Our last Toddster Team-Up is here, Patrollers! I decided to do something a little different this year. I got the Patrol Posse together and asked them one very important question. What was your favorite movie of 2010? I have to tell you there were some interesting and surprising choices. The Toddster will throw his in for last as usual. Here we go and see if you agree.
The Social Network
As you’ll see if you read on, apparently Evening Sun staffers don’t get out to the movies much. But I know when I make the effort, it’s got to be for something I really, really want to see. Otherwise, like the Toddster says, it’s easier (and cheaper) to wait for the DVD.
But I didn’t want to wait for “The Social Network,” and I’m glad I didn’t. Let’s face it, pretty much every sentient being in the known universe has a Facebook profile by now, but how many of us know the story of how it all began? I sure didn’t. I had a passing familiarity with the name Mark Zuckerberg, of course, but I was unprepared for what to expect in “The Social Network” – a tale of a handful of Ivy League computer nerds and status-seekers who stumble upon what was perhaps the most brilliant business idea of the century. Jesse Eisenberg paints a fascinating character of Zuckerberg, an ironic social misfit who’s both seduced and stymied by his own success. Kudos too, to Justin Timberlake, who nails his portrayal of smarmy Napster founder Sean Parker, a fellow Internet impresario who reels in the gullible Zuckerberg. Another standout is Armie Hammer in the dual role of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, GQ coverboy types who claim Facebook was their idea.
“The Social Network” is a brilliant peek (embellished or not) into the genesis of a corporate juggernaut, and a sharp biting commentary on today’s social norms. As the tagline says, you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.
Considering I only made it to the theater once in 2010, my choice for best-of-the-year on the big-screen is a fairly simple one. I’d been awaiting a new “Predators” movie ever since the disappointing-yet-fun “Alien vs. Predator” series, and when I heard that Robert Rodriguez (of “From Dusk till Dawn” and “Desperado” fame) was producing the latest installment, let’s just say I got a tad excited.
I’ve always been a big fan of Rodriguez and virtually any movie he’s produced, directed or been involved with. Add to that the inclusion of Adrien Brody and Danny Trejo and I knew this was one I simply couldn’t pass up catching in the theater.
When Royce (Brody) finds himself inexplicably dropped into a strange forest, along with several other mercenary/military-types, the last thing he and his companions expect is the fact that, mysteriously, they’ve arrived on an alien planet of some sort.
Royce soon discovers the secret behind the strange other-worldly location, however, and realizes they’ve been stranded on a sort of twisted game preserve – and he and the others are the game.
Harkening back to the original (and classic) “Predator,” this installment of the franchise really transported me to another time, and the original “Predator.” That film was, and is, one of my all-time favorite science fiction movies, and Rodriguez really tried to capture its essence. From the musical score to the dialogue, special effects and overall feel, “Predators” was a joy to experience on the big-screen and my favorite of the year, even if by default. I can’t wait to pick this one up on DVD, now that it’s been released, and have myself a little “Predator/Predators” marathon.
So when I was first told we had to pick our favorite movie of 2010 my first reaction was, “Did they make a good movie in 2010?”
Personally I hate a lot of new movies, perhaps my expectations have been set too high by some of the better hits of the late 80’s and 90’s. Maybe it’s because I don’t have regular television and submit myself to the mind numbing and all too predictable pop culture entertainment most people seem to love. I just can’t connect to films that lack intellect and have nothing to do with reality. Most new shows seem to attract viewers by hovering on lame humor, sex, stereotyping and materialism. Emotional writing, characters with depth and a coherent plot are often substituted with the easier to produce special effects and big named actors. It so much about the money these days the art of good film making has but disappeared.
So with a lack of options I settled on a 2010 movie that caught me by surprise. Tired of the CGI created violence the movie “Kick-Ass” gives you a taste of pain similar to the realistic rated R flicks of decade’s past. Everyday Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who decides to try and become a real life super-hero. But he doesn’t actually live in the comic book world. Dressed in a modified scuba suit, with no powers or training, he hits the streets. Interestingly, instead of giving the audience what it expects, the hero gets shived, hospitalized and is nearly killed in his first street brawl. Following a number of harsh and violent attempts to actually make a difference, the movie is more about a good person’s will to change the world for the better despite the impossibilities.
