Gregg’s Best & Worst Cinema Films of 2009

Thor's Top 10 Movies of the Year 20092009 was an interesting year for films.  By mid-summer, I was wondering if I was going to be able to fill out this list.  Hasbro made a splash with two of its most successful lines appearing in theaters.  Sandra Bullock had two films surface this year.  Vampires seemed to be at the turn of every corner and Woody Harrelson made his Hollywood comeback.  So, what topped the list and what was a cinematic bomb?  Follow this list to the films of greatness (and not so great) for 2009!


#10  Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding CitizenThe all-star pairing of Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx was a brilliant tag team in this edge-of-your-seat thriller.  Butler played a man who lost his wife and daughter to a pair of scum bag murderers.  Foxx played a Philadelphia prosecutor who was fixed on his prosecution ratio more so than making the bad guys pay their full dues in the justice system.  Butler’s character keeps the authorities buzzing in frustrated confusion as his crimes against those employed in the justice system continue while he remains in prison.  The movie delivered a ton of wow’s and some great hero/anti-hero chemistry between the two leads. 


#9 Paranormal Activity

Paranormal ActivityFor a film that cost a pittance to make, it did all it could with a few bucks and ran wild in theaters across the country.  For those that waved their hands in disgust saying, “I’m not seeing that.  It’s Blair Witch all over again,” shame on you.  For someone who is not a fan of horror films, this movie earned two thumbs up from this reviewer.  While slow to progress at times, Paranormal Activity brought us a final 30 minutes of film time that was nothing less than a holy $#*% ride.  I give director Oren Peli all kinds of credit for keeping movie-goers’ eyes and ears glued to this film for doing so much with so little.  The anticipation experienced in waiting from scene to scene was something I had not encountered in a film for a loooong time. 


#8  The Proposal

The ProposalNo, this film is not on my list because I love Sandra Bullock.  It was just a really fun romantic comedy that brought us some great rivalry between Bullock and co-star Ryan Reynolds.  Bullock’s character, Margaret Tate, is about to face deportation to Canada for not completing the proper immigration procedures after residing in the U.S. for some time.  In an instant, she hatches a plan of marriage to her go-for employee, U.S. citizen Andrew Paxton (Reynolds).  The two play a charade back and forth in order to deceive and convince Paxton’s family and the U.S. Government that their relationship is real.  Albeit a Hollywood ending, The Proposal was one of two films this year that provided me with a smile for nearly its complete runtime. 


#7  Zombieland

ZombielandThe previews looked good, but how would the entire film be?  Remember when I just said two films in 2009 put a smile on my face?  This was the other one.  Zombieland‘s comedic romp through the streets of an infected USA was an absolute blast.  The characters were well developed, Woody Harrelson was great as the shotgun-toting Tallahassee, and the video-game like editing (at times) made this a unique and fun movie.  Throw in a little Bill Murray for good measure and you can’t go wrong! 



#6  Ninja Assassin

Ninja AssassinWhat is it with males and their undying fascination with ninjas?  Personally I think it’s their mythology and the fact that we often haven’t been able to separate fact from fiction of the ninjitsu persona.  Starring Asian pop star Rain, Ninja Assassin was but a blip on the radar of many a movie watcher in late 2009.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film that actually had some proficient acting and a decent story as we follow the path of one ninja who has broken from the clan of his evil brethren.  There’s no shortage of airborne shuriken, amputations and black-shrouded, kitana-wielding acrobats in this action film.  Through the first 15 minutes or so, I thought I was in for a very long 2 hours.  The movie picked it up in a hurry though and brought an entertaining story.  I am eagerly awaiting the Blu-ray release of this bad boy. 


#5 Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Underworld - Rise of the LycansThe Underworld franchise is one of my favorites.  When I heard a new Underworld movie was in the works minus Kate Beckinsale, I was a bit disappointed.  However, I still made it a point to head out in the blustery winds of February and catch this vampire and werewolf free-for-all.  For the inundated, this movie is a prequel to the previously released Underworld films, showing how the lycan Lucian (Michael Sheen) came to be while developing the forbidden romance between he and the vampire Sonja (Rhona Mitra).  The movie hits its climax with an all out mass battle of werewolves and fang-sporting bloodsuckers as few are spared in this medieval conflict of supernatural species. 


