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riczhang

Riczhang Reviews Year 7 (Caesar Reigns Supreme)

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So, I'm totally swamped with work right now, but I'm gonna try to make time for this. It shouldn't be too hard as I've already gotten a lot of the movies read and out of the way when I was less busy. So basically, you can request two movies. One movie is whatever the hell you want. It can be from any player (including yourself) and I will write a short review for it. The second movie will be what you think is your best reviewed movie by me. For example, if you think that I will rate movie X out of all of the movies your wrote this year the best, then you will request that movie. I will write a longer review for this movie, and then I will also tell you if you're right or wrong on your guess. (or maybe not. I might just wait until top 25)

Then, there will be the Top 25 reveal (which may or may not involve picture clues for all of them :P) and possibly a Top 10 worst movies of the year.

Enjoy, and begin.

My scoring guide for reference:

10*: Extraordinary beyond 10/10 movie. Given to maybe 10 movies.
10: Perfect, faultless (or faults so small that you don't even realise until multiple viewings later) Never been given to more than 6 movies a year, and some years like 2010 they were given to none
9+: Excellent
8+: Great
7+: Good
6+: Above Average
5+: Meh
4+: Below Average but watchable
3+: Bad, but stomach-able with copious amounts of booze
2+: Failure, horrible, unwatch-able
1+: Someone take away the director's camera
0+: Unredeemably bad. The Director should commit suicide.

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Movie 1 (The Movie for the Hell of It): Thomas the Tank Engine

 

 

Movie 2 (The Movie of Mine You're Most Likely to Like): The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar (You already reviewed Blank and gave it a solid grade and I doubt you'll like Call of Duty all that much)

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The Wanders

 

The Wanders fells like two distinct movies. The first half and the second half. The first half is a hell of a good horror movie, and this is coming from someone who doesn't like horror at all. It's creepy, and scary without resorting to the disgust factor, and favours plot and substance over style and cheap scares. Everything is going all so well until the Aliens arrive. It's got to be one of the biggest plot twists I've seen, and it's also quite unneeded and it just didn't feel right. I get that the Aliens came here with a purpose, and that all of this has just been a test, but the overall tone of the story seemed to shift from horror to sci-fi. The effect is jarring to say the least. But, when all is said and done the Wanders isn't a bad movie, and will probably find its own cult following in the years to come. But, for me, it was good, but not necessarily 100% up my alley. 

 

8/10

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My scores this year have been uniformly more generous. I might have to readjust, but that means re-evaluating 96 movies right now and I'm more content to just keep it this way. Reevaluating won't change the top 25 order anyways.

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Rich and Famous

 

"There is a cultural window. You can continue to cling to it but eventually it is gone. The completion of life." - Tom Ford

 

In a way Rich and Famous is like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but it digs much deeper and gets rid of the ostentatious and superficial bullshit. What's left is a human story, one that we all go through, but on a much larger scale. Through all of this swank, the movie does not lose sight of what type of story and film it wants to be, and the result is quite amazing. 

 

Gwyneth Paltrow is simply amazing in the role of Janie Coleman, and her chemistry with Jason Bateman feels very real. It's kind of sad that the two of them didn't end up together in the end, but then again if they did it would've just been unreal and engineered. It's probably for the best that the two of them didn't, but the slight bit of reconciliation at the end was a very nice touch. It probably would've been easier for the two of them to end at either extreme, hate or love; the grey muddled area was a very nice touch. Jennifer Garner also made a very good Julia, and when Janie and Julia went at it it felt like a very cathartic moment. All throughout the movie we've seen and heard about Janie's antagonism towards Julia, and it's built up. It was a like a powder keg waiting to explode, or like a pressure cooker when the lid's about to get blown off, and so when it inevitably exploded the effect was beautiful, and it just simply felt cathartic, for the lack of a better word. It felt like everything spilled out and all was well again. 

 

The ending portion was definitely the star of the movie because up until this point only Janie, and to a much lesser extent, Findel had any sort of character depth or development at all. But, in the ending portions we saw what could've been a stock character, Julia, develop and become deeper than just a bitchy woman. Janie, and Findel too develop additional depth. While, the wounds are still deep, still visible, and not healed at all, the movie ends on a note of promise, understanding, and détenté. Perhaps one day everything will truly be all right. 

 

9.5/10

 

Was it my favourite?

 

Yes. By Far.

 

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Amulet

 

I've never read the comics, and I didn't even know that they existed up until this movie; this poses a minor to major problem for some adaptations. One often finds oneself wondering what the fuck is going on during some movies as what was once a clear plot in the book has now been butchered to incomprehensible pieces for the sake of running time, and "cinematic effect." But, luckily, not this one. There are two or three slightly questionable moments, and a bit of a sappy, overwrought moment at the end, but overall the tone is very even, apt, and well-controlled. It doesn't provoke thought of any kind, but this type of movie isn't meant to be. It's meant to entertain, and that it does a bloody good job at. It's funny at moments, tense in others, and quite engaging. One definitely thought that moments that Karen would never come back, but then everything pulls together and all is well. 

 

8.5/10

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Chuck Norris and Liam Neeson vs. Santa Claus, Ultimate Badass

 

This movie defies all logic; one sits in the theatre asking onself, "What the fuck am I watching?", yet emerges from it praising it. Chuck Norris and Liam Neeson vs. Santa Claus, Ultimate Badass is 50% action, and 50% action. The result is something that is surprisingly brilliant. It's funny, gripping, engaging, and represents the renaissance of B-Movies. It's a pity that so little movies like this are produced, Chuck Norris shows people that when done properly the result is very pretty. Over the course of the past few years, one must often find oneself wondering how it is that Chuck Norris has progressed from sub-sub-par material to some one of the best films of the year? The triple feature thing must be working, because the last two movies have teamed up two movies that were decent at best and created something extraordinary. 

