Films of 2012
I saw 13 films on the silver screen in 2012. Here's the ranking from excellent to mediocre.
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Technically not a 2012 film, but a necessary inclusion in any rundown. While in New York, the first Indiana Jones adventure received a limited 2-weeks IMAX engagement. All the thrills are intact. Also in 2012, I started writing for the Utah, United States-based film site The Reel Place. Raiders was my first review.
2. The Muppets
A funny, touching, nostalgic return to form for the felt, fleece and plush heroes. Heartwarming and brilliant. Highlights include Kermit's Pictures In My Head and the reprise of the classic Rainbow Connection. Plus Man or Muppet, a very justified Academy Award winner. The soundtrack is solid gold all around, actually. A big thank you to Jason Segel for reviving the brand and respecting the tradition.
3. 21 Jump Street
Sure, De Rouille Et D'Os and Looper are better films, but no movie was funnier and more replayable in 2012. It's one of those immediate quotefests: "Can I go take a dump?", "Kneel before Zod!", "Fuck you, Miles Davis!", "Stop messin' with Korean Jesus. He busy. With Korean shit.", "There's rumours in the Twittersphere", "Pound of marijuana? Best party ever!", "Let me check out your chest, eh, test", "Fake ass Handsome McGee", "Up top, Papa Schmidt!" and much, much more. Hilarious. A comedy for the ages.
4. De Rouille Et D'Os
A strong, gripping drama starring France's other cinematic treasure Marion Cotillard and our national hero Matthias Schoenaerts. Full review on The Reel Place.
An articulate, well-written and intelligent time travel thriller. Well done, Rian Johnson.
6. The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan's excellent closing chapter to one of the best trilogies ever. Full review here.
7. Anna Karenina
A jaunty, electrifying and expertly directed visual feast for the eyes. Full review here.
8. The Raid
A brutal martial arts epic inside one confined building space. You will never feel more manly than after seeing this movie. To quote black belt-wearing brother Peter De Voecht immediately after the credits rolled: "I want to roundhouse kick someone now!"
9. The Amazing Spider-Man
Peter Parker's return to the silver screen. The similarities with Sam Raimi's version are plentiful, but Marc Webb still added some touches of his own. And that crane shot in 3D must be seen. Full review here.
10. Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace 3D
The 1999 movie is the best of the flawed prequels, thanks to Liam Neeson's awesomeness, Sebulba's delivery and John Williams' rousing score. Very underwhelming 3D, but don't take my word for it: I rarely experience the third dimension (outside of everyday life, that is).
Acclaimed by just about everyone, but just 'good' in my book. The cinematography is top notch, Javier Bardem has created a compelling villain and Adele's song is a killer, but it's still just another James Bond adventure. Adequate and sometimes silly.
12. The Avengers
No idea how this set the box office on fire like it did. Popcorn cinema at its finest, but never memorable or particularly thrilling. I may need to see it again.
13. Snow White & The Huntsman
A mediocre retelling of the classic Grimm story. Josh Zyber, esteemed Boston film critic, made a hilarious quip regarding this movie that demands to be quoted: "Is it explained in the movie in some way how anyone could think that K-Stew is “fairer” than Charlize Theron? Like, has a plague of blindness fallen upon the land? Otherwise, this is a suspension of disbelief that I’m having trouble making."
Purchases in random order
The Bourne Trilogy
Just €10 for the complete Bourne series (until the fourth entry came along). Prior to buying, I had not seen a single installment and I must say, I'm not very convinced. There's suspense, action, romance, desire, car chases, shaky cam ... but not a lot of heart. They may need a second chance.
The Matrix Trilogy
Don't know why I bought this, because I wasn't overly fond of part 1 and I have never seen parts 2 and 3. Rationalization? HD DVDs must be bought/rescued and cherished.
Star Wars The Clone Wars
Bargain at just €10, but I couldn't get into this first season. I had enough after one episode. Does it need a second chance? Perhaps. Not too fond of the art style, either.
Pixar's first full-length feature. Still as awesome as in 1995.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
Blind purchase in Mel Bookstore in Firenze, Italy. Splendid, truly splendid. Had not expected this at all. Supremely enjoyable, highly quotable. "I really shouldn't be running with these!". And further proof, if needed, that Mr. T makes everything automatically 700% better.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Just €3 for a second-hand copy on the Zurenborg flea market in Antwerp. Too bad Warner didn't bother to release a concurrent HD DVD version - even after the demise of the format - just to have an aesthetic and/or ćsthetic collection. Parts 1-5 on HD DVD, part 6 on Blu-ray. OCD-nerds will have a breakdown.
Birthday present from Pim Verhulst, with his cadeaubonneke from the FNAC. Saw this once in 2004 and it holds up very well. Acclaimed Belgian director Tom Willems once told me: "The Incredibles is film school on disc. Every angle, every cue, every movement is how it should be done. Brad Bird should be commended for his super-skilled approach to the medium of the animation movie."
A Bug's Life
Free Blu-ray, as part of a "buy one, get one" deal in combination with The Incredibles. Hurrah! A Bug's Life couldn't top the excellence of Toy Story, but impressed with fun gags, sublime voice-over work and an uplifting story. A great Fli(c)k.
The manliest man-movie in the history of men? Well, no. It could have been better, but the CGI-free action scenes are spectacular and Mickey Rourke knocks it out of the park. To quote The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips: "Rourke delivers a monologue about his time in Bosnia, and the conviction the actor brings to the occasion throws the movie completely out of whack. What's actual acting doing in a movie like this?"
