eKC feature
January 4, 2008


Best and Worst of 2007
by Russ Simmons, Deborah Young & Loey Lockerby

2007 an abundant year for quality films

Two thousand and seven will probably go down in history as the year of the threes. Hollywood offered us the third installment of some powerful box-office franchises.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Shrek 3, Spiderman 3, Ocean’s 13, The Bourne Ultimatum, Resident Evil: Extinction and Rush Hour 3 helped crowd the multiplexes. Other entries in the sequel parade included Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Saw IV, The Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer and Evan Almighty. The strategy worked, as box-office records continued to be broken.

New franchises were created, too. We won’t have to wait too long to see another Transformers movie or the next installment of the His Dark Materials series. Will Smith further proved his appeal with I Am Legend, the biggest December opening in history.

Raunchy, R-rated comedies found a wide audience. Producer/writer/director Judd Apatow was in some part responsible for at least three ribald comic hits, Knocked Up, Superbad and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

AMC’s Select program, which launched in mid-2006, continued to introduce mainstream audiences to art and independent films. This year’s Select pics included The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, A Mighty Heart and Juno, three Spirit Award contenders.

Quality movies were so abundant that it’s hard to narrow the best to a list of just 10. Typically a year’s best films open toward the end of the year, during Oscar season. But in 2007 a steady sprinkling of thoughtful and well-produced films appeared throughout the year.

During March and April studios released cinematic gems such as Reign Over Me, The Lookout, and In the Land of Women. In June, July and August came more gems such as La Vie En Rose, Ratatouille, and Talk to Me (featuring KC native Don Cheadle). Unfortunately, some of these movies will be forgotten by movie critics, who are inundated with screeners for films released late in the year.

Locally, residents are as movie-crazy as ever. According to a 2007 MORI study, Kansas City ranks #5 nationally for people who see movies in the first two weeks of their run. This is in spite of the fact that Kansas City is 27th nationally in population. Some 954,000 ADULTS — over half the population — saw at least one movie in 2007. Teenagers, naturally, see many, many more. (Back in 2001, an MORI study showed that KC teens saw 7.7 movies in a two-month period, 3.1 more than the national average.)

The IMAX screen at the Kansas City Zoo reopened after initially announcing that it had lost its contract to show giant-screen movies. Sadly, the efforts to keep it running have failed. Competition from the IMAX screens opened by the AMC chain and the giant screen at Union Station may be partly to blame.

Cinematic entrepreneur Butch Rigby, already responsible for the Screenland Crossroads in downtown Kansas City, MO and the Screenland Granada in Kansas City, KS, announced plans for yet another theatre restoration. He’s hard at work renovating the Paradise Theatre on Armour in North Kansas City, the former home of the KC Opry. He plans to show mainstream and arthouse movies when construction on Screenland Armour is completed in 2008.

A local production company called MK12 continues to make its mark. After hitting it big animating the eye catching title sequence for the Will Farrell movie Stranger Than Fiction, they continued their collaboration with filmmaker Mark Forster. Currently, their work can be seen in the title sequence of Forster’s The Kite Runner and they’ll be handling the same chores for the next James Bond flick. MK12’s animated short, A History of America will be featured at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

There were plenty of strong titles among the films released in 2007 as well as many a bomb. Here are our picks for the best and worst of the year. — Russ Simmons and Deborah Young


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