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 : X – Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

IMDB Score – 8.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 92%

Directed By – Bryan Singer
Starring – Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Halle Berry, Shawn Ashmore, Evan Peters, and Peter Fucking Dinklage,/strong.

The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

Dear 15 year old girls who walked into our theater half way through our movie,

I hate you. I don’t know who the hell your parents are, but they did a horrible job raising you. They probably did drugs and had you watch because only in that environment would two people learn such evil. First of all, how the hell did you even pay for this film? It’s New York City so on top of the $13 ticket you had $4 for 3D and $2.50 for super awesome sound. That’s an almost 20 dollar ticket. You either snuck in or had your horrible parents drop you off with their drug money because it’s the only reason to explain your behavior. You obviously don’t like X-Men because you missed the entire first half of the movie and instead of trying to catch up on the insane plot, you immediately sat down and started…fighting? You were slapping each other and yelling for the other to get off you. What the hell? There was about 150 people in there that put up with your bullshit but I wasn’t having it and neither was the person with me. We saw through your bullshit. You sat down next to the wrong people motherfuckers. At first we just stared at you hoping our demon eyes would stop your bullshit, but no. You had to pull out your fucking cellphones. Who the hell watches youtube videos, in a theater, with 150 people who paid to see it? Did you think that our parents gave us drug money as well? That’s not how life works and I’m sorry for your future. I had enough and yelled at you to shut up, and you did, for twenty minutes. By that point I just had enough and blocked you out mentally just like your parents blocked the love from your lives in which turned you into horrible douchey 15 year old girls. You may have ruined some of my movie, but I won at the end of the day because I will grow up with a happy life.

Don’t procreate.

So, I had to get that out of the way. It just had to be said and I’m sorry for the bad language but this is my website and I’ll do what I want. Now, let me say that my only experience with the X-Men franchise has been the movies, which I’ve only seen once a piece, and the Sega Genesis game in which Gambit was my favorite character. Did they use Gambit in any of the films? Yes, once, in the worst film of all time. So, two years or so ago when the “reboot” happened I was reluctant to go but it ended up being a good film mostly due to the fact that I have a man crush on Michael Fassbender. The sequel to the reboot was one in the same, perfectly acceptable and entertaining.

Now I’m not even going to try to re explain the plot. The whole first ten minutes of the film was spent by me trying to figure out what the fuck was going on and I wasn’t the only one in the theater to be in that situation. Various excalmations of “Huh?” “What?” and “Wait…wha?” were heard from the crowd. Slowly it started to take shape in my brain and I was able to enjoy the film. I’ll just explain a few things that the IMDB plot I ripped off doesn’t. Time Travel. Crazy future robots. Tyrion Lannister mustache. Drug addict Prof. X. Portal Girl. There you go, that’s the beginning of the film. What followed next was a serious genre flick that had very few holes and a lot of awesome shit to see.

I can’t tell you how long it took me to get over Peter Dinklage’s mustache in the film. I don’t know who decided to cast him as the “villain” but whoever did deserves a raise. I have no idea whether his character is an actual character in the Marvel universe and if he’s a midget but the use of Dinklage was just awesome. He’s my favorite part of Game of Thrones and any chance to see him on the big screen is amazing. I don’t think I’ve gotten over the mustache though. I laughed every time he came on screen for the first hour and I think I may have snickered for the second. Dinklage was great though. Seriously though, look at his fucking mustache…

I know. I’m twelve.

So along with the normal crowd of mutants, the film introduced us to possible the best one of all not named Magneto. Evan Peters plays Quicksilver in the film and I’ll be writing Marvel a letter urging them to make a film just about him. His parts in the film were my favorite of the whole movie. Without giving too much away, the jailbreak scene was one of the funniest and mesmerizing action scenes I’ve ever seen. The effects were gorgeous, the payoff was brilliant, and the gags were earned and not forced. Brilliant stuff there. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see Quicksilver much after that though. He’s a great character and Evan Peters played him perfectly.

Hugh Jackman basically is Wolverine and one of the greatest casting choices of all time so I don’t have to explain why he was awesome in this movie. The other two leads, Magneto and Prof. X, played by four people, were also top notch, highlighted by the younger two of the four. I love Ian Mckellen, but Michael Fassbender is a much more frightening Magneto. Every time he is one screen I feel somebody is going to get hurt. He has the most control over his powers and when he uses them you actually feel hopeless. That is a seriously evil trait to possess. I’m not a big Prof. X fan but James McAvoy knows how to act and act he did. I thought he did a fantastic job. The old fellas did well although the film had a lack of Mckellen which disappointed me. It was one of the movies few faults.

Speaking of faults, there really weren’t many to seriously downgrade the film and the few there were have already been mentioned. I wish there was more time with all of the characters and the only reason there wasn’t was because the plot was really complex which left little room for fun. I’m not a huge comic book nerd so I go to these movies for fun. There just could have been a little bit more but it certainly didn’t detract from the film. It’s a great action film and really lifted the superhero genre back to its feet after the Thor movies failed to impress me and since the debacle of Iron Man 2. I’ll look forward to the next installment, hopefully with more Dinklage, but there won’t be.

That fucking mustache.

4.5/5

Suggested Viewing – The Avengers, Peter Dinklage in anything, Hugh Jackman naked




Film Review : The Wolverine (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.8
Rotten Tomato Score – 69%

Directed By – James Mangold
Starring – Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, and Will Yun Lee

When Wolverine is summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, he is embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

If you’ve read my reviews over the last year you may have learned that I’m not a huge fan of comic book films. Never having been into them, I really only connect with the films of each franchise and tailor my opinions from them. I don’t like Superman. Thor never interested me. Most of the Avengers themselves never really peaked my interest but have produced two very well done films (Ironman and Avengers). I enjoyed the Spiderman cartoon as a kid but the movies left little to be desired. Batman has always been my favorite but mostly due to the fact that Christopher Nolan is a great director. Finally we come to the X-Men which I’ve seen all the films involved in the series. There have been great ones (X2 and First Class) and horrible ones (Last Stand and Origins). I was always interested in Wolverine and the fact that Hugh Jackman has always played him so well added to the want to see this film. I was surprised but not floored.

What I liked…

I enjoyed the first two thirds of the film. It was enjoyable and entertaining as action set pieces and fight scenes were fun to watch. While lacking any real interesting villains, the film picked up the slack by having a good amount of henchmen falling to their deaths at the hands of the Wolverine. One set piece on a train was pretty fun to watch and we actually got to see most of the action instead of seeing a bunch of bodies blurring by. The film also had a deeper back story with Logan and Jean that played out through the film that kept the movie from just being silly and actually meaning something.

What I didn’t like…

The acting was shit besides Jackman. Svetlana Khodchenkova was particularly horrible as the films main villain. The movie also fell into a pit of CGI and comic book blandness that I had during the last act. At that point I really didn’t care much what happened to anybody. It pissed me off. The whole “OH MAN IT WAS ACTUALLY YOU!?” routine is getting real old real fast. No creativity at all.

Overall the film was a decent watch with an absolutely boring and stale ending that nearly ruined it for me. The scene at the end of the credits setting up the next X-Men movie was worth it though.

2.5/5