Worst Ten Films Of 2011

Looking down at my worst of 2011 list it seems I managed to avoid many of this year’s cinematic duds, but let me tell you that having to sit through the animation atrocity that was Mars Needs Moms, the ice cold Chalet Girl and Dream House, the horror-thriller no-one wanted to be associated with, was more than enough to see me through.

The films I’ve chosen – and believe me when I say it was a very easy process – are what I believe to represent the most reprobate films I saw Continue reading “Worst Ten Films Of 2011”

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DVD Releases: August 15, 2011

Source Code (Review)

Director: Duncan Jones

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga Continue reading “DVD Releases: August 15, 2011”

Feature: Top Ten Films Of 2011: January – June

So far, 2011 has been a fantastic year for film. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my ten favourites from the last six months, with a few honourable mentions that just missed out on a place. Finally, I’ve listed some somewhat less honourable mentions that you should probably avoid at all costs.

10. Never Let Me Go (February 2011)

Mark Romanek’s shamefully overlooked adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s momentous novel Never Let Me Go wasn’t exactly the hit Fox Searchlight were banking on, but that didn’t stop it being a beautifully explorative, acted and directed piece of cinema.

9. Animal Kingdom (February 2011)

This Australian crime-thriller rose from the underbelly, picking up momentum thick and fact for its astoundingly honest portrayal of a fully functional crime family. Striking direction, raw performances and compelling source material have made well worth seeking out.

8. Archipelago (March 2011)

Joanna Hogg’s stark look at family turmoil is beautifully captured and carefully paced to provide a deeply resonant and affecting glimpse into the highs and lows of family life and what makes people tick.

7. Heartbeats (May 2011)

Multi-faceted Xavier Dolan follows in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Pedro Almodóvar and Wong Kar Wai to write and direct Heartbeats, a film of true beauty, wisdom and depth beyond its years.

6. Arrietty (June 2011 – EIFF)

Studio Ghibli’s sprightly interpretation of Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book The Borrowers is directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, under the watchful eye of filmmaker extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki. Arrietty boasts some truly illustrious animation and a score by French musician Cecile Corbel that made me go weak at the knees.

5. Bridesmaids (June 2011)

Kristen Wiig, well known for her long-standing stint on Saturday Night Live, was launched to stardom with hit comedy Bridesmaids. Directed by Paul Feig, the film features an array of flawless comedic performances, unforgettable gags and the goddess-like figure Rose Bryne.

4. Albatross (June 2011 – EIFF)

Niall McCormick’s British coming-of-age film premiered at the 65th Edinburgh International Film Festival to rave reviews. Written by burgeoning writer Tamzin Refn, Albatross is a fully realised and thought-provoking piece of cinema, chock full of heart, depth and humour to boot. If Jessica Findlay-Brown doesn’t become a star, then there’s something seriously wrong with the world.

3. Black Swan (January 2011)

Granted, this film opened last year in America, but due to different release schedules it was early January before I had a chance to see Natalie Portman give an Academy Award winning performance in Darren Aronofsky’s daringly dark psychological ballet thriller. Hauntingly brilliant.

2. Submarine (March 2011)

Former IT Crowd actor Richard Ayoade made his directorial debut with the mesmerising, outlandish and warm-hearted indie comedy Submarine. The entire cast, not least relative newcomer Craig Roberts, delivered remarkable performances.

1. Blue Valentine (January 2011)

This emotionally crippling insight into one couple’s turbulent relationship shot Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams back into the limelight, and earned them a few dozen award nominations in the process. After years of suffering various unfortunate setbacks, Derek Cianfrance’s passion project came to fruition with such intensity that it was hard to ignore. From the offset I was hooked, so it’d be impossible for Blue Valentine not to be my top film of the year so far.

Films of notable interest: Hobo With A Shotgun, Trust, Project Nim, Attack The Block, Rango, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adèle Blanc-Sec, Rubber, Pina 3D, Scream 4, Winnie The Pooh, Meek’s Cutoff, X-Men: First Class, The Silent House, 13 Assassins, Perfect Sense, Thor and Cave Of Forgotten Dreams.

Films to think no more of: Mars Needs Moms, Larry Crowne, Ghosted, I Am Number Four, The Rite, Faster, Chalet Girl, Red Riding Hood and Battle: Los Angeles.

