January 21, 2008

2007 Year in Review: Film

2007 was definitely a BIG year, and will most likely be remembered as the year of the big-budget threequels. However, these movies aren't necessarily awards material... Yeah, we've had our fair share of the movies that do fall under the category... but you'll just wish there was more.

But before I begin, I will also give a sort-of "Best Of" award for every quarter of the year, then an overall "Best Of" afterwards. So yeah, you can perfectly see that I'm real bored...

First Quarter
The first quarter doesn't really boast of any very significant releases. But the selection of movies have gotten better when late February came. It was very, very bad to start the year with lame productions such as the corpse-y, unemotional sprites of Happily N'Ever After and the Brett Ratner produced Code Name: The Cleaner. Well, the sound of Ratner's name would probably cause people to scorn the film already! Add the stupid spoofers of Scary Movie to cram Superman, Borat and company to make Epic Movie!

Then came February which would start out as an even worse month with the worst chick flick ever starring Diane Keaton called Because I Said So. Now this movie will make you swear at the great actress, but if you still like her for her acting, just don't make mention of it. Add a triple-act by Eddie Murphy called Norbit and who wouldn't choke (or croak)?

February became less of a bad omen when Valentine's came, and the lukewarmly received Music and Lyrics was released. Honestly speaking, I liked the movie because of the charm of its lead stars as well as the hysterically hilarious opening sequence. But this isn't really enough to whet my appetite for a real movie... and this person's appetite will apparently not be satisfied for very, very long...

Yes, late February also had its share of (not-so) God-awful movies like Jim Carrey's flop (if you still remember it) called The Number 23. I'd rather see him do a bad comedy than a suspense...

During those times was I ever lucky... maybe everyone else was lucky as well due to the fact that many people would have eyes all glued to the boob tube for AI or whatnot.

We go to the third page of the calendar and the first thing you'll see, aside from a "picture" is of course, the month of March. Big budget movies would start rolling out, and a few good movies will also get me distracted as first year high school was ending.

Yeah John Travolta would star in the negatively reviewed motorcycle flick Wild Hogs. Critics started saying that his career was in a free-fall, but I'd say he's still far from Tim Allen's. However, I don't think that this flick is actually a view of things to come...

Pushing that one aside, fellow opener Zodiac was a thumbs-up for me, as it was a movie that will suck one in despite its length. I also liked Gerard Butler's Spartan blockbuster 300 as well as Sandra Bullock's Premonition... though I admit that the latter was a bit confusing...

Shooter is also actually one of my picks. But then again, I was in the mood for a testosterone-filled, mindless gun-blazing flick at the time.

TMNT was also released at the time, though I didn't watch it. I remember that it was very heavily advertised on Solar channels (ETC, Jack, etc.) but it wasn't really the stuff your parents would feel nostalgia with, especially with its childish plot.

There was also finally a comedy that gave me real laughs, but then again, it was released in March only in the U.S., and that flick was Blades of Glory starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. For wholesome family goodness, there was the optimistic, goodly made but wholly predictable tale of Lewis the genius in the film Meet the Robinsons.

So my pick for the First Quarter's best movie is obviously Meet the Robinsons. It has a quirky cast and has its heart set in the right place. If you look past the predictable plot, then you got yourself a helluva fun futuristic ride, and if you're not that much of hermit, get your family to watch it too! It'll all make you feel "warm and fuzzy inside" as many critics have cited.

2nd Quarter
April was all about the Grindhouse, well sadly, only in America. The concept of the film was to jam in two "so-bad-that-they're-good" movies into one ticket, and well, you can't fault directors like Robert Rodriguez and Palme d'Or awardee Quentin Tarantino for making the experience, as the critics say it, "both solipsistic (selfish) and pure genius". However, the movies ended up as flops in the box office, but it enjoyed critical success with a relatively high 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. These two flicks would soon be shown here separately, without the hilarious, (not so in '09) fake trailers directed by Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright and Rodriguez. (You can find those bloody exploitation trailers on YouTube...)

But since those flicks weren't really shown by April in the Philippines, then maybe I'll have to stick the topic to where it should belong- the ones that were shown. Well, Hillary Swank won't be reaping much money with The Reaping as it was a critical failure, though it did gain profits. Shia Lebeouf (Disturbia, which I liked) and Halle Berry (Perfect Stranger) would star in their own thrillers, and guess whose thriller was poorly received?

