Thursday, January 2, 2014

End of Watch(ing): 2013

Another year, another 80 movies in a theater.  First run, revival, special events, anniversaries, midnights and outdoor screenings add up in the city of lights and angels.  Looking back, I got to see some of my favorite movies of all time on the big screen like The Great Escape (2nd time), The Terminator (3rd time), Robocop (2nd time) and Escape From New York (3rd time) as well as see some of my favorite actors in person like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kurt Russell and Peter Weller.

On the new movie front, three flicks hit cinemas that became instant favorites:

Pain & Gain
Hands down my favorite movie of the year.  Why?  Because it's a movie about DOING.  Not talking about it, being about it!  Just because it's about the dark side of the human condition doesn't take away from the fact that P&G was the most hilarious and fucked up good time I had in a theater.  Of course I'm partial to the flick as well due to it's 90's bodybuilding backdrop which I find hysterical.  Mark Wahlberg is great as the determined, positive, yoked out, manipulative and demented ring leader following a three finger plan to rid the world of a douche bag while getting rich in the process.  Dwayne Johnson's freakish physique and boyish charm are put to good use as the dim witted weak link of the group and Wings' Tony Shalhoub is fantastic as the self made, total asshole, non-salad eating mark.  Michael Bay brings his usual vibrant, over the top and kinetic style to a low budget classic that shows he knows what he's doing even if people try to give him crap about it.

Pacific Rim
The most fun I had at the movies this summer.  Maybe it was the low expectations, maybe it was the horrid trailers, maybe it was the new yet familiar concept of Transformers fighting Godzilla but I was not looking forward to it.  Imagine my surprise when I found myself grinning ear to ear from the very start.  The soundtrack is catchy and rocking while the giant robot destruction was near heart stopping and exciting.  Rim almost spoils you for other movies because it makes you feel and yearn for a higher purpose.  We all go to movies to be entertained and sometimes educated but Rim is truly cinematic magic as it makes reality seem oh so boring compared to the world created.  Guillermo Del Toro brings out your inner 12 year old while making your 31 year old self wish he had a higher calling as singular and important as defending the world from massive, angry alien invaders.

The Last Stand
Arnold's would be comeback vehicle might not have set the box office on fire but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's an age appropriate and rollicking fun time showing the King still has the goods.  A modern western realized by easterner Kim Jee-Woon, Stand is a violent and quirky thriller that pits Arnie's small town rag-tag Sheriff's Department against the merciless army of an escaped cartel leader.  For me, Stand ranks among The Oak's best flicks, especially trumping anything he's done since True Lies in 1994.

Other flicks I enjoyed or at least made me pay attention:

Star Trek Into Darkness
Ender's Game
World War Z
Thor:  The Dark World
Only God Forgives
Don Jon
2 Guns

I haven't gotten around to seeing most of the award fodder yet, that's what January is for.

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