Top 14 Films of 2014

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Honorable Mentions

Guardians of the Galaxy

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The film with the best chance of breaking into the top fourteen, as it had the best blend of action, science fiction, humor and heart. Chris Pratt is leading man material, and Zoe Saldana still gets me going. Unfortunately it had another Marvel, “attain super powerful trinket” plot, accompanied with another cardboard cut out villain, keeping it away from eating with the big dogs.

Blue Ruin

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A revenge thriller that looks like a Terrence Mallick flick. Macon Blair is a budding star, sure to be in a big budget film within the next two years. Many film snobs will look at me in disgust for not putting it higher, but one too many slow parts, a lackluster ending, and overall lack of staying power doomed it. Let’s be honest, when Buzz from Home Alone is the best part of your film, you deserve this spot. This coming from a hue Home Alone fan.

Snowpiercer

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If there weren’t so many great science fiction films this year Snowpiercer would have made the list. Original, bleak, possibly realistic, this was the surprise of 2014. I had no idea where the ending would lead to and it didn’t disappoint. The film surprisingly isn’t all that re-watchable, though. I saw it once and was satisfied.

The Lego Movie

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Surprised I didn’t put an animated film into the Top 14? Yeah, me too. If I’m being honest, this film probably should be there. The animation was fantastic, the cast shines from parts big to small, and it may be the best comedy of the year, albeit in a weak year for comedy. I will say this. I’ve re-watched this movie a bunch of times and liked it less with each viewing. I don’t know what that means, but maybe it’s something and maybe it isn’t.

14.

The Theory of Everything

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Honestly, this film has bounced all around my list. From my top ten, to top three, to honorable mention, back to top ten, finally finding a spot on the fence. Two things stick out. Eddie Redmayne’s performance cannot be ignored. Simply enough, he brought Stephen Hawking to the screen. He brought Lou Garret Disease to the screen. Most likely to win an Oscar, and while I may have preferred Gyllenhaal, I certainly can’t argue against him. Second, I applaud the film for not shying away from the struggles of Stephen and Jane’s relationship. There’s no bad guy in the situation. Sometimes the tragedies of life are too much for “love” to withstand. Yeah, ‘Til death do we part’ sounds great when you’re in your twenties and completely healthy. But what happens when you need to change the shit from your husbands diapers. I was worried the film would focus too much on the Hawking’s relationship, while not giving enough time to other life details. And you know what? It was all about the two of them and it was amazing. Feel good story without the cheese, something that’s not easy to pull off.

13.

The Skeleton Twins

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Any film dealing with depression deserves attention, especially ones done so well. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig will be most likely ignored come awards season, but I’m not going to short change them here. Together they carry this bleak “comedy”, bringing to life the mundane life most of us live. Held back by a disappointingly cliche’ ending, otherwise the film would have cracked my top ten. Not to be overlooked, it also includes the best lip sync in film history.

12.

Interstellar

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Every Christopher Nolan film is more picked apart and criticized than both Obama terms. It’s getting to a comical breaking point. Do I think Interstellar is perfect? Absolutely not. Matt Damon’s fight scene was laughable, Nolan still can’t write realistic dialog, and I’m still wondering how Wes Bentley was unable to get on the ship before getting tidal waved. Those three things withstanding, Nolan put together a cinematic experience. I still have nightmares from that wormhole scene. This was the best use of time distillation I’ve seen in a film, ever. And McConaughey, while not at his best, still made me tear up with his acting super powers. You know it was getting stuffy they showed his close up cry. Interstellar has it’s fault, no doubt, but I’ll be damned if there are fourteen better films from 2014. And don’t you DARE say Gravity was better or I’ll have no choice but to fight you.

11.

Foxcatcher

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Films based on true stories always seem to draw me to the theater. Foxcatcher happens to be especially dark, telling the tragic story of the Schultz brothers teaming with multimillionaire John du Pont. It’s sports related, yet anything but a sports movie. It’s how the strong prey on the weak, personal greed, jealousy, brotherly bonds, and gives a firsthand look into the mind of a “crazy” person. Admittedly it gets slow at points. Once you’re three quarters of the way through you just want to see the end, especially if you know the true story. At the end of the film I couldn’t help but walk out of the theater like a zombie. Amazing work all around by Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. Never thought I’d hear myself say that. Personally I thought Rufallo was the stand out but he seems to be overshadowed by the two leads. If you love films based on true stories, this is the one to see this year.

10.

The Signal

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The pool of quality independent films this year was eye opening. Even more ridiculous is how little The Signal looks and feels like an independent film. The special effects seemed a higher quality than most of the Marvel films that came out in the past three years. Another original science fiction film, The Signal scared the living shit out of me. It’s an “escape from a medical prison” type of film that leaves you shaking from the action and clutching your pillow to withstand the bleakness. When the film ended it just killed me. A sense of hopelessness overcame me. I certainly don’t enjoy feeling that way, but when a film can do it that powerfully I take notice. Strong acting, Lawrence Fishburne didn’t suck ass for once, and the most promising director since Duncan Jones.

9.

