Movies 2014

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Movies 2014

Movies 2014

2k14/12

  • The X-Files. Seasons 2--5. 10/10.
  • Edge of Tomorrow. 10/10. I was not at all disappointed by this after the hype and then rapid fade. It's really good. The action is superbly well done. Everything just looks amazing, moves amazing. None of it's particularly novel I guess but it just looks good, tons of detail to soak in each time---which is a good thing given the structure of the movie. The plot is similarly not super novel but it's solid. More importantly, there's just enough to the characters to make it more than just a straight action movie. Combine all three parts---looks, plot, characters---being pretty solid and you've got a really good movie.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas. 8/10. Gorgeous and entertaining.
  • The Village. 8/10. I'm actually not sure what the consensus opinion is on this, but I think it's pretty good. Good costumes and colors, and a solid story. Holds up pretty well even if you know or guess the twist.
  • The Grand Hotel Budapest. 10/10.

2k14/11

  • The X-Files. Season 1. 10/10.
  • The Rocketeer. 7/10. Not actually a particularly amazing movie, but it's not terrible and remains fun and has a bunch of cool planes. The Rocketeer's costume is also pretty sweet.
  • Rocky Balboa. 9/10. Sure, the ending is super implausible, but does that matter at all? Of course not. And if that's the only downside you've got, you ain't got much. The fight's of course the big show, but the raw inability of the characters to communicate directly is the main strength of the film. Stallone pegs these people to a tee.
  • Man of Steel. 6/10. Totally forgettable.
  • Oblivion. 7/10. A gorgeous movie that is unfortunately largely wasted. The landscapes are amazing, the ruins fantastic, the costumes and weapons appropriately future-tech and/or other-worldly, like the initial appears of the Scavengers. The motion of the drones and ships is also really cool, and the sound effects on the drones and their mannerisms fantastic. Fortunately the plot isn't terrible, it's just delivered flatly. The characters are all emphatically one-dimensional and bland, so even though the plot is ok it's hard to really care by the end though the first part of the film survives on the mystery of what's going on. The music doesn't help; it's not bad, but it's omnipresent and cheesily overemphasizes the emotions. It'd be better if the soundtrack was more sparse, to match the scenery. Extensive, unnecessary opening expository narration and a chipper, miraculous ending seal the deal. All in all still not a bad movie, but imminently forgettable. Not a shock at all that a number of the people involved in the recent Tron movies created this as well.
  • Pacific Rim. 7/10. Pretty dumb movie in many ways, but intentionally so and soo good because of it.
  • Django Unchained. 9/10. Not the kind of movie you'd want to watch over and over. Not even a movie I'd want to watch with people. I can't really imagine seeing it in a crowd, I'm so sure that most people are not really processing it in any meaningful way. The rampant use of "nigger" throughout strikes me as completely non-controversial, in fitting with the times, but that's what most people have talked about, carefully ignoring any discussion about slavery or its legacy. To that end, the violence throughout the film is over the top, but used in smart ways: While the violence against the slaveowners is comic, that against the slaves is uniformly not though nonetheless dramatic. Django also seems compromised, limited; he's doing it all for himself and his wife, not all the slaves. What to make of the d'Artagnan scene? All in all, I think this is a fairly deep movie. That said, it is not without flaws. For example, despite the violence projected against the slaves in parts, I think it significantly pulls its punches in other parts, particularly so for sexual violence.
  • Batman. 7/10. A little goofy and cliched; the obligatory '80s quick-to-bloom romance in particular feels forced. But still solid. Closer to the comics in gags and props than the newer movies, but still dark in tone. Holding up pretty well though.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Season 9. 7/10. Some good episodes, but no particularly standout scenes or episodes.
  • The Usual Suspects. 8/10.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 8/10. A stellar movie. On technical grounds it's still holding up really well, the animation/live-action interaction is pretty solid. On a superficial writing level it's again solid, with lots of small comments and jokes that work well. More deeply, several of the characters are pretty good, and the underlying economic concerns driving the overall plot are actually pretty adult and interesting.

