This is copied off my usual blog, but seeing as I haven't posted anything meaningful on here yet, I feel as though I should. Enjoy.

 

So the final year of the first decade of the new millennium has passed us by, and whilst many industries have been crippled by the economic downturn, the movie industry has been the beacon of light for many people wanting a couple hours of escapism from financial woe. How do you sum up such a varied and wonderful year of cinema? With a cliched and standard chronological report of course...

 
January bought with it the usual buzz of Award season, as Slumdog Millionaire threw its weight around by cleaning out the Golden Globes. The Dark Knight was re-released in order to stand it in the best stead possible for the upcoming Oscars, not that anyone doubted Heath Ledger's credibility in winning Best Supporting Actor. January also gave us My Bloody Valentine in 3-D and whilst the film itself was just an excuse to throw axes at the audience with very little substance, it did usher in a year where anything and everything was done with little plastic glasses.
 
The BAFTAs and the Oscars took over February, with Slumdog taking Hollywood by storm. Danny Boyle's heartwarming tale of love and poverty clearly won the hearts of the Academy as it scooped 8 Oscars. 2009 was also the year for Kate Winslet as she finally won her Oscar for The Reader and Wall.E rightfully took the Best Animated Film to take Pixar's Oscar tally to 21.
 
The first big blockbuster movie of 2009 came in March. The 'unfilmable' Watchmen was released to mixed reviews. The box-office return was fairly low which could have been down to it's bum-numbing running time of nearly 3 hours. For me, it was one of the highlights of the year. Director Zack Snyder gave it the visual panache to go with the excellently crafted characters and along with the Dark Knight, is one the finest comic-book movies to have been released.
 
April came and went with little fuss. Many of Hollywood's big studios held back their films till May in order to take advantage of the 'summer blockbuster' season. Nevertheless, the reunion of the original Fast & Furious cast didn't harm its box-office figures, with the fourth film in the franchise raking in over $350million worldwide. Indeed its first weekend take was more than that of Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift's entire box-office run.
 
Things began to get serious in May. Whilst Watchmen was clever, thought provoking and full of great performances, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a horrible mess. There's only so much your lead actor can do and whilst Hugh Jackman's performance was impressive, the film fell in the same trap as the third X-Men film: it tried to introduce too many characters without telling the audience anything about them. May also saw the return of Star Trek with J.J Abrams injecting a new lease of life into another seemingly dead franchise (Mission Impossible 3 was head and shoulders over MI2). Unfortunately, Ron Howard couldn't rescue Dan Brown's books with Angels and Demons. Whilst it was better than The Da Vinci Code (mind you, so is herpes), the film still changed too many of the better things about the book, and the character of Robert Langdon is still providing problems for the usually consistent Tom Hanks.
 
The first weekend in June produced one of the surprise hits of the year. The Hangover was well written, consistently funny and served up several excellent performances from its relatively unknown cast. As a result, it went on to make nearly half a billion Dollars worldwide, despite its relatively modest budget. A film that didn't have a modest budget was Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. On all levels it was a rubbish film. Naff plot, naff acting, too long. Yet for some reason, it was the most fun I had at the cinema all year. Despite it's universal slating from critics, Optimus and co. managed to earn $800million, meaning Michael Bay will surely get another chance to blow up the kitchen sink in an inevitable sequel.
 
The two biggest films of the year, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Harry Potter 6 came out in July and to be honest, they were both hopeless. Don't get me wrong, I love animated films, but Ice Age was pretty flat. The story was nothing special and the voice acting was questionable. However it was a commendable effort when compared to Potter 6. The Half-Blood Prince film tore up one of the best books in the series and doused it with a load of hormones, forgetting entirely that there's a dark wizard out there who wants to kill everyone. Did the film care? No. It wanted you to focus entirely on Ron Weasley and the most annoying female character (Lavender Brown) since Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin. No matter, Bruno provided serious laughs and gross-outs in July. It made Borat look like it was meant for CBeebies.
 
