Since I couldn’t decide which ones I liked over others 3-10 are in no particular order.
1. Star Trek 2009 Remake/Reboot/Reimagining- in a year of mostly crappy remakes of all genres Hollywood actually got this one right. With dazzling special effects, a story that went in a few new directions (Spock/Uhora romance) while staying true to the original while tossing in a few nods and winks for the die hard fans (how Kirk cheated, outsmarting the attack simulation) to appreciate. While rumors of Shatner's cameo turned out false viewers were treated to Leonard Nemoy's presence. Went to see this with mom for Mothers Day and I really didn’t want it to end. It was one of the movies that made 2 hours feel like 30 minutes.
2. The Wrestler- A movie given limited release in 08, going national in 09. This was the movie that brought Mickey Rourke back to the mainstream and single-handedly revived/rejuvenated his career. Rourke stars as Randy the Ram an 80’s Wrestling Star who is down on his luck and is struggling through life working on the indy scene doing extreme/hardcore matches trying to survive while keeping his name and reputation alive. Now in a trailer forced to work odd jobs while trying to court a local stripper and rekindle his relationship with his estranged daughter, while he tries to make himself a better person he succumbs to temptation but decides to risk his health and life doing what he loves to do. Several known wrestlers makes appearances such as Ernest Miller while lesser known legit indy workers Necro Butcher are featured. The movie also gives a look into the smaller, far less glamorous side or underbelly of the business. The viewer also gets some ’insider’ insight into the behind the scenes workings of the business.
3. My Bloody Valentine 2009-Remake/Reboot/Reimagining- Again this is another exception to the years bad remakes. The original early 80’s slasher never got the recognition it’s multi sequel contemporaries shared but none the less it was a solid gory horror movie with a good plot and a loyal cult following. This years recreation stays true to the original story of a miner that goes on a killing rampage pick axing everyone that gets in his way. The use of 3d is used very well, putting the gore right in your face. Also the 10 minute full female frontal scene is worth the viewing by itself.
4. Taken-Seeing Liam Neeson playing a one man army, beat’em/shoot’em role is something I’d expect from Steven Segal, hopefully Neeson didn’t rely on his stunt double a little too much. After Neeson’s daughter is kidnapped he uses all of his ’special skills’ to track down the bad guys through Albania uncovering a global prostitution ring. I’ve mostly seen Neeson in drama but he pulls off the unstoppable badass role quite well.
5. Pontypool-A straight to DVD Canadian release about a radio DJ and his assistants who cover a zombie plague outbreak from their studio. If there was such a thing as an intelligent zombie movie this would be it. PontyPool could very well be the horror equivalent to Talk Radio. The ’infection’ is transmitted by certain spoken ’trigger’ words and their meaning causing the infected to talk in gibberish and degenerate to ravage, violent spasms and convulsions. The ’cure’ is to change the meanings of these words into something different by repetition.
6. Flight 666-My musical contribution to the list this year is awarded to one of my favs Iron Maiden. This is their world tour documentary showing how they recreated their legendary 80’s World Slavery Tour christened The Somewhere Back in Time Tour, throwing in one or two early 90’s songs for good measure. I was fortune to see this show live in Cleveland last year and it was incredible. This tour was a massive undertaking, bringing all their stage gear/props in one huge plain ’Ed Force One’, with a caption who just happened to be Bruce Dickenson.
7. District 9- At first the previews made this look more like an action movie but upon viewing I was pleasantly surprised it was filmed more as an action documentary about a reporter interviewing aliens that are being forced to live in a third world like ghetto slum while secretly waiting to return to their hovering mother ship. The reporter accidentally exposed himself to a liquid that would’ve been the aliens escape fuel. He slowly starts turning into one of them and must try and survive as a fugitive, which drives him to form an alliance with the aliens to help them escape in exchange for a cure.
8. Hills Run Red-A straight to DVD release about a group of college film nerds that are obsessed with finding the long misses roles of film left from a cult movie that were supposedly lost and never finished. After finding the daughter of the director and finding various shooting locations they realize the movie is ’still in production’ and their the ending cast. A smart, very gory, good movie.
9. A Haunting in Connecticut- Virginia Madeson stars in this dark, spooky movie about a family with a terminally ill son who move into a house that was formally a funeral home. The son starts to experience weird phenomena while plagued by nightmares and strange visions. After researching the houses history he discovers the former residents practiced black magic, and necromancy. The most gruesome discovery unfolds when he discovers the victims bodies are all still in the house and burns it down.
10. Avatar-I just saw this a few days ago with Mom. I didn’t have a strong desire to see it but heard it got great reviews for its effects mastery. Clocking in at almost 3 hours I was hesitant given my checkered history of seeing long movies in the theater. However after watching it, it didn’t feel like 3 hours at all. Avatar is a special effects masterpiece filled with technical wizardry and visually stunning scenery. Shown in 3d everything jumps out at you from the beauty of the rain forests to the fire canons during the final battle. Though there are some blatant messages about the eco system, Native American land and War the movie can easily be enjoyed as a spectacular sci-fi/action/adventure fantasy.
Guilty Pleasure-Drag Me to Hell- Most of my friends hated this movie and some didn’t even finish it. Personally I was entertained by it, whether it was it’s over the top (intentionally) cheesy effects, (we’d had debates over this) to it’s Evil Dead style horror humor (the goats possession/guy dancing in the air during the séance scene or the gypsies corpse falling on the girl spilling post mortem debris in her mouth, or the car garage scene). I even got a laugh from the handkerchief of death making several appearances. I was told there were blatant undertones about women working in the corporate world but I either didn’t notice them or didn’t care. Like I said, the movie entertained me and above all isn’t that what a movies supposed to do?
