We’re almost at the half way point for 2013 now. Already, the days are starting to get shorter and we’re closer to next Christmas than we are to last Christmas. There are two ways that we can deal with this situation that we find ourselves in; we can look forward to the things that are yet to come or we can have a look back at the first part of the year. At the moment, I’m more interested in looking back than looking forward. And specifically, I’m more interested in looking back at what was in the cinema this year.
It’s like a very limited form of nostalgia.
With Man of Steel currently burning up the box office, it’s hard to think back to a time before Iron Man 3 hit the cinemas, but it’s been an interesting six months in terms of movies.
Even though they were released in the bygone days of 2012, Jack Reacher and Bilbo Baggins stuck around to ease us in to 2013. Both of course were films about short men doing big things. Bilbo might have stretched a little bit too far though as the venture in to High Frame Rate didn’t work as well as many hoped. For my own part, I do think that the technology worked, and anything on the screen that was real looked more real than Samuel L Jackson, but that clarity made the special effects, of which there were many, seem less connected and more unreal. The technology would however probably work amazingly with a movie like Jack Reacher which has its roots firmly in reality. Even if Tom Cruise doesn’t.
It’d be very tempting to comment on everything that’s been released in the cinema so far this year, but as I haven’t actually seen everything released in the cinema so far this year, I can’t write intelligently about what I haven’t seen. So if there’s something glaringly obvious that you don’t see here, That’s why.
In January, Gangster Squad and Pitch Perfect kept us entertained while we waited for Lincoln to arrive. Gangster Squad benefited from an amazing cast and some stylish direction while Pitch perfectly defied all requirements of logic and taste to end up being ridiculously enjoyable. But giving Anna Kendrick so much screen time might have been a factor too. Lincoln though was just class throughout and showed us what The West Wing might have been like if Sorkin was around before his time. With no spectacle apart from the acting and the script, the movie set an early standard for everything that would follow.
Around the same time, a musical hit the cinema screens. And I don’t just mean a movie that had songs in it, Les Miserables was a full-blown stage production musical put on to a screen. And that was why it suffered in quality, if not financially. Stage musicals are amazing things, and there are few treats in life like seeing a good thing done well on a stage in front of you. But they are paced very differently than movies and putting musical-pacing up on the big screen makes for a very disjointed affair, no matter the quality of the acting or the production values.
After Tarantino gave us his own unique version of a Western, a Southern, and tested the limits of how many times you can say the N-word in a movie, Bruce Willis tried his best to make us all as tired of the Die Hard franchise as he is. The first Die Hard movie saw John McClaine saving a building, then he had to save an airport, then a city, then a nation and in the most recent DH movie he had to save (arguably) the whole world. So presumably the next Die Hard movie will see Bruce Willis being bored to tears as he saves the Universe. Or maybe just the Solar System, so that there’s somewhere to go after that. If it’s possible to save the Universe while being trapped in a building, it might bring some of the fun back to the franchise.
Flight was a master class in misdirection and showing how misleading a trailer can be. Wreck-It Ralph showed us a version of our own history that we don’t see in the books. Side Effects showed us that drugs can be bad and that people can be worse. GI: Joe- Retaliation was saved by Dwayne Johnson: The Franchise Reviver. Finding Nemo 3D reinforced that everything looks better in 2D. Oblivion brought Tom Cruise back to Ireland without a dodgy accent and it proved to be the spiritual (and musical) successor to Tron: Legacy. Olympus Has Fallen showed us how far Die Hard has fallen and what the last Die Hard movie could have been
Tony Stark is a genius, that couldn’t be denied. And some of that genius must have rubbed off on the folks at Disney because releasing Iron Man 3 as arguably the first movie of the Blockbuster Season was a very smart thing to do. The movie was exceptionally enjoyable on the first viewing but when it came to seeing the movie for the third time, the banter and wit and buddy-movie shenanigans just fell flat and wore thin. Having said that, the movie did manage to show us something different and give us a solid launch give Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a licence to try something different.
It’s probably still a bit too early to be making big sweeping spoiler-laden statements about Star Trek Into Darkness but it did stand up to multiple viewings and as much as I hate to say it, the 3D screenings had the best use of 3D I’ve ever seen in any movie. But what made the movie great was the action and the humour and the relationships and the fish-out-of-water scenes, and most of all the genuine heart that the movie had. It was also great to see all of the midnight screenings and pre-screening parties that cropped up. Trek fans aren’t always a wildly vocal bunch, but they’re definitely out there.
But the movie that I’ve been waiting all year for was Man of Steel and I thought that it was worth the wait. The movie isn’t about “my” Superman or “your” Superman, it’s about Goyer and Snyder’s Superman. Personally, I adored the movie. I saw a movie about sacrifice and family and the choices that define us and what makes us who we are. And Amy Adams played the best Lois Lane I’ve seen in a long time. Seeing it twice in one day was an absolute pleasure, and I can’t wait to see it a third time next weekend. A lot of what I’ve always loved about the character was on the screen as well as dialogue ripped straight out of the comics. I’ll admit that there was a scene that I took a long time to accept, but I had to realise that it did make sense in the context of the movie, even if “my” Superman wouldn’t have necessarily made that choice. How vague was that?
But June isn’t over quite yet. Gru and his Minions will reappear on the big screen soon, and once again their movie looks like it’s going to be a huge amount of fun.
I don’t know if anything will overtake Man of Steel during the last six months of 2013, either in terms of the huge Box Offfice takings, or the place that it holds in my heart. But it’s going to be fun finding out.