Originally Posted by Al_The_Strange
A perfectly formidable follow-up on Baraka, Samsara offers an invoking and insightful trek across multiple countries and cultures to reveal some stark, startling, and fantastic images. The film takes some surprisingly freaky twists here and there, revealing the oddities and freakishness that surrounds us. Best of all, the film connects the images in a free-flowing fashion that guides the mind to interesting places. It is as beautiful of a film as it is invoking.
2.) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Despite the critical complaints that the film is overly padded, I felt it was the perfect possible adaptation of the story. It hits up all the necessary plot points, and invents some more to better connect the Middle Earth lore as exhibited in the Lord of the Rings films. What I love most about it is that it brings to life some of the book's best moments in a perfectly entertaining fashion: it's a blast to watch the dwarves invading Bilbo's home, to see them all struggling against the trolls, and to see the riddles in the dark scene. I felt the film was every bit as good as the LOTR trilogy, and I have high hopes that the next two Hobbit films will deliver a heck of a spectacle.
It took so many years and so many superhero movies to build up to this one epic moment. After so much build-up and so much hype, the film delivered with a huge, awe-inspiring bombastic splurge of non-stop action. There's never a dull moment to this film: between the many fight scenes (such as the opening scenes with Loki, Hulk smashing up everything, Iron Man and Thor duking it out, and the all-out city battle at the end) and the frequent comedy, the film offers perfect entertainment! Best of all, it does so without sacrificing character development; part of the joy is watching the different iconic heroes interacting and developing such unique chemistries. Watching The Avengers might be the biggest, most special, and most memorable movie event this year.
4.) Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight in itself was a very impressive and special film in '08, but surprisingly, Christopher Nolan managed to finish off his Batman trilogy in the best way possible. It's a huge and deep film, with such a broad scope and scale; even though the timeline gets a little choppy, the film does an excellent job of chronicling the story in a way that makes sense, and makes the characters stand out so vividly. I really loved how it incorporated parts of the Knightfall comic series into the story, but still stood on its own with its own established rules and themes. There's a ton of nuances to this story, a ton of great memorable scenes, and of course, a ton of pleasing action scenes. Best of all, it only gets better the more you watch it. It's an excellent finale to an excellent series.
With the 50th anniversary of the Bond series, the filmmakers went all-out to ensure that the latest 007 adventure would deliver big. Skyfall is an interesting animal: it has action, certainly, but it's more about the evolution of the characters, the twisting and turning plot, and the deep themes of change that make it stand out. With its unique filming style, excellent acting, and involving storyline, Skyfall proves that James Bond is here to stay.
6.) Life of Pi
I went into this film expecting impressive visuals, and man, the visuals sure were great. It's fantastic, witty, beautiful, charming, and gripping all at once. I would have written it all off as a fine and dandy light-hearted adventure flick, up until the end, which spins the entire story in a wholly different light. In spite of that, I realized that the plot boasts an impressive narrative structure, which warrants deep and insightful interpretation, while underscoring strong themes of spirituality. In light of this, this film has proven to be an experience that captures both the heart and the imagination.
Even though there's plenty of negative things to say about this film, let's be honest; it's not like Alien was well-accepted when it first came out either. On its own merits, Prometheus offers a visually-splendid and thoughtful journey into a dark and primal region, not only in deep space, but also in the human spirit. The film presents a lot of mysteries and invokes a lot of questions; it's frustrating how very few answers are given, but given the myth of Prometheus and its connection to the film's story, I learned that the film is sound in its own right. It wouldn't surprise me if the film continues to resonate with audiences, and eventually becomes accepted as a brilliant piece of science fiction in the same vein as Alien. As of now, though, it at least stands as a entertaining and intruiging odyssey.
8.) The Raid: Redemption (Serbuan Maut)
Holy crap. Of all the action films I've seen, I don't think any can hold a candle to the sheer amount of action and badassery that's in this film. It's a very simple premise with a cast of simple characters, but once they go into the building for a simple, routine raid, it just becomes an all-out action extravaganza. It's just one fight scene after another, all so intense, so bloody, so fast, so shocking, so jaw-dropping, it's as exhausting as it is impressive. It goes above-and-beyond in terms of entertainment, and I think it will come to stand as a new top favorite among martial arts action films.
