The 2012 Movie Rankings: Brave survives on looks; Abe Lincoln bites; Moonrise Kingdom strikes true

Everyone waits until the year is over to compile their “Best of whatever” movie lists. This has become a mundane practice. Time for a bit of a change, kids.

Aside from the typical teams (Brave, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) showing up to play this weekend, a couple foreign products in Livid and Extraterrestrial also display their skills, or lack thereof. But the true standout performance came from the mind of an unorthodox coach by the name of Wes Anderson.

The new releases for the respective week will have a capsule review at the end of the column. An updated list comes out every Monday. Here’s how things are shaking up so far in 2012:

1. Chronicle
2. The Cabin in the Woods
3. The Avengers
4. Moonrise Kingdom
5. Red Tails
6. The Grey
7. Game Change
8. The Secret World of Arrietty
9. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
10. Friends with Kids
11. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
12. The Raid: Redemption
13. Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds
14. Big Miracle
15. Think Like a Man
16. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
17. Brake
18. Rock of Ages
19. Mirror Mirror
20. 21 Jump Street
21. Snow White and the Huntsman
22. This Means War
23. God Bless America
24. The Three Stooges
25. Gone
26. Blue Like Jazz
27. American Reunion
28. Jeff, Who Lives at Home
29. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
30. Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best
31. Prometheus
32. Hysteria
33. The Dictator
34. Safe
35. Searching for Sonny
36. Brave
37. The Hunger Games
38. John Carter
39. Wrath of the Titans
40. Dead Dad
41. Underworld: Awakening
42. The Devil Inside
43. Livid
44. The Five-Year Engagement
45. Downtown Express
46. Sound of My Voice
47. Project X
48. Men in Black 3
49. Piranha 3DD
50. Dark Shadows
51. The Raven
52. Silent House
53. That’s My Boy
54. Darling Companion
55. Bully
56. What to Expect When You’re Expecting
57. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
58. Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding
59. Lockout
60. The Woman in Black
61. The Vow
62. Man on a Ledge
63. Extraterrestrial
64. The Lucky One
65. Contraband
66. The Samaritan
67. Act of Valor
68. 4:44 Last Day on Earth
69. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
70. Safe House
71. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
72. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
73. Kill List
74. Chernobyl Diaries
75. Haywire
76. A Thousand Words
77. Joyful Noise
78. Battleship
79. Wanderlust

Not Screened: One for the Money, Casa De Mi Padre, Chimpanzee, High School

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

The first 50 minutes is by far some of the worst filmmaking these green eyes have witnessed, considering this had a production budget of $70 million. Conducting this first-half train wreck is Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Night Watch). Armed with blurry 3D, poor cinematography and deadly editing; professionalism was the only attribute keeping yours truly from sprinting out (yes, sprints). This section is comprised of rapidly showing a young Abraham Lincoln having his first encounter with a vampire; then fast-forward about a decade, and he meets a mentor of sorts in Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper showing the only signs of life in his performance); and then he’s sent off by the mysterious Sturgess to slay vampires in Springfield, Mass. You can easily fill in the rest my friends.

Brave

The latest animation from the award winning combo of Disney and Pixar is a splash of Little Mermaid with an added dose of How to Train Your Dragon. Yet the fairy tale that is, Brave, is inferior to both those splendid stories. With the story lacking any real firepower, the animation on the other hand is one of the most immersing on-screen visual displays seen the last few years in the genre.

Bottom line: the latest batch of Pixar products need a boost of energy regarding all elements that a computer cannot create.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

The desert dry comedy only shows signs of life thanks to a hilarious cameo by Rob Corddry – who ends up stealing the show despite only being around for roughly 5 minutes, and the co-starring work of Keira Knightley. Without her enacting an outgoing alternative chick approaching 30, this ponderous two week journey about how one would act if they knew the world was going to end (in this case via asteroid), would have crushed your will to ever step into a Steve Carell flick that isn’t a true comedy.

Moonrise Kingdom

The deadpan comedy, which resembles a live-action fairy-tale, is sturdy traditional movie-making magic. As it follows two grade-schoolers, who are trying to venture off together in a small coastal town, it transcends into a wholesome adventure with some eye-winking adult edge. Directed by Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore), his old-school mechanical approach and clever dialogue – being projected out by witty youngsters (think The Sandlot cast) and complimented with authentic performances from accomplished stars such as Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Frances McDormand, provides a light and hilarious journey; which exudes a sense of wonderment for all to revel in.

Livid

A creepy haunted house product from France, this gory and simplistic tale is a throwback and/or homage to classic spook shows that, well, actually “spook.” Yeah, it’s not the most engrossing, or well-told story, but at least it’s a bit more suspenseful than The Woman in Black.

Extraterrestrial

It’s one of those low-budget screenplays that shows there’s a legit alien invasion going (doesn’t show the aliens), yet that’s not the main plot. The camera ends up following a quirky group of survivors, who are embattled in a strange love-triangle all while news reports suggest the world is coming to an end. This wants to be funny and clever; and while it has a decent concept, the execution lacks the charisma to really have on buy into the tone it wants to portray.

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The 2012 Movie Rankings: Abe Lincoln Bites

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By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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