Most Anticipated Movies - 2015

Honorable Mention: Dragonball Z: Resurrection of Frieza

This is being released in Japan on April 18, but I have no idea when it will be available in the U.S. Frieza is the most influential villain in the DBZ universe, and he has been dead for nearly 20 years. 20 freakin' years! Keeping a villain dead for that long is nearly unheard of in America. He was the main antagonist when I started watching first run episodes in Japan, and I'm excited to see him back.

7. Terminator: Genysis

Release Date: July 1
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke
Budget: $170 million +
Synopsis: People vs Robots

I'm not quite sure what's going on here. Schwarzenegger is back as the good Terminator, but he's like grumpy grandpa terminator. It appears that some time travel shenanigans are going to cause a reboot of the series, which I'm not a fan of, but I am excited about Sarah Connor being reintroduced to the series through Emilia Clarke. If you're not familiar with Emilia Clarke, she's the only good thing about Game of Thrones. I thought Terminator Salvation was kind of boring, and I'd really like a conclusion to the machine war instead of another movie trying to prevent the machine war. Regardless of how bad or good this is, I think I will at least enjoy watching Schwarzenegger reprise the role that made him famous.

6. Jurassic World

Release Date: June 12
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
Budget: $150 million +
Synopsis: People vs Dinosaurs

I honestly have very little recollection of Jurassic Park 2 or 3. There don't seem to be a lot of dinosaur related scripts floating around Hollywood, unless you count Transformers 4, which was bad even by my standards. I'm excited to see some non-robot dinosaurs on the big screen again, and I like the idea of a fully functional dinosaur park. I'm less excited about having to sit through a story about scientists genetically modifying dinosaurs, because ya know, who in the world would go to a park with boring regular dinosaurs. We'll see.

5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Release Date: November 20
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Budget: $125 million +
Synopsis: People vs Other People

I was rather underwhelmed by Mockingjay Part 1. I thought it dragged and it was only split into two movies as a cash grab by Lionsgate. That being said, if the movie follows the book, Part 2 should be mostly all action as Katniss and company storm the capitol. More than the story, I'm anxious to see the level of violence from the books they carry over to the movie. Spoiler alert: it is a blood bath! Characters are slaughtered left and right, in the city, in the sewers, children are blown up in the capitol, and Katniss assassinates President Coin (Julianne Moore). I don't necessarily want to see all these things, but the director, Francis Lawrence, has a huge PG-13 challenge on his hands. (Bonus: While researching this, I learned that Francis Lawrence's father was a physicist who taught at California State University, Northridge.)

4. Mission Impossible 5

Release Date: July 31?
Starring: Tom Cruise and ?
Budget: $150 million + ?
Synopsis: Spies vs Terrorists?

This wasn't supposed to be released until late 2015, but was apparently bumped up to summer 2015 because it is that awesome. As of this writing, there is no poster, preview, or synopsis available, and I don't need one. Mission Impossible 4 was the best in the series. Tom Cruise is currently on a hot streak with action films (Jack Reacher, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow).

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Release Date: December 18
Starring: a lot of young adult actors I haven't heard of and the old Star Wars cast
Budget: $200 million +
Synopsis: I don't know

I am not really a Star Wars fan. Of the six movies, I only enjoy Revenge of the Sith and Empire Strikes Back. I tried watching the Clone Wars cartoon but I could never get into it. I don't like what J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek, and I have little doubt that he is going to turn this into another franchise geared towards young adults. With that being said, there are actually several reasons I want to see this.
  1 - I really like light sabers.
  2 - I like the Millenium Falcon and am interested to see it in commission again after 30 years.
  3 - I want to see the remnants of the Empire. I don't imagine it just fell apart when Emporer Palpatine was killed.
  4 - I like being part of event pictures, and this will be an event. I think all the elements are in place for this to have the largest debut weekend of all time, breaking the $207 million opening weekend set by the Avengers in 2012. There is only one movie that can stop it from doing so, which is...

