2012

The following is a comprehensive list of every film I’ve seen that debuted in the year 2012 in a U.S. theater, or if not released in the U.S., then released in 2012 in its home country. My favorite 20 films are ranked, while the remaining are in approximate order according to overall feelings and lasting impressions. Films near the top are worth watching, while films near the bottom are not worth your time. Those movies seen in the middle portion are worth filtering through and watching, depending if it peaks your specific interest in the film, whether because it has a favorite director, actor, or interesting plot. A good rule of thumb: if it’s below the middle of the unranked section, then it probably isn’t worth watching.

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild

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i think more than any other film this year, this is the one that really stood out to me and made me say “wow this is unique and just plain good”, and i think when it comes down to it, a film that is both doing something new but also doing it well is a truly great film. this is by no means the “best” film this year (whatever that means), but this is a personal favorite and probably more enjoyable to watch than most of the other overhyped films this year. the acting is great, the young director showcases his talents, and the music and imagery is wonderful.

2. Amour

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Haneke is such a brilliant director and this is the epitome of great storytelling packed with creeping emotion. not a true love story, just a story about true love. wonderful acting and writing and everything in between. can be considered very boring to non-cinephiles, but definitely a treat for film aficionados.

3. Argo

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i’m a little partial to Ben Affleck, so this may seem a bit high on the list, but i do think was a cool story and overall execution. definitely had its fair share of cliche Hollywood storytelling, but still some great tense scenes and a proper buildup.

4. Lincoln

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hard to not put a Spielberg film in the top 10, but at the same time i do think he gets too much credit. his signature style is the fact that he doesn’t have a signature style. his films are so pure and simple and classic Hollywood, pre-70’s. while there is some respect in this, i think the fact that he lacks a style is just plain boring. this is typical Spielberg in that its enjoyable fun for the whole family, but if you’re looking for something daring and unpredictable, not just in story but in telling, then you won’t necessarily find it here. good biopic about Lincoln, obviously great acting from DDL, but nothing that made me say “WOW”.

5. Looper

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definitely an adventurous and creative idea, and i personally think director Rian Johnson executed it perfectly, but there are some who don’t agree and think it wasn’t very good. i would disagree with those people, but will admit certain things about it don’t match up perfectly. still love almost everything about this and think it accomplished everything a film like this should accomplish. good overall film.

6. Life of Pi

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good story, not too predictable. definitely worth the watch. there’s some good analysis dealing with this film that i think would go over many people’s heads, so i think it may even be worth a rewatch. great job by Ang Lee, but there are absolutely some cliche Hollywood moments.

7. The Intouchables

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such an emotional film and definitely one of my favorites, as emotional dramas are my niche. great piano dominated soundtrack. great story and highly recommended to anyone. all of my friends who saw this loved it also. definitely worth the watch, even if you don’t like French films with subtitles.

8. Kahaani

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pleasantly surprised by this film, especially by the second half. classic Bollywood at times, but has its fair share of “wow” moments. great acting by the lead and overall a wonderful film. shame films like this don’t get more widespread exposure.

9. Oslo, August 31st

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although he’s only directed two films, Joachim Trier is definitely a director you should be watching. this is such a special film and has some great storytelling and acting. definitely one of the best foreign films from this year. watch this and his other film, “Reprise”.

10. The Master

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PTA just can’t put out a bad film. this has some breathtaking and memorable cinematography as well as incredible acting from a star studded cast. i wouldn’t say this was the best of his films, nor the best of the year, but definitely an amazing movie watching experience. i think i was overhyped for this, but still felt this was something special. definitely would call this arthouse though, which isn’t for everyone.

11. Rust and Bone

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wonderful indie arthouse foreign film. great, just great. also the director has previously put out some seriously amazing films, so don’t just watch this, but make sure to tackle each of Audiard’s previous films. so amazing.

