The Best and Worst Films of 2012 So Far
The 2012 movie year is over half gone, with summer beginning to wane. That means that many of the more serious award-contending movies are just on the horizon. Before those Oscar-chasing films come out, here is a look at the best and worst of 2012 so far.
This movie, based on a real-life ad placed by a man looking for a time-traveling companion, is charming and quirky. "Parks and Recreation" actress Aubrey Plaza shows that she can do more than just her usual disaffected shtick, showing true dramatic range. The entire cast is delightful in this comedy/drama from director Colin Trevorrow.
"21 Jump Street"
The fact that this movie is on this list is a true testament to the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover." Fans of the original television show the movie is based on were already criticizing the film before it came out in theaters. Their criticisms were wrong, as Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill make the perfect oddball buddy-cop pairing.
"The Hunger Games"
Film adaptations of popular young adult novels can be troublesome for anyone who isn't already a fan of the books. That is not the case with "The Hunger Games," which turned out to be a deftly directed film that is part popcorn action movie and part dramatic allegory. The film received mostly positive reviews, even from critics who had never heard of Katniss Everdeen before seeing the movie. They definitely know who she is now.
Director Wes Anderson makes his most accessible movie to date, toning down his usual irony and quirk to craft a truly touching story about innocent first love. It is really too bad that the film didn't get a wider release, as many moviegoers may not have been able to get to the theater to see this. They missed fine performances by Anderson-regular Bill Murray as well as Edward Norton, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton.
There are plenty of superhero films out on the market. In fact, in 2012 alone, three are coming out within a three-month span. None of them are quite as ambitious as "The Avengers," which attempted to bring six Marvel comics superheroes to the screen at once. Nobody had attempted such a feat before, but director Joss Whedon managed to pull it off. This is the rare movie that was critically acclaimed but also was a megahit at the box office.
"Beasts of the Southern Wild"
This little-seen indie movie deserves a bigger audience. It tells the tale of Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), who lives in a mythical world that resembles post-Katrina New Orleans, which is full of beasts and other strange things. Wallis gives the performance of a lifetime in this, her first-ever role. Don't be surprised if she manages to have a long acting career after this stellar debut.
Anyone who is a fan of "Star Wars" probably really wants to like all other George Lucas productions. Unfortunately, "Red Tails" is hard to like. Though it does have some redeeming qualities, overall it misses the opportunity to bring a piece of history to a much wider audience. Lucas squanders the chance to tell the story of the first black fighter squadron in military history by adding too much that didn't actually happen in real life. There are some nice flying and fighting scenes, though, which helps make the move more palatable.
The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh, who is known for his attention to plot and characters, yet "Magic Mike" falls short in both. Of course, the main attraction here is the well-oiled bodies of stars Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer and Matthew McConaughey. The plot doesn't need thickening, and the characters don't need fleshing out because the whole point is for them to show flesh. If you don't mind a mindless escape with a lot of male eye candy, then "Magic Mike" is probably on your list of best movies so far in 2012.
"Rock of Ages"
Like book adaptations, Broadway musicals that come to the big screen can be a dangerous prospect. For every "Chicago," which was so good it won Best Picture in 2002, there is "Rock of Ages," which likely won't win any Oscars. Tom Cruise gives his all in a great performance, but he just can't seem to rise up above the material. The songs are overproduced, which can be a distraction. The cast does a good job, but the film overall just falls short of the musical that inspired it.