First Half Review : The Best of 2014 So Far

So it’s just about the half way point in our year so it’s time to review what I have seen so far. I’ll do a ranked top five list with some honorable mentions and then I’ll do a couple categories that are not ranked such as best performances, biggest disappointments, and favorite scenes. Here’s to a better second half of the year!

TOP FIVE IN DESCENDING ORDER

Honorable Mentions

Edge of Tomorrow – Perfectly fun and exciting sci fi film. Emily Blunt kicked major ass and it was fun to see Tom Cruise be a human being before he turned into his typical badass action hero. The film was also pretty tight for a film that had such a high concept. I would have liked a less Hollywood ending but I left very satisfied.

The Wind Rises – I know this hit the festivals in 2013 but it had a limited release in 2014 so I included it. It was certainly the least fantastical Miyazaki film I’ve ever seen but the love and heart that went into it is unmistakable. Miyazaki wrote a poem about himself and it came out beautifully. I didn’t care for the American voice acting and it ran a tad long but if the genius is truly done directing films I’m satisfied with his last.

Godzilla – Sometimes you just need a cool monster movie and this was it for me. I enjoyed the havoc and the set pieces, especially the halo drop, were cool as shit. I just needed more Bryan Cranston and Godzilla but overall it was an enjoyable film.

NUMBER FIVE – ENEMY

Denis Villenuvue is one of my favorite new film makers right now so naturally I would have a high regard of his doppleganger film staring Jake Gyllenhaal. It was a bit slow but when it picked up it turned into a psychotic piece of mystery with amazing visuals and a key performance from Gyllenhaal. Also, the ending is batshit insane yet so thought provoking. I love good mysteries. I love mysteries even more when I still haven’t figured it out.

NUMBER FOUR – THE LEGO MOVIE

SPACESHIP!!! There isn’t much to say other than that. It’s a fun as hell ride into many a childhoods with a strong message to be yourself. The voice cast was hilarious and the film implied a joke a minute strategy that had me in stitches the whole time. Oh, and SPACESHIP!!!

NUMBER THREE – THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

The only film this year I have seen multiple times in the theater. I can’t express how much I loved this film. It is up there with the Wes Anderson greats, Tennenbaums and Rushmore, while still being unique and delightfully surprising. The design and story were clever and crafted with such detail and care and the cast was just amazing. We’ll get into Ralph Fiennes later on. It’s just a completely joyous film.

NUMBER TWO – ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

I love Jim Jarmusch. I’ve been binge watching his films ever seeing Only Lovers in the theater and I firmly believe he makes films just for me know. I love slow movies. I love movies where the clever dialogue is basically another character. I love committed and subtly powerful performances. Only Lovers had all of that. Swinton and Hiddleston were two of the most perfect casting choices I’ve ever seen. They were magnificent. The soundtrack was as dark and brooding as the camera work. It’s just the perfect chill out movie. It was my number one until only recently which brings me too…

NUMBER ONE – THE ROVER

What can I say? I’m obsessed with David Michod. Jim Jarmusch may make films for me, but Michod makes films I want to make. They are unflinching and unapologetic, brutal and beautiful, deep and symbolic, and just as shocking the second time you see it as the first. I may like Animal Kingdom slightly better than this but never has a film grown on me the longer I thought about it than The Rover. I forget what rating I gave it originally but now it’s a firm five out of five. The ending received groans from the audience I was in but it left me speechless. Everything came together for me during the last shot and the significance of it lingered for days. Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson gave career performances and the gorgeous cinematography was the icing on the cake. It’s my number one film of the year so far and will be hard to top.

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Biggest Disappointments

Robocop – One of the worst films I’ve seen in years. Nothing happened. I didn’t care. Not even Michael K. Williams was good in it. Abbie Cornish should stop trying. The only redeeming factor was Gary Oldman. I just hated it.

Monuments Men – What a snoozefest. Did I even write about this one? I can’t remember if I did or not. I may have clocked out halfway and thought a review was wrong which tells you how boring this movie was.

The Raid 2 – I left halfway because I just couldn’t sit in the theater any longer. The fight scenes were great and I’m going to give it another try but I just didn’t care for the story at all. I was pissed all night after this one.

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Best Performances

Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel – There has not been a more perfectly cast role in comedy in the last ten years that lives up to this role. Hysterical, serious, and outlandishly bizarre, Fiennes brought it all. He’s the reason I had no problem at all seeing this is theaters the same week as when I saw it first. He was amazing.

Guy Pearce/Robert Pattinson in The Rover – This was the performance of Pearce’s career and even though he won’t get it, he deserves recognition for it. His face was heartbreaking and his actions were brutal. He has perfected the thousand yard stare. I combined the two because they complimented each other so well. Pearce was a menace and Pattinson was unpredictable and seemed lost in whatever he was doing. They were a treat to watch.

Bryan Cranston in Godzilla – My favorite part of the film that included gigantic monsters kicking the shit out of each other. I cared so much for his character in such a little time. He broke my heart in half on multiple occasions and may I remind you he did it in a film that is about MONSTERS KICKING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER. Cranston is just amazing.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy – The guy can act. The guy can also act with himself. The two Jakes (movie reference) were nearly complete opposites yet Gyllenhaal was able to get it done almost effortlessly. He’s turning into a ridiculously good actor.

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston in Only Lovers Left Alive – Another two that have to be together because they complimented each other so well. I want to hang out with these two and talk about the world so bad. Hiddleston was dark and Swinton was his light. They were a perfect team.

