1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Honorable Mention for 2007: Grindhouse, Ratatouille, Doctor Who Season 3, The Cult's Born Into This and Queens of the Stone Age's Era Vulgaris
Not long ago the idea of a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel would have been considered something between a "bad idea" and a "complete joke". The idea that such a movie could come out in 2007, long, long after the last entry in the series (and, indeed, the popularity Hey Day of the Turtles) and still be very good is a surreal surprise. However, Writer/ Director Kevin Munroe managed to create a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV that is not only true to the characters, not only exciting for a new generation, but also a thrill for long time fans and a spectacle of CGI that manages to get better with each viewing. If that's not enough, listening to the commentary on the DVD release is especially heart warming. To hear Kevin Munroe talk about what a great film this is may sound, theoretically, rather egotistical. However, it comes off instead as a big fan praising not himself, but all the players who helped bring this movie to CGI life, including Character Creators Eastman and Laird. If you were on the fence about this one, give it a shot, you won't regret it. TMNT is part Stand-Alone adventure, part Sequel, part Action Thriller, Part Supernatural Fantasy and part Family Drama. In keeping true to the characters of these four brothers, their dad and their friends, Kevin Munroe has succeeded in making a spectacular movie about a fractured family fighting (figuratively and literally) to put themselves back together. Recommended!
- Across the Universe
Musicals are practically jumping out of the woodwork these days, which can be good or bad depending on the quality of the product and the taste of the audience. The idea that a movie musical based on the songs of The Beatles could break out of its potential campy pitfalls and emerge as a good film is more than worthy of Good Day, Sunshine! Director Julie Taymor and her talented crew created a period piece set in a 1960s with Racial Strife, Vietnam, Protests, Changing attitudes for Civil Rights, Love, Militants, Hippies, Rock and Roll... everything, it seemed, but The Beatles.
By having the cast tell their tale in Beatles lyrics (the actors really are the singers), Across the Universe tells us an amazing story, packed with pastiches, cameos, poignant observations, obscure Beatles references and sexual innuendo, all in a likeable cast with a tear-jerking ending. It's true that many of the lyrical bridges can constitute a stretch (there is no "hidden story" within this collection of great songs), this is also no lame collection of vaguely connected music videos, nor is it a travesty. This is a bona fide tribute by those who Love the Beatles and Musicals for those who Love the Beatles and Musicals. Love is all you need!
One thing that is very difficult for someone to do is to surprise me. Lost, including, but not limited to Lost Season 3, has consistently done just that. The entire season was a cerebral thrill (the fact that viewership dropped is less a comment on the show than on the attention span of some viewers) that led to a series of great surprises, culminating in that big crescendo in the last few episodes. The shift from Flashback to Flashforward was an unsettling shock, bringing forth the question of "how are they going to make this work?" If nothing else, Lost always brings forth more questions, even as it's handing you the answers. And somehow... they always make it work!
- Twin Peaks - The Definitive Gold Box Edition
Fans of Twin Peaks have long been frustrated by the fact that the original Pilot/ Motion Picture remained unavailable on DVD due to rights issues for years. I've been complaining about it every year, as many of you know. 2007 has finally seen the Remedy of this with "The Definitive Gold Box Edition", containing the complete series (all 29 episodes AND both versions of the pilot) plus the classic Deleted Scenes, documentaries (like "Secrets from Another Place"), the Bravo Log Lady Intros, music videos and even the hilarious Kyle MacLachlan Saturday Night Live monologue (where he gives away who killed Laura Palmer, raising the ire of David Lynch) and the spoof sketch, well worth the viewing of any fan.
The only draw-backs here are the price (it clocks in at over 70 bucks) and the fact that many of these features are only available on DVD in this edition, not separately, which, of course, makes this a bit more frustrating for fans like me who have already bought both seasons on DVD. Are we buying this one too? I'll be sent to the Black Lodge if I'm missing THIS one!
- Live Free or Die Hard
The Jewel in the Crown of Spring into Action 2007, Die Hard 4 was a return to form for our great Supercop and a fine film for action fans everywhere. The humor, the explosions, the thrills, the escalating scale, it's all what Die Hard is all about. Some have criticized the over-the-top nature of this film, including, and especially, the already-famous scene in which John McClane kills a Helicopter with a Police Car, but folks, that was such a McClane thing to do. In a story of well-planned, cold, clinical cyber attacks, where ones and zeroes are unquestionable, Bruce Willis did what his character does best... Brute Force.
To the Cyber Terrorists and to the naysayers out there, let me say this: Bet you didn't see that one comin'!
- Pushing Daisies
Just when everything seemed familiar and trite, along comes Bryan Fuller, creator of such funny/ surreal/ creepy series as Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls, with a new show that's nothing like anything else on TV... unless you count reruns of Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls!
This story of Ned the Pie Maker (Lee Pace) and his ability to bring back the dead with a single touch might have been interesting anyway. Add the fact that if he doesn't touch them again, to send them back to Death within one minute, someone else has to die to fill in the hole, and you've got another layer to dance to. Add the fact that his childhood best friend (Anna Friel's Chuck) has died, he's brought her back and now refuses to let her go, as they've fallen in love and it get weirder. Now they're dating, but they don't dare touch. Another hottie, whom he can touch, but won't (Kristin Chenoweth's Olive Snook) is adding tension to tension. When you throw in the fact that the Piemaker (who actually does make pies, believe it or not) is also teamed up with a Knitting Detective (!) named Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), and the whole team solves murder mysteries based on the testimony of the victim... well that's just brilliant. The show is filmed in a very surreal, playful manner with obviously fake sets (in many cases) and dream-like colors, not to mention cars and clothing from the 1940s along with Cell Phones and Computers from right now. The show is also humorously narrated by the Omniscient voice of Jim Dale (the Harry Potter Audio Book guy) in a sincere, story-book manner, beginning each recap of the murder with the phrase "The Facts Were These..."
Well, the Facts are These: This show Rules!
- Hot Fuzz
In England, somewhere, possibly around Torchwood's Cardiff headquarters, a scientific anomaly emerged causing a gravitational singularity of Pop Culture to form around the person of Simon Pegg! Of course, he needs a little help from his pals Edgar Wright and Nick Frost!
Like 2004's Shaun of the Dead before it, Hot Fuzz works as both a tribute to and send up of the films that Pegg and Wright are fans of, in this case, Cop Buddy Action Flicks! The fact that this movie has so many recognizable references and still manages to be surprising and thrilling is nothing short of HOT! Now if I could only get Spaced on a Region 1 DVD...