Gone Girl

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As a book reader, I was thrilled when it was announced Gone Girl would be made into a film. And I heard Fincher would be at the helm? Oh, baby. My expectations were sky high from the get go. David Fincher and crew nailed it. Rosamund Pike scared the living shit out of me. I knew how crazy her character was from the book, but seeing it sometimes can take it to another level. Just look at her scene with NPH. Yeah, you know what scene I’m talking about. Ben Affleck was actually well cast. Certainly a role in his ball park, as he’s a man who has taken some criticism from the media throughout his life. Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris didn’t ruin the film. As a whole it’s an amazing trip into relationships and marriage. Exaggerated, sure, but the message stays true. How well can you know someone? Especially scary when that someone is the person you choose to spend the rest of your life with. I also have to acknowledge the greatness of Trent Reznor. I’d be okay with him only doing movie scores.

8.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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If this film doesn’t win major awards for its special effects then I’m not sure I can take award season seriously anymore. Andy Serkis continues to show his worth. He’s been involved in so many successful franchises, I’m excited to see him make the Star Wars universe better. The first Apes film to have something to say since possibly the original. And anytime you subtract James Franco from a drama there’s a good chance your movie is better for it. Sometimes I wonder if I enjoyed it so much because my expectations were so very low. Still, other than Edge of Tomorrow, I’d rank this as the best blockbuster film of the year. Who would have seen that coming?

7.

Edge of Tomorrow

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Speak of the devil. The best Science Fiction film of 2014, even more impressive when the year was full of so much quality in the genre. Naturally people ignored it because there’s an (in my opinion) unwarranted hatred for Tom Cruise, for starters. The man can act. He might be crazy religious, but so is Matthew McConaughey, and it’s a double standard to call Cruise out but not the other. And honestly, you hear McConaughey talk about his religion much more than Cruise —every awards speech is praising god— yet he continues to get the free pass. All that said, still love the McConaughssaince. Another hurdle was the awful marketing. That whole department should be fired. The film would have been better off using the name from its original source, “All You Need is Kill”. And lastly, we are to blame, for not supporting original science fiction (or any genre’s) ideas. Instead we flock to tired remakes and twenty year old sequels. I’ll stick with seeing Cruise, Emily Blunt at her hotness peak, and an epic video game-esque plot any day.

6.

Begin Again

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It was incredibly difficult not to put this at number one. That’s how much I enjoy this film. Not on the level of his 2006 hit, “Once”, John Carney delivers another smash hit in the genre. He’s made my two favorite musical films of all time. The cast has been upgraded a bit from his first hit, Keira Knightley and Mark Rufallo leading. Knightley is striking throughout the film, while being a surprisingly talented singer. Break ups can be life shattering. We all know that. But contrary to thousands of romantic comedies, the answer isn’t always rebounding with a Mr./Mrs. Right. Why not get lost in a career or a passion? Life is about relationships, but not romantic or family. As someone who has met random people and cherished those encounters more than family and past lovers, this film spoke to me. Songs showcasing changes in character dynamics, turning the cliche’ on its head, and arguably the most original music in film this year. It’s feel good stuff, no doubt, but I haven’t re-watched a film more than Begin Again. That has to count for something, if not everything.

5.

The Babadook

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Transcendent is probably too often used to describe films, but The Babadook deserves the title. Horror is at its best when it’s grounded in reality, something The Babadook does masterfully. I’m still questioning whether there was a paranormal monster, or if life can truly bring us down to the darkest of places. The actors playing the mother and son were outstanding. Compliments to the director because it must not have been easy filming some of those scenes with the young boy, despite him knowing it’s all make believe. Unsettling, thought provoking, one of the handful MUST SEE films of 2014. Ba-ba-ba Dook-dook-dooooook.

4.

Nightcrawler

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Jake Gyllenhaal is sensationally creepy in this film. You should hate him, but there’s just something likable about the guy. It makes me feel dirty for enjoying his character so much. A nice satire about the local news. It seems all we see on TV is blood, car crashes, murders, all the good stuff. Nightcrawler is the story of someone who understands how success works, and much like life, it’s not always pretty. Lou Bloom is the Travis Bickle of my generation.

3.

Whiplash

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“Not my tempo.” Unquestionably the 2014 film that had you at the edge of your seat for the majority of the viewing. Miles Teller and, oh my god, J.K. Simmons are unstoppable in this film. Simmons has to be a lock for Best Supporting Actor. If you’ve ever had a mentor, father figure, someone you looked up to —in any field of life— you’ll have nightmares from his performance. Teller, an aspiring drummer, attends the best music school in New York. Aspiration to be great demands perfection, and you can’t get there on your own. Simmons understands this, leading to verbal and physical abuse of his students. I’m not sure what is more disturbing, the mental and physical toll he puts on his students, or the fact that at the end of the film, I’m on his side.

2.