Anthony Hopkins, Adam Brody and Nicholas Cage would also get to star in their own movies with Anthony's Fracture getting better reviews than the others. Of course, Next wouldn't be the only badly reviewed (major) Cage film of the year... But before that one comes in December, let's go to where all hell breaks loose- May.

My god it was the battle of the three threequels... Warming us up ineffectively, like a sucky opening act of a big band, is Lucky You. Yeah, Barrymore was fresh from Music and Lyrics, but Lucky You didn't perform as well. Afterwards was the main event- what comics geeks and the masses alike have been waiting for- Spiderman 3. OK, maybe not all of the masses, but hell, every theater in the country only had Spiderman 3 to offer and nothing else during the period. And not only a few people were actually let down of their high expectations (because the second was quite good) because the wait wasn't really worth it. The plots chosen were simply too many, but the special effects had to be very convincing and quite amazing to be sure to lure in people. Yes, it did lure in the people, and nothing, not even a few releases that came a week later, like 28 Weeks Later, could stop it. Putting up a big fight a few days after that, would be another threequel, and it was "everyone's favorite ogre"- Shrek. All-star cast, not very funny sequences, and yet another major problem plagued the multi-million blockbuster hit- it was getting old.

Disney wouldn't be one to lose in the game, so it let out its big gun- Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End. The movie could've used more editing, as the people, most especially the director, must've thought that the people want more! They should learn, though it sounds tired and cliche, that less means more! However, Johnny Depp's performance is what saves it from getting pretty boring, but it still isn't enough to conceal the fact that it has become too overplotted like Spiderman 3 as well. Still, Pirates became the winner of it all as it earned the distinction of being the highest-grossing film of 2007.

Well, I guess all the excitement will die just a teensy bit in June as it also delivers a slew of box-office hits like Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 1408, Evan Almighty and Live Free or Die Hard. It was also when Knocked Up, director Judd Apatow's raunchy masterpiece of the one night's stand, was released alongside Angelina Jolie's A Mighty Heart and Brad Bird's highly-acclaimed culinary masterpiece, Ratatouille. Independently, Sicko by acclaimed documentary maker Michael Moore (who is also the maker of the Palme d'Or awarded Fahrenheit 9/11, which I also loved) was released.

So who takes the second quarter's best picture trophy? It's a hard one, especially since I haven't watched the entirety of A Mighty Heart, Ratatouille and Knocked Up. So basing only on the trusty Tomatometer of the Rotten Tomatoes website, Ratatouille is the clear winner with a very very high 96% (especially when compared to Knocked Up's 90% and A Mighty Heart's mere 77%). Talk about men and mice...

3rd Quarter
Even more blockbusters came about July. First released was Transformers which starred Shia Lebeouf fresh off his other box-office success Disturbia. Of course, License to Wed was no match for the robot flick, as geeks and the masses alike preferred the testosterone filled thrill ride. Putting up competition a week later was Harry Potter's fifth outing in Order of the Pheonix. I still think it's the best Potter by far, but others apparently beg to differ.

It was also the month where Lindsay Lohan made her comeback in I Know Who Killed Me, which we all know was a big flop. Ironically, Michelle Pfeffier's other comeback movie was a hit, and hold the record for highest grosses for a movie musical. Admittedly, it could not have reached success without its other bankable stars young and old such as Zac Efron (though I really hated to admit it), Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, Christopher Walken, and who would forget a cross-dressing John Travolta whose trademark blue eyes still stand out anyway? It also made a star of Nikki Blonsky whose arms are bigger than her face! Well, no offense... I kinda liked it and when the soundtrack is compared between movie and stage versions, the movie's sound is more polished and surprisingly drips with appeal.

People didn't reserve many seats when Catherine Zeta-Jones came back with her new culinary movie aptly titled No Reservations, but after a 400th episode celebration did The Simpsons Movie hit the big time. It was funny, smart, dumb, relevant, escapist and quite refreshing like Homer's cup of beer, and it seems to be the animation movie that has captured 89% of our critics. Not bad at all for 19 years spent on other stories, some better than the next.