#4  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

G.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraHow could a movie filled with bad acting be so high on my list?  Easy!  I got to relive my childhood on the big screen.  With the you’re-no-thespian abilities of Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller, G.I. Joe brought what was simply a good old, shoot-em-up action film that I returned to see multiple times.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing characters such as Snake Eyes, Destro and General Hawk being brought to life in front of the camera, as well as the Joe and Cobra vehicles that were always two steps ahead of the traditional military.  The tag-line placements throughout the film were well done, the Paris chase was riveting and the ninjitsu duel between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow was just awesome.  Heck,  even the closing battle, though Death Star-esque, was exciting to see in the original, underwater environment. 


#3  The Blind Side

The Blind SideWho’s Michael Oher?  A couple months back my answer was “Ya got me!”  Today, however, I have been educated on the gentleman and his adoptive family.  Starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw and Quinton Aaron, this film tells the true story of how Leigh Anne Touhy (Bullock) and husband Sean (McGraw), take in a seemingly homeless and socially reclusive Michael Oher.  Oher had a mother but had not spoken to her in years.  Who knew where his father was and being the God-fearing Christian folk they were, the Touhy’s took in Michael one cold, rainy night as he walked a path to nowhere.  Introducing the big man to the sport of football, Oher took a liking to the game and grew into a standout player on the field and in the classroom.  If you aren’t familiar with this man, go see the movie because I’m not going to give the ending away here.  The Blind Side gets my vote as the most beautiful film of the year. 


#2  The Hangover

The HangoverI love a good comedy.  The problem is they are so few and far between at times that I have trouble thinking of a good one that was recently released.  All hail the arrival of The Hangover.  When I saw the trailer for this film, my very first thought was “Looks like I’m passing on that one.”  When I saw it for the first time in theaters, I found myself laughing out loud repeatedly in this wildly brash, witty, offensive, side-splitting comedy.  When I saw it for the second time in theaters, I had the same reaction.  The team chemistry of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha is complemented by the comedic presence of Zach Galifianakis, whose stupid innocence is so convincing that his character’s laugh-inducing ability is increased ten fold.  The outlandish antics of the four and the bad luck that follows is delivered with perfect timing in this mad race to find Doug (Bartha) and get him home to his wedding in time.


#1  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the FallenAfter experiencing a disappointing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull some time back, I vowed never to attend a midnight showing again.  Then a co-worker convinced me to tag along for the 12am showing of this year’s Transformers sequel.  The first film was outstanding and banked truckloads of cash for a movie that contained cutting edge effects, a solid story and some good comedic overtones.  How did Revenge of the Fallen match up?  It wasn’t the full powerhouse that it’s predecessor was, yet it came close, bringing fans what they’d been seeking in the robot sentient follow-up; an all-out war between the Autobots and Decepticons.  This was no street fight like the first film.  This was Rock’em Sock’em robots on an even grander scale.  The film’s special effects were still as strong as before and the comedy, though sometimes cheaply delivered, was still cleverly blue-collar. 

I did want to take a minute and address the critics of characters Skids and Mudflap.  Some said they were the Jar Jar Binks of Transformers.  Okay, I can kind of see where you’re coming from there, though the green and orange bots weren’t anywhere close to the level of annoyance that Jar Jar was in The Phantom Menace.  What got me were those that said the characters were racist.  You have got to be kidding me you overly liberal, politically correct, cry babies.  I take the train through the inner city to work each day and hear the ‘n-word’ passed around like free samples at the grocery store.  Do not look at these fictional characters and say they are racist and do not feel the need to be offended for someone else.  To those critics, please go back to your cave you socially ignorant imbeciles. 

And now, back to our show!  In the end, Revenge of the Fallen was my summer blockbuster that, believe it or not, held a variety of aspects that were more than just flying fists and bullets.  The final highlight of the film was the adrenaline-pumping fight between Optimus Prime and his arch nemeses; Megatron and The Fallen.  This juiced-up battle was full of rage and destruction and from the moment that Optimus jetted off toward the top dogs of the Decepticons, I did not blink, depriving my pupils of some much needed moisture.  As the movie came to a close and Linkin Park filled the air with another rocking tune, I knew my film of the year had arrived.   



