The Notable Films of 2012: Volume Three

In this third volume I look at films that include a Tarantino slave-themed western, a more down and dirty Judge Dredd, two Aussie films, a stop-motion animated feature film version of a classic Tim Burton Disney short, a British caper remake from the Coens, another Dr. Seuss CG animated adaptation, the return of Nic Cage’s fiery hairstyle, several Sundance dramas, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest character creation, the return of some familiar faces of 80’s action films and more…

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Opens: February 17th 2012

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Christopher Lambert, Violante Placido
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Analysis: Like its much bigger and better Spider-Man franchise, Sony has to keep making movies about “Ghost Rider” if it wants to retain rights to the character. The trouble is Mark Steven Johnson’s $110 million 2007 original is widely considered a cock-up, a mess of a supernatural western that had to tone down the character in order to give it a PG-13 appeal.

Rather than basically saying forget it and letting the rights lapse, Sony is trying again with this tighter $75 million 3D second entry shot in Romania and Turkey. Johnson is gone, replaced by the “Crank” and “Gamer” filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor whose track record for even adequate filmmaking remains highly questionable at best.

In spite of this being essentially a start over, Nicolas Cage remains in the role of Johnny Blaze. Johnny Whitworth plays the main antagonist Blackout, a servant helping the Devil (Ciaran Hinds) who wants to take over his son’s body. The inclusion of “Luther” star Idris Elba, classic action hero Christopher Lambert as a bald sword-fighting monk, and a desire to be much darker and more balls to the wall were good reasons for early optimism.

Then it all turned to shit. An early trailer featuring the character pissing fire gave us an idea of what to expect, but the full trailer last month really demonstrated an unexpectedly cheap looking movie with flat lighting and very digital video quality shots of a handful of people running around random ruins in between the odd impressive car stunt. While the rider’s physical design is a distinct improvement, the overall CG is hardly much better.

The real kick in the teeth however came in December when the film screened at the Butt-Numb-A-Thon festival in Austin, Texas. A packed house filled with the exact target audience (mostly male comic/film geeks) it was aimed at gave it a big thumbs down, Twitter reaction calling it bad enough that it made the first film look like a masterpiece in comparison. I get the feeling we have the next “Punisher War Zone” on our hands here.

The Complete Notable Films of 2012 Guide

Volume One: 2 Days in New York, 21 Jump Street, 47 Ronin, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Act of Valor, The Amazing Spider-Man, American Reunion, Amour, The Angel’s Share, Anna Karenina, The Apparition, Arbitrage, Argo, The Avengers, A.W.O.L., Bachelorette, Bait 3D, Battleship, Beauty and the Beast in 3D, Being Flynn, Bel Ami, Beneath the Darkness, Bernie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Big House

Volume Two: Big Miracle, The Big Wedding, Blackbird, Black Rock, The Bourne Legacy, Brave, Bullet to the Head, The Bully Project, Butter, The Cabin in the Woods, Casa de mi Padre, Celeste and Jesse Forever, Chimpanzee, Chronicle, Cloud Atlas, Cogan’s Trade, The Cold Light of Day, The Company You Keep, Contraband, Cosmopolis, The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Shadows, Decoding Annie Parker, The Deep Blue Sea, The Devil Inside

Volume Three: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, The Dictator, Disconnect, The Divide, Django Unchained, Dog Fight, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Dredd, Drift, The End, The End of Love, The English Teacher, The Expendables 2, A Few Best Men, Finding Nemo in 3D, The Five-Year Engagement, Flight, Footnote, For a Good Time Call… , Foxfire, Frankenweenie, The Frozen Ground, Fun Size, Gambit, Gangster Squad, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Volume Four: G.I. Joe: Retaliation, A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III, Goats, God Bless America, Gods Behaving Badly, Gone, Goon, Grabbers, The Grandmasters, Gravity, Great Expectations, Great Hope Springs, The Great Gatsby, The Grey, Halloween 3D, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Haywire, He Loves Me, Here Comes the Boom, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Hotel Transylvania 3D, House at the End of The Street, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, The Hunger Games, Hunter Killer, Hyde Park on Hudson, I Alex Cross

Volume Five: I Hate You Dad, Ice Age: Continental Drift 3D, Imogene, The Impossible, In Darkness, Inside Llewyn Davis, Intruders, Iron Sky, Jack and Diane, Jack the Giant Killer, Jeff Who Lives At Home, John Carter, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Joyful Noise, Juan of the Dead, Killer Joe, The Lady, Laurence Anyways, Lay the Favorite, Learning to Fly, Les Miserables, Liberal Arts, Life of Pi, Lincoln, The Longest Week, Long Time Gone

Volume Six: Looper, Love and Bruises, The Lucky One, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Magic Mike, Man on a Ledge, The Man with the Iron Fists, The Master, Mental, Men in Black 3, Mirror Mirror, Moonrise Kingdom, The Moth Diaries, Movie 43, MS One: Maximum Security, Mud, My Mother’s Curse, Neighborhood Watch, Nero Fiddled, No One Lives, Not Suitable for Children, Nurse 3D, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Of Men and Mavericks, On the Ice, On the Road, One for the Money

Volume Seven: Only God Forgives, Outrun, The Paperboy, ParaNorman, Parental Guidance, Parker, Perfect Sense, Phantom, Piranha 3DD, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Place Beyond the Pines, Playing the Field, The Possession, Post Tenebras Lux, Premium Rush, Price Check, Project X, Prometheus, The Raid, The Raven, Red Dawn, Red Hook Summer, Red Lights, Red Tails, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Resident Evil: Retribution

Volume Eight: Return, Rise of the Guardians, Robot and Frank, Rock of Ages, Rust and Bone, Safe, Safe House, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Sapphires, Satellite Boy, Savages, Searching for Sugar Man, The Secret World of Arrietty, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Seeking Justice, Seven Psychopaths, Shadow Dancer, Side by Side, Silent House, The Silver Linings Playbook, Sinister, Skyfall, Smashed, Snow White and the Huntsman, Something in the Air, Song for Marion

Volume Nine: Sparkle, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 3D, Step Up 4ever, Stoker, Straight A’s, The Surrogate, The Sweeney, Syrup, Taken 2, Take this Waltz, Ted, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, Thanks for Sharing, Think Like a Man, This is Forty, This Means War, A Thousand Words, The Three Stooges, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, Titanic in 3D, Total Recall, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two, Under the Skin, Underworld Awakening, Untitled Bin Laden Project

Volume Ten: Untitled David Chase Movie, Untitled Ramin Bahrani Film, Untitled Terrence Malick Project, Upside Down, V/H/S, The Vow, Wanderlust, Warm Bodies, Welcome to the Punch, Welcome to People, The Wettest County, What Maisie Knew, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Wish You Were Here, The Woman in Black, The Woman in the Fifth, The Words, Words with Gods, World War Z, Wrath of the Titans, Wreck-It Ralph, Wuthering Heights, Your Sister’s Sister