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Flick Picks 2012

Updated December 17, 2012

  As I never have time for a writing a full length review, I list and write a quick review of the films I see at the cinema.

Movies take a long time to reach Japan, so for people outside Japan, these might make good rental choices. For people in Japan I'll hopefully give you an idea if you want to spend your hard-earned yen on these movies.

Please comment if you agree or disagree with my reviews. I enjoy well thought-out feedback! 

42) Skyfall - Reviewed below  (December 17, 2012)

41) The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey (December 16, 2012)

Bilbo Baggins, Hobbit, has a life that he enjoys.  He has a tidy home, good food and a nice life.  That all changes when he goes on an adventure with thirteen Dwarves and Gandalf the Wizard.

This three hour movie moves at a great pace and manages to keep people unfamiliar with the story as involved as it does fans of the book.  The acting is wonderful, with Martin Freeman stepping into Ian Holm’s big shoes…so to speak.  It is a good fun movie with a bit of violence.  Older kids will probably love this, younger ones may too.  

The film sparkles, the music soars and a good time was had by all.  Definitely worth watching if you like fantasy adventure films. 


40) Skyfall - Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris ( December 8, 2012)

Bond is back, but the question of this film is, “Do we still need him?”  Resoundingly, yes!  

There’s a former agent who is trying to infiltrate MI6 and Bond must try to stop him and protect those he works with.  At the same time, M is under attack from the powers that be.  They believe that M and Bond are no longer needed.  They say our world has changed so much that we should retire the double O’s.

A Bond film with some real thought, new characters are introduced and Daniel Craig shows that he’s not just a great body.

I loved it.  Best Bond movie I’ve ever seen!

39) Lockout - Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Peter Stormare (November 24, 2012)

A quite silly but entertaining film about a man who is promised his freedom if he rescues The President’s Daughter.  The catch is that she is being held by 500 prisoners in a space prison.  Lots of action, one liners and quite a bit of fun to boot.  Worth a look if you need to kill a couple of hours and like action films. 

38) We Need to Talk About Kevin - Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller(October 28, 2012)

Amazing film about a very complex mother and son relationship.  Kevin is born to Eva, but right from the start their relationship is strained.  He responds well to other people, but not to her.  Is it her?  Is it him?

The story is told in flashbacks and flashes and we aren’t always sure when we are in the tale.  Eva senses that something isn’t right about her son, but has trouble finding anyone to believe her, let alone her own husband.  

Something happens, and Eva’s world crashes around her.  She tries to continue, but faces ostracism everywhere she goes.  Is it deserved?  

The film asks many difficult questions and doesn’t answer them. There are no pat answers.  I like it better that way.  

Brilliant performances from Swinton and Miller, an amazing script…a must-see film.  Not an easy film to watch, but a very good one.  

37) The Expendables 2 - Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren(October 27, 2012)

I have to admit that five minutes into this film I started laughing hysterically.  I’m not sure if I was laughing with the film or laughing at the film.  It’s loud, it’s dumb, it is a gun enthusiast’s wet-dream.  Thankfully a bit better than the first movie, it still is stupid, doesn’t make any sense, but at least Stallone isn’t romancing a young woman in this one.  

No one goes to see this kind of thing for the story, so just know that many things blow up real good and many fake bullets were shot. Fun if you like this sort of thing, but check your brain at the door!

36) The Raven - John Cusack, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, Alice Eve (October 25, 2012)

A not very good tale of Edgar Allan Poe’s final days as he fights keep his fiancee alive.  A serial killer has started killing people in the nasty ways he kills off characters, so first he is under suspicion, and then must try to solve the murders.

John Cusack is physically much bigger than Poe, but does manage to play him quite well.  The script is a let down and the writers play fast and loose with Poe’s final days.  For fans only.  Quite gruesome too.

35) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Hardy (October 21, 2012)

George Smiley is a man with a mission.  He must find the mole in The Circus, the British Secret Service. He knows that it is someone quite high up, one of his peers.  He can trust no one.