12. Gangs of Wasseypur

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wonderful Indian film. although it definitely feels like a ripoff of The Godfather, Gangs of New York, and other similar films as these, this is definitely a successful adaptation of crime that occurs in the slums of big cities in India. exciting, enjoyable, and upsetting at the same time. wonderful production value, and just awesome directing and acting.

13. I Wish

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Koreeda once again proves himself as one of Japan’s best drama directors. this is flat out artistic and strong in his simple, yet powerful style. great child acting, which seems to be a strength of his as a movie maker. absolutely watch this and watch his other films.

14. Smashed

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this is a personal favorite of mine from this year, but i think it falls a little short with some viewers. i found the acting to be remarkable and the script and storytelling to be just packed with so much emotion and tension. highly recommend this piece of true indie drama.

15. Moonrise Kingdom

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classic Wes Anderson. he succeeds with yet another film, and this time he does so with child actors. although i think the child actors may hurt the film a little, the picture still comes together so clearly and visibly that it seems negligible. if you’ve seen any of Anderson’s other films, then you know what to expect here. if you haven’t, then this is as good a film as any to start with.

16. Zero Dark Thirty

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not as good as The Hurt Locker, but still a good film about the killing of Osama bin Laden. good watch and great acting with tons of realistic action. apparently some of the story was dramatized, and that kind of takes away from the real intensity of the drama, but still a good effort at realism.

17. Sister

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just pure realism. at moments very sad, this film has some great acting and some seriously good visuals. i recommend this French film about siblings.

18. Django Unchained

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hard for me to put a remake at the top of a list of films because at the end of the day, the film is just a retelling of a story already told, which takes away points for creativity. nonetheless, Tarantino can’t miss as a director and his version is definitely exciting and enjoyable and as always a bit satirical in nature. good stuff, but to me not comparable to the original dramas from this year.

19. The Dark Knight Rises

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basically just as good as The Dark Knight, but not better. Nolan is too good of a director for this to be a bad film, but at the same time he doesn’t exactly blow me away with this. while the hype surrounding it and the overproduction definitely hurts its case, i still think this ending to the trilogy was just good, but not amazing. Batman Begins still my favorite of the trilogy though.

20. Bernie

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Linklater surprised me with this amazing little film. didn’t know what to expect with Jack Black in it, but honestly the best films are the ones you don’t expect anything from. funny story that takes a little bit of an odd turn. i absolutely love the way its told and think Linklater continues to show why he is labeled the “Father of Indie Filmmaking”. good stuff.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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great indie comedy drama, funny and emotional at times. would recommend. great for all ages i think.

A Royal Affair

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good period piece about royal love affairs in victorian era europe. well done, but boring at times. could have been more powerful, but just a good drama overall.

End of Watch

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loved the way this was shot and the overall story. so powerful and emotional and surprisingly good acting. highly recommended if you love cop dramas or unique productions.

A Simple Life

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wonderful Chinese film about getting used to new life with new limitations. wonderful and simply beautiful, but some may find it boring, as it is true arthouse.

Bullhead

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very good Belgian drama. unique story and very enjoyable, so you must watch. nominated for many awards, but still has some flash and exciting climactic moments.

Starlet

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surprisingly good film that really just gets better from the start. slow start, enjoyable throughout the middle, and wonderful finish. pretty arthouse and progressive. would recommend, but not for kids or conservative adults, as there is plenty of sexuality and nudity.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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the first installment in the new Hobbit trilogy by Peter Jackson, this doesn’t compare to the LOTR trilogy, but is still very well done and exciting. what do you expect when they try to stretch three movies out of one book though?

Wreck-It Ralph

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one of the best animated films of this year, and could be in the top 50 animated films of the decade. very good and funny and cute and nice. great for whole family.

We Need to Talk about Kevin

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super indie and progressive drama based on a book. great performances and really makes you feel for all the characters, which is incredible considering the circumstances of the story. would recommend to film buffs of any kind.

The Impossible

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very emotional and powerful drama inspired (or based on?) the real events surrounding the devastating tsunami that happened in the southeast a couple years ago. must watch for sad feels.

