Jim’s 2012 Lists part 2: Movies that almost made my list

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Near Misses

I see quite a few movies every year and always struggle with a year end ranking. It’s actually quite difficult to do if you care at all about the quality of your list. Because for some reason I do care about that it takes me forever to put mine out, which is pretty obvious as it is almost February and I don’t have my complete list published yet.

Before I get to that I want to go over a few movies that didn’t make my final list and talk about why they were so close, but ultimately didn’t make the cut.

The Hobbit

Ok, this one is a bit polarizing. Part of my reasoning for this not making the list is my slight annoyance with what I see as a pretty flagrant cash grab on the part of the production.

The first edition of The Hobbit was 310 pages.

The first edition of The Fellowship of the Ring was 531 pages.

The first edition of The Two Towers was 416 pages.

The first edition of The Return of the King was 624 pages.

So, a 310 page book is going to be made into a film series that runs the same length as a 1571 page trilogy. The concept just rings so false and forced. I know, there is going to be stuff from the other books put in, but that feels like something being padded out.

That aside, I did enjoy this movie. Really, I did. I actually liked it a whole lot more than I thought I would. But that being said, I didn’t think it was great. The entire time I was aware of the story being padded out. The opening part in the Shire was cute, but it felt padded and pandering. There was no need for it and it made the film overlong.

I get that there is a need to set mood and all that, but if you watch this movie and are not well aware that it is part of The Lord of the Rings world, then will including this really help clear that up for you?

The first rule of screenwriting is to start every scene as late as possible and leave as soon as possible. The beginning meandered so long that it sort of became distracting. Had that time been spent with young Bilbo going about his life it wouldn’t have bothered me that much. I just found the inclusion of the stuff from Fellowship to be a little too mugging for the camera for my tastes.

Like I said, good movie, but it just didn’t have enough to clear that hurdle for me.

Expendables 2

First off, this one kicked the ass clean off the first one. I got a whole lot more of what I wanted in this one. But, again, it just didn’t clear the hurdle enough for me. Honestly I kept waiting for Jet Li to come back. I really wanted the end fight to be between him and Van Damme. Yeah, Stallone kicks ass, but he’s never been a martial arts guy. Le vs Van Damme... that would have been epic.

That being said, I did love this movie, but it just didn’t hit the top 20 for me.

The Hunger Games

Yes, I get it, this movie has similarities to “Battle Royal.” Congratulations, you’ve seen a Japanese movie. Now take your bubble tea and get the fuck out of my face. Saying this is the same as BR is like saying that “Goodfellas,” “The Godfather,” and “Donnie Brasco,” are the same movie because they are about the mafia.

Kids killing each other. That is literally the only similarity. It’s a surface similarity, that’s it. I find the premise of The Hunger Games so much crueler than BR. I mean, this is kids fighting for the amusement of the wealthy as their families are forced to watch. These are starving, poor children who are being forced to kill each other so that their home town might be able to finally not be hungry for one year.

The idea of class structure, exploitation, suffering as entertainment, and sacrifice are explored in a way that kids can actually grasp it. At least in the book. The movie does a fine job of capturing it, but it just didn’t hit as hard as I would have liked.

Chronicle

The found footage movie. Most of these... well, most of these don’t really work. I mean, they kind of work, but there is such an attempt to make it look amateur that the story structure goes out the window. Chronicle impressed the hell out of me because it was able to capture the amateur feel, but still had a solid and tight structure that made the narrative work really well.

If you haven’t seen it I definitely recommend checking it out. It’s a really fantastic take on the found footage genre.

Seeking a Friend For The End of The World

I have said for years that a person can be noble and kind and selfless, but people as a group are just an awful group of bastard flavored bastards with a chewy bastard middle. This movie illustrates that idea quite beautifully.

So, the world is about to end. There is some cataclysm that we have tried to avert, but were unsuccessful. We are never told what it is, just that everything is about to end. What happens?

Well, people actually start acting like there is no tomorrow. Drugs, promiscuity, riots in the streets, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

But what about someone who doesn’t want to go out like that? What about someone who wants to live out there last few days with quiet dignity in the presence of someone they have an actual connection with.

That is what this movie is about, and it’s kind of beautiful. I mean, in the face of an utterly hedonistic society where what you does really bears little meaning, is there anything more powerful than ditching all of that insane indulgence and self gratification in exchange for a few minutes of genuine human contact?

This isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s a pretty damned good one that is well worth your time.



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