gotham without the Joker having any part to play in it.
I might have broken some sort of record by watching this movie too many times to count. Most of those viewings were spent trying to decipher the point behind the movies plot. But the good thing about movies like this is that everything doesn't necessarily need to add up. At least not immediately. Isn't that what sequels are for? So, right around my eleventh viewing, I decided to stop looking for what was clearly not there, and focus instead on those aspects that I really enjoyed. First off, the visuals are nothing short of breathtaking, and the movie is worth experiencing for that alone. Then Michael Fassbender gave a simultaneously chilling and heartfelt performance as the team's resident android. Lastly, the infamous alien child birth scene has quite possibly set a new standard for realistic blood and gore. For a movie that tries to tackle a question as staggering as the origin of life on Earth, I think it did okay. Sorta.
The Hunger Games
I confess, my first viewing of The Hunger Games didn't exactly leave me impressed, so I can totally empathize with those that felt it was dull and over-hyped. But once you get over the fact that the movie wasn't made in the style of the typical blockbuster, you'll see that there's much to love about the movie's direction. For example, I love the movies gritty look and feel, reminiscent of Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men. We aren't constantly bombarded with unnecessary special effects, just because its a science fiction movie and such things come with the territory, once again like the typical blockbuster. Then Jennifer Laurence did a decent job portraying Katniss Everdeen. All in all, a solid start to a promising new series, though I am still rather baffled by the studio's decision to split their adaptation of the final book into two movies, considering the fact that the three books are roughly the same length.
Watching John Carter left me wondering one thing: what went wrong? I mean, here is a pretty decent science-fiction movie that should have kickstarted a new franchise that could rival the likes of Star Wars. I was really rooting for it too, mainly because it marked Andrew Stanton's first foray into directing live-action. Analysts blame the movie's poor performance at the box office on the studio's failure to market the film properly. But I feel moviegoers simply assumed the movie was going to be highly derivative and stayed away as a result. While I am not familiar with the source material, I was still very much impressed with the story, and the visuals really brought that story to life. It's the sort of series that can only get better from the first movie onward. Shame we might never see the sequel that it truly deserves. Oh well.
And the winner is
The Dark Knight Rises
While many consider Marvel's The Avengers to be the ultimate superhero movie (for now), I think that honor should actually go to The Dark Knight Rises, when considered in the context of the overall story told in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. It ends with a sense of closure lacking in most superhero movies today. I understand that the movie makers need to keep the doors open for potential sequels, but it would be nice if they at least tried to resolve all ongoing story arcs before moving on or rebooting the franchise! I feel sorry for whoever it is that would have to take up the task of rebooting Batman though. The bar has been raised so high now that anything short of brilliant would most likely be laughed at. The safest bet would be to tackle the story from a totally different angle, though I haven't got the faintest clue what that angle might be.