Wild Bill

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british drama about an excon who comes back to his two sons living on their own. has some great moments and good overall story and acting. highly enjoyable, but not the most original idea. good basic sad film with happy moments (or maybe happy film with sad moments). very similar feel to Tyrannosaur (2011). i recommend it.

Flight

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slightly overhyped, but still a good Denzel drama with some great acting, writing, etc. not in the top 20 of films from this year, but deserves most of the credit it gets.

Once Upon A Time in Anatolia

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super super arthouse, slow paced indie drama set in Turkey. from a highly acclaimed director, this is definitely worth the watch if you are a cinephile, but if you get bored easily, watch out. i think this is one of those films where some may consider it spectacular and other may just consider it alright. it really depends on well the director is able to pull you into the story. i personally wasn’t as strongly as some other people, but i still think this deserves a lot of indie cred.

Silver Linings Playbook

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good acting, but not really deserving of the Oscar. cliche and predictable at times. had a good message and good feel, but just an above average movie placing it right outside my top 20 for the year.

The Cabin in the Woods

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surprisingly a very good horror-esque film. definitely worth watching because it sets out to achieve something different and daring, and for the most part achieves it. i think many would appreciate the ending of this one. watch it.

The Raid: Redemption

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absolutely some of the best fight scenes and action scenes you will ever see in a movie. so realistic yet so gruesome and violent. great direction and story too, as well good acting. worth the watch if you like crime action.

Elena

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highly recommend watching the previous films from this director. “The Return” is still one of my favorite dramas and i think this film lives up to my high expectations for him. this is just simple and good modern Russian arthouse drama. definitely a director to watch out for.

The Kid with a Bike

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Belgian arthouse drama nominated for Golden Globe. very good but can be considered boring or too simple for any non-arthouse film watchers. nothing too exciting happens but the imagery is strong and the direction is good.

Holy Motors

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very creative and daring indie film from French director Leos Carax. worth the watch because of how unique it is and how beautiful the imagery and cinematography is. falls a little short on this list because i think it comes off as pretentious at times and is a little too complex in story for the simple viewer.

The Well Digger’s Daughter

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typical sad drama with good storytelling and acting. nothing too special, but by no means a bad film. worth the watch if you like the genre, otherwise there are many better French films.

Safety Not Guaranteed

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very funny indie comedy. seems artistic and has great moments, but overall just a good comedy drama. would recommend for all the big name indie comedy actors.

Skyfall

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yet another good James Bond film. exciting with good writing. its gonna be hard for these films to keep topping the previous ones.

The Avengers

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above average superhero movie. exciting and fun but you’re not gonna watch it for its artistic integrity.

Ruby Sparks

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creative and fun comedy with a dash of drama. great writing and acting. worth the watch. from the director of Little Miss Sunshine. love Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan also.

Arbitrage

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wasn’t crazy about this drama thriller but it wasn’t bad. just a little boring and typical. some great moments though.

Seven Psychopaths

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love this director and enjoyed all the comedic moments interspersed in between the indie action. definitely a lot of fun to watch and still a unique film, but not gonna be winning any awards.

Chronicle

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love the feel and love the actors and direction. fun thriller with unique ideas. worth the watch.

Nameless Gangster

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decent Korean crime thriller. definitely fun to watch, and has all the dark, vengeful moments that fill the Korean crime genre, but this isn’t anything too special, and takes a chapter out of the cliche crime book.

Detachment

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at times dark indie drama with some great acting and some great moments.

Robot & Frank

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very fun and unique indie comedy drama. definitely worth the watch.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

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super indie comedy, not too thrilling or exciting but still pretty funny and enjoyable to drink to.

Michael

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creepy and haunting drama thriller about a pedophile. actually very well done and achieves the task it sets out to do.

Barbara

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arthouse German drama nominated for many awards. good and rich in artistic value, but a tad boring and expected. still definitely worth the watch if you like foreign dramas.

