Gary’s End Of The Year Review 2005
by Gary Schultz
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You know how everyone has that friend that sees every movie before you do, and they hate everything that’s really good and only like movies that just suck?! You are supposed to be the movie nut yet they always see everything before you, or the first week it comes out on video. Their opinion drives you crazy. You know, the friend that says they hated “The 40 Year Old Virgin” but thought “Bewitched” was cute. This is the same kind of person that wouldn’t watch “Kung Fu Hustle” because it was subtitled and they didn’t want to read for two hours. Read?! But it’s Kung Fu?! Awesome fighting! There’s only like twenty lines of freaking dialogue in it. Just check it out. Oh for God shakes you saw “The Passion” last year that was subtitled. What, you’ll read for Jesus but not for some bad ass Kung Fu?! Okay so now you are with me, that’s the guy I’m talking about, well I’m NOT THAT GUY! Check out MY review.
Like many of you I watch a lot of movies but also like many of you I don’t see everything because I have a social life, job, pay bills, etc. So I know you’ll understand…this isn’t a tell-all list of the absolute best films of 2005 but rather the best of what I saw. And I did see quite a few. Over 500 movies came out this year. This year I’m going to mix it up a little and break it down to the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Good are the best of what I saw, the Bad really weren’t that bad and the Ugly aren’t necessarily the worst films of the year; there’s a lot of crap that goes straight to video. The Ugly are the films that shouldn’t have been as bad as they were; let’s call them disappointments. It’s one thing if the movie is supposed to be bad and serves it’s entertainment purpose. It’s another thing when we get these cookie cutter, paint by number, carbon copy films that stink up the screen. These are the films I hate, the disappointments. So without any further rambling…thanks for reading over the past year and here’s to the upcoming year.
“Movies that ROCKED 2005!”
1) Sin City—Modern film noir. Director Robert Rodriguez is a one-man movie studio and when he has a script, or in this case Frank Miller writing he is simply amazing. “Sin City” is his best movie and an amazingly violent, brutally engaging film. Bruce Willis is super cool. Mickey Rourke is his best ever and all the ladies are sexy, armed and dangerous. This is a badass movie and I can’t wait for the sequel with Frank Miller on board again.
2) Batman Begins—The best Batman we have seen yet. I knew Christian Bale would be amazing in this role. His dedication as an actor is incredible. Did you see “The Machinist” or “American Psycho”? Christopher Nolan did a pretty sweet job directing; now don’t go screwing up the sequel.
3) The Devil’s Rejects—That’s right. Screw you artsy-fartsy haters of this film. I stand beside Rob Zombie as one of my biggest influences and I stand beside “The Devil’s Rejects”. This is a twisted, dark, daring film. It’s pretty unconventional in this day to make a film about “bad guys” and can be upsetting for audiences when they find themselves rooting for these bad guys. Seventies style horror is my absolute favorite decade of horror and I felt this film paid total homage and presented it to a new audience. It’s evil, it pushes the limits of its own insanity. This is more of a revenge thriller than anything. Check it out; you have never seen Terri from “Three’s Company” in a role like this.
4) Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith—Best modern Star Wars Film hands down. Highest grossing movie of the year. Amazing opening sequence, amazing third act battle. I had a lot of fun at this movie. I have always been a fan of the dark side, go Vader! This is the third best movie out of the six, next to “Empire…” and “A New Hope”. Enough Said.
5) Wedding Crashers- There weren’t many great comedies this year. “Wedding Crashers” was definitely the hardest I laughed at any movie. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are great together in this tale about a pair of womanizers who sneak into weddings to take advantage of emotionally vulnerable women until they find themselves at odds with one another when one of them meets and falls for a woman from a prestigious family who is engaged to another man. Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson with Christopher Walken and Rachel McAdams round up a great cast. This was the funniest movie I saw this year.
6) King Kong—Can Peter Jackson do no wrong? From his dream project “Lord of the Rings” trilogy to his boyhood dream project “King Kong” Peter Jackson has solidified himself as one of the most talented directors working today. And yes he got his start in low budget horror movies. I thought 99% of the Kong animation was amazing. Peter Jackson brought so much emotion to an animal and really makes you feel for Kong. Everything on Skull Island is amazing except for the only bad animation in the film where the Dinos are trampling people. Kong is an epic film; Naomi Watts is perfect in this role. Jack Black is well, Jack Black but nonetheless exploits the role to the fullest. And finally yes I agree this movie could use a good 20 minutes of trimming, especially in the boat scenes on the way to Skull Island but again, well worth it. Kong is King.
