Friday, April 08, 2011

9/10ths Full of Movies Part Nine. W to X

Welcome to Part Nine of my entirely subjective and drawn out reflection on a decade in cinematic exploits. Click here to see Parts One to Eight. Please do chip in with any obvious omissions or disagreements.

W is for Wallabies
Nick Park is to the movement of plasticine figures what Miyazaki is to hand drawn animation.  In 2005, his favourite characters Wallace & Gromit finally made their big screen bow in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; a film crammed with the cream of British voice acting that oozed fun and old-school creativity.  I may have mentioned how good Pixar are at delivering gems to the cinematic table.  Wall-E (08) failed to break that trend with it's audaciously dialogue free yet beautifully compelling opening and the cutest movie robot EVER.  I may have also made reference in the past to my regard for the frankly bonkers Russian masterpiece Night Watch.  Director Timur Bekmambetov made his Hollywood debut in 2008 with an adaptation of Mark Millar's graphic novel Wanted.  Liberally sprinkled with stardust (Freeman, Jolie & McEvoy) it was a stylish and beautifully shot movie, but lacked the exuberant joy of his earlier Russian language films. 

Micky Rourke's face is an extraordinary thing,  it seems to erode faster than the years progress - almost as if he has a Dorian Gray-style portrait that works in reverse.  The Wrestler(08) was a film that suited his lived-in fizzog perfectly, director Darren Aronofsky had a first stab at his Black Swan story with the tale of a faded professional wrestler that was both delicate and brutal.  2009 brought two contrasting adaptations of beloved books to mixed critical reactions.  Where the Wild Things Are bottled both the spirit of Maurice Sendak's original book and the essence of childhood; as a result watching it was like reliving all the wonderful memories of long summer holidays.  Zach Snyder's Watchmen on the other hand was a very different kettle of badgers; crunchingly violent, morally ambiguous and visually stunning.  Adapting Alan Moore's legendary graphic novel was always going to be nigh on impossible and many directors have tried and failed in the past, but Snyder made a noble effort.  While Watchmen doesn't come close to doing the novel justice, it was still a superior action movie.

X is for Xylophone
There was a paucity of films beginning with X in the Noughties which meant that writing this portion was an exercise in barrel scraping. Let's begin with the third best James Bond inspired movie series of the 2000s - xXx (02) and xXx: The Next Level (05).  The hero of xXx was essentially an extreme sports version of Her Majesty's finest spy but the films were stymied in their success by two factors.  Firstly, the launch of the infinitely superior Bourne franchise in the same year and secondly, that they were moronically* awful on just about every level.  Bryan Singer holds a rare accolade, he is one of the few directors that has delivered a sequel that is superior to it's predecessor.  X2:X-Men United (03) was an exciting and well-made comic book movie that helped open the doors to the current torrent of comic adaptations. Sadly, Singer then bailed and handed the reins to 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand to another which resulted in the law of diminishing returns reasserting itself.  And finally 2008 brought something that no-one had been asking for; another X-Files film, in this case the massively underwhelming I Want to Believe.  There were no aliens, just a creepy Billy Connelly pretending to be a psychic.

The tenth and final part coming soon...the end is nigh.
*I'm not sure this is an appropriate adjective, but I rather like it so it's going to stay...

No comments: