In 2011, my goal is to see 66 movies I had never seen before the year began.  The start was optimism-inspiring for the potential to surpass the goal.  In January and February I saw a combined 11 films, putting me right on track.  I hit 18 movies by the end of March, putting me on average of 6 movies per month. That puts me on pace to hit 72 movies this year, but I try not to assume too much before June is halfway through, and at that point I might reconsider my goal of 66.

Below is a list of the films I’ve seen in the month of April and my corresponding review of each film.  Following those reviews is a list of potential superlative nominations from those films for various categories along the lines of what you might see in the Academy Awards and such.

With no further ado, here are the reviews for the seven films I saw in April which I had never seen prior to the start of 2011.

19. True Grit (old version)

Given the Oscar buzz surrounding the remake, I was enthusiastic when I saw that AMC was showing the original version of True Grit, so I set my TiVo and anxiously waited. I’m not a huge fan of westerns, though I have enjoyed a few of them, but True Grit isn’t on that list. I know John Wayne is a film legend, but I found his acting for most of this movie to be underwhelming.
The Bottom Line: The story was interesting enough, but I’m sure the remake is going to be more enjoyable.

20. It’s Kind of A Funny Story

This is the reason I watch previews when I rent DVDs, especially when the DVDs I rent are lesser known films. That’s how I found out about this little gem, and I’m glad it didn’t escape me too long. Zach Galifianakis showed more of his range in this film, which I really appreciate from actors who rise to stardom in comedies. Emma Roberts wasn’t pushing the limits of her talents, but she was probably the perfect person for her role. Keir Gilchrist doesn’t shine in the lead role, but he took a somewhat challenging part and did an acceptable job. The story was feasible enough, though half of the deleted scenes would’ve helped bring it more into the realm of believability.
The Bottom Line: As a coming of age film, it’s above average, though certainly not great.

21. The Romantics

Another indy flick I found out about while watching DVD previews, and for a film which didn’t get a major studio release, there are plenty of good actors in this one (Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Candice Bergan, Josh Duhmel, Malin Ackerman and Dianna Agron). The premise is decent enough, a group of friends reunited for a wedding featuring two of their own… the groom a former long-time boyfriend of another member of the group). The resulting film was above average, but just slightly so. It doesn’t feel like a wasted evening, but I feel like the movie could’ve been better – which makes their efforts feel slightly wasted. Maybe if the cinematography had been better – something I don’t usually notice, but it was frustratingly inconsistent in this film – it would’ve felt like a better movie.
The Bottom Line: If you like good plot exposition and strong characters and aren’t afraid to take a chance on a film you might find slightly tedious at times, this would work.

22. X-Files: I Want To Believe

I wasn’t an X-Files fanatic growing up, but I did enjoy the dozens of episodes I did see. While I was let down by the first movie they released, I was cautiously optimistic about this second X-Files film. I heard some negative reviews, so I wasn’t expecting much, so I wasn’t too let down when it delivered on a lot of the things I had heard about it. All in all it was a decent mystery and gave us some more character development (and potentially closure?) on two characters I enjoyed watching over a decade ago.
The Bottom Line: If you liked X-Files, you’ll probably think this is a decent film. If you loved X-Files, you’ll probably hate it. If you’ve never seen the X-Files television show before, you should probably ditch this film until you’ve at least seen seasons 1 and 2.

23. Trading Places

There are certain classic films which I’ve somehow managed to avoid all these years despite them having mass appeal, and this was one of them. The plot was entertaining and mostly believable, and unlike some of their other work that I’ve considered over-rated, both Dan Aykroid and Eddie Murphy were very entertaining in this. I thought Jamie Lee Curtis was alright in her role, though there wasn’t a ton of meat in it. This won’t rank too high in my list of favorite comedies of all time, but it’ll get decent representation.
The Bottom Line: I won’t be watching it again, though I’m glad I saw it at least once. If you haven’t seen it before, I’d recommend you checking it out.