UK Box Office: April 8 – 10, 2011

1. Rio – £1,515,853

2. Source Code – £848,366

3. Limitless – £737,417

4. Hop – £611,367

5. Sucker Punch – £346,399

6. The Eagle – £181,823

7. Thank You – £160,191

8. Unknown – £135,025

9. The Roommate – £120,365

10. Mars Needs Moms – £113,559

Cinema Releases: April 8, 2011

Rio

Director: Carlos Saldanha

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway and George Lopez

Mars Needs Moms

Director: Simon Wells

Starring: Seth Green, Joan Cusack and Dan Fogler

The Roommate

Director: Christian E. Christiansen

Starring: Minka Kelly, Leighton Meester and Cam Gigandet

Tomorrow, When The War Began

Director: Stuart Beattie

Starring: Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Lincoln Lewis

The Silent House (La Casa Muda)

Director: Gustavo Hernández

Starring: Florencia Colucci, Abel Tripaldi and Gustavo Alonso

Review: Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Mars Needs Moms is the latest motion-capture animation film from Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital production studio, and is an adaptation of Berkeley Breathed’s beloved children’s novel.

The film centers on Milo, a young boy who gains a deeper appreciation for his mum after Martians come to Earth and take her away to harvest her mothering prowess for their nanny bots.

Simon and Wendy Wells have penned a screenplay that is so devoid of magic and charm that it ultimately lacks an engaging narrative, three-dimensional characters and any humour. It often resorts to thrill ride antics, detached action and a lot of racing around in the desperate hope of evoking some enjoyment, but falls flat on its face in the process.

Aside from attempting to convey a very well hidden message about children devoting more time and attention to their parents, it’s an altogether impersonal experience. The script, by never allowing enough time to get to know Milo and his mum – or any other character for that matter – on a personal basis, has clearly been brushed aside in favour of these so-called more realistic digital imager effects.

Due to the digital obsession, the characters are extremely unlikeable. Behind the revolutionary motion-capture technology, they feel too simplistic and superficial or, in more simple terms, totally dead behind the eyes to emote with.

Seth Green, Dan Fogler and Joan Cusack provide respectable voice-overs, but aren’t distracting enough, or able to transpose enough of their personality and passion to bring the dialogue and concealed heartfelt message to life.

The motion-capture animation, which has been implemented by Zemeckis before on The Polar Expess, is worse than ever. It’s hard to remember that a visionary director such as Zemeckis was responsible for such instrumental films as Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, when we’re bestowed with such nonsense.

The 3D is unnecessary and, along with the bland, dark and unattractive cinematography, makes Mars looks like a dreadful planet, somewhere you’d desperately want to avoid at all costs.

Mars Needs Moms is a badly animated, dispassionate and irresolute mess that will unquestionably scorn Walt Disney Pictures’ renowned brand for years to come.

US Box Office: March 25 – 27, 2011

1. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules – $24,400,000

2. Sucker Punch – $19,015,000

3. Limitless – $15,225,000

4. The Lincoln Lawyer – $11,000,000

5. Rango – $9,800,000

6. Battle: Los Angeles – $7,600,000

7. Paul – $7,506,000

8. Red Riding Hood – $4,340,000

9. The Adjustment Bureau – $4,245,000

10. Mars Needs Moms – $2,186,000

US Box Office: March 18 – 20, 2011

1. Limitless – $19,000,000

2. Rango – $15,315,000

3. Battle: Los Angeles – $14,600,000

4. The Lincoln Lawyer – $13,400,000

5. Paul – $13,155,000

6. Red Riding Hood – $7,225,000

7. The Adjustment Bureau – $5,932,000

8. Mars Needs Moms – $5,317,000

9. Beastly – $3,260,000

10. Hall Pass – $2,600,000

US Box Office: March 11 – 13, 2011

1. Battle: LA – $36,000,000

2. Rango – $23,100,000

3. Red Riding Hood – $14,100,000

4. The Adjustment Bureau – $11,500,000

5. Mars Needs Moms – $6,800,000

6. Beastly – $5,200,000

7. Hall Pass – $5,100,000

8. Just Go With It – $4,000,000

9. The King’s Speech – $3,800,000

10. Gnomeo & Juliet – $3,700,000