Boyhood

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Aging is something I’m always cognizant of, for better or worse. It’s fascinating, exciting, and at certain times, woefully depressing. Yes, the film is about a child’s “boyhood”. And Ellar Coltrane is as impressive a young actor that I’ve ever seen. But I was drawn to the parents. Patricia Arquette deserves an award for this film, for the last scene she’s in. It’s heartbreaking, and scary to think all of us will have the revelation in our lives. If we’re lucky, that is. Richard Linklater has successfully dropped you into a stranger’s life, allowing you to bear witness to what many of us lived, and will live. There’s nostalgia induced, but I’ll argue that a good thing. This was a film, a social experiment, a home video, and most impressively, a time machine.

1.

The Raid 2

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No movie, ever, has given me an adrenaline rush like The Raid. That is of course, until I watched the sequel released this year. At one hundred and fifty minutes, The Raid: Berandal is simply not long enough. I want five straight hours of Rama kicking ass. Would I survive? Doubtful. This is the only film from this year that I HAD to watch immediately after the first viewing. The fight scenes are unparalleled in film today. Gareth Evans, along with the actors, created some of the most memorable villains of all time. A hammer will never look the same.

* Inherent Vice for some reason still hasn’t been released for me. That probably would have made my list, but, alas.

Critters – “The Ballad of Billy Zane”

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 There were a few things I went into this movie unaware of. One, that it would genuinely scare me. Two, the possibility of gaining a new workout song for the rare gym trip. And best of all, I had no idea Critters would treat me to prime, 80’s Billy Zane. Say one thing about this movie, say it has Billy Zane sporting the “wrap your sweatshirt around the waist” look.

If you want to know my feelings on horror films be sure to read the first few paragraphs from my The Sacrament review (not so subtle plug!). Casper is my favorite “horror” film of all time. I’ve sent the people at TBS letters advocating Casper should be played twenty four hours straight on Halloween. One day, perhaps.

So the idea of tiny furry aliens invading a quiet farm town seemed harmless, and it probably is to anyone over the age of six, but I had to turn the light on half way through the movie. The “crites” steal a spaceship, forcing what I can only describe as a half human/half Jabba the Hutt creature, to hire bounty hunters. These two were the real deal. They had bodacious space guns, the ability to transform into a rock star, and would kill in my weekly bowling league.

As I understand it, this movie was a response to the popularity of Gremlins. The latter is definitely a better movie, but Critters I found to be much creepier. Just looking at the theatrical poster gives me the willies. The crites are balls of fur with a smile full of razors. It’s what I imagine the design would be if they were to ever make a Cheshire Cat horror flick. They attack like the spiders in Arachnophobia. Seemingly shot out of cannons, these little guys can end your existence in the blink of an eye. Zane took a flesh eating Furby to the stomach! It’s horrifying. At least Gremlins had the decency to give us Gizmo. There was a good mix of both comic relief and cuteness relief.

The acting was surprisingly good for what the movie was. When I watch actors in scary films all I’m really looking for is if they look frightened. That’s it. Especially with all the CGI we use today I understand it might be difficult to get worked up over a green screen. Just put in the effort. Don’t pull a Tara Reid like in Sharknado 2: The Second One. I mean come on Tara, it’s a sharknado for goodness sake.

You could do worse when staying in on a Saturday night. This coming fall I suggest giving Critters a try. You’ll scream, you’ll sigh. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (E.T. fans will). The plot moves fast. They know we want the fur and they give them to us quick. Okay, not really. But the twenty minutes it takes for them arrive goes fast. There’s that 80’s vibe that stays with every movie from the decade. It’s like driving down to the shore, smelling that sea salt air. Not only is the ending satisfying, but it sets up for a sequel. Oh, just one sequel you ask? One sequel may be enough for that hack movie Gremlins. Critters consists of three sequels, four movies in all. Double its supposed better half! That counts for something, right?

The Fault in Our Stars

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Today was supposed to be my day with Tom. I was going to eat popcorn. He was going to die. I planned on getting blasted by 3-D. He was going to die. I was, finally, going to appear in public wearing my Cocktail shirt. And he. Was going. To die. Alas, it was not meant to be. The movie theater didn’t have a 3-D Edge of Tomorrow (crazy, I know). And I only see movies before noon. That left only two options. See DOFP for the fourth time — worth it just for the feels when Jean and Scott pop in — or watch The Fault in Our Stars with an estimated sixty female high school students. One thing’s for sure, tears were going to be shed.

Based on John Green’s best selling novel, The Fault in Our Stars centers around two teenagers who have the all too common misfortune of living with cancer. It’s a story we’ve all heard before, but one no less potent. I was intent on not crying during any point of the film. It was a bold task, this I know, but one I deemed possible. Let’s be honest here. If I can sit through A Walk to Remember without sobbing, this should be amateur hour. Oh yeah, that’s right. I cried uncontrollably at the end of the Mandy Moore classic.

There’s no excuse for letting my guard down back in 2002. I will, however, defend my emotions getting the best of me earlier today. You get the feeling right from the start that there won’t be a happy ending. Terminal cancer is terminal. The film’s acting could have been shoddy, the dialogue stiff, music grating. As it happened none of this was the case. But it wouldn’t have mattered. When you’re dealing with cancer, something every one is or will be affected by, you are going to strike a chord.

