My Cinema List of 2013

 

As a student it can take some convincing to take a trip to the nearest city to spend money on the most expensive cinema chain. As a student in a small town with nothing much else to do, it can take even less convincing. But even so, it takes either good advertising, prior love of a franchise or sheer begging from friends to decide to see a movie on the big screen. So, I’d like to pay homage to the movies that lured me to the cinema in 2013: saying why I went and whether my hopes and expectations were met. A lot of these, I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, so I’ll keep them brief.  Here’s my cinema list of 2013!

Mama

Original review: https://artzonbooks.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/film-review-mama/

I love horror. Well, I used to. Now I’ve just gotten a little bored with them. The modern horror films are all jump scares with no atmosphere. What backstory they try to include sucks. But I was tempted to see Mama when my friends and I were bored and decided a trip to Liverpool would be nice. We looked at what was on at the cinema, checked out the trailers and this was the best one. I went in hoping for scares and what did I get? Whimsical scenes?! Yes, whimsical scenes. I mean, there was some tension there  but it ended with a real fantasy feel at the end. Which was so strange. I know you get gritty fantasy: like with Pan’s Labyrinth but the movie didn’t sell itself like that at all. It followed two children who had been left alone in a forest and grown feral. But some ghostly force had been taking care of them and killing anything that wanted to harm them. They were found by their Uncle and girlfriend and tried to get them back into family life; but bringing the ghost with them. This is a classic ghost story. So why oh why did they change it right at the end?  I guess Guillermo del Toro presented it, but that means nothing other than a glorified recommendation.

Generally, I guess it’s a good film if you already know about the mix of genres. The story is interesting, it’s scary at times, and some of the jump shots were done quite well. I just was really let down as I wanted to be scared witless… and I wasn’t.

Les Miserables

Wasn’t bothered about seeing this movie; I had no interest. I’d not seen the musical, didn’t know the songs and wasn’t aware any of my friends knew it either. Turns out one did and he really, really wanted someone to go see it with him. So, we rounded up everyone and as a group we all agreed to go together. So what day did he want to see it? VALENTINE’S DAY. *sigh*…Fine.
So off we went and what “fun”. To be fair,  I liked the story, and since watching the 25th anniversary edition of the musical I now like the songs. But this movie? Its directed so badly! I’ve done a review on it already (https://artzonbooks.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/film-review-les-miserables-directed-by-tom-hooper/), so I won’t linger on this too long, but really. I’m still surprised we were the only people to laugh at Jevert’s suicide after that comedy side effect. And the sudden jaunty angle in the middle of a serious scene. A disappointment, but one we still talk about today.
Oblivion

This was our second ‘we’re bored, what’s on at Odeon?’ session. We watched the trailers, thought it looked pretty neat, got fair reviews… why not? And I’m glad I did. It was a nice sci-fi flick and it was entertaining. Not…. Much more I can say about it. It had a good twist, which was helped by the story. I guess it lost a lot of the attention that it should have gotten. Go see it, it’s pretty decent.
Iron Man 3

This was the first big one: the one we’d looked forward to. I’ve enjoyed the Marvel films and as popularity is rising more are coming out. After seeing the first two films, I knew what I wanted out of this movie and I was surprised as to what I got. The tone was much more comedic than the prior films; but not to say this was a bad thing. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Though.. I knew I’d enjoy it before Robert Downy Jr even came on screen. You know, the bit where they played Eiffel 45? Blue (Da Ba Dee) over your title credits…? Movie gold!  But seriously, it was a great film with good humour, great acting and an enjoyable story. I liked the change in tone, and I also liked how they wrapped everything up – as it’s possible for no Iron man 4 (http://www.themarysue.com/robert-downey-jr-avengers-2-3/). The character arcs feel a whole lot sweeter when we know there is still more of our beloved philanthropist in the Avengers movies.
Star Trek Into Darkness