2. The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Release Date: May 1
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, James Spader
Budget: $200 million +
Synopsis: Heroes vs Robots

James Spader is the voice of Ultron, and from what I've seen in the previews, he hits it out of the park. We also get to see Iron Man break out the Hulkbuster armor. I thought maybe they'd wait for a Planet Hulk storyline to reveal it, but this will work. Elizabeth Olsen is joining the cast as the Scarlet Witch. I'm not sure there is anything to not look forward to here. I would be excited about Quicksilver, but we already had a fun demonstration of his powers in X-Men: Days of Future Past last year.

1. Fast & Furious 7
Release Date: April 3
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Ludacris, Tyrese
Budget:$250 million +
Synopsis:Everyone vs Jason Statham

I bet you're real surprised to find this here. Fast 6 was better than Fast 5, which was better than Fast 4, which was much better than Fast 3. The general trend of this series is that each film released is better than the previous one, which gives me high hopes for Fast 7. The cast is by no means Shakespearean trained, but they all play to their strengths. At this point, the cast and crew know what they are doing, and with the addition of Jason Statham it is hard to see this movie not performing well as a popcorn blockbuster. I always found Paul Walker's performances to be the downside of these movies. With his unfortunate demise, I won't even poke fun at him here.

And here's a picture of The Rock firing a gatling gun to get me more pumped for this movie.


Favorite Movies - 2014

Wow, I have really been slacking on this blog. Here is a list of my ten seven favorite movies that were released in 2014. (Top 10 lists are so two years ago. Also, don't expect to see The Grand Budapest Hotel anywhere on this list.) I'm listing the Rotten Tomatoes audience rating so you can see how far off the mark my taste in movies is from everyone else.

7. The Skeleton Twins
Released: September 11
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

I was out by myself one night, determined to find something to do other than wander around Cap Hill and eat Chipotle by myself. As is usually my luck, I ultimately did end up wandering around Cap Hill and eating at Chipotle by myself. On my way home I stumbled upon The Harvard Exit theater showing this film. The director, Craig Johnson, describes the theme of this movie as, "Dealing with dark shit with a sense of humor." There were a lot of dark themes, but there was also this awesome lip sync scene of Starship's Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now. Seriously though, a really good performances from Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader here.

6. Interstellar
Released: November 6
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%

One of my favorite books in college was Kip Thorne's Black Holes and Time Warps. Kip is an expert in gravitation physics and this book features a forward by Stephen Hawking. (You know you're smart when Hawking is writing the forward to your book.) Kip was also a scientific consultant and executive producer for Interstellar, which means this is probably the closest I'm ever going to get to seeing a movie version of Black Holes and Time Warps. Regarding the movie, if you don't feel for Mathew McConaughey when he's driving away from his daughter, and during a later scene which I won't ruin for you, then you probably don't have a soul.

5. Whiplash
Released: October 15
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

For a movie without superheros, race cars, dinosaurs, robots, or robot dinosaurs, Whiplash is really good. It is everything the movie poster describes it as. I also pride myself on seeing an Academy Award nominated film before Allen.

4. 22 Jump Street

Released: June 13
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

The greatest thing about this sequel is that it was mostly one big inside joke about being a sequel. This was also a movie that I fondly remember for the audience reaction. The laughter was so loud and so prolonged for some scenes that I missed the dialogue. Ice Cube steals several scenes and Channing Tatum is handsome as always. The only thing missing was a strong female character.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy
Released: August 1
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

My favorite movie from 2012 is The Avengers, so it should be no surprise that Space Avengers is one of my favorite movies this year. You may think I'm a hypocrite for liking a movie with not only a talking animal, but also a talking tree, but I'm giving them a pass because they were so darn entertaining. What is most surprising is that I was not a fan, at all, of the Guardians comic growing up, and I somehow like these characters now. I was only familiar with Nebula and Gamora from the Silver Surfer stories. Marvel is going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel with movie characters in about five years (I'm looking at you, Nova) but this movie makes me optimistic for the future films.

