Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The "Bernels" for 2013's Big Screen

The Oscars are just a few days away, and as I’ve mentioned in my “Bernels” for the Small Screen of 2013, the “Bernels” for movies of 2013 is set to tie-in with the Oscars’ seasons.  So this is it.  It’s time for another informal movie awards based on my movie standards and tastes.  You might notice that the categories are mostly different from last year’s.  That is to be expected, since the “Bernels” is inconsistent and informal, merely catering to my personal whims, biases, and preferences; it’s just for fun!      

Also, as what was made precedent in the last year’s “Bernels”, movies of the previous year that I’ve only been able to watch after I’ve already made my list for the year’s top movies are qualified for the awards.  Hence, 2013 movies like Frozen, Grudge Match, 47 Ronin, and About Time, which I was only able to get the chance to watch in early 2014 (from January 1 up to the time of writing), are all included in the considerations for the “Bernels” along with the 2013 movies that I’ve got to see in 2013.    

If I had been able to see Frozen during 2013, it would have been number one in my “top movies of 2013” list.  Yes, it’s my favorite 2013 film.  I like it so much that, as of writing, I have seen it thrice already.     

Frozen was something fresh and different as it avoided most of the obvious clichés and tropes one would expect from such kind of animated feature.  Therefore, there was the presence of legitimate, unexpected twists which added to the overall amazing quality of the movie.  I found it a bit more sophisticated than previous Disney animated movies.

In a thematic level, this movie contains enough depth that different metaphors – ranging from Christianity to homosexuality – have been derived from it.  Moreover, it has been refreshing to be reminded that “finding true love” is not always about the romantic variety and how “love at first sight” is usually superficial and unreliable. 

Frozen was a stunning and delightful film that has a fascinating story, appealing characters, fine humor, fantastic visuals, and stirring musical numbers.  If ever I have included some BEST ANIMATED MOVIE and BEST MUSICAL categories, the “Bernels” for those will go to Frozen as well.       

A Frozen 2 NEEDS to happen!

BEST MOVIE HERO: Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas)
I thoroughly enjoyed Anton Yelchin’s portrayal of the “Odd One” – that in a year that gave us great and memorable male movie heroes like Asa Butterfield's Ender Wiggin, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins, Robert Downey’s Iron Man, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s  Roadblock, Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane, George Clooney’s Matt Kowalski, and Vin Diesel’s Riddick – my pick is still  Yelchin’s Odd Thomas.  Yelchin has fantastically did everything right in bringing to life in the big screen all the necessary character elements that made Odd Thomas the fascinating and loveable character I’ve encountered in the novels.   

Runner-ups:  Tony Stark/Iron Man (Iron Man 3), Roadblock (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), Riddick (Riddick), Gerry Lane (World War Z), Matt Kowalski (Gravity), Ender Wiggin (Ender’s Game), Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug)

As soon as I’ve finished watching Frozen, it was clear to me that Elsa is not only a unique Disney princess and one of the most fantastic ice-powered fictional characters ever, but that I also find her a more interesting character than Katniss Everdeen, last year’s winner and who was set to repeat if it wasn’t for Elsa. 

Runner-up: Katniss Everdeen (Catching Fire)

BEST MOVIE VILLAIN: Khan Noonien Singh a.k.a. John Harrison (Star Trek Into Darkness)
I like Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan more than the original one; his portrayal was more charismatic, badass, and engaging.   He was one of the major reasons why Into Darkness has been awesome.  Khan has been an enjoyably magnetic villain, and no other male movie villain in 2013 ever came close of becoming as interesting as Cumberbatch’s Khan.   Not even Tom Hiddleton’s charismatic Loki or Lee-Byung Hun’s badass Storm Shadow.           

BEST MOVIE VILLAINESS: Faora-Ul (Man of Steel)
In Man of Steel, Faora is a ruthless and skilled warrior that serves as General Zod’s lieutenant.   But in spite of being a secondary villain, she proved to be more captivating, more menacing, and more kickass than Zod, the actual main villain.   Heck, she was even probably the most interesting character in the entire movie.  Seriously.  Kick Ass 2’s Mother Russia might be a brutal, badass villainess like Faora but she’s far from being as appealing and dominant. 