Traces of autumn... it must August. And it was probably the month for a few shallow female empowering movies like Bratz, The Nanny Diaries (OK, so maybe that one's maid empowering...), and uhhh... that's probably it. And who would forget the thrill you would feel at the edge of your seat while watching that stupendously amazing car chase in The Bourne Ultimatum which would pull off the feat of smart and explosive at the same time? Rush Hour 3 didn't really have much luck, but really, Jackie Chan's past his prime, and director Brett Ratner is just stupid. And speaking of martial arts people, Mr. Gweat Beer starred with Transporter star Jason Statham in the not so good Rogue Assassin.

Stardust, a great fantasy movie in its own right, also appeared with borefest The Last Legion that promised to be "better than 300". Well, I sure was fooled!

Rowan Atkinson's character didn't really have the last laugh with his farewell movie Mr. Bean's Holiday, but at least Balls of Fury was able to provide more comic relief... not that I'm implying that it's a great movie...

August should've been the month of Superbad, Judd Apatow's follow-up to his comedic success Knocked Up. Unfortunately it was also delayed in the Philippines for what? 2 or 4 months?

Significant movies have become less in my birth month of September as the brainless but stylish Shoot 'Em Up delivered exactly what it promised- a shoot 'em up while Daniel Radcliffe opted to go out of his Harry Potter role for a while to act in December Boys. Yeah, there were also masterpieces like Lust, Caution by Ang Lee director of Brokeback Mountain but aside from that, other movies of the same vein would be delayed like Superbad for 2 or 4 months...

Disney, as the past months can attest, is not one to be left behind, and this month is no exception as it released the sugary-sweet shallowness of The Game Plan. You've heard it all before, tough guy becomes softie because of the kid/s...

The biggest earner during the month? Resident Evil: Extinction starring Ivy- I mean, Milla Jovovich. I haven't watched it but it's so totally not the best movie of the quarter!

So for me, the best movie you'll find here is The Bourne Ultimatum. Not only does my opinion on the rockin' movie put weight on the decision, so do the critics! 93 percent of them! And they all agree that Paul Greengrass, director, puts wit and action into balance, though it's gonna be hard to suspend your disbelief when Bourne comes out almost always unscathed.

4th Quarter
Now this quarter is very much the quarter that movie aficionados wait for, as all the best movies come out during the season. Though the worst also show their ugly hides here as well...

Autumn's almost over in October, and The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising made the weather all the colder while Reese Witherspoon's Rendition came out a flop as well. Steve Carell however got it better that time around as he released Dan In Real Life which garnered more positive reviews than Evan Almighty. No, it hasn't seen the light of day in the Philippines, but what the hell.

I think it was also in this month where Superbad finally got the McLovin treatment and got released! It's quite funny judging only from the trailers at least.

Ah, All Saint's Day. And you know what that month is. Yes, November. There was the Tom Cruise starrer Lions for Lambs, Dustin Hoffman's not so bad kid's movie Mr. Magorium, Robert Zemeckis also brought back stop-motion in IMAX in Beowulf while Amy Adams enchanted people with her charm and the script's wit in Enchanted. Viggo Mortesen would also play in the acclaimed film, Eastern Promises. Honestly, the month also provided space for less of the bad movies, but then again, they would be saved for...

DECEMBER. There was the widely ballyhooed Golden Compass, which people say isn't so bad, Alvin and the Chipmunks, the creepy live-action rendition has come to annoy or serenade us with their trademark hi-pitched hi-jinks, while National Treasure: Book of Secrets, though not as bad as Chipmunks, was harshly reviewed.

But hey, it was also I Am Legend month! Haha!

Before we get to the "awards" thingy, though, let's see what movies didn't make it for 07 in our home turf.

MOVIES in 2007 that are to be released in 2008 in the Philippines:
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Who doesn't want to watch this year's Golden Globe best picture- musical or comedy?)

Charlie Wilson's War
(I never knew it was a comedy until I saw it being nominated in the Globes, but I actually have that copy and I will include it in the Golden Globe-nominated reviews post.)

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Bee Movie

American Gangster

Sicko (I love Michael Moore's work. 'Nuff said.)

Death at a Funeral (It looks fairly interesting. Hehe.)

Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Casey Affleck's quite a promising star. Show it already!)

Into The Wild (Heaps of praise. Sean Penn. What else can you ask for?)

Sydney White (They say that the chick flick's "good". I dunno, but I have a DVD of it.)

The Heartbreak Kid (Got a DVD.)

Michael Clayton (George Clooney's latest starrer looks fascinating, and has received acclaim.)

