Film A Week- Week 3: Peter Pan (1953)

J.M. Barrie’s play turned novel, Peter Pan, is synonymous with childhood imagination combining the elements of swashbuckling  pirate tales, battles with Indians, and a mythical place were youth forever reigns and no one ever grows up.  Their have been countless iterations of the classic in the form of musical theatre (made famous by the gorgeous Mary Martin) to the small screen in the form of Fox Kid’s Peter Pan and the Pirates and the miniseries Neverland. The silver screen has had its fair share of adaptations as well with the first adaptation under Paramount Picture in 1924 as a silent feature, the cult classic sequel directed by Steven Spielberg, Hook, with Robin Williams as an older Peter Pan revisiting Neverland to save his children from the nefarious Captain Hook and the live action adaptation in 2003 by Universal Pictures (which I will get to later in this review). The most famous version of the character’s daring adventures is from the studio that is also synonymous with childhood, Walt Disney Animation Studios. Sixty years have passed since its initial release in 1953 and still remains the definitive film version of the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan.

PeterPan

Peter Pan, if you do not know by now, tells the tale of three children from the Darling family, Wendy (the beautiful Disney starlet Kathryn Beaumont), John (Paul Collins), and Michael (Tommy Luske) who are whisked away by Peter Pan (Bobby Driscoll) to the world of Neverland to engage in helping save the Princess Tiger Lilly (Corinne Orr), fending off Captain Hook (Hans Conreid) and his bumbling sidekick Mr. Smee (Disney mainstay Bill Thompson), and of course saving the day with the Lost Boys, sadly not the ones you are thinking about. Since the plot and story is so well known, I decided to forgo actually detailing the plot to give my personal take on it.  Peter Pan is a film that doesn’t really have a true plot or story line. The film is essentially an adventure built on the foundation of imagination and can be whatever the viewer interprets. To myself personally, it is a beautiful coming of age story about being a kid at heart hidden in disguise that is hinted at greatly. Bare with me, this might go into some odd territory.

In the beginning, Wendy’s father, George Darling (also voiced by Hans Conreid, due to the actor playing the dad also playing Captain Hook), says that she needs to grow up and stop with her wild stories as it is her last night in the nursery. Wendy is of course broken up by this, until Peter Pan arrives and decides to take her away with him to the place where she can never grew up. Peter Pan acts as a guardian angel to her always looking down on her and she strongly believes in. She was taken to Neverland to be the appreciate the wonders of imagination and what surrounds her. Peter reveals later on he brought Wendy to be a mother of the Lost Boys, but that is a bit of a grown up thing to due. Wendy manages to balance this with ease and realizes that you can still be grown up while still appreciating the things that are considered younger. By the end of the film, Wendy and the boys come back and the father notices a pirate ship and remembers the magic he felt as a boy and truly understands that even at his age, he can relive those memories as an adult. George essentially gets taught the same lesson Wendy has learned in her travels. Peter Pan may be the titular character, but Wendy is the main focus in my opinion. Then again, I might be over analyzing a story intended for children.

With that perspective film out of the way, what do I actually think of the film? While I do think it is a fun and light-hearted adventure from the Disney animated canon, it certainly is not one of my all time favorites. Peter Pan seems to suffer the same fate as Alice in Wonderland before it. Alice in Wonderland is a series of small vignettes and stories that are just collided together to form one true plot that is ultimately never truly explained or goes anywhere. Alice was a coming of age story as well and featured Kathryn Beaumont as the title role, but Peter Pan does it a tad bit better by actually giving Wendy some depth and emotion which Alice had very little of. The reason works more is that it manages to use its ‘slice of life’ style to its advantage and not confusing half the people watching it, which if you asked anyone exactly what Alice was about, they would possibly spend the next two minutes trying to figure it out. 

The other place Peter Pan succeeds in is the characters personalities and the fantastic songs that do not seem forced and move the story along. Wendy is a young girl trying to be stern but cannot help being stuck between childhood and adolescence with Kathryn Beautmont’s performance really on the forefront. John is the smart sensible brother trying to figure out how to carry about himself and tries to see if he can be brave, which he achieves  Michael is still young and curious about the world as sees everything as a true wonder as an expy for the younger audiences enjoying this. Captain Hook is a brilliant selfish man child that seems to have just come across pirate clothes and going along for the ride a performed with hilarity by Hans Conried. The titular character of Peter Pan is just a mischievous youth at heart and the spirit of adventure rolled into one and Bobby Driscoll’s voice suits the character with boyish charm and jerkassery (I do not think that is a word, but I am going to use it). The other performances are pretty good themselves with Bill Thompson’s Smee coming out on top being naive and carefree compared to Hook’s selfishness.

The animation in the film is flawless with with rich vibrant colors and imaginative designs of Neverland and the residents from the unique costumes of the Lost Boys, the gorgeous design of Tinkerbell, and delivering the memorable flight in the night sky as Peter and the Darlings soar high above London with the classic ‘You Can Fly’ playing setting the mood for what is yet to come. The music by Sammy Cahn and Olivier Wallace is hit and miss. For every marvelous song like ‘The Second Star to the Right’, you get the annoying ‘Follow the Leader’ and for every joyful ‘You Can Fly!’, you get the highly racist and stereotypical ‘What Makes the Red Man Red’. Re-watching that sequence was cringe worthy with the Indians chanting around the fire and contemplating what makes them red like no one else, revealing it is the lust of women.  Supervising animator Marc Davis who worked on this feature has been quoted as saying about the scene “I’m not sure we would have done the Indians if we were making this movie now and if we had, we wouldn’t do them the way we did back then.” I agree with Davis wholeheartedly.

