With the year entering its second half, it’s time to recap all the films from the first half of 2012.
This year has proven to be a big year for Hollywood with some great breakout hits, but at the cost of a few duds. The first half also saw the release of seven of my ten most anticipated films of the year resulting in a mixed bag of reactions. 2012 has been filled with its ups and downs and many surprises, but there’s only been one film that I’ve truly despised.
Hit the break to catch the full recap of films from 2012.
*Note that various films will have received a revised rating after second viewings*
To start off, I’ll be giving my current Top Five Films of the first half from January-June:
1. The Grey (January) - 4/5
My Highlight of the film: Personally, with such a solid film as a whole, it’s tough to point out a single highlight of the movie. But for such a thoughtful film that contemplates death and how people come to terms with it, there would only be one scene more fitting to select. That scene would be the final scene of the movie in which Liam Neeson recites the poem his father taught him one last time.
2. The Raid: Redemption (March) - 4/5
My highlight of the film: With such an action-packed film, there’s a ton of set pieces to choose from that just left me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath in. There was just a lot to take in, but the one fight that stands out to me is the fight between Iko Uwais and the various machete-wielding thugs he encounters in the apartment complex. It’s an intense sequence that just goes on and on and culminates in one heart pounding conclusion.
3. The Avengers (May) - 4/5 (Revised Rating)
My highlight of the film: With a film full of highlights, the one that stands out the most is the single-take sequence that involves each member of the Avengers starting with Black Widow & Captain America and ending with a great “punch” line from Hulk to Thor.
4. John Carter (March) - 4/5
My highlight of the film: For a movie that was poorly received financially and critically by most—obviously, with it being in my top five I personally loved it—it’s tough for most people to picture what I would take as a highlight in this film. Quite honestly, the moment that stood out the most was sequence in which John Carter fights off a horde of Thark barbarians while recalling the loss of his family back on Earth. To me, it was a beautiful sequence that was visually realized by director Andrew Stanton.
5. Chronicle (February) - 4/5
My highlight of the film: If there was one thing that really impressed me with this film, it was the creative use the found footage style. This style of film is just littered with horror and thriller films and so to see Josh Trank take this style of filming and apply it to the superhero/superpower genre was great.
Though I’ve seen some call the use of the found footage style in Chronicle to be a detriment to the film, I found it to be the exact opposite as it added a sense of realism to to the film allowing audiences to fully buy into the characters gaining real life super powers.
This year hasn’t been perfect, and though there have been disappointments, these following films are the year’s most underwhelming movies to have been released and at times had me bored more than anything else:
Contraband (January) - 1.5/5
My highlight of the film: For the second worst film that I’ve seen so far this year, it’s hard to come by a highlight for this movie when there is so little to be found. If there was anything to like in this it would have been the short action bit that takes place in South America.
Safe House (February) - 2/5
My highlight of the film: The only thing that carried me throughout this entire film were the performances by Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. They were great working together, but the movie itself wasn’t all that great to me.
Act of Valor (February) - 2/5
My highlight of the film: The film boasts some extremely beautiful cinematography, but with a team of Navy S.E.A.Ls as the leads, the performances are just bland to sit through three interconnected missions.
The Hunger Games (March) - 2/5
My highlight of the film: The movie moves at a quick enough pace with good performances throughout the entire cast. However, having read the book the liberties taken with the story were just hard to ignore.
Lockout (April) - 2/5
My highlight of the film: The campy nature of the film is only truly felt through the character of Snow played by Guy Pearce. The rest of the movie just doesn’t live up to his performance, which is more in line with something you’d find in a B Movie.
Piranha 3DD (June) - 2/5
My highlight of the film: Despite the trailer ruining many of the film’s most absurd moments, there is a nice little surprise at the end that had me laughing out loud.
The one film that I despised the most for the first half of this year is the following:
Project X (March) - .5/5
My highlight of the movie: I could go back and look at my review to see what I found entertaining about this, but the movie’s ending left such a negative impression on me that I never want to revisit this movie ever again. Simply put, I find nothing redeemable about this movie.
And here’s the full recap of the rest of the films of the year that have been reviewed—including those not by me—in chronological order.
Haywire (January) - 3/5
My highlight of the film: As Gina Carano’s first leading role in a feature length film, she provides a believable ass kicking female lead and a decent performance as to be expected by director Steven Soderbergh. It also helps to be surrounded by a stellar supporting cast.
Red Tails (January) - 3/5 (Revised Rating)
My highlight of the film: I really enjoyed the camaraderie between the various pilots of the Tuskegee airmen, but it was the film’s various dogfights that proved to be the real highlight of the movie to me.
Man on a Ledge (January) - 2.5/5
My highlight of the film: I’m a Sam Worthington fan and I really enjoyed his performance in this movie. As a heist/revenge film, it’s far from being up there with the best, but it was entertaining for what it was and Worthington kept me in the movie the whole time.
The Woman in Black (February) - 3/5
My highlight of the film: The atmosphere of the movie is just so exceptionally complimented by the Victorian era that even the day time scenes had an edge of creepiness to them.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (February) - 3/5
My highlight of the film: The chase sequence in this film in which the group rides on a pair of oversized bees. Despite a rip-off of a scene in Avatar, the scene was still thrilling and fun to watch in 3D. Overall, a fun, family-friendly film.
