The 5 Best Films of 2012

The 5 Best Films of 2012

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Well it’s nearly the end of 2012 and the cinemas are pretty much closed for business for another calendar year.

I thought I’d take some time to look over the best 5 films I caught at the cinema this year. If someone wants to sponsor me in 2013 to watch and review even more films… I won’t say no!

Hopefully you’ll agree about at least some of these movies. In no specific order the best 5 films of 2012 are:

The Grey

The Grey with Liam Neeson

A plane crash in the Arctic leaves a crew of oil-workers stranded with little means of rescue. Unprepared for extreme cold, injured and without basic supplies – the forecast for their survival looks as bleak as the snow-covered landscape. Shortly before nightfall, the seven survivors realise the temperature and injuries are the least of their worries, as they’ve crashed in the centre of an Arctic wolf hunting area.

Carnivorous eating machines stalk and pick them off, can they find shelter or a way to survive the wolves? Can they even survive their hostile group of lowlife’s and criminals.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and Liam Neeson’s performance is as strong as it can be. The other members of the group also put in great performances, inspiring emotions of hatred and compassion at the right times.

Definitely worth a watch, although perhaps avoid if you’re planning a trip to the Arctic!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

 in The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyPerhaps the biggest film of the 2012; The first third of the Hobbit trilogy!

Most of us have seen at least one film of The Lord of the Rings films but An Unexpected Journey tells us of how a reluctant Bilbo originally came to own the almighty one ring. With a cast full of Dwarves, as well as Gandalf the Gray, the party of amateur adventurers start on one of the most perilous and important adventures to ever take place in Middle Earth.

Their mission is to reclaim a great lost city of Dwarves, taken by the fire-breathing Smaug dragon. The Lonely Mountain lays full of Dwarven gold and guarded by the beast that forced their ancestors from their empire. Can a bunch of fiery and high-spirited Dwarves really take back the mountain?

Although its long at almost 3 hours, and perhaps a touch on the slow side to begin with, once the action arrives its relentless until the end. Of course the end isn’t actually the end, it’s just a set up for the 2nd film, but you don’t feel cheated of your money.

With a lot of action, sparingly used 3D effects to complement beautiful scenes, and quite a bit of humour, this is a great film.

Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo), Andy Serkis (Gollum) and all the others really make this film, with solid performances. Not to mention the spectacular visual effects that fill this film from the moment it starts.

In fact it’s so good, I’m off to see it again at the cinema, only days after watching it the first time. A cinema first for me I think.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises - Its been some time since Gotham City got its new night-time, black clad saviour. However times are changing.

Bane, a new super terrorist, has emerged to bring Gotham back to its knees. What’s worse is Bane has also turned the cities populous against themselves. More daring and more deadly than Batman ever could be, how can our favourite Bat face up against this new foe.

One of the biggest and most anticipated films of 2012, it should be no surprising that this film made it into the list. Perhaps a touch too long, but then so much happens in it how could you remove any of the scenes.

I’m a massive fan of Christian Bale (Batman) and Tom Hardy (Bane) films, both of them put in epic performances again in this new film classic.

Skyfall

 Skyfall with James Bond is back and this time he’s not entirely playing by MI6’s rules. Left to die out on a mission, Bond is less than pleased with the agency and country he’s tried so hard to protect.

Now the United Kingdom is under attack, specifically MI6 and M (Judi Dench) herself.

Washed up, ragged and out of the loop – can Bond even get his clearance back, let alone stop the terrorist Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem).

From China to Scotland, quite a few different locations pop up in this great film, including the bizarre Battleship Island off of Japan’s coast.

Perhaps one of the best films I’ve seen, the plot to Skyfall is both engaging as well as secretive and twisted. The trailers I saw left half of the film completely unknown to me, which was brilliant and rather refreshing. Daniel Craig‘s rough-edged version of Bond is my favourite rendition of this character, being more true to how I think a highly strung yet still emotional engaged spy could be.

Definitely worth a watch. Definitely worth a Blu-Ray purchase too!

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games with Jennifer LawrenceIn a dystopian future a realm of 12 districts put forward a pair of lottery chosen people to fight in a brutal series of televised survival matches, ‘The Hunger Games’. The games were derived for part entertainment purposes, mainly for the wealthy Capitol population, and part retribution of a past rebellion uprising. Allowing no-one to forget that the Capitol control everything in the 12 districts – from life to death itself.

Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) nominates herself as the female participant for her district when her younger sister is original chosen by lottery. From the poorest of the districts, Katniss teams up with her male district counterpart to challenge not only the other contestants, but the very nature of the games themselves.

This film was probably the one I was least expecting to like. I saw the trailers and couldn’t help but think they’d just taken the powerful Japanese film of Battle Royale and slapped Hollywood all over it. Added a blatant romance plot line, removed the 18-certificate hard-hitting graphical realism and weaved in an ending that you could see coming from the first 15 minutes.