Fully into the swing of summer, audiences were reunited with Mr. Tarantino in August as Inglorious Basterds turned the WW2 genre on its head. Sublime performances from the entire cast and a script as sharp as the knife used to carve Swastikas on Nazi prisoners in the film resulted in Basterds being one of the standout films of the year. Peter Jackson wove his magic on a relatively unknown film and turned it into an excellent motion picture. District 9's unique spin on the alien genre was a breath of fresh air and earned almost unanimous praise. On the other hand, The Final Destination was an insult to audience's intelligences worldwide. Whilst the first two films were a original and fun slasher films, the latest instalment was a petty excuse to throw severed limbs at the bemused audience (think My Bloody Valentine but worse. My Bloody Easter perhaps).
 
As summer came and went, so did many of the triple-A titles for 2009. The theatrical trailer for Avatar was released, giving many internet nerds and CGI-nuts a collective hard-on. Megan Fox was having a similar effect in Jennifer's Body, although writer Diablo Cody couldn't turn her brilliantly sharp and pop-culture writing style which worked so beautifully in Juno to this car-crash of a film. The last weekend of September saw the release of Paranormal Activity. Steven Spielberg thought the pilot DVD was haunted, and many Americans had to leave the cinema early because it was so scary. I ruined my trousers when I watched it, but to be fair, it was 1am and I was alone in my room with the lights out. My fault I suppose.
 
Ricky Gervais' Hollywood luck ran out with The Invention of Lying as the limp-wristed effort from the British funny-man didn't have quite the same effect as Ghost Town did a year earlier. The release of Toy Story 1 and 2 in 3-D only proved how brilliant these films are, putting today's efforts such as Planet 51 to shame. And then Michael Jackson's swan-song This Is It was released at the end of October for '2 weeks only' (as we were warned time and time again). I haven't seen it, but everyone who has says it's amazing. I think they were all brainwashed by the inevitable Jackson-bashing that went on in the film.
 
November saw Robert Zemeckis try his motion-capture performance technique again with A Christmas Carol. Whilst it was stunning to look at, the film had about as much emotional depth as Paris Hilton. And that's pretty bad when you're making a film which has one of the strongest emotional messages in novels and films alike. The same conclusion could have been made about 2012, although I was never really expecting much depth to come from a Roland Emmerich film. This is the guy who made the President of the U.S.A fly a fighter plane against aliens in Independence Day. And then the entire female population of the world mysteriously all turned single the night before the new Twilight film was released. Honestly, if there was as much female nudity in a film as there was male nudity in New Moon, I'd have to go to a special shop to purchase it. No matter, it got universally panned, but made a killing in the process. Just shows how shallow women really are (I'm expecting a hell of a backlash).
 
There was only one film worth worrying about in December. 15 years and $300million later, the world finally got to see James Cameron's Avatar. And boy was I not disappointed. Other films which have generated as much hype as this (Cloverfield, Snakes on a Plane) have been some what of a disappointment. However, Avatar was just a total assault on the senses. My eyes were blown clean out of their sockets by the groundbreaking effects. My heartstrings were tugged upon by the (albeit tried and tested) story and I came out of the cinema thinking I had seen a proper movie. And far too often lately have I walked out of a cinema feeling short-changed. Mr Cameron, it's nice to have you back.
 
So 2010? My picks? Iron Man 2 has to be worth a look. Anything with Robert Downey Jr. at the moment is gold dust. It will be interesting to see how the mad mind of Tim Burton fits with the madder world of Alice in Wonderland; I'm thinking quite well. Now I don't normally get excited by Rom-coms, but the ensemble cast of Valentine's Day (seriously it's one of the best casts I've ever seen, check it out) alone may be worth an admission ticket. But to be honest, if Toy Story 3 is not the best film of 2010 then I'll be either hugely disappointed by it, or astounded at the quality of another film to beat it. Either way, it could be a great year for films.

 

2009 in Film