 

Some people may say that the movie is too mindless, too "stupid", and etc. to be good, but quoting Sigmund Freud, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." Some movies are not meant to be taken apart and analysed under a microscope, some are just meant to be taken at face value for what simple job they try to do. Here it is where some movies fall and the good separate themselves from the garbage. A few films are meant to be more but take it too simple, and the vast majority are meant to be simple but try to construe some pretentious and ambiguous meaning out of itself. 

 

The movie itself is well done, and well shot as always. Costing only 50 million dollars, the movie is worth every buck spent on it and more. The visuals are inventive for a movie of this scope and budget, and the cinematography is great, especially in the action scenes. Runni Knows dolls are absolutely hilarious, and the scene with Dwyane and the dolls is a show stealer and standout. It's simultaneously hilarious, creepy, and foreboding at the same time. I wonder if the producers would consider merchandising these dollars, they'd probably sell quite well. 

 

The story itself is of course absurd, stupid at moments, and all fun. It's a B-Movie so one expects it to be stupid in many areas, but it isn't stupidity that's inexcusable  in fact it'd be inexcusable if the stupidity wasn't there. All-in-all, it's yet another entry in the series that'll gain a cult following, and a movie of insane rewatch value. 

 

9.25/10

 

Was it my favourite? 

 

It's complicated. I've cooled on it a little bit since I first read it, hence the .25 mark. It's a mark I very rarely give, I highly dislike anything beyond increments of .5 but I haven't made up my mind yet. As it stands, currently it isn't my favourite, but at one point it was and when I roll out my top 25 it may very well be my favourite again. But, still extremely good. You've had a very good year Blank. 

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Thomas the Tank Engine

 

I honestly don't know what to say about the film. It's stupid, it's horrible, and it makes me want to gouge out my eyes. I suppose the visuals were at least decent. Well, only the explosions, not the actual tank engine. The tank engine just made me want to spew. With a director like Michael Bay, and that big of a budget, one would've thought that they could make a better film like this. Even if this is meant to be a b-movie like film, it's still a Disaster. 

 

0.5/10

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The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar

 

"Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings." - Richard Chartres, Bishop of London

 

Alesia was a brilliant film, and The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar is my most anticipated film of the year. I suppose at times I was a little bit apprehensive that the sequel wouldn't live up to its predecessor like so many movies in the past. But, the fear's abated, and everything's assuaged. The Rise and Fall of Julius Caesar proves not only to be as good as Alesia, but also to be much, much better. 

 

It's surprising how a story that we all know like the back of our hands can still be gripping, engaging, and nerve-racking. Despite knowing the outcomes of the battle, one still sits on the edge of one's seat not knowing if Caesar will emerge victorious. The Ides of March is perhaps the most famous murder story in history, yet there are a few seconds where in the suspended reality of the movie one wonders if Brutus would stab Caesar, especially after the heart-wrenching look Caesar gives Brutus. In one way it's a quiet acceptance of the inevitable, but on the other hand it's a last gasp, a sort of last hope at survival. It's a human moment; it takes Caesar down from his pedestal and makes him simply just another human meandering his way through the world, through time, hurtling inevitably towards his, and that of all human's, destiny. That moment is definitely the most poignant, and most memorable moment. It took out the ubiquitous phrase, "Et tu, Brute" and replaced it with a look, and made it more historically accurate. By replacing words with action the depth and beauty of the film becomes clearer and better. Some screenwriter once said that dialogue is subsidiary to action, or something along the lines of that. This is a classic case of that. None of the meaning behind the line of "Et tu, Brute," the shock, betrayal, acceptance, hope, and etc., is lost and the look serves, in fact, to cement it in our minds.

 

The rest of the movie is just as amazing, as the lives of so many people that are hurtling towards collision are coming together. It's like watching a weaver at work, taking the multiple strands of thread or grass, or whatever and combining them together to make the threads of history, but of course here the result isn't a basket but a mess of blood, guts, and battlefields. The most memorable line was, "I said the Senate could grant a pardon, I never said Rome could." That sums up the tone of the movie and of that period of history better than anything else. Though the movie centres only around the men making the decisions, one must never forget that without the people these men are nothing, and their decisions are nothing. 

 

I'll end off with this. When people say period-epics are great movies, they mean grand movies — movies that calculate everything, every shot, every set, and every action, and then turning up the sentimentality until it verges on being mush. The tactic works when the subject and eras are suitably grand and great, but less so in the places that require more care and naturalistic touches. But given a suitably grand and lavish subject, these movies awe one not only with their scope, size, ambition, but also with their fragility, emotion, and raw humanity. It doesn't happen often but this time, grand is great.

 

10/10

 

Was this my favourite?

 

If you can't tell from that review, the answer's a resounding yes.

 

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Amulet

 

I've never read the comics, and I didn't even know that they existed up until this movie; this poses a minor to major problem for some adaptations. One often finds oneself wondering what the fuck is going on during some movies as what was once a clear plot in the book has now been butchered to incomprehensible pieces for the sake of running time, and "cinematic effect." But, luckily, not this one. There are two or three slightly questionable moments, and a bit of a sappy, overwrought moment at the end, but overall the tone is very even, apt, and well-controlled. It doesn't provoke thought of any kind, but this type of movie isn't meant to be. It's meant to entertain, and that it does a bloody good job at. It's funny at moments, tense in others, and quite engaging. One definitely thought that moments that Karen would never come back, but then everything pulls together and all is well. 

 

8.5/10

 

Spot on what I was looking for :)

 

Just realized, Amulet got a better score from riczhang than Spark 2 :o

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