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Released: May 23
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

In my opinion, this is the best X-Men movie in the series. As always, I would prefer less Wolverine and Mystique, but I guess that's the consequence of having Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawerence in your movie. It also features James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart. I don't know how this was made for less than a billion dollars. The icing on the cake is that this movie retcons X-Men: The Last Stand, which was terrible, and sets up X-Men: Apocalypse, which I'm really excited for. I just want to give Bryan Singer a big hug for making this movie happen.

1. Edge of Tomorrow
Released: June 6
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

This movie deserves so much more box office credit than it received last summer. It's like the producers started by remaking Groundhog Day and replaced everything good with something even better along the way. Tom Cruise can still bring it in action movies, and Emily Blunt is fantastic.

Here is a list of the rest of the 2014 movies I saw.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Captain America: The Winter Soldier*
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The Equalizer
Gone Girl
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
The Interview*
Maze Runner
The Theory of Everything
Transformers 4
 Under the Skin*
When the Game Stands Tall

*Movies released in 2014 that I watched upon digital release


Favorite Movies - 2013

  I was inspired by myself from last year to compose a list of my ten favorite movies that I saw released in 2013. (Don't expect 12 Years A Slave anywhere on this list.) Honestly, numbers 5-10 are interchangeable and ranked based on the probability that I will watch them on cable tv in the future.

10. Iron Man 3
Released : May 3
Rotten Tomatoes : 79%
Expectations : Below
Saw With : Allen

This was by far the movie I was most excited to see last year. Unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations. I thought it was better than Iron Man 2, but not nearly as good as Iron Man 1. I thought the Mandarin had so much potential which was wasted in the second half. I didn't enjoy the 'Extremis' story and the Hulkbuster armor was was hardly used at all. I'm not sure they even referred to it as the Hulkbuster. Seriously, why even show the Hulkbuster armor in the preview if it's not going to be fighting an opponent worthy of the name Hulkbuster. Yes, my biggest complaint is the misuse of the Hulkbuster. Deal.

9. Elysium
Released : August 9
Rotten Tomatoes : 60%
Expectations : Met
Saw With : Allen

This movie kind of snuck up on me this year, as I had not heard of it more than a few weeks before it was released. I enjoyed several things about Elysium. It was an original story, Sharlto Copley was a great villain as Kruger, and the special effects were well done. And I tend to like just about anything Jodie Foster is in, even Panic Room. I also disliked several things about Elysium. I didn't like Matt Damon's bald head, some scenes were a bit gory, and all the class-warfare garbage and human condition nonsense left a bad aftertaste in my mouth.

8. Thor 2
Released : November 8
Rotten Tomatoes : 82%
Expectations : Met
Saw With : Allen (I think)

There was not a lot that I loved or hated about this movie. Thor was swinging his hammer and Loki was once again enjoyable as a villain, or hero...I'm not sure where his character is headed. What made me really excited was the reveal at the end where they mention that the Aether and the Tesseract (nerd alert!) are actually infinity stones. This is hopefully headed towards an Infinity Gauntlet storyline (maybe Avengers 3?), which was one of my favorites as a young comic book reading adolescent. Thanos is far and away my favorite comic book villain, and once he starts collecting the infinity stones I'm going to geek-out hardcore.

7. Catching Fire
Released : November 22
Rotten Tomatoes : 91%
Expectations : Met
Saw With : Kristin

This was an instance where an enjoyable movie experience made up for a kind of 'meh movie. (Thanks Kristin, Holland, Kaylene!) This is also a rare instance where I can pull my snob card and claim that the book was better, and the film didn't fully capture the characters and blah blah blah. I really hated the ending to this movie. It reminded me too much of The Matrix: Reloaded. And where were all the references to District 13? "There is no district 12." Ok genius, where are we going? What happened? I feel like the ending was just kind of hanging there. I only anticipate part 3, 4, 5...however many movies they split this into, because I read the books. Whatev...if Jennifer Lawrence is in it I'll watch it.

