Monday, January 2, 2012

Movies of 2011, day one: cinematic films

I'm not sure why so many best/worst lists appear on the internet during December; aren't the authors afraid they might miss something of real significance during the last few weeks?

Now that it's 2012, I feel confident sharing my thoughts on the various media I encountered in 2011, whether they were originally released in 2011 or earlier. I'm going to delve into films, books and comics and my goal is to maintain a fairly positive attitude, even when I'm discussing the items I didn't care for.

All this week I'll be looking back at films I watched in 2011. It was a fairly significant year in terms of what, why and how I was watching older movies, but I'll get into that tomorrow. Today's topic: theatrical films.

I made only five trips to the cinema in 2011, albeit I might taken in even fewer films if circumstances had been different.

First, there was the Eagle, a film about a Roman soldier who wanders around early England searching for an eagle figure his father left behind. My brother Matthew could probably speak to whether this film was historically reliable at all. I wouldn't have imagined going to see the Eagle myself, but a friend wanted to see a movie with me and the other option handed to me was Battle: Los Angeles; I'd like to think I made the right choice. The Eagle was an okay adventure flick.

I was concerned that Thor would be somewhat disconnected from the other Marvel super hero movies which have been produced in the lead-up to 2012's Avengers, what with the vast cosmic/godly locales and characters required by Thor's mythos and their being rather removed from the relatively down-to-Earth Iron Man (and so forth). I felt my concerns were pretty well borne out - the movie worked well when it struck a little closer to the familiar (Earth scenes) and was just a bit off when it ventured into Asgard. Still, the movie works just fine, it's only serious misstep is the disjointed "romance" between Thor and Jane Foster, which feels as though at least one scene were omitted.

X-Men: First Class, on the other hand, was better than I thought it would be...probably because I've come to expect so little from the X-Men's movie franchise. It was a little too cute and self-knowing (Xavier's jokes about being a professor and going bald were at least one too many; gratuitous Wolverine cameo, so forth), but I felt its version of Magneto was actually the most formidable film version thus far. I'm not clamouring for more (nor does anyone else, it seems), but this was a great diversion.

Captain America: the First Avenger is the super hero movie I was most looking forward to; Avengers is a postscript in comparison. Cap has long been my favourite super hero and I felt the film did a great job at giving the character the attributes which make him likeable, particularly by emphasizing how his sense of courage and morality existed before he became a hero. I feel the film loses its way a little once he dons the final version of his costume (the pace of the story suddenly jerks forward) and the final ending doesn't quite fit (I'm assuming it was originally meant to appear post-credits), but overall I am very pleased with this movie

My family often takes in a movie over the Christmas holidays and 2011's feature was the Adventures of Tintin, which we of the younger generation paid for on our parents' behalf. I wasn't sure about the film in advance since the CGI style seemed so unlike the visuals of the original comics, but Tintin turned out out to be a great bit of fun, the right sort of movie to see with your family at Christmas. It did a lot to remind me about the Tintin comics, which I hadn't really thought of for some 20 years.

Tomorrow: great film discoveries of 2011!

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