Rant by Gene
Last week we all listed off some films we’re looking forward to in 2015. This week, we’ll all be taking our turns at summarizing the past year, 2014. We’ll each start by giving some comments on films we were looking most forward to in 2014, then some thoughts on the year as a whole. Here is my contribution, with last years comments in italics.
1) 300: Rise of an Empire – Zack Snyder set the bar extremely high with 300. Can that be repeated with Rise of an Empire? I sure hope so!
In my review I gave this a 3.5 out of 5, and I think I would stick with that after some time passing. I think it let some folks down in that the lead, Sullivan Stapleton, didn’t have the gravitas that Gerard Butler commanded. Certainly not the best war movie to hit theaters last year, but good enough for a matinée’ in my opinion.
2) Noah – I’ll be anxious to see what stays true to scripture, and what is embellished.
The many warnings I read before seeing this didn’t dissuade me from catching it in theaters, but they were pretty spot on when it came to what to expect from this film. I gave it 2 stars in my review. It wasn’t merely the poor representation of God, and Noah, or the wholesale spin on nearly ever scriptural detail, but the script itself had a lot of holes and logical inconsistencies that I just couldn’t ignore.
3) Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Your required annual Marvel flick. And the day before my birthday to boot! They did great with the first trailer, very excited for the Captains’ story to continue.
After I saw this it was my favorite film of the year thus far. It was only April, so I knew that probably wouldn’t stick. Marvel dealt with the Captain America sequel in very real terms, making it as much a spy thriller as a superhero movie. Robert Redford brought a lot to the cast, and Sebastian Stan really stepped up his game from ‘The First Avenger’.
4) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – I look for this to really push a lot of boundaries and get the audience thinking.
When I heard that James Franco would not be re-cast I was worried how this would connect with ‘Rise’. Matt Reeves did a terrific job of continuing what ‘Rise’ had started while also accomplishing the more difficult task of making the audience connect with these apes. Some of the best motion-capture work you’ll ever see on-screen. I gave it 4 stars in my review.
5) Interstellar – Take Christopher Nolan, add in time travel and a very solid cast, what do you get? An early front-runner for best movie of the year, that’s what!
I’m still kicking myself for not having seen this yet. Nate had mixed feelings in his review and, for the most part, that’s pretty consistent with what I was reading elsewhere.
I caught a total of 26 new releases in 2014. Not all in the theater, mind you. That’s probably a record for me, and while it may not seem like much for a movie blogger, that’s quite a few for a guy with a full-time job and three kids! My biggest surprises this year were…
- How seriously GOOD Guardians of the Galaxy was. 5 stars!
- Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was tamed down just a bit for him, but still quirky and funny. 4.5 stars!
- Brad Pitt and Shia Labeouf surprised a lot of people in Fury. The film dealt head-on with issues of warfare and morality and is a career re-defining role for Labeouf, in my opinion. 4.5 stars!
- The Fault in our Stars really rose above the cliché’ teen romance flicks and their pitfalls. Woodley continues to impress, and her co-star, Ansel Elgort, played off her perfectly. 4 stars!
- Perhaps the biggest science-fiction film of the year was Edge of Tomorrow. An awesome idea (nearly) perfectly visualized.
Guardians and Grand Budapest Hotel are probably my top two of the year. I had high hopes for the duo of Duval and Downey Jr. in The Judge, but it never really came close to the Oscar level it was aspiring to. I was very happy with The Mockingjay Part 1, satisfied with The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, impressed with X-Men: Days of Future Past and got about what I expected out of The Lego Movie. However, not all was good, or even okay. My biggest disappointments of the year were…
- Melissa McCarthy has just about worn out her welcome. We need better out of her than Tammy. 2 stars.
- For all the star-power it had, Monuments Men was incredibly uninspired and dull. 1.5 stars.
- I suppose I’m happy for Darren Aronofsky being able to make the story he apparently wanted to tell his whole life with Noah. But next time, just call it The Epic of Gilgamesh. Don’t pretend you’re telling a biblical story.
- I didn’t hate the movie, but I really didn’t like the voices in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these and other films in 2014!