Top 10 Best and Worst in Film 2012
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Another year of cinema, and another year where ideas were rehashed, rebooted, or simply fed into the brand machine. People talk about the golden age of television, but writing quality TV is easy when you put it up against some of the horseshit we step in at cinemas these days.
Still, so much was released and therefore there’s still so much to talk about. Here’s ten best-ofs and worst-ofs for 2012.
1. Best franchise reboot: Skyfall
Is Skyfall a reboot? I’m not too sure anymore. As Paul Verhoeven pointed out in his review, Bond is celluloid entity largely disconnected from time and place. Still, it looked for a while like the film would never get made, and in that sense the tag works. Regardless, anything was going to be better than the steaming pile of poo that was Quantum of Solace. I’m not sure the crazy hairdresser was as good as everyone made him out to be, and if I had my way Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale) would direct every Bond film ever until he falls into his own coffin, but Skyfall is arguably the first time a particular 007 era’s slide into mediocrity has been so effectively arrested.
2. Worst franchise reboot: Prometheus
Ridley Scott can harp on all he likes about how Prometheus should be seen as separate from the Alien films, but Jesus: he could have hardly done a better job at ruining something the rest of us loved so dearly. Prometheus was a mess – a total mess – and while I want to be fair to Ridley and say it was all in the script, he was the guy who asked for the stinking rewrite. Just dumb characters doing dumb things in a big dumb film. Thanks, arsehole.
3. Best action set piece (in a dodgy film): Safe House
Safe House’s opening sequence – a raid on the titular abode – is one of the best action scenes I’ve seen in a while: crap-yourself suspense, explosive gunfights, ruthless baddies, and best of all, a great sense of geography – you know exactly what’s going on and where everyone is. I dropped my banana choc top, I was that enthralled. It did a fantastic job of setting up what was ultimately a pretty cookie-cutter post Bourne spy film.
4. Best against the odds successful action film: The Avengers.
The Avengers should’ve been terrible. All those characters, all that endless action. Strangely enough, though, it actually turned out to be more or less OK. Marvel’s all-in-one was a bit longer than my buttocks would have liked, and I can’t really remember what happened, which is perhaps a problem. But the fact that it didn’t cause the fanboy blogosphere to lose its collective shit speaks volumes for The Avengers’ ultimate quality.
5. Worst wasted great concept: The Grey
Planeload of oil workers crashes in the arctic, gets hunted by wolves. Great! Take my money! Only The Grey managed to fluff a fantastic concept by taking itself far too seriously. Keep the pace up, give the protagonists a clear objective, and give them a proper spoiler in the group – not the wishy-washy agro guy the film ended up with. Instead, The Grey descended into a whole lot of metaphysical baloney, and it didn’t even do that very well. Original, simple ideas don’t come around too often in Hollywood, so to see one wasted like this was almost unbearable.
6. Best typically over-ambitious book adaptation: Hunger Games
Those working to adapt Hunger Games to the big screen were always pushing water uphill. Too many characters, too much plot. The final result wasn’t bad at all, really, but then it was a shadow of its literary self, and onscreen its similarities to works that had come before – The Running Man (both the book and then the film) and Battle Royale – became hard to ignore. Yeah, the story is set to continue in the next films, but sequelism in cinema sucks, never mind serialisation. A successful, inevitable disappointment, if that makes any sense.
7. Worst typically under-ambitious board game adaptation: Battleship
You know what’s a really lost sub-genre? Battleship films. Unless Google fails me, the last example was Sink the Bismark! in 1960. That’s 52 years ago. So a reboot of the genre seemed like a great idea. Massive ships duking it out on the high seas – yes! But as if that was going to happen; instead, we got this hulking piece of pig shit. Because what audiences want is another Transformers film, apparently.
8. Most pointless remake in
year decade of pointless remakes: Red Dawn
If you’ve seen the original Red Dawn, you’ll know it’s stupid but often effective entertainment. It was Regan era-filmmaking at its best… or worst, depending on your point of view (word up, Milius). I don’t really know what kind of filmmaking the new version is. At least the concept in the original was vaguely possible (particularly in the “Let’s all freak out about Communism!” 80s), but North Korea? I know they’ve got a big army but, what, did they all row to America?
9. Best film with sex in it that my mother will enjoy: The Sessions
In a year when the Catholic Church managed to drop the ball more times than a one-fingered foreman at a Vaseline factory, The Sessions gets a pass for featuring a priest who more or less asks himself the question, “What would Jesus do?” My mother’s a Catholic. She hates sex, and she hates the way the Church has rogered itself in 2012. But she loved William H. Macy, and she’s gonna love The Sessions. Maybe.
10. Worst film that you shouldn’t say anything bad about otherwise people will kill you: The Master
I didn’t actually see The Master. But that’s probably because I saw Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and didn’t particularly like it. And when I said so, everyone stabbed me in the face. It was a learning experience.