Best and Worst Movies of 2009 (That I Saw)

The Best

1. Star Trek

I am not a fan of the old Star Trek. I’ve tried watching the old show a couple of times. But, this Star Trek was directed by J. J. Abrams. That would explain the complicated storyline, which is not common in many mainstream, big-budget movies. Another thing that Star Trek has that the Tranformers and GI Joes don’t have is character development. J. J. Abrams knows that it is important to be invested in the characters, because otherwise you won’t really care what happens to them. The only low point in the movie is the villan, but since the focus is more on introducing the character it doesn’t matter that much and it leaves room for improvement in the sequel. This movie was written by the writers of Lost, directed by the creator of Lost, and the music was even composed by Michael Giacchino, so of course it was awesome.

2. District 9

I feel that the marketing for this movie was well done. It was a viral campaign and not much was revealed about the plot in trailers. This gave the movie an unpredictable feel. I would not usually say something like this about a movie, but the guns were really cool and it had one of the best robot fights in any movie I saw this year. Director, Neill Blomkamp and actor, Sharlto Copley both did a great job in their first big movie.

3. Avatar

In “Avatar”, James Cameron has created a beautiful world with cool glowing, floating things, crazy hyena-like creatures, and glowing plants. This movie has themes of imperialism, and it involves a lot of action, a story of forbidden love, and its also funny sometimes. Read my full review of Avatar here.

4. Up

Pixar has not made a bad movie yet and Up is no exception. I admit that the first couple of minutes were quite sad I may have even teared up a little bit, maybe. I did not care for the dogs flying mini-planes or they squeaky voice collar, and the scene where the dogs are actually playing poker, usually Pixar would not pull cutesy tricks like that but I can look over that for this movie.

5. Inglorious Bastards

There were not a lot of gory parts in this movie, but the parts that are gory are quite gory. I was more disturbed by the way some of the members of the audience reacted during these gory scenes. I feel when you see someone get their head banged in with a baseball bat or when you see someone get scalped you should probably feel a bit uneasy and you probably would not cheer when something like this happens, but anyways… Quentin Tarantino does a good job at building up the tensions to a climax cyclically, throughout this movie. He does this mostly through scenes with intense dialogue and actually I feel that the music used is really helpful in that as well.

6. Adventureland

Adventureland looks like what some people would call “another teen movie” but it’s not. Its more of a fun love story. After watching this movie, I almost wanted to watch “Twilight” to see Kristen Stewart again. She and Jesse Eisenberg are pretty good in this movie. Even though Jesse’s character is very much like one Micheal Cera would play. Martin Star, Bill Hader , and Kristen Wiig are all quite funny as the other workers at Adventureland. The film does a good job at capturing the feeling of a dull summer in the 80’s (or so I’d assume) and it has a good 80’s soundtrack.

7. Fantastic Mr. Fox

After going with a couple of my friends to see this movie a second time, I noticed that many people did not catch the subtle and simple humor of “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. I feel this movie is probably enjoyed more by Wes Anderson fans then by children. But, I feel that this movie has a very simple and cheerful feel to it. And, the stop-animation is a feast for the eyes. Here is my full review of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” if your interested.

8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I felt that this was the first Harry Potter movie that was actually funny, mostly because of the awkward moments between the characters. I know a lot of people were complaining about the way they dealt with the death scene at the end, but I like the way that it was done. I usually make a big deal about the differences between the movie and the book, but I finally got over that with this one. The big difference in the movie was the attack on the Burrow that wasn’t in the book, which is kind of weird because Bill and Fleur’s wedding is there in the 7th book. But, I think this was the best adaptation of a Harry Potter book, yet.

9. Coraline

To borrow the word that my cousin used to describe Coraline, it is whimsical. Its also quite trippy and dark for what is considered a children’s movie. I mean, come on, she goes to a parallel universe where people have buttons for eyes and that spider-lady is pretty creepy, admit it. I saw this movie in the theaters and it had the best 3-D I have ever seen. And, you know it was one of those stop-motion movies, so it took a really long time to make and stuff, and it looks really cool.

10. Where the Wild Things Are

One of the things that I felt really made this movie stand out was the soundtrack by Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. It gave it a very tribal feel.This movie was so different from any other movie that I had ever seen that I did not know what to think about it at first. There were a lot of things that happened in this film that I found to be kind of strange. Like, when Carol pulled Douglas’ arm off and sand fell out of the wound.  But, I have learned to appreciated the absurdity of “Where the Wild Things Are”.

11. Funny People

Funny People is partially a life and death drama but its also very funny and kind of raunchy. There are a lot of jokes about a certain male body part. Leslie Mann is great in this movie, she just seems so sweet and vulnerable. And I have to mention that Aziz Ansari is hilarious, even though he has a small part.

12. Observe and Report

Observe and Report does well at doing the comedy-action thing. And the random and unpredictable feel of this movie makes it interesting to watch. Its kind of dark, kind of sick, but its also pretty funny.

13. Paranormal Activity

I liked that the way the director, Oren Peli, built up the tension in this movie. He seems to believe in the idea that less is more. This movie would not be any good if it had poor lead actors, but the fresh new faces, Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat, did a great job at pulling through. If you are interested here is my full review on “Paranormal Activity”.

