January 28, 2013 by bck1402
There was some thought about whether I wanted to go ahead with this or not, especially with how the transition of the years blew by. And the more I looked at the list of movies I reviewed over the year (the movies I watched in the local cinemas), the more it felt like there really was nothing much to say. In total, after tallying my stubs, I counted 49 movies seen in the cinema over 2012.
3D movies were becoming more prevalent, and so the ticket prices went up. In light of that, Box-Office success didn’t really matter to me. The high priced tickets simply meant that the tallies were seriously inflated. It didn’t really account for how many people really went to watch the movies. Just simply put it this way, a movie released in the various formats of 3D, digital presentation (or 2D as it’s listed around here) and standard film makes about 50 million in receipts in one day, and another movie in normal standard film release makes about 30 million in the same day… which movie was really the success? It’s not like the tallies were evenly distributed. 3D tickets are easily twice that of a standard movie ticket, and a digital presentation is about one a half times of the standard ticket. That 50 million could easily mean that it barely had half the audience of the latter film.
Add to that the widespread use of Twitter and Facebook messaging, and a movie’s success or failure rests on the trending of these rapid fire messages, not so much on the critical acknowledgement of people who have been viewing movies for years and know what they’re talking about. The ‘gut-reaction’ is somehow more important these days. So the studios tend to lean that way and keep on churning out what they think they can sell.
Transformers did well in takings over the last few years? Let’s market Battleship the same way. Clash of the Titans was an box office success? Let’s get a sequel out quick! 3D is really popular these days, what old movie can we re-release and make a truckload of money? Actually, I’m not complaining too much about that last one. It was cool to watch Titanic on the big screen again because a movie like that belongs in the theatres. Can’t say the same for Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. By the way, where’s Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones? There’s no listing for it anywhere on any of the sites (particularly on our local cinema schedules). Weren’t these supposed to be a yearly affair? I’m really keen to see The Empire Strikes Back on the big screen again.
Anyway, sure, Hollywood studios are a business and it’s their business to make money. Most of us who grew up with the movies through the 70s to the 90s might lean to the type of films on the big screen these days. Then again, we aren’t the target audience anymore. We haven’t’ been the target audience for quite a few years now (I’d say about five to seven years now). A majority of the movies are aiming for the PG-13 rating because the target audience are the 13-18 kids who are the ones heading out to the cinemas more. Their parents are the ones staying home. A full family excursion to the cinema is a pricey affair these days, and when kids head out to the cinemas in packs, they are more likely to pay for their own ticket.
So PG-13… mindless bloodless violence, full on action for thrills, never mind the plot, forget the characters, bring the dazzle and sizzle, maybe one vulgar swear word, and let’s remake some of those classic movies for the younger generation. The original fans aren’t the ones watching it in the cinema. They’ll wait for cable or a home-video (DVD, Blu-Ray, Direct Downloads) anyway. At least, that’s how it might be perceived in Hollywood at the moment.
The better character driven shows that used to be a cinematic highlight are now the best thing on cable TV. Love The Godfather? Try The Sopranos. Enjoyed the political intrigues the likes of All The President’s Men or No Way Out? Why not try Homeland? How about the exciting intrigue and action the likes of First Blood, Lethal Weapon, or even Die Hard – the hard hitting R-Rated action with bloody violence, snarky one-liners and hard heroes that never give up? Take a look at Strike Back. Think Excalibur was your thing? Try Game of Thrones.
While the adults are staying home with their more mature entertainment, the cinema screens are peppered with the likes of Wrath of the Titans, Snow White and The Huntsman, Men In Black III, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Amazing Spider-Man, Total Recall, The Bourne Legacy, Battleship, The Watch, The Three Stooges, Taken 2, more Underworld, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Ghost Rider and Twilight. Mediocre entertainment, some potentially great R-rated material watered down for a PG-13 audience, that passes for ‘blockbusters’ that any average cinema goer and Twitter user would likely claim as ‘the greatest thing I’ve ever seen’ on an almost constant basis.
So what I like and what I think passes as superior film-making and entertaining, doesn’t really matter anymore. Movies are generally critic-proof these days, catering to the common fiscal denominator. I’ve got friends who decide what movie is good or bad depending on what they make at the box-office (and hence hit number one on the weekly chart), and would proclaim a movie to be good or bad before even watching it. I don’t begrudge them that. I tend to be more analytical. There are movies I dislike that everyone else would like. There are movies I like that everyone else would hate.
In any case, these were the movies I found to be among the best of 2012 screened in the cinemas of Penang. Some with flaws and all. In no particular order of preference, but alphabetically…
More of a rant than a retrospective.
I think it was a good year for strong females. We had Snow White (being a better character in Mirror, Mirror – at least she was trained to fight – than in Snow White and The Huntsman – out of the coma and straight into battle and everything), Elizabeth Shaw in Prometheus (self-abortion? tough chick!), Black Widow in The Avengers, Katniss in The Hunger Games, Merida in Brave, Mallory Kane taking on all the boys in Haywire, and of course, there was Resident Evil‘s Alice and Underworld‘s Selene putting on the tights and kicking assess. And to be fair, Kate Beckinsale did redeem herself by being just about the best thing in a very mediocre Total Recall.
In terms of something different, We did have Chronicle which took the ‘found footage’ idea and really went to town with it by not really being a ‘found footage’ movie. Cabin in The Woods finally put in an appearance after several years in limbo, and proved to be utterly entertaining by playing up the cliches of the genre and the ripping them apart. And proving that there’s life in some old school ideas, Jack Reacher and Haywire delivered relatively CGI-free action while ParaNorman had more life in stop-motion animation than Wreck-It Ralph had in its glossy CGI animation. Although the best blend of the old and the new working in tandem was still in Paperman.
I could probably go on, but let’s call it quits. This is pretty long and I’m harping on about last year’s stuff when I should be looking forward. Wonder when that’ll come out.