It’s not a very deep movie exactly and is spotted with plenty of lame moments and parts of unnecessary violence, but it’s put together well enough that once you watch a scene or two, you’ll want to see the rest.
Surprisingly the movie has some very intense and dramatic scenes for an action comedy and might even have you gasping at a few of the more tragic moments. Overall “Kick-Ass” is an expectation sucker punch; it seems to be just another prefab stupid humor release but it’s actually a gut wrenching rollercoaster of laughs, flinches and tears – just the way I like it.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
I didn’t realize how many movies I actually saw in the theater (or at the drive in) this year, until I sat down to write this, our last Toddster Team-up of 2010. By my best recollection, I saw 14 feature films this year. That’s a lot for me. Some I thought were absolute crap (Clash of the Titans, The Karate Kid) but most were actually pretty good. Some even surprisingly so.
Since the Toddster himself picked the one which actually topped my list - Iron Man 2 - I had to resort to picking an alternate, which proved more challenging than I anticipated. After what felt like hours of deliberation, I managed to narrow the field to 4: Alice in Wonderland, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Machete and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 1.
As I carefully considered these finalists, I realized the choice was clear. It had to be the seventh installment of the Harry Potter series. After all, it is the only movie ever to have inspired me to stay up for a midnight showing. On a “school night,” no less! (Thank you again to my wonderful friend Maureen, who braved the teen-filled Colonia with me on that cold November night.)
I’ve blathered on in my blogs about my unconditional love for the boy wizard’s magical world. I’ve been a faithful follower since I chanced upon the first book all those years ago. This latest film, the beginning of the end of the cinematic version of the series, was exceptionally well done. It is darker than the rest, to be sure. But it manages to strike the perfect balance of emotion-tugging drama, nail-biting suspense, heart-pounding action and side-splitting laughter. There’s also the (expected) cliffhanger of an ending, which has me - and probably every other Harry Potter fan out there - counting down to the release of Part 2. As well as, of course, the DVD version of Part 1. (Apologies from the Toddster for taking your choice, but pulling rank does have some privileges.)
Iron Man 2
What seemed like an impossible choice to make but for the last few years with our top choices being movies like “Batman Begins,” “Superman Returns,” “Transformers,” “Iron Man 1,” and “Star Trek.” (Do we see a theme here?) Could there be any other choice for 2010 for the Toddster? It had to be the Golden Avenger himself. Being an old comic book guy at heart, I just couldn’t resist with apologies again to Melissa. What could have been another really bad sequel that could’ve been made this one seemed to pull out all the stops. Director Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. brought together the original cast with some new additions and an all new story.
Tony Stark (Downey) has revealed to the World he’s really Iron Man. Revealing a hero’s identity can have a number of problems and he gets them in spades. Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has made Stark his target after his father was betrayed and sent back to Russia in disgrace. Tony also has to deal with the government who want to take his Iron Man technology and industrialist Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) wants to take him out of the weapons picture for good. No one said being a super hero would be easy. Tony also finds out that the technology that saved his life is also killing him so he needs to find a different way to keep his heart going. He makes some bad choices along the way but even heroes have growing pains. Having made some new enemies but along come new allies like the Black Widow (Scarlet Johansen) and War Machine (Don Cheadle), can Stark find a way to save himself and the world?
The movie itself is a great ride and once it starts keeps on going. Downey coming back doesn’t miss a beat and his performance in this one adds more dimension to his character. Rourke has always played great bad guys and this one you can add to the list. The first Iron Man movie was a great surprise for everyone and this one you can just add to the collection. Make sure you watch through the credits. Marvel has been putting all of these movies together as different parts for the ultimate payoff coming in 2012 with the release of “The Avengers.” This will team up Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk. I know I can’t wait.
2010 was a great year for movies and all of the choices can be found on DVD with “The Social Network” being released on DVD in January and will be featured in a future patrol. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I” will be out on DVD towards Summer 2011. 2011 already looks like it’s shaping up to be a big year. The Patrol will be on top of things and before we go, the Toddster just wanted to send a warm greeting for all the patrollers out there. Happy Holidays!