Sunday, August 12, 2012
2012 King of the Hill: July Wrap Up
July came to an end twelve days ago and I need to cover the last few movies I saw in July. The Dark Knight Rises proved to be quite the movie. But can it stand up against a racist Clint Eastwood and America's First Avenger? July proved to be a month of many movies. As I move into the month of August, it looks like the number of movies I am watching has dropped significantly. It's time for the July wrap up of 2012 King of the Hill Movie Challenge.
For those who do not know, the 2012 King of the Hill Movie Challenge is my system for determining the best movie of year that I saw. One movie from each month will be selected and, at the end of the year, I will do a tournament style showdown where they will take each other on until the final movie has been selected. Bracket placement will be determined by the number of movies the monthly movie faced and won.
Gran Torino v The Dark Knight Rises
In all fairness to Gran Torino, there was a problem with the DVD. A chunk of one scene and the whole of another would not play. I did later find the script for the movie and read the missing scene. Gran Torino is a movie about the story of Walt (Clint Eastwood) following the death of his wife. He lives in his well tended home in a neighborhood slowly being taken over by Korean families. Walt has an openly racist attitude to his neighbors and, well, everyone else. As the story progresses, he begins to bond with his neighbors, particularly Tao (Bee Vang).
If you ignore the fact that Clint Eastwood plays the same freaking character in every movie, this was a good film. I loved the story. I love the character development. I loved the banter between Walt and, well, everyone he interacted with. I found myself wondering up to the very end what was going to happen. When the ending finally came, it felt me leaving satisfied. There were a few things I'd have liked to see differently. I think the movie could have done without Walt's granddaughter. It seems like her point to the film was to setup a scene at the end and could have been worked out differently.
Compared to The Dark Knight Rises, the movie simply doesn't stand. Both films had great stories, but The Dark Knight Rises left a feeling in the end that has stayed with me even weeks later. Gran Torino, also admittedly left me feeling uncomfortable at times. Walt is extremely racist. The racist jokes and their delivery were hilarious, which only left me feeling bad. I personally feel that racist jokes, even if appropriate for the story being told, should be left behind as much as possible. I don't believe in sugar coating history, but at the same time it is something that can be cut down on and/or underplayed in our media.
Winner: The Dark Knight Rises
Captain America v The Dark Knight Rises
Captain America is the origin story of Captain America. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a short, little guy who is always getting knocked around, but refuses to let himself be kept down. Eventually, his desire to be a true hero is recognized and he joins a super soldier program. The program is sabotaged in the middle of the operation, destroying all equipment and leaving him as the only super soldier. For some reason, the government refuses to use him as a soldier. Instead he has him do stage acting to raise money for the military and to entertain troops.
The prison break scene is the only really phenomenal part to the film. Steve Rogers learns that his friend was one of the troops reported missing and presumed to be held captive. He goes on his own to try and free the prisoners. He succeeds and proves that he is a capable soldier. After this, the movie goes into a series of fighting montage scenes were he and his crew begin shutting down factories and laboratories in Axis controlled territory. I have never liked montages. But in this case, the montages seemed to skim over the greater story. Steve Rogers may have the heart of a hero and the strength of a hero, but learning to be a soldier and work in combat is an area of growth I'd have liked to see. All this montage did was served to rush the story to it's conclusion where Captain America must make a sacrifice. I'll stop describing here in the off chance you haven't seen both Captain America and The Avengers.
In summary, Captain America is a rushed movie to give the audience an origin story of Steve Rogers before the release of The Avengers. This rush job is obvious and left me highly disappointed.
Winner: The Dark Knight Rises