December 28, 2009

Handpicked 2009: Movies I've Watched

2009 is going to be remembered as the year James Cameron redefined our perspective of "3D", and while Avatar is not exactly the best movie of the year story-wise, it's the best movie the year when you talk about the moviegoing experience. It's not gonna be an experience that's reproducible on home video, so if you haven't already watched this movie in a 3D theater, you're missing out on life.

But of course, 2009 isn't all about Avatar; below I've compiled all the movies I reviewed this year (that were released in 2009 and not prior to it) and put links to them for your reading 'pleasure':

Dragonball Evolution (May 1, 4/10)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (May 2, 4/10)
Star Trek (May 10, 9.3/10)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 21, 7.5/10)
17 Again (July 31, 6.5/10)
BFF: Best Friends Forever (August 2, 5.5/10)
Duplicity (August 6, 8/10)
Up (September 7, 9.8/10)
The Proposal (October 26, 7/10)
Orphan (November 22, 6.5/10)
Julie and Julia (November 24, 7/10)
Ang Tanging Pamilya (December 23, 7/10)
Kimmy Dora (December 25, 4/10)
Avatar (December 26, 8/10)

For some reason, I've reviewed more stinkers than good movies, but there are some movies I've watched that I didn't review for, and these are (with corresponding ratings and comments/rants):

Bride Wars (4/10) - Anne Hathaway tries her darndest, but the movie ends up devolving into a really bad catfight

Push (7/10) - While unoriginal, there is a captivating element to this superhero drama. Needs to lighten up a little though.

Confessions of a Shopaholic (2/10) - So cringe-inducingly bad I walked out on this movie. Seriously not the best time for a movie like this.

Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li (1.5/10) - Laughable acting, plot, physics, cast, everything. Just horrible, even though one can watch for laughs. They're simply too serious, really. Even worse than the original Street Fighter movie with the Van Damme (and you thought people can learn).

Watchmen (7.5/10) - Overlong, but it has riveting visuals and interesting characters that really aren't fully fleshed out. A reasonably well-made film in the technical sense.

Monsters vs. Aliens (7/10) - A very light adventure that doesn't need a brain to appreciate. There are some smart moments, but all in all it is a decent timewaster that's also tolerable for the adults. Nothing too deep here.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (4.5/10) - Mediocrity at its best. Has a pretty good concept that's not utilized too well. Some funny moments here and there, but generally predictable and cheesy.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (3/10) - Not the movie a character like Wolverine deserves. Some cool moments here and there, but nothing special.

He's Just Not That Into You (4/10) - A movie that features a tad too many storylines, He's Just Not That Into You is a cringe-inducing time for the dudes. A chick flick in the purest sense.

Sunshine Cleaning (7/10) - Has a quirky story that is darkly funny. A bit pretentious though.

(500) Days of Summer (8.5/10) - It's a story about love that isn't a love story as it reflects the nature of a human relationship, as well as its ups and downs. Well-acted, well-edited, well-directed, well-paced, I can do this all day.

In My Life (9/10) - This Filipino movie is a pleasant surprise. Despite the presence of over-the-top melodrama which the audience loves, the film is still able to remain down-to-earth and subtly funny. Vilma Santos and John Lloyd Cruz particularly shine in this part-armchair-travel-show, part-family-dramedy.

Out of all of these movies I've watched, I feel the need to select some of the standouts that you simply need to watch immediately.

Up is better than a lot of these movies for a lot of reasons, and the thing about this movie is that it doesn't even require 3D to be entertaining, nor does it feel the need to throw pop culture references at every turn. This is a timeless flick that epitomizes the meaning of "family entertainment" as it offers a mix of entertainment that will captivate all audiences. It's even also one of those movies where you pick up something else when you watch it a second time.

I was so blown away by this movie that I just didn't even comment too much on my review due to the risk of giving information away. It is simply a powerful work of art even if, like Wall-E, the first part is the most powerful, and the powerful-ness isn't sustained throughout the duration of the film.

Star Trek
Star Trek is the prime example of the reboot done right. It offers a lot of exhilarating moments that will appeal to the audiences who aren't really into the geek phenomenon, but it doesn't dumb itself down for the existing base of rabid fans. And while it features the original crew of the USS Enterprise, the story is a mix of both old and new as it gives hints to the old storyline and turns the entire shebang into a fresh alternate reality that's unlike a lot of movies I've seen this year. Still, the villain isn't too fleshed out (and from the looks of the Deleted Scenes that have been uploaded to the Internet, it may be that Abrams was forced to cut a scene that does flesh Nero's character out), but that's just a minor problem in an otherwise excellent summer flick.

In My Life
I KNOW! I was surprised too!

In a cinema scene filled to brim with rom-coms, cheesy fantasy flicks, forced comedies and funny horror movies, a gem from the big studios sometimes shows up to blow convention out of the water, and this Vilma vehicle does not disappoint.

Featuring great performances from each of its big stars and dramatic moments that, while overly sentimental, are convincingly real, In My Life is a dramedy that features a relatable story that'll appeal to a lot of people- and more people than you'd think.

(500) Days of Summer
Zooey Deschanel is back with her hypnotizingly blue eyes to bring an indie circuit favorite (500) Days of Summer. Its tagline rings true, "This is not a love story, but a story about love." as it analyzes the daily compromises a relationship faces, and how one finds "the right one". It's full of emotion and personality, but it's also not without its share of comedy.

Worth the price of admission alone is a sequence that shows a view of "reality" and a view of "fantasy" that goes on simultaneously. It's such a great sequence that while flashy and creative, is also sad because of how true it feels. It's grounded in reality as it is primarily an amusing portrayal of a relationship doomed for failure.

While the storyline is the epitome of generic, there's absolute nothing generic about how vivid Pandora is, especially in 3D. The technical value Avatar holds for the land of Hollywood is huge, and the moviegoing experience that can be had with this flick is just intensely eye-popping. This is one of those films that lives up to the hype and delivers on a new experience, but one will definitely shout "Overrated" and that's because of the story which, compared to Cameron's other work, is crappy.

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