We are back at it again with Movie Time Capsule- Remember These Movies. Yep. With the downtime I had, I could knock this out quicker than I thought. For those who are new, this is the monthly segment I love doing where I take a look back at what was released in theaters ten years ago, reflecting on what I considered good or bad back in the day. We’re looking at the movies that we went to see in March.
Anything worth remembering about this month ten years ago? Vladimir Putin won the Russian election? Gross. All the freshmen in our grade took the day off from school to job shadow an adult, and my mom took me to work with her. Truthfully, I particularly enjoyed what she does daily. Also, around this time, I will never forget making the infamous mistake of checking out Jack & Jill from the library on March 11, which will haunt me.
I went to the theater every week this month since there was something big during those weekends. Luckily, we were getting a few memorable movies as we were launching into spring. The weird and funny thing March presented us with is that we got one of the biggest box office hits and flops in the same month. The only ones from the release schedule I haven’t seen are Silent House with Elizabeth Olsen (anyone seen that?) and The Raid: Redemption. In regards to The Raid, I know. I’m mad at myself for not seeing it after hearing how awesome it is for years now.
But have you seen the eight I’ll be discussing down below? So let’s open up this capsule to see what March 2012 blessed us with:
March 2: ‘The Lorax’
Cast: Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate, and Betty White
Directed By: Chris Renaud
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Ted (Zac Efron) lives in a place virtually devoid of nature; no flowers or trees grow in the town of Thneedville. Ted would very much like to win the heart of Audrey (Taylor Swift), the girl of his dreams, but to do this, he must find that which she most desires: a Truffula tree. To get it, Ted delves into the story of the Lorax (Danny DeVito), once the gruff guardian of the forest, and the Once-ler (Ed Helms), who let greed overtake his respect for nature.
Domestic Box Office: $214.03 Million/ Worldwide: $348.8 Million
RT Score: 54%
My Thoughts: The Lorax wasn’t a Dr. Suess story I remembered reading as a kid, unlike The Cat in the Hat and How to Grinch Stole Christmas. But, with Universal and Illumination taking a crack at one of the lesser-known stories from the author, at least they didn’t make it live-action. I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s the greatest animated movie to come out in the last decade, but I don’t hate this like everyone else. The book’s spirit might’ve got lost in the shuffle to make it more Hollywood-friendly. The theme of capitalism and greed will go over kids’ heads, yet it shows the length this young boy is willing to take to get his hands on the last tree. Its message about saving the trees is unmistakable, and it goes through the critical moral at the end. Danny Devito was the perfect choice to voice the eponymous character. I did want more of him; he wasn’t in it as much as I wished, but he was funny. The rest of the voice talents from Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms did what they had to do for a paycheck. But did I know it was also a musical walking in? I don’t think anybody did, and this really didn’t need to be since it almost took me by surprise with the characters singing, and they weren’t the type of songs worth remembering. The Lorax is still fun and beautifully animated for families to enjoy with all-star voice talents. This was the first big animated movie of the year, judging by its box office numbers. Compared to anything Illumination released in the years prior, I’ve always thought it isn’t a masterpiece of sorts because the plot can be sort of messy. Still, I think I enjoyed it more than others.
Cast: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Dax Flame, and Alexis Knapp
Directed By: Nima Nourizadeh
Synopsis: Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) are three anonymous high-school seniors who are determined to finally make their mark. But how to make themselves unforgettable in the annals of high-school history? With an epic party, of course! The idea is innocent enough, but nothing could prepare the three friends for this shindig. As word of the soiree’s awesomeness spreads, dreams are ruined, records are blemished, and legends are born.
