So this is it. Another action-packed year of sitting on my bed with back ache watching yet another zombie flick, on the sofa while the dog’s ridiculously large legs stretch across half the screen of my laptop and obscure many cinematic pearlers from around the World, or round the girlfriend’s house squinting at a screen the size of a matchbox to endure another chick flick, is almost over. Am I bored of sitting? Not a chance.
The defining theme this year, as with most years, was ‘horror’. It was the year I finally got some shit together and actually strung a few sentences together. I won’t, however, look back through the past 365 days just yet - that will be saved for another post - but before the Christmas period I could easily have stated that the significant trend of 2011 was disappointingly turgid and overhyped Hollywood movies. Yeah. Lots of them.
The trouble is, I’ve watched four movies in the last couple of days and all of them were surprisingly decent. As you might imagine, this is twice as many as I’ve seen all year, so I’m either being brainwashed, Christmas has worked its magic, or I’m still pissed. First up was Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) - set in present day San Francisco where mans’ own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy. You know the rest. In fact, apart from James Franco being miscast, this was the only criticism. We never got to see the good bit. Granted, it was entertaining throughout, and Serkis stole the show, but all that build up for one decent assault on a bridge is a bit of a let-down.
Still, it bodes well for future instalments, and they managed to avoid a cringe-worthy comparison to Star Wars Revenge of the Sith (2005) when Caesar’s scream of, “Noooooooo!” was spine-tingling rather than spineless. So aside from such a small gripe, Apes had done enough to whet my appetite for one of the biggest blockbusters of 2011, J.J. Abrams Super 8. Armed with a glass of vino and tub of jelly beans, the story of six friends who accidentally film a train wreck only to discover that something unimaginable escaped during the crash excited me. And Coach Taylor was in it.
Apparently, the only thing more mysterious than what the alien thing was, is what it wanted (I’d question why Friday Night Lights never achieved far greater success in the UK), which in the end amounted to little more than a way off this planet. If you were unlucky enough to read the newspapers on the 27th following the Oxford Street attacks and the Santa slaying in Dallas, you would be inclined to hope his spacecraft had room for more than one. Bleak our world may be, but Abrams has his rose-tinted specs on, and he’s created a wonderful yarn that reeks of childhood nostalgia but with enough originality of its own, and a monster that almost rivals the best this year had to offer, in the form of the Jotnar from Troll Hunter.
After two hours of thrills, I was prepared for the downward journey into hell, agreeing to watch the acclaimed chick-flick Bridesmaids (2011) on my girlfriend’s new television. Acclaimed by whom, I wondered, as the beginning of the movie, following Annie, a maid of honour whose life unravels as she leads her best friend, Lillian, and a group of colourful bridesmaids on a wild ride down the road to matrimony started slowly, before quickly becoming the wittiest comedy of the year, even if some gags tried too hard to replicate the gross-out-ness of The Hangover (2009). Still, it was better than 2011’s sequel, and included one of my favourite film moments of the last 365 days when Annie (Kristen Wiig) tries to get arrested. Besides, any film with Wilson Phillips is bound to be brilliant.
My luck was surely about to abandon me, then, when the girlfriend made a swift exit and I whacked Captain America – The First Avenger (2011) into the DVD player. To be fair, films based on Marvel comics have been pretty impressive of late, and Thor (2011) was one of the surprises of my year, but I still didn’t think I would enjoy Joe Johnston’s adaptation half as much as I did. Chris Evans and Tommy Lee Jones were on fine form, the action was well orchestrated, and the chemistry between Evans and Hayley Atwell, playing Peggy Carter, was surprisingly beautiful; her loss as he defrosted for the forthcoming Avengers movie disappointing to say the least.
These four films had actually started rebuilding the goodwill for humankind that I’d lost recently. Trouble is, I have one more film to watch this year: Chile’s Descendents (2008, not to be confused with Clooney’s The Descendants out around about now), yet another zombie outbreak horror movie, so don’t expect me to be so charitable come 2012. DW