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In Movies & TV Commentary

Joss Whedon's "The Cabin in the Woods" is a clever horror movie you probably passed up.

Five 2012 movie leftovers worth catching up with

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and you know what that means. No, not continual Christmas music on the radio. It means piles and piles of delicious leftovers from Thanksgiving dinners.

There can also be movie leftovers (go with me on this). Every year, we are bombarded with hundreds of movies hitting theaters. Every now and then, our cinematic stomachs get full, and we're left saving some films for another time.

Since the upcoming few weeks aren't exactly stacked with hot new releases (a "Saw" rip-off and a rom-com from the director of "Seven Pounds," the Will Smith movie no one saw? It truly is the most wonderful time of the year), it seems as good a time as any to see what old, but still delectable, film leftovers there are from 2012 to reheat and keep viewers satisfied until Christmas.

"The Grey"

Why you skipped it: Director Joe Carnahan's "The Grey" was advertised as "Taken" but with vicious wolves instead of Albanians. As a result, it seemed like a ridiculous parody of an action/survival movie. Unenthusiastic word-of-mouth, combined with the Super Bowl in its second weekend, eventually melted the snowy thriller's box office buzz. Plus, it came out in January, and nothing good ever comes out in January.

Why you should see it: What was sold as "Liam Neeson punches wolves" ended up being a whole lot darker, suspenseful and fascinating than a viewer could've ever expected. Instead of a silly action movie, "The Grey" presented an intense, stark look at how men cope with their lives and face death. It wasn't the action movie we wanted (Neeson doesn't even punch a single wolf); it was better.

"The Cabin in the Woods"

Why you skipped it: Pretty much everything that could convince someone not to see a movie is involved in "The Cabin in the Woods'" backstory. It was delayed for several years. The title is remarkably vague, and the only thing more so was the ad campaign. Worse yet, though critics loved it, the average audience member hated it, resulting in miserable word-of-mouth and a "C" from CinemaScore's viewer poll. The only thing really going for it was the presence of Thor (Chris Hemsworth).

Why you should see it: It has two things going for it: Thor and co-writer Joss Whedon, who knows how to have fun with genre. The ads for "Cabin in the Woods" had to be vague in order to hide the twisty, self-reflexive breakdown of horror movies that lied within.

Those expecting a standard slasher flick to match its standard title probably walked out disappointed. But for those prepared for something outside the norm, "Cabin in the Woods" provided a kind of clever daring that most horror movies wouldn't even attempt, much less pull off.

"Moonrise Kingdom"

Why you skipped it: Even with the big-name cast and glowing write-ups, Wed Anderson's latest still looked like the kind of quirky, semi-pretentious indie comedy that causes critics to drool and audiences to be confused. Plus, it came out in the summer when movies like "The Avengers," "Men in Black 3" and "Prometheus" clog up cinemas and make it hard for smaller films to get big attention.

Why you should see it: I'm not usually charmed by Anderson's usual snobby sense of humor and tendencies toward ironic whimsy. That being said, I was charmed by "Moonrise Kingdom." It's a sweetly told story, with surprisingly good child performances and even more surprisingly, heart. It marks the first time in a while where Anderson seems to really care about his characters, and as a result, so does the audience.


Why you skipped it: You'd think a movie starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine would get some decent attention, even during the busy summer movie season. However, when said film is a dry, dark comedy distributed by a small newcomer – Millennium Entertainment – it's hard to get much footing. As a result, the movie barely made it out to over 300 theaters and therefore barely out in front of many viewers.

Why you should see it: If you're a fan of "Fargo," "Bernie" might be a nice addition as the second installment of a quirky real-life crime dark-comedy double feature. The story – based on a Texas man so well liked that, when he kills his aging loved one, no one in town believes he did it – is fascinatingly absurd, and the performances are great, especially Black, who reigns in his usual tornado of energy.

"The Raid: Redemption"

Why you skipped it: Unless you like martial arts, there's a good chance you haven't seen "The Raid: Redemption." It's a certain kind of movie for a certain kind of audience, but unfortunately, that audience didn't find it in theaters. It's too action-packed to appeal to the indie crowd – where it mostly played – and since it was a small action film, mainstream audiences hadn't heard of it and therefore didn't see it.

Why you should see it: It's freaking awesome. If you like action, you need to rent "The Raid: Redemption" right now because no movie in quite a while has featured such a memorably brutal ballet of shift kicks and punches. Plot? Who needs it. Characters? Maybe some other time. When you sit down for "The Raid: Redemption," you are in for 101 minutes of pure butt-kicking, action-fueled adrenaline. It makes every other action movie that came out in 2012 look like "What to Expect When You're Expecting."


memke | Nov. 29, 2012 at 12:32 p.m. (report)

I saw 3 of the 5 listed above and agree with Matt -- they're awesome flicks. Thanks for influencing me to check out The Grey and skip The Raid (sorry -- I'm an old chick :-) )

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