EDIT: I have changed some ratings for consistency as I have reviewed more movies.
My takes on the major movies of 2009 that I watched. The list is in chronological order by release dates.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (January 2009)
Pretty epic comedy: a simple cop realizes he must save an entire mall. The real comedy however comes from the general gamut of 21st century technologies used in the film. For instance, a Segway carries Blart around the mall, and cell phones and GPS systems play key roles in the plot’s unfolding. The Internet is also prominent. However, the film still makes great use of traditional comedy: at a crucial moment a bottle of hot sauce is of extreme importance. Overall, it is great, but it is a comedy; as such, it serves no purpose but to entertain.
Coraline (February 2009)
My sister read the book, and really wanted to see the movie; I’ll let the reader infer the rest of that. Anyways, it is a stop-motion film, something I did not and still do not like. It was very jumpy. The plot, of the movie and book, is neat, and that was the most attractive part of the movie: a girl finds that a door in her house leads to an alternate reality that is both comforting and terrifying. I know the movie won numerous awards and was critically acclaimed, but I did not find anything extraordinarily special in it.
Echelon Conspiracy (February 2009)
The film begins in a remarkable fashion with the mysterious and apparently omniscient mobile phone, but the movie then evolves to become more commonplace and seemingly contrived as it progresses. Basically, it is about a massive program that becomes self-aware. It is interesting from the philosophical perspective, but other than that, I would not watch the movie more than once.
Watchmen (March 2009)
A brilliant movie. It is based off a comic by the same name, and is absolutely stunning. The opening scene plus opening credits contextualize the film into an alternate superhero timeline in the Cold War. The information builds gradually via flashbacks while the plot itself develops during a mysterious investigation of a murder that occurs at the very beginning. Music, while normally adding minor emotional or dramatic effect, is carefully chosen for this movie and hits the audience with extraordinary impact. However, the real impact comes from a devastating plot twist that brings to the alternate world cataclysmic consequences. Overall, this is a very unique and exceedingly powerful film.
Knowing (March 2009)
Literally about knowing (the future). A professor’s son receives from his elementary school’s time capsule from 50 years before a strange sheet of paper covered fully with numbers. These numbers are found to predict major disasters along with their death tolls, times, and locations. Again, the movie had a captivating start but exhausted itself over time—the ending was particularly lackluster.
Angels and Demons (May 2009)
While many who watched this considered it a bad movie, I found in it much merit. The movie had nice music and sweeping views of various locations of the Vatican City, while the plot, which was of course based on the book, was for the most part compelling. The relationship between science and religion is a thematic point of interest.
Terminator Salvation (May 2009)
By far the worst of the Terminator movies—I’ve watched the first three. However, it would not be fair to judge these together, as even though Salvation shares the same world, it is of a different style. But even judged independently, the film is very predictable and the plot seems extremely contrived. The barren, gritty environment is unconvincing.
Drag Me to Hell (May 2009)
An outstanding horror movie. It is convincing, funny, scary, unpredictable, entertaining, and intriguing. A gypsy curse causes the afflicted to see demons, and be dragged, after the curse progresses for three days, into Hell. The plot is pure delight (or should I say, terror?).
Up (May 2009)
No doubt a good movie; I must point out that it is slightly ironic just looking at the titles that this film opened the same weekend as Drag Me to Hell. Up is an adventure involving a house uplifted by thousands of balloons. While its overall reception is greatly positive, I found many stretches of the movie to be boring.
Inglourious Basterds (August 2009)
Simply an amazing film. It takes place in an alternate-history WWII, in which an American-led group try to kill as many Nazis as possible and a (secretly Jewish) cinema-owner plots to murder high-ranking Nazi officials in a premier in her theater. SPOILER ALERT. The only problem I saw was that the Basterds themselves seemed unnecessary due to Shosanna. Overall, however, it is full of action, full of comedy, and full of fun.
2012 (November 2009)
A disaster movie, obviously, containing both fast-paced action and, of course, more fast-paced action, combined with some breathtaking visuals. It is another end-of-the-world film. The plot development was seriously lacking; however, the superficial effects mostly made up for any serious deficiencies.
Avatar (December 2009)
Brilliant in nearly every aspect—however, the plot is simply too predictable. Yet that vice alone barely detracts from the work, so I take away just one point. The film is basically about human-alien interaction. Another outstanding one by Cameron.
Sherlock Holmes (December 2009)
The wittiest film of the year. The combination of genius detective and martial arts expert, plus a good dose of English humor, makes this movie a perfect score. The title should give a general idea about the plot.
Overall, I gave two films a perfect score: Watchmen and Sherlock Holmes. For me, Watchmen is the best film of 2009.
[For 3 more 2009 film reviews, see Movies of 2009, Cont'd.]