14. Watchmen

This is the part of my list where I began wondering if these movies should go at the end of my best list or my worst list. I felt that this movie was more gory then it had to be. (In one scene a man gets his arms chainsawed off, in another someone gets hit so hard that we see their bones come out of their arm.) The matrix style fighting did not seem to make sense. There is a sex scene that shows way more then they needed to. I also found it ridiculous that they played the song “Hallelujah” during this scene. I thought that one scene that was done well in this movie and that was when Dr. Manhattan and Sally are on Mars. However,  I feel that overall the movie was pretty faithful to the graphic novel.

15. Public Enemies

Not to my surprise, Johnny Depp did a great job performing in this movie. Cotillard is mesmerising. Christian Bale’s performance was less the brilliant though.  I have to mention that Emilie de Ravin (Claire Littleton from “Lost”) was in this movie for a very small part. Some parts seemed to drag on a bit in this movie, but it has good action scenes and a love story at the center.

16. Angels and Demons

I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. I liked it better than “The Davinci Code”, which I think may have been because I did not read “Angels and Demons” before watching it. This movie is pretty much a basic mystery/action movie, it doesn’t really do anything else very well, but the ending was surprising and it was a fairly entertaining film.

The Worst

1. The Soloist

This movie is probably the most boring movie I have ever seen, I don’t even wanna write about it. I don’t know if I like Robert Downey Jr. he recently said this about himself: “I’m f–king really good at what I do—and have been for a long time, so I don’t waver on that,”(Source: E online) and in an interview with moviehole.com he complains about the Dark Knight being “so high brow and so f–king smart, I clearly need a college education to understand [it]” and he goes on to say “F-ck DC comics.” He just seems kind of stuck-up and rude to me but, you know, he might be a good guy or something. Anywho, this movie is fraking boring, don’t watch it.

2. Terminator Salvation

I thought Terminator Salvation would be a good movie. I like movies involving timetravel…usually. I thought that there would be more focus on Marcus being half human and half robot and for the movie to hit on themes like Battlestar Galactica and the whole debate about what makes humans, humans. There wasn’t much of that though, there were a lot of giant robots and stuff instead. Yeah, sure, giant robot battles are kind of cool but I’m tired of them and I’m tired of them being meaningless.

3. Transformers 2

Speaking of meaningless robot battles. This is Robert Downey Jr.’s kind of movie, no thinking involved at all. There are bad robots and there are good robots and they fight, for two and a half longs hours. Yeah, the bad robots are back because…well…magic! and how else would there be a sequel? The last scene is so drawn out and the whole thing where the main character goes to robot heaven and comes back to life is ridiculous.

4. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

I didn’t have high expectations for this film and it lived up to my low expectations. Rachel McAdams is the only good thing about the sequel. Night at the Museum 2 just seems like another kids movie utilizing slapstick humor and other cutesy tricks.

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Paranormal Activity


I know Paranormal Activity isn’t even in many theaters anymore, but I had to write this review for English so I figure I’d post it here as well.:

Similar to The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and Quarantine before it, Paranormal Activity is a thriller that utilizes a documentary style format. Some of the scenes seem to fade out at strange times which makes the film seem a little more unpredictable and real.
The new actress, Katie Featherston does a great job at playing the sweet and vulnerable college student who has had an evil entity following her most of her life. Micah Sloat does a very good job as well, as the inquisitive day-trader to whom Katie is “engaged to be engaged”. Micah has a child-like fascination with the paranormal and wants to get as much captured on film as possible.

It is obvious why this film had a low-budget, there is a total of eight actors in the original version and there are not a lot of big-budget special effects. The film does not need many special effects because it is all about the build up of suspense. All that happens the first night that Micah sets up the camera to document the paranormal occurrences is the movement of a door and from the on the paranormal encounters get more intense. The director, Oren Peli, seems to believe in the idea that less is more.

Katie and Micah invite a psychic into their house who tells them that it is likely that the paranormal presence that followed Katie from her old home is a demon. He warns the young couple that they must not react to the paranormal happenings, that the demon feeds on “negative energy”, and to not provoke the demon by using things such as Ouija boards. He warns that people have died from messing with demons. But of course, Micah continues to antagonize the demon and uses a Ouija board, to Katie’s dismay, which causes a “negative energy” between the two. It would not be a horror movie otherwise, would it?

This film had three different endings and if you do not want any of them to be ruined for you, you should stop reading this review now. In the ending that I saw, Katie gets out of bed and stares at Micah for hours before she goes downstairs. She begins to scream, waking Micah who goes to see what is going on. A struggle can be heard between Micah, Katie, and the evil presence. Katie, then walks back up to her room with a knife in her hand and blood on her shirt. She then rocks back and forth for days. Katie’s friend then comes and she can be heard screaming off camera. Its not clear if she was screaming because she found the remains of Micah or if it was because she was being attacked by the demon. Then the police arrives and find Katie who finally falls out of her trance and asks the police “Where’s Micah?” The police see the knife in her hand and shot her. As the credits roll the police can be heard as they discover the camera. In another ending, Katie throws Micah’s body at the camera and knocks it over after the struggle downstairs. She then sniffs Micah and attacks the camera while smiling eerily. The scene blacks out and the credits roll. In the third ending, Katie comes up stairs after the struggle and slits her throat in the view of the camera. After watching the ending that I did, I felt surprised and a little uneasy. In all of the endings the viewer is not let off the hook. Katie and Micah do not live happily ever after in any of the endings and the demon is still alive.

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