Let’s Talk About All the 2014 Movies

18 Feb

With the Academy Awards going down this weekend, I felt it was my last chance to discuss 2014 in film. I won’t be watching the Oscars ceremony because I don’t care. They have never been particularly relevant to begin with, but in recent years they seem to have hit a new low. Besides, when you see the movies I liked, you’ll get why Hollywood’s biggest awards night means little to me.

Instead of doing a standard Top 10, I decided to just go through the entire list of the 29 films I caught this year and discuss each, some with a sentence, some with several paragraphs. Let’s begin with the WORST FILM I SAW IN 2014:

29. V/H/S: Viral

When done correctly, found footage can be the scariest horror genre there is, and I love many of its greatest hits: Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield being the first to come to mind. I love the V/H/S/ series even more, as an anthology seems like the perfect format for found footage. Both of the first two films had terrible wraparounds involving a haunted house filled with snuff films, but most of the first’s shorts excelled, and the sequel was even better.

Viral replaces the haunted house with some nonsense about a creepy ice cream truck causing mayhem as it drives through Los Angeles. I think it was supposed to be some commentary on Millennials and the culture of posting, reposting, tweeting, commenting, etc.—the cannibalization of the internet, if you will—but the message isn’t clear, the ice cream truck isn’t scary, and the acting is horrendous. The only good moment to come out of the wraparound is when a skaterboi is hooked onto the truck and has his feet torn off by the friction. It was a horrifying and gross and somewhat realistic bit of body horror, of which there is little in the actual shorts.

Dante the Great was an okay concept—a wannabe magician finds a magical cape that is also an evil monster that hungers for human flesh—but wasn’t scary, and stretched the limits of the imagination when it comes to found footage. Parallel Monsters also had a decent concept and was a bit scarier, but the giant penis monster was the most hilariously bad-looking puppet I’ve ever seen in a movie, and that pretty much deflates the whole affair. Bonestorm is the best by far, but that isn’t saying much. It used the found footage format the most effectively, and a skateboard video was a good idea, something I hadn’t seen in the genre yet. The action and gore were great, but the acting and writing were atrocious, making it more cool than scary.

These V/H/S/ movies seem cheap as hell to produce, so I’m sure they’ll continue to release them annually, but production company Bloody Disgusting needs to step up their game, namely, they need better talent. A lot of the up-and-comers from the first few films have moved on to greener pastures, such as Adam Wingard and Gareth Evans, and now it seems we’re left with the dregs. Found footage is always teetering on the edge of stupidity, so I hope one of its flagship franchises does a 360 and gets back on track.

28. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

I actually expected to like this movie more than I did. The Desolation of Smaug wasn’t half-bad, despite cutting out the Smaug attack that bizarrely opens this threequel. Moreover, I had resigned myself to the shittiness of these Hobbit movies. I knew they were going to suck as soon as it was announced the book would be split into a trilogy, so I went in with low expectations. I liked certain bits and pieces of the first film, and found a way to enjoy the goofier stuff, e.g. Radagast’s ridiculous goddamn bunny sled. I knew what I was getting into when I went to see Five Armies, hell, I knew what I was getting into as soon as I read the film ended in one, long, extended 45 minute battle sequence.

And yet, this might be my least favorite of the three. None of them make me angry like they do with some people, and that’s saying a lot because I get angry at movies all the damn time. I should be angry at The Hobbit because I’m a huge LOTR nerd and The Fellowship of the Ring is one of my Top 10 favorite films of all time, but I’m not so much angry as just sorta bummed. This movie made me feel cold and hollow inside, like a Ringwraith. There was cool stuff and there was the same laughable yet sorta endearing silly shit from the last two movies. Bolg gets stabbed in the head, then drops two hundred feet, then gets CRUSHED by a boulder because you know, we didn’t already get that he was dead when he got the blade in the noggin. The Orcs breach the defenses of Dale by having a troll with a battering ram attached to its head smash itself to death against the walls. That kind of shit is what I’m talking about.

