January 19, 2009

2008: Most Rewatchable Movies

You may be asking yourself just what this category is. Well, it is simple enough to explain. These are the top ten films that are likely to get the most revisits from the year's releases. They are movies that I really enjoyed and can watch over and over again. The one caveat is that they cannot have already appeared on my "Best of" list. So, you will not find The Dark Knight here, despite my ability to enjoy it on back to back DVD viewings. Oh yes, it is also not a requirement that the film even be considered "good" by the general populace, for me it is enough that I like them. In the end, isn't that all that matters?

Top Ten Rewatchable Flicks.

They are ordered, but they don't really need to be.

10. The Spirit. The dialogue is stilted, acting is over the top, the look is often downright cartoonish, and there is an odd comic relief strewn throughout. Sounds like I didn't like it, doesn't it? It is actually the opposite. All of these odd choices add up to a cinematic experience that held my attention, partially by how strangely awful it is, and partially how incredibly stylish it is. The combination is pretty interesting. It almost invites party/group viewing.

9. Punisher: War Zone. From the opening moments I was hooked. Of course it helps that the very first line of dialogue had me cracking up. The movie is utterly ridiculous, you cannot help but smile at the crazy things that happen. It brings up the question of what makes one bad movie really bad and another completely entertaining. I do not know if there is an easy answer to this. All I can say is that this definitely falls on the entertaining side of bad movies. Violent, silly, insane, and completely ridiculous, I cannot help but love it.

8. Kung Fu Panda. At its heart, Kung Fu Panda is a martial arts film in the tradition of old. There is the unlikely hero, the inevitable training sequences, the ultimate showdown with the bad guy, and everything is laced with strong action and comedy in the style of classic Jackie Chan films. This film delivered something much better than I was expecting. I was hoping it would be good, I thought it would be good, but I did not expect it to be more than that. Kung Fu Panda features a strong character arc, strong action, and some great animation. This is definitely worth seeing on the big screen whether you are a child, a grown up, a martial arts fan, or whatever. It is a movie I have found holds up nicely upon multiple home viewings.

7. Tropic Thunder. The movie approaches greatness in the way that it takes familiar situations and pushes them to the edge. Stiller and Theroux know what it is like to be on movie sets and the problems that can arise. They take those problems and make them utterly ridiculous. At the same time, they hold the movie together on a tight, plot-driven, path. I love how subversive the film felt. On the surface you get a ridiculously over the top comedy that will leave you in stitches, beneath lurks satire that leaves no stone unturned and uncovers the ruthlessness that infects the industry. I particularly enjoyed the revelation of the story source, I will not reveal it here, but I found that aspect to be quite telling.

6. Pinapple Express. Who would have thought to make a stoner action/comedy? Leave it to Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and the rest of the Judd Apatow camp. This is a movie that is funny, odd, and plain engrossing. It features a great performance by James Franco as a pot dealer that really brings the whole thing together. This is a movie that is easy to watch many times over and still enjoy. It may not be the funniest film from this camp, but it is different and provides laughter and bullets!

5. Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Smith paints the screen in vulgarities in such a way that he may still believe they are shocking. Of course, they aren't. Now, I do not actually believe he still thinks they are shocking, but he brings them together in such a way and at such a rapid fire pace as to elevate them beyond mere words, almost to the level of poetry. There are few writers and/or directors that can paint the screen in profanity and raise it above the shock level to a more artistic level. He takes the F-bombs (and its multitude variations) and injects them liberally into a story that has a high emotional quotient. Yes, at the core of Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a big heart.

4. Doomsday. This is a film where greatness and originality do not appear to be among the final goals; rather it felt like he was trying to piece together all of those ideas into a single cohesive film. An experiment, if you will, in stream of consciousness and the ability to pull all of these ideas into a film. The end result? A film that tickles the pleasure centers in just such a way that you cannot help but be sucked along for a wild ride, thus making it very easy to rewatch.

3. Rambo. I was floored by how good the film was. Sure, it could have used with a touch more fleshing out, but it was so much fun that many of its flaws can easily be overlooked. Judging by the reaction of the audience at my screening, I wasn't the only one. There were cheers and clapping and a generally electric atmosphere. Quite amazing, if you ask me. Bloody, violent, and surprisingly good. If you like action movies or Rambo, this is easily a must see. There is something that is absolutely electrifying about the film. Sylvestor Stallone has pretty much secured his action star starus with this film. If it is the last appearance of Rambo, he goes out in a hail of bullets and just a little bit of hope. Also, the carnage is great to revisit.

2. Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The scope of The Golden Army is much bigger and more epic in tone than the first film, and while that initial film was quite necessary in introducing our heroes, The Golden Army outdoes that movie every way. The story is simultaneously bigger and more personal, and combines a strong narrative that is more than just dealing with the primary antagonist with a fantastic set of visuals. It is not a perfect movie, but it is enormously entertaining and a big step up from an already entertaining original movie. The problem is that there are no egregious problems and anything I come up with would most likely fall under the banner of nitpicking. So, rather than pick at it, I would rather just marvel at Guillermo Del Toro's seemingly endless imagination and enthusiasm for anything he is involved in.

1. Iron Man. To say that Iron Man flies high and sticks the landing would be an understatement. There is a strong undercurrent of energy, realism, and just plain old fun. The bottom line is that Iron Man delivers on the potential that superhero films contain. It pushes the boundaries of what a superhero film can be in much the same way that Batman Begins did, bringing a maturity to the material and allowing it to develop in an organic manner. Not to mention, multiple viewings are rewarded. Along with The Dark Knight, 2008 was a great year for the superhero movie.


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