Peter Pan legacy has continued on for sixty years to provide a rich series of adventure and fantasy, even if it can be a bit shallow at times. Peter Pan is an escapist film at best and a delightful part of the Disney history. Even better, another Peter Pan is celebrating an anniversary as well.

Fifty years after the Disney adaptation came the live-action by Universal Pictures also tiled Peter Pan. This film would probably not have even came to be if not for the Disney take on it. It is bright and vibrant just as the 1953 version, but delivers dark moments as well. This adaptation of the story is not so bad either and provides the same joy I got out of the other feature. The performances in here are quite wonderful with Jason Issacs being top notch as Captain Hook and Jeremy Supter’s Peter Pan being just as much as the charismatic brat like before. It is also escapist cinema, but routed more towards J.M. Barrie’s original without having to deal with songs and catering to a smaller audiences. 2003’s Peter Pan seemed like quite the risk to take and the fact Universal managed to do it without killing themselves over it is wonderful. The tagline of this film was  ‘The timeless story as you never seen it before’ and as a kid watching in the theater, it blew me away. I have seen Hookwhich I love deeply, but Peter Pan manage to capture the essence of the story with a tight script and stellar direction by P.J. Hogan. As for Hook, it is one of the best sequels to Peter Pan and is an overlooked gem even being superior to the forgettable yet not-as-bad-as-you-think Return to Neverland. Anywho, I think I am over staying my welcome with Peter Pan and now to leave it to continue on delighting the world for another sixty years.

Next time, we stray away from films I have seen and enjoyed into the uncharted waters of my IMDB watchlist to experience classics I have never seen, films the readers probably have never even heard of, and films that are considered some of the worst. So what film id I decided to start with? Let’s step into the director’s chair with the Academy Award winner for The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow, and look at one of her renowned classics in her catalogue of films: Point Break

Film A Week- Week 4: Point Break (1991)
Friday, February 1st/Saturday, February 2nd

 

 

 

Stinger of the Week

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Film a Week- Week 2: Attack the Block (2011)

The coming of age story, a classic Hollywood plot that makes the target audience connect and deal with what is to come. It also makes those of older generations become nostalgic for their days of youth and the wonders they discovered. Sometimes these times are handled with emotions, courageous adventures, and the bonds they create. Be it through discovering a dead body a la Stand By Me, going to find treasure to stop demolition of a neighborhood like the titular characters of The Goonies, or even a group being rebellious hoods who happen to witness an alien invasion while mugging a woman. Go home, lock your doors, do your homework, and watch Naruto because the block is under attack.

2011’s cult classic science fiction horror comedy, Attack the Block, directed by Joe Cornish, tells the story of young hoods in South London get caught up in stopping an alien invasion that seems to only be invading the block (apartment complex to us Americans) in which they reside in. With clever humor, beyond stunning cinematography, stellar young performances, and throwbacks to films of the 80’s, this film might be the shot in the arm the science fiction comedy genre needs.

On Guy Fawkes Night (famous outside of England due to V for Vendetta), a woman by the name of Sam (Jodie Whitaker) walks towards into  ‘The Ends’ when she approached by five young boys named Biggz (Simon Howard), Jerome (Leeon Jones), Pest (Alex Esmail), Young Den aka Dennis (Franz Drameh), and Moses (John Boyega) attempting to mug her. As this happens, a comet crash lands on top of a car and all of them get in a fright as Sam runs away from the hoodlum. Moses investigates and is attacked by the creature, chases it down alongside his pals, and beat it to death. After their triumph, they head to Ron’s (Nick Frost) weed room at their tower block to hide the mysterious creature as dozens more comet cocoons fall from the sky. Moses tells Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter), an infamous drug dealer who ‘runs’ the block to work out a deal to hide the now identified by  alien and are introduced to Ron’s number one customer Brewis (Luke Treadaway), who is getting high and watching nature programmes. The gang finally realize an alien invasion is underway and decide to take it on with swords, baseball bats, fists, fireworks and pure hoodlum antics.

While seeking out the aliens, they finally see their true form as a pure black fur gorilla-sized creature with sharp neon blue fangs. Moses and the boys continue their investigation as Moses is arrested thanks to Sam alerting the police. In the police wagon, an alien begins to attack and kills the police officers as Sam screams for help. Moses saves her, alongside the entire gang showing up, and escape towards the tower block crashing into the beloved car of Hi-Hatz. The gang and Sam are held up at gunpoint as Pest tries to explain the whole situation. Hi-Hatz does not believe it and sends his pal to see if it is true, only for him to wind up getting eaten. Witnessing the alien attack, the gang escapes Hi-Hatz’s foolishness to the tower block and the outskirts of the block where Biggz hides out inside a trash container for most of the feature in a fright. Pest is bitten and the gang tries to convince Sam to help him out due to figuring out she was a nurse during the mugging. Sam retaliates at first due to their behavior, but seeing as there are much scarier things out there than them, decides to join the crew with a kitchen knife in hand. An alien crashes in with Moses deal with it with a katana. The gang heads out to Tia’s (Danelle Vitalis) place and catch up with Dimples (Paige Meade), a young girl who has history with the boys. Aliens decide to break in and kill Dennis with his head bouncing around the room like a pinball. Sam saves Moses from one of the aliens and they all decide to head to Ron’s after being kicked out for causing a commotion as they want Moses.

