But hey, they can't all be winners, right? At least I saw a lot of good movies that year. And if you like comic book movies, you'll probably know that 2008 was a VERY good year, seeing as it did the release of both Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, the first two films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 2008 also saw the release of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, for which Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded an Academy Award. Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk got by me, but I saw The Dark Knight on its first day in theaters.
And I wasn't the only one. Christopher Nolan's film was the biggest movie of 2008, with Iron Man coming in eighth at the box office. Between them lay Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Kung Fu Panda, Hancock (what?), Mamma Mia!, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and Quantum of Solace, one of the most forgettable Bond films. Rounding out the Top Ten were WALL-E (a great movie) and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
Let us not forget that The Wrestler appeared the same year. I've seen that movie so many times that I almost have the dialogue memorized.
Some Good Ones
1. Yes Man
At times this movie will remind you of Office Space, but it's still funny (if not hysterically so). Jim Carrey has been in his share of bad movies, but he does a good job of toning himself down for this one.
2. Baby Mama
Tina Fey stars as a woman who can't have children, with fellow SNL alumnus Amy Poehler as her surrogate. This movie's much funnier than the above-mentioned Yes Man.
3. Be Kind Rewind
DIY Hollywood blockbusters could be a lot of fun. This movie doesn't really get funny until they remake Ghostbusters, but after that point it's pretty good. My only real issue with it is the Danny Glover subplot. It's like dead weight bringing the whole thing down.
One huge missed opportunity in this film. With Glover in the cast, they really should've remade Lethal Weapon. Hearing him say "I'm too old for this shit!" would have been classic.
4. The Eye
The breathtakingly beautiful Jessica Alba stars as a woman who can see ghosts after a cornea transplant. I'm pretty sure I've seen the Chinese original, but for the life of me I can't remember anything about it. The American remake is decent, though far from great.
Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a commanding performance as a Catholic priest accused of molesting one of the boys in his parish, with Meryl Streep as the nun leveling the accusation against him. It's a wonderful, thought-provoking film which anticipates current social trends by several years.
6. Rachel Getting Married
Family. You can't kill them without meticulous planning, and when you try to run away they can always find you with Google. Anne Hathaway stars as a woman just released from rehab on the eve of her sister's wedding. It's low budget but very well acted.
Two I Can't Make Up My Mind About
1. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Ben Stein goes on a crusade for Intelligent Design. I'm not a believer in this particular theological and/or philosophical viewpoint, but I have to admit that whoever did the editing was quite skillful to make it look like arguments were followed through to their logical conclusions, and to make it look like conversations were conducted in an open and honest fashion. It's somewhat ironic that the Nazis, those masters of propaganda, are brought up so often in the movie.
I'd love to see an unedited version of that conversation between Ben Stein and Richard Dawkins. I'm assuming that the reality of that conversation was quite different from what was presented in the film.
2. In Bruges
I know this sounds silly and superficial, but I can't deal with Colin Farrell's eyebrows. I find them incredibly distracting. So distracting, in fact, that I had trouble paying attention to whatever he was saying in the film. I really wanted to give this movie a chance, and I've heard great things about it, but those eyebrows...
Some Bad Ones
One of the most boring Westerns I've ever seen. Writer and director Ed Harris stars as a marshal with anger management issues, with Viggo Mortenson as his deputy. Harris was at the top of his game with Pollock, but after seeing this one I began to question his judgement.
2. The Strangers
We Americans sure do love our home invasion movies. What got me about this one is how SLOW it progresses, and how predictably events unfold. If you'd like to see a very similar but much better movie, I recommend Funny Games.
3. The Ruins
Four Americans and a German get into trouble visiting a Mayan pyramid. The premise is somewhat interesting, but the people in this movie are DUMB. Aside from a delightfully gruesome scene involving a set of broken legs, The Ruins isn't worth bothering with.
Fun Fact #1: If some of those Americans look familiar, there are some very good reasons why. The med school character was in both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and Pulse, the guy with the curly hair played Iceman in the the X-men movies, and the girl with the brown hair played Lois Lane's coworker in Batman v. Superman.
Fun Fact #2: This movie was shot in Queensland, Australia, of all places.
4. Swing Vote
The U.S. presidential election comes down to a single vote, and a man in small town New Mexico finds himself thrust into the national spotlight. It starts out well enough, but it goes on too long and I can't imagine his daughter getting that emotionally distraught in just ten days.
5. Flash of Genius
Greg Kinnear stars as an inventor suing The Ford Motor Company after they infringe on his patent. It's not so much bad as just BORING. By the time Kinnear's character finally achieves his Pyrrhic victory one can only wonder what the point of it all was.
6. Over Her Dead Body
I bet Paul Rudd wishes he could forget this movie. His fiancee gets crushed by an ice sculpture on their wedding day, with predictably unhilarious results. The dialogue is really bad, and the acting isn't much better. I had to tap out after Rudd's character visited the local psychic.
One So Bad It's Kind of Good
Calling it Escape from Scotland would have been more to the point, though it does resemble Mad Max near the end. The heroine (who has an eye patch and a ridiculous mechanical eye) does a passable Linda Hamilton impersonation, the music is very John Carpenterish, and one of the (badly trained) soldiers is even named "Carpenter." The last twenty minutes of this movie make absolutely no sense.
Self-Destructive Drinking Game: Every time someone in this movie says "fuck" or "balls" take a shot. See you in the emergency room!
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