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My Year In Movies

I’m going to heavy on text this time around to try to cram this all into one post. I may have to cut it into two parts, but we’ll see.

2010 was a pretty good year for movies for me although I did fall a tad short for the movie-viewing goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year. Still, I managed to see 184 different movies (a few of those twice) so I can live with that.

My discovery of the year was Mexican horror. I had seen very few movies in this genre until this year. Now I’ve seen most of the major ones that are available subtitled. I’ve found most of them very entertaining, and I’ll be looking for more in the upcoming year. My second greatest discover was Paul Naschy. More of these will also be added to my life-list (kind of like bird-watchers keep) in the upcoming months. Also, I managed to round up a few more of the Japanese sf films of the 1950s/1960s that I hadn’t seen.

The list below is my top fifty movies of the year. New ones are marked with a star. They’re not all new in the sense of having been released this year, but are new to me. Also, I’m not differentiating here between movies listed under a specific ranking. Thus, all “10s” are roughly equal. Because of ties in the lowest ranking (8+, which is equivalent to B+ on my scale), I actually have rated more than 50. I’ll make quick comments for all that I haven’t discussed in blog entries this year.

10+ Harakiri* [Superb samurai flick, short on the sword fighting but long on social commentary. Exceptionally well done in all areas.] Kung Fu Hustle [The CITIZEN KANE of kung-fu movies.] LOTR 1: The Fellowship of the Ring [Best fantasy series ever.] LOTR 2: The Two Towers
LOTR 3: The Return of the King
Sanjuro [Superior Kurosawa; more will be added at this level when I re-view them.] Venture Brothers Season 2 [Finest American animated tv show, ever.] Venture Brothers Season 3*
10 Alice in Wonderland* [Great movie; 3D added nothing] Dragon Inn [Superior Tsui Hark HK historical; with Brigette Lin, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Donnie Yeun. Good script, beautiful photography, great fight choreography with one of the most awesome climactic fight sequences ever] Godzilla: Final Wars [Best Godzilla movie since original; great monster roundup.] Good, the Bad, and the Weird [See blog.] Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [Another great fantasy series.] Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1*
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Iron Man 2* [Almost as good as the first; superior super-hero movie.] Kick-Ass* [Original, and, yes, ultimately sensitive, script mixed with high-powered martial arts sequences makes for an unexpectedly entertaining top notch “super-hero” movie.] Machete* [The greatest Mexploitation movie of the 1970s made in the 21st century. Danny Trejo gets his star turn and does not disappoint. “Machete don’t text.” Hell, yeah!] Son of the Black Mass: Full Circle Killing* [See blog] Son of the Black Mass: Sword of Seduction* [See blog*] Star Trek* (2009) [Rousing reboot to the movie series which exceeded all the expectations of this Classic Trek fan. Nice job by the new actors and Leonard Nimoy.] Sword of Doom, The* [Terrific version of the oft-filmed novel. Though some consider the abrupt ending a symbol of the film’s inherent nihilism, it’s just a reflection that the planned sequels were, for some reason, never made. Great script, great acting, great cinematography
Vampire Hunter D: Blood Lust [Some of the finest animation outside of Miyazaki, a good script, and a well depicted milieu makes for an outstanding anime of a future world overrun by aristocratic vampires.] 9+ Big Trouble in Little China [Nice John Carpenter effort that the suits found incomprehensible. Kurt Russell does a John Wayne impersonation throughout and James Hong out Fu’s Fu Manchu. Marred slightly by unnecessary cliched horror movie ending which makes little or no sense.] Despicable Me* [Delightful animated romp. Predictable but fun. A few convenient character turns. The minions were great. I could use a score or two.] Hellboy: Storm of Swords [Another great animated feature: Hellboy vs. Japanese myth.] Hidden Fortress [Excellent Kurosawa/Mifune historical actioner.] Mothra [Classic Toho kaigu.] 