As with any other movie year in review, 2012 had its share of exceptionally entertaining escapist fare on the big screen. For a handful of really inferior films there were stellar cinematic staples that critics and moviegoers basked in gloriously. True, attending the movies and finding worthy entertainment seemed to be pleasurable based on the good stuff situated on the big screen this past year.
So let’s take a look at some of 2012’s marvelous moments at the movies that were reviewed for SFCrowsnest cinematic consideration and may we pray that these standouts return to delight us further. Maybe you agree with some of these sensational selections or maybe not? Whatever your stance is there will be ample opportunity to rejoice in the desirable flicks destined to be seen in 2013.
Now see what the Top Ten Best Films in 2012 were for Frank at SFCrowsnest at quick glance, shall we? (Listed in alphabetical order.)
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (*** stars out of 4 stars): ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ slings its way into a whole new chapter of colorful entertainment. It has been a decade since Tobey Maguire took on the role of do-gooder Peter Parker/Spider-Man in 2002 and cultivated a sensational action figure that had lingered between the consciousness of conflict and courageousness. The aptly named ‘Spider-Man’ filmmaker Marc Webb (who helmed the critically acclaimed indie ‘500 Days Of Summer’) provides some invigorating jolt and introspection to this updated installment that does not miss a single beat. It is rather tricky to try and serve practically the same dessert twice in one meal and expect a different yet even more favorable action. Notably, Webb pulls this off with ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ as the concept and execution in flourishing theme never seems to stray away from the familiar formula of the ‘Spider-Man ‘phenomenon.
ARGO (*** 1/2 out of 4 stars): Undoubtedly, ‘Argo’ should be considered an early Oscar contender with its probing mindset into wayward American insider politics, foreign affairs intrusion, the outrage and contrasting viewpoints of disillusioned countries and international strife and the underlying surrealism of the overall craziness that manifested itself beyond outlandishness. Ben Affleck’s challenging direction and comprehensive vision ably complements screenwriter Chris Terrio’s sobering script that solidly runs on all cylinders in this masterfully entertaining chaotic drama that recalls the hostage-held shenanigans on the verge of an incoming Reagan administration and the introduction to a newly approaching 80s decade. As a spy thriller and roguish political genre that skillfully recalls the harrowing hedonism of America’s ‘polyester period’ in the economic crunch of the late 70s/early 80s, ‘Argo’ is spot on with its ode to the bombastic behind-the-scene banality of playground politics rooted in the seeds of cynicism and suspicion.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (*** 1/2 stars out of 4 stars): As a filmmaker, how does one follow up on continuing the excitable exploits of the ‘Batman’ film franchise and expect to top what is perhaps the greatest super-hero film of all time in the spectacular ‘The Dark Knight’? Well, if you are the highly heralded Christopher Nolan then you will instinctively find a way. Hence, the explosive and dynamic ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is certainly not a bad way to start. There is no doubt that ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ puts a convincing exclamation point on this enthralling movie trilogy. It is the very definition of an invigorating epic that invites a haunting passion and visual landscape of popcorn-pleasing vitality. The Caped Crusader is in full force dripping with rawness, scope and revolving intrigue. In describing ‘The Dark Knight’ as a bombastic blast would indeed be an understatement. Thoroughly engaging and audacious, this cowl-wearing character convincingly Rises to the occasion.
THE IMPOSSIBLE (*** stars out of 4 stars): In filmmaker Juan Antonio (‘The Orphanage’)Bayona’s rousing natural causes actioner ‘The Impossible’, the stakes for high octane drama is pleasantly accompanied by the humanistic form of devastation in the low key moments of a family’s mental struggles for survival and dependency. ‘The Impossible’ works its morbid magic based on startling sound performances, the feeling of overwhelming despair and the urgency of a seemingly tropical paradise gone astray by nature’s unpredictable and uncontrollable forces of carnage. Finally, Bayona’s tsunami saga is a key sample of a thinking man’s disaster film that dares to incorporate the realistic resonance of the isolated personalised angst with the over-blown and shocking taste of the action-packed heft and resiliency. Screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez paints a percolating and poignant picture of anxiety through separation, disillusionment, frustration and outrage that threatens the idyllic Thai-based surroundings.
