5:10 pm - 12/27/2012

10 Controversial Movie Moments of 2012 That Shocked Us All

With so many franchises either refreshing their reputation anew (Alien) or bringing a heralded saga to a close (Batman), it’s natural to expect that the year has had its share of controversy, as it’s impossible to please everyone, and sometimes people just aren’t going to be happy no matter what you bring to the table. The year’s most popular films served up a wealth of surprises that largely proved divisive, particularly as far as the Internet conversation goes, whereby people were either dissatisfied that their beloved franchise didn’t close out in the manner that they envisioned, or they’ve made pains to highlight what they perceive as plot-holes within the narrative (regardless of whether they actually are). Other films crowbarred open political debates about race and torture, ensuring that this year’s film dialogue was as healthily provocative as any that has ever been conducted.

SPOILER WARNING: the below will include massive spoilers for many of the biggest and most popular movies of 2012, so make sure to proceed carefully if there’s any that you haven’t quite gotten round to seeing yet. Don’t worry about having the likes of Django Unchained ruined, though; the only films appearing on our list that aren’t out in UK cinemas yet are Cloud Atlas and Zero Dark Thirty, though neither entry deals with overt plot points, and given that we all know how the latter ends anyway, you needn’t worry about being inundated with spoilers.

Click below to see the 10 controversial movie moments of 2012 that shocked us all.

10. Agent Coulson Dies – The Avengers

Agent Coulson was the likeable face of S.H.I.E.L.D. who became a more prevalent presence within the Marvel Cinematic Universe the closer we got to The Avengers actually coming to fruition. Primarily pitched as comic relief – and brilliant comic relief he is – he nevertheless also turns out to be the emotional driving force that compels the superhero supergroup to actually get along and fight against Loki as a cohesive unit. After he is stabbed through the chest by Loki and slowly dies, Nick Fury manages to cleverly re-purpose that death as the cathartic push the heroes need to realise the enormity of their mission, though naturally, the Internet exploded with ire as soon as they had seen the film.

An adamant refusal to believe that Coulson had died was the most prominent statement, angry at Joss Whedon again building up a likeable supporting character, only to off him. The announcement that he will be somehow appearing in the upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. show further muddied the waters – will it be a flashback or not? – and frankly, if Marvel do backtrack and reveal that he didn’t die, it will be disappointing and somewhat dilute the strongest emotional beat of an excellent movie.
(coulson NOOOOO)

9. Ridiciulously Abrupt Ending – The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master was a challenging, exhausting, hugely impressive cinematic experience, and one that we knew would be just that going in. Joaquin Phoenix delivered a masterful performance as Freddie Quell, the sex-crazed alcoholic who struggles to adjust to regular life after returning from World War II, thus aligning himself with glorified cult leader Lancaster Dodd and The Cause. The narrative asks a lot of interesting questions about the nature of religion in all its forms, and the ability for human beings to find a way to transcend existential anguish and mental illness.

While the film doesn’t provide many answers, that’s not exactly a fault in of itself; it is thought-provoking and asking the questions in such an arresting fashion is sufficient work for Anderson. The problem comes with how one can then end the film on a note that’s anything approaching satisfactory, for The Master ends with Quell having sex with a woman before lying on the beach – as he did at the start of the film – next to a sand sculpture of a woman he made. Cut to black.

When I first saw the film, I thought perhaps there had been a projection issue, yet when “The Master” title-card appeared, it became clear that The Master’s ending was instead abrupt and wholly ambiguous, a statement that audiences will have to struggle to understand themselves and strive to imbue meaning into. It is without question a great film, but one that proves infuriatingly vague in its final few moments.

5. “Yellowface” Make-Up Effects – Cloud Atlas

Tom Tywker and the Wachowskis crafted an unbelievably ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas, brimming with stunning visual effects, a complex narrative, and also some of the best make-up effects that cinema has ever seen. However, much attention was raised over the so-called “yellow-face” make-up effects, used to turn a number of the film’s Caucasian cast members (such as Jim Sturgess, pictured almost unrecognisably above) into Asian people. Soon enough advocacy groups began to pipe up, criticising the film for its “poorly done” Asian make-up, while implying racism on the part of the filmmakers, who they assert should have given the acting opportunities to Asian actors instead.

Of course, none of the people complaining about the make-up had evidently seen the film, given that the narrative is clearly about past lives, a notion you completely throw down the toilet if you have actors being played by different people just to be politically correct. Nevertheless, it kicked up a sufficient fuss even it was, in fact, completely idiotic and unfounded.
(Also I'd like to issue a big 'Fuck You' to Jim Sturgess for defending the use of yellowface)

1. John Blake Becomes Batman – The Dark Knight Rises

Going into The Dark Knight Rises, we all knew that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake was going to have an important role, one that many theorised was going to turn out to be Robin. As it happens, though John Blake’s legal name might tend to be Robin, he is not Robin as some have theorised; rather, he takes the mantle of Batman, inheriting the Batcave and presumably training himself up to be Batman 2.0. It proved controversial because many were disappointed that he didn’t become Robin, and some felt that the face of the world’s most awesome detective should not have been handed to an unknown character who wasn’t in the comics. Nevertheless, while controversial – as probably any ending to the hugely popular series would have been – I personally found it to be extremely gratifying on pretty much every level.

therearewords 27th-Dec-2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
New rule, no entire lists.
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