Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Fistful of Summer! (Brad's Picks)

Ok.  This was not the Summer I was hoping for.  Frankly, there were a lot of crippling disappointments.  From the pushback of GI Joe 2 to the awkward failing of Prometheus to the horrendous borefest of Battleship (yeah, I was looking forward to that crap).  Summer 2012 just wasn't very good.  That being said, the below films represent a serious height for Summer Blockbuster entertainment.  You don't usually see the quality of these films amongst the crowds and the popcorn.  Hopefully, this is a just a taste of the wonder that is to come cuz right now 2012 is looking pretty grim.

5.  Moonrise Kingdom:  Possibly my least favorite Wes Anderson film and it still makes my Top Five.  I just can't help myself.  I love his artificial whimsy.  A couple of pre-teens send the island of New Penzance into a bumbling frenzy when they flee their homes for each others hearts.  Both Bruce Willis and Edward Norton are the standouts; their good-natured caretakers warm the heart with their understanding of naive love.  And I really appreciated how potentially prickish characters never descend into absolutely assholery.

4.  Lawless:  I'm not sure if there is a more savage pair of filmmakers than director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave.  These guys love to hurt their characters.  And, despite it's bloody brass knuckle beatdowns, Lawless might be their most romantic movie yet.  Tom Hardy doesn't care what you think of his voice affectations - "Um...what are you doing..." - and he brings some much needed chuckles to this violent bootlegger drama.  And Guy Pearce!  The man is a Dick Tracy nightmare come to life!  Demented.  Scary.  Hilarious.  A real threat.  And Shia...he ain't bad either.

3.  Expendables 2:  Damn this is some silly mayhem.  Expendables 2 delivers on the promise of the original with nonstop explosions, ridiculous self-referential one-liners, CGI blood spatter, and nearly a dozen action icons gnawing the scenery.  Dolph Lundgren steals the show with his appetite for whale ass and Chinese, and Chuck Norris stops by for some oddball Morricone fanfare.  The Children of Commando like myself will start giggling from frame one and won't stop till after the credits finish.

2.  The Dark Knight Rises:  A wallop of a film.  Christopher Nolan & Co manage to wrap up the Dark Knight trilogy in a satisfying and shockingly not-depressing manner.  Ignore the internet griping.  Are there things I would do differently?  Sure, but I'm a basement troll and we always want things done differently.  The Dark Knight Rises is an epic feat that puts Bruce Wayne and Gotham through the wringer, somehow makes Bane a cool opponent, and offers one of the bleakest franchises a glimmer of light.  And, for me, it strengthens both the original film and its first sequel.  Bravo.  Sad to see it end but happy with the result.

1.  The Avengers:  Yeah, I really don't see this getting knocked off the top as far as my favorite movies of 2012 is concerned.  No other film this year has filled me with so much joy as Joss Whedon's Marvel Masterwork.  Seriously, this is the comic book movie I've been dreaming of since I was twelve years old.  And I'm still stunned that they pulled it off.  Going into the year, I was looking forward to The Avengers.  But I wasn't frothing at the mouth or anything.  It only made #4 on my Most Anticipated Films of the Summer list, and I only like the previous Marvel Studios movies OK.  But The Avengers...this is beautiful.  And I desperately want to see it again.  Four times in the theater was just not enough.  It really does capture that sense of spandex wonder that I once thought you only got in the comics.  From the ridiculous miscommunication grudge matches to the Cap/Stark relationship, but it also offers new insights with the Hulk's "I'm Always Angry" punchline and the Banner/Stark love fest.  This is the ultimate popcorn movie, and a great gift for fanboys.  Those not in the club can still enjoy the spectacle, but for those in the know--It Just Does Not Get Better.


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