2009 in Movies: Disappointments & Classics


I think this could be the most controversial part of my end-of-year movie reviews. My biggest disappointment has to be Where the Wild Things Are. There was so much hype around this movie, which is based on a highly-acclaimed 1963 children's ten-sentence story picture book. This hype revolved around the director Spike Jonze, who it seems had very differing opinions to the studio on the direction of the movie, causing out-cry from fans. I thought the Wild Things were very well done, the mix between suits and CGI worked very well. The cinematography was absolutely breathtaking, especially the use of colour and sunlight. However, I didn't think the movie worked as a movie – it could have been brilliant as a short story, keeping true to the brevity of the original material. I was unsure at the movie's target audience, I felt it was too frightening for a children's movie but it was too sparse (in my opinion) for a good adults movie – I felt the storyline severely harmed my experience of this artwork.

Other disappointments include Vicky Cristina Barcelona which I simply did not like. It was nicely show and the acting wasn't bad but I absolutely detested the narration and the story was too self-indulgent for my tastes. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was a complete mess of a movie. The first movie had a relatively decent story for an action movie, it introduced our hero, the transformers themselves and the villains as well as moving at a breakneck pace with intense action and stunning sets, but the sequel just seemed to be a terrible mass of mashed metal, not to mention some of the new transformers which are probably best left unvoiced. A few other let-downs include Knowing, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Gamer and Taking Woodstock.


This year I've finally got round to watching a few classics. I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey on DVD to commemorate a decade since Stanley Kubrick's death, and I also got the chance to see the movie in a theatre. I took some friends to experience it, and I'm glad I've able to see it on a large screen. New classics I hadn't seen until this year include; Paths of Glory, Spartacus, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and Twelve Angry Men. The same theatre in which I watched 2001 had a Kubrick season so I was able to also see Paths of Glory which I was extremely impressed with – the war depiction at the start was really brutal and puts the audience right in the action and the juxtaposition with the court-martial in the second-half was striking. Continuing with Kubrick's catalogue I finally watched Spartacus, and although I felt it was slow in places the storyline was brilliant and the action scenes were very good. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly also felt a little slow – this is indicative of many pre ‘80s movies – but this was easily over-shadowed by the story, cinematography, acting and action sequences. Finally, Twelve Angry Men showed what you can achieve with a great script, great dialogue and good acting. Set entirely in a single room (yes, with a little exception) this post-courtroom drama oozes tension and style, a must watch.

This is the third entry in a series of four documenting my review of 2009 in movies.