Sequels, Remakes and Sandler; A Limey Re-View of Cinema in 2011

30 12 2011

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2011 was the year of the Rabbit although the general theme of the year was anything but fluffy.

2011 was the year when protests swept the globe, from the long-expected uprisings during the Arab Spring to the wholesale occupation of public spaces by a motley assortment of people who were fed up of being the 99 percent.

This post is not going to focus on those grievances. Mainly because I have already commented on them but the real reason is that they don’t fit in with my Rabbit motif that I want to apply to the wonderful world of cinema.

We all know that the humble rabbit has a fondness for continual and indiscriminate mating. Bunnies like to…..like bunnies, they are at it all year and produce offspring on a regular basis. Not all of these will be well received, some will last for a very short time but there will be enough of them that the species will continue to exist for the foreseeable future.

Movies are like that. It doesn’t matter what is going on in the world or whether anyone is watching, but films are churned out on a regular basis and some of them even make it into movie theaters.

In keeping with the ambitions of the rabbit, there were 28 sequels released this year.

Most of them were unwanted and unloved. Some were even unnecessary.The majority of them were (apparently) dreadful – I chose not to spend my money on these.

We were subjected to a third Transformer movie, a fourth opportunity for Johnny Depp to do his Keith Richards impression, another film with Vin Diesel in a series of fast cars, the first half of the final part of the fourth Twilight book, The Hangover II and Mission: Impossible IV. Pixar even decided that we needed another dose of Cars while the penguins with happy feet also found their way back onto the screen and Jack Black reprised his role as a fat panda.

There were several remakes released, nearly all of them pointless and not a patch on the original.

Can anybody really say that they wanted to see Fright Night remade? Was the sight of Kevin Bacon in Footloose not enough of a warning that this film should never be attempted again? Did we really need another Conan The Barbarian? How many more times is Hollywood going to bugger up The Three Musketeers?

The Executives that gave the green-light for these projects should have carrots shoved where the sun doesn’t shine.

The exception to this rule (and I haven’t seen it yet) was apparently The Muppets – a phrase that reaches beyond Kermit and Miss Piggy.

There were the usual array of superhero movies to fill out the Blockbuster Season; the good (Thor, X-Men:First Class), the bad (Green Hornet, Green Lantern) and the average (Captain America). Studios also spent money on The Adjustment Bureau (sample dialogue; “we’re in trouble, he has a hat”), Battle:Los Angeles, Cowboys and Aliens (didn’t see but not expecting it to be as good as the graphic novel), Bad Teacher, Mr.Popper’s Penguins and Sucker Punch – the last of which I quite liked, mainly because it was really well shot…

We had a series of films that dealt with banging your friends but with no commitment, a movie that claimed Shakespeare to be a fake, a “comedy” starring Adam Sandler as twins, a science fiction drama that gave Justin Timberlake a seemingly unlimited lifespan and Rutger Hauer the chance to be a hobo with a shotgun (sounds shit, is better than most of the dross that came out this year).

Jennifer Anniston as a sexual predator, Kevin James as a zookeeper, Katy Perry as a smurf, Eddie Murphy as a wise-cracking thief and James McAvoy as a gnome…need I go on?

There were some great movies released this year. The final Harry Potter was very satisfying, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was an unexpected treat and I enjoyed my return to the Hundred Acre Wood but on the whole I spent the year scrolling through Netflix trying to find something that wouldn’t suck.

Of course, with the Oscar nominations about to be announced there will be the chance to catch up with gems we might have missed at the multiplex. Not one of the films I watched this year is likely to be nominated – with the exception of Harry Potter –  but I do want to see Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, Tree of Life and Hugo.

On the whole 2011 was a disappointing year for us movie fans. The problem is that most of the product that I watched was unmemorable, the plots ridiculous and the acting (on the whole) a beautiful example of how to not practice the art.

But these end of year reviews always need a winner and with so many losers in the field, I have to say that my three favorite movies of 2011 were Thor, X-Men:First Class and Source Code. And I know that two of them have sequels planned.

The Movie Industry: Committed To Producing Product On A Regular Basis – just like our fluffy, floppy-eared friends. But with less chance of being wiped out by disease…

Unless it could be turned into a movie.

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