It’s that time of the year again, when endless lists of the best this and the worst that start circulating round and round the Internets like a dog chasing its tail. So like any ironic, postmodern hipster wannabe, and since this is a geek blog, I shall join the crowd by presenting my six best geek movies of 2012.
But this is no ironic list – it was an awesome year for movies, and choosing the best was a tough task. It should be noted that at this point, the likes of Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained have yet to reach Singapore. But here are the geek films which thrilled, awed and moved me the most this year.
6) The Hobbit
I thought long and hard about this one. In many ways, The Hobbit, essentially a prequel to Lord Of The Rings, is self-indulgent and draggy TTM, with far too many dwarves and far too many interludes. My view of it is also coloured by the fact that director Peter Jackson has chosen to stretch an adaptation of what is essentially a children’s book into three parts. But there is a reason that the three LOTR movies have collectively made almost US$3 billion worldwide, and the genius of Jackson shines through in The Hobbit.
He is greatly aided by his leading man Martin Freeman, in what will surely be a career-defining role as Bilbo Baggins. And of course, special mention must go to the bete noir of the LOTR trilogy: the sinister, pathetic, schizophrenic Gollum, here rendered in astonishing motion capture by the equally astonishing Andy Serkis. Here’s the astounding first meeting between Bilbo and Gollum.
A Tolkien book deserves nothing less than an epic adaptation, and The Hobbit more than achieves this, warts and all. The magical world of dwarves, orcs, hobbits, dragons and wizards lives on. You can read my full review of the movie here.
5) The Dark Knight Rises
Another flawed, yet epic, movie, the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman often threatens to, but never quite hits, the heights of The Dark Knight. Nevertheless, Christian Bale is surely now the definitive Batman, and Anne Hathaway the definitive Catwoman. And in Tom Hardy’s Bane lies a villain almost as terrifying as the late Heath Ledger’s Joker, though his villainy is very much weakened by the decision to put on a strange, muffled accent. Here’s Batman taking on Bane in a scene so intense, it will leave you gripping the sides of your chair.
Some eyebrow-raising plot holes aside, the movie’s weakest link must surely be rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in an almost pointless role as heroic cop John Blake, though he may well turn out to be next in line to become the Caped Crusader. And sadly, The Dark Knight Rises will forever be tainted by the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, when a screening of the movie was interrupted by a gunman who killed 12 people. You can read my full review of the movie here.
4) The Cabin In The Woods
A sly, loving tribute to the horror genre by geek god Joss Whedon and frequent collaborator Drew Goddard, The Cabin In The Woods is postmodern, cheeky, funny and yes, scary as hell. It takes the ostensible story of a group of teenagers spending the weekend in a cabin – plot of a thousand horror movies – and turns it into much, much more. And it achieves this with a cast of largely unknowns, including a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth. To say any more would give the plot away, and if you haven’t watched it, you deserve to discover this little gem of a movie sans spoilers. The trailer will give you some clues as to the real story, but don’t look too hard now.
This is a simple story. No, it’s a complicated one, but director Rian Johnson somehow manages to simplify it, navigate the potential minefield that is the time travel genre and produce a pretty damn good movie. And considering that this is a science-fiction film, it doesn’t even need to rely on CGI to hit the heights. The stellar cast certainly doesn’t hurt, with the central pairing of Bruce Willis as Joe the hitman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as his younger self, taking the movie to another level. Check out the crackling chemistry as the pair talk face to face for the first time, when old Joe tries to convince his younger self not to make the choices he made.
You can read my full review of the movie here.
Historical inaccuracies notwithstanding, Argo must be the funniest, most moving, most entertaining history lesson around, the very epitome of the phrase ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. In the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution, six American diplomats are trapped in Tehran. The CIA sets up a bogus film company that claims to be filming a movie called Argo in Tehran, in order to have a plausible excuse to smuggle the six Americans out, disguised as film crew. So it’s a movie based on a true story about a fake movie, which had storyboards drawn by the legendary Jack Kirby, and complete with numerous Star Wars references. Now, how is that not a geek movie?
This is easily director Ben Affleck’s best movie behind the lens yet, aided by a powerhouse cast which includes an Oscar winner in Alan Arkin. Check out Affleck (who plays real-life CIA agent Tony Mendez) and Bryan Cranston as his supervisor, trying to convince their bosses to take up the scheme.
You can read my full review of the movie here.
1) The Avengers
Quite honestly, how could the top movie of 2012 be anything other than The Avengers? The culmination of an ambitious seven-year, six-movie project, this is director Joss Whedon’s magnum opus. After years of TV series with cult appeal and more than a few cancelled ones, Whedon was given a movie with a mega budget and mega stars – and delivered on everything that was expected of him. A smart, funny and moving action movie that somehow gave equal weight to seven major characters, The Avengers is every fanboy’s fantasy come true. But even if you have never picked up a comic book, it’s likely you ended up cheering for Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye. Here’s a clip of our heroes in action.
So what were your top movies for 2012? Which were the most awesome ones?