Greetings again from the darkness. The halfway point of 2012 has just passed, so it’s time to take note of any significant movies released between January and June.  This mid-year analysis is an annual feature because it’s so easy for first half films to be forgotten once the 4th quarter Oscar marketing campaigns start rolling. 

Beginning in late 2010, the experts were calling 2012 the year of the blockbuster thanks to the inordinate number of big name franchises, and many of those tentpoles are finding some success at the box office.   Unfortunately, as we have learned many times through the years, a big budget does not guarantee a rewarding movie experience.   A perfect example is Disney’s John Carter, which is among the biggest box office flops in history.  Since my focus is not on tickets sold, let’s discuss which of these early-in-the-year movies are really worth seeing.

By leaps and bounds (sorry), The Avengers is the runaway success of the first half. Not only did it play to packed theatres, but director Joss Whedon assembled (sorry again) a nice cast and an interesting script, delivering a very impressive comic book all-star action fest.  The Hunger Games seemed to satisfy its huge (mostly teenage) fan base, while sci-fi lovers were split over Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.   We also had a duel between Snow White films with Kristen Stewart’s version being superior to Julia Roberts’ cackling wicked queen.

Actually, independent films provided a wealth of entertainment across a wide variety of genres, including Moonrise Kingdom, the latest gem from Wes Anderson, who is now a genre unto himself.  Fortunately, my hometown of Dallas has a few theatre options for indie films, and I take advantage as often as possible.  For those who miss the limited theatrical releases of these films, they make really nice evenings for Netflix, Redbox, cable or streaming.

The most enjoyable part of my first half movie-going this year has been the number of classic films that I have taken in on the big screen. In 6 months, I have been treated to theatrical showings of thirteen movie classics including The Godfather I and II, Cool Hand Luke, Double Indemnity, and Wings (from 1927, the first Best Picture winner).  Though it’s an unfair comparison, it does bring light to the fact that I sit through many “non-classics” each year in the never-ending hope that the next one might be an instant classic at the level of one of the true greats.

Here is a breakdown of the first half of 2012 (each category is in alphabetical order):


The Avengers (the best and most fun action movie)

The Intouchables (an engaging indie from France)

Marley (best documentary so far)

Moonrise Kingdom (a gem from Wes Anderson)


Dark Shadows, The Grey, The Hunger Games, Prometheus, Ted*


Bernie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Footnote (Israel), Headhunters (Norway), My Way (Korea), The Kid with a Bike (Belgium), Safety Not Guaranteed, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

CRINGE-INDUCING (not in a good way):

Carnage, Mirror Mirror, Rock of Ages, This Means War, Ted*

*Depending on your tastes, Ted fits into one of these two categories


Here is a quick PREVIEW of upcoming movies for the second half.  Get your popcorn ready:

Anna Karenina

(Keira Knightley in many costumes for Tolstoy classic )

The Bourne Legacy

(Jeremy Renner beats up people while Matt Damon rests)

The Campaign

(Will Farrell and Zack G run opposing political campaigns. Not a Documentary)

Cloud Atlas

(Tom Hanks and Wachowski bros, and Hugh Grant as a killer)


(more Cronenberg creepiness)

The Dark Knight Rises

(Batman by Nolan and Bales.  The End in IMAX)

Django Unchained

(Quentin Tarantino for Christmas)


(futuristic, ultra-violent chaos … this time without Stallone)

The Expendables 2

(Action film sponsored by AARP)


(Tim Burton’s classic short had me in stitches)

Gangster Squad

(period mafia drama, great cast)

The Great Gatsby

(DiCaprio plays Redford… wait)

The Hobbit

(Tolkien by the creator of Lord of the Rings)

Hope Springs

(Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones get marriage counseling )

Hyde Park on Hudson

(Bill Murray as FDR cheating on Eleanor. Surprise!)

Kathryn Bigelow’s unnamed film on the Bin Laden siege

(not a mystery or comedy)


(bootlegging brothers battle corrupt authorities)

Les Miserables

(lots of sad songs from Wolverine, Catwoman, and Maximus)

Life of Pi

(another Ang Lee head-scratcher)


(Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis, no vampires)


(sci-fi with Bruce Willis playing  Joseph Gordon-Levitt and vise-versa)

The Master

(Philip Seymour Hoffman as L Ron Hubbard, no Cruise cameo)

On The Road

(Kerouac’s beatniks search for “It”)

The Paperboy

(Cusack on death row. McConaughey drawls)

Seven Psychopaths

(great title, cast, director)

Silver Linings 

(who is more nuts? David O Russell or Bradley Cooper)


(Bond, James Bond … plus Bardem!)

Taken 2

(more particular skills from Liam Neeson)

This is 40

(Judd Apatow and cronies laugh about getting older)

Total Recall

(sci-fi remake without Ah-nuld or Sharon Stone)

Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

(end of the road! Until the reboot)




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