As spring bled into summer, we saw the release of the year’s most gargantuan mainstream hit. It was THE AVENGERS (aka AVENGERS ASSEMBLE), in case you spent the last year roaming the arctic regions of Greenland; and even then, an amiable Inuit with a Hulk hoodie probably told you about it.
The long awaited release of THE AVENGERS saw cinema-goers turn out in droves. It was seven years in the making, and many hardcore fans had been waiting far longer than that, so thankfully, the majority were not left disappointed. Otherwise, who knows what level of extreme backlash could have erupted… although millions of geeks acutely describing their grievances in a respectful manner on film forums would have been the most likely scenario. Our very own Dan was delighted by what he saw, and described it as being ‘utterly stimulating, satisfyingly scripted and damn right faultless big screen entertainment.’
Tim Burton has become a divisive character over the last decade, after enjoying his untouchable status during the nineties. Many have grown weary of his strong predilections for certain actors (we’ll leave you the simple task of figuring out who), and tendency to adopt a gothic or quirky off-the-wall style in his films. DARK SHADOWS was another addition to this canon, and it too divided opinion amongst viewers. Our Paul felt underwhelmed by the film, stating ‘Burton’s direction is again heavily flawed. The film suffers from a few pacing issues. I was really quite bored post opening credits, all of the way up until about two thirds in, when things start to really get going.’
Similar to Mr Burton, Sacha Baron Cohen has been the subject of many a disagreement of late. After unbridled success with his adorable creations, Ali G and Borat, THE DICTATOR saw his newest persona taken for a spin; General Admiral Aladeen. However, in the end, despite an epic marketing campaign and Baron Cohen’s comedic efforts, the film was met with a luke warm reception from audiences and critics alike. THN editor and fan of Baron Cohen’s golden years, Tom Fordy, was on hand to give this damning verdict: ‘THE DICTATOR is so painfully traditional it comes with all the trappings of standard Hollywood fare – predictable characters, lazy plotting, and a startling lack of innovation.’
Peter Berg, who directed the fantastic VERY BAD THINGS, adapted the famous board game, Battleships, into a feature film starring Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson and… ahem, Rihanna. BATTLESHIP was also picked apart – to put it mildly – by critics, one of whom was THN’s Matt Dennis, who made this wonderful time-saving suggestion: ‘Just go out and buy the Hasbro Battleships board game. I guarantee you’ll be able to come up with a more fun and engaging story yourself!’
PROMETHEUS. Ridley Scott. These two very contentious subject matters for filmgoers everywhere were violently shoved into the spotlight at the halfway point of the year. The man responsible for some of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history offered up his latest project for our consumption, and he left an indelible mark on most, though not necessarily in a desirable way. Some were left mesmerised and full of intrigue for the next chapter, whereas others found themselves feverishly foaming at the mouth with hostility and resentment. Fordy seemed to be leaning more towards the latter, although his words seem to suggest disappointment rather than anger: ‘PROMETHEUS, it seems, is not necessarily a film about searching for the truth, but more about the search itself. Whilst this is relatively interesting, after 33 years of waiting, it’s not nearly enough.’
A well needed break from epic blockbusters saw the release of the humorous high concept fantasy horror, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. Essentially, the entire plot is right there in the title, so audiences the world over happily sat back, switched off their busy collective minds, and allowed the ensuing bloodbath to wrap them up in a warm blanket of satisfaction. Our northern correspondent, Craig Hunter, described exactly why the film became such an endearment to audiences the world over, when he wrote the following: ‘Bekmambetov, along with his superb lead, certainly make you forget the blandness of other vampire franchises. Yes, TWILIGHT, we’re looking at you…’
BRAVE was the obligatory Pixar release of the year. It followed the exploits of Merida, who, after inadvertently cursing her own family, sets out to restore equilibrium. Critics and audiences generally agreed that the computer-animated adventure fantasy, which starred Kelly Macdonald as the fiery-haired protagonist, was a treat for folks of all ages. THN scribe, Emma Thrower, decided it was ‘unmistakably a Pixar product (watch out for the Pizza Planet truck and customary John Ratzenberger cameo), the humour is as razor-sharp as ever and the animation at its most impressive and jaw dropping – particularly remarkable after the spacescapes of WALL-E.’
Seth MacFarlane’s (FAMILY GUY) first feature film, TED, saw Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis starring opposite the man himself. MacFarlane played the eponymous role, but his signature tasteless jokes merely served to divert your attention away from the lack of story or substance, and were not enough to elevate the film to anything other than mildly amusing. THN writer and all-round lovely geezer, John Sharp, summed it up perfectly when he wrote the following: ‘By the time the credits roll, none of the characters seem to have moved on in any significant way, making the experience of watching TED enjoyable if ultimately hollow.’
French drama, RUST AND BONE, wowed audiences at festivals around the world, with its frank depiction of maintaining a loving relationship when faced with various adverse existential crises. Furthermore, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD also impressed with its tale of little Hushpuppy’s premature coming-of-age. Only six years old, she is forced to step up to the plate and take care of herself and her ailing father, when their southern Louisiana bayou community is faced with destruction from an approaching storm.
It was a horrendously lucrative couple of months for Walt Disney, as they not only distributed BRAVE, which was the second highest grossing film of the May/June period, but also THE AVENGERS. As expected, the latter trounced all that came before it and in its wake (in terms of gross profit) with its grand total almost trebling that of the former. Here are the top five box-office big shots:
Marvel’s The Avengers $623,279,547
Madagascar 3 $216,391,482
Men In Black 3 $179,020,854
You can find the rest of our 2012 Rundown right here.