STAR WARS Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D (February) - 2.5/5
My highlight of the film: For a 3D re-release it was done well, but for a movie with very little highlights in-between poor decisions it is always nice to revisit the duel between Darth Maul and the Jedi.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (February) - 3.5/5
My highlight of the film: Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine’s direction. Some of the shots they take in this film are absolutely jaw-dropping to take in with the inclusion of 3D. Definitely one of the more visually creative and stunning films of the year.
The Secret World of Arrietty (February) - 4/5 (Ernie’s Rating); 3.5/5 (My Rating)
My highlight of the film: Personally, the highlight of the film for me is the ending of the movie. As much as I love the movie up to the end, I was curious with how they were planning on wrapping up the film. When the ending came, it was absolutely fitting and wonderful letting me leave the theatre satisfied.
This Means War (February) - 2.5/5
My highlight of the film: As fun as this movie was, it was really lacking in a lot of areas, but I did really enjoy the chemistry displayed between Tom Hardy and Chris Pine. I thought they played off each other well and were hilarious together, but Reese Witherspoon just wasn’t the type of actress I could buy them fighting over.
The Lorax (March) - 3/5
My highlight of the film: The voice work all round was solid and I loved the voice acting by Danny Devito as the Lorax in particular. The film does pervert the message of the story a bit and draws out the story longer than it should have been, but the film still remains entertaining none the less.
21 Jump Street (March) - 3/5
My highlight of the film: Channing Tatum’s performance was surprisingly the highlight of the movie. For an actor who is constantly described as stiff with very little emotional range in his facial expressions, he absolutely came alive in 21 Jump Street and was by far the funniest of the two in this movie.
Wrath of the Titans (March) - 2.5/5 (Revised Rating)
My highlight of the film: Despite a weak plot with acting on the back burner for this movie, the film is still visually impressive and honestly the best 3D movie of the year so far.
Mirror Mirror (March) - 4.5/5 (Steven’s Rating)
(I’ve yet to watch this)
Titanic 3D (April) - 2.5/5 (Steven’s Rating) 3/5 (My Rating)
My highlight of the film: Great performances, great emotional kick at the end, but the film is incredibly long and Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” has been overplayed to death since the movie’s release.
The Cabin in the Woods (April) - 5/5 (Steven’s Rating); 4/5 (My Rating)
My highlight of the film: Fran Kranz is the man of this film. Provides the character audiences will relate to the most and the most laughs in this horror comedy film.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (April) - 3/5 (Steven’s Rating)
(I’ve yet to watch this)
The Raven (April) - 3/5 (Steven’s Rating)
(I’ve yet to watch this)
Dark Shadows (May) - 1.5/5 (Steven’s Rating)
(I’ve yet to watch this)
Battleship (May) - 2.5/5
My highlight of the film: The guns-a-blazing climax of the film where the cast of the film actually mans a battleship in the final battle. Just a fun ride of explosions to behold visually.
The Dictator (May) - 3.5/5 (Steven’s Rating)
(I’ve yet to watch this)
MIB III (May) - 3/5
My highlight of the film: Josh Brolin’s portrayal of a young Tommy Lee Jones. He absolutely nails down his voice and mannerisms in an almost creepy way. It’s also pretty weird how much he does look like a younger Jones without the sagging face.
Snow White and the Huntsman (June) - 3/5
My highlight of the film: Visually influenced by many creative minds, the film has the look and feel of a new fantasy franchise with good performances from the supporting cast and Charlize Theron. But Kristen Stewart cannot carry a movie and the film’s script proves it.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June) - 3.5/5 (Steven’s Rating)
(I’ve yet to watch this)
Prometheus (June) - 3/5
My highlight of the film: As disappointing as this movie was, the atmosphere and thrills this movie provides is enough to have kept me entertained along with its premise. It’s only when the movie enters its second half where the movie truly falls apart and reduces itself to being just a simple thriller without the sci-fi.
Brave (June) - 3/5 (Steven’s Rating and I agree)
My highlight of the film: More of a Disney Princess film than a typical Pixar film, the highlight of this film is the relationship between Merida and her mother. While not original as we’ve seen this kind of story play out in so many previous films, the execution is nonetheless there for what is Pixar’s most gorgeous looking film to date.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June) - 2.5/5
My highlight of the film: Partially shown in the trailer, the biggest highlight of this movie to me is the stampede sequence in which Lincoln chases down his mother’s murderer. Once you suspend your disbelief, it is one of the most entertaining action set pieces you will see this year.
Other notable films released this year that have gone without review or rating by us include:
- The Devil Inside
- Joyful Noise
- Beauty and the Beast 3D
- Underworld: Awakening
- One For the Money
- Big Miracle
- The Vow
- Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds
- Silent House
- A Thousand Words
- Friends With Kids
- Jeff Who Lives at Home
- Casa De Mi Padre
- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
- American Reunion
- Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope
- The Three Stooges
- The Lucky One
- Think Like a Man
- The Five-Year Engagement
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
- God Bless America
- What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting
- Chernobyl Diaries
- Moonrise Kingdom
- For Greater Glory
- Safety Not Guaranteed
- Rock of Ages
- That’s My Boy
- Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
- Magic Mike
- People Like Us
- Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Protection Program