Domestic Box Office: $54.7 Million/ Worldwide: $102.7 Million
RT Score: 28%
My Thoughts: Anyone in high school when Project X came out must’ve been the one movie everybody wanted to see because it was geared directly to them. But as someone who should’ve loved the hell out of this, this found-footage comedy was more dumb than fun. The idea of an epic house party consisting of loud music, drugs, and massive chaos caught on camera already sounds ridiculously awesome that has me as the target demographic. It doesn’t hide from providing crazy and insane moments, but it’s not enough to call this a satisfying teen comedy. It wasn’t all that funny, believe it or not. Honestly, anyone who thought this was the greatest movie they’ve ever seen while at school shows their taste and I will constantly judge them. Even for being part of the found footage genre, it really didn’t need to be. There are random montages set to music that contradicts the premise of just being a viral YouTube video. None of the characters weren’t interesting enough to care about since they’re copies of better semi-likable people in other movies. But Costa, played here by Oliver Cooper, has got the be the most annoying character I’ve seen in a movie this century. I truly hated this character in the ten seconds he appeared on screen and I don’t understand why his friends put up with his craps since he’s responsible for the craziness of the party. Project X desperately hinges on trying The Hangover for teenagers, but it’s nothing more than a mean-spirited time that isn’t worth the attention. And we’re never going to discuss this being better than Animal House or Superbad because it’s 100% not accurate whatsoever. If there’s one thing to take away from all of this, D12’s “Fight Music” playing during the end credits, and I freakin’ love that song.
March 9: ‘John Carter’
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, and Willem Dafoe
Directed By: Andrew Stanton
Synopsis: When Civil War veteran John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) mysteriously awakes on the surface of Mars — also called Barsoom — he little expects the adventure that awaits him. Carter reluctantly becomes embroiled in an epic conflict among the red planet’s inhabitants, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). As Barsoom is poised on the brink of collapse, war-weary Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that everyone’s fate is in his hands.
Domestic Box Office: $73.07 Million/ Worldwide: $284.1 Million
RT Score: 52%
My Thoughts: For what was poised to be Disney’s next biggest franchise, the confidence of John Carter was lacking. Based on the influential series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, it’s a movie that’s been trying to get off the ground for a long time, starting back in the ‘30s. But the excitement from the marketing failed to make a lasting impression, especially when the trailers didn’t give you an idea of what it’s about. And I’ll be honest, I thought it was alright after leaving the theater, thinking that was $5 well spent. Once I watched it again several months later, I lost interest in what this wanted to be, as signs pointed towards John Carter not reaching its full potential. One of its issues comes from Taylor Kitsch since his performance as the title character was bland. At the time, Hollywood was pushing him too hard to be the next leading man for huge blockbusters, which didn’t happen for Kitsch that year. Other than him, it wasn’t the epic space opera it wanted it to be. Visually, it’s impressive enough for how much money was behind it; everything surrounding it, from the action and characters, is underwhelming to watch for over two hours. For his transition from Pixar to live-action, Director Andrew Stanton didn’t have the skills to make this fantasy come to life when it’s nothing but a dull cross of Avatar and Waterworld. John Carter has fans, and some will consider it more of a guilty pleasure. Still, I never understood the fascination since it’s more interested in visuals than concentrating on a fun and memorable story. Because of the mixed reception, no sequels have come out and the crowd to see this was clearly wasn’t enough to make back its massive $250 million production budget back, becoming infamously known as one of the biggest box office bombs from Disney and of all time. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest idea for the studio to release another Mars-related movie an entire year after the last one (Mars Needs Moms) failed spectacularly.
‘A Thousand Words’
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Kerry Washington, Cliff Curtis, Clark Duke, Allison Janney, and Ruby Dee
Directed By: Brian Robbins
Synopsis: Jack McCall (Eddie Murphy) is a selfish literary agent whose fast-talking ways allow him to close any deal. His next target is New Age guru Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis), but the savvy doctor sees right through Jack. A magical tree appears in Jack’s yard, and, according to Dr. Sinja, the tree and Jack are connected; every time Jack says a word, a leaf falls from the tree. When the last leaf drops, Jack will die. With just a thousand leaves left, Jack must learn to curb his speech or he’s a goner.
Domestic Box Office: $18.4 Million/ Worldwide: $22.04 Million
RT Score: 0%
My Thoughts: Watching Tower Heist instantly made everyone think Eddie Murphy was returning to his roots with comedy. A strange premise A Thousand Words had, all I was hoping for is that it can be good. Yet, this happens to be his third unfortunate Not only was it already an ominous sign when this was filmed in 2008, shelved for some reason, and was released in theaters four years later but it was written by Steve Koren, the man responsible for writing Jack & Jill. The results ended up as a very unfunny movie that was hard to sit through that doesn’t work effortlessly comedically and when it wants to be touching. When you have a talented man, like Murphy, not being able to talk for the runtime and you couldn’t make it work, why make it at all? Maybe the point was attempting to give a lesson about communication, but no ounce of effort to make it work when its main character can’t speak. Consisting of daddy issues, mugging at the camera, and a joke where Murphy gets by high when the garners spray the tree with DDT, A Thousand Words can be perfectly summed up in three: Awful, pathetic, and embarrassing. I checked this out from the library, and it was so bad I forgot to put the DVD back in the case, resulting in a pretty hilarious phone call from my mom. Having no one not waste their time seeing this and holding a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, it was nominated for three Razzies: Worst Picture, Worst Actor for Murphy, and Worst Screenplay. And you wondered why he took a break from comedies for several years.