KILLER JOE (** 1/2 stars out of 4 stars): The exploration of twisted family dysfunction in the movies has always been a reliable staple of instant tension, insanity, perversion and caustic psychological scope. In the sensationalized and sleazy-minded ‘Killer Joe’, we are introduced to a different kind of Mama’s boy that would make ‘Psycho’s Norman Bates look like a choir boy in comparison. Wildly odd, offbeat, harrowing and disturbingly comical, ‘Killer Joe’ is an unlikely satirical examination on the deterioration of an unconventional family unit of low life individuals armed with corruptible morality. Although it is fair to assess the unabashed ‘Killer Joe’ as an over-the-top exploitative circus show the off-kilter appeal is undeniable in its edgy colourful and concocted creepiness. The hedonistic hick behavior demonstrated in this southern gothic grim fable occasionally feels long in the tooth as some of the selective scenes feel garrulous. Still, the seedy surrealism behind ‘Killer Joe’ simmers convincingly in its unsavory spirit.
LOOPER (*** 1/2 stars out of 4 stars): Mind-bending time travel movies routinely have a robust and surrealistic edginess that caters to the absolute essence of Science Fiction fanatics. Still, that is not always enough to convey the concrete convictions of a sci-fi time travel tale that percolates beyond its visual mastery. Sometimes one needs the inclusion of a challenging plot, thought-provoking characterizations, unexpected twists and turns plus an overall riveting storyline to successfully sell its intriguing exposition. Writer-director Rian Johnson’s ‘Looper’ looks to fulfil the ultimate stylish joyride as a thinking man’s sci-fi spectacle. Sharp, edgy, captivating and complex, ‘Looper’ radiates boldly as an ambitious futuristic fable that is both refreshingly inventive and uncompromising in its impacted suspense. Johnson (‘Brick’, ‘The Brothers Bloom’) delivers a mesmerising maze that dazzles within the colorful conventions of this eye-popping genre. The pacing is undeniably energetic and should serve the interests of the audience embracing this intricate cerebral actioner that thoughtfully sizzles with gritty forethought.
MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (*** 1/2 stars out of 4 stars): Writer-director Joss Whedon spins an intoxicating web that would made Spider-man green with envy. In the action-packed comic book fantasy Marvel’s ‘The Avengers Assemble’, Whedon delivers what an escapist blockbuster should be in spirit and soul: exhilarating, imaginative, outlandish, stylish and immensely witty. Sure, Marvel’s ‘The Avengers Assemble’ is positioned to spawn an inevitable sequel-in-waiting and why not? Hardcore comic geeks and Marvel minions…your time has come to bask in one of the most gloriously conceived supernatural actioners to come down the pike in a long time.
PARANORMAN (*** stars out of 4 stars): There are not many slick stop-motion animated features to boast about recently until the arrival of freakish and fun-loving monsterable ‘ParaNorman’. Highly sophisticated in its ghoulish gumption, ‘ParaNorman’ is indeed a goose-bump treat for the kiddies as well as their grown-up counterparts that will rejoice in the Gothic-style antics of humor, hokey-minded horror and the artistry of the film’s aforementioned top-notch stop-motion animation. Uncommonly refreshing is how ‘ParaNorman’ has an intelligent angle to its carefree gloomy edginess. Co-director/writer Chris Butler’s story carries the capable heft of an intriguing storyline bursting with energy and intrigue.
ROBOT & FRANK (*** stars out of 4 stars): Filmmaker Jake Schreier’s intimate and probing gem ‘Robot & Frank’ speaks to the low scale mechanics of the Science Fiction equation involving the relationship of man versus machine and the humanity and humility of their forced relationship. Poignant, quietly feisty and engaging, ‘Robot & Frank’ is a redeemable and soulful technological tale of resiliency and dependency between two unlikely sources sporting different anatomies in deteriorating humanistic blood and guts as well as metallic bolts and batteries.
SKYFALL (*** 1/2 stars out of 4 stars): Imaginative, thrilling, and intense, ‘Skyfall’ is the latest James Bond entry that delivers an impactful punch. Daniel Craig’s take on the dashing and iconic martini-sipping rogue out to serve his heroic duties for Queen-and-Country is increasingly infectious. After breathing new life into the five decade-old film franchise, Craig and his handlers certainly usher the legendary lothario James Bond into the manic millennium with action-packed aplomb. ‘Skyfall’ is laced with intelligence, intrigue and carries a riveting storyline that should automatically resonate with Bond enthusiasts. As equally stimulating is the movie’s moody title theme song as performed by multi-Grammy winning artist Adele which gives additional soulful ammunition to this rollicking spectacle.