2010’s In Film: Part One (2010+2011)

So we’ve reached the end of the year, and the end of the decade. Well, this is weird, isn’t it? There are people who voted in the last election who weren’t alive when 9/11 happened. That’s weird. Time is strange. So to cope with the inevitable passing of time, I’m going to make you all feel really f*cking old and briefly talk about one film from every month for every year of the past decade. Some of these films I haven’t seen, particularly before about 2015 when I started to go to the cinema more. We’re going to start at the beginning, because we’re not Memento.

January – Tooth Fairy

God damn you 2010. This is why this blog is hard, January 2010 was, well it was not good. Here’s a list of films released that month that I’ve heard of: The Book Of Eli, Bitch Slap, Tooth Fairy, Youth In Revolt, Leap Year. That’s it, it does feature two films that share a name with bigger things though: Girl On The Train, Stranger Things. That was a terrible start to the decade and I really hope the year gets better. I chose Tooth Fairy because it’s weird to look back on a film before a time where The Rock was legit the biggest action star on the planet. To be honest I’m not even sure how that even happened. I personally can’t pinpoint the film which launched him into superstardom, I’m guessing Fast And Furious because of the mainstream appeal those movies have. Nonetheless, this is a strange film to watch, is kind of cute and funny. Not something that will stick with you, but a film you’d probably watch if it was on and you were bored. Also, it has Julie Andrews on it, which is always nice.

February – Ponyo

Originally released in 2008 in Japan, this film FINALLY saw a UK release in 2010. I love this film. It’s one of the most adorable films you will ever see in your life. It is just so cute, the cinematic equivalent of a lovely hug. Ghibli can do incredibly mature and depressing films (Grave Of The Fireflies being a notable example), this isn’t one of them. Yes it has mature moments, but it is overall a kids film, and has all the positive things that that entails. It reminds me of the live-action version of The BFG (which sadly almost nobody has seen, but they REALLY should).

March – Alice In Wonderland

Damn this movie to Hades. This film made Disney realise that they can just do live-action remakes/re-imaginings instead of coming up with new versions. I hate this trend and refuse to watch them. I watched the live-action Jungle Book they made a few years ago and disliked it because it didn’t stand on it’s own merits; it made so many references to the animated film that you couldn’t watch it as a stand-alone movie as some of it wouldn’t make sense, but they’re not going to be better than the originals, and they’re also not going to be different enough to justify their existence. So really, what is the point of them? So yeah, damn this movie.

April – Iron Man 2

You can read my thoughts about this movie here, this is only here to make you realise how old this franchise now is. How the cinema landscape has changed and yet this franchise is still going strong. I remember people really liking this film when it first came out, yet now everyone hates it. It’s the opposite of Iron Man 3 (which I have always loved btw).

May – Four Lions

This month is the opposite of January. In this you had this film, Hot Tub Time Machine, A Nightmare On Elm Street (shut up, I like it). All films I love, albeit two of them as guilty pleasures. This is probably my favourite though. It’s one of my favourite films of all time, and is still depressingly relevant today. Really you do HAVE to see this film, it’s funny and horrifying and then back to funny again, and then back to horrifying as you realise how true most of it is.

June – MacGruber

I weirdly like this film despite knowing nothing of the character (SNL isn’t really a “thing” in England. Like A Christmas Story, Kiss, or deep-fried butter, it’s huge in the US, ignored over here). This is not the greatest film in the world, but it is a fantastic way to kill some time, and I wish I saw this at the cinema when I had the chance, or that I had watched it with people. I imagine this is great when high, not that I would know of course.

July – Toy Story 3

It was either this or Inception. I went with this instead because this film made me cry. There’s not much I can say about this that hasn’t already been said. It’s the perfect closer to a great trilogy. It’s so good I didn’t want a fourth one to exist, although when it came out I was very glad it did. Pixar are magical.

August – The Human Centipede

Yet again, a film I haven’t seen. So why am I talking about this? Look, I know I’m incredibly immature at times, but this film made me realise that I do have some sense of maturity. It made me realise I had outgrown the “watching shocking things for shocking things sake” stage. It made me realise that I didn’t want to waste my time with ugly art.

September – The Town

Damn I love Affleck. And this film is just more proof of why. I really wish he was given a MAJOR film, he deserves it as both a director and a screenwriter.

October – Despicable Me

Yup, those little yellow bastards have been with us for an entire decade. Now used almost exclusively by middle aged women on facebook to admit they’re massive alcoholics but it’s okay because it’s gin/wine, which is socially acceptable for some reason. “It’s always Gin O’Clock” is something you can proudly put on facebook, yet “I’m going to down a bottle of vodka on my lunch break” isn’t.

November – Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1

Another cinema-ruining movie. A film which made studios realise that they no longer have to make self-contained films, they can just split them into two double their money. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it really doesn’t (Twilight, The Hobbit). Here’s the thing though; I can’t remember how this film ends. I know the plot of both of them, but I can’t remember what happened in each separate film. Compare this to Infinity War/Endgame where I know what happened exactly in each part (or even the IT films). These films do seem like one film that was just cut into two, rather than made as two. I didn’t watch any of the films before the last one came out, and this is partly why; I don’t want to wait a year to see the end of a film I just paid to watch.

December – Little Fockers

Depressing point; kids today might recognise DeNiro mainly from comedy films rather than what he’s best at. That seems wrong. I kind of enjoyed the first two films, but I had no desire to see the same jokes repeated again, and the fact that NOBODY speaks about this film says a lot about it.

Now onto 2011. It doesn’t get much better

January – It’s Kind Of A Funny Story

This is here just to remind me that I really need to read this book, it’s been recommended to me by quite a few people so I should get round to it at some point.

February – Big Momma’s: Like Father Like Son

Ah, remember when this series was a thing? Quick question, did anybody actually ever like these films? You never hear anybody say anything about them, they’ve made almost zero impact on pop culture, yet somehow it still warranted sequels. Tax dodge?

March – Submarine

Oh, so I guess 2011 was just “films I should have seen but didn’t but will get around to one day”? Stop making me feel bad! And I know “why don’t you just pick another film for this month?” Because almost nothing was released this month.

April – Scre4m

Terrible title aside, I do genuinely like this film and I think it features both the best opening, and best villain motivations, of the series. The scene where the killer is injuring herself are brilliantly psychotic and looked like a lot of fun to film.

May – The Hangover: Part Two

I have a weird relationship with this film series. It boils down to me not respecting the people in it that much, and that’s down to this film. Australian racist Mel Gibson was supposed to have a cameo in this as a tattoo artist, but the cast and crew stopped it happening due to him being a drunk nazi. Now I’m not saying he should have been in it or that nazi’s should be allowed in films. But I will point out they had Mike Tyson in this series, and he’s a rapist. Yet the public seem to have forgiven him. So I don’t think it was down to morals, I think it was down to “this will make us look bad” rather than a genuine worry about ethics.

June – X-Men: First Class

The film that saved the X-men franchise which was in desperate need of saving after Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine. In the end it kind of ruined the franchise though as it led to too many discrepancies between timelines. It also led to Dark Phoenix, and fuck that film. But this did show that you can save a franchise thought to be dead. All it takes is to make a good film and people will, well not “forget”, but certainly forgive the sins of the past films.

July – Cars 2

Because even Pixar make mistakes. And for them to put three of their worst films in one franchise is admirable. Still, made a lot of merch sales.

August – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

Yes! Now we’re talking. This is one of the most complete trilogies of all time. It follows one story arc but each film is self-contained. Everyone was wary about this film when it was announced, and for good reason. Thankfully it turned out great. This is a trilogy where any film in it could claim to be your favourite one. The fact it lost the academy award for best visual effects is a travesty. As is no nominations for Andy Serkis.

September – Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil

Yeah everyone should have seen this film by now. It’s hilarious. It’s one of those films that you feel has always existed, like the fact that there was a time before this film existed is strange. A bit like Led Zeppelin, but with more woodchipper deaths and less raping of underage girls.

October – Tyrannosaur

Are you a happy person? Do you wake up with a spring in your step and a desire to smile and sing and bring joy everywhere? Watch this film, it will soon cure that. When Olivia Colman won an Oscar earlier this year, the collective thought from everybody who saw this film was “it’s about damn time”. I haven’t seen The Favourite, but I really struggle to see how it can be better than her performance in this. It’s completely heartbreaking and wonderful and depressing. I love it so much.

November – 50/50

The best Seth Rogan film. This film makes me tear up everytime I see it. Based on a true story and all the better for it. The cast are on top form; Rogan plays the role he played in real life, so brings an emotional honesty to the character. Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts his puppy dog-like face to the best possible use. Plus it has Anjelica Huston, and I love her. It also has the best possible use of “To Love Somebody” you’ll ever see.

December – A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas

These films don’t get the love I feel they should. They’re REALLY funny and have something to say. This one is oddly mature compared to the others, but still juvenile in the right ways.

