This year had plenty of big blockbuster action flicks for all audiences. Action-packed sequels from major franchises like Transformers, Fast and The Furious, and Pirates of the Caribbean topped our choices at the box office. But we like our five action film choices for their direction, acting and thoughtful storytelling.
5. X-Men: First Class
Comic book nerds and movie geeks joined forces, waiting anxiously for X-Men: First Class to hit theaters. After the stellar first two X-Men films by Brian Singer (and a handful of sequels we prefer not to discuss), the prequel had high expectations to meet. Luckily, the film met those expectations and beyond. With another fantastic superhero movie under his belt, Michael Vaughn brought the mutant series back to life. With spectacular performances by James McAvoy (Professor Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), X-Men: First Class is a long overdue return to thoughtful comic book movies. More details on the Official Site.
4. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Franchise reboots are usually a safe bet, but talking apes can be a slippery slope. Well this film is not technically a reboot, rather a prequel, and the story takes place before any of the apes actually learn to speak. Instead, the film's stars are incredibly executed CGI apes led by the king of the motion capture jungle, Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings). Here's to Serkis being the first actor to win a Golden Globe for his motion-capture acting. More details on the Official Site.
Saoirse Ronan enchants yet again in Hanna -- the Joe Wright-directed action thriller. The unnaturally mature young actress has a knack for getting under your skin. As Hanna, the 16-year-old assassin trained since birth, Ronan fights her way to Germany to a heart-thumping soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers. Her blue eyes pierce, whether in a desolate, snowy forest or hitching a ride through Spain. Also starring the equally talented Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana, Hanna is an exhilarating ride. More details in our Buzzine Interview.
2. Super 8
Director J.J. Abrams's homage to his producer (Steve Spielberg) awoke the nostalgic sci-fi-loving kid in moviegoers this past summer. As big and ambitious as the film's special effects and sound are (the train scene may be the loudest scene in a film to date), its finest moments are rooted in childhood wonderment like its greatest influence (E.T.). It's a rare action-packed film that has a heart as big as its explosions. More details in our Buzzine Review.
Director Nicholas Winding Refn made himself a household name with Drive -- the bizarre, anti-action film about a nameless getaway driver. Enigmatic Ryan Gosling’s steely silence carries Drive from a crawling, tense first act to a breathless, brutal climax. The film’s haunting soundtrack has permeated 2011’s music scene with ethereal Euro-pop splendor, and that particularly thrilling elevator scene was the talk of the town for months. With Albert Brooks’s portrayal as the eerily cheerful villain and its explosive ending, Drive is quickly racing to cult-classic status. More details in our Buzzine Review.