6. Oblivion
Released : April 19
Rotten Tomatoes : 61% (because people are dumb)
Expectations : Met
Saw With : Kaylene

I'm kind of cheating here because I didn't see this in the theater, but I saw it on video as soon as it was released. The story behind that is my stupid friend Melissa agreed to see this with me. Then she told me she was sick and instead went to see it with my other friend Leslie. I was so pissed that I unfriended Melissa from Facebook and haven't talked to her since. That was just one instance of her lying to me after my many acts of kindness and friendship to her. Oh, the movie...it has Tom Cruise.

5. Monsters University
Released : June 21
Rotten Tomatoes : 82%
Expectations : Exceeded
Saw With : Natalie & Ken

This was the first movie I have seen in the theater with my niece and nephew, and it was a real treat. We loaded up on punch, popcorn, and other random junk food before the movie. They were really well behaved, laughing when appropriate and not talking too loudly. I really can't think of any complaints I have about the movie. It reminded me a lot of Revenge of the Nerds, if the nerds were monsters. If you haven't seen Revenge of the Nerds, you should.

4. Man of Steel
Released : June 14
Rotten Tomatoes :76%
Expectations : Exceeded
Saw With : Allen

I had one condition for this movie not to suck: Superman had to punch someone. I didn't care who. I did not want to watch another movie of Superman showing off his super strength by lifting something heavy. Not only did he punch people, (spoiler alert coming...) he killed someone. I never thought I would see Superman kill someone not named Doomsday. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure Superman ever killed Doomsday. The last thing I remember about Doomsday is that he came back to life and was manipulated by Cyborg Superman, then Superman took him to the end of time where entropy destroyed him...comic books are dumb sometimes.

3. World War Z
Released : June 21
Rotten Tomatoes : 73%
Expectations : Exceeded
Saw With : Allen

This is the second movie I saw this year based on a book I read. I don't think that has ever happened before. With essentially the entire third act being rewritten, I was worried that this would be a bad movie. Really bad. I was wrong. It was very good. I really appreciated that the screen wasn't saturated with gore, but relied more on action and drama. Also, zombie movies tend to always be localized to a town or city. For once we got to see a zombie infection go worldwide which was just a grand treat. I also like Brad Pitt in everything, so bonus points for that.

2. Gravity
Released : October 4
Rotten Tomatoes : 84%
Expectations : Far Exceeded
Saw With : Kaylene

I am hesitant to place this movie at number two, because the chances of me watching it at home on my tiny tv are remote. I saw this on a mini-IMAX in 3D and really enjoyed it. I believe this is the first movie I have seen in 3D since the free screening of the Katy Perry movie last year. I typically hate 3D movies and find them more distracting than entertaining, but Gravity nailed it. I could argue about some of the physics in the movie like I did with Star Trek a few years ago, but I won't. I did see the Star Trek movie this year, and I didn't like it. Let's just leave it at that.

1. Fast & Furious 6
Released : May 24
Rotten Tomatoes : 84%
Expectations : Exceeded
Saw With : Allen

This movie had The Rock, Vin Diesel, a tank, cars and airplanes. I can't think of a single thing I disliked about this movie. I even liked Paul Walker, who I thought was the weak link in the other films. It was fun and stupid, just the way I like my summer movies.


Most Anticipated Movies - 2013

10. Fast & Furious 6

Release Date: May 24
Starring: Testosterone, Fast Cars
Synopsis: Vin Diesel and The Rock return to chase each other around a city (England?) and punch each other in the face. Some generic villain will probably unite them together in the third act. Gina Carano tags along, and Michelle Rodriguez or her twin sister is magically back from the dead.
Thoughts: Unfortunately Paul Walker will be there to annoy me with his bland delivery and "bro" this and "bro" that dialogue. Still, I think Fast Five was the best in the series and I'm looking forward to the sixth installment.