March 16: ’21 Jump Street’
Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, and Ice Cube
Directed By: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Synopsis: When cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) join the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover as high-school students. They trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, and set out to shut down a dangerous drug ring. But, as time goes on, Schmidt and Jenko discover that high school is nothing like it was just a few years earlier — and, what’s more, they must again confront the teenage terror and anxiety they thought they had left behind.
Domestic Box Office: $138.4 Million/ Worldwide: $201.5 Million
RT Score: 85%
My Thoughts: 21 Jump Street is a movie I’ve talked about on here on a few occasions, including a full review of it from a couple of years back. Still, this adaptation of the television series of the same name not only turned out to be 2012’s biggest surprise, but it holds its place as the funniest comedy of the past ten years. As someone who didn’t watch the show, I seriously thought it was a dumb idea to turn a well-known series from the ‘80s into a movie since they usually fail. But with the genius minds of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and the unexpected pairing of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, it managed to be a great time for those not familiar with the source material. Taking the series’ inspiration, this turned into an action-comedy with the undercover troupe never got tiresome because everything about this adaptation was entertaining. Never in a million did I leave the theater enjoying Hill and Tatum’s chemistry together, but their bromance as partners going undercover in high school was something I didn’t think I needed. And this was the time when I started to respect Tatum as an actor, whose performance as Jenko proves he has comedic talents. It had me laughing the entire time, from tripping major hard on this drug going around to an unconventional freeway chase, and it doesn’t stop there with some choice action scenes. Much like Hill’s other successful comedy hit, Superbad, I would randomly watch a clip from this and get that needed laugh after a lackluster day. Although with the low expectations, I thought this would be unfunny, 21 Jump Street proved me wrong. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like this, and it should stay that way. To this day, it still has a place in my top 10 favorites of 2012, and we’re lucky to get a sequel, 22 Jump Street, which is almost better.
March 23: ‘The Hunger Games’
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bently, Toby Jones, and Donald Sutherland
Directed By: Gary Ross
Synopsis: In what was once North America, the Capitol of Panem maintains its hold on its 12 districts by forcing them each to select a boy and a girl, called Tributes, to compete in a nationally televised event called the Hunger Games. Every citizen must watch as the youths fight to the death until only one remains. District 12 Tribute Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has little to rely on, other than her hunting skills and sharp instincts, in an arena where she must weigh survival against love.
Domestic Box Office: $408.01 Million/ Worldwide: $694.3 Million
RT Score: 84%
My Thoughts: The first massive blockbuster of the year arrived with The Hunger Games. Despite having not read the series of novels by Suzanne Collins, I anticipated the first installment, along with the fans of the books. A dystopian sci-fi adaptation where kids fight, survive, and kill to be the last one standing? You have me hooked. I saw it right after school opening day, curious to witness what we’ll get from the start of the book-to-movie franchise. With most Young Adult books transitioning into film being significant at the time, this one does fairly well, albeit not great. Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice to play Katniss Everdeen that readers can picture in their minds to show a lot of character with her performance. She acted well to portray one of the strongest female characters in literature. But she’s supported by a great cast on her side. Josh Hutcherson as Peta was alright, but he warmed up to me later on in the franchise where I couldn’t buy the chemistry between him and Katniss. But then you also have Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy was my favorite performance in the entire movie; he owns this role. The games themselves present how dangerous it can be, and while it’s slow during them, it keeps you at the edge of your seat, hoping Katniss and Peta don’t get killed. And the point is that they’re supposed to make you feel uncomfortable because you’re never going to side with the people putting on this show every year for entertainment. As for Gary Ross’s direction during the games was the film’s apparent flaw when discussed. Like many, I get annoyed with shaky camera work when it becomes very nauseous. I didn’t get on board with how the camera moved all around when we got into the actual games because we couldn’t see anything. Of course, that might be because they can’t show a lot of blood in a PG-13 movie. I think it would’ve been great in my mind with better direction. While it wasn’t the most captivating adaptation everyone probably hoped for and felt anti-climatic near the end, The Hunger Games has some solid action, strong performances, and emotional tension-filled to consider this first installment worth the attention.
