Over to Colin first:
5. TRON: Legacy (2011)
Yes, yes – I know it’s not officially a 2010 release this side of the pond, but I’m just so gosh-darn excited about the release, I can’t help but mention it. It’s been so long coming, it could have feasibly been titled ‘28 Years Later’ and with budget running at an eye-watering $300 million, it had better be unrelentingly awesome. In the original TRON of 1982, hacker Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), in an attempt to prove that his company stole his ideas, breaks in to their corporate system and – to cut a long story short – gets sucked in to the system and forced to compete for his life in gladiatorial games. Fast forward to 2010 and his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund), investigating his father’s mysterious disappearance, does exactly the same thing. Father and son must escape the clutches of the computer holding them prisoner, and this is essentially all TRON: Legacy is about. I frankly don’t care if it’s light on story – the original was a joy, and I’ve waited so long for the sequel I’m going to like it even if it’s utter hogwash. So there.
Quite apart from the novelty of seeing Nicolas Cage finally make a decent movie, this is a well-made romp in good old comic book style. Modelled on the Marvel Comics character and including the now-obligatory cameo appearance by Marvel supremo Stan Lee, this story follows the elevation of an ordinary schoolboy Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) from nobody to renowned super-hero. Unlike Defendor (see my number-one choice), Kick-Ass plays purely for laughs and action. Kick-Ass – by dint of the fact that he’s really not very good at the whole superhero thing, picks up a partner in crime-fighting, Hit Girl (Chloë Moretz) and her father, Big Daddy (Cage), who have more than a few tricks up their sleeve. A good, solid comedy action flick with its tongue firmly in its cheek.
Nicolas Cage alias Big Daddy in "Kick-Ass"
I suppose no roundup of 2010 would be complete without giving Inception a mention – even if it’s only because it’s directed by Christopher Nolan, and there’s no new Batman film to get all excited about. A positively stellar cast (Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Caine, Marion Cottilard and many more) do a first-rate job of bending reality in this story set in a dream within a dream. A confusing premise, but expertly handled by all, managing to be intelligent without being too clever and delivering some fast-paced thrills and spills. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense halfway in, but you’re rewarded at the end with a quite marvellous denouement.
Practically nobody saw this film, which for me constitutes an utter tragedy. The only big name on the credit sheet is Woody Harrelson, who delivers what is for me one of his finest roles to date. Harrelson plays Arthur Poppington, the archetypal mild-mannered man who has a secret identity as the champion of the unfortunate and the nemesis of criminals – Defendor. It is essentially a comedy, but the sheer heart that Harrelson puts into his role, and some solid support from the likes of Kat Dennings and Sandra Oh raises this movie way above expectations. Burlesque, often dark and sometimes moving, this debut by Canadian writer/director Peter Stebbings really is a must-see. The holiday season is upon us, so put it on your gift list.
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