Sitting in the Dark With Strangers 2011: Part One

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sitting in the dark with strangers

Happy New Year everyone! As part of my one-year blogoversary, here’s my yearly list of all the movies I saw in theatres this year! Just like last year, I saw most of these movies for free, as studios drop tickets off at the comic store to try and build buzz among my “people” (nerds with money). Here’s the bottom eleven films of the year.

These are all ranked subjectively using the highly scientific method of making a big list and then determining which movies I liked better by process of elimination. SPOILER WARNING is in effect, so go access whatever the Amish use to get information if you’re a spoilerbaby.

Green Lantern poster

41. Green Lantern (saw for free from work)

There are so many things wrong with this movie, I could talk for hours. Not just fanboy nitpicky shit either. Pretty much every single piece of this movie is an absolute failure, as this is what happens when a creative team has no love for the work they’re adapting. Ryan Reynolds’ smarmy douchebagginess is not the right blend needed for Hal Jordan, it’s barely even good enough for Guy Gardner.

(sidenote: Hal Jordan is a pretty shitty character in the comics anyway, so they kind of shot themselves in the foot right away, but at least he wouldn’t pussy out of Green Lantern school after 30 minutes of training like Reynolds does. Fuck that shit.)

Blake “Lively” turns in mediocre work as the world’s youngest aviation executive. We’re supposed to believe that her, Reynolds and Peter Fucking Sarsgaard all knew each other back in the day? She’s at least 15 years younger than both of them. Speaking of Sarsgaard, I’ve heard people say that he was a “high point” in the film, but his over the top screaming bullshit was actually one of the worst things. The CGI was terrible, the costume was fucking terrible, the story was laughably bad (they basically just took the plot from Spider-Man and pasted a completely different character’s name over it). Speaking of the CGI, turning the main villain Parallax’s shape from that of a weird yellow space bug to being a weird yellow cloud is a decision that makes no sense at all. At least a bug would have not drawn the audience’s attention to the fact that, much like movie-Parallax, Green Lantern is a diarrhea-esque mass of failure pie masquerading as a superhero picture. The only good thing I have to say is that Mark Strong makes a decent Sinestro, up until the absolutely useless heel turn after the motherfucking credits. The fact that this movie has a 6.0 on imdb is absolutely astounding. Ryan Reynolds’ league of assistants must work round the clock to keep putting in good reviews. Fuck this movie. It may sound like I’m a big fan of the comics based on how much I’ve griped over the changes here, but I’m really not. I just like it when movies are not terrible.

Cowboys and Aliens poster

40. Cowboys and Aliens (saw for free for work)

One of the biggest examples of missing the point I’ve seen in a comic book movie adaptation. The original book wasn’t half bad, and didn’t deserve to be turned into this star-bloated piece of garbage. My favorite part of the book was that the aliens were a sort of space-Roman Empire, subjugating other species and planets by way of slavery. It actually had something to say about colonialism in our history, as both the “Cowboys” and the “Indians” of the American West had to team up against a race that aims to do to those of European descent what they did to the indigenous peoples in North America. In the film, the aliens came to Earth to steal all of our gold. What a cop out. Our gold.

The film is also filled with stupid design and screenplay choices, seemingly just out of laziness. Why was there an overturned paddleboat in the middle of the desert? Because it makes for an interesting location. Why did the evolution on the aliens’ planet result in them having chest cavities that open up to reveal their beating, unguarded hearts? So that the kid from Avatar: The Last Airbender can stab one of them in the heart, duh. Completely awful, and it gives the idea of comic book adaptation films a bad name with this sub-video game approach to storytelling. If you liked this movie, you are wrong and we can’t be friends.

I Am Number Four poster

39. I Am Number Four (saw for free from work)

I actually forgot I’d seen this movie before looking at a list of films from 2011. The best thing I can say about it is that I’ve seen episodes of Smallville that were worse. And also that it was marginally better than the first Twilight film, which it desperately wants to emulate. I also liked when the dog turned giant. Other than that, this is a complete blur to me. I feel that Timothy Olyphant needs to fire his agent and maybe be in a good movie some time. I really do like the guy.

The Mechanic poster

38. The Mechanic (saw for free for work)

Look at that poster, pretty cool, hey? I am again at a bit of a loss as I don’t remember much about this movie. I do remember a weird gay subtext thing that I would bet you was not in the original Charles Bronson film. Something about how you must immediately go have angry sex with a woman after killing another man, as it’s too awkward to deal with your kill-partner’s emotions afterwards? This movie defines mediocre.

Sucker Punch imdb

37. Sucker Punch

Hey, there’s another cool poster. Unfortunately this movie had so many problems that for most of its duration I kept saying to myself “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.” The three levels of reality thing sounded like a good idea in theory, but in execution it was stupid-boring. I would have honestly preferred a picture about some sort of sexy girl-assassin squad that fights mecha-Nazis, like they do in one fantasy sequence, than the quasi-intelligent “oh, she’s trying to escape her reality by going into another, sexier one” bullshit. I really empathised with the main character, as I too wanted to escape her reality and go see another movie. Say what you will about Zack Snyder, though, with this and 300, he has demonstrated himself as the heir to Leni Riefenstahl, the premier objectifier of the human form in modern filmmaking.