Dragon

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relatively unknown Chinese martial arts action flick with Donnie Yen. worth the watch if you like this genre, otherwise its just an average action film with a typical story.

Masquerade

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another unknown Korean drama that is actually very artistic and rich in film quality. not the most exciting film but has some great acting and arthouse elements.

Rhino Season

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arthouse Iranian film from Bahman Ghobadi. this director is definitely one of the premier Iranian directors and usually has films rich in culture that are genuine to the communities where they are shot. he uses local civilians as his actors, and while that may take from the quality of the film, it adds a very real feel to it. this isn’t one of his most original films, but has a more modern feel to it with a story that doesn’t complete the job. still an interesting watch though.

Anna Karenina

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period piece based on the characters in the famous Tolstoy novel. only worth the watch if you like that sort of niche.

The Bourne Legacy

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fun and exciting and a worthy extension to the Bourne series, even without Matt Damon.

Pitch Perfect


fun and enjoyable if with your teenage friends. has some funny moments but at the end of the day, this typical Hollywood young adult comedy drama has no real artistic merit.

Barfi!

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fun Bollywood film. not the best Indian film i’ve seen lately, but not bad at all. has some sad and happy moments, so something for everyone.

The Last Step

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lesser known Iranian film, that has a very unique style and story, much like other movies by Iranian directors. this has elements of good acting but i think the writing could have been better, as well as the direction.

The Amazing Spiderman

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too soon for a Spiderman reboot but this is easily better than the previous trilogy. has more of a comic book feel and a better Spiderman actor.

God Bless America

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really satirical comedy drama action with some funny moments, but it still makes you realize that there is something drastically wrong with this world. pretty fun yet eye opening. worth the watch.

Celeste & Jesse Forever

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not the best indie film but still so very enjoyable to watch. love Andy Samberg and love Rashida Jones, but just another indie comedy drama. still loved the hell out of it because i like this style of film.

Les Miserables

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i thought this was overrated, but not that bad. found the singing a little pretentious but still a good version of the original play.

Farewell, My Queen

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French fictional film documenting days before and during the beginning of the French Revolution in late 1700’s Versailles. centered around of the Queen’s readers, the film is lacking in a lot of areas, and just seems boring and without purpose at times. good production and style, but does not make up for the lack of meaningful story. some great scenes and some gripping moments, but kind of goes nowhere and doesn’t really build up a story worth caring about. only recommend to those who like movies about this period. note that it is in French with subtitles.

Dredd

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just as good as the original “Judge Dredd”. fun and good production value, but at the end of the day, this action flick is just a lot of fluff with maybe a good message.

Hitchcock

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decent semi-biographical film about Alfred Hitchcock during one part of his tenured career as a filmmaker. not sure how accurate it is, but this isn’t exactly ground breaking work.

ParaNorman

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decent animated film. good for kids, but may be a tad boring for older viewers. still kind of cute though.

Compliance

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unique and interesting drama thriller. had me on the edge of my seat at times and builds the tension in a very unusual way that works. worth the watch i think.

Premium Rush

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enjoyed this a lot and would watch again with a beer in my hand. liked it but still a very simple idea with no real plot worth caring about.

Brave

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typical animated film. not bad, just so cliche. obviously that is expected for kids film, but i just didn’t feel the emotion quite as strongly in this one as some of the others.

The Hunger Games

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good adaptation of the book i suppose. does the job. nothing really too crazy for me though.

The Sessions

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pretty decent indie film with a nice simple story and good acting. mostly a drama with some comedy. not bad, just didn’t “wow” me.

Lawless

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fun but mostly amateurish or typical. nothing too great about this, but nothing that bad about it. western action drama with some big name actors.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

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kinda fun and enjoyable. not the best comedy though, but watch if you like the actors.

Cloud Atlas

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kind of a cool film at times, but just didn’t feel involved with it. boring at times and just bad at other times. not enough “wow” moments.