Honorable Mention


Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious BasterdsTarantino’s latest work just missed the mark on making my top ten of the year.  A fictional take on occurrences in World War II, Brad Pitt leads a band of merry Jews on the hunt for some not so merry Nazis.  The film features some great acting, especially from the likes of Christoph Waltz as the elegantly evil Colonel Hans Landa.  Pitt’s Tennessee delivery of “Bonjourno” had to be the best-timed comedic piece in the film.  Who ever thought a little bit of Italian could command so many laughs in the theater?  If you knew Lieutenant Aldo Raine, you’d know why this is just plain funny.  Some scenes will put a rock in your gut as the undercover agent is about to be had while others will leave you chuckling at the screen.  I’m not much of a Tarantino fan, but this film was one smart piece of work.


Up in the Air

Up In The AirGeorge Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, a sort reverse head-hunter for companies.  Instead of hiring people, it’s his job to go out and fire them for employers too cowardly to execute the deed themselves.  The movie takes on multiple, very real aspects of the job.  There’s the emotional toll of firing people and effectively seeing their occupational lives come to a screeching halt.  There’s also the variable of relationships on the road and grooming an understudy on the job who’s ready to steal your thunder.  You won’t find a Hollywood ending in this great piece of work directed by Jason Reitman.



Biggest Disappointments



9Though there were several disappointing films in 2009, I had three standouts that topped my list.  The first was the animated film 9.  This movie was utter garbage as its only perk was some beautiful animation.  Other than that it was a boring production that became the world’s longest chase scene.  “Oh god, 5 just got captured!  Let’s get him!  Oh no!  Now 6 is in jail!”  Holy crap!  Am I back in math class??  Someone wrap a baseball bat around my head because I can’t take this nonsense any longer!


X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: WolverineNext on the list is Wolverine.  I love his character and Hugh Jackman is awesome in the role.  Yet somehow director Gavin Hood managed to destroy this movie.  If you’re not into comic books, chances are you enjoyed this work.  If are into the comic genre and you understand Wolverine’s history, you most likely thought this movie was rubbish.  I have four significant complaints. 

One, the romantic chemistry between Logan and girlfriend Kayla was almost non-existent.  We were close to approaching Anakin and Padmé unbelievability.  Two, actor Taylor Kitsch was a horrible Gambit.  Nice Cajun accent, lad.  Where did it go?  It left and came back and left again.  Three, we’ve got the special effects.  Wolverine’s blades looked more realistic in the X-Men trilogy than they did here.  A CGI Patrick Stewart?  Ridiculously fake.  The collapsing nuclear plant?  Bad.  Finally, there’s the coupe de grace.  Deadpool.  In the comics, Deadpool has one biologically enhanced ability; accelerated healing.  Suddenly in this film he can shoot lasers from his eyes, teleport at will and generate Baraka-like blades from his arms.  Even in the realm of fiction, I could not suspend disbelief for this long.  This movie was garbage.



AvatarLock and load, people.  Get ready to fire your volleys at me because this movie was a big bore.  How so?  It was unoriginal and drawn out in story.  Whether you like it or dislike it is purely opinion.  However, to say this movie borrower heavily elsewhere is fact.  This film was Dances With Wolves in space.  I love Dance With Wolves, but I’m not big on Avatar which was more eye candy than anything else.  Cool battle, decent acting, ingenious environment, but it featured a story that, for the most part, has been done before.  Oh how quickly we forget. 




16 Responses to “Gregg’s Best & Worst Cinema Films of 2009”

  1. Brian White

    There’s no denying Gregg’s love for Sandra Bullock 🙂

    Nothing really comes as a surprise from what I know about Gregg’s taste in films except Avatar. Wow! One of the most disappointing? 🙁 Are you sure that if you went back and watched it in 2D, without the headache, that it just may appeal to you more?

    You know my feelings on Transformers 🙂 And wow! Someone finally managed to talk about Transformers without feeling the necessary of obligation of mentioning Megan Fox. Kudos! I had to read those three paragraphs twice. I am glad to see that you finally warmed up to that killer LP track.

    Wolverine…I never cared about from the beginning, but I could not agree with you more about 9. You had me in stitches (no pun intended) reading that.

    Until tomorrow…

  2. Gregg

    I’d have to say my only regret is that I was not able to see “Sherlock Holmes” before the year was out. That could have changed the list. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Shawn

    Wow, The Proposal at number eight? Over Avatar? Is it possible that you’ve only seen these 15 movies this year and that’s why you ranked The Proposal up there?

