So after having a quick break to analyse my predictions at the start of the year, we are back on track to answer the question every movie blogger has been pondering for the last month. Which movie has impressed them the most? It was a tough question and several films that I hadn’t even put on my radar slipped through onto this list. I have a lot of movies that I think a few people will have put onto their top five and there is definitely one that I know a few of you might find a little controversial. But enough talk, let’s jump into the list…
5 – LES MISERABLES
Yeah, I got one right. This is the only movie I pinpointed the exact place for. And for exactly the reasons I originally thought. It is so grand on scale and design that it deserves glowing reviews to this very day. And yes, I know that some of you might not like the heavy subject matter, which likes to wallow in death and despair, but even those that do not like the film, need to appreciate the film. It is a remarkable display of precise film-making and fantastic performances. I won’t focus much more on this entry, as I felt that I have said everything that I need to say about it in the last article.
4 – STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS
Star Trek, while easily a five star movie, didn’t place as high on my list, as I thought it would. Why? Well, for one, even if it was a tremendous display of story, visuals and marrying a classic Sci-Fi with the modern cinema, it felt… a little too easily great. As if the first movie did all of the hard work and the sequel rose off the back of that. The performances were spot-on, but they were always going to be spot-on. The action was terrific, but J.J Abrams has always been a master of great action. I know it sounds silly to criticise a film for being too perfect, but as it stands, I just don’t think of it as one of the greatest films of the year.
But criticisms aside, fourth place is hardly bad. It was a great movie and the exact kind of film you are happy investing money to go see, because you are always going to enjoy it. I am sure I will buy the DVD very soon and when I watch it again, I am sure to fall in love with the characters all over again. Yes, it might be an easy success, and yes, it is the kind of film that reworks old ideas to make a definite win, which spells a certain stagnant atmosphere in cinema, but when it does it this well, it is hard to find too much to fault.
3 – THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
I think it is quite clear that I loved the second Hobbit film. Yes, it might be a little too long for its own good, but when you are being thrown back into the glorious universe of Middle-Earth, a bloated length doesn’t really feel like a bad point. Peter Jackson takes every chapter in the book and brings it to life on the screen with terrific results. The spider sequence was eerily magical to behold. Smaug was brought to life perfectly. The elven kingdom and Lake Town were portrayed with a keen eye. And then there was the barrel escape which will be a favourite for the kids for some time to come.
Sure, the Hobbit films haven’t hit that level of perfection and wonder that the Lord of the Rings films did, but they are surely a fantastic effort nonetheless. These films are like no other films around at the moment and they are great at celebrating the CGI technology that we have built up over the years. Peter Jackson took a massive risk with both of these trilogies and personally, I think he is pulling off these films every time. I cannot wait for the third one, which I reckon will be the best Hobbit yet.
2 – ELYSIUM
Aha, the controversial one. For some reason, not many people liked this film. I personally thought it was a really good follow-up film for Neill Blomkamp. I couldn’t find too much to fault with it. On one hand, it was an interesting look at a potential dystopian future, with lots of political intrigue and social context, thrown in. You could be picking apart this movie for some time to come, analysing all of Blomkamp’s hidden, and some not quite so hidden, messages to the viewer. But then, on the other hand, this movie never forgot to be a fun action. It had several interesting Sci-Fi concepts and some fantastic fight scenes, helped by some unorthodox directing, which kept the entire movie fresh and exciting.
Then why didn’t some people like it? Some say that the character arcs were a little straightforward. Personally I liked the fact that Matt Damon’s character started off selfish with the single motivation of ‘not dying’, because I thought that was easy to relate to and allowed the theme of survival to explain some of the more insane character choices that got the movie into motion. Others said that there wasn’t a strong enough villain, with Jodie Foster not being explored enough and Shartlo Copley going a little melodramatic. I agree with that criticism, but I felt that the film survived nonetheless. Personally this film really surprised me with its stunning visuals and great Sci-Fi action. I am placing this second, because I truly think more movies like this should be made.
1 – GRAVITY
And now for the obvious one.
Who doesn’t like this film? The critics are going crazy over this movie. Gravity has some of the most original technology working for it, bringing us CGI and visuals like we have never seen them before. Never before have we been thrown so totally in the emptiness of space. Cuaron weaves an incredible tale of survival, using every trick in the book to make this a stand-out masterpiece. The soundtrack compensates for the total silence amazingly. There is several moments of life and death symbolism, making this deeper than a standard disaster thriller. Gravity grabs you and never lets you go, until you are at the end of the journey. The term ‘roller-coaster’ ride gets bandied around a lot in cinema reviews, but this is genuinely the closest I have come to feeling that sensation in a dark cinema room.
It has its critics, even if they don’t hate it, but just don’t think it deserves the hype it has been getting. My little brother thinks the movie was a little too simplistic to earn the place of Movie of the Year (he personally went for Catching Fire for those interested). Dan the Man felt the script was lacking. Both of those points are actually pretty hard to argue. However, when trying out these new technological advances, I personally think that you need to simplify some other elements in your film. Would we appreciate the spectacle if it came complete with a complicated plot that asked us to focus on something but survival? It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad flick, but it would ask us to take our eyes off the visuals, which is what this movie is all about. Personally, I think this is the Film of 2013 and I am definitely not alone thinking this.