2k14/10

  • Riddick. worst 5/10. In purely technical terms this movie is ok in its construction. The first half hour or so is even pretty engrossing as you watch Riddick live off the land. It's not all the time that you have a movie based around a dude skinning alien lizards to make dinner and training alien coyotes. After that though it switches to a more traditional action movie in the Riddick vein of isolated bounty hunters fending off both him and the planet. That's ok, except that the movie has seriously offensive overtones. There are only a few women in the whole movie. Three are Necromunger consorts of some sort that exist solely to roll around naked together while Vin Diesel watches. Another is a chained-up sex slave released only to be summarily shot in the back while Diesel watches impassively. The last is one of the mercenary leaders, but she basically only exists to be subjected to multiple attempts of rape by other bounty hunters and Diesel peeping on her and explicitly telling her he's going to be "balls deep" in her before the end... but only if she asks. Pretty bad. Worse, she at least pretends to be gay but of course comes around to Diesel by the end, conveying a ridiculous rightwing message that all these lesbians really need is a "true" man to straighten them out. I say Diesel in all of this rather than Riddick because it's hard not to conclude that this all reflect's Diesel's subconscious mindset. After all, this franchise is his baby, this movie the product of him ostensibly mortgaging his house to keep afloat, etc.. Super disappointing because I otherwise thought this franchise had a lot going for it with its ridiculous but extensive mythology, good action, and well done sci-fi effects. Oh well.
  • Mud. 8/10. Not at all what I expected. I thought there'd be a bit more romance to it, but especially by the end it's pretty gritty and realistic. A very simple, bare bones movie, but that fits the theme. Surprisingly good, with strong and complex character interactions by the end.
  • The Blacklist. Season 2. 6/10. This started off amazingly promising, but quickly descends. I suspect there's just too many episodes to fill, and the team compelled to try and outdo every other dumb show out there in convoluted complexity. It fails every test I have for this kind of vaguely sci-fi/political thriller/terrorist/criminal procedural: This uber-team of agents from a variety of three letter organizations quickly winds up chasing little more than standard serial killers; the desk jockey psychological profiler rapidly emerges as the best shooter, close quarters combatant, and building penetration agent despite explicitly having no training in any of those areas; several of the characters are completely unstoppable in their areas; everybody is related to everybody in a ridiculous family drama spanning decades; in the end, everything and everybody falls back to torturing people without any qualms or regrets. Very disappointing from a few very promising opening episodes. Upsides are a great soundtrack and a number of good female roles, including both agents, government leadership, and one of the two leads.
  • In A World. 8/10. Small but solid little semi-romantic and family drama. Characters and plot have just enough nuance and quirks and some of the bits are funny enough to make it deliver well.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier. 7/10. I found this much less compelling than I expected to. It does have more political thriller overtones than a typical superhero movie, but it's still far from a political thriller. The genre just makes it too predictable for there to be any real tension. SHIELD is Hydra? Ok. What a shock. The Cap isn't blown up by the strike missile coming at him? Ok. What a shock. All in all, pretty boring stuff. The surveillance theme is laudable, but the film definitely doesn't get at in any sort of interesting way. The most interesting questions are actually wholly unaddressed: How could SHIELD get enough funding to build the Hellcarriers? Did it make sense to waste all of that by blowing them up, when they really literally just needed to do a software update? All the heroes here should go to jail for bankrupting the country needlessly. Finally, isn't Norfolk or Washington or wherever they were being built now completely destroyed from all the wreckage falling all over???
  • Contagion. 7/10. This is a better movie than the attention it will ever get. It's very realistic, nuanced, quiet, and recognizes that things take a long time to play out. It's tense but not really a thriller. It's engaging and interesting without being super compelling, and clearly predestined to not be particularly popular. Worth watching though. Several characters do have interesting things going on, and it is a really good look at the processes and people in an actual pandemic.
  • Tombstone. 7/10. Not aging well, beginning with the ridiculous opening voiceover. The good standout scenes all revolve around Val Kilmer's Doc Holiday, notably the closing sequence on his deathbed, and most especially the tin cup gunplay in the bar where he simultaneously outrageously mocks the opposing gang and yet completely defuses the situation.
  • Arrow. Season 2. 7/10. Has definitely lost steam. I think the increasingly baroque background is bringing it down.
  • Emperor. 7/10.
  • Fargo. 8/10.
  • Good Burger. 7/10.
  • Turner and Hooch. 7/10.
  • The Walking Dead. Season 4. 8/10. Super good. The first half in particular still has some of the dreary endless zombie bashing. There were a number of points were I just couldn't take any more skull crushing, and I definitely couldn't mainline whole batches of episodes at once because it was all just so draining. But the show did get back to its character development and returned to small groups and quiet, deadly walks through the woods. This was a welcome return from the big set piece battles and battle-filled, plot driven style it had taken on. There are a number of fantastic episodes in this season, definitely some of the best. The emerging character arc on a few of them is also starting to rival the original Rick/Shane arc in depth and interest. Recommended.
  • Hellboy. 8/10. Very solid for what it is. The remark from Liz as she lights up of "You should be running" is a small but particularly good moment, arguably a point where she begins to realize her powers aren't just a curse and to take control.
  • Skyfall. 9/10. Still think the ending is a little weak, even if only for being a dramatic shift in setting from crowded cities to a completely empty landscape, but overall the movie remains excellent.
  • Dredd. 8/10. Could be one of the most re-watchable background movies on NetFlix, something to just have on that you can easily either pay attention to or not.

