So, 2012 is long over and as a whole it wasn’t the strongest year for movies in memory (though certainly better than 2011 was). With the 85th Oscars coming up this Sunday, we thought we’d share with you our favorite movies of the year. What follows is a list of 12 movies from last year that Scott Fraser, Chris Tansuche, and I came up with after much debate and slap fighting. These are the films we feel most deserve your viewing time. Now these aren’t the ones we expect to dominate the awards season, but rather the stuff we found to be most enjoyable. As well made as Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln were, repeat viewings in the near future aren’t likely. This is a list of the films that we deem are worth consideration of your hard-earned DVD/BluRay purchasing dollar…
Jumanji is Getting the Reboot Treatment
Source: AV Club
In some of the most unexpected and surprising news of the week, Columbia has announced that they’re rebooting the classic kids’ movie, Jumanji. In an attempt to “appeal to a younger audience”, the studio is bringing the game of Jumanji back to the big screen with a modern twist. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any stupider, I was pleasantly surprised.
See, this doesn’t work for many, many reasons. The first one being that a plot involving two kids playing a glorified Ouija Board with a mysterious man is probably not something we need to revisit in theaters. Oh, wait just a goddamn minute. We did see a Jumanji reboot except it was called Zathura and it had a lot of Kristen Stewart doing what Kristen Stewart does. And as much as we’d like to admit that maybe technologically advanced visual effects will improve cult classic remakes, let’s take a look at the quality of such films as the Conan the Barbarian and Dark Shadows. Yeah….no.
21 Jump Street Sequel in the Works
Anyone who saw 21 Jump Street this year was more likely than not pleasantly surprised by how well-made it was. From the extremely clever script by Michael Bacall to the immense chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, who showed a new found strength as an actor, 21 Jump Street was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year other than the other Channing Tatum vehicles of 2012, The Vow and Magic Mike. Don’t hate on me for liking The Vow. You liked it too. Don’t lie.
Anyway, word has hit the streets (or actually, the “twitter-sphere” as Captain Dickson says in the film) that a sequel to the film is in the works. The news came from C-Tates himself after a fan asked him if he thought that a sequel to 21 Jump Street would be a good idea.
Personally, I’m conflicted. 21 Jump Street was such a great comedy and it should/would/could work beautifully as a standalone stroke of genius. But of course, in the consumerist Hollywood that we live in, that’s just not an option. The ending of the first film even left the possibility of a sequel open, but I always hoped it could be left to the viewers’ imaginations. With that being said, if done as well as the first film, I’d be totally open to a sequel. The first film did a great job at avoiding tired cliches and actually just…farting in the general direction of conventional storytelling.
Bringing back the original writer, Michael Bacall, and directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, would be the best idea, because no one else would be able to handle the characters like they did. Also, the entire cast would have to return or else it just wouldn’t work. And for the love of all that is holy, please make sure that Jonah Hill and Brie Larson stay together as a couple throughout the sequel. Please.
Men in Black IV Approaching as a Reality
Source: AV Club
Will Smith, the guy who says he “doesn’t want to be the sequel guy”, is in talks to star in Hancock II, Bad Boys III, and now Men in Black IV. Seems legit. Columbia Pictures President Doug Belgrad says that he believes the Men in Black series is “an ongoing franchise” but, “We don’t have clarity yet on how it should be done.” Again, seems legit. If you ask me, I think this is code for: Will Smith is pushing 50 and he’s going to hand down the franchise to his son, Jaden Smith, like it was his Grandfather’s watch.
Personally, the Men in Black formula only truly worked for the first film which is, in every way possible, a perfect sci-fi comedy. Few films have been able to reach the level of the original Men in Black, but the two sequels just kind of ruin the legacy and if they keep making them it’s just going to bury the original even more. As for other Will/Jaden Smith projects, we’ve got After Earth coming up, a film written and directed by the infamous M. Night Shyamalan.
M. Night gets a bad reputation for making The Last Airbender, a film I refuse to watch. But I think almost everything else he does is really quite fascinating. I’m one of the few defenders of The Happening and Signs is one of my favorite films. He has a chance to make this a really interesting movie, but judging by the viral video, this may end up being Will Smith’s first truly abysmal film that reaches (or degrades itself) to the levels of Battlefield Earth.
Abe Lincoln no longer hunting Vampires
In the most unpredictable decision made so far this year (please note the sarcasm), the Spielberg-directed Lincoln, starring Daniel-Day Lewis as our 16th President, is set to release on November 9th, three days after Election Day as well as in the midst of awards season. Does this news surprise me? Not at all, am I still excited to see Daniel-Day Lewis in a movie? Always, but it’ll be difficult for an actor even of his skill to top Bill Oberst Jr.’s portrayal of Lincoln, something he’s been doing for years now on stage.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about this movie, especially because the cast includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Adam Driver, Jackie Earle Haley, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, and James Spader, but Spielberg has lost his touch in recent years and period pieces have to be done to perfection to truly work. Due to this, I remain skeptical. I just hope it’s not another “Oh, look! Daniel-Day Lewis is in this and we’re releasing it during Oscar season so GIVE US A BEST PICTURE NOMINATION PLEASE!!!!” If you want a perfect example of that, watch Nine. Well, don’t watch it…but, yeah. Nine. That.