Get the Gringo

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Mel Gibson in what seems like a decent “straight-to-DVD” action film. not the best film he’s ever been in but kind of fun to watch at times.

This is 40

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another funny Apatow comedy with no real story worth caring about but a decent watch nonetheless. funny and enjoyable but not the funniest film you’ll see this year.

Killing Them Softly

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had the potential to be really good, and starts very good, but goes nowhere and i think most viewers would sort of get bored with it. nice style and attempt though.

Sinister

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typical horror. nothing special really.

Project X

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super fun and enjoyable modern indie about teenagers raging too hard. pushes the boundaries of film ideas. not super artistic but somewhat original.

Ted

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watch if you like Seth MacFarlane. otherwise its just a live action version of Family Guy with a more realistic storyline.

Men in Black 3

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not very good, not even for the third in a trilogy. disappointingly cliche. worth the watch if you love the men in black series, but don’t expect a quality film.

21 Jump Street

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funny and entertaining, but not very much substance. worth watching if you’re drunk.

Frankenweenie

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not a bad animated film, but not too special either. i just don’t like Tim Burton’s style.

The Dictator

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not Cohen’s funniest film. had a good message regarding today’s failing society, but overall not very watchable.

That’s My Boy

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one of the raunchiest Adam Sandler movies i have ever seen. its a shame this is the level he has to resort to when trying to get laughs. it was enjoyable for a comedy, but doesn’t live up to the glory days of Sandler comedies.

Tomorrow, When the War Began

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a film based on a cool idea, but lacking very much and overall not as enjoyable as it could have been. felt amateurish at times.

The Grey

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started great, went nowhere fast. i love Liam Neeson as much the next person, but this was just cliche and expected.

The Deep Blue Sea

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just not very good. this is a dry, boring film that tries to be very artsy. only worth the watch if you like slow paced arthouse dramas.

Total Recall

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not as good as the original, which wasn’t that great of a film anyway. not a very creative remake.

Trouble with the Curve

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forgettable and simple. enjoyed the baseball though.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

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felt this could have been great but by the end of it, i felt unfulfilled and lacking. great family film. should be replayed on the disney channel for young teens.

The Expendables 2

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the first one was bad. this was worse. i cannot believe this country supports films like this, but whatever, it had lots of guns and stuff, so that’s cool i guess.

Prometheus

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the writing tries too hard to be intelligent and futuristic, but the end result is an overly confusing film with no real direction or written quality. i hate discussing this film because the conversation always ends with “what a stupid film”. watch this if you wanna know how NOT to write a scifi mystery thriller screenplay.

Taken 2

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the original Taken was awesome and thrilling. this was a let down, mostly in that the original idea was so one dimensional and lacking in creativity that no sequel could ever represent anything more than the same simple idea for an action film. this is basically the same exact film, so watch it if you liked Taken and don’t mind if its pretty much a worse version of it.

Haywire

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oh so bad. just… bad.

Here Comes the Boom

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a worse funnier version of Warrior, but still tries to be emotional and dramatic at times. next time, don’t use Kevin James if you want to make this type of film and directly rip off a film from the previous year.

The Guilt Trip

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annoying to watch and unfunny. typical comedy based on a useless idea.

Contraband

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can’t believe i paid to watch this in a theater. so stereotypical and cliche. nothing unique about it, nothing real good about it.

Act of Valor

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a decent look into the Navy SEALs, but not a very good movie. only watch if you love military and want to see a different perspective. very amateur of a movie though.

Cosmopolis

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one of Cronenberg’s worst films. Pattinson is bad in it, and the screenplay is just bad. i think it could have been a good film if anyone else played the lead. Pattinson is just too bad of an actor to pull this off.

Battleship

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a potentially great cast and director is led astray by a terrible idea for a film supplemented by a very bad screenplay with cliche hollywood production value, design and camerawork. just so laughably bad. makes me question peter berg’s talents.


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