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2007 At The Movies

January 7th, 2008

Time for my annual wrap-up of my previous year at the multiplex. Here’s the list of all 2007 releases I watched, two of which I saw on home video, and one (Juno) I just caught yesterday. Films are listed in terms of domestic box-office because I’m cribbing this from the yearly summary at Box Office Mojo.

  • Spider-Man 3
  • Transformers
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • 300
  • Ratatouille
  • The Simpsons Movie
  • Knocked Up
  • Enchanted
  • Ocean’s Thirteen
  • Beowulf
  • Juno
  • The Mist
  • Grindhouse
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Waitress
  • Dragon Wars

Wow, seventeen. That’s actually up five from last year. I saw seven of the top 10 films, two more than in 2006.

I found myself less annoyed by the moviegoing experience in 2007 than I had in previous years. In large part, that’s because the local theaters switched over to spiffy, new digital projection systems. I can’t and won’t debate the merits of these newfangled contrapulations; all I know is that everything I saw was both framed properly and in focus, so that in itself represents a huge over the previous film screening technology: lazy teenagers.

However, it bugs me that my dad is twenty minutes away from a huge, gorgeous Imax screen, even though he lives in Northwest Indiana, yet the nearest one to my house is over two hours away in Indianapolis. (300 in Imax was absotively frickin’ breathtaking.) I could take limited solace in the knowledge that digital projection now allows fancy schmancy 3-D movies like Beowulf to play the sticks, but still, going to the movies doesn’t feel like an event.

As for the flicks themselves, I don’t know that my increased attendance was any sign of their quality. More likely, it’s just because they released a bunch of films in the genres I enjoy.

I didn’t find the curse of the three-quels as egregious as many did. The third Pirates and Spider-Man were largely entertaining, though both certainly rattled on a good half hour too long.

Harry Potter delivered the goods when it came to adapting my favorite book in the series, but the popcorn flick I had the best time at was, of all things, Transformers. I attribute this to low expectations, as well as a lack of concern over whether it would stay true to a cartoon that was pretty shitty to begin with. Transformers was fun, silly and knew when to take its bow.

Of the animated fare, The Simpsons was agreeably humorous, while Ratatouille wound up being my one of my least favorite Pixar flicks. Not that it was anything less than good, but that I simply expect bigger things from them.

2007 was the year that I gave up on zombie films. I skipped 28 Weeks Later and I Am Legend. The “Planet Terror” section of Grindhouse was passable, but aside from Rose McGowan and her machine-gun leg, there wasn’t anything there that hadn’t been done–and done better–in at least half-a-dozen ghoulish apocalypse flicks over the past few years. At least it was better than the second half of Grindhouse, which sported not one, but two interminable women-in-a-bar scenes that, as my coworker aptly put it, sounded like four Quentin Tarentinos talking to each other. If the two films comprising Grindhouse had been 60-70 minutes apiece, the end result would’ve been much more fun than the flabby, self-indulgent mess it became.

On the comedy front, I thought Knocked Up was decent but overrated. Juno had a lot of great, quotable dialogue, but it did strike me as odd that everyone–not just Juno herself–talked like a precocious fortysomething. I thoroughly enjoyed the British buddy cop spoof Hot Fuzz, and fell in love with Amy Adams’ performance in Enchanted. Why the latter made only half as much as the ghastly horror that is Alvin and the Chipmunks is beyond my comprehension.

The year to come holds a great deal of potential. Some are already comparing it to 1982, the watershed for sci-fi/fantasy that brought us E.T., Star Trek II, Blade Runner, Tron and The Road Warrior. Certainly, there are some promising projects coming up: Cloverfield, Speed Racer, Iron Man, The Dark Knight (despite my misgivings about the Joker), Hellboy II, Star Trek, and of course, Indiana Jones.

See you at the movies!

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