2k14/9

  • Inception. 9/10. I expected this to be a let down from all the hype, but it was surprisingly good. I expected sort of a dumb quasi-intellectualness given all the mass market appeal, but it actually had some strong elements going for it. Some of the popular basic uncertainties I don't find particularly interesting, it seems clear to me he was not in a dream at the very end and I think there's textual evidence for that (thought: the top is not actually his totem...). But the whole story with his wife is very very good.
  • Crocodile Dundee. 6/10. Almost entertaining, but it's marred badly by its aging worldview. For example, groping multiple people in various settings to determine whether or not they're transgender is distasteful, not hilarious.
  • The Ghost and the Darkness. 6/10. Definitely not aging well. Boring tropes, colonialism, la la la la la.
  • Bob's Burgers. Seasons 1--3. 7/10. Pretty good through the first season, but I think it went down hill as went heavier on the innuendo and risque humor in later episodes.
  • Her. 8/10. Undeniably a great movie. Extremely well done and thoughtful. It didn't quite engage me as much as I hoped, but still a truly good example of science fiction and movie making.
  • Reign Over Me. 9/10. Holding up well. If only Sandler would just commit to doing good movies all the time, it'd be incredible!
  • Bojack Horseman. 9/10. Oh man. It's so wrong, but it's so right. The story is a bit predictable at times, though this first set doesn't end where I thought it would and there are some great moments that don't go as expected. It's just good though in its outright raunchy ridiculousness. I especially love the trippy, dark, Lynch-esque opening credits sequence and music.

2k14/8

  • Gravity. 8/10. I really really want to love this. It's visually amazing and has a lot going for it. Writing this two months later, I remember the movie much more fondly than I actually enjoyed watching it. Sitting there in the moment, it had three major problems: 1) The main character is a huge whiner for about half the show and I spent that portion mostly wishing she would just get it over with and die already; 2) The seriousness and realism of some of the effects and settings highlights the ridiculous odds of some of the close calls and off chances---fingers just barely catching on protrusions at just the right time and things like that; 3) I didn't really get much out of the movie. The major lesson after all that is... You should want to live? Stop whining and ride the rocket? There doesn't seem to be much to it. But it is gorgeous, visually and aurally.
  • Michael Clayton. 9/10.
  • Gladiator. 8/10.
  • Man on Fire. 8/10.
  • Shooter. 7/10. Utterly forgettable.
  • Empire State. 7/10. Interesting setting, but ultimately pretty forgettable. The main characters never really engage.
  • Homefront. 7/10. Somehow, for some reason, I expected a lot more out of this. It could have been solid. But instead it's just rote, predictable, and ultimately highly forgettable.

2k14/7

  • Justified. Seasons 1--4. 8/10. Degrades a bit in the latter half, losing some of its originality and style. But definitely a good watch overall, and the opening seasons are brilliant.
  • Leverage. Seasons 1--3. 7/10. Started off ok, fun but with hints at more serious things. Getting less interesting as it goes on however. Parker in particular has gotten seriously dumbed down, which has both limited her direct appeal and significantly reduced the sexual tension and possibilities between her and Hardison. The relationship between Ford and Devereaux has also been on an extremely long burn which has limited the appeal quite a bit.

2k14/6

  • World War Z: Unrated Version. 7/10. Way better than I thought it was going to be. Pity it got so wrapped up in pre-production negative publicity. This is actually a pretty ok zombie movie, definitely a cut above most. I can see how early leaks had the initial script as amazing, I could believe it was really good before getting dumbed down in pre and chopped up in post.
  • Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World. 8/10. Better than I expected. Plays some fairly rote emotional cards and fairly predictable at times, but it's solid. In some ways it pulls its smaller punches at the end, but in other ways that just enables it to really slam them home, which is good.
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness. 6/10. Super boring.
  • Longmire. Seasons 1 and 2. 9/10. Excellent. Great blend of different lives, between modern white western, reservation life, and historical native culture. I thought it was going to head darker and take a more Shakespearean turn at several points. That probably would have been good for its intellectual appeal over a season or two, but potentially crippling to the long term likability of several characters. Either way, good stuff.
  • The Last Starfighter. 7/10. Showing its age but hanging on as a fun film.
  • Sherlock. Season 3. 7/10. Not terrible, but not nearly as good as the first shows. The one plus is that by the very end it's highlighted that Sherlock is truly not the same as everybody else emotionally, to an even greater and more violent extent than previously acknowledged. Otherwise though it's fairly forgettable.
  • Numb3rs. Season 1. 6/10. Not actually terrible, but pretty painful at times with how hard it's working to rope in various patterns and such. Pretty stereotypical characters and setups as well.
  • Pain & Gain. 8/10. Way, way off the wall. But certainly the best Michael Bay movie I'm aware of. Pretty violent, lots of ridiculousness, but it's at least interesting. Dwayne Johnson again comes through with a great take on a quirky, troubled character, get that guy some more opportunities! Ditto Mark Wahlberg.
  • Magnum P.I. Seasons 2 and 3. 7/10. Still ok-ish but running out of steam. Magnum's become a little too respectable, he hardly ever runs around in his mini-shorts and Hawaiian shirts anymore. Every now and then it strikes well, but in general it's moved away from some of the more serious overtones of PTSD and the various southeast Asia wars.

