It’s going to be extremely difficult to review The Avengers without sounding like a gushing, hyperbolic fanboy, but after witnessing the jaw-dropping awesomeness of this film, I’ve come to a firm, if not rational conclusion — I don’t care. All other comic book/superhero films to this point have been mere prelude; a soft string overture to the full majesty of the orchestra launching into a soaring sonic bombast. X-2: X-Men United? Thanks for playing. Spider-Man 2? Go sit in the corner now. Superman: The Movie? You helped lay the groundwork for this moment, but see ya’. The Dark Knight? Sorry, but it’s time to relinquish your crown, because there is no room for debate now — The Avengers is the greatest comic book movie ever made.
Let’s be honest here — The Hunger Games is no literary masterwork; its dystopian themes and brutal child-on-child violence is derivative of dozens of novels and movies from 1984 to Lord of the Flies to the infamous Japanese teen massacre film Battle Royale. Yet — like Harry Potter and Twilight before it — The Hunger Games has captured the zeitgeist of the hormonal and alienated youth of America through its use of a strong but relatable protagonist, an improbable love sub-plot, and a visceral action set piece with life-and-death stakes. Susanne Collins’ Kindle-friendly unit shifter has fairly obvious themes: violence and war are bad; classism is bad; it’s hard to be an impoverished, under-privileged teenager in a world where the rich and powerful make all the rules,etc.. In many ways, it’s the ultimate 99% vs. the 1% metaphor. But, allegorical critiques aside, the real question is: does any of this make for compelling cinema? Fortunately, despite a cornucopia full of flaws, the answer is yes.
If The Hunger Games recent, record-setting box office explosion has taught us anything, it’s that now we really know nothing at all. A moderately budgeted, early Spring release amassing the third-largest opening weekend numbers in history? It’s unheard of…or, is it? Obviously, none of us should be stunned by The Hunger Games phenomenon – Susanne Collins YA novels are on the kindles and bookshelves of millions of readers, and the concept has huge crossover appeal. Yet few predicted it would be the game-changer that it is, and now The Hunger Games is a contender for the #1 box-office grossing film of 2012, a title that critics figured would be decided in a bloody battle among two traditional Summer blockbusters. With that in mind, here’s a look at the Hunger Games’ two competitors, and how these three thoroughbreds are going to finish the race.
First off, I apologize for the lateness of this piece. I realize that a “Top Ten Best Movies of 2011” list isn’t exactly timely at this point, but I blame the movie studios for releasing approximately 437 films during the last two weeks of December, several of which I’m certain would’ve made this list had I had time to actually go see them. So sadly, movies like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Descendants, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, won’t appear here, nor will critical darlings like The Tree of Life or Drive. I did manage to see a lot of really good movies this year, and since we’ve already waded through all the crap, let’s take a look at the cream of the crop:
Was 2011 a great year for film? Well, yes and no. It certainly was much better than last year’s crop of freshly-laid turds, many of which made me question my continued desire to live on a planet that allows January Jones to have a lucrative TV and movie career. Still, 2011 was marred by record low attendance and a staggering number of sequels/remakes with 28 — the most in movie history. Now, I’m sure many of you are expecting this list is to be filled with cinematic diarrhea like Jack & Jill, The Smurfs, Zookeeper, Chipwrecked, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I, New Year’s Eve, etc., because it’s obvious these are the types of “films” that are the retarded harbingers of the horrifying future America Mike Judge warned us all about in Idiocracy. But, I can’t in good conscience write about those stinkers because I didn’t pay to sit through any of them. I had to limit this list to the movies that I plopped down my hard-earned cash for either in the theater or through the
magical glowy wonder box Netflix Instant Streaming. That being said, even though you won’t get to see me eviscerate Hank Azaria’s performance as Gargamel, there is still enough horrific celluloid shlock here to make you wish that movie cameras were never invented. So without further ado, here are my Top Ten Worst Movies of 2011!