Dan In Real Life (They say that the effort is commendable. Well, I love Steve Carell after all)

No Country For Old Men (I want to watch it. Plain and simple.)


Atonement (Quite a wonderful film if you ask me.)

P.S. I Love You (Interesting... Hillary Swank and Gerard Butler isn't something you see together often.)

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (A spoof of musical biopics complete with original music! Sounds fun.)

The Great Debaters (I also got a DVD of this. Time to get watching so I can finally finish that post!)

The Bucket List (It's rated quite low on Rotten Tomatoes though...)

There Will Be Blood (You know what? I suddenly feel the urge to see it.)

Saw IV

The Orphanage (They stuck Guillermo de Toro's name on it. This means atmospheric, creepy yet fairy-tale-like in a sense.)

OK. Time for overall honors.

Worst Picture Everybody Watched
It hauled big ones at the box office, and it's a threequel. Judging only from Rotten Tomatoes' trusty Tomatometer, the worst picture everybody watched for me is Resident Evil: Extinction. It has impressive action scenes, but the same can't be said for its plot.

Most Underrated Children's/Family Film
Mr. Magorium quite a decent movie for kids. It's not half bad although its plot is something left to be desired anyway.

Best Family Film
Hands down best is Enchanted. It provides witty parodies of different stories that actually work and has quite a lot of warmth and heart for it to become a modern Disney classic.

Most Underrated Comedy Film
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story seems like a great laugh with its premise at hand. Jabbing mostly on Ray, the efforts of Reilly, Apatow and company looks like a lot of fun.

Most Overrated (and Disappointing) Comedy Film
It's a festival of F-words and it's a bit too raunchy for the kids. Watching Knocked Up feels awkward, but it has intentions that are good. It doesn't provide the belly laughs I was awaiting for, but Katherine Heigl gives a pitch-perfect performance. I'm just not sure that this film is supposed to be deserving of a 90%.

Tying with Knocked Up in Most Disappointing is Mr. Bean's Holiday. Just when you thought that Rowan Atkinson would kill his character forever with a bang...

Worst Comedy Film
In my book, it's License To Wed.

Most Disappointing Horror Film
1408 was subject to my high expectations. However, it wasn't very scary, but it's still something good for a horror film.

Most Disappointing Threequel
Spiderman 3 hands down was most disappointing. It didn't have Spiderman 2's greatness factor, but it still does a good job anyway. Just wished that they had more focus.

Best Made Threequel
The Bourne Ultimatum. 'Nuff said.

Most Underrated Fantasy Film
Stardust wasn't as high as I think it should have been. I mean, it provides great entertainment, and it even met my expectations!

Most Disappointing Fantasy Film
Beowulf isn't as much fun as I expected. But I think, though I haven't watched it, The Golden Compass is a bit more of a letdown as it seems like it doesn't match Pullman's exquisite writing.

Best Long Film
Clocking for about 2 hours and more than 30 minutes, Zodiac is still quite gripping despite the long amount of time.

Worst Long Film
Though Johnny Depp is quite entertaining, I just have to say that the worst long film made this year is Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End. Why can't Gore Verbinski (director) tell that less means more.

Most Unexpected Surprise
John Travolta comes back in musical genre... AS A WOMAN! You probably know what that movie was.

Most Expected Happening
Ratatouille wins best animated picture. What can't Pixar do right?

Best New Franchise
Personally, I think Transformers takes this one. Revenues will also trickle even further for a sequel because of Megan Fox. Sorry, Shia, but you know full well that she's HOT. (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/transformers_2/news/1675212/)

Best Movie/s I've Never Seen
It's a tie between Ratatouille and Sweeney Todd... Add Juno there as well.

Best Musical
There wasn't much of it this year, but the underlying commentary in Hairspray is quite meaningful.

Best Comedy
Uhh... Can I still say Enchanted? I haven't really watched Superbad yet (in which its trailer is quite funny!), as well as Juno.

Best Film of the 4th Quarter
Damn. It's hard to decide, but I think it's gonna have to be... (because Juno and Sweeney weren't in the 4th quarter in the Philippines) uhhh... Enchanted.

Best Film of the Year
Quite a hard verdict to make... And though it's gonna be cliche if I say it's gonna have to be you who's gonna decide, I'm still gonna have to pick one anyway... and it's...


I'm gonna have to watch a bit more before I come up with some unanimous winner. Sorry. But for now, it's a wrap!

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