At the head of that chord is Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort). I usually cringe when people use the term “chemistry” between two actors. But in this case, there was something there. It piques my curiosity. Why were these two so good together? Did they hang out on the set all day? Before shooting even began? Are they dating in real life like Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone? Or maybe they’re just really good at what they do. I’ll be the first to admit how tacky the relationship between Jamie and Landon is in A Walk to Remember. Don’t get me wrong. I watch it every time it’s on TBS. Yet I won’t deny rolling my eyes at more than a few scenes. And honestly, not once during the two hours did I guffaw during this. Believe me, there were opportunities. But Woodley and Elgort were fantastic. I’ve yet to read the book, so I’m unaware of the accuracy of the casting, but man did I buy every second of what those two were selling.

Willem Dafoe pops up for a bit as Hazel’s favorite author. The character happens to be a huge asshole and Dafoe plays it well. Nat Wolff appears as Isaac, a friend of Gus’s who’s losing his sight to cancer. Much of the comedy comes from Isaac, despite all the laughs Gus received from the teenagers in my audience.

Some of the hardest scenes to watch included Laura Dern and Sam Trammell. They were Hazel’s parents in the film. As good as I believe Woodley and Elgort’s acting was, they weren’t the reason for my watery eyes. They just legitimized it when all the girls in my theater went “awwwwww” every fifteen minutes. No, it wasn’t them or their characters. The parents were what killed me.

The only thing worse than dying of cancer at 16 is being the parent of a kid who dies of cancer.

Hazel says this, or something of the sort, in the film. Maybe my feelings about the quote will change if, I should say when , I get cancer, but until then I’m in full support. Credit to Dern and Trammell. If it weren’t for them I’d be saying how I didn’t hate Hazel and Gus all that much and Willem Dafoe is awesome. With them I’m saying it’s a film worth watching.

This is a solid movie and a sad tale, but not as sad as it’ll be made out to be in the coming weeks. There’s hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands who die of cancer without meeting the love of their life. Most will die alone. There won’t be trips of a lifetime to Sweden. No losing virginities. Just the constant reminder of death slowly upon them. That, to me, is the ultimate sadness. That’s the story I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Because that’s sorrow and despair. And life. The Fault in Our Stars is a fine movie and I’ll be the first to admit I shed tears. But I’ve also cried during Sarah McLachlan’s SPCA commercial. They resonate with me no longer than someone saying “okay”. Okay.

Festivus with Godzilla

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In the words of the great Frank Costanza, I’ve got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re going to hear about it. I say people, but I’m actually talking about a movie. I caught a Godzilla showing last Thursday, an hour before midnight. Knowing I had to wake up early for work the next day I still went to the screening. It’s Godzilla for goodness sake. As a boy raised by women, he was the male presence in my childhood. Well, him and Phil Harris. So it felt like an obligation to see this movie as soon as I could. *Sigh*. Let me make Frank proud and list my problems.

  • What the f*ck was up with Ken Watanabe?!

Seriously. Ken Watanabe has proven himself a capable actor. He’s been in some of my favorite films, hand picked by one of my favorite directors. He looked nauseous or sea sick throughout the whole film. Either that or he would just stare into the distance….even when he was on a submarine. It took me out of the film more times than I’d like to admit. The only worthwhile stare came when he dropped the “Let them fight” line. In a film with some atrocious acting (more on that soon) he was whatever the opposite of the “bees knees” is.

  • How dare you mishandle Bryan Cranston

Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the film. It’s spoiler town. My gripe isn’t that they killed off Bryan Cranston’s character, but that they did it so soon. He was the only one the audience had a chance to connect with and you pulled his plug way too early. The two best (non-Godzilla) scenes in the film were when he lost his wife and when he was in the interrogation room. I had goosebumps twenty minutes into the film. Even worse, he was proven correct after all these years of being labeled as a conspiracy theorist, lunatic, whatever. I wanted so bad to see some sort of redemption. Then when you kill him off (perhaps directly from a Muto, not internal bleeding) the payoff would be so much better between him and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. You could have the whole “sorry I was obsessed with work and didn’t spend more time with you” father/son talk. For crying out loud when that army dude asks who Ken Watanabe needed, Watanabe pointed right at the injured Cranston. Man, was I pumped. Walter White working with Fake Ra’s Al Ghul. Next thing I know they’re zipping up his body bag. Ugh.

  • Not Aaron Taylor-Johnson or Elizabeth Olsen’s proudest moment

Elizabeth Olsen is so hot that I don’t care how useless she was in this film. She was there to scream and get wet in the rain. But ATJ was the bigger disappointment. Was it because he sounded exactly like Kick-Ass? What about his total lack of emotion in every scene, especially during his fathers death? Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge Aaron Taylor guy. Loved both Kick-Ass films and I didn’t hate him in Savages. Are they the only films I’ve watched that he’s in? Absolutely. Relevant? Most likely. I’ll admit he had to carry the bulk of the film considering Cranston’s death and the hoarding of Godzilla footage. Being the terrible writer that I am, I can only say he didn’t do it for me. It’s a bad sign that I would start dozing off whenever he came on screen (I’ll concede it was approaching 1 A.M.). When they make sequels I’m hopeful they use a new cast with each movie. Why would I want to follow his storyline into another film?

