Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MY Top Ten Movies of 2014

Ah...the year has gone by so quickly. For some of you, it might already be gone. It's still 2014 over here though, so I should still have time to make this list of my favorite movies from 2014.

2014 was a great year for movies. There were some amazing films that will likely never be forgotten. However, please remember that, as a casual viewer, I haven't seen every movie that came out this year, and I missed out on a couple of good ones (Whiplash, Birdman, just to name a few). During 2014's final moments, let's begin with:

10. Chef

This God did it make me hungry. Jon Favreau's passion piece was an excellent feel-good movie with a chef who, after a caustic review, decides to start a food truck. This film showed the beautiful formation of a bond between Carl Casper and his son, and some moments of the film would make any viewer's heart melt. Couple the family themes with camera shots that are basically foodporn and a wonderful performance by Jon Favreau himself and you've got yourself a well done (ha ha) movie. Seriously man, I want to try those cubanos.

9. Boyhood
So, this movie was shot over the course of 12 years. A grand experiment in filmmaking, but that's not the reason why this movie is on this list. Yes, Ethan Hawke and the rest of the cast deliver splendid performances, but more importantly, this movie was the most realistic portrayal of life I have ever seen in film. By the end of this movie, Richard Linklater made me feel as if I had just absorbed memories of another person's life, and I was motivated to just start living. If you're a younger viewer, this movie was a glimpse into the future. If you're an adult, I'm sure this movie felt like reliving a life gone by, and that is the beauty of this film. 

8. How to Train Your Dragon 2

Short disclaimer: Big Hero 6 is not on this list. I saw Big Hero 6, loved it, but didn't think it should be in the Top Ten. This movie, though? Holy crap. The visuals were simply stunning (Dude, that dragon totally just spun into a flaming wheel of death!) and the characters were as engaging as ever. The comedy in the film was also well placed, and the movie had its fair share of touching moments. All in all, this movie was bold, and enjoyable to boot. 

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

In the words of Rocket Raccoon, "Oooooooh yeah". I was incredibly excited for this movie, and it did not disappoint. Great performances by entire cast, good action, and the most hilarious talking raccoon/tree duo to date. Sure, I wish Ronan could've been a more interesting villain, but that probably would've taken away from the time with the rest of the Guardians. How much did I love this movie? Well, I'm still listening to Awesome Mix, Vol. 1, so there. 

6. The Imitation Game

I went into this movie expecting a great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch and a decently interesting biopic. What I got was the fascinating tale of Alan Turing, a person who I knew nothing about previously, and his struggle to crack a German code, but also to form relationships and survive in a society that made him an outcast in different ways. Keira Knightley had wonderful chemistry with Cumberbatch, and the rest of the codebreakers were all intriguing characters, especially Hugh. I had no idea what direction this film would go in, and boy was this movie a ride. Tense at some parts, clever at others, and sprinkled with emotion, this film is one that will have everyone Googling "Alan Turing". 

5. Interstellar

Here's a film that caused quite a bit of controversy (especially over the ending). However, in my personal opinion, this film was fantastic. It might not have been as intriguing as The Prestige or The Dark Knight, but Christopher Nolan's bold steps and reverence for science are obvious. The visuals were simply astounding, as were the performances by McConaughey and Hathaway. The film had some incredibly emotional moments with regards to family, and the rest of the narrative is filled with tension. This movie worked for me on so many levels, combining my love for family themes and my curiosity towards astronomy and black holes. A great science fiction film with a lot of emphasis on the science, in my opinion. 

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

After watching this movie the first time, I actually went back and watched the first three X-Men movies and First Class. Of course, even though I hadn't seen any of the previous films, this movie by itself was simply astounding. What started off as an interesting premise also gave birth to a dramatic sequences with Xavier and Magneto, focused action scenes, and the unforgettable scene with Quicksilver. You know which one I'm talking about. Days of Future Past finally made me excited about the "other" MCU, and with a great film like this under its belt, I can only be that much more excited for Apocalypse

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

APES. TOGETHER. STRONG. That quote may not have actually been in the movie (if it was, I think Koba said it), but it accurately sums up just how I felt about it. The CGI was incredibly realistic, and Matt Reeves definitely had some wonderfully creative action scenes (Dude, is that an ape, with machine guns, on a TANK?). More than that though, Andy Serkis gave an amazing performance as Caesar, and the entire movie was so tense and well constructed that I was on the edge of my seat, my spine electrified, the entire movie. This is, for sure, the Empire Strikes Back of the Apes franchise, and it's just as good. 

