My 2012 Movies in Retrospect, #23-16

Everyone knows January is National List Month on the Internet, that sacred tradition when the previous year’s creations must be remembered, recapped, and ranked. I’m not immune to the impulse myself. I like movies. I like making lists. It’s bound to happen. For fun-related reasons, since 2000 I’ve kept track of every movie I’ve seen in a theater, year by year. My list is shorter than a real critic’s because no one pays me to go see every release. I do what I can within my means and according to my curiosity level.

The final tabulations reveal I saw twenty-six films in theaters in 2012. However, three of those were officially 2011 releases and are therefore disqualified from being ranked on my 2012 Movies list. Any films I saw on home video — 2012 or otherwise — are also disqualified due to lack of theater. In addition, Les Miserables is disqualified from inclusion because I’m planning to see it this weekend, which will purportedly not fall in 2012. My movie-ranking rules are few, but there they are.

Part one of this three-part miniseries begins with the films I loved least. Links to past reviews and musings are provided for the twenty movies I previously discussed after MCC was launched. Apparently I only saw three 2012 releases prior to April 28, 2012. Blame it on the first-quarter release wasteland.

On with the reverse countdown:

Wrath of the Titans23. Wrath of the Titans. The explosions were clearly the star of the show. The labyrinth lent a welcome assist as the explosions’ chief henchman. The underworld was lacking, and perhaps should’ve spent more time as an understudy to the underworld from Spawn. Now that was a classy underworld, one that really chewed the scenery but was nonetheless generous to its costars, much more of a team player.

The human cast, on the other hand, was largely wasted, and sometimes blocked our view of the real stars. Except for Toby Kebbell’s mild comic relief, the non-CG actors mostly made bold pronouncements at each other, while every move they make requires a bombastic sound effect. Sam Worthington swats at someone, and BOOM! The most nondescript Ares in film history pummels a foe, and SEISMIC THUNDERCRACK! A sleepwalking Liam Neeson tosses lightning darts, and CORE MELTDOWN! Anyone blinks twice, and GATLING GUN! Mostly this felt like a video game sequel to a video game based on the first film. The graphics were bright and easy to absorb, but I get antsy and bored when that’s all I’m doing.

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“Dark Knight Rises”: in Three Hours Batman Will Rise, But Results Will Vary

The Dark Knight Rises was a flawed but perfectly apt capper on Christopher Nolan’s Batman miniseries, a true trilogy in the sense that it’s an integral continuation of developments and themes from the first two films and wraps up loose ends we didn’t even realize were unraveled. Its marathon length was no deterrent to me, but some of its minutes could have been used to better effect.

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Who Will Strike More Fear into the Hearts of The 1%: Bane or the “Step Up” Dancers?

The American upper class has now replaced other races and nations as Hollywood’s go-to nemesis du jour. We’ve already seen them criminalized in Tower Heist and countless other films whose titles I don’t feel like brainstorming right now. Trailers for two upcoming films show no sign of anyone giving that beleaguered minority a break this summer.

In the case of The Dark Knight Rises, the conflict will be a twisted case of evil-vs.-evil, if we infer correctly from previous trailers that Bane and his henchmen mean to bring the pain to the lives of the few remaining upper-crust Gothamites that didn’t already wisely evacuate to the suburbs after the city-wide calamities of the last two films. A new, sponsored trailer was released Monday that shows more of Bane and his plainclothes lackeys without revealing more details about how destroying a football field will in any way inconvenience the billionaires of Gotham, all sitting in their skyboxes above the tumult with easy access to their escape pods.

Other sites are busy scouring that video for clues to the true nature of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s enigmatic character. All I know is, if the success of TDKR means he’ll never have to return to the role of Cobra Commander, so much the better.

For those who would prefer to see stands taken through nonviolent means — stands that includes more women, non-whites, and colorful costumes — Step Up Revolution offers a viable, funky alternative:

The new girl in town shows off her moves, learns a very important lesson about performance art, then inspires her new flashmob friends to bust a move for social justice. I look forward to learning how this flagrant disruption of dull real estate negotiations will result in tense cinematic drama. Also, I’d love to see Bane try performing a one-handed Centipede.

You’ll note in both trailers the police are completely ineffective against the threats of grass-roots disobedience. If anything, it appears the Step Up cops will be persuaded to join the Occupy Solid Gold movement, unless we’re to believe that they’ve implemented krumping as a new form of riot control. I’d love to see Denis Leary as Arthur Stacy from the most recent Amazing Spider-Man trailer pay them a visit and compare notes.

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