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Favorite scenes/moments (Spoiler free)

The Lego Movie – SPACESHIP!!!!!!!

Godzilla – The Halo Drop. So unnerving with the music and the camera angle.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – The mountain chase in the snow. Just delightful and also hysterical.

Only Lovers Left Alive – Swinton, Hiddleston, and Hurt all drinking their blood. Also, the opening scene was incredible. Perfect song choice with Wendy Jackson.

X-Men : First Class – The Escape. You know what scene I’m talking about. Time Stuck in a Bottle. One of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen.

The Rover/Enemy – The endings.

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Films I saw that didn’t make a list – Night Moves, The Double, Chef, Willow Creek
Film I haven’t seen yet that may have made a list – The Immigrant, Under the Skin, How to Train Your Dragon 2, 22 Jump Street

Film Review : The Lego Movie (2014)

IMDB Score – 8.5
Rotten Tomator Score – 96%
Currently number #164 on IMDB Top 250 <—–Woah.

Directed By – Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Starring – Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, and Liam Neeson

An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.

I need to get this out of the way. THIS MOVIE WAS AWESOME!!! SO FUNNY. SO AWESOME. SPACESHIP!!!

Okay, that was the twelve year old me getting some much needed screen time on this website. You can only review depressing relationship films, gritty foreign dramas, and anything that falls out of Lars Von Trier’s ass for so long. The inner child had to come out and I picked a wonderful film for that. The perks of working at a movie theater came to fruition as I picked the latest showtime last night for my friend and I to see this film. We were the only ones in the theater. This had good an bad points. The good points were that we were able to talk a bit without the fear of pissing people off and I was also able to laugh like a lunatic during a movie aimed at kids without seeming like a freak. The bad points were that I would have loved to enjoyed this film with other people because it was a riot and a lot of fun. In the end though I was glad I didn’t have children telling their parents what just occurred on screen for five minutes as they drowned out the audio. This film is a joke a minute type of deal. Hell, I didn’t even catch 100% of the jokes and I was paying full attention. Let’s get into why this film was so awesome.

First off let me describe my childhood as quickly and as entertaining as possible. I was an outdoors kid and when I wasn’t doing things outdoors I was inside playing Sega or playing with my matchbox cars. The second part there is important. I huge theme of “The Lego Movie” is that you should honestly build whatever the fuck you want to build and let you mind be imaginative. I had that. I just didn’t have it with Legos. I had it with matchbox cars. I would create scenarios and situations with over fifty cars as I would crash them, create sound effects, make scenery and roads for them to drive, and of course, mangle the shit out of them with vice grips. What? You never did that? The point is that I had an imaginative mind but focused the energy on little cars. I had Legos, but I would honestly play with them for about twenty minutes before I got bored and got my multiple boxes of cars out. I tried a couple times to build a Millenium Falcon but just couldn’t keep my attention on it to get close to finishing it. That being said, my enjoyment of this film was not out of some nostalgic euphoria, but rather an old fashioned coming out party for my inner child.

This film didn’t need you to be a Lego freak when you were younger. The whole concept of playing with toys as a child was in full focus throughout the whole film, even to the point of attaching mouth sound effects to moving legos ships and machines, JUST LIKE KIDS DO. Multiple situations were fixed with thinking outside the box and attaching unorthodox Lego blocks to parts of the body and other whacked out things kids would do with these things. Look at this great strip from one of my favorite things ever, Calvin and Hobbes…

That was what this movie was. It was a bunch of adult kids getting to let their inner children come to life in a way that never has been seen before. We’ve had Lego movies before. These movies were made with cheap special effects and looked like they were rendered on Windows 95. This is a film shot entirely in CGI but with the delicacy to make sure that every single Lego block looked real. The animation was so real looking that I had a hard time believing I wasn’t looking at a stop motion film using real Legos. It was great. Everything was Lego. The water was Lego. The smoke was Lego. The fire and bullets were Lego. It was a great sight. I remember first seeing posters and trailers for this and thought it was going to be too silly but in reality it was a perfect blend of kid humor and adult humor. This is what makes Pixar fantastic and what is now making Phil Lord and Christopher Miller household names in animated films. They aren’t just for kids. I’m glad they exist.

The cast is also fantastic. Chris Pratt was the perfect person to play the lead Lego man Emmet. Pratt basically plays Emmet as he plays his one of a kind character of “Andy” on Parks and Rec. He is a lovable but ultimately small brained Lego man that is just trying to fit in. Morgan Freeman plays the Gandolph like “Vitruvius” who is a blind prophet trying to stop the evil Mr. Business, played hilariously by Will Ferrell, from taking over the world. Other fantastic roles include Charlie Day as the 1980’s spaceman…SPACESHIP!!!…Alison Brie as Unikitty, and of course, Will Arnett as FUCKING BATMAN. That felt good to say. Batman and Benny the 1980’s Spaceman were the best parts of the film in my eyes. I haven’t laughed that hard in a theater since “This is the End”. The whole cast was a riot.

Lastly there is a good message at the end. I won’t go into spoilers but parents who bring their children hopefully will be leaving with a nice war fuzzy feeling inside and hopefully will spend time building things with their kid. I expected somewhat of a mushy ending and that’s what I got, but it certainly didn’t detract from the film at all. It didn’t add a whole lot but was a nice way to end a film that’s sole purpose was to entertain and make us laugh.

Overall I loved the movie. I want to see it again. I love being twelve years old. The movie was charming, hilarious, and featured one of a kind animation. I’m looking forward to anything those two make i the future and the film lived up to the hype.

SPACESHIP!!!!

4.5/5