Well, it’s Award Season – Golden Globes, Academy Awards, BAFTA, SAG Awards, the Razzies – you name it, people are giving out awards. But we here at the Movie Mangle would like to do something less traditional. Like many average Joe’s, I haven’t seen all (or most) of the nominated movies this year. So while I will be losing the Academy Awards bingo, I want to bestow my OWN awards for the movies that impacted me last year (not the tooth that impacted me last year – that jerk gets NO award!). Ladies and gents, I present to you… the Mangle Awards!
#1 WORST MOVIE WITH BEST POTENTIAL: “Escape From Tomorrow”
You’ve probably heard of this one – a filmmaker wrote a “script,” had his actors memorize and rehearse, then snuck his whole sound and film team in to shoot it all in Disney World. Theoretically, this could be really cool. (In fact, a short film titled “Missing In The Mansion” did the same thing and was very fun!) But no.
It starts off fine, a story about a 40-something father of two who gets fired on the morning that he brings his family to Disneyland, then following his point of view as he does creepy things like stalking some underage French girls around the park. The whole point of the movie is to subvert the idea of Disney perfection and showing the juxtaposition between the seeming innocence of Disney and the realities of how adults think and behave.
But then it goes off the rails. The main character starts seeing trippy, LSD-like things happen around him and there’s some stupidity about a “cat flu” going around, so the movie becomes surreal, but then tries to hold on to some kind of reality and never achieves the kind of connection that even a David Lynch movie has. A waste of time.
#2 BEST TRANSFORMERS MOVIE: “Pacific Rim”
If only Guillermo del Toro had been brought on for the first TRANSFORMERS movie, I might still be watching its‘ copious sequels. But instead, we wait a decade or so to watch PACIFIC RIM – or, as I’m sure it was pitched – “Transformers meets Godzilla.”
I’ve heard a lot of people whine about how the effects were great but they were disappointed in the lack of characters and development. I disagree. In fact, I went in expecting ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM MONSTERS AND ROBOTS and instead found some pretty solid emotional and character grounding….. plus some pretty spectacular rock ‘em sock ‘em monsters and robots! PACIFIC RIM made a monster movie better than past GODZILLA’S and CLOVERFIELD and beat TRANSFORMERS in the giant robot department. Personally, I can’t wait for the sequel.
#3 BEST DOCUMENTARY DIRECTED BY DAVE GROHL: “Sound City”
I love music documentaries, especially when they involve “behind-the-scenes” of an album. Of the handful of music docs I saw last year, my two faves were “A BAND CALLED DEATH” (You should definitely check that one out, btw) and “SOUND CITY.” The latter is Nirvana and Foo Fighters member Dave Grohl’s directorial debut.
Sound City was a recording studio in the Valley that had incredible acoustics, an incomparable soundboard, and history of recording some of the biggest records and bands of the past few decades: Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Nine Inch Nails, Rick Springfield, etc. Alas, it went out of business. But before it did, Dave Grohl bought the fabled soundboard, installed it in his own state-of-the-art home studio, and made this killer documentary. And THEN, he invited some of the more prestigious people who ever recorded at Sound City and had them come record some tracks at his studio.
Seriously, this is worth watching for a thirty-second Paul McCartney moment alone.
**bonus awesome: Sound City is available right now on Amazon Instant Video, FREE to Prime members… just sayin***<Click here to watch Sound City for FREE on Amazon>
#4 BEST UNDER THE RADAR SURPRISE: “Trance”
I vaguely remember the previews for this one. Vaguely. But an acquaintance from work (at Stan’s Donuts N’ Firearms) had a digital copy that he was selling for the low low price of “stop blackmailing my wife” so I checked it out. And it’s GREAT!
Danny Boyle directs this thriller about an art heist and the hypnotist (James McAvoy) hired to figure out what happened to it. Smart, tight, and featuring an equally smart and tight (and naked!) Rosario Dawson, this is one of the handful of psychological thrillers that does a really good job of keeping the ending a surprise. With great performances and a fun twisty story, I recommend TRANCE to everybody. (I have a digital copy if you want to borrow it. Plus some nice blackmail material if you wish to peruse.)
#5 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT SINCE INDIANA JONES 4: “Man Of Steel”
This movie was so bad it made me angry.
It’s a lot of non-linear storytelling that doesn’t reveal anything so much as simply stop the narrative dead several times. Characters make ridiculous decisions that as an audience member I cannot relate to (See: Clark’s father’s death), they have blase reactions to monumental happenings (see: Clark’s MOM’s reaction to aliens wrecking her home), and we’re supposed to simply understand who people are by them TELLING us their caricature type (see: Lois’s first scene) so that we don’t have to see people interact and learn about them. Hence, we don’t care. At all.
And good thing, too! Because once we’re halfway through the movie, everything and everyone in Metropolis and Smallville is completely destroyed with no thought to life or property. BUT Superman cares for us humans SO MUCH!!! (When and where does he do this? Oh, right: never. He just says it but then lets people die and destroys buildings thoughtlessly.)
This is where I point out that the only person who has ever made a good Superman movie was Richard Donner. In the exact same scenario (Zod and alien supercohorts attack and destroy Metropolis), Superman reveals his WEAKNESS: caring so much for people’s lives that he spends most of his time PROTECTING them rather than FIGHTING the enemy. (And yes, that was Richard Donner’s movie – I don’t care who’s name is on the credit card in Superman 2.) We get to see Clark slowly grow up and deal with his problems and see his connection to his parents in realtime and feel for him in the first SUPERMAN movie. Here, the same beats are played out, but even though the CGI is great and could pull us into more character development, it’s simply a sight gag in Hack Snyder’s hands.
Oh, and Superman needs to have a love affair with Lois. Right. So add that checkmark and make sure that they kiss at the end of the movie. Why? Because “Superman loves Lois Lane.” Says so in the comics. Check. Got it. Ignore the fact that they have, oh, ZERO chemistry or moments of intimacy in the movie.
MAN OF STEEL had some great design elements and could have been a really good ten minute film.
I wish it had been.
#6 BEST ANNIVERSARY RE-RELEASE: “The Wizard Of Oz in 3D IMAX”
And it was fantastic. I’m not a fan of 3D most of the time and I find it to be a money-grab more often than not, but the depth and clarity of the picture (you could see the SEAMS in the clothing and baldcaps!) for this was incredible. And the movie itself?
Come on, I’m not even going to review it. If you’re not a fan of The Wizard of Oz…. something’s wrong.
And there you have it! Matt’s Mangle Awards for 2013. Let me know if I missed any great or unique movies by commenting below and I’ll see you at the Oscar Bingo game!
PS. As always, if you like what you see we really appreciate your positive reinforcement. Please share your thoughts and send to a friend. Cheers!