2. Captain America; The Winter Soldier

Holy. Crap. Not only did this film flip the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe upside-down, but it had some of the greatest fight choreography I have ever seen. The scenes with Bucky and Cap were just so focused and well shot that I could not help but gasp. The film also had some great characters, including the new Anthony Mackie as Falcon, making it one of the best Marvel movies ever made. The plot had so much tension, likened to a political thriller, which made the film incredibly fun to watch. Also, me being a nerd, I couldn't help but love the introduction of Arnim Zola and THAT AFTER CREDITS SCENE. 

Wait, there's a movie that topped Cap 2? Say what, you may ask. Well, this last one is more of a personal choice, and it has become my favorite movie of all time. The next one is: 

1. The LEGO Movie

There are three things I absolutely love: smart humor, nerdy references, and LEGOs. I've played with LEGOs since I was a little kid and have never stopped since. Phil Lord and Chris Miller had so much reverence for the little plastic bricks (evident in the numbering used when the Master Builders build, or even when that one guy yelled "cheese slopes!"), and they brought with them a witty sense of humor. The movie also had a stellar cast, with Chris Pratt nailing the voice of Emmet and Will Arnett possibly being the greatest Batman in film history. Beyond the characters, visuals, and bricks though, this movie also had a very powerful message that everyone is truly special, a theme that resonated with  me as I watched the unremarkable builder dude become the greatest Master Builder in history. Oh, and there's a spaceship. SPACESHIP!

That's my list, and right before 2014 ends, too. There are some highly anticipated films coming out next year, especially a little AWAKENING. J.J. Abrams, don't let me down now, buddy. Regardless, see you in the new year!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Terminator: Genisys (GENESIS) Trailer Thoughts!

Look, I get that this movie is trying to be a "reimagining" of the first two Terminator movies, but the "reimagining" of the word GENESIS still rubs me the wrong way.

In case you didn't know, the new trailer for Terminator: Genisys was released today after the poster a couple days ago and those god-awful promotional pictures.

The trailer can be found here, and here are my thoughts:

  • GOOD: They're really trying to emulate the originals, ignoring anything that may have come by since then (Salvation? I have no idea what you're talking about). This, like Jurassic World, is a smart move to try to save the dying franchise. 
  • BAD: They're REALLY trying to be the originals, shoehorning in iconic lines from the Terminator movies as cheap one-liners that just come off as desperate. 
  • GOOD: The future! Endoskeletons are as cool as ever, and there is some Droideka looking thing, making the future look quite awesome. John Connor is great as well, with dude-from-Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Jason Clarke) no longer having to compete with Andy Serkis for screentime. 
  • GOOD: Arnold is back as the T-800! There was some controversy over the fact that old Arnold would be coming back after a lot of years off, but he's great as the T-800, both young and old. Plus, the movie promises a showdown between the "old" T-800 and the young T-800! How cool is that!
  • BAD: Some dude named Kyle is sent back as a quasi T-800! Seriously, this protagonist does absolutely nothing for me, judging from the trailer. He's kinda bland, but hopefully he's better in the actual movie than the trailer. 
  • Not particularly good or bad, but the scene from the trailer marks the millionth time the Golden Gate Bridge has been featured in an action movie. From being traveled on by apes to being attacked by kaiju, what hasn't happened on Golden Gate Bridge lately?
  • Arnold's hair is really white, almost unnaturally white in the last helicopter scene of the trailer. This is line with pictures, but it was striking nonetheless. 
The years have not been kind to the T-800
Overall, a decent trailer. It definitely has me excited (Arnold vs. Arnold! The T-1000!), but with some reservations as well. Could this be the movie to save the franchise? It has the potential to. But first, it doesn't matter how many times you spell it Genisys. It's genesis. GENESIS.