9. Oblivion

Release Date: April 19
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman
Synopsis: Tom Cruise plays another character named Jack. He fixes things and flies an iShip around on a post-alien invasion Earth while reminiscing about the good ol' days. While out spelunking, Morgan Freeman appears and convinces him that something that is widely thought to be right, is in fact wrong!
Thoughts: Granted I haven't seen Magnolia or Top Gun, I always enjoy Tom Cruise's movies.

8. Oz: The Great and Powerful

Release Date: March 8
Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis
Synopsis: Some guy diverts his hot-air balloon into the path of a tornado and ends up in the land of Oz. He meets some witches and there are some flying monkeys or something.
Thoughts: I really have no idea what this movie is about, but I have always loved The Wizard of Oz. Has anyone else seen Return to Oz? I recently watched it again and rekindled my childhood love of Tik Tok. They don't make robots with mustaches anymore. I doubt he will make an appearance in this film, which is a real shame.

7. The World's End

Release Date: October 25
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Synopsis: Something about getting drunk and dealing with the end of the world.
Thoughts: This is the third of the "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy." I'm not sold on the story as much as I'm sold on the team behind it. The trio of Edgar Wright (director), Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost have worked together previously on Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Based on the quality of those two films, this could be a film about two people reading the phone book in an abandoned warehouse and I would go see it.

6. The Wolverine

Release Date: July 26
Starring: Hugh Jackman
Synopsis: Wolverine goes to Japan and does something with his claws.
Thoughts: The Wolverine is based on a series written by Frank Miller in which both Darren Arnofsky and Guillermo del Toro expressed early interest. It is a favorite Wolverine story of not only comic book nerds fans, but Hugh Jackman as well. I'm sure I will enjoy it as long as the special effects department doesn't repeat the hack job they did of his claws in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

5. World War Z

Release Date: June 21
Starring: Brad Pitt, zombies. Lots of zombies.
Synopsis: Brad Pitt looks for a cure to a worldwide zombie outbreak as governments collapse.
Thoughts: This was a pretty good book, but I suspect they won't use the individual flashback accounts as written by Max Brooks. Some of the zombie mob scenes from the preview look a bit too video-gamey. Seven weeks of reshoots and a rewritten third act don't bode well for this movie either. Why do I want to see this? Oh yes, Brad Pitt and zombies.

4. Star Trek: Into Darkness

Release Date: May 17
Starring: Nerds in ugly shirts  
Synopsis: Villains attack Starfleet (shock) and a bunch of youngsters continue their command of the flagship Enterprise. Kind of like a Red Dawn of the Star Trek Universe, or the Nerdiverse as I call it.
Thoughts: I'm mostly looking forward to this movie so I can complain about it as much as I complained about the 2009 Star Trek. I actually really like Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, and John Cho though. All my friends seem excited about this, so it will be fun to tell them how much I hate it.

3. Thor: The Dark World

Release Date: November 8
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Synopsis: Thor throws his hammer and acts all Thor-y and Loki probably acts all Loki-y.
Thoughts: I enjoyed the first Thor enough to place the sequel at number three this year. I'm really interested to see where they go with the Nine Realms and how it will fit into the larger Marvel Universe. I'm particularly excited to see expanded roles for Heimdall (Idris Elba) and the Warriors Three. Even though Kenneth Branagh is not directing this time around, I think Alan Taylor's experience on Game of Thrones will translate well here.

2. Man of Steel

Release Date: June 14
Starring: Doesn't matter
Synopsis: Reboot of Superman, for the three people who don't know the origin story of Superman.
Thoughts: Directed by Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300), produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Inception), scripted by David S. Goyer (Dark City, The Dark Knight), and scored by Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean, Inception) it is almost inconceivable that this movie will not be great. Story wise, if Superman does more than lift heavy objects, it will exceed my expectations.

1. Iron Man 3

Release Date: May 3
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley
Synopsis: Tony Stark is all, "I am Iron Man." So The Mandarin blows up his house.
Thoughts: If you didn't know this was going to be number one, you haven't been my friend long enough. As far as comic book movies go, the third in the series always seems to be the worst. (See Spider-Man 3, X-Men 3, The Dark Knight Rises, Superman 3. Actually, don't see any of them because they are all terrible.) But the previews to Iron Man 3 thus far have been fantastic and it looks like he will be fighting something other than Iron-Man knock-offs.