Your Highness poster

36. Your Highness (saw for free for work)

I’m pretty sure I did like Danny McBride at some point. I watched the whole first season of Eastbound and Down, and liked that. This movie, though, was just lazy. I probably would have liked it a lot more had it leaned harder on the D&D tropes it only paid lip service to. Meeting with the dwarfs and having them all end up being actual little people was pretty funny though. This is far and away better than any of the licensed D&D films, though, maybe about as good as Krull was? This is another one of those movies that I forgot most of, due to there being little to latch on to.

The Adjustment bureau poster

35. The Adjustment Bureau (saw for free for work)

The big thing I took away from this movie is that hats are awesome, and everyone should wear one. I feel like this was made by the hat lobby to try and bring back the glory days of menswear pre-1965. Oh yeah, there was a bunch of magic stuff too. Not nearly as good as Blade Runner or A Scanner Darkly in the pantheon of Philip K. Dick adaptations, but not nearly as bad as most of the others.

Burke and Hare poster

34. Burke and Hare (Metro Cinema)

So, after and including this movie, I can say I honestly really enjoyed all the ones left on the list, if only for one reason in some cases. I don’t really have anything bad to say about this one for example, it was a slight but enjoyable romp through a period of history I didn’t really know anything about. Was it especially memorable? No. It did have a great amount of UK film talent, including Christopher Lee in an almost unrecognizable role as a guy that gets murdered. If you enjoy black comedies featuring corpses (like Weekend at Bernie’s maybe?), period pieces, or UK film humor in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, you’d probably enjoy this one.

30 Minutes or Less poster

33. 30 Minutes or Less (saw for free for work)

I feel that, had they stripped out most of the comedy bits, the basic idea of this film would have made an excellent film noir scenario. As it is, though, it’s a pretty enjoyable romp, even with the Danny McBride factor. Actually I didn’t really mind him that much in this one, as you’re never really supposed to empathize too much with his douchey criminal mastermind character. I did have a little trouble with Jesse Eisenberg’s guy right at the beginning though, after him and Aziz Ansari fight over Eisenberg having slept with Anzari’s sister, Eisenberg kind of intimates that he’s better than his pizza guy job, and is only doing it because he’s adrift. I believed that line a lot more coming from his character in Adventureland, where he’d just tried to get into a higher level of school, but this one never made me believe that he was as smart or deserving as he felt he was. Sure, he wasn’t deserving of having a bomb strapped to him either, but whatever. Decent little movie.

Red State poster

32. Red State (Metro Cinema)

The critics really seemed to hate this movie. I didn’t mind it, I saw it at the awesome Metro Cinema with Kevin Smith in attendance, so I guess that’s probably the ideal atmosphere too see it in. The story and the structure are kind of weird, but it works. I didn’t know anything going in, so I thought it was mostly going to be religious-themed torture porn, but I was pleasantly surprised that it turned into a Waco-pastiche. John Goodman was pretty good, the horny teenagers did their job pretty well, the violence was solid, the villains are definitely deserving of what they receive, yeah, I didn’t mind this one at all. People must have been expecting the film to resemble Smith’s other films I guess.

Margin Call poster

31. Margin Call

This film almost succeeded in making me empathize with the Wall Street-types who brought about the worldwide financial meltdown, and for that I think it deserves some praise. There’s an excellent cast in this movie, with Paul Bettany, Zachary Quinto and Kevin Spacey being the real standouts. As a sidenote, Kevin Spacey looks exactly like Gene Hackman now. What is that all about? Bettany in particular is great, delivering a monologue about how Main Street asked Wall Street to make them shitloads of money and finance their mortgages and whatnot, then got mad that this was potentially not achieved in the most honourable ways. The fact that he does this while driving what appears to be an Aston Martin V12 Vantage only compounds the scene’s excellence. I really like his line about equality, and how without the market, we’d all see things become a lot more equal in our lifetimes, and how this isn’t a good thing.

Sadly, though, I made the mistake of going to see this at the other art cinema in town, the one that is nowhere near the equal of the Metro. They honestly just played a fucking DVD instead of film or even a blu-ray, it was bullshit. How do I know? The menu for the DVD player came on before the curtains opened, and a little image saying “DVD” was in the top corner of the screen for about a minute after the movie started. That’s bush league, man. I can watch a DVD at home, why do you expect me to come back to your theatre when you can’t provide a real theatrical experience for me? It wasn’t even like the DVD was in good shape, there were some moments where the image onscreen skipped, or didn’t align with the soundtrack. I do recommend the movie, but I don’t recommend the theatre at all.

Check back soon for the next ten movies on my list. Feel free to tell me how much you liked Green Lantern in the comments section below, so I can make fun of your movie tastes.

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The Author

Matt Bowes is a self-proclaimed cultural commentator/arbiter of good taste from Edmonton, Alberta. He enjoys movies and books, and writes about them sometimes at thisnerdinglife.com.

3 Comments

  1. Brent says

    The other day I rode a green lantern rollercoaster. Surely the movie must be good if they modeled a coaster after it

    • I’d rather see movies based on famous roller coasters than that piece of garbage. Are you sure it wasn’t just based on the comic book?

  2. Pingback: Sitting in the Dark With Strangers 2012: Part One | this nerding life

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