    There’s no way you can rip Avatar on terms of story, but give The Proposal a pass. The Proposal (although funny) was as predictable as a movie can be.

    I’m intrigued by The Hurt Locker though. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  4. Gregg

    Hiya Shawn! Actually lad, I’ve seen a ton of films in the theater this year…probably more than you, but just a guess. And yes! I actually just found out I can rip Avatar and give The Proposal the #8 spot. Whew! Lucky me! I just talked to God, Buddah and Allah and they all said I was allowed to do that, but they didn’t know who you were.

  5. Bob Ignizio

    ‘Transformers 2’ the best movie of the year? Did I just step into Bizarro world? To each their own, I guess.

  6. Pretty Ricki

    For the most part, great list. I can’t believe Zombieland was anywhere on the top 10 list. That was the first movie I ever walked out on. In fact, if given the choice, I would rather be seduced by a cheese grater than watch the first half of that film again. Spot on with the rest of the list. Also, I think if you watched Sherlock Holmes, it definitely would have made your list. Nice job again and can’t wait for more reviews in 2010!

  7. Brian White

    That’s funny! Is Zombieland that bad Ricki? Now you have me thinking twice about that one. I’m not sure about your Sherlock Holmes statement, but to each their own.

  8. Sandy

    I loved Wolverine, but I think my views may have been influenced by the site of Hugh’s ridiculously perfect, sexy, naked, wet body… Oh, sorry, where was I?
    I liked Transformers 2 also, and I don’t have a thing for naked autobots – I just liked the movie. I did see it with my 8 year old son and tend to take on his joy and excitement when we see action flicks. I was happy seeing GI Joe with him also, but would not pop it in my bluray player if I were home alone. I did not scream once during Paranormal Activity and I am a big chicken (and a screamer) at the movies; so this one was very disappointing to me.
    And lastly, I am glad you included The Blind Side. That was one of the few films that the whole family enjoyed and it made my heart feel like the grinch’s on Christmas morning.

  9. Brian White

    Naked Autobots?!!! Hey…let’s keep it clean here. I am just kidding 🙂

    Hmm…that surprises me about Paranormal Activity Sandy. I am really shocked to hear that. Although I scare very infrequently I did feel those bedroom scenes were pretty tight…like Adam says…so much tension on that rubber band which is about to pop (my best paraphrase)! I’m looking forward to seeing it on Blu-ray again (although I can’t imagine the tense moments will feel the same) and showing it to my parents. I’m curious to see just how high my mom can jump off the couch 🙂

    I will make an honest effort to see The Blind Side when it comes out on Blu-ray. I have heard good things from it from even people not in love with Sandra Bullock 🙂

  10. Brian White

    OK…I would like to tackle an important social issue…Gregg’s #1 choice.

    I almost felt the need to include this film in my biggest disappointment category, but I spared it simply because although I have many beefs with the film it is a guilty pleasure of mine.

    Where to begin…Maybe my expectations were so high for this second film that I went in expecting the second coming and all I received was a key chain as a parting gift. There were just so many things wrong with Transformers 2. For one…the story…can anyone truly tell me what this movie was about other than cool robots, giant explosions, hot cars and Megan Fox? I mean, not that any of the aforementioned items are bad, but a film must have a solid story to ground itself…otherwise it is considered a flop by many. Now…that’s not to say being a flop in the eyes of critics is necessarily a bad thing. I mean let’s be honest. What movie was #1 at the box office this year? Yep, BINGO…this one! How? How could it not be after 2007’s brilliant debut of the franchise. Where I think it went wrong was because of the writer’s strike. This movie was rushed way too fast! I believe had they spent another year in production my tone would have been completely different and I would have expected to see this film in my own top ten list of the year, but that’s ultimately not the case.

    So what did I find good about the second Transformers?

    1. Argue all you want, but Megan Fox was an attraction for the most of us. Fanboys around the world wanted more screen time for her and hopefully they got it!
    Megan Fox

    2. The cool cars!

    3. The robots.

    4. The special effects!

    What did I consider the movie’s downfalls?

    1. The practically non-existent full of plot holes storyline…

    2. Showing Sam crash landing in Egypt injuring his hand (and I completely know why they had to do this) and in the very next cut scene have a perfectly wrapped medical bandage on it. I mean, where did that come from? Was there a first aid station in the pyramid I did not see in the deleted scenes? Don’t insult my intelligence!