Because of how successful it turned out to be, it wasn’t shocking to learn it was the third highest-grossing movie of the year and was the first film since Avatar to calm the #1 spot at the box office for four weeks. I still like it, although it isn’t a secret its sequel, Catching Fire, was an improvement.
March 30: ‘Wrath of the Titans’
Cast: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Édgar Ramírez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston, Ralph Fiennes, and Liam Neeson
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman
Synopsis: Ten years after defeating the Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington) is living a quieter life as a fisherman and sole parent to his young son. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing on Mount Olympus: The gods are weakened by mankind’s lack of devotion, and they are losing control of the Titans and their leader, Kronos, whom they imprisoned in Tartarus long ago. When Zeus is betrayed by Ares and Hades and captured by the Titans, Perseus leads a group to rescue him and save mankind from the ancient beings.
Domestic Box Office: $83.6 Million/ Worldwide: $301.9 Million
RT Score: 26%
My Thoughts: I don’t know if anybody desperately asked for a sequel, but here we are. I was dreading going into Wrath of the Titans because I thought its predecessor Clash of the Titans was one of the worst remakes to come out that should’ve blown my mind. But it grossed over almost half a billion dollars where it was apparently enough to greenlight a sequel that should’ve stopped after the original ended. Unfortunately, the high hopes for this weren’t there since the trailers made it look not worse, but not enough to pay money to see. And what I’ll say is it’s a smidge better than the original, yet it’s still a sloppy put together movie. It improves slightly with the action sequences and some of the effects. Now sporting a random mullet, Sam Worthington is still fine being the franchise’s hero. But the rest of the acting want any better, even Liam Neeson reprising his performance as Zeus didn’t make me care. The problem soles on how mediocre the script was. All this was basically the same as the last time, but they switched the Kraken to a giant lava monster supposed to be Kronos to take down– everything else doesn’t have much to find interesting to follow. Most of the reviews back in the day had me scratching my head why most reviews gave it a mild pass. Though which of the two do I think is better? The sequel, which isn’t the highest of compliments. Wrath of the Titans is one of those unnecessary sequels that nobody asked for that didn’t last long in our memories. Thankfully, there was no need to see this in 3D.
Cast: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, and Sean Bean
Directed By: Tarsem Singh
Synopsis: Snow White (Lily Collins), an orphaned princess, is the rightful ruler of her kingdom, but a jealous, evil queen (Julia Roberts) schemes to gain control. When a charming prince (Armie Hammer) spurns the queen in favor of Snow White, she has the princess thrown into the woods to be devoured by a fearsome beast. Rescued by a band of diminutive highway robbers, Snow White vows to take back her realm from the treacherous queen and, with the help of her small rescuers, roars into action.
Domestic Box Office: $64.9 Million/ Worldwide: $183.01 Million
RT Score: 50%
My Thoughts: 2012 was when we got two movies centering on Snow White, with drastically different tones: Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. The former is the one that went more in the family fantasy direction. IIRC, both trailers were released online simultaneously, and as soon as I saw the trailer for this, I knew it was going to be nothing but unwatchable. Mirror Mirror is so whimsical and corny in a wrong way and just so bad that a director like Tarsem Singh would now have this on his resume, leading me to shake my head thinking he followed-up Immortals with something far less entertaining. Sure, the only people this will gear toward more are kids, particularly young girls. But this is nothing more than a straight-up corny fantasy that’s asking to be made fun of. When I wanted it to be the fun flick it tries to be inside, it becomes more tedious by the minute. At first, I can credit Singh and the production crew for having its sets look as if he was responsible for doing a fantasy, but they came off more lifeless than gorgeous. I was not too fond of Julia Robert as the evil queen; Lily Collins is too good to have her talents be involved here as Snow White; Armie Hammer was too goofy, and poor Nathan Lane was the saving grace. If I’m one to recommend anything else that’s not Mirror Mirror, The Princess Bride is a better fantasy to fall in love with. I can’t comprehend how it got a stupid Oscar nomination for Costume Design.