In the end, despite being entertaining and full of goofy crap, Five Armies encapsulates everything I hate about modern blockbusters. The plot is overly complicated, the running time is overly long, and worst of all, everything looks like it was made on a computer. This movie is so computerized they have a CG version of Billy Connolly as a Dwarf. Everything has that glossy sheen to it that these Hobbit movies have, and the rules of physics are broken on a near-constant basis. Peter Jackson will always be one of my favorite filmmakers and I appreciate the vividness of his imagination, but contrary to the popular belief of many blockbuster filmmakers, you can’t do whatever your imagination conjures, at least not if you’re looking to make a real movie, and not a cartoon.

27. Interstellar

Ohhhh, Interstellar, you silly goofball you. I feel like you can use this movie as a barometer for how smart or dumb a person is. If they love Interstellar and think it’s 2001: A Space Odyssey for the 21st Century, then they’re probably dumb. That’s because Interstellar is an incredibly dumb movie that uses the tricks of the trade to convince lesser-minded members of its audience into thinking they know how theoretical physics work. If you have even a miniscule knowledge of science, you know most of this movie is utter horseshit, but that isn’t really its biggest problem. The main issue here is bad characters who like in Prometheus, also happen to be dumb scientists, a terrible combination; there’s also the bad script with innumerable plot holes, all coated in a candy-covered sheen of pretentiousness.

In fact, I’m not even going to give this movie the liberty of a discussion, I’m just going to list all the things that bothered me or made no sense:

  • Why will the blight of a handful of crops somehow lead to the utter extinction of every single human on the planet?
  • Oh, I guess they realized that made no sense and that’s why they added that bit about ammonia coming out of the blighted crops and poisoning the atmosphere. I’m not a scientist but that doesn’t sound right. You guys know crops aren’t the only plants that release oxygen into the atmosphere, right?
  • Why does everyone dress like 1930s Dust Bowl farmers in the future?
  • Why do people still dress like 1930s Dust Bowl farmers even further in the future?
  • What kind of terrible parent would name their baby girl Murphy and then call her “Murph” for short?
  • Why would the government rewrite history to make it seem like the Apollo Moon Landing was faked? Why are they so obsessed with crushing the dreams of future astronauts that they would change their history into propaganda?
  • Why is everyone in America being trained to be a farmer? Like, you know science and farming go hand-in-hand right? I get them going, “hey, instead of becoming a lawyer or a cop or a mechanic, maybe farm so we don’t all starve?” but we’re led to believe the government is anti-science now because… farming?
  • Why would repopulating another planet be our first instinct when faced with extinction? It’s so ludicrously improbable it would be scientists’ last thought (hence the deus ex machina of there being a conveniently-placed wormhole).
  • Hey, speaking of that wormhole, how did Future Humans do that? They only survived because they telegraphed the solution to spaceflight into Matthew McConaughey’s brain, but then how did they figure it out in the first place? TIME PARADOX.
  • Murphy is literally the worst character in this movie other than Anne Hathaway. She is a mean-spirited little brat who even as an adult can’t forgive her father for leaving her TO GO SAVE ALL OF HUMANITY FROM EXTINCTION. Seriously, fuck Murphy. Worthless character and human being.
  • Why is Casey Affleck in this movie?
  • Why is John Lithgow in this movie, and why did he forget how to act?
  • Why won’t Michael Caine retire?
  • Why is Matt Damon in this movie?
  • Hey, speaking of Astronaut Damon, like, the fuck man? So the world’s greatest scientist is a total little bitch, who would rather live for 30 more seconds than save humanity? I find this insulting to real scientists who probably would give their lives for the greater good, as that is, you know, their whole goddamn mantra. Furthermore, what did Astronaut Damon plan to do when he got to the spaceship? Like go home, and live on Earth for a little bit before suffocating from ammonia?
  • Why not just send the robots to do all of this? They seem smarter and more capable than all the humans.

The special effects were incredible, but there’s only one moment I’ll give real props to. Anne Hathaway, the worst character after Murph, gives one of the worst monologues I’ve ever seen, in one of the most terrible performances I’ve ever seen, about how love can be used to fuel starships or something, basically trying to trick the other scientists into letting her bone her BF one last time. After this long, laughable yet emotional shpiel, Matthew McConaughey just straight up tells her no. Best part of the movie.

Continue to #26-23

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