Claiming that they needed to spend nine months to add 3D, a lot of people called BS on Paramount, and for good reason, too. I mean, come on, give me a break. Nine months to add 3D? Really? That’s a two or three month job at the most. I understand that most of the summer release spots were taken, but why not just release it in the fall?
CinemaBlend has the entire scoop, and instead of just rewriting it less eloquently for fear of committing plagiarism (and a general lack of motivation on my part), I’ll post what they had on their article regarding GI Joe: Retaliation:
“Paramount decided to shift G.I. Joe: Retaliation to next winter and the reason is because the studio wasn’t confident that the movie could compete with Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Set to be released on July 3rd, webhead would have only given G.I. Joe five days, at most. at the top of the box office, and many anticipate that the success of The Avengers will translate to greater success for all superhero movies, including our friendly neighborhood webslinger. Also helping out box office numbers next year will be the added 3D, which should pad Paramount’s international numbers quite nicely.
But the other reason for the move is Mr. Channing Tatum. Watching the trailers for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it’s pretty clear that Tatum, who played Duke in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, bites the big one early in the film. With 21 Jump Street and The Vow performing as well as they did, however, the studio is thinking that killing Tatum off wasn’t the best idea in the world. It’s expected that in the next nine months Tatum will be brought in for re-shoots so that they can expand his part – which is a clean way of saying that he could be resurrected.”
This is both interesting and disappointing. Initially I loved the bold choice to kill of Tatum in the first act. Then again, considering both Bruce Willis AND The Rock are in this movie, bringing Channing Tatum back for a third act showdown might not be such a bad idea, but it’s just too predictable. I understand the attempt to make as much money as possible, but if you’re going to make a move as ballsy as that, at least have the nerve to stick through with it until the end.
Remakes, reboots, and sequels are getting so desperate that at this point I’m starting to lose hope. Every crappy 80s show and every crappy 80s movie is getting remade or rebooted or is being blessed with an unnecessary sequel that really just does nothing for the original film’s reputation. Granted there are some pretty great ones, like Fright Night and TRON: Legacy, but overall, it’s a little sad how little creativity there is in Hollywood.
Thankfully, not only does 21 Jump Street belong in the same league as reboots like Fright Night and TRON: Legacy, it surpasses them. Set as a sequel taking place in present time, a good 25 years after the original show, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as Schmidt and Jenko, respectively, two dim-witted bicycle cops who, after failing to follow through with a drug bust, are reassigned to the 21 Jump Street division.
This particular division uses police officers who look young, and puts them in high schools where drugs are being circulated and spread throughout the county. The mission this time? Sagan High School. The goal is to stop a synthetic drug that is quickly gaining popularity with Sagan High students. Schmidt and Jenko, along with some other young looking officers, are sent to stop the distribution of the drug, as well as to find the supplier. Told to blend in, the pair of bumbling cops do anything but as they try to stop the dealers from spreading the drug to other schools.
During their first day at Sagan, Schmidt and Jenko learn that things definitely aren’t how they used to be. People are more sensitive, studying is cool, recycling is cool, gay rights are cool, even environmentally friendly cars are cool. At the top of the food chain is Eric Molson (Dave Franco), who Schmidt and Jenko suspect is the school’s major dealer. Together, Schmidt and Jenko work with the student body to bring Eric to justice.
When you think of 80s TV shows that should be remade into movies, 21 Jump Street, probably isn’t at the top of your list. As it should be because, frankly, the original show just isn’t that good. Transforming Johnny Depp into a superstar is pretty much the only thing the show ever did right, and after its cancellation it was kind of forgotten about. But through Michael Bacall’s genius screenplay, 21 Jump Street becomes one of the best teen comedies of the past few years.
Before I continue I’d like to celebrate the revelation that is Michael Bacall. In short, the man understands teenagers better than teenagers understand themselves. Writing the script for the 2001 film Manic, starring still budding stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel was only the beginning. From there he wrote Bookies which starred a still relatively unknown Johnny Galecki and Lukas Haas, but it was with 2010’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World that his writing career really took off. 2012 brings two of his screenplays, this film and Project X, to life. Looking at a resume like that, it’s no wonder the man is able to create a film that simultaneously contains loads of action as well as the fact that it rings so damn true to the trials and tribulations of adolescence.
The self aware, smart, and raunchy jokes are in full affect as directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, known for their animated film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, go so far as to almost break the fourth wall with the film’s realizations of how tired and overused cliches and remakes are. With a pitch-perfect script and some great direction, 21 Jump Street was already on its way to becoming a comedy classic, but it’s the dangerously bromantic chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum that really catapults the film into genius territory. The two play off each other so well, I could have seriously just watched an entire movie about them just hanging out, eating pretzels, and talking about whatever the hell they wanted to.
Dave Franco also turns in a surprisingly strong and rounded performance, changing up the usual douchebaggy teen villain, and actually creating a character worthy of his own subplot. Rob Riggle and Ice Cube also bring in a lot of laughs as one of Sagan’s teachers and Captain Dickson, respectively.
