Tag Archives: time travel

Top Ten Films of 2012

2012 was a good year for movies. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see everything – films like Moonrise Kingdom, The Master, Argo, Les Misérables, Django Unchained, etc. are all films released in 2012 that I haven’t seen yet – but I DID manage to see quite a few. Here is my personal list of the best films of 2012 (click on the titles to view my full review):

 

10. Wreck-It Ralph

This was another film that I had been looking forward to for months on end. I’m not as into video games as some other people, but watching this film was still like revisiting my childhood. The heart of this movie is in the right place, with the main message being “accept who you are because you’re a wonderful person just as you are.” A talented voice cast, a sweet story, candy puns out the wazoo, and a fun score by Henry Jackman make this film everything I wanted it to be…and the animated short shown before the film, Paperman, was just as fantastic.

 

9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I was late to the whole “Lord of the Rings/J. R. R. Tolkien” party, having only seen Peter Jackson’s film trilogy in the past two years, but I was keen to read The Hobbit and see the movie as soon as I possibly could. While I was disappointed on my first viewing, mainly due to the cartoony special effects that resulted from the higher frame rate (48fps HFR), this film was a faithful adaptation to Tolkien’s original novel, and the return of familiar faces such as Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Andy Serkis as Gollum is refreshing. The real highlight of the film, though, aside from Howard Shore’s beautiful score, is Martin Freeman, who plays the perfect Bilbo Baggins. While some may find the run time to feel a little stretched, I found it to be justified by the attention to detail to the original novel.

 

8. The Hunger Games

I read Suzanne Collins’ acclaimed Hunger Games trilogy just a few weeks before I saw the film, and I was hooked from the get-go. The film did a wonderful job of adapting the novel, perfectly capturing the dystopian society introduced in Collins’ literary world. Jennifer Lawrence did a particularly outstanding job as Katniss, and the scenes added by the filmmakers to show the control that the Capitol has over the people of Panem and over the Hunger Games do nothing but add to the story in a great way.

 

7. Flight

Robert Zemeckis, director of Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, released his first live action film in more than a decade this year. Flight was something I had anticipated for months, and it quite lived up to what I had in mind for it. Denzel Washington gives a powerful performance as a pilot struggling with drug and alcohol addictions, and the film explores topics such as love, recovery, lies, and responsibility. Zemeckis proves that he still has what it takes to direct a top-notch film that focuses on character and story just as much as it does on visual effects.

 

6. Life of Pi

This is a film that I sort of went to see just on a whim, and I’m glad I did. With gorgeous visuals that looked fantastic in 3D (something I don’t say often), Life of Pi excels the most in its storytelling. While the ambiguity of the ending may not appeal to some people, I found the film to be a thoughtful exploration of faith and of religion in general, leading me to look at my own relationship with God. It sort of melds the biblical Book of Job with Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 film Cast Away, and it definitely sparked my interest in reading the book it was based on.

 

5. Skyfall

In anticipation of this film, I first watched Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale, which was entertaining in its more muted kind of way, and Quantum of Solace, which was pretty disappointing. I still had high hopes for Skyfall, though, and it exceeded every expectation I had set for it. The action was fun, Javier Bardem as the villain sent chills up my spine (and also brought a couple of laughs), and Daniel Craig and Judi Dench both gave outstanding performances in their respective roles. The length wasn’t an issue to me because I was too caught up in the entertainment of the film to care.

 

4. Lincoln

Does Spielberg make bad films? I’d answer that with a “no” (I have an argument in favor of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). With 2011’s War Horse and his newest film, Lincoln, he has taken a step back from the typical sci-fi/action/fantasy films he is known for and has focused more on period dramas – both of which were fantastic. If Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln doesn’t win the Academy Award for Best Actor, I won’t know what to think. Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones also deliver standout performances in a film that is just as engrossing and fascinating in its exploration of politics as a good action film is in its exploration of shooting and blowing things up. Spielberg is a true master.

 

3. The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan set the bar high with 2008’s The Dark Knight, and this conclusion to the acclaimed trilogy did not disappoint. Tom Hardy as Bane was sinister and terrifying, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were both welcome new presences, and the return of the familiar faces – i.e. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman – was satisfying and well-done. The Dark Knight Rises perfectly concluded Nolan’s trilogy.

 

2. The Avengers

There are so many ways that this film could have gone wrong. I mean, think about it – they took four characters from four separate films and brought them together into one super-film. In the hands of a less-capable director, it could have easily been one of the worst movies of the year, but with Joss Whedon at the helm, it ended up being one of the best. Smart dialogue with exciting action and a great story, The Avengers proved that an ensemble cast like this could work just as well in a film as it does on television.