Following in the same vein as The Raid, Dredd takes the titular character into a hellhole of a building and makes him fight his way to the top. However, this is still Judge Dredd to the core: it's still a film that focuses very well on the central concept of judges dispensing brutal and relentless justice in a corrupt city. Best of all, Dredd pumps itself up with enough pulpy violence and hardcore style to put the '95 Stallone movie to brutal shame; this is definitely the adaptation the franchise deserves. With quality acting, a vivid visual style, and excellent use of a limited budget, Dredd is a rare form of pulpy sci-fi that's perfectly entertaining and well-made.
10.) Doomsday Book
A zombie outbreak occurs from contaminated foodstuffs. A robot achieves enlightenment. A giant 8-ball strikes the Earth. Maybe this is all a bit weird for people, but I thought this collection of short Korean sci-fi films was very interesting. I enjoyed the whole lot of these stories, and I think it's a shame that more people haven't seen these interesting oddities.
11.) Cabin in the Woods
For a while, it seemed as though this film would just offer more of the same in terms of horror. Then, BAM! The final act plunges into unpredictable territory to deliver one heck of a finale. The film has its share of gruesome, horrifying stuff, but it balances itself out nicely with its comedy. It's a fun thrill ride of a film, with enough unexpected twists to make it stand above most other mundane horror flicks.
12.) John Carter
It took 79 years of development hell to bring this 100-year-old character to life; the iconic hero who supposedly inspired such films as Star Wars and Avatar. I find it kinda sad that John Carter's cinematic debut was met with little enthusiasm, with lackluster reviews and a box office deficit. Regardless, the film is a blast; it has its fair share of epic action and cool visuals. It's a real joy to watch Carter tread on Martian territory and try to get along with the natives. By the film's end, I really felt immersed in the world of Barsoom, and was really rooting for Carter and the Tharks. It's as enjoyable of a sci-fi adventure as I could ask for.
13.) Painted Skin: The Resurrection
The sequel to the 2008 film Painted Skin, PS: The Resurrection covers a lot of the same ground, but does so with greater visual flair and elegence. The plot presents some very unique twists and turns, while the characters stand out in their own interesting ways. With gorgeous imagery and an interesting series of plot twists, the film offers a wonderfully mystical experience that very few other movies manage to pull off.
14.) Kill List
This is not a film that really makes much sense on the surface level, but it gives you enough visual information to connect some dots and draw startling conclusions. It's a dark and sardonic tale that often leaves a bitter aftertaste, but it is a really interesting challenge to try and figure out the nuances of the plot and characters. Overall, it's a uniquely bleak and thought-invoking experience that deserves a chance or two.
15.) Men in Black 3
Despite hearing the reviews that this film was mixed and uneven, it never felt all that uneven to me. I found it perfectly-paced, with plenty of action and plenty of comedy to keep it rolling really well. I loved the way it treated the characters and the plot, and the film pulled out some impressively heartfelt twists toward the end. I felt this film provided the perfect possible conclusion to an otherwise fun series of films (in fact, I probably wouldn't mind a fourth film now).
Maybe not as great as other Pixar films, but Brave has a charm of its own. Characters are quite endearing, the plot is fun, and the graphics are impressive. With plenty of amusing comedy and a charming Scottish embellish, Brave is an entertaining and mystical adventure.
17.) Snow White and the Huntsman
Other audiences may not have cared much for this film, but I had a blast watching this dark and violent take on the Snow White myth. It has plenty of action and visual splendor. Charlize Therion played a perfect villain. The film overall delivered exactly what I wanted.
Probably the most crowd-pleasing and most surprising sci-fi movie of the year (if not in the past so-many years). Looper has its share of coolness, style, and action, but it tells an interesting story with a cast of decent characters and with a quality narrative drive. It has plenty of interesting ideas, and pulls out some decent punches with them.
19.) The Thieves (Dodookdeul)
This fine Korean film pretty much delivers everything I expect and want out of a heist film: cool characters, cool gadgets, cool and smooth robbery scenes, action, comedy, and a hip soundtrack. Yep, The Thieves might be one of the most quintessential heist films I've seen in this genre.
20.) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
I think this will go down as my number-one choice for top guilty pleasure of the year. It's an absurd concept of a film, but the film plays with the absurdity so well and with such a straight face that it makes it work. The action is frequent and very cool to watch, while the story has just enough character depth and movement to make things work. Even though the film has a choppy timeline and doesn't really follow the original novel at all, I think it stands pretty well on its own, and if I want a quick and easy dose of crazy vampire-chopping action, this will become my new go-to film.