BURN AFTER READING: That’s it? You’ve got to be kidding me? That’s awesome! That’s hilarious! Those were the thoughts running through my head as I doubled over in laughter while the end credits to the Coen Brother’s latest master work rolled in front of me. It’s almost impossible to describe this movie other than to say it’s the SEINFELD of spy movies. Leave it to Joel and Ethan Coen to follow up their vicious, dark and violent, Oscar winning, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN with a movie that stands proudly next to the likes of THE BIG LEBOWSKI and perfectly completes their unofficial “Idiot Trilogy” with George Clooney and their collaborations in O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU and INTOLERABLE CRUELTY. This movie is brilliant and if you’re as sick and twisted as me you’ll love every minute of it.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK: Finally someone made a movie worthy of the name. This is one of those movies that makes you forget the first even exists. In a year filled with brilliant comic book movies THE INCREDIBLE HULK was far from the best but it was the nice icing on the geek cake we all feasted from throughout the year. This movie got EVERYTHING about the Hulk perfectly right and in doing so delivered a wonderful companion piece to the “other” Marvel Films movie that came out this year.
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY: I love the original HELLBOY movie but it doesn’t hold a candle to the brilliance that is this sequel. This film took everything that worked about the first film and multiplied it by a thousand while casting away everything that didn’t. If you were a comic book fan this year darn near melted your brain and HELLBOY II did nothing to stop it. There’s so much imagination on display in this film that I’m fairly certain you could watch it a hundred times and still only be scratching the surface. This is comic book and fantasy film making at its best. Now bring on THE HOBBIT.
DOOMSDAY: For a while now I’ve felt Neil Marshall may be the next James Cameron. I mean the dude loves strong, kick-ass females in a way that would make the director of ALIENS and TERMINATOR proud. After seeing DOOMSDAY I’m fairly certain Neil Marshall is the second coming of John Carpenter instead (Just with really strong, kick-ass female leads) and I find absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Make no mistake DOOMSDAY is bug nuts crazy. Marshall takes ROAD WARRIOR, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and everything but the kitchen sink and throws it all up on screen, mixing in a little medieval knight action for good measure. Trust me though it all makes sense and combines to make easily one of the most entertaining movies of the year. 2008 had a nice little crop of films that I’m fairly certain will become cult classics. I guarantee this is one of them.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE: Any doubt that Bond was back and better than ever was laid to rest in one of the most kick-ass James Bond films ever made. Unique in the fact that it’s the first direct sequel in the franchise’s history SOLACE played perfectly as the KILL BILL VOL. 2 to CASINO ROYALE’s KILL BILL VOL. 1. I heard some people complain about a lack of depth or good old fashioned Bond fun in this movie and I think those people missed the point completely. This movie is simply the second half of CASINO ROYALE and due to the events of that film pretty much a straight up revenge flick. When put together the two films tell the origin of the greatest spy the world has ever known. This film literally starts with the petal to the metal and never lets up delivering some of the best action sequences of not only the year but in the entire history of the franchise. In my entire life I have never been this excited about the Bond franchise and after this perfect capper to the beginning of an all new saga I’m foaming at the mouth for the next one.
VALKYRIE: God, I love this freaking movie. I can’t say it’s exactly a happy, feel good movie but this movie gave me so much joy that sitting here thinking about it now gives me a nice warm and fuzzy feeling. Yes, I know I need help.
Bryan Singer made a no frills, gripping, men on a mission type film set in the most fascinating period in history. Every single actor turns in spectacular performances (So much so that you don’t care that none of them sound remotely German). The script is razor sharp and the directing tight as a drum. I don’t know if this is the best comparison I can make but this movie truly reminded me of the likes of WHERE EAGLES DARE, GUNS OF NAVARONE and ICE STATION ZEBRA, the kinds of movies they simply don’t make anymore. I sincerely hope Singer ditches Superman and sticks to this kind of thing instead.
ROLE MODELS: 2008 was a banner year for comedy. I think at least 4 of the best comedies I’ve seen in the last 10 years all came out this year. One such movie was ROLE MODELS. The concept of this film isn’t all that deep or inspired but everything else about the film is. This is one of those movies that will make you laugh your ass off yet there’s a sweet emotional core and genuine three dimensional characters with fully realized character arcs to give the film loads of heart as well. This is one of those years where I honestly wish the Oscars had a Best Comedy category like the accursed Golden Globes because honestly some of the best work of the entire year was done in this often overlooked genre and this film exemplifies that to a T.
SEX DRIVE: Another example of a brilliant comedy with a heart of gold is this criminally under seen film. This film should be a one trick pony, a guy drives halfway across the country because he thinks he’s gonna get laid. Instead it offers up some of the most amusing, likeable, and yes, very funny characters cinema had to offer this year. This movie is worth it if nothing else for James Marsden as a psycho older brother and Seth Green as the smarmiest Amish guy you’ll ever meet. At the end of the day though it’s the rest of the characters, the story and the heart that seep from every frame of film that make this a winner.
SPEED RACER: You remember how I said there were more than a few films this year that would become cult classics? Well this film is at the top of that list. Make no bones about it I LOOOOOOVVVED this movie. No question about it this was easily one of the best times I had at the theatre all year.
I know this movie got panned and that it’s considered one of the biggest flops of all time but don’t let that keep you from seeing this true gem of a film. The Wachowskis need to stop being so weird and start doing press and Joel Silver and Warner Brothers should have realized that pumping over $130 million into a remake of a cult classic Anime wouldn’t necessarily spell instant success.
For years people have been trying to translate cartoons into the realm of live action. For the first time ever someone fully succeeded. SPEED RACER is a live action cartoon, it really is and as such it dazzles the senses in a way that very few movies have EVER done. What makes the movie so much more though is the fact that amidst all the spectacle and eye candy there’s a great story about family and following your dreams that will touch you no matter how hard you try to not allow it.
Please for the love of all that is good and pure give this movie a chance. It’s a family movie but it’s a great one. I seriously don’t know a single solitary person that saw this film that didn’t instantly fall head over heels in love with it. I know this thing seems like a gigantic lame duck now but trust me years from now those of us that embraced it from the beginning will have the last laugh.