Biggest Movie Surprises [2011]

Sometimes all you need for a movie to be great is a really low expectation or no expectation at all. When you go into a movie with a bunch of hype or a critical mind it can be tough to just sit back and relax. So I’m always curious what will be the next movie to surprise me. For the most part I’m fairly skeptical and don’t expect much from 1/2 the movies I see out of curiosity and a few times it really pays off and I’m completely surprised. These were the ones in 2011

1. Apocalypse Now – This movie is not just a movie but an entire history lesson. I’m not talking about the content of the movie so much as the history and details surrounding the making of. I was intrigued by the making because the movie not only has many classic [often imitated and parodied] scenes but the settings, acting, and story cause you to wonder how in the world this thing became an actual movie that came out. Trust me, the reality of this movie is probably more strange than the movie itself, and that’s saying something.

2. Bladerunner – I was convinced I wouldn’t like this because my roommate, Lucas, told me it sucked and was really boring. One thing he failed to mention is how TOTALLY AWESOME it is. It’s not for everyone. It’s a bit slow at times, but two things I think it has going for it. 1 – the dystopian universe created by Ridley Scott is believable and immersive. You will feel depressed as you are sucked into the futuristic world that seems void of hope (and soap!) 2 – there is a major plot point that is open for interpretation that even the makers and original cast do not agree upon. Though it isn’t specifically spelled out in the movie it will change how you think/feel about every major character. I won’t spoil it for you in case you decide to check it out, but trust me it will keep you thinking long after the credits roll. (think: spinning top at the end of Inception)

3. Precious – I was ready to cast this baby off as the typical Oscar bait that just shows a bunch of folks crying over hard-living. Civil rights blah blah blah heavy handed message blah blah blah. I’m not wrong. That’s exactly what this movie is. However, I can’t stress the profound impact Precious had on me. Education. This movie is about education. Education is so vitally important in combating crime and poverty and I don’t think I realized that until I watch this. And the “speech” at the end. Wow. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.

4. How To Train Your Dragon – Not Disney. Not Pixar. Not good, right? Wrong. I really liked the art style and the story was just all around good. Also this movie is good for the whole family. A win-win!

5. The Karate Kid – This movie surely has no chance to be good right? First of all, it’s called the Karate Kid but the fighting style is Kung Fu. Strike one. Second, I think Jackie Chan is great but he’s kind of the Charlie Chaplin of kung fu movies and maybe a little too goofy to follow up a role mastered by the stoic Pat Morita (he won an academy award for his role as Mr. Miyagi). Third, Jaden Smith is just riding off the fame of dad Will Smith, and won’t be able to pull off a convincing performance. Fourth(!), the original karate kid was all about bullying from (fully grown) high school students. The kids in this movie are more like pre-teen. Even with all that stacked against it, the movie is great. It absolutely shocked me. The acting was excellent, the story wasn’t too unbelievable, and I found myself really caring about the characters. Seriously, give this a chance.

6. Easy A – I thought this looked like a terrible teen movie. Well it’s a teen movie but it’s far from terrible. It’s about a girl that isn’t popular until she starts lying and bragging about sexual encounters with her classmates that she starts gaining attention. In an obvious reference to The Scarlet Letter she sew’s a large red ‘A’ on her clothing as she’s now become the school tramp. This movie is funnier, smarter, and more sincere than you could possibly imagine by the description or the trailer. See it.

7. The Game – I don’t think I’d ever seen a movie starring Michael Douglas until I rented The Game on a whim. This movie completely blew my mind. If you don’t know anything about it, I suspect it will do the same for you. See this now.

8. Catfish – Last year when The Social Network came out and gained lots of critical acclaim and success this other movie about facebook came out. Catfish. It is bizarre, scary, and fun. It’s best you have little expectation going into this movie but I promise you, it is fascinating.

9. Footloose – a movie about dancing….THAT IS AWESOME. I would never have expected like this, but it was a joy from opening to closing credits. It makes me want to angry-dance in a warehouse.

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