24. Weird Science

Despite really enjoying the television series it spawned back in the 90’s, I’ve somehow gone 15 years after watching the small screen version without watching the movie – which I always knew existed! John Hughes is certainly a film-making genius, and although some of the 1985 fashion and references are certainly dated, it didn’t take away much from the film as a whole. Kelly LeBrock was hot, Anthony Michael Hall and Robert Downey Jr were funny, but Bill Paxton had such an absurd character that he was certainly the highlight of the film. Alright, I lied, that has to go to Kelly LeBrock, but Bill Paxton is easily second place.
The Bottom Line: If you’ve never seen Weird Science, I’d consider it just as much of a classic as Trading Places… and if you could only see one of them… I’d need to know more about you to decide which to recommend, but as for me, I’ll go with Weird Science.

25. SALT

This one’s hard to review without giving away too many plot points, but I will say that the story is maybe a bit too convoluted, and they made some questionable/regrettable storyline choices along the way. The acting was decent, and the action was good. Not an unenjoyable time, but a bit underwhelming or disappointing based on my expectations going into the film.
The Bottom Line: Decent action film which is mostly enjoyable.

26. Jonah Hex

There was quite a bit of fanfare for this one when it was making its way into the theaters. Being a fan of decent comic book movies, I was interested. I had never read the Jonah Hex stories, but if it was good enough to make a movie of the character, it must’ve been an interesting one, right? After watching the film, I do have interest in the character, but not enough to buy a copy of the DVD to have in my personal collection. Turns out that all the hype this movie had going for it was based on Josh Brolin and Megan Fox being involved, not due to any sort of quality the film had – not from its story, anyway. Some of the special effects were good, as well as the action, but that’s about all the good stuff I can say about this film.
The Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of Megan Fox, check out this film. If you’re on a quest to see comic book movies, see this film. All others look elsewhere.

27. Punisher: War Zone

When the predecessor was panned by critics, I was disappointed. I thought the 80’s throwback flick with Thomas Jane was exciting and gritty and the only part of it I didn’t like was John Travolta. Marvel decided to do a reboot, this time with the grittier Ray Stevenson as the arsenal-collecting anti-hero, I was cautiously optimistic. What I found with War Zone was  a film containing tons of graphic violence, but little else. Stevenson’s portrayal of Frank Castle wasn’t any better than Thomas Jane did a few years prior, the graphic kills didn’t add much to the enjoyability, and although I didn’t think it was possible, the Jigsaw character by Dominic West was harder to watch than John Travolta as Howard Saint in the predecessor.
The Bottom Line: If you enjoy bad movies with tons of violence, you might think this is entertaining, but Marvel’s going to either need another reboot, or they should just ditch the character as the center point of future films.

28. Cop Out

I wasn’t expecting a ton from this movie, and I was almost pleasantly surprised. It was enjoyable enough for a lazy afternoon, and Tracy Morgan didn’t annoy me like I thought he might. Sometimes with Kevin Smith behind the scenes things can get a little raunchy, but that wasn’t really the case in this one.
The Bottom Line: Decent movie, though I can understand why Kevin Smith fanatics didn’t go crazy over it.

29. Tourist

Yet again a movie with plenty of good reviews falls flat in my eyes. Again Angelina Jolie stars in a film I saw in April which is hard to review for reasons I can’t fully explain. The movie starts building an interesting mystery, and although the performances by Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie and Paul Bettany are all decent, the setting (Venice, Italy) is the only thing that stands out in The Tourist. There are a couple of plot turns which I felt like I was forcing myself to sit through, and the ending was slightly off-putting for several reasons… and not just the final outcome – but the way it evolved in the final couple of scenes.
The Bottom Line: The first viewing was an okay ride, but I’m sure that subsequent viewings would be significantly less enjoyable.

Potential 2011 Nominees from these 11 films:

Potential Best Supporting Actor – Zach Galifianakis (IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY)

Disappointing Film Nominee – True Grit

Disappointing Film Nominee – Punisher: War Zone

Potential Worst Film Nominee – Jonah Hex

Potential Worst Film Nominee – Punisher: War Zone

On Deck For May and June:

Mystery Team
Pink Panther 2
88 Minutes
Alice in Wonderland
Batman: Under the Red Hood
Easy A

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