Rant by Logan
It’s always exciting looking forward to the new year in film, but sometimes it doesn’t always pan out the way you’d hoped. Then again, there are always some surprise titles that make those disappointments worth it. Here are my thoughts on 2014.
1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I’ll be there on opening night. You should be too.
This is a five-star film. There were certainly some disappointments this year, but the second Captain America film blew my expectations out of the water. It had some of the most interesting character development for Cap yet, as well as a very intriguing social and political commentary, making it one of the smartest and deepest comic adaptations yet. Plus, that elevator scene . . . I still can’t get past just how awesome it was.
2) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Marc Webb knows what he’s doing, and Electro. Looks. Awesome.
I didn’t think this movie was quite so terrible as everyone else did, but it was still a bit disappointing. Electro was indeed awesome, and I was a huge fan of Jamie Foxx’s performance. Unfortunately, what might have been a very strong script was greatly weakened by a lackluster Green Goblin, and a far-too-rushed set-up for yet another cinematic universe. Looking back on it now, I’d give the film three stars, it being a far less impressive feat than its predecessor. That said, it still has some of the coolest Spidey action sequences on scene to date, so that’s worth something.
3) I, Frankenstein – Who can complain? It’ll be sweet.
This goes to the top of the disappointments list. I, Frankenstein is a serious contender for the worst film I have ever seen. The characters were barely developed, the dialogue was so cheesy it belonged in a parody movie, and it was so filled with cliches that the film itself might as well have been called “Another Fantasy Monster Movie.” All that despite Aaron Eckhart playing an undead monster. It takes talent to mess that formula up so badly.
4) The Lego Movie – Many kids will go see it, but it’ll just be awesome.
I would have preferred that the movie were a little more mature, more in the realm of a Pixar film than a straight-up kids’ movie, but I still really enjoyed it. Lego Batman, the entire reason I saw it, was absolutely hilarious, and the film’s tender moment in a soft “breaking the fourth wall” sort of way was a bit unexpected. I still can’t decide if I like it better for it, but it took me by surprise, which is something I definitely didn’t expect from this movie.
5) Transformers: Age of Extinction – With Mark Wahlberg taking over as the lead, it’s going to be the best yet.
It both was and wasn’t the best yet. I still think the second Transformers film has the best story, but let’s face it, nobody goes to see Transformers films for the story. I watch them to see giant robots fighting, as well as Michael Bay explosions. In that sense, this movie delivered. Along the way, the acting was much better this time around (thanks to some pretty great performances by Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci), and an even bigger plus for me was the fact that there was way less sexual commentary. It felt less sacrilegious and more enjoyable this time around, especially after the terrible movie that was Transformers: Dark of the Moon. But with that said, the dinobots should have been a bigger deal. Seriously.
I saw about 23 movies this year, many of them on DVD. It was a busy year for me this year, having published a novel while going to school full-time and an internship and getting married. Here were my biggest surprises this year:
Snowpiercer: I hadn’t even heard of this movie until it came out. Tres reviewed this and gave it two stars, but I’d give it 4.5. It was Chris Evans like we’d never seen him before, leading a revolution in a gritty post-apocalyptic society. It was man vs. himself as well as man vs. inhumanity of his fellow man, and ultimately in himself as well, and I wasn’t sure I wanted it to end. The only thing that takes off half a star for me is the ambiguous ending. Otherwise, it came from nowhere to be one of my top picks for best movie of the year.
Guardians of the Galaxy: I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations going into this one, and I probably wouldn’t have seen in theaters if I didn’t have several friends going. But it ended up being one of my favorite movies in all of Marvel continuity. The quirky humor of Chris Pratt and Bradley Cooper, and the whole cast, really, really sold me on it as the most creative Marvel film yet, and maybe even the best.
If I Stay: While not a five-star film, it really surprised me how deep this teen romance/drama was. Chloe Grace Moretz was awful compelling as a girl in a coma, getting to choose whether she lives or dies. I thought the arrangement of the film was done somewhat poorly, making the timeline between flashbacks and the present a bit confusing, but the acting was good, and it was ultimately a very intriguing movie, leaving me to think about what I would have done if I was in her position, and movies don’t make me do that very often.
But not all was good this year. There were also some disappointments.
I, Frankenstein: I’ve already elaborated on some of this, but the film had everything going for it: a cool premise, amazing actors, and, above all else, gargoyles. Somehow this movie made a terrible movie with gargoyles in it. That’s how bad this was.
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies: I really liked the first Hobbit movie and the second, while flawed, was pretty good. But this movie was just a mess. Most of the movie consisted of Thorin obsessing over his gold and goblins slashing at each other. Forget about Bilbo. Forget about the ring. Forget about the epic adventure altogether. It was boring.
Maleficent: I’m always skeptical of reboots and remakes, but I thought the reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story would be cool. Angelina Jolie is one of the few insanely popular actors that I actually like, and Elle Fanning has never disappointed me. Unfortunately, the movie was a bust with paper-thin character development and an under-developed story. Most of the time the movie just expects us to believe that characters change or turn out a certain way “just because.” It’s a perfect example of making a bad movie, but expecting people to like it because, after all, it’s a Disney story!
But I don’t want to end on a negative note. There were plenty of good things in 2014. My pick for best film is Snowpiercer, with Guardians of the Galaxy earning a very close second. X-Men: Days of Future Past also deserves an honorable mention. It was a very good year for movies, and now it’s time for me to burn my Christmas money buying and re-watching all of my favorites.