Friday, January 24, 2014

Musings of 2013 Part 1

So, I was going to do a top list of my favorite movies and video games of the year. I was also going to do this about a month ago. But with work (mostly work to be honest) I haven't had any free moments to talk about my favorite things of the year in a big long-winded write-up that would probably take me a few hours to do properly. Sure, I could slap-dash everything together, but that's not what I do here in nit-pick city.

Anyway,  so because of that I'm going to talk about some video games and movies that I've seen or played over the last year but have not talked about in depth in any reviews. This doesn't mean they'll never get proper reviews. It simply means that I ran out of time and want to talk about them a bit now.

As you can see by the title of this post, I plan on making this a bit of a series. I'm going to talk about five movies this time and then see what happens in the next post (whenever that comes). My job is actively getting in the way of me having fun or posting now, and I'm sorry about that. Anyway, without further ado, here are some movies for me to talk about a bit:

Monsters University. Bleh, I say. Sorry, Pixar, but your movie was really bleh.

While funny in parts and having a genuinely very solid final third of the movie, it was simply not my kind of flick. I have never seen Monsters Inc. and this movie is probably much more of an homage to that movie than anything else. I am at a clear disadvantage, and while I enjoyed the film I feel like a good deal of what was going on went right over my head. I felt that the "college" part of the story was incredibly derivative though. Not really my style in general, even though I think it is a solidly decent movie, especially for the younger crowd.

Although the message of "if you try real hard you still might fail just because of what you look like" is a cynical one. Apt, but very cynical. I never expected a cartoon's message to be so true to life. Also, the sequence at the end in the cabin is really a brilliant sequence. And that's that.

Much Ado About Nothing was a well-acted, well shot, little Shakespearean film directed by Joss Whedon. While technically released for the indie circuit in 2012, it didn't get a theatrical release or distribution until this year. The play Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespearean comedy and one of my favorite comedies (in terms of comedy plays) of all time. I really like the story quite a bit, and this is a solid movie besides despite the kind of cheap sets and filming. I enjoyed it although it mostly seemed like the entire film was just Whedon taking a camera around his house, shooting his actor friends speaking Shakespearean dialogue and calling it a day. I don't mind that, but it does seem a little loose around the edges. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are really the standouts here in terms of acting. They both do a fantastic job. The rest mostly just kind of show up and say words at a camera. Fran Kranz is another standout. With Cabin and the Woods and this movie, he's looking like a breakout star.

Also- and I know this is heresy- I like this better than Kenneth Branagh's 1993 film. It has a bit more personality. But that's probably just me being weird and liking most of these actors.

Europa Report, which I reviewed here, is a very good space horror found footage film. I really liked it as all of those things. It worked really well, had some very good acting, some great storytelling, and is a movie I can recommend a ton to horror fans. This also happens to be my only actual horror film on this list. Why? I have no idea. Just kind of worked out that way. I guess seeing horror movies in theaters or when they are just coming out is seriously not my priority.

John Dies at the End. Although technically released in 2012 (and I reviewed it then here) it didn't get any real notice until this year. Now, despite what I said in that review, I've warmed on the movie quite a bit. I think it's a near-brilliant film that suffers from some issues, sure, but ultimately does something both unique and bizarre at times. I do wish the book was slightly better adapted- or that they had chosen to adapt only the first half or only the second half of the book rather than jumbling pieces all together, but that's a nitpick, and I know it.

The movie is a very fun ride if you allow yourself to be taken in. I've definitely come down on the side of being very positive about liking this movie though. There's too much of what I like in it to dislike it.

Riddick. I feel bad that I liked this movie. But I did like it. Quite a bit actually. I like all of this series. I have no idea why. I guess space mixed with any amount of horror makes me interested (that's why I love Pitch Black so much), and this movie definitely has those elements to it. This could be both the strongest and the weakest entry in the series so far. With the first half of the movie or so being almost completely silent with Riddick raising a dog and being on his own, it kind of shows the stellar nature of the franchise. It can be so good when it just is allowed to be that good. And that section of this film is easily my favorite part of the series.

The problems arise later on in the movie, mostly being that it's essentially a remake (and a worse remake) of Pitch Black. I don't mind that so much, but I do wish it took a different direction rather than rehashing (basically) what had already been done before and done better before. The gratuitous nudity bothered me, and my fiancee was extremely bothered that Riddick had sex or something with a lesbian. I'm going to leave it there. While this is a flawed movie, it's also a fun ride if you can get into it. I liked it a ton and would love more movies in the franchise. Vin Diesel is one of my favorite action movie guys right now (in addition to Karl Urban and the Rock).

And that's it for now! Stay tuned. I'll have a couple more movie musings soon-ish!