June’s almost over, so I figured now would be a good time to look back over all the several films I’ve seen this year and rank them according to likability and usefulness, much like parents rank their children. So, without further ado, here are the five best I’ve seen this year. I’ll also include their trailers, just cuz I’m cool like that.
5. The Raid: Redemption
What better way to kick this list off than a film entirely about punching and kicking people in the face with various body parts and objects? The Raid: Redemption comes from Indonesia, a country whose movie industry sees American stunt-people as too soft and unbroken. As a result, every single punch and kick in this film straight-up connects. This is a film where people burst into tears when the director asks for another take. You can only get thrown off a building so many times before your colon refuses to reenter your body and simply says, “No” like Rorschach in Watchmen.
There’s a plot to this film, but you will neither remember or care about it once the ass-whopping starts. I saw this in a small theater and the entire audience was clapping and cheering with every brutal beatdown, especially the climactic final fight (2 vs 1) that goes on for a solid twenty minutes. It was like someone had sprinkled testosterone on the popcorn and ground-up Blu-Rays of Die Hard into every large diet Coke. The members of Dethklok watch this film to relax after a long day. I loved every moment of it, and I promise you will too. It’s basically Ong-Bak with more guns.
Prometheus was one of those films you either loved or hated. People kept calling out how stupid the characters were for doing stupid things, or lambasted the slightly cheesy, tentacled ending. I loved it. It was haunting and creepy and kind of blue like a Miles Davis record. It was also just plain beautiful, albeit in a dark, disturbing, vaguely phallic way. Everything from the opening shots with that amazing – and apparently real – waterfall to the eerie steroid-baby Engineers lingers with you for a long time after viewing it. It’s one of those films you’re supposed to watch multiple times. Which is exactly what I did, and after reading this article, which points out a lot of the symbolism and space-Jesus implications. Good stuff, give it a read.
3. The Avengers
Nobody hasn’t seen this film. It made 600 million in America alone. I know you’ve seen this movie before and loved it. It was an orgy. Just…just a orgy. This is Batman’s favorite movie. The Mayans pushed back the Apocalypse just to make sure this film (and The Dark Knight Rises) could get released in as many theaters as possible. Millions of perfectly good pants and the backs of unsuspecting heads were forever ruined in theaters nationwide. This was the first film ever where showers were set up for audiences leaving every screening. Scholars argued that Thor was actually the second coming of Jesus Christ. Parents around the world realized they didn’t need to give their kids “The Talk”, because this film was already pure sex. Adulterers stopped cheating because nothing they were doing would ever be as thrilling as this movie’s climax. Every child ever born was retroactively named Tony Stark. Prostitution nationwide took a serious hit, because clients suddenly found themselves only capable of being turned on by the Hulk smashing. Zombies rose from their graves but quickly returned when they realized everybody on earth was watching this film, and the streets were barren. Alcoholism spiked nationwide as people turned to vodka to deal with how lame life was in comparison. Colicky babies held that crying shit in till the credits. Captain America was unanimously elected President of Earth. Nobody left seeing this film a virgin. Men and women left the theater with an erection.
It was a really dope film.
2. Moonrise Kingdom
This movie is the cinematic equivalent of a likable hipster reading you an extremely charming bedtime story. It’s a Wes Anderson film, and if you’re familiar with The Royal Tenenbaums or The Fantastic Mr. Fox, you’ll know it’s about a quirky family doing quirky things while an indie soundtrack plays in the background. But something about Moonrise Kingdom makes it seriously one of my favorite films in a long time. Maybe it’s Edward Norton awkwardly leading a wonderfully weird scout troop through the morning routine. Maybe it’s the kids in the scout troop whimsically arming themselves with spiked bats and machetes to hunt another one of their own. Maybe it’s Bill Murray deciding to chop wood in the middle of the night to relieve stress. Maybe it’s the leading girl’s fascination with sci-fi novels and binoculars. Or even the absurd attention to detail sprinkled throughout. Looking back however, I seriously think that what made this film was the music. Nothing like hearing a children’s choir singing Benjamin Britten’s “Cuckoo” to just draw you into the ’60s, in a crazy town filled with strange people. Very charming stuff.
1. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
At one point in this spectacular cinematic experience, a vampire hurls a horse at Abe Lincoln just a few minutes before our favorite vampire hunter shoots him in the eye with a gun hidden in his Vampire-Slaughtering Axe. This film is what happens when weed smokes too much weed. It’s so aggressively nonsensical that you can’t help but be charmed by it, like a baby trying to rap. Nowadays, half the fun of watching a film is making fun of it later. But how the hell can you honestly do that with this movie? It’s called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. You’re the one who bought the ticket. You knew what you were getting yourself into. This isn’t a Justin Bieber album, and you just had to own it; you actually had a choice in this. Critiquing this film is like burning your child’s crappy drawing because it’s terrible and s/he should have known better than to try. Such a refreshing thing when a movie is completely immune to criticism. I fell in love with it when I made that realization about halfway through, when Abe strolls towards the camera in slow-motion with his top-hat and beard, with music blaring in the background. which is especially impressive considering it starts with a black child being whipped and literally scarred. Over the next hour and a half, I saw a President chop down a tree in a single blow, kill more vampires than Twilight did, and *spoilers* end slavery. And let’s make it clear, you’ve never seen emancipation until it’s in 3D. I left the theater with a massive smile on my face, delirious in the dedicated nonsense I’d allowed my brain to bathe itself in. It was like…if a teacher in high school gave a drunk lecture on the Civil War after having seen Interview with a Vampire the night before. And I listened. And I learned well.