Rachel's 2012 in Review

Well, 2012 is done. Personally, it ended pretty poorly, but it picked up right at the end in time for me to catch my most anticipated film of the year. Seriously directors, stop releasing your films on Christmas Day. People are too damn busy.

Since I didn't set a goal of watching a certain number of releases this year (unlike 2011's goal of 75), I find myself coming in at 47. I was hoping to hit 50, but I'm not stressing over those last three. Without a hard, set number, I think overall I saw more quality films, unlike last year's rentals of Season of the Witch, Red Riding Hood and Beastly, among others, just for padding.

This year I'm going to try to something new. With every positive must come a negative, and vice versa, so I'm challenging myself to find some good in each of my Worst films, as well as something bad in each of my Best films. I may have just made a tiny huge mistake.

10. The Amazing Spider-Man
Plenty to Bitch About: This reboot came far too soon after Raimi's original trilogy, by attempting to ride the coattails of the darker tone that Nolan set with his Batman trilogy. Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man failed to fully commit to the dark side, leaving the film unfocused. Add in a terrible villain with equally terrible CGI, and I feel justified in my initial disapproval.
Something to Praise: For an unremarkable film, it boasts a remarkable cast.

9. Chronicle
Plenty to Bitch About: A creative concept that took a wrong turn due to its insistance on using the "found footage" method. The entire style of film was forced beyond forgiveness, leaving the climatic third act incredibly weak.
Something to Praise: The trio of unknown actors at the center of the film had great chemistry.

8. Men in Black III
Plenty to Bitch About: This movie is more sad than anything. Unsurprisingly, it couldn't capture the magic of the first, or I've just outgrown this world, and it was an obvious cash grab flick. The villain was atrocious and the plot was so unremarkable my date fell asleep. Let's stop making useless sequels already.
Something to Praise: Josh Brolin's spot on Tommy Lee Jones impression, of course.

7. Prometheus
Plenty to Bitch About: It's a film that proposes many themes of exploration (space, self, religion, etc.), but was so lazy in execution, it pushes any depth aside to become an underwhelming sci-fi flick, cashing in on the beloved Alien franchise.
Something to Praise: Idris Elba's ship captain was awesome.

6. American Reunion
Plenty to Bitch About: It's the same disgusting jokes and pranks from 1999, but now done by pitiful 30-year-olds. And it made me feel old while watching it.
Something to Praise: It tried to have a heart with Jim and Michelle's marital issues.

5. Mirror Mirror
Plenty to Bitch About: The other Snow White movie tempted me with promise of director Tarsem Singh's often stunning visuals, but failed to deliver anything noteworthy, including plot, acting and character development. The Evil Queen's snarky attitude didn't gel with the other parts of the movie, and everything else was simply juvenile.
POSITIVE: I didn't want to hit Julia Roberts.

4. House at the End of the Street
Plenty to Bitch About: There wasn't even a house at the end of the street. It's just a title someone pulled out of their ass. And it's a blatant ripoff of an insanely famous horror film, but with an extra twist or two.
Something to Praise: Elizabeth Shue has awesome guns.

3. Silent House
Plenty to Bitch About: It was marketed as a horror, but more turned out to be a bland psychological thriller instead that relied too heavily on the 80-minute "continuous" shot format, that was nothing more than a gimmick.
Something to Praise: Gimmick or not, it was an ambition way to show a film.

2. Bachelorette
Plenty to Bitch About: Nothing more than three nasty, bitchy girls trying to out-disgust the three guys of The Hangover.
Something to Praise: Rebel Wilson was the underused heart of the film.

1. John Carter
Plenty to Bitch About: If a "Civil War Soldier Goes to Mars" sounds too stupid to make into a film, that's because it is... or should have been. Too much bad CGI played out in a typical "fighting for energy source" plot but even more ridiculous than usual, with a very bland leading man.
Something to Praise: Umm...I guess the montage of Carter trying to walk/jump around on Mars was humorous.

