Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Movie Releases (In Review)

I'm gonna go ahead and back-date this post for posterity (and so it's easier to find in later years). But by way of explanation, I've been busy, stressed, and even a little bit sick over the holidays, so my year end festivities are running a couple weeks late. Looking back, I saw a lot of new movies in 2013. Here is a list of the new movies I saw in 2014:

In March, I saw Divergent, which is a Hunger Games-like sci-fi dystopia that I rather enjoyed. I'm looking forward to seeing the second part of the trilogy, which I think is coming out this spring.

In June came the release of Maleficent, which I saw more for Elle Fanning's portrayal of a Disney Princess than Angelina Jolie's celebrated performance as the titular villain from Sleeping Beauty. The movie was alright, though I felt that in making Maleficent sympathetic, they really removed her fangs, and destroyed what made her such an iconic character in the first place.

July was the month for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which I went to see after catching up on the first movie, that I had originally missed during its theatrical run. It was very good. I'm excited to see where the story goes in future installments of the series.

I also got to see Snowpiercer, albeit at home, which saw a wide release in this country this year. It was a fantastic sci-fi dystopia movie, more in the vein of 1984 and Brave New World than the "young adult fiction" adaptations (e.g., The Hunger Games, Divergent) that are popular these days. It's tied with Interstellar as my vote for the best new movie I watched this year.

Speaking of which, Interstellar came out in November - an epic, sci-fi tour de force that marks Christopher Nolan's next big project after concluding The Dark Knight trilogy. It stands on the shoulders of Stanley Kubrick's cult classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, and features incredible special effects, and speculative scientific themes involving the manipulation of relativistic spacetime, that this astrophysics geek just loved.

November also saw the release of the first part of the last part of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay - Part 1. Despite being an adaptation of the first half of a book, meaning that there's less action and no satisfying conclusion (yet), it is on par with the excellent second installment of the saga, Catching Fire, which was so good. The only reason I'm not rating it one of the best movies of the year is because I voted Catching Fire the best movie of last year, and it seems more fair to spread the accolades around. It was still the only movie I saw twice in theaters this year (although I would have seen Interstellar a second time if it weren't so long). I am eagerly anticipating the final conclusion to this series.

Finally, we come to this year's Hobbit movie - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Part 1). It's terrible that I saw this movie more out of a sense of duty than any kind of excitement. And I'm more than a little relieved that the series is over now (I was kidding about it being only part 1 :p). The Hobbit never should have been three movies. Even with the added stuff about the Necromancer and Dol Guldur, which largely turned out to be a disappointment (even if the supergroup battle between Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman, and Gandalf versus Sauron in this movie was pretty cool). It's not that The Hobbit is bad - as it shines in its best moments. It's just that it's so long and drawn out, and I feel that the machinery that made The Lord of the Rings a legitimate masterpiece has become so bloated and money-hungry that the material has begun to suffer from excess as a result. There are some good stories yet to be told from The Silmarillion, perhaps, but I think the world needs a cinematic break from Middle-Earth before anyone even considers tackling something like that.

Other newish movies I watched this year, at home, include Transcendence (starring Johnny Depp as a godlike AI), which was so-so; and a few I had missed in previous years, including You're Next, and Insidious: Chapter 2, both of which were pretty good. There was also All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, which came out only recently, despite being filmed all the way back in 2006. Ultimately, it wasn't very good, though.

There were a few movies that came out this past year that looked interesting, but I didn't get to see. I'm not going to bother listing them here. I'll either get around to watching them sometime in the future, or not. I don't really know what's coming out this year, or in the more distant future, except that I'm looking forward to future installments of series I've already begun (namely Divergent, The Hunger Games, and The Planet of the Apes). Oh, and of course there's the new Jurassic Park movie (Jurassic World), and the new Star Wars movie. I don't know when they're coming out, and there's no telling yet if they'll be any good, but I have to admit I'm a little bit excited about their potential. Only time will tell.

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