  • It’s the little things

So you have a nuclear bomb that makes the one from the 50’s look like a firecracker. It’s drifting to sea on a tug boat for five minutes. YET IT ONLY LEAVES A LITTLE BIT OF DUST ON A NAPPING GODZILLA. The Dark Knight Rises had a more believable nuclear explosion than this movie. Also, we have one guy who knows how to disable a bomb. Let’s throw him off this plane and hope we some how meet up. THEN, when we do get the bomb, we’ll let him out of our site so he can go burn the baby Mutos. I wasn’t buying the general’s belief that the monsters food source would be their demise. He should have listened to the only logical thing Watanabe said and let them fight. Clearly Godzilla just woke up to whoop some ass. He wasn’t purposely smashing buildings. He was just trying to get to those punk monsters and serve them justice. Sometimes I don’t understand the military.

 

Having said all of that, I absolutely loved this movie. I know, it’s hard to tell from all the bitching above, but I truly did. Gareth Edwards is the best at creating monsters. Godzilla looked…monstrous. He appeared to carry a swagger with him, like he knew he was the star of the film. The fight scenes (as few as there were) were worth the wait. We were able to see Godzilla use his two most iconic movies and he even did the “walk of fame” back into the sea at the end of the film. All of the things I pointed out above are miniscul problems that are fun to complain about with friends after viewing, but of no major consequence. Edwards nailed Godzilla. And that’s all that matters. Watanabe can stare for an hour straight in the sequel (I’m expecting it) but if we see another bodacious fight scene at the end it’ll all be worth it. This is the most I’ve ever complained about a film that I absolutely adored. Just forget I even said anything. And lets be honest, who wants to have the feats of strength with Godzilla?

We All Must Take Our Drink

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Man’s worst fear is the inability to control a given situation. And sure, you could assume I’m talking about life. One could make the case that we don’t control our lives. We leave it up to fate. Or destiny. That’s a scary, albeit exciting thought. I don’t believe that. We make choices every day that affect our lives. We, as people, as conscious living things, do that. No. To me, the most uncontrollable situation of all, is the opposite of life. It’s death. Dying. The Sacrament.

From the moment we’re born, we become a ticking clock. The same goes for our three main characters as they enter Eden Parish. Armed guards? Check. No cell phone service? Check. In the middle of fucking no where? Triple Check. They may not realize their lives are in danger, but there is building panic. With any new experience you’re going to feel uncomfortable. It’s new, not what you’re used to. Eden Parish certainly fits into that category. There’s no technology. One (rather pathetic) medical center that’s, oh by the way, supposed to aid over sixty seniors and a handful of infants. There has to be a point where you acknowledge how distressing the situation is. Jake said it best when he admits the parish would be a great place to take a month detox. But as a liveable society? It’s unsustainable.

This film reminded me of Kevin Smith’s Red State. And each time I came away thinking how dangerous faith can be. I’m not about to go on full rant mode, but I’ve always thought faith had more negatives than positives. If you weigh the positives and negatives of religious belief, I’ll argue the negatives (even if you think there are few) are so devastating, the positives aren’t worth it. And in The Sacrament you definitely witness that. But I think more importantly, and more dangerous, is the belief in man. Those poor people in Eden Parish weren’t corrupted by a god, or religion really, but a man. Father. He took advantage of them when they were in a dark place. Sure, he may have used religion as a tool, but it was just the hammer of the evil carpenter. Humans do horrible things. It’s proved itself true over thousand of years. And when you put your faith in a person, or worse, if groups of you put faith in them, terrible things can and have happened.

If I were a character in that story, would I have put my faith in Father? I’d like to think not. That’s the fun when watching horror films. And that’s where the terror comes from. Putting yourself in their shoes. What would you do in that situation? You’re stuck in the middle of no where. The man you call Father was quite persuasive years before and you committed to his vision. Now it’s months or years later and you’re stuck in a brainwashed community. If you bring up leaving you’ll certainly be beaten, killed even. Can you imagine having a gun pointed at your head and being forced to drink punch? What would you do? That’s horrifying. A situation that you have minimal to no control over. There’s a scene near the end (SPOILER ALERT) where a panicked mother knows she and her daughter will be gunned down in moments. Drunk with bewilderment, the mother slits the throat of her young daughter. What’s going on in her mind? Not the mother. The daughter. The fake blood and make up aren’t what bothered me. It’s being in that girl’s position knowing my mother is about to end my existence and I’m helpless to do anything. That’s what keeps me up at night.

