Monday Morning Critic – 10 Thoughts On The Year in Film: 2014’s Best (and Worst) Films, Moments And More (So Far)

MMC

With nothing major happening this week, as it’s a holiday and we’re making Independence Day jokes en masse before drinking and eating too much, it only makes sense to take a look back at the year that’s been so far. It’s been a weird year so far when it comes to movies and the industry that surrounds it. We’ve gone from a Superman sequel having tons of controversy in its casting to being a Justice League primer, among other things, and who’d have thought Kevin Hart would prove to be a regular draw at the box office? Throw in the return of Nikki Finke to show us what’s what and this has been a six month period that’s made for a lot of digital ink.

Thus since I don’t have anything to write about this week, as it’s been a super slow week in terms of actual news (outside of the terrible trailer for Horrible Bosses 2), I thought it’d be fun to reflect upon the year that’s been so far in the Inside Pulse standard 10 thoughts.

10. Kevin Hart may have the year’s best film. And it’s worst.

Think Like A Man Too was a dreadful waste of time in theatres this year. It’s my early pick for worst film of the year and has a very good chance at holding up when all is said and done. Ride Along was ok, nothing special, but About Last Night was a surprise in that it took the source material and changed it radically … yet wound up nailing down the heart of both the Mamet play and the ’80s film. At the end of the year this will most likely be in my top 10 … could be higher, too.


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9. The more that gets added to Dawn of Justice, the less it interests me.

Having a Man of steel sequel set up a Justice League film is openly aping Iron Man and I have no problem with it. DC and Warner Bros. sees big money in their own Avengers, of course, but one thing is bothering me. People didn’t start thinking of an Avengers film until Iron Man led the way to the dawning of the golden age of comic book films. It was a throwaway, post credits scene for those who stuck around and hardcore fans. It grew out organically and throwing in every DC hero of note into one film to kick start it feels off-putting. It’s deliberate and almost obnoxious in a way; I can’t think of a worse way to introduce some of the more iconic characters in comic book history via quick cameo appearances in the debut of Batffleck.


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8. Maleficent should spark a trend … but won’t.

Angelina Jolie headlined a film that crossed over half a billion dollars internationally, including over $200 million domestic, for a film that isn’t a comic book franchise or a sequel. The lesson Hollywood should learn is that you can make a franchise headlined by a woman and make a ton of money if it’s the right woman … but unfortunately this’ll just give us more “dark takes” of fairy tales and not “good films with strong female characters in them.”


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7. Channing Tatum keyed the funniest moment of 2014 (so far)

As much as I want to regularly mock Tatum for being an untalented individual who makes Blake Lively look like a good actress, he was a key part of the funniest scene of the year. His “celebration” when it turns out Jonah Hill has been dating the Captain’s daughter in 22 Jump Street is easily the funniest bit of 2014. As much as he’s untalented and nearly kills every film he’s in regularly, for some reason in the Jump Street franchise he’s been an integral part. He works wonderfully with Hill and it’s crazy to think that he’s actually good at comedy.


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6. Tom Cruise makes a great film … that no one sees

Edge of Tomorrow was a great film, maybe one of his best overall, and no one came out to watch it. Tom Cruise is usually pretty good at being someone who gets crowds out. And yet this might be his worst box office showing since Lions for Lambs, which is said because it’s really good.


5. Nymphomaniac was all sizzle, no steak

A big to do was made about Shia LaBeouf and Lars Von Trier’s opus about a gal who has a compulsion for sex got much more publicity than it got box office receipts. Before it was released it had a buzz to it, given the director and the material covered. After it came out people realized it was more sizzle than steak.


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4. Seth MacFarlane hits the dreaded “sophomore jinx”

Ted was a great film, one of my favorites of 2012. It was interesting that MacFarlane would go for a comedy Western; more surprised when he subsequently used it as a starring vehicle for himself. It looked like he might be able to pull it off, though. I thought it was fairly awful and movie goers agreed as it wasn’t the sort of r-rated comedy hit that Ted turned out to be. I wanted to like it, I really did, but it just was so unfunny I couldn’t.


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3. Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill for has the year’s best trailer

As much as it feels weird that it took this long to get a sequel to the first film, a commercial and critical hit, and in the near decade since the first film the world of cinema has changed greatly. I’m not sure if it’ll be a good film or not, far from it, but so far the trailer is dynamite.


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2. Foxcatcher looks like the film that could dominate awards season

My early favorite for prestige season is the biopic of John Du Pont and the Schultz brothers, the former most famous for being a crazy billionaire who shot Dave Schultz for reasons only known to himself and the latter for being two of the best wrestling brothers in US history. With the whole fervor behind the Olympics cancelling wrestling dying down the film feels a little out of place on the schedule. This could’ve been a bigger film, commercially, if it came out during the hysteria of a year ago. However so far it has the buzz and the feel of a film that’ll earn someone a lot of hardware; for some reason I have a feeling that “Academy Award winner Mark Ruffalo” and “Academy Award winner Steve Carell” might be possibilities … and “Academy Award nominee Channing Tatum” will go from being a punch line to a really bad joke to a possibility as well.


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1. Guardians of the Galaxy looks to be the biggest test of the comic book film genre

So far this year most of the top of the box office charts are coming out of established acts from the comic book genre. Anything Marvel does, it seems, grosses a ton at the box office both here and abroad. Now, though, the interesting thing occurs. Guardians isn’t the Avengers or X-Men, which is something at least people have heard of en masse. Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t something casual fans are going to immediately know; so far Marvel has been kicking ass at the box office. I’ll have more on this when we get close to release date but so far … this looks like the first big test of the genre as a whole to draw for Marvel.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

Travis discusses the week in box office shenanigans.

And now on MMC … we get our angst on, 90s style!

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s DVD – Pretty in Pink

One of the films that cemented the ’80s as one where John Hughes remained supreme was Pretty In Pink. taking the star crossed lovers from different ends of the socio-economic spectrum plot, and throwing it into the ’80s, Hughes crafted one of his iconic films with the actress that served as his muse: Molly Ringwald.

Simple premise. Andy Walsh (Ringwald) is a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Blane (Andrew McCarthy) drives a fancy car and obviously comes from money. The two wind up dating and problems from both groups of friends arise. His buddies think she’s after his money. Her friends think he’s only after a cheap thrill in the bedroom. Will they be able to stay together? Or will she go for Duckie (Jon Cryer), her long suffering best friend with an obvious crush.

It’s interesting that the biggest stars to come out of this film in the long term were Cryer and James Spader, crazy enough, and there’s more talent and notable names (like Gina Gershon and Andrew “Dice” Clay) in blink and you miss it roles than you’d expect. It’s such an ’80s film in that it’s one of the few places you look and see someone like Molly Ringwald in a prime role; you can’t turn on a film these days with her in a prime role without it being some schlock like Sharknado 3: Electric Buggaloo or an ’80s film from John Hughes.

The film itself hasn’t aged all that much, outside of the obvious, and it’s still insanely watchable because it’s a good story with good characters.

Recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – The virus has pushed humanity to the brink. Only one thing remains: pick a fight with a punch of super intelligent apes!

Skip it – The first film was solid but not spectacular … and I can’t see this film being a marked step up.

Boyhood – Richard Linklater follows a tale in the life of a kid … but filmed a handful of scenes per year for a decade plus, thus allowing us to see him actually grow up and change as the world changed. Ethan Hawke’s his deadbeat father, as well. In Limited Release

See it – So far the reviews are sterling and Travis Leamons, who saw it earlier this year, has done nothing but rave about how great it was.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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