Sunday, February 17, 2013

My favorite movies and comics of 2012

Time to look at my favorite things from 2012, a follow up to last year. It was an eventful year. We had a presidential election. The world failed to end. The economy did bad stuff. You know, the usual. World and political stuff isn't what this blog's about though. This was the year of Call Me Maybe and 50 Shades of Gray. More importantly to me, it was the year that The Avengers, The Hobbit, and The Dark Knight Rises all hit the silver screen. Creatively, I was on stage a few times, and even on camera. I've started a new novel (YA fantasy) and I'm working on a comic (superheroes). I'll post updates on both here in the future. Anyway on to the things I loved about 2012.


At the start of the year, I listed the films that I most wanted to see. Sadly, I haven't (yet) seen them all (also, two got pushed back until this year). My top three, Avengers, Hobbit, and Dark Knight Rises came in exactly the way I'd expected them too. If you want see all of the films I saw and how I ranked them, the list is here.

1. The Avengers - Joss Whedon, Marvel Studios

I certainly expected to like The Avengers, but I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it actually was. Joss Whedon and Marvel succeeded on many levels. I've already blogged about my favorite moments, but there are some storytelling elements worth looking at as well. This will sound funny, but the great thing about The Avengers is that it's actually about the Avengers. This is a movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johanssen, but Clark Gregg and a CGI Hulk steal the show. They may only get one or two scenes, Whedon wrote a war story about a team, and that allows the film transcend the superhero genre and its tropes in surprising ways. Oh, and it let to Avengers LEGO sets. Awesome.

2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Peter Jackson, Warner Bros.

This was one of the only movies I actually wrote a full review for this year (I've been slacking). Read it here. I love Peter Jackson's Middle Earth. I loved this movie. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have problems. Big structual problems that I can only hope are a by-product of the late two into three film change, and not indicative of problems with the series itself. Also, HFR was a problem.

3. The Dark Knight Rises - Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros.

To this date, Nolan's Batman Begins remains one of my favorite superhero films, above it's The Dark Knight, which is a superior film in many ways. My problem with The Dark Knight is simple, and it's one that carries into The Dark Knight Rises. The two sequels are about Batman the Legend, but not Batman the Man, and The Dark Knight Rises doesn't embrace the legend when it's given the chance. The film has a stellar first half and many awesome moments, but where The Avengers stumbles early and picks up at the end, The Dark Knight Rises trips during a long second half, though that doesn't mean the film is bad by any means.

4. Cabin in the Woods - Drew Goddard, Lionsgate

This was the big surprise of the year, a film that I thought I might like thanks to the creative team, though in a genre I don't love, but Cabin in the Woods managed to blow expectations out of the water. It was my #4 film of the year, despite it only being #13 list of anticipation. Here's the review.

5. Zero Dark Thirty - Kathryn Bigelow, Columbia

Kathryn Bigelow's account of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden finally showed up at the very end of the year, just in time to get a well-deserved Academy Award nomination for Jessica Chastain. It's a spy thriller or police procedural depending on how you look at it. For me, it beats out the other CIA film of the year Argo, on the strength of Chastain as the operative that found Bin Laden. It's a fascinating true story and fantastic movie.


Best Series - Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja, with Javier Pudilo)

Hawkeye might've gotten his big break in the Avengers film, but a few months later, Matt Fraction and David Aja launched a series that completely revolutionized the character. This street-level take on superheroes features Hawkeye along with the other Hawkeye (Kate Bishop of the Young Avengers) and Pizza Dog (yes, a dog that eats pizza). The issues are episodic, there's a car chase, a Hawkeye Christmas, and most recently Hawkeye vs. Hurricane Sandy. The first five issues are collected here.

Best Comic Event - President Cap (Ultimates #15 and #16)

It was a gutsy movie for new writer Sam Humphries to make Captain America President of the United States in the Ultimate Universe, but that's exactly what happened this summer, and things show no sign of changing any time soon. As part of the Ultimate Universe crossover event Divided We Fall, United We Stand, Captain America was elected in a special election following the bombing of Washington D.C. The Ultimate Universe lets this event promise lasting effect that Marvel's main summer event Avengers vs. X-Men couldn't match.

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