Super-heroes, aliens, character studies, parents and their children, time travel, the Scottish Highlands, young love, monsters, and the end of the world. Halfway through the year we take a look back at the ten best movies from the first-half of 2012.
Time travel stories are tricky and the number of movies that intelligently discuss the topic are outnumbered by hundreds that don’t (for proof look no further than the pathetic likes of The Time Machine, Timeline, Black Knight, Freejack, and the truly awful adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder). Thankfully, director Colin Trevorrow‘s Safety Not Guaranteed doesn’t fall into this category. Instead, it produces one of the year’s most unexpected and memorable films.
Seattle Magazine reporter (Jake M. Johnson) sells his editor (Mary Lynn Rajskub) on the idea of doing a puff piece on a man (Mark Duplass) who posted a classified ad looking for a companion for time travel. Roping in two interns (Aubrey Plaza, Karan Soni) to do the actual work, Jeff heads to the coast for his real purpose of a paid vacation and reconnecting with his teenage girlfriend (Jenica Bergere), but the story the threesome uncover turns out to be far more interesting than they expected.
Anderson’s latest is a bit of a departure as it focuses on a pair of 12 year-old characters (rather than his usual choice of an ensemble of thoroughly damaged and eccentric adults). Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphaned Khaki Scout marooned on a small New England island with no paved roads and a group of unfriendly companions. Suzy (Kara Hayward) is the problem child of a pair of lawyers (Frances McDormand, Bill Murray) more comfortable discussing legal briefs than feelings.
With the “Night of Owls” crossovers now official done Nightwing moves forward with a new arc as Dick Grayson makes several important decisions about his future. We also get our first look at the army of vigilantes dressed up as knights and led by another New 52 villain – Paragon.
Nightwing, at least for the forseeable future, seems to be staying in Gotham and so is the Haly’s Circus as Dick comes up with a new plan to fix up Gotham’s run down amusement park Amusement Mile perhaps with the help of Tony Zucco‘s daughter Sonia. We also finally get back to the story of Nightwing being framed for murder (remember that?).
The issue finally fills in some information about the corrupt cop Detective Nie who tried to pin a murder wrap on Batman by planting evidence looks to be the man behind Nightwing’s stick showing up at a recent murder as well. This story works better for me than Paragon (although I’m betting the two are related). This was a make-or-break issue for Nightwing for me, and although it’s not great there’s enough here to bring me back for another month. Worth a look.
The final issue of this arc finds Captain Atom, in fact several different versions of Captain Atom from all across time and space, attempting to stop the entity known as Chromo Mata. Of course we know (from the final panel of last month’s issue) that Chromo Mata is actually the futuristic near God-like version of Captain Atom.
Captain Atom backtracks the events which helped lead to the world viewing Captain Atom as a savior, in order to stop the creation of Chromo Mata before it ever begins – even if that means letting a young child (whom he originally saved) die of cancer.
The issue makes a nice conclusion to the arc as well as allow the character to embrace his humanity by creating a flesh and blood Nathaniel Adam version of himself to explore his feeling for Renita. With this storyline wrapped up, I’ll be curious to see what new direction Captain Atom takes beginning next month. Worth a look.
After being held in contempt Jared (Breckin Meyer) is given 50 hours of community service, in small claims court, as a judge where he’s forced to rule in favor of shutting down a legendary rock ‘n roll club when the club owner (Joel David Moore) is unable to pay the rent after the unexpected disappearance of his legendary father (Peter Weller). Peter (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) convinces his friend to make right by taking the man’s case, even in that means going up against Jared’s father (Beau Bridges) in court.
After Zartan survived the first attempt on his life, Storm Shadow sends Snake Eyes and Rika out to finish the job. That’s only half of Zartan’s problems, however, as his insolence has perturbed the new Cobra Commander enough to allow Savane to make a name for herself in Cobra by killing him as well.
With both the Arashikage Clan and Cobra out to kill him you wouldn’t expect Zartan’s life expectancy to be very long. However, for another issue the master of disguise manages to stay one step ahead of his persuers, although his getaway plane does have a bomb onboard.
We get another glimpse at Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow’s lives as young pupils of Arashikage as well Snake Eyes knocking out Rika and sending a coded message to Helix about Zartan. We’ll have to see how long the mute ninja can keep playing both sides before someone figures out what’s really going on. Worth a look.