Hello and welcome to the first ever (and maybe even the first and the last, we’ll see about that next year) Binky International Film Festival! As I have explained in my previous post, this year I’m doing something different to end 2011 with, instead of just making a list, I’m actually going to revisit all the movies I’ve seen in this past year (well, not all, just the ones released in 2011, though there are one or two that were released in 2010 but I never got around to watching them until 2011) and share my thoughts about them with all of you fabulous people of the blogosphere. Why? Why not, it’s the holidays, isn’t it? 😉
Today, our genre is “Big Budget Awesomeness” (note: “special effects-heavy” falls into the category even if the budget isn’t astronomical) and there are quite a few to get through so let’s not delay this any longer! Binky International Film Festival officially opens!
“Big Budget Awesomeness”
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2
Opening Weekend: November 19, 2010(part 1), July 15, 2011 (part 2)
Approx. Running Time: 146 min (part 1), 130 min (part 2)
Director & Screenwriter(s): David Yates & Steve Kloves (parts 1 & 2)
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, etc.
Budget: £150,000,000 (part 1), $125,000,000 (part 2)
Okay, first I would like to formally apologize to all you Harry Potter fans out there for not actually liking the movie franchise that much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the book series. But I was so disappointed by the first two movies and Daniel Radcliffe that I just couldn’t get into it. But two years ago I got bored and had nothing to watch during the holidays so I decided to catch up on the movies. And as it turns out, even though I’ll never like them as much as the book, they were alright. And Radcliffe’s acting improved greatly as he and the rest of the cast grew up right before our eyes. But still, I wasn’t crazy about the movie franchise, so when Part 1 and 2 of the final Potter installment came out I didn’t rush to the cinema to see them, instead I waited for the DVDs. But even so, I actually quite like both movies.
First of all, this time around everyone can act. The actors all brought their A-game and the three stars; Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson all have become seasoned actors. Second, the adaptation stayed pretty close to the book, so no complaints there. Third, the special effects got even more amazing, obviously. And finally, I never expected that I would get choked up watching the very last movie, but I did. I guess these crazy wizards have become more than just characters from my favorite book series but have felt like my best friends and family. I will miss this franchise, and sorry Twilight fans, but there is NO greater series than Harry Potter. Even Stephen King thought so too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
X-Men: First Class
Opening Weekend: June 3, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 132 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Matthew Vaughn & Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn. Story by Sheldon Turner & Bryan Singer
Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, etc
This was one of the most anticipated blockbuster release of 2011 and I’m happy to announce it did not disappoint. At all. Not even the slightest. In fact, X-Men: First Class was so good it made me forget about the disappointment that is X-Men 3 or X-3 or whatever it was called. A lot of what made this prequel awesome came courtesy of one Michael Fassbender, who was beyond amazing as young Magneto. But James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence were pretty great too, not to mention Nicholas Hoult, who you probably know as little chubby Marcus in About A Boy who grew up to be the sexy, diabolical Tony in UK’s hit teen series Skins. This installment of X-Men opted for great writing and acting instead of relying on special effects – and it made the movie more than just a comic book adaptation that only fanboys can appreciate. If you’re not big on comic books and superheroes, I still recommend you check out this movie, because it is more than just a superhero movie. It’s about the choices we all make as humans (and mutants) that in the end will determine where we end up in life.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Opening Weekend: March 25, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 110 min (127 min extended cut)
Director & Screenwriter(s): Zack Snyder, screenplay by Zack Snyder & Steve Shibuya, story by Zack Snyder
Stars: Emily Browning, Abby Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone
The public’s reaction to this movie’s a bit polarizing and most critics hate it but I happen to enjoy this movie very much. After Inception, I am game for any movie that deals with the subconscious mind, and Sucker Punch is really about that – but without the clever high concept of Inception, instead it chooses simpler route to explain the fantastical elements of the mind: mental illness. And sure, I too have a problem with all the girls dressing like warrior strippers half the time. I mean, If the imagination sequences come from the mind of a resilient girl being subjected to some horrendous electroshock therapy, why do the girls look like they are created in some geeky guy’s wet dreams? Nonetheless, the core message of the movie stuck with me and despite it all, it does have good self-empowering message. Zack Snyder did a great job creating the dark, sinister but ultimately hopeful world of the subconscious and if you get past the whole fanboy objectification of the female characters, it’s actually a pretty decent, if a bit sad and dark, movie to watch.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Opening Weekend: June 10, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 112 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): JJ Abrams
Stars: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning
Super 8 was also among the most highly anticipated blockbuster of 2011 and I waited with bated breath for this movie to be released, only to be sorely disappointed by it, about Cloverfield-size of disappointment to be exact. JJ Abrams, I think you’re kind of a genius, but you can’t keep pulling this kind of shit on us impressionable movie junkies, you know! The next time your movie is shrouded in mystery and is overly hyped up, I’m going to assume it’s a hybrid of Cloverfield and Super 8 disaster. You should be ashamed of yourself, Abrams! Seriously though, I think the hype was what made the movie a disappointment, mostly because it was nothing more than Transformers but with pre-teen kids in the Shia LaBeouf/Megan Fox roles. I feel bad for Kyle Chandler, he can do no wrong in my eyes after Friday Night Lights, but this was a serious mistake. He should’ve waited for Star Trek. Shame on you, JJ Abrams!
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
I Am Number Four
Opening Weekend: February 18, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 109 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): DJ Caruso & Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Marti Noxon
Stars: Alex Pettyfer, Dianna Agron, Timothy Olyphant
Let’s put it this way, 2011 is not a good year for aliens, well, except for the Transformers kind. But when you’re wedged in between a beloved boy wizard and sparkling vampires, do you even have a chance? In the case of the aliens in I Am Number Four, also adapted from a popular young adult book series, the answer is not a chance in hell. And neither Harry Potter nor Twilight is to blame this time. Who is to blame? Everyone but Timothy Olyphant, who is sublime, as he usually is in everything he’s in (I may be bias). Alex Pettyfer may know how to woo his co-stars, but he’s not a good actor. Period. And I don’t really see the appeal, frankly. Dianna Agron plays Dianna Agron in this movie, which is not necessarily bad, but we need more from a leading lady. Halfway through the movie, she doesn’t seem like she cares that much anymore, and neither do I. Or anyone, for that matter.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Cowboys and Aliens
Release Date: July 29, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 118 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jon Favreau & Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby. Story by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby & Steve Oedekerk.
Stars: Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde
Talk about a major blockbuster bummer, we can’t escape this highly overrated sci-fi adventure movie from Jon Favreau, Cowboys and Aliens. It’s almost as bad as Super 8, but not quite. It’s not that bad but it’s definitely not good either. It’s just pretty damn mediocre, despite boasting the acting greats of both Indiana Jones and James Bond. Jon Favreau clearly isn’t a Firefly/Serenity geek because if he were, he would’ve known how to make this space western genre a lot more interesting. As it were, Cowboys and Aliens is nothing more than a 2 hour yawn-fest. The only thing I’m grateful of is not actually seeing this in the cinema and pay good money for it.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Release Date: November 11, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 110 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Tarsem Singh & Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides
Stars: Henry Cavill, Frieda Pinto, Stephen Dorff, Isabel Lucas, etc.
If X-Men: First Class is my favorite blockbuster of 2011, then Tarsem Singh’s Immortals is a close second, and I’m not just bias because I’m a huge fan of his first incredible movie The Fall. Immortals is amazing for so many reasons, not only the brilliant, artistic, fantastic, dream-like special effects, but also for Henry Cavill’s beautiful… body. And acting. But mostly his body. Mickey Rourke plays the villain beautifully here, and once again, just like The Fall, Tarsem takes us to a fantasy world that is like nothing you’ve seen before. And the best part of the movie: Stephen Dorff is cool again. Immortals has resurrected Dorff’s image and career and that is all right by me.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
And that concludes Day One of Binky International Film Festival. Check back in for Day Two tomorrow, where we will be watching a few “Sundance darlings” of 2011.
See you then!