The Social Network
2010's best movie. Full review here.
As Good As It Gets
Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear in one of the most poignant, touching, inspiring and impressive dramedies of all time. Full (crappy) review here.
Universal Soldier Regeneration
Bought after the glowing review on the HighDefDigest. This is, by far, one of the best straight-to-Blu products you'll ever encounter. What they have done with a modest budget must be seen to be believed.
Bruce Springsteen with The Sessions Band -
Live In Dublin
The fabulous concert in high definition. Essential for fans, plague-esque for haters.
Green Day - Awesome As F**k
Let's recap: Green Day was hip in the late 80's/early 90's. Then they signed to a major record label, became alleged sellouts and reached a worldwide audience. Then everybody forgot to buy their next albums, so they became hip again. Then they made American Idiot, were embraced by teenagers and made a less succesful follow-up 21st Century Breakdown. Then Billie Joe Armstrong had a breakdown, their trilogy Uno!, Dos!, Tré! was lambasted for containing too much filler. So they apparently sold out again? If you sell out twice, do you become an un-sellout? For what it's worth: I still think Green Day makes wonderful songs.
Take That - Look Back, Don't Stare -
A Film About Progress
In 2010, Take That - still a boy band in the eyes of the gullible plebs - released the very mature Progress, their magnum opus filled with at least six masterpieces. This film documents the hardships, the discussions and the sweat behind the making of said album. Elton John says it best: "Amazing. You know how big this is gonna be?".
Bruce Springsteen - The Promise:
The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story
An fantastic documentary chronicling the difficult period in Springsteen's life after the Born To Runaway-success of his third album.
Just €3.97 for this over-the-top and brutal yet hilarious mexploitation diversion.
My opinion hasn't changed since the beginning of this article. The Muppets demands to be seen.
The 1950 Disney classic, restored to semi-perfection. Special features include a cute Christian Louboutin short (in which he wants to design the perfect Cinderella slippers) and a hilarious 6-minute Tangled sequel.
Indiana Jones - The Complete Adventures
Adventure definitely has a name, and it will always be Indiana Jones. Full review here.
Spielberg's 1982 masterpiece. The crappy 2002 special edition is nowhere to be found on this disc, thankfully. Comes with a plush E.T.!
J.J. Abram's thumbs up-worthy love letter to Spielberg's 80's output. Full review here.
The Hot Potato
A mediocre British period piece. Yours truly played a robbed house owner, but the scene was left on the cutting room floor. He can still be seen in the background towards the end.
Game of Thrones
Season 1 of TV's most incredible series. Believe the hype, don't download or stream the episodes.
3D Blu-rays cost between €23.99 and €29.99 in Belgium. Why!? You'd expect them to be packaged with a solid gold toilet seat.
The Adventures of Tintin:
The Secret of the Unicorn
The Belgian comic has been adapted with love and respect. Georges Rémi can rest in peace.
The Lion King
As awe-inspiring as it was in 1994.
Beauty and the Beast
Still one of their all-time greatest achievements. If it weren't for my nostalgic attachment to The Little Mermaid, I'd proclaim it their best animated feature ever. Full review here.
Toy Story 2
One of the classiest sequels in the history of film, only bettered by its own sequel. Mindblowingly phenomenal.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Henry Selick's calling card to movie immortality, featuring Danny Elfman's most terrific work.
A very effective, creepy and accomplished horror movie for children, starring the talented Haley Bennett. Joe Dante, you still got it.
The Land Before Time XII
Unseen as of now, hence no opinion.
The A-Team Complete DVD Collection
Unseen as of now, save for the extended pilot.
Toy Story Toy Box
A bargain at just €7.50 in Gotham, Paris. Bought for the five hours of special features, for I already own the movies on Blu-ray. Region 1, so I had to hack my old computer's DVD drive.
Four episodes of the classic cartoon series, namely The Money Vanishes, Home Sweet Homer, Hero For Hire and Launchpad's Civil War.
Timon and Pumbaa's Wild Adventures
Unseen as of now, hence no opinion. Still shrinkwrapped.
License To Drive
Classic Corey corniness. Fashion victims, mullets and a young Heather Graham. A must-see.
Murder By Decree
Unseen as of now, hence no opinion. Present from Belgian actress Manon Verbeeck.
The French LaserDisc, featuring the original English audio and French subtitles. Quite uncommon, for 99% of all French home video releases prior to DVD were dubbed in the language of Verlaine.
Unseen as of now, hence no opinion.
Discovered via the Nostalgia Critic. Double Team is a hysterical romp, including Cyber Monks and the most side-splitting death scene ever.
Macaulay Culkin's last effort before his first retirement, with a very fine screenplay that's way more sophisticated than you'd expect.
The Land Before Time III
Bought on VHS in 1995, and now on LaserDisc "for the collection". Nothing too spectacular, but never embarrassing.
Season 1 (the only good one) on no less than 8 UMDs, for a mere €4. Wallet-friendly.
A still shrinkwrapped release from the 60's. Not too shabby, but keep in mind: this only contains a few minutes of footage.
The Public Enemy
A reel with the highlights of this 1931 pre-code crime caper starring James Cagney.
Nicolas Winding Refn's minimalistic drama starring Ryan "Best actor born in the 1980's" Gosling. The soundtrack is a major triumph for all involved.
Julian De Backer, 17 December 2013
(update: 24 April 2014)