This is a very intriguing film about people who don’t tell the truth for a living.  Sometimes it is hard to know exactly who is doing what and to whom, but it is worth paying attention.  I found the two hours to fly by and while I had my suspicions all along, I was gratified to find that I was correct.  I even think I know why too!

Worth seeing, and probably worth seeing again to see why things happened the way they did.  An interesting film with a great cast, headed by the amazing Gary Oldman.  A movie to think about!

34) Jane Eyre - Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Judi Dench, Imogen Poots (October 13, 2012)

A new version of the classic tale is quite good, but does lack a little bit of something.  It begins in medias res with Jane running from something. We aren’t sure from what until the flashbacks begin.  

Mia Wasikowska was a very good Jane.  She is neither too beautiful nor too old to play Jane.  She is ably helped by Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper.  Surprisingly for me, Michael Fassbender wasn’t as compelling as I thought he would be. He was good as Mr. Rochester, but there was something quite resistible about him.  

An enjoyable evening at the movie theater.  Fans of the book will enjoy it, but some of the mini-series of the past are better as the school years get very short shrift in this film.  Worth a look.

33) The Hunger Games - Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland (October 4, 2012)

The very good adaptation of the first of the trilogy from Suzanne Collins begins slowly, but builds to an exciting finish.  Catniss Everdeen takes her sister’s place in the Hunger Games and must fight 23 other teens to the death in order to survive. The movie left in most of the book and surprisingly isn’t as gruesome as might have been expected.  A very exciting film for older teens and up.

32) Mirror, Mirror - Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham (September 26, 2012)

Another version of the Snow White story, this one plays more for laughs.  The costumes are gorgeous, the sets are beautiful, and to be honest, I enjoyed this version much more than the more serious one.  

Not the best movie ever, but a lot of fun and very good looking.

Worth seeing if you are a fan of Julia Roberts.

31) Prometheus - Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbinder, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green (September 1, 2012)

In a sort of prequel to the Alien series, a group of scientists persuade a corporation to investigate a far off planet.  They travel in stasis and then start to explore the planet.  The sense of wonder at the new world, and the way things work in the space ship are wonderful.  However, when something begins to happen, it is up to Dr. Shaw to take matters in hand and fight for her life and the expedition.

I liked the early parts of the film best, but did like the whole thing. Worth seeing if you like the stars or science fiction.

30) The Avengers - Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson (August 18, 2012)

Finally, the film I’ve been waiting for all year.  The Avengers is as good and as fun as I hoped, and that was a tall order.  However, Joss Whedon managed to pull it off. Basically, the story is something like this.  Loki, Thor’s brother, makes a deal with an alien race to hand over Earth if they’ll give him power.  The Avengers are assembled and then must try to stop the destruction of Earth.  The team is not an easy fit, there are egos galore and no one quite knows how it will all turn out.  

This film is great.  It’s mindless, but enjoyable.  Definitely worth watching for summer fun.  

29) Total Recall - Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel(August 14, 2012)

A remake of the earlier Arnold movie works.  It has lots of action, an interesting plot, and game performances, but it just isn’t as much fun as the original.  I like films like Blade Runner and Minority Report so I appreciate the nods and homages to them, and I like the attempts to update the story, but the ending left me puzzled.  Some things happened a little too fast, it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense.  

I would recommend it to sci-fi fans and to fans of the actors.  It’s a neat idea, but the original film was a lot more fun!

28) The Dark Knight Rises (August 8, 2012)*

27) The Dark Knight Rises - Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard (July 28, 2012)

Eight years later, Batman has disappeared and Bruce Wayne is a recluse.  A new villain appears in Gotham City, Bane. He brings anarchy.  This new villain is strong, perhaps too strong for Batman? Bruce Wayne is having other troubles as well. He is losing money, and there’s two new women in his life.  One keeps chasing him, the other is one he chases.  Which woman is the one for him?

I liked this film. I wasn’t sure that I would but I thought the ending and the story lines worked well.  Definitely a worthy ending to the Batman story.  