10. Life of Pi
So Much to Love: With stunning visuals matching the inner beauty of Pi's tale, this is one of the most thought provoking films of the year, without even trying too hard.
Except: Though I understand it was in the book, the island of the meerkats was just weird.

9. The Hunger Games
So Much to Love: The first big film of the year turned out to be a very respectable adaptation of a fabulous book, starring one of the most talented young actresses to come along in awhile. It's far from perfect, but left me wanting to see so much more of Katniss' ugly world.
Except: The shaky cam. Barf.

8. The Avengers
So Much to Love: The big gamble paid off. All the anxiety of having so many big superheroes come together in one film was stopped dead in its tracks as we finally saw Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk rock Joss Whedon's clever dialogue in a straight 2.5 hour adrenaline rush that pulled no punches.
Except: The only other female, Agent Hill, was a very weak, virtually pointless character.

7. The Dark Knight Rises
So Much to Love:  Because it's Batman...bitches. Any complaints can be directed to that brick wall over there.
Except: Ignoring the usual suspects of complaints regarding plotholes and runtime, I simply must know what was the purpose of Juno Temple's character?

6. Wreck-It Ralph
So Much to Love: A cute, clever and creative family film that even digs deeper into social issues such as bullying and a failing economy, if you let it. Surely most of my enthusiasm comes from seeing it through the eyes of my own child, but that's a mighty accomplishment in itself.
Except: I'm having a hard time finding tie-in toys at retail stores.

5. Argo
So Much to Love: Affleck made a tense, edge-of-your-seat political thriller with a fitting retro vibe and based on real events. It doesn't matter that we all knew the ending before we bought our tickets; the journey was too intense to turn down.
Except: Perhaps the six people they went in to save could have been fleshed out a little more.

4. Looper
So Much to Love: Smart sci-fi is rare (see my Prometheus rant), so to propose a sci-fi film with more story and character development than ridiculous exposition on how everything in the future, from toasters to cars, works is a welcome change, especially within such a dark plot.
Except: Jo-Go's prosthetics. Hard to let go of that distraction.

3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
So Much to Love: This movie is inexplicable. It must be seen to be believed. Any words I write on it pale in comparison to what it has to offer.
Except: It made me cry so much I got a headache from dehydration.

2. The Cabin in the Woods
So Much to Love: Goddard and Whedon breathe new life into the limping horror genre with twists and turns so smart and fun, it's become my most watched film of 2012.
Except: (Spoiler) I take issue with Marty's assumed death, seeing as how the group was being fully monitored (breathing, heart rate, etc.) It's a nasty plothole I'm having trouble getting over.

1. Django Unchained
So Much to Love: Tarantino takes yet another film genre and makes it his bitch...in a good great way. Slavery is horrible. Django's tale of revenge is the exact opposite.
Except: At 7+ months pregnant, I felt the film's length, particularly in my aching back. Under normal circumstances, I would've been blisfully clueless.

5. The Wolverine - I will follow Hugh Jackman as Wolverine to the ends of the Earth.
4. Much Ado About Nothing - Whedon (again!) doing Shakespeare sounds too good to resist.
3. Star Trek: Into Darkness - After 4 long years, I'm very ready to fly with this crew again.
2. Catching Fire - Can't wait to see how they handle the material from this book, especially the next arena.
1. The Great Gatsby - Because Luhrman has a lot to make for after Australia, but there's no better way to try than with Leo.

And in case you're curious, here are all the 2012 films I saw, linked to a review if one exists. Happy trails in 2013!