7) Kung Fu Hustle—Wicked-bad Kung Fu, comedy, and unlikely heroes. “Kung Fu Hustle” isn’t what you would expect, it’s better. In 1940’s China the “Axe Gang” battles residents of a housing complex defending their “turf”. Nobody is what they seem in this movie. The fighting is intense and glorious to watch. The comedy undertone of this film only adds to the unique performances. Stephen Chow is already a huge success in China, now it appears he will be in America too. Oh, and they just announced the sequel.
8) Crash—Great drama with a truly deep and amazing cast. Several people from different racial backgrounds collide in one incident. Stereotypes society has created affect their judgment, beliefs and actions. The drama is a bit heavy handed but very affective. A great film about how all our lives are entangled and how we all affect each other.
9) 40 Year Old Virgin—Probably the big breakout hit of the year. This comedy starring Steve Carrell as well…a 40 year old virgin follows the hilarious accounts of a 40 year old geek whose work colleagues discover he is still a virgin and put in an all out effort to get him laid. The old question is asked, “If you don’t use it, do you lose it?” Pop your cherry and check out the “40 Year Old Virgin” for many laughs.
10) The Ice Harvest—Directed by the legend Harold Ramis check out his first attempt at Neo-Noir starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton. This movie is dark, tragic and funny is sick sort of way. I would highly recommend checking “The Ice Harvest” out on video if you haven’t seen it yet.
The BAD (but, not really THAT bad)
“Let’s call this the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD category!”
Land of the Dead—I am a HUGE fan of George Romero’s zombie films. He is the master and the creator of that genre. We waited 20 years for “Land of the Dead” and although there was so much I loved two big factors have kept this film out of my top ten list. One, I waited 20 years since “Day of the Dead (1985)” to see Romero get another chance to make another brilliant zombie epic and “Land of the Dead” is not epic. It’s very hard to be epic in a story that takes place over a four-hour period of screen time. I wanted epic, I didn’t care if it made the movie longer. After Dawn and Day we needed epic. Studios will spend 30 million dollars remaking Romero films but won’t give the master the money and time to make a new original film. What?! Also take into account that humans should never let zombies go free, especially when they are starting to learn. Kill zombies! With that said this was still one of the best horror films this year. It’s traditional in style and certainly one of Romero’s best looking films. Go zombies!
Constantine—No it’s not the Matrix but close, it’s the adaptation to the comic book “Hellblazer”. Keanu Reeves is John Constantine a supernatural detective who has visited Hell a few times in his life. This is this pretty decent comic book movie that didn’t get a ton of acclaim or shame.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—Okay I’ll admit, I never read the book. I’m familiar with it but never read it, but this film just felt forced. It needed about 20 more minutes of story and I would have liked to have seen Simon Pegg as Arthur Dent instead of that guy from the British version of “The Office”.
Assault on Precinct 13—Not a fan of remakes. I like John Carpenter’s original but it is by today’s standards a bit slow. This remake isn’t slow and is a fun and tense thriller.
Layer Cake—If you like “Snatch”, or movies like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, then check out this movie, it’s by the same crew and stars Daniel Craig aka the next James Bond.
The UGLY (lets call them disappointments)
“Don’t bother renting, maybe on cable if you’re bored!”
Hide and Seek—God this movie sucked. DeNiro what are you doing?! I know, I know, it was the paycheck. I didn’t mean any disrespect. Really, I love “Raging Bull,” and “Goodfellas.”
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—I’m a huge Tim Burton fan, huge Johnny Depp fan. Man did this movie just miss the mark. It’s weird when it should be comforting; its annoying when it should be engaging. The songs are horrible and this is Danny Elfman. Was everyone on horse pills when they made this film? Sure its nice to look at. All of Burton’s films are, but for the last several years it seems we desperately are missing the Tim Burton that brought us “Batman”, “Beetle Juice” and “Ed Wood”. Please come back to us Tim.
Boogeyman—The opening sequence is great, then about half way through the movie you actually see the boogeyman, who looks like a cartoon. I liked the boogeyman from the cartoon “The Real Ghostbusters” better.
The Longest Yard—Another bad remake full of recycled humor. Chris Rock may be the best damn stand up comic in the biz today but his movies are just not good. Adam Sandler is falling down the same path. Itll still always be “Happy Gilmore” for me as his best. Watch the original “Longest Yard”—it’s better. (Man, I interviewed Bill Goldberg for this movie, I hope he doesn’t read this and kick my ass.)
And the dreaded final notes…
MOVIES I HAVEN’T SEEN YET BUT PLAN TO CHECK OUT REAL SOON:
Gary Schultz is a filmmaker and critic living in Chicago.
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