I watched a lot of films to put together my best of 2012 lists. There’s only so much time in the day to spend with these features and still be able to function in the real world. As such, I’m condensing a bunch of the films into shorter capsule reviews. If I don’t act fast, my notes won’t make sense anymore. Better to give a short and accurate review than pad each film to a longer review as the memory quickly fades to gray.
Plot: A group of friends are abducted just outside of a gas station for a twisted medical experiment. They have been implanted with viles in the back of their skulls that collect the chemicals produced during intense pain. They have only a few hours to fill every vile and the only way to do it is to torture each other.
Thoughts: Vile manages to have a lot of heart for a film with such a grotesque concept. The actors really commit to their various roles, especially McKenzie Westmore as a traveling perfume saleswoman. The problem is that the level of gore and suffering in the film is not balanced at all by the concept. Vile is well-executed but ultimately unfulfilling.
Plot: Three best friends are reunited on the occasion of their fourth friend’s wedding. The three friends are terrible, destructive human beings who humiliate the bride at her bachelorette party and then destroy her dress while making fun of her weight. They have only a few hours to make everything right for their friend’s big day.
Thoughts: Bachelorette is a very mean-spirited film. Writer/director Leslye Headland adapts her own stageplay into a very bitter and nasty concoction of terrible people misbehaving. The cast puts in very strong performances–especially Rebel Wilson as Becky, the bride, and Lizzy Caplan as Gena, the damaged junkie–but watching the film is just a bad experience. These characters show no remorse for their terrible actions and actually revel in the chaos dthey create. Their only reason for acting at all is fear of finally getting in trouble for a lifetime of terrible behavior. That’s not a very welcoming story.
Plot: Merida, a princess, is forced to chose between three potential suitors by her mother, the queen. Merida breaks tradition and rides into the forest for some time to think. Will-o’-the-wisps lead her to a witch who promises she can cast a spell that will change Merida’s fate.
Thoughts: Brave has a beautiful screenplay and excellent voice acting. The quality and realism of the animation is admirable. The big problem is that the animation is at odds with itself. The backgrounds and props are photo-realistic while the actual characters look like they were pulled straight out of a low budget Saturday morning cartoon. The look of the people (and that horse that makes My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic look like Seabiscuit) is a huge distraction to a very strong and important story. They move like real living beings but look like Sunday morning comics.