The Hunger Games, The Cabin in the Woods, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Avengers, Haywire, Mother's Day, The Grey, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Men in Black III, Snow White and the Huntsman, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Prometheus, Chronicle, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Brave, Moonrise Kingdom, 21 Jump Street, Friends with Kids, The Dark Knight Rises, Silent House, Total Recall, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Raid: Redemption, Premium Rush, Bachelorette, Butter, House at the End of the Street, The Master, Pitch Perfect, Looper, Sound of My Voice, The Innkeepers, Arbitrage, Argo, Ruby Sparks, Wreck-It Ralph, Safety Not Guaranteed, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2, Skyfall, Life of Pi, The Amazing Spider-Man, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, American Reunion, John Carter, Mirror Mirror, Killer Joe, Django Unchained


  1. Can't say that I agree on Bachelorette. As somebody who didn't like Bridesmaids, I found the one-liners in this film absolutely brilliant, especially Lizzy Caplan.

    Would you be able to explain the inclusion of the meercat island in the movie compared to the book? I thought it was a nice little bit, but when juxtaposed against the other story that Pi admits to at the end, I wasn't sure how it fit in there.

    Thought of the same plot hole while watching Cabin in the Woods, although that's about the only problem I had with the film.

    Great lists all around.

    1. I wasn't a huge fan of Bridesmaids either, but I thought the relationships at its center were at least believable and made some of the more obnoxious humor believable. My biggest issue with Bachelorette isn't all the vulgarity, but that the three friends would have even dropped everything for the wedding of girl that they made fun of in high school, especially when they all didn't even live near each other anymore.

      As for Life of Pi, I haven't read the book, so I can't compare the meerkat island scene. I understand its purpose and it looked gorgeous, but by the end it felt out of place after everything we'd already witnessed.

  2. Wow, you really DIDN'T see that many of 2012's bad films, did you? Lucky. Though I have to say, I haven't seen "HATES" yet, or Bachelorette or Mirror Mirror, but I've seen the others. I agree with John Carter's inclusion, and I can see why you put Silent House there considering the others you had to work with. (I didn't find it bad, just terribly mediocre and dull.) That being said...

    I found Men in Black 3 charming (but I can understand dislike). I loved the relationships and chemistry between the characters in Amazing Spider-Man (though I agree on the villain and CGI). But I *strongly* disagree with Chronicle, as that one was in my TOP 10 of the year.

    As for your positives... I still need to see Life of Pi. I actually came here, but I just didn't get around to catching it.

    1. No, I didn't see that many bad movies this year. Pretty proud of myself for being somewhat pickier than years past.

      Chronicle held potential, but I just really hated that found footage aspect. When the third act was bouncing between the footage from news cameras and iPhones, I was done at that point.

  3. Rachel, I'm with you on a lot of your favorite films and can't argue with any of those. Looper, Cabin in the Woods, Argo, and the others were all great. The Hunger Games was also a bit improved for me on a re-watch.

    I do think you're being too hard on John Carter. The plot is silly, but it's based on a fantasy story from the start of the 20th century! Yes, some of the CGI isn't good, but I saw movies that were much worse this year. Like Safe House. Just painful.

    1. John Carter's plot was definitely silly, but I could've overlooked it had there been something else going for it. Had there been better CGI or character development, I wouldn't have been lost for most of the film. But the main fault, I find, lies with Kitsch. He's just not a good actor or even charismatic enough to fool me into thinking he's a good actor.

  4. Having already seen Much Ado About Nothing I can safely say that Whedon fans will love it. Heck, none Whedon fans will love it. It was one of my highlights at TIFF this year.

    I still do not understand the mad love people have for Cabin in the Woods though. It was the least favourite of the three Whedon related films I saw this year.

    1. I'm really hoping Much Ado comes around here. But with my luck, it'll probably hit our arthouse theater for one week, while I'm busy packing/moving. Nonetheless, can't wait to see it.

      As for Cabin in the Woods, I'm not sure if much of it hinges on your familiarity with Buffy/Angel or not. Being a huge fan of Buffy, and liking Angel quite a bit, by the end of Cabin it felt like Whedon and Goddard and recaptured a lot of the cleverness both shows offered, both in wit and brutality. My husband, who didn't watch either show, liked the movie, but not quite as much as I did.


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