Runner-ups: the possessed Mia Allen (Evil Dead), Mother Russia (Kick Ass 2), Mizuki (47 Ronin)  

BEST MOVIE DUO: Roadblock & Duke (G.I. Joe: Retaliation)
Even if the movie had turned out revolving around these two characters, I would have been okay with that.  The Rock and Iron Mike possessed great chemistry together; they were awesomely funny.  Too bad, Duke got killed.   I wish they will revive him for the 3rd movie. 

Runner-up: Burt Wonderstone & Anton Marvelton (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone); Special Agent Sarah Ashburn & Detective Shannon Mullins (The Heat)

BEST CAMEO: Captain America (Thor: The Dark World)
I greatly appreciate this cameo.  Seeing Chris Evans mimicking Tom Hiddleston’s Loki mimicking Chris Evans’ Captain America (that’s how that scene was shot) was a real treat.  

This movie was generally well-received by critics, but I found it awful.  Oh, I admit, that there were a couple of things I found hilarious about the movie (e.g. the respective cameo scenes of Michael Cera and Emma Watson).  Still, overall, I found that the humor of this movie was seemingly dependent on the narrative getting too vulgar and undignified, which I found appalling and disgustingly desperate for laughs.  

Critics hated it.  But I loved it.  It was my choice for best movie of 2013 before I got to watch Frozen.  I found Now You See Me a smart, entertaining, and thrilling “magic show.”  I’m at a loss why the critics didn’t like it.  Really.  Every second of this movie has been pretty engaging. 

The widow of Henry DeTamble hooks up again with another time traveler, this time, a clone of Bill Weasley in possession of a Time Turner. 

That’s what I originally thought how the movie will look like. 

I thought that this was to be your usual RomCom with time travel as plot device.  But I was mistaken with that presumption.  About Time is actually something that has more depth than that.  It was thoughtful and witty, and I greatly enjoyed it.   

In fact, the romance, and the protagonist’s usage of his abilities to win the girl of his dreams, though it was an integral part of the narrative, was never the real heart of the story.  The main theme was basically about family, living life with no regrets and getting the most out of it, and the importance of wise decisions.       

47 Ronin received negative reception from critics but I was never the kind of guy that agrees with critics anyway.  I have my own standards.  And by my own standards, I can’t exactly tell what I feel about this movie.  I certainly do not hate it.  But I’m not praising it either.

It got great swordfights and visuals.  But it also felt lacking, untidy, and having too much of Keanu Reeves’ character being forced on us.  The story was merely passable – it had unnecessary and uninspired parts, but it also had some traces of the script being one to two re-writes away from becoming epic.  

It felt both compelling and annoying.  I can’t really explain it properly, except that, to me, it felt like the awesome and the awful in this movie just cancelled each other out.  It was equally good and bad.  

Overall, it is still a movie worth watching, if you have some extra time, but not the kind of movie that needed to be prioritized.         

I really wanted this movie to be good.  The Lone Ranger is such an iconic character and it would have been great for him to have a healthy movie presence in modern pop culture.  Unfortunately, Lone Ranger has been a big, insane mess. Oh, I found it entertaining overall – having Johnny Depp as Toto guarantees that it’s going to be weird but entertaining – but it was still some messy entertainment.  I found the movie confused on what kind of mood it would want to go.  It was underwhelming at times, and then overwhelming at times.  There were instances in which it seems to be treading on the path towards something epic, but there were also significant instances wherein it was purely crazy – and not the good kind of “crazy” but the awful kind.  It was constantly fluctuating between extremes, that in the end, it just felt mediocre.        

There was no other 2013 movie that made me laugh as hard as Grudge Match.  Really.  Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro had wonderful comedic chops, and with the help of funny supporting cast members Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin, this movie was enriched with several hilarious scenes and dialogues.  There is a good possibility that this movie could have made my top movie lists for 2013 if I had just been able to see it last year; for not only was it packed with hilarity, it also has a good story that is chock-full of heart.      

Runner-Ups: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Despicable Me 2, The Croods, Monster University 

I guarantee that this movie is going to be one of the most god-awful movies you will ever watch.  But I don’t think you will be bored nor regret watching it.   

Sharknado’s quality is your typical Asylum – cheap, nonsensical, and, most importantly, deliberately intended to be bad.  The narrative pace and scene transitions are messy, inconsistent, and disorganized.  The CGI is horrible.  The script, directing, and cinematography are very poor.    The premise of sharks being brought by storm surges and then tornadoes is just too ridiculously crazy, and it’s loaded with batshit, implausible happenings.