 

1. Looper

Well-choreographed action sequences meet a smart script in this film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. As a time travel movie, it explores the consequences of our actions and the true cause of evil, and it spends just as much time in contemplation as it does making you sit on the edge of your seat.

 

Well, there you have it. My top ten films of 2012. What were your favorites of 2012?

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Back to the Future (1985)

Note: This film was the main topic of discussion on Episode 0 of my podcast, The Cinescope Podcast. Give it a listen for a more in-depth discussion!

Back to the Future is my all-time favorite movie. From the plot, to the actors, to the special effects – I love everything about this film, ever since I first saw it when I was ten years old. Time travel has always fascinated me, which might be why this film appealed to me in the first place. It by no means handled the concept of time travel perfectly, but it deals with the idea of travelling through time and the consequences of it in a way that is fun and full of life lessons.

There are so many positive things that can be said about this film because it works on so many levels: it’s a comedy, it’s a romance, it’s an action-thriller, and it’s a science fiction film. The cast meshes together incredibly well, with the highlights being Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox. Fox has a natural comedic timing that works really well in this film…which comes in handy because he manages to make something very awkward (his mother falling in love with him) something extremely funny. Christopher Lloyd is perfect as the eccentric inventor Doc Brown, bringing laughs with his wild exclamations and goofy behavior. The detail paid to the period and to the changes made between times (i.e. “Twin Pines Mall” to “Lone Pine Mall”) is terrific; one of my favorite aspects of this movie is the attention given to setups and payoffs, i.e. a plot choice made early in the film being explained by the plot later. Every choice made in the making of a movie has a purpose (or, at least, it should), and director Robert Zemeckis does a splendid job of making sure there’s a reason for everything he does.

I mentioned earlier that there are plenty of life lessons found in this film, the most prominent of these being a quote said multiple times: “If you set your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” It’s about standing up for yourself and for others, about taking control of your own future, and about the strength of friendship. It’s about believing in your abilities and about doing anything for the people you love…and it teaches all of this without preaching or losing any entertainment value.

I’ve spent hours on this review…I’d never have dreamed that it’d be so difficult for me to put my opinion on this movie into words. I once read a film review by Adam Smith over at EmpireOnline.com that said, “To put it bluntly: if you don’t like Back To The Future, it’s difficult to believe that you like films at all.” I agree completely – it wouldn’t be far off to say that Back to the Future is the film that kicked off my interest in cinema in the first place. It’s timeless in the way that it still attracts audiences even today, more than 25 years later, and it never fails to bring smiles and constant laughter every time I watch. I can’t recommend this movie quite enough, and, if you happen to know me personally, you should strive to watch it with me…I give quite the commentary.

-Chad

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

MPAA: PG


Looper (2012)

It’s no secret among people who know me that Back to the Future is my favorite film. The concept of time travel has always fascinated me across all mediums. That being said, time travel movies are abound with flaws, and, much as I love it, Back to the Future is no exception. Wouldn’t people in the future have remembered Marty interfering in the past? How would this affect their future selves? Wouldn’t your past self being killed kill your future self immediately? These issues are addressed in Looper, a smart and exciting time travel film that gets things (mostly) right.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in one of his best roles to date as a looper named Joe (what’s a looper? Watch the movie!). His future self, played by Bruce Willis, is sent back for Joe to kill, but things go awry and Willis escapes, endangering Young Joe’s life and threatening the future of the world. Next unfolds a tale that explores not only time travel and the affects it has on an individual but also the themes of parenthood, good vs. evil, and love.

Perhaps the greatest part of Looper is that it makes mistakes. I know how strange that sounds, but, considering the fact that time travel is a difficult subject to cover properly, this film succeeds in making a film that, for the most part, follows the rules of time travel without over-complicating things. Unlike in Back to the Future, time travel in the world of Looper, while illegal, is not accessible to only one person; it asks the question, “what would time travel be used for if everyone knew about it?” and envisions an answer that is both thrilling and slightly disturbing. But that’s the fun in it!

I don’t want to go too in-depth (mainly because it’s been a while since I’ve seen it and don’t want to get things wrong), but Looper is an all-around great film that features fine performances from Gordon-Levitt and Willis. There’s action aplenty, but it also contains plenty of quiet, contemplative moments that make you question the true nature/cause of evil and the consequences of the decisions we make.

-Chad

Rating: 5 (out of 5)

MPAA: R – for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content

*MAJOR SPOILER; don’t read unless you’ve seen the film*

P.S. – Because I love time travel, I love pointing out mistakes in time travel films. Looper‘s biggest flaw is its ending: if Young Joe kills himself, then the Bruce Willis Joe never would have existed, which cancels out the entire film because Old Joe wouldn’t have been around to travel back in time. Just a fun error!