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viernes, 4 de enero de 2013

Movies I Liked and Movies I Didn't in 2012

In this entry I will do a short review of the movies I have watched during 2012. I will start from the movies I liked most and will continue in descending order finishing with the movies I liked least.

1. The Dark Knight Rises (USA, Christopher Nolan).

The nice thing about of this movie is that I loved it despite the very high expectations I had. Christopher Nolan makes a more than decent ending to his superb trilogy, satisfying both mainstream society and comic readers like myself.
What I liked most. How long was this movie, 165 minutes? Really?! Didn't actually notice. Excellent rhythm and music (breathtaking!) and cool fights. But perhaps the most outstanding (and controversial) aspect of this superheroes movie made mainstream is that it actually contains a message: beware rich and powerful men, some people are getting angry, and if the bridge between wealth and poor keeps on growing something big may happen. The scary thing about it is that many people find themselves more identified with the bad guys (Bane) than with the good ones (Batman or the policemen).
What I didn't like. The ending. Few people understand why Bane turns out to be a mere lackey of Talia al Ghul. No biggie for me, still loved the movie so much.

2. Wreck-It Ralph (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Nice surprise by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Went to watch the movie without knowing what to expect, having heard it was sort a homage to arcade videogames players. Not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but still an entertaining one with some winks to the videogames playing community.
What I liked most: the original screenplay and, especially at the beginning, how the movement of the protagonists actually look like videogame characters.
What I didn't like: After a very powerful opening part of the momentum is lost in the middle of the movie, when the references to videogames characters suddenly come to an end, and the movie just looks like yet another animation film.

3. Brave (Pixar)

Yet another good movie from Pixar. As it happened in Wreck-It Ralph, I didn’t know anything about the movie before watching it. With a rather simple plot, Brave is a tender movie with beautiful images and a message for women to raise their voice and be the true masters of their destinies.

What I liked most: beautiful landscape with a message especially relevant in the country I live, China, where women (and people in general!) are still afraid of voicing out their opinions. 
What I didn't like: simple plot with an easy to figure ending.

4. Life of Pi (Ang Lee/Li An)

This movie looked dumb to me in the trailers, but I kept on hearing good reviews from my friends, who encouraged me to watch it, which I reluctantly ended up doing. I have mixed feelings about Taiwanese polyvalent director Ang Lee, having loved his Brokeback Mountain (USA, 2005), sort of liked Eat Drink Man Woman (Taiwan, 1994) and Hulk (USA, 2003) and not so much liked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (although I don't like too much martial arts movies anyway).

While not being an awful movie (wait and see for the next movies I will review), Life of Pi is as dumb as it looked in the trailers. The plot can be summarized in “no matter how much God fucks you up you should still be grateful to him”. But its main problem is the structure: while for the first half hour the movie is mainly a nice combination of present (story told by the protagonist) and past, after that the movie forgets about the narrator to be focused exclusively in the story in the past, all portrayed with an overuse of 3D effects that seems more a marketing campaign of 3D special effects companies than an actual movie. And to top it up, after you have been mesmerized by lots of bright sea creatures and sparkling (always bright and sparkling) magical forests the end is a 10 minute monologue by the protagonist where you just want to hit him to make him shut up.
What I liked most. Getting to know a bit about India.
What I didn't like. Senseless plot and overuse of special effects. Bad, irritating ending scene.

5. Les Misérables (Tom Hooper)

While Life of Pi was moderately boring and I could make it to the end, I just had to leave the cinema before the end of Les Misérables. I must say I am not a big fan of musicals, and I would have actually liked this movie if characters had talked like people do in real life. Still, I liked three of four scenes (music in the opening in one is pretty catchy), but I could not keep awake when characters were singing for five minutes just to say “thank you” or “good bye”, while another five were used to say “your welcome”, “talk to you later”. Dont see the fun of it. And the thing is that dialogues are sung 98% of the time. Maybe a combination between sung and spoken dialogues would have made me enjoy the movie, like it is done in some animation movies such as Lion King (Walt Disney, 1994).
Finally, I read the book not too long ago, so knowing exactly what was going to happen didn’t add any tension to the movie.
What I liked most. Depiction of post revolutionary France and some catchy songs. 
What I didn't like. Characters having to sing for ten minutes in order convey the simplest things.

6. War Horse (Steven Spielberg)

The introduction for this one is easy: absolute crap. If you are interested in listening to French people speaking with a super strong English accent with each other (as far as I know French people use FRENCH to communicate with each other) or you like watching lengthy corny scenes about super natural horses run through trenched territory then THIS is your movie. Personally I would rather be punched in the face for two hours than having to watch this movie again.
What I liked most. That it came to an end.
What I didn’t like. Pretty much everything.

7. The Flowers of War (Zhang Yimou)

As I said during my review of Love (2012, Doze Niu), watching a Chinese movie can be a painful experience, and The Flowers of War took me one step further into the realm of pain. What can we say about this movie directed by Zhang Yimou, capable of epic dramas such as Live (1994) but now on the road of commercial, shallow movies in the line of Feng Xiaogang? The Flowers of War is a mix between easy, nationalist-anti-Japan demagogy (I’m not defending what Japanese army did in Nanjing, but it has been told around one million times already) and stereotypical love relationship between foreign male (Christian Bale) and Chinese girl, who although being a prostitute happens to be also an intelligent, sensitive and caring girl who…enough of this, The Flowers of War is so bad it just doesn’t deserve anymore of my time. To wrap things up a friendly warning: think twice about it before watching a current Chinese movie in the future. Or better: just don’t watch any Chinese movie. Anything relatively interesting will be banned by the government, and even if it makes it through the censorship it won’t be successful among the majority of brainwashed Chinese viewers.