While headed up to Ron’s, Hi-Hatz return to kill the gang with more friend but the aliens get a hold ready for the attack but the gang leaves for the aliens to get to Hi-Hatz and his men in the elevator. Brewis tries to head out of Ron’s when he comes across Hi-Hatz covered in blood in a blood-soaked elevator after killing the aliens with his friend dead on the floor. The gang head into the hallway soon after and begin to mess with the aliens with fireworks to clear away. Sadly Jerome is killed by one in the smoke. The gang heads to Ron’s room only to find Hi-Hatz again ready to take them down. Luckily for them, aliens decide to crash the party and give Hi-Hatz his comeuppance he so rightfully deserve. Hiding out in the weed room, Moses and Brewis discover that the alien residue left on Moses (visible via UV lights) is attracting the being to him a la pheromones unleashed by female aliens to attract the males to come from the far reaches of space to mate. The moral of the story here is that (even though I do not do drugs or advocate drug use beyond marijuana) getting high and watching nature programmes is probably very helpful in life threatening situations. While this happens, Biggz is saved by two young wannabe hoods, Probs (Sammy Williams) and Mayhem (Michael Ajao) with Super Soakers filled with gasoline and lighting the son of a bitch on fire. Spoiler: It is as awesome and hilarious as it sounds. Back at the block, Moses and Sam hatch a plan to defeat the ‘beasts of the galactic wild’ by having Sam turn on all the gas in Moses’ flat, toss the body of the female into the room, and blow them up with fireworks. The plan goes perfectly well and Moses’ survives by hanging on the Union Jack.  The end is bittersweet as Moses, Ron, Brewis and Pest are arrested while Biggz remains free. The police approach Sam to say if they were the attackers but instead defends them as the residents of the block shouts Moses’ name with Pest saying ‘You hear that? That’s for you”.

Fortunately, not much was given in the way of comedy in the synopsis as this is a film that relies on it greatly and excels with it. Attack the Block is  a personal favorite film of mine and a truly ambitious venture in science packed with humor and horrific moments. The direction by Joe Cornish is stunning with terrific uses of bright color against the bland and dead looking tower block walls. The design of the creatures is original and having them be near pitch black is terrifying beyond belief. The performances by the young actors are stellar with John Boyega’s heartfelt and intense performance as the courageous Moses and the hilarious Alex Esmail as Pest. The score of the film by Basement Jaxx, famous for ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ stateside, is a straight throwback to the Carpenter scores of the late 70’s and 80’s filled with tracks that won’t leave your head. The comedic aspects are funny when they need to be and do not feel forced what so ever. The boys having to grow as heroes in the face of danger is brillant as they must face themselves to see if being bad is actually worth being the entire time and must grow up. Overall, Attack the Block is a fun diversion that is smart and dares to take risks in the genre while delivering one hell of a coming of age story. Not too bad for an alien invasion film, I should say.

Next week, we head to the world where childhood never fades away filled with pirates, mermaids, and boys lost in time.
Prepare to think happy thoughts and fly to the second star to the right.

We are off to Neverland with Peter Pan to celebrate its 60th Anniversary.
PeterPan
Film A Week- Week 3: Peter Pan

January 25th/26th

The Top 12 Best Films of 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild - 6

2012 was a very weak year for cinema, perhaps one of the weakest in recent memories. With the extrodinary year that was 2011, 2012 seemed like quite  the disappointment. Few game changers were around and everywhere one looked was something that has already been done before, failed to live up to expectations, or a remake of some property no one cared about. Luckily, those few moments of excitement and draws came in the form of people willing to take risks and deliver experience in the cinema worth being reminded of for years to come. Heroes clashed and villains lost. Lives were changed and history was celebrated. Twists were turn on the old and the old become new once again. 2012 may have had little ambition, but still brought out standouts. These standouts make up my personal list of the twelve best films of 2012.

12. Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino is a master in the cinema world with a unique style and blend of drama and humor and Django Unchained continues the tradition despite being one of Tarantino’s lesser efforts. Django is packed with magnificent Spagetthi Western thrills and a dazzling performances by Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, and Leonardo DiCaprio (one of the biggest snubs in recent memory). The lowest point of the film is how it suffers a problem with pace throughout and feels padded. Django still shines with the traits one expects from Tarantino and entertains throughout.

11. The Avengers

Joss Whedon helming The Avengers was thought to be a brillant idea from the start and after this film, it seems everyone was in fact right. Avengers is a popcorn flick done right with Whedon’s carefully crafted love for the characters and giving the audience a connection to each Avenger. Robert Downey, Jr. and Mark Ruffalo light up the screen in their respective roles and a presentation that please just about everyone. The film is one of the best ensemble films and delivers on its promise of bringing our favorite heroes together for one epic showdown.

10. Frankenweenie

Tim Burton had one of the biggest low lights of the year with the abysmal Dark Shadows, yet in the same year came back with a direct return to his roots with Frankenweenie. Burton creates a charming world filled with heart and emotion paying tribute to the classics of horror and establishing the strong bond of a boy and his dog. The animation is beautiful relying on classic stopmotion and wonderfully werid designs for a unique cast of characters. Too bad it was considered a flop because it was the biggest animation surprise of the year.

