2012 was filled with so many surprises, and it’s a year we may be talking about for a while. The big screen adaptation of “21 Jump Street” we were convinced would be pure swill ended up being the funniest comedy in the last few years. Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction “Prometheus” which we were sure would be an epic masterpiece ended up being sub-par genre fare that didn’t exactly re-invent the wheel in spite of causing a rift between genre fans who either loved it or hated it. However, the comedy movie about a foul mouthed talking teddy bear pretty much met our rock bottom expectations. Disney and Marvel Studios took a gamble on a movie that assembled a group of superheroes from film franchises of varying success entrusting the task to a director and storyteller primarily beloved by cult fans, and ended up conquering the box-office, and the world.
Disney’s gamble on another fantasy film entitled “John Carter” also made history as one of the biggest flops in movie history. A movie based on a board game was crucified by movie fans all over the world, while the director of “The Avengers” made waves with his cult horror comedy “The Cabin in the Woods.” Quentin Tarantino introduced one of the rare African American Western heroes to mainstream cinema, and The Dark Knight made his return to the screen unfortunately being forever linked to a horrific killing spree inflicted by a heartless monster, prompting Hollywood to re-think their stance on film violence causing an uproar among movie buffs. 2012 was a rather eventful year in the world of cinema and storytelling, and without further ado we introduce our Top 10 and Worst 10 Films of 2012.
Be sure to send us your own Top 10 and Worst 10 of 2012! We can likely begin a conversation that’s human and polite.
When all is said and done “21 Jump Street” completely bastardizes the original television series from the eighties. The original show was a dramatic and controversial series that took painstaking turns in to very taboo subjects in America and was the stepping point for Johnny Depp. No one shares that frustration more than I do. But surprisingly enough “21 Jump Street” is still a fun and absolutely entertaining action comedy that is about as close to an American version of “Hot Fuzz” as you can get. While it does use the “21 Jump Street” model to get the premise rolling, it doesn’t really spoof or satirize the show. There’s no one mocking Johnny Depp, or Dustin Nguyen, nor is anyone mocking major episodes of the series. The directors do pay homage to the show with their own nods to the series, but it doesn’t lampoon the show so much as use the framework to tell a new story. A new story that’s incidentally based around a more comic tone.
Before Hollywood came along and turned it in to a buddy comedy, “21 Jump Street” was actually once an edgy crime drama. For its time and the decade, “21 Jump Street” was a controversial series that tackled many issues plaguing the headlines including murder, the drug epidemic, abortion, illegal immigration and the like. Even almost two decades after its end, “21 Jump Street” is still a high octane and truly engrossing crime series that is admittedly a bit hokey, but still manages to soak in the audience with its sharp performances and engrossing plot lines.
“21 Jump Street” is most famous of course for being the launch pad for star Johnny Depp, who transformed from obscure actor, to teen heartthrob overnight and managed to be one of the few successful eighties icons who transformed from teen heartthrob to acting legend and superstar in a matter of years. But “21 Jump Street” has a lot more going for it than Depp. Even if the show’s best years involve Depp. Let’s face it, Depp is basically the lifeline for the series for a majority of the show as his character is one of the best ever written on the series, while he manages to possess an incredible rapport and chemistry with star David DeLuise.
For a good part of the early seasons, the best episodes involve interplay between the two actors, who approach every case with wisecracks and bad assery that is hard to topple once Depp leaves the show for greener pastures. Everything about “21 Jump Street” is still fresh from the get go, from the great theme song to its cases that involve issues like pre-teen alcohol abuse and students bringing guns to school, all of which are still prevalent in our society and still very relevant social issues. The premise of the show is very much in the vein of “The Mod Squad” in which young looking police officers masquerade as teachers and students in local schools allowing them to infiltrate gangs and social groups leaving them to solve certain crime and cases that the local authorities can’t. The cast is made up of diverse and very entertaining actors, all of whom are given their own episodes and chances to shine and will allow audiences to root for them. Holly Robinson is still very attractive and bold as Judy Hoffs, while Dustin Nguyen is a stand out as officer Harry Ioki.
“21 Jump Street” is a healthy mixture of procedural crime drama with some teenage angst that delves not only in to the cases but the personal lives of the individual officers all of whom manage to leave their assignments affected and traumatized in one way or another. Further in to the show, the casting of Richard Grieco in place of Johnny Depp is not much of a departure as he fulfills the bad boy role quite well offering a smoldering performance as Officer Dennis Booker. Overall, like most shows of this ilk, it dives in to the deep end and jumps the shark by season four, but it’s still a very entertaining and action packed crime drama with stylish ensemble performances, and some truly action packed moments for fans of cop shows. Hardcore fans of Johnny Depp need apply if they’re interested in seeing how he went from Tiger Beat to Oscar Fodder.
THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
What with the remake and retread craze at an all time high, I can definitely picture some halfwit second rate comic actor taking up the mantle for William Katt as the next “Greatest American Hero” in a big budget mediocre action comedy. Almost like a lame version of Superman, “Greatest American Hero” is never quite sure what it wants to be. Sometimes it’s an honest to goodness tale of a humble man being given an amazing power allowing him to fight crime and save the world. Sometimes it just takes a step back and laughs at itself for all the right reasons. William Katt gives a surprisingly dignified performance as a local school teacher Ralph Hinckley tasked with teaching a very rowdy and violent special education class.
As fate would have it, Katt and his class happen across a reckless FBI agent Bill Maxwell who almost runs him down in the middle of a field trip during the night when they’re stranded on the road. Hinckley and Maxwell are witness to a major event as a UFO beams down… a suit to them. Not just any suit, but a super suit! They ask Hinckley to take the suit and save the world or it will disintegrate. Why? Who knows? Lacking any apparent fashion sense, Katt dons the alien super suit forced to team with the Maxwell and the result is wacky and ridiculous.