Well to be honest the ending shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but this film was well shot and reasonably well scripted. It also has a great cinematography feel to it, with strong resemblance in both footage and style to world war 2 POW films. Perhaps the most important sign it was a great film was the fact it inspired such deep conversations among our group immediately after viewing it. I don’t think any of us were expecting to be debating society or worldly morals – but we sure did afterwards.

2012 Movie Summary

Looking back, I think it was a fantastic year at the cinemas. From desolate Arctic suspense to horrific dystopian societies, it was quite a mix! The only major let down I thought, was the Alien prequel Prometheus. Perhaps it was an okay film by itself, but the fact it was meant to be part of the amazing Alien franchise, it fell significantly short in my eyes.

How about you though?

What one film would you add to this mix if you could?

Perhaps you rated the action packed Avengers or fairy-tale Snow White and the Huntsman higher?

Let me know, I’ll definitely need some DVD inspiration in 2013

007’s ghost island exists!

007’s ghost island exists!

In this years instalment of James Bond, the epic Skyfall, they visit a truly bizarre and quite spectacular place. Without spoiling any of the plot for those one haven’t seen the film yet, they visit an island that is completely deserted and bereft of human life. A ghost island.

Not a single human soul lives there.

Okay… nothing too unusual about that, we see it in plenty of films these days, dreamy tropical islands encircled by rich golden beaches.

The main difference with 007’s deserted island is that it’s a jungle of concrete; a labyrinth of apartments, corridors, cinemas, offices and shops. The only thing that stops it being a fully functional city is the key ingredient – people.

Deserted Hashima island as seen in James Bond

The crazy thing is that the island that James Bond spends some tense moments, isn’t a fictional place. It’s a real town. Well… it was… I suppose. It lays some 10 miles off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan, and has a population of zero.

Zippo, nothing, nada, nobody… no one.

James Bond's Deserted Island - Hashima off of Japan's coastBuilt entirely to support an underwater coal mine, it reached a population of nearly 5,500 people in an area of 0.02 square miles. That’s horrendously built up! Not surprisingly it had the highest population density in the world.

Then petrol came along. Suddenly coal became less and less important, the mine closed and the people literally moved back to the mainland over night.

When I saw the island on the screen at the cinema I assumed it must be a wacky creation to maximise the tension and emotions of the scene. How could such an unusual island exist, why would it exist? Us humans have a habit of building stuff and… well… then living in them.

James Bond's Battleship Island
Hashima Island is also known as Battleship Island due to its silhouette
Hashima succumbing back to nature
Large areas of the island look like they’re on an apocalyptic movie set
Scenes of utter desolation
Chaos, with just a hint of the past
Rubble and debris outside the residential parts of Hashima
Rubble and debris outside the residential parts of Hashima
Decaying buildings on Hashima (Japan)
It must be a wonderful and eerie place to take photos

These photos are by random people I found while Googling information about this strange place, credit to those guys.

For some reason I really want to visit this island and experience it for myself. It must conjure up some truly bizarre emotions as you walk among the skeletons of these old buildings.

Anyone want to buy me a ticket to Japan then?

Finally seen Bond’s Skyfall

Finally seen Bond’s Skyfall

Jame Bonds looking over London in SkyfallSo after a rather scrummy lunch at the local Franky & Bennies, I finally managed to see Daniel Craig in the latest Bond film, Skyfall.

I had put off seeing the film for a couple of reasons, the first was lack of time. Cramming your day with work does not bode well if you’re also trying to find time to watch movies. The second reason was that even though I thought Craig’s first Bond venture in Casino Royale was a true movie classic, his second appearance as Bond in Quantum of Solace definitely left me feeling disappointed.

James Bond is one of those franchises that I fear will be eventually go off the rails and just disappear, or worse, undergo constant failed attempts at relaunches (a bit like the recent Spiderman and Superman films). For this reason I was playing the ingornorence-is-bliss card by not seeing Skyfall.

Either way though, due to a social event ending literally next door to the cinema, a few of us popped in with the last couple of available tickets and watched the action unfold.

Even after seeing all the trailers I can genuinely say that I was truly unaware on the whole 2nd half of the film; I didn’t even know they’d spend a considerable part of the film in Scotland. I thought it’d mainly be the glossy high-life of China, as seen in the trailer.

Thankfully I can say that Daniel Craig is back to his ‘Casino Royale’ standards with great performances, fantastic dialogue and a great storyline. It’s back to the darker side of Bond, a side that really hasn’t been shown much, and a side that in my honest opinion is a more energic and realistic for whom they’re trying to say Bond is.

There’s some great twists to this movie, as well as more than a handful of nods to earlier Bond films, taking it up to but sadly not overtaking Casino Royale as one of the top movies I’ve ever seen.

Judi Dench (playing M) as always, puts in an outstanding performance, she’s a great actress. We meet Bond’s new quartermaster (aka, ‘Q’) and a few other characters too (whom I won’t name), which to me seems that the director/writer is almost using Skyfall to reinvent the Bond franchise. Hopefully if you’ve seen the film you’ll know what I mean, however I won’t say more for fears of spoiling the film for people.

All in all a really good film, definitely up there near Casino Royale, well done Craig ‘n’ Co.