9. The Dark Knight Rises

The grand finale in Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is a stunning conclusion to the already captivating story of Batman. The continuation of the legend goes from being a crime thriller like the film before it to a heartstopping tale of reassurance and if one can truly continue on dealing with becoming what the people need. Christian Bale carries it beautifully alongside Anne Hathaway’s turn as Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as possibly the future hope for Gotham. Few trilogies end with such a sendoff and, fortunately, this was one of them.

8. The Cabin in the Woods

Being delayed for two years, The Cabin in the Woods was worth the wait indeed. Taking the tired genre of horror in general and parodying it with ease and perfection by changing the rules and paying homages to the past. TVTropes would be envious as it hits all the marks we love from horror and comedically using it to their advantage. I really would not like to give much away since it is something one should experience for themselves. One spoiler though: When you see a unicorn, prepare for one scene you won’t forget.

7. Argo

As controversy ahound due to the film’s portrayal of Iran, Argo is still one intense thriller with some light hearted moments as well. Affleck takes double duty as director and star as Tony Mendez teaming with Hollywood players and Canada to create a fake film entitled Argo to save escapees hiding out from the Iranian Hostage Crisis. With compelling performances by Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck and not shying away from the terrifying nature of the crisis, Argo winds up a winner and strong contender for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

6. Ruby Sparks

(500) Days of Summer meets The Twilight Zone with one of the best scripts of the year due to Ruby Sparks herself Zoe Kazan writing it. A dazzling satire on the modern romantic comedy and a even darker deconstruction of the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ stereotype that is daring to make the sweet moments of the film bittersweet, but still delivers on comedy and stellar performances. Kazan’s real life boyfriend Paul Dano is delightful and Kazan herself is beyond gorgeous with a amazing manic pixie girl attitude making the chemistry and film on a whole much more believable.

5. Looper

Time travel never ceases to amaze the cinema world and with this original take on the genre manages to create a confusing yet intriguing tale that welds telekentics and neo noir thrills. Looper dares to create a gritty underworld and takes its premise that was already interesting a deliver a even better plot then the trailers world have you believe. Director Rian Johnson visual style is near pefection and hits every note with Joseph Gordon Levitt playing a hardass with tender love and care giving us an antihero worth rooting for.

4. Dredd

Every reboot is always a huge undertaking especially if the first time around failed to live up to expectations and become a farce. Dredd erases he memories of the joke that was Slyvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd wih a compelling character study of Dredd and his rookie Anderson while wrapped in a hardcore slick action film. The visuals is truly what sells the film with an innovative use of slow motion and rich vibrant colors captivating the scens ultilizing it. The cinematography is one of the most impressive of any action film in the past years and Karl Urban’s take on Dredd is stupendous with Olivia Thirlby getting time to shine as well. As I mentioned in my previous review of this film, this movie is nothing to dread.

3. Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson’s trademark quirkiness comes back to deliver a wonderful and insightful look at young love, lost love, and a love that is falling apart with Moonrise Kingdom. The film excels in not being something more than what it is and tells the tale of two young pen pal lovers with the humor Anderson loves to give his audience. The performance by young first timers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman are stunning and Bruce Willis gives a brokenheart lovelorn performance that is some of his best in ages. Wes Anderson makes on of his most adorable yet bittersweet film yet and it is a winner.

2. Skyfall

After doing my 007 in 23: 23 Days of Bond series, I grew a strong appreciation for the man with the license to kill and saw the growth of the franchise’s life in film from its high and lows. Skyfall continues to make the franchise reach new heights blending the modern Bond and the classic Bond tropes with thrilling moments of suspense and exciting action the series is famous for. Daniel Craig is the best Bond he can be with Judi Dench giving her best performance as M out of her time with the franchise and Javier Bardem’s chilling flamboyant Mr. Silver is a worthy addition to the growing list of best Bond villians. The cinematography of Roger Deakins and direction by Sam Mendes make Skyfall the most gorgeous looking film of the series to date. Even for non-Bond fans, the film will entertain and delight giving a fitting anniversary present Bond needed.

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild is exactly what filmmaking is all about creating a believable post-apocalyptic fantasy world, utilizing actors who probably never acted before to show true emotion, gorgeous visuals that mesmerize the viewer, and a story of of a Hayao Miyazaki film. Beasts goes above and beyond giving a dazzling view at Hushpuppy, played to perfection by newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, as she struggles to live in The Bathtub alongside her father to find her mother all while wild beasts come to life from the life. The leaps and bounds the film takes are something to witness creating a realistic if nearly abusive relationship between a daughter and her father and shows her imagination. Beasts is my pick of the year for being a all around miracle of a film and I will be rooting for this on Oscar night alongside Argo.

With all that said, let’s hope for a magnificent 2013 in the cinema world and hope it doesn’t disappoint.

007 in 23: SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT- Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT- Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012)

Isn’t always funny how you can find more for the series you have done long after it is finished? This is one of those cases as I seemed to have missed this along the way. No surprise since I was only doing the official 23 EON films, but I feel that Everything or Nothing is worth a look for any Bond fans, cinephiles, or new fans.

This documentary talks about the creation of Bond and the struggle to bring him on screen and the aftermath dealing with all the Bond actors and how the character could live on. It is interesting that it manages to detail all this information in under two hours showing Ian Fleming’s involvement to bring Bond to the screen to see his creation come to life. Fleming seems to always think of Bond as a cinematic character and worked to achieve that dream. As a newcomer to the franchise, I was enthralled to learn the in and outs and to see the work Cubby Broccoli and his colleague Harry Saltzman did to keep production going and even naming their production coming EON as an acronym for Everything or Nothing, a motto Broccoli and Saltzman lived by to risk James Bond being the franchise giant it is.