9 300 [One of the most visually stunning movies ever made; virtually every scene is an imaginative feast for the eyes. Held back from truly elite status by an overly bombastic script. ] Crawling Eye, The [see blog] Daimajin [Excellent production values in this well-done historical fantasy.] Destroy All Monsters [Another great monster rally where the goofball inventor from INVASION OF THE ASTRO-MONSTERS gets to play the hero.] Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone [First rate adaptation of the fantasy series, held back a tad by the youth of the actors and the heavy-handed, shticky directing. Beautifully realized.] Jonah Hex* [Excellent work by Josh Brolin as bounty hunter Hex in a story that’s episodic but fast-moving and solid. Nice looking, too.] Kelly’s Heroes [Superior script with an unusual plot and quirky characters makes this a very funny war movie with satirical overtones. A great cast. “Always withe the negative waves, Moriarity.”] Last Legion, The [A good-looking, well-imagined take on the Arthurian legend with a kung-fu Indian babe.] Ponyo* [Miyazaki’s charming ecological fantasy geared toward the younger set.] Rodan [One of the classic giant monster movies. Moving, in its own way.] Scott Pilgrim vs. The World* [Entertaining despite its arch hipness. Overlong at the end.] Sherlock Holmes* (2010) [Holmes reinvented with a great performance by Robert Downey and an appropriately seedy late 19th century London. Excellent villain, as well.] Slither [Another zombie movie (this time zombification via alien takeover) enlivened by a good script and some great work by Nathan Fillian and whoever played the foul-mouthed mayor.] Son of Black Mass 2: Sword of Adventure* [see blog] Stray Dog [Kurosawa’s taut take on late 1940’s Tokyo with Toshiro Mifune as the rookie policeman who must track down his stolen gun before it’s used to kill again.] Ultraman Q* [A loopy Japanese classic tv series, much more amusing than it’s surficial quality would suggest.] 8+ 100 Monsters [Nice monster tale, though crude SpFx compared to today. Based on Japanese folklore and the tradition of Hundred Story Night.] Atragon* [This one has everything: invasion from a lost continent, giant monster (Manda), giant FLYING submarine. The works.] Christmas Carol, A (1951 Sim version) [see blog] Curse of the Crying Woman* [Well-done Mexican horror-fest based on the legend of the Crying Woman.] Goyokin (Official Gold)* [Beautifully filmed; script is unnecessarily confusing and the climax is disappointing in the “they all just walk off the set” sense.] Invasion of the Astro-Monsters/Godzilla vs. Monster Zero [Excellent alien invasion gets Godzilla and pals involved to fight alien monster (Gidhra). First (?) Nick Adams Japanese effort. Nice all around.] Judge Dee and the Monastery Murders [Made for American tv flick, memorable for the fact that all the Asians depicted therein are indeed Asian. Nicholas Meyer adapts Judge Dee novel. Nice sets, nice acting, nice job all around (except for the supposedly drunken young poet, who’s absolutely awful.] Monolith Monsters, The [A different and intelligent Universal alien invasion movie, its slow pace made up for by decent acting and a novel if not entirely scientifically plausible plot.] Mortal Kombat [I like this movie more than I should, and despite Robin Shou’s hair-do and sets that look like Lord of the Rings done by some Vegas dudes.] Predators (2010)* [Worthwhile addition to the franchise; nice concept, nicely played, nicely filmed.] Solomon Kane* [Can’t understand why this never got an American theatrical release.] Sword of Black Mass 1: The China Jade [see blog] Thief of Baghdad (1961 Reeves) [Perhaps Steve Reeves finest movie. Although at best a limited actor, his underplaying fit nicely into this Arabian fantasy with lavish sets, wild costuming, and primitive but mostly effective special effects. Rousing adventure, a touching love story, and mostly humorous, good-natured action with scattered low-level thrills make for enjoyable viewing.] Vampire, The (El Vampiro)* [The movie that launched the Mexican horror wave. “Dracula on the hacienda” is eerie and atmospheric with a dynamic and quite sexual vampire who mirrors the better known Chris Lee Hammer version. Nicely done
Wrath of Daimajin [Back on track after sub-par second entry in the series, with all you might expect in a Daimajin movie.]

Phew. That was a little long. I should close now before I wear out my welcome. You can’t have the good without the bad, but that will have to wait until next time.
Happy New Year to all!

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