In short, 21 Jump Street is a quintessential teen comedy that will be remembered for years to come as that movie that defied all expectations, and literally stopped everyone in their tracks. The balance of crude and sentimental humor makes it appealing to almost anyone who sees it, as I saw everyone from 14 year old boys to 75 year old couples walking out of the theater, raving about how much they loved it. Not only is 21 Jump Street the funniest comedy of the year, it’s also one of the best films of the year, something I never thought I’d actually be saying.
We seem to spend a lot of time talking about the various new mind-blowing movies that come out bigger and better every year. So we figured it was time to bring out the science again and put together a list of our 25 Most Anticipated Films of 2012.
Now we are only talking about the March-September slate of movies as some haven’t received official release dates yet, so keep that in mind.
Each member of the staff made a list. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific, we used Excel. Our resident cinephile joey123mo will take a look at each movie and outline why it made our list of Most Anticipated Films of 2012!
Perseus embarks on a treacherous quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus, who has been targeted for capture by his traitorous son, Ares, and his brother, Hades.
Release Date: March 30th, 2012
Jonah Hill, the man we know as being that really funny, fat guy who stars in all those Apatow movies. He’s made quite the name for himself since his big break in 2007’s Superbad, which was the sleeper hit of the year. Now, in 2011, he’s following in the footsteps of his peers (and close friends), Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow, by taking a somewhat more dramatic approach to film while still maintaining his goofy, lovable, and sometimes misguided humor.
Recently, Hill lost a substantial amount of weight for his role in the upcoming film, 21 Jump Street, a remake of the hit series that he co-wrote, set to release in March. The sudden and surprising weight loss has been the target of much scrutiny by his fans, who have started an internet trend, taking still frames of his films, adding a caption about his obesity, and ending with, “Stay fat, Jonah Hill”. Hill himself has embraced his new lifestyle, and definitely acknowledges that everyone wants him to gain his weight back.
In Jonah’s last “overweight” movie, The Sitter, he plays Noah, a crass man-child who’s been kicked out of college and has to live with his mother. When her ride to a party where a date awaits her cancels because their babysitter couldn’t make it, Noah has to unwillingly step in to save the day.
The Pedulla’s are a wealthy family with three children: Slater (Max Records), an overanxious and marginally confused wreck of a thirteen year old, Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), an El Salvadorian pyromaniac who could probably get enough dynamite to blow up a building, and Blithe (Landry Bender), who’s going through a “clubbing and partying” phase at the age of eight. Ready to go nowhere, Noah suddenly gets a call from his friend Marisa (Ari Graynor) who promises to have sex with him if he gets her cocaine. Instantly, he packs the kids into the mini-van and takes a wild ride through the dirtiest and scariest parts of New York City.
If The Sitter is anything, it’s completely implausible, but it’s also surprisingly sweet and quite funny. The character of Noah bounce well off the completely unruly behavior of the children. They each have their own subplot, in addition to Noah’s central conflict, that makes the movie’s short 78 minute running time fly by with ease.
The character of Noah was one that seemed to be written for Hill personally, and it’s a role we’ve seen him play before, but he plays it so damn well that I could never get tired of it. The man is a very talented actor, and at such a young age, his filmography is so diverse and solid, that his future is looking extremely bright. The children are played so well, and they each stand out in their own special way, even if at first it does come off simply as crass and unnecessary.
The screenplay, which was penned by first timers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, is a strong enough debut to get the ball rolling for them, but not strong enough to guarantee them a successful career in Hollywood. I find this interesting to note because I’ve noticed a lot of big name stars and directors who have been picking up screenplays by first time writers.
The surprise scene-stealer, though, is Sam Rockwell, who plays Karl, a crazed drug dealer who begins hunting down Noah after Rodrigo steals a large amount of very valuable cocaine, and then proceeds to break its container. Rockwell plays Karl with an almost natural ferocity that is as funny as it is terrifying. He’s another actor who’s able to play almost any character, a chameleon in the acting world.
Directed by David Gordon Green in his second feature film of 2011, the first being the absolutely awful medieval stoner comedy, Your Highness, his quick zooms and fast editing gave the film a very 70s blaxploitation feel to it, which, when accompanied by the soundtrack, and some of the catchphrases that Jonah Hill uses throughout the picture, really confirms my suspicion that that was what they seemed to be going for. Green, who is probably best known for directing the 2008 action stoner comedy, Pineapple Express, isn’t a bad filmmaker, but his 2011 critical reception hasn’t been anything resembling welcoming (Your Highness holds a 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Sitter has a mere 22%), and unless he gets hold of a gem, he may be reduced to directing cookie-cutter comedies such as this. Green is one of a somewhat large group of graduates of the North Carolina School of the Arts, other notable names being Danny McBride, Ben Best and Jody Hill, three people who are currently running the black comedy scene.
The Sitter is saved by its usually funny script and dedicated performances, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a movie we’ve seen before. The plots are familiar, the jokes are familiar, but the presence of Jonah Hill and the somewhat gritty take on New York is enough to keep this film afloat.