But because of these, it ironically became watchable.  I couldn’t stop groaning and snickering with every scene, but I couldn’t stop watching either.  Its awfulness, dumbness, and insanity made it hilarious.  This is the kind of stuff Mystery Science Theatre 3000 can lampoon the best and mine comedy gold from.  And that’s the charm of this movie.  You could almost hear the sarcastic and ridiculing commentary from the MST3000 guys… and then you’ll realize that you’re the one actually doing it

BEST DANCE SCENE: New Year’s Party Dancing (About Time)
This scene was during the early part of the movie, in the New Year’s Eve Party – the evening before the protagonist learned from his father that he can travel back to the past.  This was definitely one of the funniest scenes I’ve encountered in 2013.  Domhnall Gleeson’s character found himself with an undesirable dance partner as Sugababes’ “Push the Button” plays in the background.  The awkward dancing and troubled look on his face were just priceless.     
MOST BADASS MOMENT: A chained Riddick beheads someone using just his foot! (Riddick)
To merely describe it, won’t do it justice.  You have to watch it for yourself to see how awesome it was.  But here’s what transpired:  Among the bounty hunters that went hunting for Riddick, the leader of the first group of bounty hunters (there were two) was big A-hole, who earned Riddick’s wrath after he killed Riddick’s dog-like pet and by just being a constant A-hole.  Riddick was eventually captured, and while he was chained, he threatened the Big A-hole bounty hunter that if he ever gets off his restraints, within five seconds (I think, I forgot the exact number), he would cut off his head, and then put it in the container that the Big A-hole intended for Riddick’s severed head.  All within his promised five seconds.  Indeed, later on, with just the shackles on a foot taken off, Riddick was able to make true of his threat.  Again, describing it won’t do it justice.  You have to see the entire sequence to understand its epicness. 

BEST ACTION-PACKED MOMENT: Jaegers vs. Kaijus (Pacific Rim)
This is self-explanatory.  Every monstrous, badass battle between Jaegers and Kaijus were simply unmatched and tremendously gratifying.

Runner-ups: House Party Protocol (Iron Man 3); Jack Wilder vs. Dylan Rhodes and the FBI – especially the part the part where Wilder weaponized some cards into projectiles (Now You See Me)

“Let It Go” is a powerful song.  But it was only in its rendition by Queen Elsa in Frozen in which I find it extremely moving.  I checked out Demi Lovato’s version, both the music video and the live performance, and found it unremarkable; its arrangement sounded synthetic and inferior to the brilliant arrangement of the rendition done in Frozen, which wonderfully articulated the musical emotion appropriate for the song.   And even when Idina Menzel – speaking and singing voice of Elsa – sang it live, it doesn’t measure up to Elsa’s performance in that iconic Frozen sequence; probably because the glorious visual display of Elsa’s ice magic was accompanying the music and it significantly enhanced the impact of the song. 

I totally adore Elsa’s “Let It Go” scene.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve watched Frozen thrice already.  But I’ve gone to watch the “Let It Go” part of the movie at least a dozen times. 

MOST UNEXPECTED TWIST: The “Mandarin” was a stone-head actor hired by the main villain to be a dummy (Iron Man 3)
This development has been pretty controversial.  Reception has been polarizing.  My very own feelings about it were mixed.  I’m kind of disappointed that a real Mandarin with powered-rings has not been portrayed in the big screen.  On the other hand, I also enjoyed and appreciated how this astonishing and amusing development came out of nowhere and blew everyone’s mind.  

MOST SHOCKING MOMENT: Kal-El breaks Zod’s neck (Man of Steel)
“SUPERMAN DOESN’T KILL!!!” I wanted to scream that out when I saw it.  I was legitimately stunned.  I had to calm my excitement by mentally reminding myself that Man of Steel was an “Elseworld”-kind of tale.   

BIGGEST MOVIE-RELATED NEWS: Batman vs. Superman!!!
There’s probably no bigger movie news in 2013 than this.  Or, at least, no other movie news in 2013 that got me more excited than this.  I’ve always wanted a Batman/Superman movie to happen.  (I’ve already discussed more about this, along with other Justice League-related developments

Runner-Ups: Veronica Mars movie was made possible by Kickstarter, Warcraft movie

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