I haven’t talked much about the film, in a technical sense at least. And that’s mostly because I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about most of the time. I am, remember, the man who claims Semi-Pro is better than The Big Lebowski. Come at me, bro! But in all seriousness, this was really well made. The camera style is a bit worn out in films(specifically horror), but they made it feel original. I appreciated the rotation between Jake and Patrick’s cameras. The acting, especially by the parish folk, was outstanding. It felt like a real documentary in that sense. They nailed the brainwashed townsfolk vibe. I would have no problem believing every one in that Eden Parish actually died. Our three journalists did a fine job carrying the film. The best scene was the interview. between Sam and Father. They had great chemistry with each other. And a hell of a job by Gene Jones. Where Michael Parks carried Red State, I think Gene Jones had an even better performance. He’s only been working for about ten years surprisingly (according to IMDB). This is my first glimpse of what Ti West can do. Needless to say I’m blown away. Also not shocking, he has some sort of affiliation with Eli Roth. These days, Eli Roth produces more content I enjoy than he directs. Promising start for Mr. West. I’m on the bandwagon. The West bandwagon!

Horror films are the most subjective of movies. Even more so than comedy. We all have different fears. The film still has to have quality content. Just because I have a fear of sharks does not mean I was frightened during Open Water. No, the filmmaker still has to put together a movie worth watching. But if you want to unease your viewer, if you want to have them in despair days after viewing, the content has to strike a chord. And I can firmly say, as a weak minded individual, who at times is looking for answers from wherever they may come, The Sacrament horrified me.

 

Amazing, My Ass

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Am I taking crazy pills? Honestly. Was I the only person who took the red pill when it came to these movies? You would think I was criticizing Gandhi himself when I talk about my disappointment with Andrew Garfield. If I wasn’t an anonymous coward debating people on Reddit, there would be a good chance of receiving death threats.

Let me get some background information out of the way. I’m not a huge Spider Man fan. I’m not totally positive I spelled his name correctly just then. My knowledge of the character comes from three things:

  1. My best friend is a total SM fan boy.
  2. I loved all thr…two Sam Raimi adaptations
  3. As a youngin’ I watched the 1994 Spider-Man TV series

All I know after watching “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is that it’s not a great movie. It’s certainly not better than the first two Raimi adaptations. Just because Andrew Garfield is, in your opinion, a better “Spider-Man”, does not make these films watchable. Isn’t Peter Parker supposed to be a genius by the way? Tobey Maguire was at least believable in that aspect. In the movie I just saw, Peter was using Youtube to learn how electricity works. YOUTUBE. Not to mention he had to rely on Gwen Stacy to defeat Electro.

Ugh. Electro. Where to start? I’ll admit to disliking Jamie Foxx. “Django Unchained” would have been twice as good with Will Smith, Foxx stole the Academy Award from Dicaprio (and Cheadle to be fair) in 2005, and he starred in Stealth, one of the biggest disappointments in my life. But even I can’t fully blame him for the abomination that is Electro.

To start, he’s a rip off of The Riddler from Batman Forever. Not only that, I preferred Jim Carrey’s version! When Batman Forever does something better than your movie, you know you messed up. I actually understood the route they were trying to take with Electro. Max Dillon had mental health problems. And in today’s world this is a problem we face every day. I loved that a main villain is dealing with multiple social problems. The film just didn’t do the idea justice. I wish they would have focused more on the fact that Spider Man didn’t remember his name. THEN I could believe his turn as a heel. Max was convinced Spider-Man needed him. That’s what should have broke him. Finding out that he’s no different than any one else in Spider-Man’s eyes. Instead, it was jealousy towards the public’s love for Spider Man. That, and a cop shot a bullet at him. You can’t be angry that nobody notices you anymore when you’re being booed and shot at. Just because the Times Square TV’s aren’t on you doesn’t make you invisible.

But I can let that slide. What I cannot forigve, is the horrific dialogue he was given. Off the top of my head:

“Who are you?” “Don’t you know. I’m Electrooo” (This actually might have been the way Foxx delivered it. Sounded super cheesy)

“Let’s go catch a spider.” (Ugh)

“It’s my birthday. Time to light the candles.” (Really!?)

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After seeing Never Nude Electro for most of the film we finally see him in his own suit. Where did it come from? How come it disappears when he does? How is it able to go into electrical units with him? I’m only bringing it up because “Man of Steel” got so much flack for not explaining more about Superman’s suit (deservedly so). I’m honestly too tired to go into the dubstep/heavy metal music that played when he first terrorized the city as Electro. I appreciate the attempt at a different type of villain, but they flat out missed.

It’s very difficult to establish something in one scene. It’s even more difficult to establish YEARS of friendship. Dane Dehaan has a bright future and I’ll enjoy seeing him throughout the future Spider-Man films. But give me Franco’s Harry Osborn any day. At least we had three films worth of best friendship to embrace. These are things you just can’t rush. You can’t expect me to connect with both of these characters based on….maybe twenty minutes of screen time? This is why television is jumping so far ahead of film. We get to witness multiple seasons of best friendship, parent/child relationships, boss/employee relations, etc. So when something big does happen the payoff is totally worth it.

