Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Movies I Missed in 2008: Part 1

Despite my best efforts, I didn't quite manage to see all of the films released in 2008 that I wanted to before the beginning of 2009. As the year progresses, I'll make an effort from time to time to quickly note the titles I've been catching up with. Here's a list of What I've Been Watching lately.

Total number of movies released in 2008 that I have seen as of the writing of this post: 88

Clint Eastwood is a machine! Not only does he have an impressive track record of directing quality films, but he also somehow manages to do so incredibly quickly. Between this film and Gran Torino, I'd say that 2008 was a very good year for Eastwood. The entire cast is great, I never lost interest once despite the nearly two and a half hour running time, and knowing that the events depicted in the movie really happened should have your eyes glued to the screen to see what happens next.

If a computer generated film is going to come out alongside titles as impressive as Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda and dare to sport sub-par animation, it had better damn well have a good story to make up for it. Such is not the case with Igor. The plot is boring and clich├ęd, and the visuals were simply unimpressive. Not to mention, the voice acting was extremely weak. What's the point of paying well known celebrities to voice your characters if the celebrities in question (with the exception of Steve Buscemi) don't sound interesting at all?

Think Cloverfield on a smaller scale and you've essentially got the idea behind Quarantine. While I think that Cloverfield was overall a better film, Quarantine certainly packed a punch. This is one of the scariest movies I've seen in a while and it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I can only hope that the original, Spanish-language film REC, which served as inspiration for Quarantine, will be released on Region 1 DVD soon as those who have seen it seem to prefer it to this one.

This film has a touching story and some genuinely funny moments, but it is clearly and obviously meant for children. I can't fault the film for this, but I was a little let down by the plot. Whether it's simply dumbed down because it's a kids' movie or there were some flaws in the translation to English, CJ7 often seemed to go places that didn't quite make sense and left me a bit confused. Still, it's not an unpleasant film to watch.

Considering how little I pay attention to, am familiar with, or care about politics, I wasn't really expecting to enjoy this film. A week or two removed from having seen it, I've come to realize that W isn't doing a great job of sticking with me, but I do recall feeling very satisfied once I'd finished watching it. Josh Brolin was great, Thandie Newton was attrocious, and everyone else was just fine.

This film has a fun premise and never really tries to be something it's not, which is what allows it to be so entertaining as an action film. The techniques and abilities displayed by the main character (a rather young girl for a professional martial artist) are certainly impressive, but I couldn't help but feel that her physical performance wasn't quite good enough to be carrying an entire movie just yet. In a few years I have no doubt that she'll be able to be a bankable action star, but for right now it was just kind of neat to see her bend over backwards and slide under a small glass table.

To read about the rest of the movies released in 2008 which I've seen, check out: What I've Been Watching In 2008: A Year In Review(s)

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