26) The Eagle - Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong (July 9, 2012)

A quite good version of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s book.  A Roman soldier comes to Britain to try to find the Eagle that his father’s regiment apparently lost.  He is wounded and discharged from the army, but takes on a perilous journey accompanied only by his slave, Isca.  Is Isca, a Briton, trustworthy or does he plan to take revenge on Marcus, his master?

This film is enjoyable and reasonably believable all the way through.  A bit “Boy’s Own Adventure” but a cracking good time. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would!


25) Man on a Ledge - Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris (July 8, 2012)

An okay actioner about a man trying to prove he was innocent of the crime he was convicted for.  It just about holds together until the end, unlike Sam Worthington’s accent, which slips quite often.  

If you like your films smart, stay away.  It’s okay, there’s some fun heist work going on here, but overall, there are better movies than this one.  A bit “meh” for me.

24) Bridesmaids - Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd (July 7, 2012)

This is a raunchy funny movie about the rivalry between two bridesmaids for the affections of the bride. This film is smart, funny and there is even gross-out humour that manages to be more funny than gross. Annie is asked to be her best friend’s Maid of Honour at her wedding and jumps at the chance.  Unfortunately, Annie has a job she isn’t good at, room-mates she can’t trust and a car that needs repairs.  A rival for the position of Maid of Honour is Helen, a beautiful, rich woman with exquisite taste, but a very competitive personality. 

This is a very funny film, made better by the fact that we care about all of the characters.  These are people that we know and care about. A rarity, a movie about women written by women.  Worth seeing if it interests you.

23) The Amazing Spiderman - Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Sally Field, Martin Sheen (June 30, 2012)

This new version of Spiderman is exciting and fun. While I’m not sure that a reboot was necessary at this time, Garfield takes the role and makes it his own.  He is Spiderman.  Emma Stone plays Gwen Stacey, his girlfriend in high school.  It is a much more interesting relationship than that of Mary Jo in the first series.  Gwen is smart and we see that Peter is too.  The first series never really spent a lot of time on the fact that Parker has a strong science background.  There is also real joy here when Peter discovers what he can do with his powers.

A great, fun time at the movies.  Spiderman fans should love it.  I did!  PS…stay a few minutes after the credits roll for a little sneak preview about a future villain. 

22) Snow White and the Huntsman - Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron (June 24, 2012)

There are great special effects in this version of Snow White, and Charlize Theron gives a wonderful layered performance as the evil queen, but it’s in a not that great movie, so I’m not sure anyone will really notice.  Chris Hemsworth gives a nice performance as the huntsman from the title, but Kristen Stewart doesn’t really rise to the role of Snow White.  Towards the end of the film, she gives what should be a rousing speech, but her delivery turns it into a yawn.  

If you like films for their effects and/or Charlize Theron, then it is worth seeing. If you aren’t convinced that you should see it, then you can happily give it a miss.  Entertaining, but flawed.

21) My Week With Marilyn - Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Judi Dench, Julia Ormond, Emma Watson (June 22, 2012)

Based on the diary of a young man who works on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, it is a loving look at the world of cinema from behind the camera.  Marilyn Monroe comes to England to become a great actress, while Laurence Olivier hopes to become a movie star.  Sadly, neither of them enjoyed the process of making the film.  Marilyn’s problems with drugs and miscarriages are touched on, but are not the main focus of the script.  The young man, Colin Clark, falls in love with Marilyn, and wants to save her from the pressures of her life.  

Michelle Williams gives a wonderful performance as Marilyn Monroe, at times funny and knowing, at other times shy and apprehensive. She is the reason to see this film.  Kenneth Branagh was nominated as Best Supporting Actor and plays the autocratic Olivier well.  All round good performances in a movie worth seeing for fans of the two leads, both characters and the actors that play them!  

20) We Bought a Zoo - Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Patrick Fugit (June 16, 2012)

Based on a true story, this is quite a moving funny film about a family in crisis.  Benjamin Mee’s wife died six months earlier and his teenage son is having problems at school.  Mee decides to move and the place that fits is a run-down zoo.  He buys it, and the rest of the movie is about how he manages to rebuild the zoo and rebuild a relationship with his son.  