The interviews with the countless Bond actors and crew is a delight as well from George Lazenby talking about his utter foolishness when making On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to Pierce Brosnan ripping on his own set of films that aren’t GoldenEye (Quote about Die Another Day: “Kite surfing? The bloody hell, we are kite surfing!” *laughs hysterically*). The documentary also shows the behind the scens of Kevin McClory’s lawsuit over the rights to Thunderball making him the Big Bad of the feature as he went of his way to ruin the Bond franchise since the incident. Luckily, EON stopped him from doing so, but long after McClory remade Thunderball in the form of Never Say Never Again with Connery back as Bond. On an interesting note, Sean Connery doesn’t appear as he is retired so they rely on archival clips and interviews to show his views on the series and his longtime battle against Harry Saltzman. The oddest part of this documentary is the random interview with Former President Bill Clinton for insight on the series stating James Bond is a man every president wants to be (and judging by Clinton’s career, he was pretty damn close at being just that). One other thing I enjoyed about it is using the footage of James Bond features to show how Fleming and the behind the scenes worked making all our favorite villains seem to represent the executives.

I really didn’t want to give much away about what this documentary details since I want those reading this to go watch for themselves. Everything or Nothing provides everything you need to know about the franchise and nothing gets overlooked due to focusing on its subject matter quite well with insights of the good and the bad. I strongly recommend this one to rent and, if you have Netflix, it is streaming right now for your pleasure.

Film a Week- Week 1: Back to the Future Part II (1989)

Welcome to the first post of Film a Week, a series dedicated to focusing on one film every week for an entire year. These films will range from new features, classics I have never seen before, and films you have probably never even heard about. From the greats to the worst, the spotlight is open to any film I feast my eye on and share with the rest of you all.

Now that the small introduction is all said and done with, time to kick off the New Year by looking forward two years into the future while going back to the past. “Impossible!” some might say unless that someone is Marty McFly.

1989’s Back to the Future: Part II, directed by Robert Zemeckis, reunites the classic duo of Marty (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) on an adventure across time and alternative universes all due to Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) stealing a sports almanac. Despite the ridiculous premise, it manages to retain the humor and heart of the original even if it is dated by today’s standard.

The film picks up directly were the original left off by recreating the original scene to introduce Elizabeth Shue as the replacement of actress Claudia Wells’s role as Jennifer due to personal life taking over. Doc Brown informs Marty and Jennifer that there is a problem in the future with their children leading Marty and Jennifer to go off into the year 2015. Upon arrival, the Hill Valley of 2015 is filled with flying cars, holographic advertisements, and styles that are so ridiculous, Lady Gaga herself would scoff at them. Doc tells Marty to head the Cafe 80’s to meet his son and replace him to save face while leaving Jennifer to sleep in an alley (What the hell, Doc?). Marty goes into the most dated cafe put to film and sees his wimpy son get knocked on his ass by Biff’s grandson, Griff, which must have taken the writers all day to come up with such an original name. Marty replaces his son to fight Griff and engages in a chase with the second greatest fictional invention in cinema known as the Hoverboard. With a call back to the first film and having Griff and his flunkies arrested, Marty fixes the history of his son’s future. The end and cue the curtains ..at least that would be if Marty hadn’t bought Gray’s Sports Almanac: 1950-2000 to help benefit his future by using the information to win at gambling thanks to a off handed comment by some random guy on the street. Doc sees that Marty has possessed this and warns of the catastrophic nature this could cause and disposes it. Old Biff finds the book and takes it to head to the past and give to his younger self.

Jennifer is found by the Hill Valley police and dumped off at her house in then future as she hides inside to not create a time paradox. She discovers what future life is like due to Marty ending up in a car accident rendering him a broken man and stuck in a dead end job that leads him to get fired after making a deal with a shady man named Needles (played by Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers for some odd reason). Marty and Doc rush over to get Jennifer out of the house and head back to 1985. Once they return, Doc and Marty leave Jennifer on the porch of her house (once again, what the hell, Doc?). Marty heads home only to discover it is no longer his home as he is seen as an intruder and quickly finds that this is not the 1985 he is used to. Marty winds up seeing Biff Tannen’s success in the form of creating a dystopia Orwell would love and realizes that Biff used the almanac to his advantage leading to his father being killed by Biff, leaving his mother to be a widowed booze hound. Marty is stuck in 1985-A as explained by Doc Brown, who is committed to an insane asylum in this reality. They both escape Biff to hunt out Old Biff in 1955 and take back the almanac.

Marty decides to go undercover a trail Biff while going through the events of the first feature and eventually goes on a chase against him to get the almanac. Marty takes hold of the almanac and leaves Biff in manure as he crashed into it a la the first features. Marty heads back to where Doc Brown is in the middle of a storm to get the DeLorean back in time. Doc Brown is in the car and is struck by lightning and gets lost in time, leaving Marty in the rain. Marty is suddenly approached by a man from Western Union with a message from the Doc saying he did not die, but is stuck in 1885 waiting for Marty to come and get him. Marty leaves to find the 1955 Doc after Marty has left back in 1985. Doc faints at the sight of Marty is left to wonder how to go to 1885 to save Doc and ends with the trailer for Back to the Future Part III.