2k14/5

  • Moneyball. 8/10. Seems like the movie takes a lot of liberties with the actual historical events and people, but it is a good film.
  • The Good Shepherd. 7/10. I'm pretty sure this is a good movie, but I had a hard time getting into it this time around. It's just so bleak.
  • Blackfish. 8/10. Seems pretty compelling. Reading up on it quite a bit before and after, I definitely am not inclined to agree with SeaWorld's stance that it's inaccurate and misleading.
  • Magnum P.I. Season 1. 8/10. Just given the era of television this is from I assume this isn't going to develop any more interesting longer arcs, which is a shame. It's actually pretty good. The tone wobbles a bit between very comic and not, and I'm getting pretty tired of Selleck making faces at the camera, but it's entertaining. Some of the earlier episodes show some real hints of interesting things, like TC and Magnum almost but not quite talking about their PTSD. That whole aspect of it though is fading out as the show goes on, which is a shame.
  • Pulp Fiction. 7/10. More flash and style than substance.
  • Iron Man 3. 7/10. I wasn't as blown away as many commenters, but I definitely appreciate the attempts to get at more interesting things like Tony dealing with his PTSD.

2k14/4

  • Total Recall. 2012 version. 5/10. Ironically absolutely forgettable.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Season 1. 7/10. Has some interesting deeper things going on, but taking much too long to really explore them.
  • The Thomas Crown Affair. 8/10. Flashy and fun.
  • Lay the Favorite. 6/10. Shows some amount of promise, but can't settle on a tone, throws together a zany plot, annoying main character, etc..
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation. 5/10. Complete waste of time.
  • The Fifth Element. 8/10. Still awesome.
  • Vanilla Sky. 8/10. Probably cheaply manipulative and emotional, but even knowing basically what's going on I think this movie holds up. There are some interesting things to think about and scenes worth rewatching.
  • Chinatown. 8/10. Really good, a little bit marred by throwing in the Cross/daughter angle. It'd be stronger if it just focused on the economic and political aspects. That just seems like such a large thing it pulls attention away from everything else, changes the tone. Many other less distracting plottings could have been arranged to still deliver Evelyn into the same role by the end.
  • Bad Boys. 7/10. Sort of fun, but just fluff. Seems like the signature song has been removed? How could they let that happen?!?!
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild. 9/10. Definitely a movie you need to pay attention to. I have mixed feelings about whether or not its glorifying alcoholism and such, but you can't deny that it treats its subjects as humans.

