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Yet another film review site’s year in review… below are the films I watched in 2011 that are worthy of another mention.

The Best:
Real Steel – hands down, the most fun I had at the cinema all year.
The Guard – ultra blunt, black humor. Gleeson steals the show, but don’t forget about Don.
TrollHunter – captivating and humorous ‘found footage’ about Trolls, with a superb central character.
Your Highness – so good I’ve watched it twice. Swords and tits medieval questing film, with swearing.
Fast Five – despite being one of the worst scripts of the year it delivers the action, cars, babes and guns in abundance.
Black Swan – follows a high-pressure demented dancer. masterclass at both sides of the camera.
Hobo with a Shotgun  – nasty, bloody, schlocky horror in the vein of banned ‘classics’. Perfect homage.
Drive – moody and broody stylized tale of a stoic badass. Bursts of ultra-violence.
In Time – solid sci-fi concept with great execution and plenty ticking clock scenarios.

Stinkers:
The Dilemma – utter stinker of a ‘bromance’, less rom-com and more wrong-non-com…
Giallo – former master of horror gives us a masterclass in shit direction. Made in 2009, not released until 2011 because the star, Brody sued them!
Battle: Los Angeles – loud, blurry, messy, scrappy, shaky telling of an alien invasion. Nice SFX though.
The Eagle – Jamie Bell tramping around the woods for a few hours in a boring Scottish history class.
Faster – about as braindead as the central character. The Rock + Gun – Script – Action = steamy turd.
Bad Teacher – fell asleep, total stinker
A Lonely Place to Die – sloppy and nasty Scottish horror set in the bonnie hills and highlands.
The Tree of Life – WTF WTF WTF WTF, and some more WTF.

Best of the rest:
Infernal Affairs – the daddy of all Asian crime/mob pictures. Never gets old. Never gets boring.
Amores Perros – storytelling at it’s finest, no fancy tricks, just riveting drama.
James Bond January – all 22 spy films watched and reviewed in 1 month. Links to every article.
Black Mirror – prophetic, cutting UK TV Drama about life in the near-future.
The Good Wife – arguably the best show on TV at the moment. Stories, characters, production…
Timecrimes – pre-Triangle sci-fi thriller/horror. Original, clever, not spelled out.
Sleepers – fantastic example of drama and acting making sweet, sweet movie babies.
Alice Creed – Tight, tense drama with just three characters.
Jennifer’s Body – expectation-blasting teen-horror movie, surprisingly dark and funny.
Matador – Brosnan at his peak as the strangest hitman in cinema.

One of the only scenes with no PRODUCT PLACEMENT - EXTREME PRODUCT PLACEMENT!!!

Real Steel: in the near future professional boxers have been replaced by robots; this film follows the highs and lows of a struggling ex-boxer in this new era, and relationship with his estranged son. I’ll put it out there straight away – I loved Real Steel. Something else to note up front is that Virgin, HP, Ray Ban, Dr Pepper, Bing, X-Box 720, Wired, Sprint, Budweiser, Beats By Dre & ESPN logos (to name but a few) are shamelessly crowbarred into centre frame at every opportunity. Back to the film, there’s an equally shameless cheese-rammed story of sporting underdogs, and runaway dads, that’s quite predictable but surprisingly well-played. The action is absolutely fantastic – jaw-droppingly impressive CGI helps – especially for the fights, which are amazing to watch. More generally, the film is brilliantly shot and photographed. Jackman’s on good form, and the kid’s not too annoying – all other characters are tertiary stereotypes, like the Russian billionaire and advanced Japanese tech nerds, but they make for great baddies and push a subtle all-American vibe that’s rarely seen at the moment. It’d be easy to dismiss this as ‘Rocky with Robots’, but Real Steel landed every single punch on me; it’s such a boys film, with a classic comeback story, training montages, cool gadgets, big action, robots hitting each other, manliness, and plenty (albeit mostly unintentional) laughs. This is what big-budget movies are all about for me – story, spectacle and entertainment. It’s the most fun I’ve had in the cinema all year, can’t wait for the sequel.

Score: 8.5 /10