Ah 2010, for me what a completely forgettable year at the movies this was. Don't get me wrong, I did see some good movies...but it was so hard for me to remember 10 of them that I needed to go online and refresh my memory about what was released over the course of the year.
Sorry this reflection is coming late, but HEY at least you can now go Netflix the choices I recommend if you haven't seen them.
In 2010 I saw 23 new release movies (two twice) and 4 “retro” movies at various special screenings. I have to say I had a lot more fun at the “retro” movies. In looking over my list 2010 wasn’t a bad year for movies, no ‘E’ or ‘D’ grades, but as I said it wasn’t a stellar year either. Keep in mind this list only includes films I saw at the theatre ON THE BIG SCREEN (home rentals do not count). Grade: “Retro”…releases that had me smiling every second I was watching them… The Warriors (A-), John Carpenter’s THE THING (A), Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom (A+), and Back to the Future (A+).
Grade: “MEH”…just seemed to miss the mark…Clash of the Titans, The A-Team, and Tron Legacy. I had high hopes for all and just expected a lot more.
Grade: “W” …The wife made me see it…Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Black Swan. The guys in Twilight took their clothes off too much, the girls in Black Swan didn’t. Bummer!
Grade: “C”…Averageville…Iron-Man 2…next to Tron this turned out to be a let down.
Grade: “B+”…WAY BETTER than I could have expected…The Crazies, The Wolfman, Hot Tub Time Machine, The Other Guys, The Expendables, and Buried. Went in with little expectation…came out thoroughly entertained. Grade: “Awesome…Totally Awesome”…Piranha 3D and Machete…these movies seemed to come straight from a 1970’s drive-in to 2010 and I loved every second of them! Nudity and violence and CHEESE = ME BEING HAPPY.
Grade: “A-“…just missed the top category…Predators, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. All good and original movies just not quite top-tier for the year.
Grade: “TOP TIER”…in my mind the best that 2010 had to offer (based on what I paid to see in the theatre)…KICK ASS, TOY STORY 3, DESPICABLE ME, INCEPTION, THE TOWN, and TRUE GRIT. All stellar movies, very original, superbly executed, and worth a viewing (and for me future DVD ownership).
In 1987 when I saw Robocop…it blew my mind. This was the same summer that I paid my own hard-earned money for movies like Jaws IV: The Revenge and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and was introduced to the concept of EPIC FAIL. Then along came Robocop. The poster looked lame. The title sounded cheesy. The previews were lacking. Still, one evening my friend Mike and I had little else to do so we climbed into my ’78 Buick Regal and headed over to the Southgate 4…for what turned out to be one of the best movies I saw that summer (maybe of the 1980’s).
I’m not giving a summary, I mean if you’ve never seen Robocop then stop reading this immediately and go rectify this situation. But the key points we need to know for this blog are: the movie takes place in Detroit (or rather “Old Detroit”), it focuses on a crime ridden city and an over-whelmed police force that both end up getting a shot from the new technology that melds dead officer Alex Murphy with Omni Consumer Products super cyborg. The sheer level of action and violence that follows is incredible. Robocop had three prime directives: 1) Serve the public trust 2) Protect the innocent 3) Uphold the law How great is that!
So here we are in 2011 and I’m writing about Robocop. Why? Well it turns out some jokey tweets lead to a movement for some sci-fi fans to erect a statue of Robocop near the police station in downtown Detroit. The idea was immediately turned down by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. However, the fans got an online petition going, found some private property and managed to collect $50,000…that’s all they needed and now ROBOCOP will stand tall in Detroit.
I love this idea. I don’t think it’s the “joke” that some naysayers do. Robocop is a great movie. Robocop is a police officer protecting the city of Detroit. Doesn’t he represent three excellent traits? If Rocky stands for the “never give up” quality that Philadelphia fans love so much (and he got his statue in Rocky III that is still standing today), then why not Robo?
One of the most useful devices I've gotten in the past decade has to be the Kindle from Amazon. I could write a book about how much I use and love it! Obviously over the past year I've spent more time reading than writing...so be prepared for lots of reviews in the next weeks about some terrific books (ebooks) I've been treated to.
I'll start with the most recent book I've read (finished less than 10 hours ago) - TRAPPED by J.A. Konrath. Hearing some great online buzz about the book, I downloaded it via my Kindle and dove right in. To say TRAPPED is a great horror/action novel would be an understatement. It's an exciting read that paints visuals in your mind so powerfully that you can immediately picture it as a movie. The pace is unrelenting. The characters are placed into unique and frightening situations. And, the villains/monsters...are scary.
The quick lowdown is that TRAPPED focuses on a small group of teens and their counselors who spend a weekend on a small island in Lake Huron. It's supposed to be a fun camping/team-building outing...it isn't. Turns out the island is home to an evil scientist, his "monster", a sociopath, and a pack of rabid cannibals. Trust me, "fun vacation" isn't going to happen. Smart money is on, dismemberment, brutal deaths, and running for your life 24/7.
Like his previous novel AFRAID (which I am a huge fan of, and last I heard was being made into a movie), Konrath is a master of giving you reason to keep turning the page. Each character's section ends with some form of cliffhanger that makes the reader need to keep going. His visuals reminded me of scenes from horror movies and the entire novel plays out like a Friday the 13th movie mixed with a bit of Frankenstein...then add tons more torture and gore...truthfully, the word "tons" probably won't do it justice so just don't read while you're eating anything.
One of the things I enjoyed most about my Kindle download of TRAPPED was the extras (see there's a reason I love the Kindle so much). This was my first time getting anything additional with my download and I've downloaded plenty. Mr. Konrath includes the published version of TRAPPED, along with his original version which was turned down by his editors (I won't tell you which version is presented first when you read). In between the two novels Konrath gives us a letter of explanation about what happened during the editorial process and why changes were deemed necessary. This is much like watching a commentary track on a DVD. To delve into the creator's process, is something I truly enjoy. There are also some excerpts from other Konrath novels. This is a lot of material (easily 500+ pages) for a $2.99 download. Just too much material that you would miss if you merely bought a book at the store (and you're paying alot less for the Kindle version).
Still, there is a flaw and it's one that J.A. Konrath does need to focus on. Two words, spelling and grammar. I'm not sure if TRAPPED has spelling mistakes due to the conversion to a Kindle file or merely slopping editing. But each of the spelling mistakes has the look of a computer doing the spell-check. There are around 20 word goofs similar to this..."hatched" instead of "hatchet"...and each one unfortunately took this reader out of a very exciting novel. I hope for future Kindle releases a few more editorial spell checks are made (trust me, I’m a fan…I’d be glad to assist).
And, if you're a fan of horror and action...TRAPPED will keep you turning the page. In the end isn't that what a good novel and a good author should do? YES! And for $2.99 Mr. Konrath succeeds perfectly.