I waited patiently until after my most recent screening of Sherlock Holmes to compile this list that I have been looking forward to working on all year long. As Gregg Senko kind of mentioned yesterday, it was not until the second half of the year that I was really able to round up a majority of the all-star gems I would be calling upon to complete the below list of my Top 10 films of 2009. I became kind of worried after the flops of some of the movies I had high expectations for, but nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised by the films I either had very low or virtually no conjecture about. You know me. I can go on and seemingly babble about nothing forever so without further ado I give to you my Top 10 list of films in 2009 including two honorable mention titles and also my biggest disappointment of the year. As always, feel free to agree and/or disagree. I look forward to reading your comments below. Have a safe and happy New Year. See you in 2010!
10. Jennifer’s Body
Let’s be honest here. The only reason people flocked to the cinema for this was because of the film’s sexy vehicle Megan Fox. Do you think the majority of the people came to see Diablo Cody’s follow-up to Juno? No. I am willing to bet that the bulk of the viewing audience was split amongst two reasons for even being there. First, you have your fans that were there solely for the sex appeal of Megan Fox, probably hoping to get a glimpse of more skin or any other kind of slip thanks to the leaked online photos that were taken of her during the filming of the movie. If you don’t know what I am talking about, then just do a quick Google search. You’ll find your pirate treasure. Second, I feel strongly in my assumption that probably half the viewing audience was there just to see if Miss Fox could even act at all or if her 15 minutes of fame had expired. Let’s face it. Her role in Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise is not that avant-garde. Heck, Michael Bay is even on record as saying he just wanted Megan to look sexy in his film. He could care less about her acting abilities. So I believe that people were truly eager to see what Megan Fox could do on the silver screen without the help of giant alien robots masking her potential acting inabilities. Would she sink or would she ultimately swim?
Thankfully, Megan did not drown, but that’s only in part to her character’s simple role. In contrast, how much different was her character Jennifer from that of her character as Mikaela in Bay’s Transformers? Besides the flesh eating, the answer is quite simple in the fact that there essentially wasn’t much of a resounding difference at all between the two roles. They both utilized bimbo-like stereotypical female roles whose only essential requirement was that of mass sex appeal to the viewing audiences. I am not going to throw Megan under the bus and say she is not hot, but she’s not all that either. I probably would have preferred to see a young actress like Odette Yustman, who has some proven acting endowments and a comparable sexual appeal to Megan’s, thrown into this picture as the leading lady. Nonetheless, it’s the film that speaks here. After all, that’s why you’re reading this. Yes, the fanboys get Megan Fox in many different sexual footings, but I ultimately had fun with this movie. It was a little mixture of the quirkiness that made Juno fun with a hint of cult following that forever notarized the brand of The Lost Boys. It definitely was not the best of 2009, but it was good enough to secure the final spot on my Top 10 list as I look forward with anticipation to checking out Megan’s body…ummm I mean Jennifer’s Body on the Blu-ray format. This film, in a nutshell, is either one you are going to love or you are going to hate. I don’t believe there is any middle ground or room for discussion here. I am glad to have this one in my repertoire as a guilty pleasure, but if you don’t believe me feel free to research the many critics who reviewed this film and I think you will find the same 50/50 result. But before we move on, I have to give kudos to the film’s killer soundtrack that rocked my car’s stereo for months now. Talk about a great blind buy!
9. Crank: High Voltage
What would life be without Chev Chelios? I know. Boring! The Crank franchise is another one of those aforementioned titles that you are either going to love or you are going to flat out hate (that’s you Gregg). If murder, mayhem, chaos, non-stop zany action, outrageous sexual scenarios and film footage that is so razor sharp that you can get an abrasive rash from it is not your cup of proverbial tea, then obviously Crank is not for you. Wow! That was a mouthful. But for everyone else out there who just can’t get enough of the 105 mph thrill ride crazy antics of actor Jason Statham, Crank: High Voltage is a worthy sequel to its equally over-the-top predecessor. I was very skeptical about how they were going to pull this one off considering the state of Jason’s character in the first film, but my fears were quickly relinquished within the film’s first 5 minutes. I was instantly transported (no pun intended) again into the chaos I fell in love with in the first film. The ending is a little iffy, but I said that for the first film, so we will see how they rebound again in the third Crank film. Bravo!
8. I Love You, Man
I don’t know what it was about the film’s trailer, but its marketing must have been really effective as it made me want to see the movie despite there being no star attraction for me other than comedic Paul Rudd. Initial critical reviews were kind to the film and I rationally decided why not. I took the plunge and I loved everything about it except for some reason, Rashida Jones. But who cares about Rashida, let’s talk about Jason Segel. I never really gave him a second look in Knocked Up, but in I Love You, Man, Jason is off the hook. His hilarious antics and warm interactions with Rudd’s character really made this an effective heart felt comedy minimally rooted in the raunchy spirit of an Apatow production, but never going overboard. And then on the 8th day God created SNL’s Andy Samberg. This dude was hysterical! I instantly became a fan. Did I also mention that the film’s production went green? Well I did now! Although I do have to admit that I am figuratively speaking of the cameo by the Incredible Hulk, Mr. Lou Ferrigno. If curiosity has the best of you, then check out the interview we did with him this past summer here. Fans of the legendary rock band Rush also have something to rejoice about. You’ll see and hear what I mean soon enough if you heed the following free advice. If you have not checked this film out yet, then I highly recommend making it a Blockbuster night.
7. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
What better movie ingredients can you have than Lycans (werewolves to the lay person), vampires and a smoking hot Rhona Mitra? If you are seeking my opinion, then honestly the answer is simply not much. Not even Orville Reddenbacher can top that lineup. I admit to initially being hesitant about seeing this newest chapter in the Underworld trilogy quite simply because of the fact that my beloved Kate Beckinsale would not be appearing in the film. I kept asking myself what is Underworld without Kate Beckinsale? My response was always a simple one-word answer that I hinted at before, nothing. Well my opinion quickly changed once I witnessed the impeccable action performance of Rhona Mitra in 2008’s Doomsday. I then knew I would be giving this film a chance come 2009. I was still reluctant to check it out on opening night, but my insecurity did not stop me from an afternoon viewing prior to the Steeler’s Super Bowl victory later that day. I love underdog Rocky-like tales and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans takes no prisoners as the Lycans are led by the rebellious leadership of one man/Lycan who is both brave enough to stand up to the superior race, the vampires, and also dumb enough to fall in love with the head vampire’s daughter. Now that’s what I call poetry in motion.
6. Drag Me To Hell
Here’s an interesting one. I had little interest in wanting anything to do with this. Not being a fan of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead pictures I instantly dismissed this upon seeing the first theatrical trailer. It was not until the overwhelming positive buzz came sweeping through the nation like a tsunami did I think I should probably give this film a try. So I dragged my wife and some friends out to see this against their will. My wife and I not only loved this flick, but we were darn near crying during some scenes at the rare comedic horror element the now genius Sam Raimi had injected within the film. Sure you have your gross out moments and your predictable scares, but you have one thing that most of today’s horror/slasher films do not have in it, F-U-N. If nothing else, this film definitely put Sam Raimi back on the map after the brutal bashing he took for his unpopular take on the third Spider-Man film. I’m still confused on why I think that one was the best of the three, but that’s a story for a completely different day. If you thought Sam lost his touch with the latest adventure of Peter Parker, then you need to second guess yourself and give this one a test drive.
A father’s love for his daughter is most commonly noted as one of nature’s strongest bonds. So what happens when a former CIA agent’s daughter is kidnapped and marketed for international prostitution? All hell breaks loose! I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to include this film on my Top 10 list. It’s not because the film isn’t extraordinary by any means, but because the film was actually released the year prior internationally before landing in American cinemas this year. I remember seeing this film playing in Mexico during my vacationing there in December of 2008. It was not until a couple co-workers highly recommended this movie that I made the logical decision to go check it out. These are the action films I like. This is what an action film should be like. Sprinkle a dash of Jason Bourne and stir with a splash of Steven Segal and you have one of 2009’s greatest action heroes. Instead of drowning in corny stunts, elementary dialogue and silly humor we are all witnesses to an onslaught of revenge tactics one man deploys to get back his only daughter. Liam Neeson stops at nothing, beating down door after door and relentlessly slaying anyone that either gets in his way or is involved in the slightest with the kidnapping of his daughter. This one ranks high on my list of all-time revenge movie plots.
4. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
All right, here’s where I feel my believability factor and popularity might suffer a bit. I just can’t help it and I am not ashamed to admit it. I had fun this summer with G.I. Joe. Much like I was with 2007’s Transformers, I was very apprehensive about them bringing my childhood sandbox to life on the big screen. It was not the perfect movie by any means, but it was the perfect movie for me. The fun factor, seemingly unbelievable technology and off-the-wall action sequences are what made this my perfect late summer escape from the non-existent Cleveland heat. G.I. Joe never took itself too seriously and it never claimed to be something it was not (i.e. an Oscar award-winning movie). It accomplished what it sought out to be right from the start, a summer blockbuster worthy of another chapter yet to be told. I just hope in some way, fashion or form I get another dose of Sienna Miller’s Baroness. She was the perfect combination of sexy fine and evil/villainous. Fans of the product line will have to be a little forgiving with the way some back stories of the G.I. Joe lore are changed, but other than that just prepare to check your brain in at the door and have a romping good time with this one.