Escape Room (2019)

I love the premise of this. The idea that an escape room actually being a torture device that tests people’s wits and logical thinking? I love that! I did not love this film, mainly because they don’t seem to make to the most of the actual premise. It reminded me of Saw, and not in a good way. I insulted that series a lot, but when it was good, the storytelling was superb; when it was bad, it was just a mess. This is closer to the bad. It never gets quite as messy as the Saw movies, by which I mean in terms of how bad the storytelling of those films got, not by the gore. Although more mess in this film would improve it. It is lacking in gore. I’m not a fan of needless gore, but in a horror film, it’s kind of needed. You need some form of brutality to the physical pain to make the audience feel it. I don’t just mean “you need to see lots of blood,” but if you don’t see blood, you need to make up for it through either the performances or the sound design. Sound is an element which often goes underlooked in horror films. A lot of them know you have to use music but don’t really know how to use it effectively. Most of the time when they use music and sound it’s like this:

quiet

quiet

quiet

LOUD NOISES.

Seriously, that is at least 80% of horror films approach to sound, and it sucks. But yeah, back to the point I was making. This film could have maybe worked if it had excellent sound design, excellent performances, excellent ANYTHING really. But it’s all just so plain. Some of the rooms are pretty unique (there’s one in a bar which is a particular highlight), but that just brings me to another issue I had with it. There are multiple rooms. The point of an escape room (not the singular room, not rooms) is you’re locked into one room and there are things which don’t make sense until you see them in a new context later on. It’s about making the most of limited and confined spaces to create terror. Now THAT’S a horror movie. What this one does is constantly move from one room to another. The rooms don’t really seem to link together well in terms of spatial geography. (Seriously, I’d like to see the architectural blueprints of the building this film takes place in.) So, not only does it not really work, but it also wastes a potentially great idea. Seriously. Think about it: a horror film with multiple deaths in a closed room would be incredible because you’d have a constant reminder of the deaths. As it is, because of this, the way it changes from one room to the next, as soon as somebody dies their body disappears and is never seen again, effectively making it like a video game. If it was a singular room, then all the deaths would have a constant presence in the film, which would give you a lot more interesting shots to work with. It could be used to justify almost any stupid decision the characters make. All it would take is someone looking sadly at one of the bodies and it would justify anything as you know they’re full of fear and panic.

So, the actual rooms/puzzles themselves? They’re okay, and some are better than others. I feel this would have been better if it wasn’t done by one director. If each room had a different director, then everything would have felt truly unique. Honestly, I would have LOVED a different writer for every room, too- have them written sort of like a series, then one person comes in and makes the characters consistent between each room. Then they could have had different kinds of scares in every room. They could have one that seemed very supernatural, one that was essentially a slasher, etc. It would have made this stand out in a crowded genre. Some of the rooms are okay. As I’ve already mentioned, the bar scene stands out as a true highlight for the film in terms of aesthetic, set design (similar to aesthetic, but more how everything WORKS together, not so much how it looks), the tense nature, and the absolute GENIUS use of music. It also seemed to be the best use of lateral thinking and intelligence, much more so than in the rest of the film. (There’s a moment where a key is trapped in ice and they use their body heat to melt the ice. It’s a group which contains 4 guys, and none of them suggests pissing on the ice to melt it.) The puzzles themselves are okay, I guess. But it commits a cardinal sin for a movie dependent on people doing puzzles like this: a lot of the time the audience arrives at the conclusion WAY before the characters do. The best example of this is the second room where they have to guess a certain word. The clue is “You’ll go down in history” and there are reindeer heads mounted everywhere. It takes longer than you think it would for them to figure this out. There’s no sense of “oh! so THAT’S the answer! I never would have guessed that! That’s so smart! Colour me impressed!” It’s just “well, obviously that’s the answer.” The disappointment continues to the ending, where we find out that the reason they’re all here is that *surprise* rich people are betting on them. Sigh. I know, rich sociopaths are awful, but you know what else is awful? Formulaic endings which would have been considered bland in the ’90s. It’s a secretive group which builds a high-tech building and kills people whilst watching them from a set of cameras at all times. OF COURSE it’s rich people, and of course they’re doing it to gamble, and of course, the audience realises this about 20 minutes in.

I do feel the performances need to be pointed out though, they’re pretty good. Taylor Russell could lead a Netflix drama series easily, Logan Miller would be a great “main characters best friend” in a sitcom (or just take the roles which TJ Miller won’t get any more due to him being TJ Miller), and I want to see more of Nik Dodani. It’s also great to see Tyler Labine in more stuff, although it does make me want to watch Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil. In fact, I think I will do that, I loved that film.

So in summary, I wanted this film to be smarter and it kind of frustrates me that it’s not. I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.