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The Peter/Gwen relationship was the strongest part of the film (as it should be. The movie was practically a romantic comedy). The (SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) death scene was done very well. Two complaints involving their relationship. First, they forced her into trying to help Spider-Man save the day. Out of no where she decided to become a hero. When Electro first shows up in Times Square, Gwen is perfectly fine with standing around watching the action (so is every one apparently. More on this later). Once the third act kicks in, she becomes Super Gwen. It just felt like an easy way to set up the death scene. Secondly, after all the “break up because your not safe” stuff we’ve seen a million times, Gwen informs Peter she’s moving to London. This literally solves all his problems. I’m just sick of this trope. If you want the consequence to be her death than I need to see more from Peter. Standing at her grave as the four seasons pass doesn’t do it for me. In the comics (according to fan boy best friend) he goes wild with rage and starts beating up Norman. Why couldn’t we have seen that? Maybe it’s nitpicking but I didn’t have man tears flowing down my face as intended (and this coming from a guy who cries during EVERY movie).

Quick Ragings

  • Why wasn’t Peter more upset about Uncle Ben? He’s being haunted by Dennis Leary and crying over Richard Parker. UNCLE BEN IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN PETER PARKERS LIFE. Uncle Ben’s death was a vital part of Spider-Man all throughout the Raimi trilogy. This probably pissed me off the most.
  • Do people line up to watch shoot out’s in New York City? I’m sorry, but if a blue electrical monster was attacking, I’d be Usain Bolt. The same goes with Rhino. He’s spraying bullets and people are watching. Do New Yorkers live life on the edge? Seriously, it didn’t take any one else out of the film?
  • I didn’t mind only having Rhino in the beginning and end of the film. Rhino was never a huge villain, more of a thug. And clearly a set up to The Sinister Six film. That still doesn’t explain why you cast Paul Giamatti. He looked and sounded ridiculous.
  • Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Peter Parker supposed to be nerdy. Andrew Garfield comes across as the most popular person in high school. Readers are supposed to identify with his self obsessions with rejection, inadequacy, and loneliness (from Wikipedia). I didn’t feel any of that. He felt more like the cool kid who sarcastically made fun of me. He made out with Gwen Stacy on his graduation stage! That’s bad ass. And yet Tobey Maguire was a terrible Spider-Man…alas.

 

I don’t enjoy coming across as this hater. There is no joy taken from this I promise you. But I feel the need to point out these things. Even if I’m wrong (and I’m sure I am more than once), at least I’m bringing it up instead of declaring these films untouchable. I’m not talking about critics. Clearly they agree with me. It’s the dude in the comic store who asked if I liked it (and did everything but spit in my face when I said “meh”). It’s for all the people who thought Norman Osborn looked silly with Goblin Disease. I love comic book movies. There are none I regret seeing (Michael Bay’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” replies: Challenge Accepted). But the one word I’ll never use to describe “ASM2” is amazing.

A New Hope for Star Wars : Cast Breakdown

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It would be fair to say Star Wars Episode 7 was not in my top 20 “Most Anticipated Movies” a day ago. I can bang out twenty right now…

  1. Godzilla
  2. X Men DOFP
  3. X Men Apocalypse
  4. Avengers 2
  5. Avengers 3
  6. Batman vs Superman
  7. Justice League
  8. Interstellar
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy
  10. Ant Man
  11. Pitch Perfect 2
  12. TMNT
  13. Fast 7
  14. Raid 3 (I don’t know if it’s been confirmed but this will permanently be on my list until it IS made)
  15. Incredibles 2

Shit. That’s only fifteen. But still, you get the point. Hell, TMNT is on that freaking list! It’s going to be awful. We know this. Yet that should say how detached I was to the new Star Wars trilogy. They felt unnecessary (as do the stand alone films they’ll be putting out. Well, not the Boba Fett one. But a Yoda origin story? Puhlease.), and as much as I’d like to see Luke, Leia, and Han back, I also didn’t want to see them tarnished. But after today’s announcement, my whole perspective was flipped on its head.

Let me start by saying this. For whatever reason, I have faith that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford aren’t going to phone these performances in. Especially Ford. He was always a question mark to me. It seemed like he always preferred Indiana Jones to Han Solo. And we saw all the good the passion for that character did him in the fourth installment. Han Solo will be less difficult to….maintain. There’s not as much physical activity with Han. As long as you can get those smart ass quips timed up and keep your suave, non nonchalant stature, he’ll be fine. We are also hearing that the first movie in the trilogy will be heavy on the Han. Hopefully the story focuses on our younger actors (and from what I’ve heard it will in the eighth and ninth films), not because I dislike Ford or Solo, but because stories need to go on.

I have unwavering confidence in Mark and Carrie (first name basis much), but I have no clue why. Can you picture them wanting to let fans down? I sure can’t. Especially Mark Hamill. If it wasn’t enough being Luke Skywalker, he’s also one of the most successful Jokers ever. Fans adore this man. I’ve heard they’ll have personal trainers. Clearly they don’t need to be jacked, just as long as they don’t look like Billy Dee Williams.