3. District 9
Wow! Did this movie ever have promise. It took Comic-Con by storm this past July. The Peter Jackson infused project seemed to be a winner even before its debut in the theaters. I am sure most of the hype was stirred up by Harry Knowles over at Aint It Cool News, but for the most part, the film did deliver a grand epic of a story and a strong message about the inhuman treatment that mankind is intolerably capable of. I may have not initially been mind blown like Harry, but I was not disappointed either. I guess I wanted the ending to be so much more than it was that I ultimately disappointed myself. I recently had the opportunity to revisit this one again on Blu-ray, before writing this list. I tend to like things more the second time anyway. And guess what folks? I was mind blown. I have no idea what I was thinking the first time I saw this. Feel free to call me a hypocrite and throw the proverbial tomatoes at me. I take back every nitpick I made against the film. I was literally moved by this tale the second time around and I felt such a strong emotional connection with those aliens that I have not experienced in a movie since my inaugural viewing of Blood Diamond several years ago. Bring on District 10, for I cannot wait for more! It will be three years before we know it. Will Christopher make good on his promise? I sure hope so!
What can one really say about this movie that has not been said already in the past two weeks? The motion picture is strong, visually stunning and overall amazing. The story is not particularly original, but it’s the way it is told and the way your emotions are stirred into caring about how the Na’vi people are being mistreated by the humans. You can turn your head away as much as you want, but there’s no denying that after seeing this film you realize some strong messages that are purported throughout. It’s very hard not to see these. And to think I almost stayed away from this film. My curiosity got the best of me as I very much wanted to see what all the hype was about this movie and I admit to being a technology whore. It was being shown in 3D after all. What a perfect chance to see the new Real 3D technology and to witness, if anything, any improvements it might bestow upon Hollywood filmmaking. I think fellow reviewer Bob Ignizio said it best when he asserted that the 3D option was not a gimmick and that this film is a good story nonetheless. If you have a heart and you can allow yourself to slip into the Pandora universe for a good chunk of time, then you will find yourself lost in the world of Avatar much like I did. You will have no care in the world other than primarily making sure the Na’vi people’s rights are upheld and protected from the evil human race. Until the ending credits roll, be prepared for a rousing magical carpet ride. I cannot wait to view this one again on the Blu-ray format! I just hope the next one isn’t 14 years in the making away.
1. The Hangover
The Hangover came out at a perfect time in my life. I was combating a lot of problems during the month of July and The Hangover was my perfect antidote to get me through the roughest of days. Every time I was feeling down and out I would hit up the theater for another treatment of The Hangover. I always walked out with a glistening (because you know my teeth are so white) wide smile upon my face. You can’t ask for anything better than that. The Hangover was the perfect combination of comedic genius, laughter and mayhem action all bundled into one cohesive screenplay. There’s that word again…”perfect.” Are you starting to see a theme going on here? You should! In essence, The Hangover was the P-E-R-F-E-C-T movie of the year, in my opinion. It’s just what the doctor ordered. And besides, it had to be “perfect” for me to keep revisiting it over and over again as many times as I did during its theatrical run. I take great pride in considering myself personally responsible for making it the highest grossing R-comedy of all time. Since owning it on the Blu-ray format for a little over two weeks I have watched this movie a record nine times already and I am preparing for an eventual return visit or two by week’s end. Make no mistake, when you just can’t get enough of a movie, you know you found a good thing. Here’s raising my glass in anticipation to the gang’s next mishap journey coming in 2011. May it be filled with more of the same crazy scenarios, memorable gut busting moments and insatiable laughter. Cheers!
Despite being a hardcore Star Wars fan (go ahead and say it…you can call me a nerd), throughout my entire life, and have never seen a single episode of the original TV series, or a film from the franchise for that matter, I thoroughly enjoyed the JJ Abrams project. The action scenes were off the hook, but the time traveling was quite confusing for new fans of the franchise. I understand why they went there and the nods to the original series, but I have to admit that the time traveling debacles bumped it down a bit on my list.
It’s no secret that I am fan of the legendary, but not completely stale yet, Saw franchise. The sixth movie, in my opinion, was a welcome addition to the most profitable horror franchise (see my review here). However, gruesome scenes of torture and gore, prevent even me from watching them too frequently, but come Halloween season I can always be found dusting off my Saw Blu-ray collection. Honestly, I have grown so used to visiting the theater the third weekend of every October that I could not imagine a Halloween season without a Saw movie. Thankfully for me, Saw VII is not only slated for next October, but it will be in 3D! Can you imagine a Saw film presented in 3D? I wanna play a game!
Wish I Would Have Seen
Law Abiding Citizen
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
I am not going to pretend and claim that I can say it any better than fellow reviewer Gregg proclaimed in his post yesterday. The animated film 9 was by far one of the biggest disappointments and most over-hyped films of 2009. Granted, there are a couple others that come to mind, but none more disappointing than 9. You know when you look at your watch multiple times during your initial viewing that you are in trouble. I should have known by the third time I glanced at my watch during the movie’s runtime that I was in terrible danger of being utterly disappointed and that it was not going to get any better than it already was. In fact, the only thing the movie has going for it is it’s short duration. I have never been so let down in recent memory by a film that looked so promising, majestic and powerful in its theatrical trailers. You got to give kudos to the marketing department behind this film’s release. It packed a lot of suckers in to the theater to witness this on 09-09-09. And worse of all I’m guilty of falling for this marketing ploy and being forever shamed.
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