Back to the Future Part II is a sequel that feels like a retread riddled with problems, but still a treat to enjoy. It might be hilarious in a different way since we are nearly two years away from the future of this film practically dating itself. It moves too fast and too quick in the same vein as Men in Black II making it hard to keep up. The plot itself is handled well, despite characters meeting one another constantly that the whole time and space universe shall be ripped apart, but that is minor. The glue that holds this film together is the characters and the humor. It is still whip smart like its predecessor with jokes that entertain and the chemistry between Marty and Doc is still wonderful, leading to the dramatic moment near the climax bittersweet yet heartwarming. It still doesn’t hold a candle to the first feature, but it doesn’t need to in order to become its own entity and lead to Part III, which is up for debate on whether it is good conclusion or a terrible end no one wanted in the first place (I fall in the former rather than the latter). Back to the Future Part II is worth a look, even it is rather dated.

Serg Beret’s 25 Best Songs of 2012: A Top of the Crop List Special

If this year was truly the end of the world, then the music scene would have gone out with the biggest bang out of all media. 2012 was a banner year for music hidden beneath the weight of a Korean rapper taking over and a Canadian princess trying to get a guy to call her. The rise of indie rock into the mainstream with hipster sounds and innovation proved successful while the pop scene finally found its footing in the era by pleasing our ears with the sweetest of bubble gum sound to electronic landscapes unheard of. The rap scene fell under as a newbie came in to single handily save the mainstream from breaking in two. If you love music, this was your year beating out the already fantastic 2011. How great? This list is going from 20 last year to 25. The 25 best songs of 2012 are here to stay.

25. ‘Anna Sun’ by Walk the Sun

Hipster. Some may call them pretentious and lazy irony lovers, others innovative and creative in the music field of sound. Personally, I agree with both of these statements because these lazy creative ironic bastards can write a tune and Walk the Moon’s ‘Anna Sun’ is a good example. Combining 80’s synths and sweet and desperate vocals, ‘Anna Sun’ is the ultimate in hipster party songs. From the engaging build up at the beginning to the climatic end, Walk the Moon created a five minute hipster party worth attending.

24. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ by Taylor Swift

Ms. Swift, the ultimate country princess gave the middle finger to country this year to go full pop. Initially  the first single ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ was a pain to me and not a good introduction to Top 40 Pop Taylor. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ changed my tune by realizing that Taylor Swift can be a pop princess in her own right. It’s a sexy and smooth fuck you to the bad boy that wronged her and seems to be the karaoke for years to come. Time to give Taylor the crown she rightfully deserves.

23. ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen

As much as the internet turned it into a meme and ran it into the ground, Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop masterpiece ‘Call Me Maybe’ took a long time to warm up to. The lyrics are shallow and cliche and terribly written, yet the hook and chorus, the melody, and Carly’s vocals take this song into pop heaven. The violin swells and delicious licks of the guitar make this song pure joy to the Nth degree with a breakdown section to die for. This is one call you should gladly take.

22. ‘Scream’ by Usher

Oh, yes, it’s Usher baby. Usher comes back again to deliver another club banger in the form of ‘Scream’, a pulse pounding dancefloor anthem. Of course, it can’t measure up to the instant classic ‘DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love’ from 2011, but even calling it a lesser version doesn’t do it justice. Usher’s vocals are on the forefront guiding us through a land of hard synths, screams, and echoes and stellar beats only Usher and his production team can provide. Usher shows no signs of stopping despite being in the R&B game for eighteen years.

21. ‘I Won’t Give Up’ by Jason Mraz

Mr. AZ himself deliver a honest soulful and heartfelt song of love and devotion in the middle of a year of synth filled pop. ‘I Won’t Give Up’ is a sentimental piece of soft rock that doesn’t end up boring or awful by providing a sense of a perfect love and never wanting to quite the relationship that has been going strong. Mraz’s vocal work is magnificent as ever, even if he is going through his bearded man phase. An underdog choice for the list, but a good one at that.

20. ‘Wide Awake’ by Katy Perry

Sometimes in the roughest of moments of one’s life can come a light at the end of the tunnel. As many may know, Katy Perry has been having a rough time dealing with the divorce of her and her husband and even at the box office with her film. Luckily, ‘Wide Awake’ becomes the light to guide her with a darker (for Perry’s music anyway) take on the breakup as she envisions everything crumbling around her like a cataclysm is at hand. Wonderfully dark and beautiful, ‘Wide Awake’ is one of Perry’s best for being a great bonus track.

19. ‘Let Me Love You’ by Ne-Yo

To me personally, it is always a good year when Ne-Yo earns a spot on the list. Ne-Yo is one of the hardest working R&B artists in the industry pumping out singles and albums every year and appearing in countless guest spots. The problem with that: He is always too damn good and this one is no exception. ‘Let Me Love You’ is exactly what you expect from Ne-Yo with pure class and club sounds throughout to deliver some love to his club lovers. Ne-Yo is this upcoming generation’s Usher and make no mistake about that.

18. ‘Diamonds’ by Rihanna

Rihanna has had a year filled with outrageous moments, controversy, and near breakdowns but comes back swinging with ‘Diamonds’. RiRi (terrible nickname by the way) has had a ton of singles this year due to her album release of the late fall in 2011, yet this track manages to make the other seem obselete in comparison. With seductive production work, dark vibes throughout, and Rihanna vocals surpassing the vocal on her other singles, the ‘Diamonds’ truly shine finishing off a on again-off again year for the craziest woman in pop today.