2k14/3

  • The Croods. 7/20. Seems like an ok kids movie. Lots of ridiculous fun things. Tear jerker toward the end, but pulls its punches.
  • Flyboys. 6/10. James Franco should never lead any movie ever, it's just impossible to take anything serious at that point. Lots of obvious shortcomings too, e.g., the non-rotating radial engines. Lazy-ass animators and props people! The best thing about this movie is the Wikipedia note that the sole historical advisor was later convicted for fraud.
  • Valkyrie. 7/10. It's ok, but not super engaging. To a large extent I think the movie's just seriously overshadowed by Downfall, which isn't really a fair comparison. I think it would be more compelling with somebody besides Tom Cruise. Though not a problem of his in general, in this role I feel like he pushes the seriousness and self-importance of the movie a bit far.
  • Bandits. 7/10. Another surprisingly good movie that looks like a grim prospect purely from the NetFlix listing. Bits of the plot are weak at times, there's a number of moments that are tough to accept and get past, especially toward the end, but that's basically to be expected. More importantly though, it does have some interesting character tension to it. The whole thing going on between the main trio and their eventual acceptance of that situation is kind of complex and surprising for what could very easily have otherwise been a totally flat minor action movie. I wish it got into it a bit more, in particular the long term---the ending here seems to be were it would get really interesting emotionally. Joe in particular doesn't seem like the kind of guy that could handle it over the long term, but maybe he can. After all, he's clearly a deep friend of Terry's, which is itself somewhat hard to believe, so maybe there's more there. In any event, while not brilliant or super deep, this movie is undeservedly overlooked.
  • Stand Up Guys. 7/10. I expected this to be a pretty bad movie, but it's actually ok. Some goofy parts, but those admittedly keep the tone from becoming overly serious. I wouldn't say the film's amazing, but it does have some nice touches and a bunch of meta-notes as a bit of a sendoff for some aging actors.
  • Days of Thunder. 7/10. Over the top and you have to squelch down any reaction to how formulaic Cruise's movies are, but it's otherwise ok.
  • Bull Durham. 6/10. Not a bad movie really, just not amazing. Standard Costner. How many baseball movies has he been in?!
  • Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive. 7/10. Crude at times but pretty funny. The marriage bit that's gone around the Internet is of course good, and there's some other pretty funny parts.
  • The Ninth Gate. 6/10. Could have been something, but it's alternately ludicrous and boring. There are a lot of scenes that are just stupid and out of tone with the rest of the movie, like at some point they stopped editing or switched editors. Doesn't really pack a punch either, and the FX such as they are come across fairly poorly.
  • Archer. Season 4. 8/10. Not as funny as some of the earlier seasons. In particular it doesn't seem quite as adept at the running gag. Standout cameos also don't make an appearance. Where the hell is Babou?! Still, pretty good.
  • The Giant Mechanical Man. 7/10. Pretty solid romantic comedy. Not outrageously funny, but not outrageously sappy either. Predictable but pleasing.
  • House of Cards. Season 2. 7/10. Again technically well executed, and has some very interesting elements. The Chinese subplot in particular is good. But overall it's just not lastingly interesting. Mega-business man Tusk just doesn't set up a good rivalry for Frank as they're basically mirror images of each other from business and politics. It would be more interesting to see somebody with a different view on life stand up to Frank.
  • Breaking Bad. Season 5. 8/10. Some really good elements, particularly the relationship between Jesse and Walter. Less punch than previous seasons, but that's to be expected. Definitely ends very well, all tied up pretty cleanly.

2k14/2

  • Burn Notice. Season 7. 7/10. Ends the series really well. Unfortunately they've hit most of the same notes before so the closing bad guy and some episodes don't hit super strong. But, still, it's solid, and the whole thing wraps up well.
  • Jack Reacher. 8/10. Much better than I expected. Nothing revelatory, but it's interesting, engaging, and not super predictable.
  • Foyle's War. Seasons 1--4. 8/10. Starts off super good. Lots of historical fluff, and interesting looks into the homefront in early WW2 England. Over time though it starts to focus more on the murder mystery procedural and less on the overall aspects, which diminished the appeal of the project. Still good, but not as compelling or standout.
  • Europa Report. 7/10. I was actually really bummed about this, given the high profile positives it had gotten. Certainly it's well done. The plot is super predictable but not terrible. Overall though I just couldn't find anything in it to grab me, possible because of that predictability.

2k14/1

  • The Last Stand. 6/10. Actually seemed like it might turn into a pretty good movie. There's some good comedy buddy cop stuff going on in the opening segments. But it doesn't really strike the right tone overall. I think it takes itself too seriously. Whitaker especially just brings too much to it, his seriousness detracts from an otherwise goofy comedy. The violence is a bit much as well for what should have been a totally light outing.
  • Ben 10 Ultimate Alien. Season 1. 7/10. Definitely something very appealing about this, not totally sure what other than its fun goofyness.
  • Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. 7/10. Almost actually a good movie, it just doesn't manage to really strike any meaningful points in the same way some other notable B movies have, like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter does.
  • Twin Peaks. Season 1. 8/10. Should be absolutely amazing, in many ways manages to be so, but it really starts losing me going into the second season. I didn't make it much past a couple episodes beyond that.
  • Mission Impossible II. 7/10. Ok, not particularly memorable. As usual for this series the face mask tech takes an incredible effort to buy into.
  • Men In Black. 8/10. Still a well done movie.
  • Hotel Chevalier. 10/10. Still an absolutely incredible short.
  • Moonrise Kingdom. 10/10. I've watched this six times this week and it just keeps getting better. The best movie made since Wes Anderson's last movie?! The music, the colors, the big actions, the small actions, the dialog, it's perfect.
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