I’ve heard a lot of hate for this film, from critics and teachers alike… but I still can’t bring myself to hate it. I was never a star trek fan, so these movies were my first venture into this world. Its what got me interested in the universe. I’ve since gone back and looked at a couple of the original series. And it’s all cool. I know a lot of people say the plot holes ruin Star Trek Into Darkness for them, but I see it as an entertaining movie that’s great for JJ-fans (like myself), or people new to the series. I’m still looking forward to the next film: despite JJ not directing this time, and I’m hoping for more fun!
Pacific Rim

This was my summer flick. My partner came to visit, and as there’s not much to do in my home-town either, cinema was again the best bet for a night out. Plus the cinema there is awesomely cheap! This movie looked pretty awesome from the trailers. I think I might have built myself up a bit too much for it, though. I came out the cinema with a ‘just satisfied’ feel, whereas my partner loved it. Maybe it’s a guy thing: as its leaning towards the macho-fighting-robots thing… but I thought it was alright. I did like the monsters, and the robots were pretty cool. The plot was ok, the acting was good as far as I remember. It was at least better than transformers. I think the main problem for me was the plot twist was a bit… guessable. I tend to have a habit for guessing the twists in movies anyway: but anyone who knows anything about the animal kingdom should pick up on the hints and figure it out.
Gravity

This was epic. Masterpiece of cinema. I already covered it in my favourite movie moments review (https://artzonbooks.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/my-favourite-movies-or-movie-moments/), but this was really something. Never before have I been that impacted by a film at the cinema. It, for me, encompassed all that those ‘don’t let cinema die’ adverts are trying to invoke. We went to see this because of the great reviews it was getting and boy was it worth it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again I really do hope it keeps its impact on small screen.
Thor: The Dark World

Another Marvel film yay! I hadn’t looked forward to this one quite as much as Iron Man 3, but I was still pretty hyped. I thought this was a great sci-fi superhero movie. It had the action, the mystery, and the fantastical new worlds. I enjoyed the humour and acting. It wasn’t the most perfect of films, but it was definitely one of the better ones for 2013. One scene I loved in particular (as noted in my best movie moments review: https://artzonbooks.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/my-favourite-movies-or-movie-moments/) had me right on the edge of my seat as we try to decide whether Loki has betrayed his brother or not. Beautiful.
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Went to see this as part of the Universities’ Sci-fi and fantasy Society. A lot of people there were so hyped for it. I didn’t like the first one and so went in with low expectations for this one. I’ll say, it was a lot better than the first… but that doesn’t make it great. It had a shitty romance for starters. The dragon was actually quite good… as I’d been led to believe they’d made him all one colour by the trailer. I enjoyed it on the whole, but I’m still unsure about the third instalment. I got mixed reviews from the society members too. Some adored it, some hated it ‘cause it doesn’t stick to the book. I can see why it ventured away from the book, though… as you can’t have this kind of movie with no action scenes. Tell you what, though, I did like that spider scene!

Frozen

I sort of saw this in January 2014… but I’ll count it anyway. As I mentioned in my previous review (https://artzonbooks.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/film-review-disneys-frozen-directed-by-chris-buck-and-jennifer-lee/) I wasn’t interested in seeing this movie either: hence why it took me so long to see it. I heard so much about how good it was from everybody that I decided to watch it: despite the slap-stick trailer. I was very pleasantly surprised. It had its oddities… like the first third of the movie being almost completely song… but it’s since caught on me like a plague. I love the main song and I want to get the film on dvd when it comes out. I guess you might have to be a Disney fan, or tolerater, to like it. But I like the way it challenges the generic princess story, I like how it pokes at my inner child and makes it stare at wonder… and I’ve even come to like that really weird song about ‘fixing up the imperfect guy’. It’s just a nice movie.  Though I still hate the snowman.

Film Review: Disney’s Frozen, Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

I went in to see this movie with high hopes, but low expectations. I mean, I was first introduced to this movie by this piece of shit of a trailer.

