Welcome to the second annual Bitch Awards, celebrating the best and worst films and TV shows of the year. Stick around for the next two weeks as we raise a glass to our favourite works from 2012 (and duck as we unceremoniously throw the remote at our least favourites).
We’re nearly halfway through the countdown for best and worst films of the year. Today: #3…
#3: Magic Mike (Soderbergh, 2012)
Ahh Channing Tatum. He has the honour of being in two films on my worst list. What’s even more hilarious is that I found him to be the strongest one in this film as his normally grating acting style actually works in this context. Unfortunately, nothing else in this film does. I felt completely dirty (and not in a good way) after seeing this one, much like cinephilactic predicted. And this is courtesy of my disgust for The Kid’s (Alex Pettyfer) lack of hygiene throughout the film, coupled with his perfection of the douchebag stereotype. Seeing his crotch in numerous women’s faces, knowing full well that he hasn’t taken a shower in months just makes me nauseous. And don’t get me started on Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), who is the epitome of skeezy slime ball. I don’t know it if it is all that spray tan, but when McConaughey takes the stripper stage, I have never been more turned off. Sure, he’s in excellent shape, but from the neck up, he’s a few steps shy of Skeletor territory.
I suppose I should applaud each of the lead actors for nailing their unlikable characters, but at the end of the day, hating everyone doesn’t result in an enjoyable viewing experience. I’ll admit, despite cinephilactic’s numerous warnings, I thought this film would be campy goodness, and knowing that the most beautiful man in the world, Matt Bomer, is in it, how could I resist? But cinephilactic was completely right: it’s laughable at how little screen time Bomer has. Even more shocking was that his dances are ultimately relegated to mere snippets in a quick montage sequence. Remember the trailers full of smiles and ripping shirts? That’s all of the Bomer you get…
This film ranks higher on my worst list than my blogging partner because of the disappointment factor. Not only do we get the formulaic, snooze-worthy stripper plot and completely uninspired direction, but this film also denies me any kind of fantasy fulfillment.
#3: Wrath Of The Titans (Liebesman, 2012)
Let’s clear the air: Clash Of The Titans (Letterier, 2010) is not a great film. But it is a reasonably entertaining film, full of fun CGI action adventure, a decent star turn by Sam Worthington and some decent Greek mythology (yes, your high school English teacher shudders, but in terms of visual realization, there’s some fun-ish stuff here).
So what the hell went wrong with Wrath Of The Titans???
Almost immediately the film goes off the rails. It’s often a bad sign when a sequel can’t secure original cast members, so the casual aside that Io (Gemma Atherton) died in between movies suggests not all is well in the land. Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) has also been replaced (with Rosamund Pike), making it two for two in terms of female stars (apparently they’re dismissable or replaceable in generic action films).
Perhaps more problematically, the stars who do return (Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Worthington) range from “phoning it in” to “here for the pay check”. And then there’s the completely indecipherable plot line: blah blah daddy’s issues from the original are heightened in the sequel, but without any kind of genuine character beats to anchor them so that the audience – you know – gives a sh*t.
But let’s face it – no one is coming to this film for the plot or the characters. We’re here for the action. And in this regard, there are some really exciting pieces, including a sequence in a shifting maze and some decent-to-amazing-CGI for the depiction of Chronos (as a giant lava monster). But this doesn’t mean anything if your heart doesn’t skip a beat or your blood pressures rises a touch during the proceedings. And throughout the overwhelming majority of Wrath Of The Titans, I felt nothing. Everything is simply ho-hum. Oh, Zeus (Neeson) is going to be sacrificed? Meh. Can our heroes survive the maze? Oh, it’s already over. Will Perseus (Worthington) and Pegasus survive their flight around Chronos? Oh, it’s also already over. It’s as though everything remotely interesting is passed over too quickly, or done really poorly, or it’s so focused on the CGI that it just feels like spectacle for spectacle’s sake. Nothing connects, to the point that it’s all just pixels being manipulated.
Early in the film you realize that you simply don’t care about any of these people, or their struggles, or their battles. So spending another 90+ minutes watching the “drama” unfold feels like less of an experience and more like a “oh gawd, are we still watching this?” waste of time. It’s not terrible – it’s just 99 minutes of your life.
#3: Life of Pi (Lee, 2012)
I think I might be the only person on Earth who hasn’t read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, but I believe that put me at an advantage when viewing Ang Lee’s masterpiece. There’s something wonderful about just letting the magic of Lee’s visuals wash over you without the worry of comparison.
The story is as fantastical as you can get: the film follows the journey of a young boy from India, Pi (portrayed brilliantly by Suraj Sharma) who has been shipwrecked on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. I can easily understand why many consider the novel to be unfilmable, as much of the film involves the interplay between Pi and tiger, Richard Parker, aboard a small boat. But Richard Parker is completely realistic: I never once felt that he isn’t a real tiger, both visually and behaviourally (don’t expect How to Train Your Dragon on a lifeboat).
I found myself easily falling under the film’s spell, delving deep in the realms of fantastical imagery and enjoying every moment of it. The iridescent nighttime sequence in particular is absolutely breathtaking (I challenge anyone not to feel moved by it). With strong allusions to the nature of spirituality and religion, I expected the film to be heavy-handed or overly sentimental, but surprisingly, those themes are dealt with in tactful and unassuming ways. I also watched this film in 3D, a technology that I’ve come to abhor, but in this film, it actually works. The 3D complements the cinematography so perfectly, you wonder why other 3D films have failed to do the same.
The emotion is palpable throughout the film, due in part to the strength of Martel’s source material, but also because Lee brings something so fundamentally awe-inspiring in his direction. It’s his masterful direction that elevates this tale from an original novel into a true cinematic masterpiece.
#3: Pitch Perfect (Moore, 2012)
Am I embarrassed to include a film about a group of college girls who mash-up Top 40 songs who make music only with their mouths? Maaaaaybe a little. But I would absolutely be lying if I said that Pitch Perfect wasn’t one of my favourite movie-going experiences of 2012. Perhaps it’s the fact that I saw the film in a packed theatre of overly-enthusiastic moviegoers, or that the film reminds me of “fabulous” teen films Bring It On and Step Up (moreso the sequels than the original Channing Tatum snoozefest), both of which played an integral role in my wedding (suck it haters!).
The real reason that Pitch Perfect lands smack dab in the middle of my ‘Best Of’ list is because, as I said in my original review, it’s a genuinely fun film. Executive producer Elizabeth Banks has created an entertaining film about female friendship to the silver screen, joining John Michael Higgins on-screen as deliriously bitchy acapella judges. The film also cements Rebel Wilson as a star on the rise due to her hilarious portrayal of Fat Amy and features some great singing, mash-ups and (shocker) aka-awesome acapella performances.
Is it a perfect film? Hells no. Is it a film that’s a ton of fun that knows exactly what it is and aims to do nothing more than entertain? Absolutely! And a film that does what it sets out to do exceedingly well is a solid hit in my book. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to listening to Anna Kendrick and the other girls mash-up “Just The Way You Are/Just A Dream.”
So readers, we’ve reached the halfway point on our movie lists – what do you think of our picks so far? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments section. We’ll be back tomorrow to reveal which films made #2 on our lists, so be sure to visit us again!