I had heard that it wasn’t a great movie, and perhaps it isn’t. However, it is a very enjoyable film and Matt Damon is very good as a regular guy. Definitely worth watching if you like this sort of thing.

19) The Artist - Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell (June 2, 2012)

The Artist is one of those rare movies that tells a simple tale but does it so well that it is enjoyable from start to finish.  George Valentin is at the top of his game, a successful actor, who has a “meet-cute” with a pretty young actress.  She gradually becomes a successful actress and is able to make the leap from silent films to “talkies”.  George does not.  His film fails and soon he is down and out, despite the young actress trying to help him. His downward spiral, brought on by his pride, continues.  What will happen?  Will George be able to regain his earlier success?

This film is one to watch and enjoy.  If you have heard it is a silent film, it very nearly is.  However, there is wonderful music and sound is used on occasion to add to the story.  It sparkles in glorious black and white. There is even an amazing dog in the film. If you are a fan of early movies, this is a film to see and treasure.  

I strongly recommend this film if it piques your interest.  

18) Men In Black 3 - Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson (May 26, 2012)

A fun time at the movies as Agent J (Smith) goes back in time to save the life of Agent K (Jones). Josh Brolin is terrific as the younger Agent K and the whole movie just works.  Not destined to be a great film, but definitely pleasant time-wasting.

17) Dark Shadows - Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter (May 20, 2012)

A beautiful looking movie that doesn’t quite deliver.  Depp plays Barnabas Collins, turned into a vampire by a spurned witch.  He comes back to his family 200 years later and tries to turn the family fortunes around. He meets a young woman who reminds him of his late wife and also the witch who still holds a candle for him. 

The characterisations are fun, but the movie needed more of a plot than this.  Some fine actors (and acting), but not a story for them.  See if you are a fan of the people in it. Mild recommendation.  

16) The Iron Lady - Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman (May 12, 2012)

Another tour de force performance from Meryl Streep as she takes on Britain’s Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher.  There probably isn’t enough criticism of MT, but her fight with Alzheimer’s Disease and the people of Great Britain seem rather balanced.  

This truly is a film worth watching for Streep’s performance alone if you don’t enjoy politics.  

15) Another Year - Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen (May 10, 2012)

A wonderful “little” movie from Mike Leigh, the master of interesting people.  Tom and Geri are a long time married couple who are still in love with each other.  They have a good life, working in their allotment on weekends.  They have a son who loves them, but doesn’t visit as often as he should, and friends and relatives that love them too.

Geri has a co-worker who has become a fixture at their home.  She drinks and is looking for a man.  

The film doesn’t sound very interesting, but the way the characters interact with each other is.  The married couple are people that I’d love to be friends with. They seem like wonderful people.  

A very nice film for people who like to see nice people on the screen!

14) This Means War - Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine (April 21, 2012)

A so-so rom-com/spy movie where the spy story gets lost in the hilarity of best friend spies wooing the same woman.  Who will get her?  By the end, you’ll probably care as little as I did! A few yuks along the way, but overall not as good as it could have been.  Shame really as the actors are all quite game. Missable.

13) John Carter - Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Ciaran Hinds, James Purefoy (April 14, 2012)

A fun version of some of Edgar Rice Burroughs lessor (to me) stories of John Carter, a man from Earth who becomes a great warrior on Mars. The story is a little silly, but beats the heck out of anything Michael Bay has done recently.  

Enjoyable schlocky movie.  If this was made in the 60’s it would have had a minuscule budget, but now they can spend a lot of money on it.  Worth seeing if you like old style sci-fi.  I do, so really enjoyed this.  

12) 50/50 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston (April 7, 2012)

A young man is diagnosed with a deadly spinal cancer and must fight to stay alive.  He is aided by his best friend and his girlfriend.  

Despite the serious subject matter, a very funny film that has plenty to say about relationships and love.  Equally funny and touching.  Much more enjoyable than it sounds. 

11) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry (March 17, 2012)

Downey and Law are back with more of the same Sherlock.  This time, Watson does get married, but has an unfortunate occurrence happen on his honeymoon…thanks to Holmes.  Holmes is up against his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, a worthy opponent.  

