2010 Film Recap

After last year, with some excellent films like District 9, Moon (and less excellent, but still fun to watch, like Avatar), 2010 felt downright dull when it came to the genre films that came out in theaters. So far this year, I've only watched a couple, in and out of theaters, although there are a couple that are currently available to rent through a local Red Box, which I'll likely do over the next couple of days.

Of all of the films that I've seen thus far, Inception is by far the best, not only of the year, but it's going onto my 'Top genre films' list, which includes films like Moon, District 9, Solaris, Minority Report, and others along the same caliber that I’ve enjoyed. Inception worked on almost every level for me: it had a compelling, interesting and relevant plot, was excellently shot and directed, and has a fantastic soundtrack that I’ve listened to a lot. It’s a film that I’ve been eagerly anticipating seeing again after I saw it in theaters, and I was particularly happy to see a film that was not only smart and interesting, but that caught with a broad appeal and actually did quite well at the box office.

How to Train Your Dragon was a film that I saw recently that really surprised me. Megan and I rented it on a whim, and we both really enjoyed it. It’s a standard pre-teen action/adventure animated movie, with a focus on the fighting and happy ending, but it’s a fun little story of friendship and doing the right thing. And there’s dragons, some funny moments, quite a bit of action, and some excellent voice acting. Apparently, there’s a sequel coming in a couple of years, and I’ll certainly make it a point to see that one.

Along with How to Train Your Dragon, we rented Toy Story 3, which was a great capstone to the first two films, although given how long it’s been since I’ve seen the 2nd one, it’s hard to compare them in terms of quality. This new addition holds up wonderfully to the first film, something I consider a formative film in my own childhood, and treasure it deeply (along with the lessons learned there: treat your things well). #3 felt very dark at points without going overboard, but retained the charm of the first two films. Beyond that, it aged well, with Andy headed off to college, making this film a very different one in tone, and not just a rehash of the first two.

Daybreakers was another surprise, and while people seem fixated on the horrors of the sparkly Vampire novels and urban fantasy, this film makes its own departures and is able to retain some of the more horrific and over the top elements nicely. There’s an overt political and environmental message embedded in the story, but it fits well. The story of vampires running out of blood and mutating was a fun one, with some over the top elements, some neat science fictional ones, and Sam Neill being creepy.

Iron Man II was a letdown after the first Iron Man movie. Where the first was a fun, concise story that rolled together the military industrial complex and the wars in the Middle East, the sequel attempted to do the same thing, while also setting up the upcoming Avengers movie, juggle multiple villains and the Demon in a Bottle storyline. It’s a case where they should have picked one or two and focused on those, but despite the glaring problems, the film is a fun one, with action, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. Hopefully, they’ll get the 3rd one right when that’s released in a couple of years, and I’m guessing that many of the problems are due to studio interference, rather than the people who actually filmed it.

Clash of the Titans was a bomb: a big, stupid fun bomb that was pure popcorn fare. Not worth picking up by any stretch of the imagination (I ended up winning a copy), but it’s worth watching for the overblown effects, crappy acting and monsters going around eating / killing / maiming people in various ways.

I couldn’t even get through The Book of Eli. A coworker of mine told me the ending afterwards, and I’m not missing anything after falling asleep while watching it. There were some interesting action sequences and a cool premise, but it just couldn’t hold my attention.

There were a bunch of films that I wanted to see, but simply haven’t had the chance or time to do so yet: Wolfman (despite the horrible reviews), Green Zone (Jason Bourne lite?), Social Network (Aaron Sorkin is one of my favorite writers), Kick Ass (Which looked like an incredible amount of fun), Splice (which was apparently a well acted, scripted and shot film), Predators (which looked like fun), The American (Artistic spy film?) and the recently released Black Swan, (which looks and sounds incredible). A couple of these, like Predators, Splice, Kickass, Green Zone and Wolfman are all available to rent, so I might end up going that route before buying any of them.

And, of course, there’s a couple of films out there that are about to be released: True Grit, a Coen Brothers western, which looks like it could be an interesting one, based off of the original John Wayne film, while I’m also interested in the last Harry Potter film, The Deathly Hollows, Part 1 (I’m rereading all of the books now). The last film of the year that I’m eagerly awaiting, Tron: Legacy, for some pseudo-Cyberpunk blockbuster action is out next week. I loved the original Tron when I saw it earlier this year, and it’s one that I’m already anticipating for the big screen.

After this year, there’s a couple of films that I’m looking forwards to for 2011: Battle: Los Angeles is going to be a certain theater visit for me, The Adjustment Bureau, based off of a Philip K. Dick story, as well as Sucker Punch, which looks like pure male fantasy (and every geeky trope lumped into one story). Source Code, Duncan Jones’ second film is also to be released (I loved Moon, so I’m hopeful for this one.) and the summer, with Thor (Maybe), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides (Sure), X-Men: First Class (Yep), Super 8 (J.J. Abrams film), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Maybe?), Captain America (Maybe), Harry Potter 7.2 (depends on the first one), Cowboys and Aliens (Yes!), all looking like a bit of fun. The fall will also bring in the first Tintin movie, The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, which I’m eagerly awaiting. There’s also a second Sherlock Holmes film in there somewhere, which might be fun.

