Looper (2012)

Looper is ambitious and well-conceived, a stylish noir-styled movie way beyond the bulk of the big budget bollocks you’ll see at the local multiplex. But as is the curse of futuristic dystopian sci-fi, it doesn’t quite land. Don’t be put off though, Johnson taps neatly into the post-economic apocalypse zeitgeist and serves a refreshing sashimi platter in a world of cinematic junk food.
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Anna Karenina (2012)

Despite Wright’s visual panache and technical ingenuity, his version of Tolstoy’s romantic epic never quite fully soars. There are plenty of invention and audacity on display here, but storytelling seems to play second fiddle to style and pageantry. Anna’s tortured journey to destructive love is somehow overshadowed by Wright’s meticulous showmanship.
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The Apartment (1960)

The Apartment has it all in spades – character, story, emotion, pathos and exquisite heartbreak – a film that still resonates until today. Wilder crafted a perceptive comedy and tentative romance, eschewing corn, schmaltz and bullshit. It is also very funny and very humane. This is one for the ages.
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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

This won’t change your perspective in life or swerve your stance in mainstream cinema, but give The Best Marigold Hotel a little chance and bask in its miniature delights and a bit of wonderful altruism. Plus there’s a reliable Altmanesque ensemble of British thesps that would send a casting director into a multiple orgasm.
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John Carter (2012)

A depthless, charmless, soulless, sexless, brainless derivative turd of a movie, taking mainstream filmmaking to a whole new low. This is a lesson for Disney and those capitalist Hollywood drones – $250 million budget cannot buy great storytelling. Great films are made with passion and heart, not with spreadsheets and figures. John Carter looks and feels as if it were directed by an accountant, not a visionary director.
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Rock of Ages (2012)

Low-rent, zero-wattage rock musical that resembles an artlessly directed, two-hour Guitar Hero music video, pandering to the Glee and High School Musical demographic with paper-thin characters lifted right out of Screenplay for Dummies. You may worship 80’s rock music, but Rock of Ages is sure to ruin the nostalgia. This is nothing but another obsolete product spewed out of the Hollywood factory machine, designed to sell big empty dreams to big empty heads. One star for Tom Cruise and his effort.
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Prometheus (2012)

It’s no masterpiece – but there is grandeur in its execution and vaulting scope that could make other sci-fi genre pretenders break a sweat. Sure, it’s flawed, but so were the first two Alien films. Prometheus will not change the sci-fi landscape, but it’s a welcome addition to the existential sci-fi horror cinema. Nothing will quite prepare you to the year’s most gut-wrenching scene so far.
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Dark Shadows (2012)

This is Tim Burton settling for mediocrity, and it’s no compliment. Despite Depp being hilariously cheesy and dead-cert funny, Dark Shadows’ toothless and bloodless execution doesn’t quite achieve a workable balance between Gothic soap-opera and camp comedy. But at least it’s not as bad as Alice in the Wonderland.
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J. Edgar (2011)

Beautifully set and lovingly shot, Eastwood does a creditable job in tough circumstances. There is no intention here to rehabilitate Hoover but there isn’t enough to understand him either. Perhaps that’s testament to J. Edgar’s legendarily awkward relationship with Hollywood, or just a fitting tribute to a man who spent a lifetime building a legacy only to order it destroyed upon his death.
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Battleship (2012)

Battleship is not just bad, it’s beyond insulting. If you want something ship-related, watch Battleship Potemkin, Das Boot, Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, or even Titanic for fuck’s sake, and steer well away from this feculent turd of a movie, or anything ‘starring’ Taylor Kitsch or directed by Peter Berg. Personally it will be the last toy related flick I ever see, unless Todd Solondz does something based on Kerplunk.
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Young Adult (2012)

Don’t be misled to expect a LOL comedy out of Young Adult. The laughs to be had here are of the scathing, scabrous kind – it will leave you partially wounded. This is a dark tragicomedy seething with nihilism, with a raging ex-prom queen bitch as an anti-heroine, personified to pitch-perfection by one matchless Charlize Theron.
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The Hunger Games (2012)

A fascinating premise and an intriguing first act gives way to a blandly executed death-match that barely delivers the gut-punch this film deserves. The Hunger Games works better as a cautionary sci-fi dystopia and socio-political commentary on reality TV rather than searing cinema. Go see Battle Royale instead.
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Hugo (2011)

For a film about the early invention of cinema, this is thuddingly, disappointingly pedestrian and at worst, superficial. We admire Scorcese’s self-appointed role as an Ambassador of Film Preservation, but Hugo is all technical wizardry and visual polish with very little narrative elegance. Take away all that gizmo, and we’re left with another fatherless boy with another mysterious key trying to discover whatever it unlocks. Something like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close set in the turn-of-the-century Paris.
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The Iron Lady (2012)

Meryl Streep is gold standard as Maggie the Milk-Snatcher, doing some spectacular thesping fireworks in a film that completely undermines a towering performance. Put her aside, and we’re left with a crushingly clichéd and banal biopic, leaden with artless direction and thick-as-dust storytelling. That extra star is for Streep in her most show-offy performance.
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War Horse (2011)

Your enjoyment of War Horse depends on your taste in cinematic sugar fluff. If your film diet consists of Disney full-fat calories, then you’ll lap this up. But for the celluloid-conscious, this is nothing but an exercise in schmaltz featuring an equine-obsessed simpleton and his romantic lover horse. By the way, this is made for kids, so there’s no French kissing.
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One Day (2011)

A misguided adaptation that fails to be as witty, poignant and heartbreaking as its original source, resulting in a sexless, lacklustre and crushingly conventional romantic caper. This only adds evidence to a universal truth that some books are better left untouched.
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True Grit (2010)

It’s hard to fault the Coens, ever. Their version of True Grit is quite possibly one of the most well-made, most old-school throwback to the dying breed of Western movies in recent memory, standing right next to Andrew Dominik’s sublime The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It paints a loving homage to the wild west with reverence, panache and some good old grit.
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127 Hours (2010)

Danny Boyle certainly knows how to hold your attention in this exhilaratingly told motivational drama. Not a single minute of 127 Hours drips with abandon nor steers into cheapo sentimentality. This is dignified, glorious and triumphant, with a winning James Franco as the American self-made hero, Aron Ralston.
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