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Favorite and least favorite films of the 2014 summer movie season

Summer 2014 Movie Season

Rating:
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This is a list based on films this writer actually saw. Some films like Blended and Sex Tape just didn’t look like they were worth the time or money. Perhaps one day this will become a full time job, but right now it’s a passion with limited time due to a day job. How about the Least Favorites first?
Least Favorites
Fortunately someone else paid for the tickets to see Transformers: Age of Extinction and the Expendables 3. Those were the only two brain cell-killing movies this writer had the misfortune to see (women who love shows like Sherlock and Firefly tend to detest movies like those in the Transformers and Expendables Franchises). The entire cast of Expendables seemed to be phoning it in, even good actors like Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas. Plenty of critics have praised Mel Gibson’s performance in this film. Those same critics have panned Dave Bautista’s performance in Guardians of the Galaxy. Mel Gibson seems to benefit from everyone else being so wooden in this film. He seemed to have plenty of fun making the Lethal Weapon movies. In Expendables, his performance actually felt somewhat inhibited. Dave Bautista did just fine playing a warrior who did not understand metaphors. Transformers and Expendables 3 are interchangeable as the least favorite films of the summer. The rest of the films on the Least Favorite list were not necessarily bad, but had some wasted potential.

The Guardians
The Guardians
Marvel Studios

Million Dollar Arm. It could have been a nice heartwarming underdog story, but instead the focus was on the rich white guy trying to stay rich by using a couple of kids from India as a gimmick. Sure he started to care about them and learn what’s really important in life by the end of the movie, but the movie would have been much better if the supporting characters had gotten more quality screen time.

Third Person. It had potential, a good cast, and some decent thematic linking of the stories, but ultimately felt like and exercise in self indulgence.

Lucy. This writer loves Scarlett Johansson, so wanted to like this movie. It just tried too hard to be intelligent and the symbolism was entirely surface level.

A Million Ways to Die in the West. The Trailer was hilarious. Ted was hilarious. Neil Patrick Harris is in it. So audiences went into this movie expecting it to be sidesplittingly funny, but the vast majority of the jokes just fell flat.

The Amazing Spiderman 2 As a fan this will make a good addition to the DVD collection. It had enough going for it to make it worth seeing, particularly the performances of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Too much of the movie was underdeveloped (Harry Osborne) and it just wasn’t in the league of the other three films that came out this year based on Marvel characters.

Godzilla. This was a decent movie, overall. This writer just didn’t waste time seeing too many *bad* movies. It wasn’t a great film, it just ranked low overall because there were plenty of great films that were highly entertaining and/or thought provoking.

Films that were thoroughly enjoyed, but not as enthusiastically as the general consensus.

Edge of Tomorrow. It is a solid action film. Emily Blunt was terrific and will hopefully have a career as an action star (but not pigeonholed because she’s too talented for that). Tom Cruise wasn’t as annoying as he normally has been in the last 18 years. This writer just didn’t leave the theater with the “Holy crap, that was awesome!” feeling.

22 Jump Street. This was a funny movie, for certain. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are a fantastic comedic team. Ice Cube had not shortage of great moments. The end credits were hysterical. This writer just didn’t laugh as hard as a lot of other people.

Chef. This Writer has actually recommended this film to others, but simply wasn’t as enthusiastic as some of the critics she respects.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Andy Serkis is pure awesomeness as always and this was certainly a great film worth the price of admission, but ibid on Edge of Tomorrow.

Boyhood, It was nearly three hours and felt nearly three hours, but it was nearly three enjoyable hours, it just didn’t inspire 99% on Rotten Tomatoes level enthusiasm in this writer. It’s still worth the price of admission, though. Boyhood Trailer. Credit: Movie Clips Trailers

X-Men: Days of Future Past There could have been more team work, but this film was still pretty awesome. X-Men Days of Future Past Trailer; Credit: X-Men Movies

Pleasant Surprises

The Fault in Our Stars. Teen romances aren’t exactly loved by Comic Con loving geeks like this writer. The Fault in Our Stars was written by a fellow geek, so that’s in its favor. It is also not the typical crappy Surface level understanding, superficial take on Romeo and Juliet. People who enjoyed 50/50 and the Bucket list are likely to enjoy this film as well. There are actually a lot of funny and joyful moments that make the tear jerking moments that much more effective. The Fault in Our Stars trailer; credit: 20th Century Fox

No Ordinary Hero: Super Deafy. The first few minutes seemed a little silly (but for a good reason, as it turned out) and the trailer seemed to have a Disney Channel/ABC Family vibe, but the film itself was actually quiet enjoyable and offered some intelligent commentary on a few topics. Super Deafy Trailer. Credit: Ellisa LeBoyne

Ida. Although this writer loves Eastern European Post New Wave Cinema, she was still pleasantly surprised at how much she liked this film. It was good enough visually that reading subtitles didn’t feel like a distraction. The filmmakers also allowed the audience to fill in the blanks. Ida Trailer, credit: European Movie Trailers

Neighbors. This writer isn’t particularly fond of ranch coms, but Neighbors was hilarious. That is all. Neighbors Trailer; Credit: Movie Clips Trailers.

Favorties (in no particular order as that order is in Constant Flux)
Only Lovers Left Alive. Jim Jarmusch does an impressive cinematic feat in making a desolate Detroit setting beautiful. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton give wonderful, dry performances and have the best on screen romantic chemistry of any cinematic couple this year. Only Lovers Left Alive Trailer, Credit: Madman Films

How To Train Your Dragon 2 It’s a true family film in that children and their parents alike can enjoy it. Not only does it have all of the right ingredients for a great summer movie (humor, action, characters, tears, plot) but those ingredients are blended together well enough that they compliment each other. How to Train Your Dragon 2 Trailer; credit: Awesomeness TV

Snow Piercer. It may have been bad for the Box office that Director Bong Joon-Ho refused to cut 20 minutes from the film that the Weinstein company assumed Midwestern Audiences would be too dumb to understand (there are certainly plenty of vocal movie goers that want everything to be cut and dry, but there are others who don’t mind thinking about what they see on the screen), but the people who actually knew where the film was playing and got a chance to see it were rewarded with a thoroughly satisfying cinematic experience. This film had some of the most breath taking cinematography and action sequences of 2014. It serves as a cautionary tale of what the future could be by satirizing what is going on right now. There is a scene that throws some of Fed Up’s arguments into bold relief. Snow Piercer Trailer; Credit Movie Clips Trailers

Belle It’s a beautiful period piece with a wonderful character (based on an actual historic figure) at the center. There is some humor and drama. There is also a human rights element where people who try to defend human rights struggle against the tightly held conventions of 18th century class conscious English society. It’s a timeless subject (unfortunately) in a powerful film. Belle Trailer; Credit: Movie Trailers

The Infinite Man: It’s Funny. It’s Romantic. It’s genre bending. It’s well acted and directed. It’s successful, unconventional story telling. What more could anyone want? The Infinite Man Trailer; Credit: World Movie Trailers

Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s proof that big budget movies can be quality. It’s proof that good films so not need so-called big stars (like the Expendables 3 cast) for films to be successful (directors can cast actors who are right for the roles rather than actors studio execs think will sell tickets. It’s proof that fun popcorn movies don’t need to require audiences to “check their brains at the door.” It’s the kind of film people can watch over and over again and still enjoy. It’s funnier than most of the comedies that have come out in recent years and has some of the best action. There are also plenty of touching moments and it has a fantastic ensemble. Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer; Credit: Movie Trailers