Top Films of 2012: Numbers 2 & 3 - The Avengers & Looper

As promised, here are Films Two and Three for the year. These, of course, are in a particular order…

Number Three – Looper: Like so many films, I’d heard about this one LONG before any real footage or info started showing up—basically because I stalk certain directors via IMDB, and Rian Johnson is one of my stalk-ees. Brick and The Brothers Bloom are both excellent films, even if the former trumps the latter. So when I heard about Looper, its premise, and the actors involved, I wanted it so, so badly.

Unfortunately, as I tend to do when I’m anticipating a film, it builds into unrealistic proportions. Sadly, when I first watched this at the midnight showing, I left the theatre feeling more than a little disappointed. Sure, I’d enjoyed it well enough, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a phenomenal job at mimicking Bruce Willis’ speech patterns and mannerisms (really, it’s worth it just to see this mighty fine bit of acting). But I still felt like, in the end, it ruined itself in many ways.

Then I received a ranting praise email from a good friend of mine that made me rethink the film. I decided to give it another shot.

On second viewing, everything “clicked” much more wholly than the first time. Maybe because my initial expectations had already been let down and I knew what to expect. Maybe seeing it in the day with a fresh mind, rather than one that had been up for too many hours as it was, helped. Maybe I simply saw it for what it was: a story of hope.

Whatever the reason, I loved this film, and highly recommend it to any and all. Johnson has created a future that’s as freakishly possible as Mike Judge’s Idiocracy—though even more likely. This grounding allowed the time-travel and such to simply “exist,” along with the other fantastical elements. And, ultimately, its theme of hope and “love trumping all” made this one even more emotionally engaging than you’d expect a sci-fi film to be.

Number Two – The Avengers: How can you NOT have enjoyed this film? Seriously, this is a prime example of what films were made for in the first place: an escape of pure entertainment.

However, entertainment alone doesn’t always cut it, which is why The Avengers earns its Number Two spot. This film is AMAZINGLY balanced. Yes, the majority of these characters have had their own films to build their characters and back stories. But you’d think they’d all be fighting for screen time and one might be left wondering “Whose story is this?” Yet Joss Whedon managed to give each and every character their own ideals and growth throughout the film. (One might still argue that Robert Downey Jr. takes the spotlight with Iron Man, as usual, but even so, the other characters are one small notch below him in terms of screen time and character growth.)

It’s full of humor, has excellently staged action sequences, and still manages to slip in not only some fantastic lines, but also a few “deeper” thoughts that deserve consideration, from self-sacrifice to being a part of a team to what it means to wield power over others.

I think out of every film I saw this year, not one held my attention and kept me entertained as this one did, from second one to the final “bonus” scene after the whole of the credits.

It’s times like this, when Hollywood actually makes a “smart” choice by turning such a project over to the right hands, that give me hope for future films—not only in the comic book realm, but for films in general. There are a handful of directors that may not have the “Spielberg” and “Scorsese” status, but I’ll be damned if they can’t make a mighty fine film, and both Whedon and Johnson fall into this category.