Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: The Year in Reviews

There are some high-profile year-end movies that I'm trying to sneak in some screenings of, so I'm holding off on a more in-depth "Best of 2014" post until then, but in the meanwhile, here's a look at all the flicks I did full reviews for this past year, with a brief blurb about each. Check 'em out after the jump:

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
...rarely rises to the level of "exceptional," but is a serviceable enough entry that, had Paramount been more diligent about keeping the series plugging along, we'd probably already talking about the next one.
The Monuments Men
...marks the rare misfire from a helmer [George Clooney] who usually evinces just as much self-assuredness behind the camera as he so easily embodies in front of it.
...this new RoboCop is far closer in tone and execution to the original than anything that's come after. Nonetheless, despite [director Jose] Padilha's best efforts, his RoboCop's beating heart has been subsumed by the single-minded programming of MGM's franchise-building machinery.
3 Days to Kill
Over the years, I've seen Kevin Costner be pretty good in fairly mediocre movies, and fairly mediocre in pretty good movies. 3 Days to Kill is the former.
I enjoyed Non-Stop a whole lot more than I expected to, and a big part of that is simply from Neeson being so imminently watchable in these kinds of roles.
Need For Speed
It's fun, it's fast, and it's fine.
Muppets Most Wanted
...coming on the heels of 2011's The Muppets, a franchise restart explicitly built on the idea that the late Jim Henson's immortal troupe of puppet players are more than just a part of our cultural wallpaper, I'll admit that it does feel like a slight (only a slight) step down.
At this stage, Arnold Schwarzenegger is playing to a very specific, narrow constituency with a pretty good idea what their ticket is buying them. I doubt they'll be disappointed with this.
...a worthy, ambitious mess of a movie, and as a deeply personal new take on an old tale, it's the kind of mess we could use a bit more often from Hollwood.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
...focused from beginning to end on forward thrust, placing our hero at the center of a story that not only resets the chessboard in some pretty substantial ways moving forward, but it drives home Cap's essential utility in a universe filled with super-folks whose power sets easily outclass him.
Draft Day
...isn't the best sports-themed movie ever made, but it's an above average entry in the field, and a predictably proficient a piece of popcorn entertainment.
...looks snazzy, but upon closer examination you realize it's nothing more than a polished simulacrum of other, more accomplished films.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
...despite its flaws, I left the theater feeling satisfied. Not amazed, but satisfied.
...for a project that's openly intended to launch a new series, I wonder if there's enough here to lure new audiences back into theaters for round two.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: Days of Future Past is the seventh entry in Fox's long-running movie series, which returning director Bryan Singer first ushered in with 2000's X-Men. It's also the best.
A Million Ways to Die in the West
I laughed exactly twice during A Million Ways to Die in the West.
If nothing else, Maleficent serves as a perfect example of why Jolie is one of the most in-demand actors on the planet.
22 Jump Street
...manages the rare feat of being a sequel that's just as good as its predecessor.
Transformers: Age of Extinction
...manages to navigate the perimeter of that specific box with a good deal more aplomb than I'd have expected after my nerve-deadening, sleep-inducing experience with the previous two films.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
...the latest Apes stands head-and-shoulders above this summer's blockbuster crop by providing a rollicking entertainment wrapped in a rich character study.
Guardians of the Galaxy
...the most confident bit of sci-fi world-building I've seen since the original Star Wars.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
In a measure of just how calculated a product Paramount's Michael Bay-produced reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is, we get to see Megan Fox jumping up-and-down on a trampoline within five minutes of the opening titles. Talk about knowing your audience!
[Jon] Stewart has made a confident entree onto the directing scene that demands to be noticed.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
I dug this one. A lot. And I retroactively loved the previous ones more as a result.

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