There are a lot of guns and explosions in this movie, and it doesn’t always make a lot of sense as to why things are happening, but it is quite a fun time at the movies, if you like this sort of thing.  Happily, I do!

10) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Reviewed below (March 14, 2012)


9) Hugo - Chloe Grace Moritz, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Helen McCrory (March 11, 2012)

Martin Scorsese’s love letter to the pioneers of movies is a treat.  Hugo tries to repair the automaton that his father brought home, and solve the mystery behind the device.  He is friended by a young girl and the two find more secrets than they expected.  A lovely look at another time and place, when films were new and mysterious.  

Definitely worth seeing for fans of film history.

8) War Horse - Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston (March 9, 2012)

Spielberg takes on World War One for the look at a horse and his boy.  I liked it for the horse, the people in some parts were a let down.  We watch the horse named Joey from his birth through various owners, through the war.  He is sold to be a war horse and battles just to stay alive.  It’s a good film, although it is quite manipulative in parts.  

Worth seeing for the gorgeous cinematography and the horse scenes, which are very well done.  

7) In Time - Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy (February 25, 2012)

A movie that is better in theory than in actuality, it still provides a bit of fun at the movies.  The actors are the weak point in this story of a world where the currency is time, and people either have too much or not enough.  

Will Salas (Timberlake) is gifted some time and tries to make time freer for everyone.  The establishment doesn’t like it, and tries to stop him.  He kidnaps Sylvia(Seyfried) and the two go on a spree.  

Fun, just don’t think about it too hard!

6) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -  Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Robin Wright, Christopher Plummer (February 10, 2012)

The English version of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo packs a punch.  NOT for family viewing or for the squeamish, but for fans of the book or a good investigation, this is a rewarding film.  

In Japan, many of the more intimate scenes were pixilated and I wonder as well whether the scenes were cut at all for the delicate Japanese sensibilities.  However, a great film.  My husband, who has no connection at all to the books enjoyed it as much as I did.  If you are interested, see it.

5) The Ghost Writer -  Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall (February 4, 2012)

An excellent film about a man hired to be a replacement ghost writer for a former Prime Minister of Great Britain.  He is flown to a secluded island and is faced with a growing dread that something is going on.  He tries to get to the bottom of the mystery, but forces conspire against him.

This is a great movie.  It never stops, it is intelligent and engrossing. I had very little idea what would happen next.  Very much worth seeing.

4) Fright Night - Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots (January 15, 2012)

A remake of the old shlock film isn’t quite as much fun as the original, but there is still a good sense of humour here.  A high school student becomes convinced that his new neighbour is a vampire and tries to protect both his mother and girlfriend.  David Tennant is great, but there isn’t enough of him!

3) Let Me In - Richard Jenkins, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Grace Moretz, Elias Koteas (January 8, 2012)

The US remake of the fabulous Swedish Let The Right One In is much better than it should be.  I liked it a lot.  Not quite as dark as the original, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  This is a moody, dark drama about a boy and his new neighbour.  She has a big secret that he would be better off not knowing.  

The performances are great and if you didn’t see the Swedish one, definitely worth watching.  Not for children…this is a movie with a lot of realistic gore.

2) Real Steel - Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo, Hope Davis (January 3, 2012)

A deadbeat dad who works with fighting robots get a second chance to be a father to his abandoned son in this surprisingly moving story.  It’s Rocky for families, but well acted and the robots and the child are not as annoying as the other Robot series (Hello Transformers!)  I enjoyed it a lot.  

1) Paul - Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jason Bateman, Kirsten Wiig,  (January 2, 2012)

Two vacationing Englishmen have a close encounter with a being from another planet.  They have to take him on a cross country trip to meet up with his rescuers.  So far, so E.T.?  Nope. Paul is foul mouthed and very intelligent.  

Another film from the people that brought us Shaun of the Dead.  Very funny, but people who don’t swear, or dyed in the wool Christians may not like it. I liked it a lot.


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