In order of release date, here are the other 2013 releases that I am looking forward to:

  • The Last Stand, January 18
  • This Is the End, June 14
  • Monsters University, June 21
  • Despicable Me 2, July 3
  • Pacific Rim, July 12
  • R.I.P.D., July 19
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, October 4
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, November 22
  • Anchorman 2, December 20

  Just for fun, I created a histogram of these movie release dates to project where all my money will be going in the coming months. I was going to use Tableau but creating a histogram with only 19 data points took me all of three minutes in Excel.

  What movies are you looking forward to seeing this year?


Tableau - Box Office Stats

...my continuing adventures to learn stuff...

  Box office reports contain a plethora of interesting1 data: weekend gross, lifetime gross, theater count, percentage drops, and so much more. During lunch I downloaded some quick box office figures and connected it to Tableau2 to see what I could visualize. The first exercise was to compare the level of difficulty of creating a simple overlay chart to show total box office grosses vs total tickets sold. Figure 1 shows the results in Tableau and Figure 2 shows the results in Excel.

Figure 1: Box Office Gross vs. Ticket Sales by Year, viewed in Tableau. (click to enlarge)

Figure 2: Box Office Gross vs. Ticket Sales by Year, viewed in Excel. (click to enlarge)
  At first glance the two graphs appear nearly identical. However, there are some subtle differences which make me prefer the Tableau version.
  1. The actual Tableau dashboard has a much cleaner hover-box to view specific data points.
  2. The Tableau dashboard has a nice zoom feature to highlight and  magnify specific areas of interest.
  3. The y-axis on the Tableau chart is labeled by default and the default graph colors are blue and orange, not blue and red! (Color wheel, people!)
  4. The Excel version shows the entire date instead of just the year. This can be fixed by adding a 'Year' column (=YEAR(ColumnA)) but it is still an extra step I would rather not perform.
  Since I had all the data loaded, I tried one more view. Instead of an overlay chart with two measurements I wanted to compare three separate measurements: average price of a movie ticket, the total number of tickets sold, and total box office gross. Just for kicks I included a label with the highest grossing movie that year.3 After pivoting the data around and adjusting the axis, here is what I came up with.

Click to enlarge.
  There are a few conclusions which can be drawn from this visualization. The most obvious observation is that a steady rise in box office ticket prices does not necessarily result in higher box office grosses. Also very visible is that movie attendance peaked in 2002 followed by a somewhat roller coaster decline. Further analysis on the spreadsheet view shows that 2012 had the highest box office gross on record but was only the 12th highest year as far as the number of ticket sold. (I suspect IMAX and 3D surcharges are padding the numbers.) The most shocking factoid is that in 1994, The Flintstones earned $340 million worldwide. Wha?!?

1. Interesting to me
2. I am neither an employee nor investor in Tableau. I'm doing this to learn a new product.
3. No "Lord of the Rings was the top grossing movie of 2002!" comments. It was released in late 2002 and carried over to 2003. I'm not doing all the math.


Favorite Movies - 2012

  I was inspired by my good friend Allen to compose a list of my ten favorite movies that I saw released in 2012. (Don't expect Moonrise Kingdom anywhere on this list.)

10. Prometheus
Released : June 8
Rotten Tomatoes : 72%
Expectations : Met
Saw With : Tess

Even with all the facepalm worthy moments (scientists taking their helmets off, opening the external door for the zombie guy, making friends with the snake/penis/vagina creature, etc.), Michael Fassbender was really great as the android David and he kept my attention the entire movie. The visuals were great and the caesarean section of the alien made even me squeamish, which is hard to do.