    3. Those faces and teeth on the junk bots…like Jar Jar and countless other sidekicks…the humor gets old fast…although I completely understand why they are in there. Comic relief bro!

    4. The Fallen…why not bring in that geriatric enemy from Iron Man to battle Optimus? And how come one Prime can beat the Fallen, but 7 Primes from the past all could not? It makes no sense.

    I can go on, but I will stop here. Regardless of my beefs I have with the film, I am a collector and yes, the second Transformers does grace my Blu-ray collection and I must admit it looks and sounds beautiful. I’m am sincerely hoping Mr. Bay can turn around the third film and totally redeem himself. I can be reached anytime for questions and advice Mr. Bay.


  11. Gregg

    In regard to your #4, you must be forgetting that he was a jacked-up Optimus. There was this full scene where he took on Jetfire’s parts, that’s what enabled him to take down the two head bad guys. I’m not getting the geriatric comparison between The Fallen and the Iron Monger. Both seemed pretty capable of causing trouble. It’s not like they were using walkers.

    And finally to all the Transformer 2 story critics out there, THIS IS NOT ‘GONE WITH THE WIND!’ Good grief folks! What are you looking for? Has no one ever followed them before? I’m getting the impression there’s this theory of “if it’s not as good as the original, then it stinks.” I get a kick out of all these people that criticize it but either A) saw it multiple times or B) own it.

  12. Brian White

    This is fun!

    In regards to point #4…actually the parts that Optimus took were from only one robot…and yes he was a geriatric robot…he even had a cane…remember? So I will restate my question then since I was in error…how could 2 Primes beat the Fallen when 7 Primes of the past could not? 🙂

    You know I am just giving you a hard time bro. Like Bob says above, everyone has their own opinion. Heck, just look at my list of favorites today…critics should easily be able to slander the majority of my comments. That’s what being a critic is all about. No one is ever right.

    But for me…yes you are right. It was not as good as the original…and it does not have to be. All that I am asking for is a little more cohesive screenplay from Mr. Bay and folks. I want something that makes sense and does not insult our intelligence. The first one was a perfect example of a perfect movie. It catered to the older crowd and the younglings. It brought the magic of my childhood proverbial sandbox to life on the big screen in a tight and entertaining fashion. Like I said…maybe I had Indiana Jones 4 Syndrome going into this film and I was just expecting too much from something as bombastic as this…In my opinion, 2 years is just not enough time to go into pushing one of these films out effectively. However I will say this…the special effects were tight for such a short lead time. It will actually be interesting to see how Ironman fares next year considering they only had two years to pump the installment out too!

  13. Thcotty

    Okay, so no mention of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? I realize that it didn’t have any ninjas or vampires, fighter jets or robots, but this movie holds the #1 place for all-time worldwide openings with $394 million. It also holds the #1 spot for 2009 worldwide gross at $929.4 million (according to boxofficemojo.com).

    Yes, I know…a children’s movie. Wait…just like G.I. Joe, maybe Transformers…? 😉

    The Harry Potter franchise has six movies and is still going very strong. Very few other movie franchises can claim this kind of following and general support. They must be doing something right. I love ’em!

  14. Gregg

    Brian, yes, Jetfire was admitted to the geriatric ward, but that’s not who you were referring to originally. No do-overs 😉

    Thcotty, good point. I am not a fan of the Harry Potter franchise but you bring a good point up. I wouldn’t call any of these films children’s movies (exclusively anyway).

  15. Pretty Ricki

    Did you guys ever see a group of bad ninjas circle around the good ninja only to fight him one-on-one, then one-on-one, and so on? We all know if they teamed up as a whole they would outpower the lonely ninja in the middle. Same principle in Transformers. In fact that is why they started all of the combiner sets (Devastator for example). If you are okay with alien robots, then I think you should be okay with combining poweres to become more powerful lol. All of this explaining just made me hungry. Time for a chocolate pudding pie.

  16. Thcotty

    The first two HP movies were for kids. Once Chris Columbus moved over to Producer and let Alfonso Cuaron take a swing as Director for HP # 3, it really pushed the kid’s movie mentality out the window, and it’s been carried on up from there.

    Ah, well! Enough of Harry Potter…I don’t want to hijack the thread from Gregg’s fantastic post. 😉 Happy New Year!