17. ‘Skyfall’ by Adele

Being the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise, it seemed that choosing Adele to do a Bond theme seemed like a complete no brainier. Luckily for the world (and Bond fans), it is one of the best songs of the year and best Bond themes. ‘Skyfall’ represents the beginning of the end of the trails and tribulations of Bond himself as everything seems to be going down. Out of context it sounds like another epic break up song from Adele with the rich and refined production you come to expect, but add motifs of John Barry’s classic orchestrations and it winds up a complete winner. Adele’s induction into Bond history was definitely worth every penny.

16. ‘Blow Me (One Last Kiss)’ by P!nk

P!nk is back out to destroy another man who wronged her in another delicious rip. ‘Blow Me’ tears the one who scorned her apart and delivers a strong blow (no pun intended) with harsh lyrics, kick to the balls style rhythm, and a voice ready for the attack. P!nk has gone from her R&B roots to become a hybrid of pop sounds and rock mentality and works to her advantage by delivering a song other pop artists dare to dream of singing. P!nk once again winds up a winner.

15. ‘National Anthem’ by Lana Del Rey

Possibly the most controversial pick on the list due to her infamy created since the SNL performance fiasco, Lana Del Rey proved that cerebral indie pop can be seductive and sexy. ‘National Anthem’ is all about praising her like some sort of idol or god when deep in love making and also getting her way by taking you down. Lana’s voice is sensual and orgasmic as she plows through each line with femme fatale ease and the hypnotic and arousing chorus help make this song something to pledge their allegiance. Lana Del Rey may be the hipster Britney Spears, but she does what Britney hasn’t in years: actually achieve near pop perfection.

14. ‘Ho Hey’ by The Lumineers

There comes a song that is so out of left field that it hits you with an impact you never expect. The Lumineers gave the charts that impact with a soft and sweet ode to love with ‘Ho Hey’ with a catchy chorus to sing along to. With the sweet folk sounds of yesteryear, the Lumineers remind us of those good old days and leave a lasting impression. The trio manage to use basic instrumentals to their advantage swooning us with a thumping beat and the sounds stings. Don’t let their spotlight fade because it is only beginning to be something more honest and sincere in a pop world run by electronics.

13. ‘As Long As You Love Me’ by Justin Bieber ft. Big Sean

Justin Bieber made 2012 the relaunch of himself and his sound maturing in his vocal styling and as a pop artist in general. Combined with dubstep beats and a pretty good guest verse by upcoming rapper Big Sean, ‘As Long as You Love Me’ is a monster of pop. J. Biebs becomes more than a teen heartthrob into a man on one song ready to protect and ready to serve a la the early days of Chris Brown (before the whole Rihanna brawl). Bieber proves he is no longer the butt of the joke and can hold his own as an artist in this era of pop music.

12. ‘Runaways’ by The Killers

The Killers have returned with a thumping and heartfelt tribute to the glory days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and 80’s New Wave with ‘Runaways’. Brandon Flowers gets his crew together with classic rock sounds and pipes that singers dream about with a thumping beat, sweet synth riffs, and guitar work that dazzles with the best of them. The Killers never disappoint and is always a joy to see them return being the most innovative groups on the alternative circuit. The Killers kill with the best of them.

11. ‘Too Close’ by Alex Clare

2012 was the year of the genre known as Dubstep. This growing sub genre of electronica has infected every form of media from television to video games to movie trailers, but what about the world of rock? Don’t worry, that was quickly answered with Alex Clare’s ode to the breakup known as ‘Too Close’. ‘Too Close’ blends together acoustic sounds of the indie scene, synth styled organs, soulful vocals, and dubstep into a wonderful burst of lightning in a bottle. With stellar lyrics and pure heartbreak, Alex Clare changes the game of dubstep to show off that what it truly can do. Hopefully, it stays that way.

10. ‘Lights’ by Ellie Goulding

This year, America discovered the British pop invasion from the abysmal One Direction to the annoying Cher Lloyd, but the true leader of the pack was in the form of a brilliant songstress known as Ellie Goulding. Personally, I don’t listen to the radio (funny, seeing as I am making a list of best songs), but upon hearing ‘Lights’, it was instant hook. Ellie Goulding, alongside Kimbra and Robyn, are some of the best of electro indie pop scene and ‘Lights’ sets the tone. Introducing more innovation as this song provides dark themes, beautiful rhythms, and almost symphonic sounds. Ellie’s vocals are fit the vibe well with softness and the right amount of pitch. Ellie Goulding proves herself over the other pop stars (also, on a super bias note, I recommend her albums. She is absolutely fantastic).

9. ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’ by Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean is an interesting singer in the R&B scene and one of the first African-American R&B to come out as a bisexual openly despite the homophobia in the industry. With that said, Frank Ocean makes the most cerebral innovators in the genre with ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’, a sensual and nearly dark song about the one he loves and wants to be with. Almost reminiscent of Cliff Martinez’s score for Drive, Mr. Ocean tells it like it is with John Legend esque vocals, high notes that D’Angelo would envy, and production work that is phenomenal. Frank Ocean has been nominated for a ton of Grammys for his work and it is all well deserved.

8. ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ by Kendrick Lamar

As everything is being changed and innovated for a new era (a recurring theme on this list), the rap game also has a game changer in the form of Kendrick Lamar with ‘Swimming Pools’. Kendrick Lamar talks about the craziness of drinking and getting faded without going into the stereotypes as rapped by the other rappers in the game by pointing out the good and the bad with a dark ominous tone throughout and a thrilling beat in the chorus that is sure to have a few at the party singing along to. Kendrick Lamar is a hell of a rapper and may become something bigger down the road.

7. ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ by Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars was one of the artists in 2010 that took the world by storm by appearing in guest verses, songwriting for many artists, and continued that streak into early 2011 by proving he had talent and staying power as a pop artist. Mars returns back to Earth to deliver a powerhouse of a Police-inspired tune with ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ by combining the modern sounds of today’s scene and the past. Bruno shines on this record (playing virtually every damn instrument on the track from the reggae style drum beats to the Andy Summer-like guitar work all while singing like a man lost in time. Broken up inside, Bruno takes the song to the atmosphere and lets it becomes something more. Bruno, thanks for the return.

6. ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford & Sons

Last year, I made a terrible mistake labeling these guys as the next hipster wave while praising them. Mumford & Sons is far from hipster and have brought folk rock back to the forefront almost bordering a resurgence in classic country with ‘I Will Wait’. This single deals with waiting for the one you love to come back to you even if the relationship has gone to hell with violin strings, fiddles galore, and heart stomping vocals to die for. Mumford & Sons are rising from more than just another indie act to folk music heroes.

5. ‘Niggas in Paris’ by Jay-Z and Kanye West

When two of the biggest names in the rap game get together, you better believe they can deliver a rap anthem like no other and thankfully ‘Niggas in Paris’ became a anthem. The whole premise of the song is basically Jay-Z and Kanye West celebrating that they can roll with the best in Paris and hang with girls and spend their dough on whatever they please. The beat is hypnotic and catchy as hell with a breakdown section that takes it into epic proportions with a growing dark cloud looming with dirty synths ready for the attack. The verse come fast and furious with Kanye having a ball throughout and even taking lines from Blades of Glory to amp up the listener. Kanye and Jay-Z may have made a major misstep with Cruel Summer, but Watch the Throne was an experience worth listening to.

4. ‘The A Team’ by Ed Sheeran

It is rare in this day and age a true sleeper hit appears on the chart by one lone singer/songwriter, yet Ed Sheeran made it with a song about a young drug addicted prostitute known as ‘The A Team’. A soft and smooth lovely ode to the working girl just trying to make a living in the world and described with such beauty and wonder that one feels attachment to her and want to protect her with light harmonies galore. Ed Sheeran, like her other UK counterpart Ellie Goulding, took a long while to come to the States and hit well with just about everyone with his soft spoken yet heartbreaking vocals. Though a short wonder of a song, ‘The A-Team’ is something to swoon over despite its harsh subject matter. Ed Sheeran is welcome to this side of the pond anytime.

3. ‘Adorn’ by Miguel

Silky smooth and just like butter, ‘Adorn’ by Miguel wants to make (for lack of a better phrase) make the panties drop to the floor. Sensual production and sultry vocals by Miguel, ‘Adorn’ is a throwback to the R&B of the 90’s that doesn’t quit with basic lyrics that somehow become the song’s greatest strengths. Miguel nearly dips into some Al Green territory hitting notes that Mr. Green would have hit back in his heyday and a swagger to his voice that is ready to make love. ‘Adorn’ is a instant classic in R&B and set in stone Miguel.

2. ‘Somebody That I Use to Know’ by Gotye ft. Kimbra

The biggest hit of the year is not only a massive seller, but one of the best songs in the past ten years. Gotye emerged in the public eye to a broader audience with the brutally honest breakup song ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. With subtle hints of strings and nearly bizarre sounds and truly dark lyrics, Gotye lets it all out with bittersweet vocals wit his verbal vengeance  Even better is Kimbra showing up on the track to get her say on the breakup and delivers verbal bite back at Gotye in a very vengeful manner that makes this breakup song so refreshing. Gotye deserves way more exposure after this song because after hearing his other songs, this man looks to be the next Peter Gabriel, as well as the dazzling Kimbra. This was a big year of this song (even bigger than the craze of ‘Gangnam Style’ but more on that another time) and being number one on the year end chart is a bad way to end the year.

And the number one song of 2012 is…

1. ‘Some Nights’ by fun.

his was a tough decision between this hit and ‘We Are Young’, but this won out. ‘We Are Young’ was a perfect introduction to exactly what fun. is all about, but ‘Some Nights’ proved their true worth. Innovating and turning the tables on the alternative scene and, hell, the entire rock scene in the course of one record something that hasn’t happen since the days of Queen, The Beatles, and even Nirvana, fun. made an impact larger than all the artists on this list combined. ‘Some Nights’ is a epic tribute to the arena rock anthem that has a dash of Queen, musical theatre, 80’s sound, and a heaping scoop of modern indie to deliver a sing along that every could use for a change and done in a spectacular four minutes to boot. This group as a whole is just astounding and filled with bands these days dreamed they could have done. fun. is the best of the year bar none and ‘Some Nights’ will be played at bars and parties for years to come.

Honorable Mentions: ‘Die Young’ by Ke$ha, ‘Comeback Kid’ by Sleigh Bells, ‘Love You Like A Love Song’ by Selena Gomez and the Scene, ‘These Days’ by Foo Fighters, and ‘Wrath of God’ by Crystal Castles.