9. Dredd
Released : September 21
Rotten Tomatoes : 80%
Expectations : Exceeded
Saw With: Allen

This was a fun, dark, action movie that was very reminiscent of the 80s action movies from my youth. (i.e. Commando, Cobra) There wasn't really any plot  to follow except for good guys killing bad guys which is exactly what my brain needs sometimes. Karl Urban kept his mask on for the entire movie, kind of like Toby Maguire in Spider-Man, but the exact opposite. It's unfortunate that the darker reboot didn't attract more attention.

8. Lincoln
Released : November 9
Rotten Tomatoes : 88%
Expectations : Met
Saw With: Jen

This is my default 'good' movie and a rare occasion where I enjoy a film with Oscar buzz surrounding it. Daniel Day Lewis was fantastic, just as he was in Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood. I will be surprised if he doesn't win several best actor awards for his performance. I was expecting more story about his life, and maybe more build-up to his assassination (spoiler alert!) but I understand what Spielberg was going for with the 13th amendment story line.

7. Rock of Ages
Released : June 15
Rotten Tomatoes : 56%
Expectations : Met
Saw With: Kaylene

This is the first Russel Brand performance I've seen where I didn't want to punch him in his annoying face. I really loved Tom Cruise as the rocker Stacee Jaxx. Most of all, I loved the music selection. Between the two musicals I saw this year, the other being Les Mis, I thought this was superior. (Yeah, I said it.) I should also take this opportunity to rant a little about Les Mis. It was a great stage production (see the 25th Anniversary version) and it was a great movie (see the Liam Neeson version, 1998) but the amalgam movie/musical just didn't click with me.

6. The Hunger Games
Released : March 23
Rotten Tomatoes : 85%
Expectations : Exceeded
Saw With: Kaylene

On the rare occasion that I read a book before the movie is released, I'm skeptical that the story will translate well to film, but Gary Ross (director) did it very well. I thought the casting was just fine, particularly Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Stanley Tucci as Caesar, and Elizabeth Banks as Effie, even though they all had small roles. There seemed to be just enough violence to carry the story without being gory. This was also the only movie I saw this year on a true Imax screen.

5. Jack Reacher
Released : December 21
Rotten Tomatoes : 74%
Expectations : Met
Saw With: Allen

I haven't read any of the Jim Grant novels that this was based on, and I primarily saw this because Django Unchained was sold out, but Tom Cruise always delivers.  I can't quite remember what this movie was about, but I remember Tom Cruise asking people questions, being chased in cars, and punching people in the face. That's all I really ask of any movie.

4. The Campaign
Released : August 10
Rotten Tomatoes : 53%
Expectations : Exceeded
Saw With: Raven

The silliest, but most quotable movie of the bunch.

Wolf Blitzer:  Bizarre news coming out of of the 14th district congressional race in North Carolina. Now, get this: Cam Brady, four-time congressman, punched a baby!

...Is anyone asking how my hand feels after punching that iron like jaw of that baby? -Cam Brady

3. 21 Jump Street
Released : March 16
Rotten Tomatoes : 86%
Expectations : Exceeded
Saw With: Jenna

I liked Ice Cube's rants as Captain Dickson. I liked the cameos from the tv show. I liked the silly shoot-outs and car chases. I loved Channing Tatum on drugs in front of the classroom. "One particle of unobtainium has a nuclear reaction with the flux capacitor - carry the '2' - changing its atomic isotoner into a radioactive spider. F- you, Science!" This movie had me cracking up from start to finish.

2. Wreck-It Ralph
Released : November 2
Rotten Tomatoes : 90%
Expectations : Far Exceeded
Saw With: Mir

I had no idea what Wreck-It Ralph was about, and saw it because Mir had already seen Skyfall. What a treat this turned out to be! The video game world was beautifully rendered and Sarah Silverman as the racer in Sugar Land was really sweet. The use of cross-generation video game characters in the same setting in the opening scene was worth the admission price alone. Everything about Wreck-It Ralph was creative. There is also a brilliant twist ending involving a villain that I won't ruin for you here.

1. The Avengers
Released : May 4
Rotten Tomatoes : 96%
Expectations : Far Exceeded
Saw With: Kristin, Holland

"Puny God."