Ok, so that’s all well and good for small kids, but I was expecting the whole movie to be about the stupid snowman. I thought ‘no way am I seeing that’. Then I started to hear about it. Everyone was saying how good it was. High Metacritic score, high IMDB score. Then my friends started singing the song Disney released. It was built up so much that I thought it might be something worth giving a shot. And I was glad I did.

The movie plot (get ready) focuses around two princesses: sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel). Elsa was born with magic powers that make ice form but after accidentally hurting her sister, they got magical rock-trolls to wipe her memories and heal her. From then on, their parents split up the sisters. As in most Disney movies years later the parents die, and Elsa as the eldest is now queen. But in the ceremony, Elsa’s powers are shown to the public when she argues with her sister, as her sister falls instantly in love and wishes to marry Prince Hans (Santino Fontana). Following so far? … Good cause there’s more. So, the public chase away Elsa and she makes a castle on a mountain and lets her magic free: which has negative effects on the local town. So, Anna goes after her sister to try and get her to stop this never ending winter and is helped by Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and his trusty reindeer. Oh and there’s a snowman in there somewhere.

First off, wow what a backstory. Second, this is mostly told in song. That set-up covers about a third of the movie and it’s almost completely made up of songs. A song about the scenary, a song about them playing, a song about them not playing now they’re split up, a song about Anna’s excitement about the coronation ball, a song about the coronation, a song about falling in love, a song about how reindeer are better than people and the pre-released song about Elsa going to live on her own. Oh and… a song by the snowman. So many songs SO LITTLE TIME. Saying, that they’re quite nice. Except the snowman’s. The main one (the pre-released one) was the most… song-like, whereas the others are mostly film-dependant plot songs, but they’re all quite pleasant to listen to. They’re sung extremely well and they help capture what each character is about. You’ve got the happy-go-lucky excited classical princess Anna with her songs reflecting that, and Elsa’s songs a little more moody and worry-some until she can finally let her powers free.

And then… the snowman gets a song. Ok, I’ll come clean. I’m not all that keen on the snowman. Actually, for a comedy relief character he isn’t all that bad. As much as I can complain about him (and that’s a lot) he isn’t as bad as he could have been. And at least the damned movie isn’t about him. But for me, the only thing that makes his song bearable is the fact he’s so stupid. Which… I guess is the joke. See, the snowman really wants for it to be summer, so he can lie in the grass and get a tan. He’s also pretty naïve in everything he says. This makes him bearable. The film could have gotten along just dandy without him, but… ah well. I can live with the ugly idiot.

Anyway, I digress. I like how this movie both captures and goes against the typical princess thing. Anna wants to instantly get married to Prince Hans, yet the characters around her (Kristoff and Elsa) note how stupid this is. There is also quite a bizarre song, sung by the rock trolls,  trying to teach kids that you can’t go looking for a prince, so just ‘fix up’ an average guy. I guess this is a nice change. It’s at least funny to me to see the changes in Disney’s morals. In fact, this happened in Princess and the Frog, too. Instead of teaching Disney’s ‘wish upon a star and your dreams will come to you’, it taught us to work hard for what we want. But whether for me to chuckle at, or whether it’s actually trying to change kid’s attitudes: it made for a fun scene.

And really, that’s what this film is: fun. It doesn’t have too many scenes centralised on the comedy characters, like Tangled does a little, yet it includes just the right amount for kids. It has a wonderful web of developed characters that have great links. The songs are… numerous, but good. And it has an interesting ending that leaves you satisfied. I hope Disney keep bringing out the, what I like to call, “New-age princesses” and keep challenging the stereotypes. I hope they keep upping their game with movies like this. Just stop it with the comedy trailers…. I know you’re for kids but kids don’t need this. Kids can sit through a film and care about the characters if they’re strong enough without the need for some funny looking thing on screen. Make it kick ass, action with strong character links and you’re set to go. But this film is definitely a step in the right direction.