All that stuff is great and assuring, but let’s get to the goods. Today the cast for Star Wars episode 7 was released and you could say it made some waves. The original cast will be back (Hamill, Fisher, Ford along with Mayhew, Daniels, and Baker) but I want to talk about the newbies. Because they were the ones to get me back into the hype machine that is Star Wars EPISODE 7!!!!! Oh boy. Let’s talk about them shall we?

John Boyega

Donald Sterling is having the worst day ever, no? A fan favorite from the glorious “Attack the Block” (watch this film. Listen to the soundtrack. Both outstanding.), Boyega was rumored for a while to be in this film. Am I depressed he may have beaten out Jesse Plemons? Not a chance. Well, maybe a little. I love me some Landry. But not really. Boyega is going to be a star and deservedly so. I’m assuming he will be the main protagonist throughout the trilogy. Honestly, as long as I hear a “bruv” in there I’m all for it.

Daisy Ridley

I’m not even posting a picture. We’ll be seeing enough of this girl for YEARS to come. This girl. I don’t think she’s ready for what’s ahead. She will be every “nerds” wet dream. Not even nerds. Every one’s go to “IT” girl. I mean come ON, Han and Leia’s daughter (speculation)?! She is going to go down in pop culture lore. Probably the biggest no name out of this (allegedly) no name cast. She’s beautiful and that’s really the only thing that matters to me.

Actually that’s not true. It’s been brought up how there seems to be a lack of female characters. It’s just her and Carrie. And I agree, it’s sad. I will say if that’s what the story or script calls for then so be it. You don’t have to change it just to add a female (or black or gay or whatever) character in. Having said that, I truly hope she doesn’t just end up being a romantic device. Enough of this. Why can’t she have her own story to tell as a character that doesn’t involve being rescued by the male protagonist, then in turn falling for each other. Hey, I get it. It’s Disney. They gave us Simba and Nala. Sometimes we want more Mulan. Wait? That guy who trained her came back at the end? Dammit…

Adam Driver

giphyMr. Kennedy sent him to space all right. I have an unfair love for Adam Driver. My face was about to explode with joy when I heard the Nightwing rumors. If there were any truths to that rumor we now know why it wasn’t meant to be. He is the only reason I debate watching Girls. So far I haven’t caved to that monstrosity of a show, but it’s getting harder and harder. This is by FAR my favorite casting….

Oscar Isaac

 

Woah. Hold the phones. Oscar Isaac is going to be in Star Wars? Oscar fucking Isaac?! The man who lead the best film of last year? The man who holds the title still for “Best Beard”. No one has taken it from him yet. This took me by utter surprise. I’m still a bit speechless. I think the most appealing part of this casting is how up in the air his character is. He could be good or evil. Jedi or a Han Solo/Lando type. It’s mysterious and I love every second of it. It doesn’t get better than this folks. There’s no way to top th…

Andy Serkis

Andy-Serkis_320Jesus H Christ. Is this a joke? Is this a weirdly awesome joke? Give credit where credit is due. J.J. Abrams can cast some shit. Well, technically I should give credit to April Webster and Alyssa Weisberg. They’ve casted all of J.J’s stuff from LOST to Stark Trek to Super 8. And now these glorious few. Serkis I assume will be used as a motion capture actor as per his previous few works (Gollum, Caesar), but I’m pulling for him to have a…”regular” acting role. You know what I mean. The last one I can remember him in was from Nolan’s “The Prestige”. Either way I’m glad to have him aboard. “The Lord of the Rings” are my Star Wars so this news tickled my fancy all right.

Domhnall Gleeson

 

Watch that video. This guy is talented. And surprisingly hilarious. Who knew Bill Weasley was funny? Not sure what his role will be in this but he has that “Luke” feel to him. Plus his hair was touched by fire. Anyways, watch “About Time” from last year. A gem that went under the radar and has one of the best “Son/Dad” scenes I’ve watched in a long time.

Max von Sydow

At last we get to the legend. That’s what I’m reading at least. He’s been in a bunch, most notably “The Exorcist” and The “Seventh Seal”, but I’ll always know him as the guy who made me cry in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”. Probably the best bet to play a Sith Lord. Driver is probably the up and coming bad boy but this is the big dog. Actually I have no clue. I could equally see him as a mentor. An evil mentor…. Ah no. Just glad to have him here. A bit worried about the age. If I’m not mistaken (probably am) I believe they are filming back to back to back. Hopefully they can squeeze in filming before he leaves us, as terrible as that sounds. It’s not on the GRRM scale, but it would suck to have to replace Sydow. Can you even replace him?

Well there it is. I’m fucking pumped. I’ve heard over and over again how we have a bunch of no names, and that’s true to an extent, but I think we have more “cult favorites” than no names. These people have been around and performed well (besides Daisy), it’s just no one has seen it yet. But rest assured they will. I’m glad Disney/JJ took this route. They have the luxury of casting these actors because it is Star Wars. It doesn’t really matter who is in the cast. People will go because it’s a SW film. Yes it certainly helps to have the original three back. But I would have went regardless. Long story, short: they used actors that I personally am a fan of, which in turn has me psyched for this new trilogy. It would seem I’m not the only one to be rejuvenated. Now I just need to survive until 2015…