Worst of 2009
1. Friday the 13th- 2009 Remake/Reboot/Reimagining/Reefer Smoking Writing- The original Friday the 13th was an early 80’s, low budget, claustrophobic pioneer of the slasher era and is considering one of the great horror classics of its time. It’s 2009 version….wasn’t, isn’t and never will be. I agree with a friends comment that the movie actually made you feel dumber after watching it. The movie tries to be modern and hip to the current generation and falls short on almost everything. It’s few positives includes several naked boobs, half of which I’m sure weren’t real and a new version of Jason that was faster and smarter which I admit to liking. The film showcases a bunch of dumb kids going to a friends lake house while looking for a reported ’stash’ of living greenery. While some murders are kinda creative most aren’t. Most of the cast are portrayed as drunk, pot smoking morons that you really don’t care about and want to see savagely murdered. One of the ‘it’s so stupid it’s funny’ scenes comes when the token black guy goes looking for the very not funny comic relief guy and literary grabs a frying pan to protect himself. The plot as a whole is weak and unimaginative as several plot elements and characters are taken from the first 4 Friday movies. There’s a blatant wink wink nod to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies and the ending scene where the two survivors dump Jason's body, fully wrapped, into the lake followed by his mask then literally a few seconds later Jason leaps out, unwrapped and masked is just ludicrous (even by Friday the 13th standards) and brain numbing. It’s as if the writers just said hey lets take the Friday script and dumb it down to unprecedented depths and give Jason a pot farm.
2. Watchmen-I was told by friends before seeing this that I wouldn’t like it, and they were right. I went in pretty much blind as I have before, only being told it was 3 hours long and about superhero’s, so I thought okay, can’t be that bad right? WRONG! First I will say that I’m the only person who didn’t like it and have been subsequently punished for. My first issue is that it was marketed as a dialogue driven superhero movie. What’s wrong with that sentence? Most of the characters are fairly unlikable even if made to be so. This was overly long (I don‘t really buy that the story needed 3 hours to be told), painfully boring. I tried to follow the action and characters but by mid movie I just didn’t care. I will say that seeing Matt Frewer in a major theatrical movie was cool. The only other thing that kept my eyes open or my mind invested was Roarshack. His character was interesting and watching the shapes change on his mask was literary the only thing keeping me from la la land. I will also say that listening to people giggle and snicker whenever Dr. Manhattan was in ’full view’ was funny. I did however snap back into half-consciousness during the jail break scene which was a minor positive. I saw several groups of people walk out around and after the 2 hour mark and was envious. If I’d had the choice this definitely would’ve been a walk out movie for me. This movie did something no movie should ever do to the viewer, made me very time conscious. I was visibly bored several times checking the time 2 or 3 times. Though this movie will end up high on most of my friends best of lists I could not in good conscious agree.
3. GI. Joe The Rise of Cobra-I grew up watching the cartoon series and saw the original animated movie and to say this movie was an extreme disappointment would be a major understatement. Whoever wrote this either didn’t watch the original series or didn’t care. Of the major characters showcased they only got the Baroness, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow right. Zartan, Dr. Mindbender (though I like the actors who played them) weren’t even close to their original look and they didn’t even try for a realistic Cobra Commander with a terrible looking mask and generic/lame deep bad guy voice. Destro didn’t get his chrome mask until the very end and that even looked bad. Ripcord as the comic relief was terribly unfunny. One of the most unintentionally funny sequences was watching the Joes jump around town in special super body suits. Three fourths through I was routing for the Joes to die.
4. Transformers 2- Wow, I thought the first wasn’t that great but they seemed to have trumped themselves with this mass of special effects and stupidity. The writers must’ve been on something when they wrote this. From dogs humping to mom getting high on campus, to cussing jive talking racist robots to the annoying ’your about to see something top secret, don’t tell my mother guy’ from the first one. Shia Lebeof who most of my friends use for verbal target practice tries to be funny but comes across fairly annoying and I’m sure will do the same again in the next movie. Megan Fox who doesn’t do much for me anyway showcases her anatomical talents.
5. Jennifer’s Body- At first I thought this was a straight up horror movie, damn was I wrong. I assuming it was ‘supposed to be’ a hip black horror comedy but came off more like the unfunny gory version of Clueless. Megan Fox-another bad movie she’s in, go figure- stars as Jennifer, miss high school popularity that takes her friend to a bar to see some Indy band who we later find out try to sacrifice Jennifer to earn fame and money from Satan. Only prob is, one (or more) people have already been in Jennifer’s body. So the pact goes awry and Jennifer lives partially absorbing some of the ceremonial demonic super powers but can only keep her youthful, beautiful, bubbly appearance by savagely killing her classmates, drinking their blood/flesh or she starts looking like what she’d look like if she had died in The Ring.
Paranormal Activity: Talk about a movie being marketed on misguided hype! The so called live theater audience reactions filmed are pretty comical after watching it making me think what the hell did they jump at? I wish to God I had a fast forward button handy during this one. Shaking chandeliers to mysterious foot prints in baby powder to bathroom lights going off and on prepared me for the ‘really’ scary scenes of the wife getting out of bed starring at the husband for hours and being dragged of the bed and pulled down the hallway by invisible wires, er I mean the mean spirit of a tortured girl. I actually busted out laughing when that happened. The one good thing I will say was that the woman was very attractive. But it doesn’t make up for this Blair Witch wannabe
NOTE FROM EDITOR: it should be mentioned that I simply never bothered to see Transformers, G.I. Joe or Jeniffer's Body so that is why none of them made my worst list. I knew better.