2010 felt like a bit of a lax year – there were some other genre films that came out, but there really wasn’t anything that caught my eyes or attention beyond the films that I saw (or otherwise listed). Between ’9 and ’11, there are quite a few interesting things set to film, and if anything, it’s a reaffirmation that Science Fiction and Fantasy are both still pretty popular when it comes down to the wire. Except this year, for some reason.

The Upcoming Film Slate

Inception was amongst my most anticipated film of 2010 for this summer, and having seen that film in theaters (although I would very much like to see it once or twice more, soon), focus inevitably moves towards the next big thing to watch. With San Diego Comic Con over, and with it, a large rush of new trailers and films announced, or at least expounded upon. Looking at what's coming up, there are a couple of films that have caught my eye, which will be released in the next year or so. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 1

When it comes to Harry Potter, I've enjoyed the books, but I've really disliked the movies. The first and second films were simply abysmal, childish and completely didn't mesh with my vision of what the books were, while The Prisoner of Azkaban was marvelous, film-wise, but lacking in terms of adaptation. I haven't seen the movies that follow, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Order of the Phoenix and the Half Blood Prince, and I've heard varying degrees of quality from the lot of them. Still, the films look like they are getting better, and hopefully, I'll catch up with the films in order to see the first of the last Harry Potter film in theaters. Overall, I've really liked what I've seen from the trailers, in terms of film quality and the story, and if anything, it'll hopefully be fun to watch.

Tron: Legacy

I first watched the original Tron earlier this year, and I was absolutely blown away by it. The graphics are certainly outdated, but that hardly matters. Now, the original cast is back, aged in real time, and along with it, a stunning new version of the computerized universe, which, from all appearances by the trailers and VFX reels, looks simply stunning. This film has me left with some extremely high hopes, and I'm interested to see where they can go with the story, twenty or so years later. With the release of the first film, there was a certain understanding as to how computers and cyberspace was used. Now, in the age where computers are a major part of entertainment and work, that understanding has changed, substantially. Hopefully, the film will change with that change in understanding.

Battle: Los Angeles

This film is one that has seen the occasional news, but with Comic Con, there were several major announcements, and a trailer released, which has gotten me very interested in what this one will be about. The basic premise is that the film will mesh Independence Day and Black Hawk Down, as the Marines confront an alien invasion in Los Angeles. My guess is that this film will be approached much like we did District 9, with an original story, marketed with an interesting viral marketing campaign, similar film styles and so forth. The basic premise, marines vs. aliens, is already a fun one. What's gotten me more interested is that this film is being approached as if it were a war film. The aliens will be organized, logical, and aren't going to be destroying things like monuments. Plus, there will be combat. It should be a fun ride. No trailer yet, but that should be coming soon.

Sucker Punch

The trailer for this new Zach Snyder film looked just plain awesome. I have very little to go on: a trailer that combines dragons, Samurai, rockets, Nazis, alien planets, and a bunch of girls, and a description of 'Alice in Wonderland plus machine guns.'. The film doesn't look like it's going to be anything that's going to be thought provoking or anything like that. This looks to be the film that will be balls to the wall action, coupled with Snyder's fantastic visual style that he's worked on in 300 and Watchmen.


The trailer for this film leaked this morning, and honestly? It looks much better than I thought it might. Thor was a film that I wasn't all that interested in watching, but it looks like it could be quite a bit of fun, especially as Marvel dips further and further into the Avengers arc that will be tying all of their films together. There is enough action and familiar characters to make this film appear to feel very much at home with the universe that's being created, and it's just one further step in a bigger plan that Marvel has going.


Titled Mexico's District 9, this film has also been on my radar, with a couple of short teasers and photos. The premise follows a NASA satellite that had been searching for life crashes south of the United States border, bringing with it something, which blankets all of Mexico in a quarantine zone. A journalist has to bring someone across the area to the U.S., and they'll be coming across these aliens. It looks like there'll be a bit of a pointed message with it, and that worked well with District 9. Plus, it's an original/independent film, which has me even more interested, getting some fresh voices to the genre.

Source Code

The last film on the list is Duncan Jone's Source Code, which has wrapped filming in Montreal, and according to Jones, should be out early in 2011. Jones created the fantastic film Moon, which has become one of my all time favorites, and is putting together a story of a soldier who has to go into the minds of the victims of a train bombing in order to discover who the perpetrator was. Jones is going to be someone to watch with the genre, and I have a feeling that this film will be a very interesting one to watch.