2014 hasn’t been the best year for films, the fact that the most financially successful film of the year was the poorly received “Transformers : Age of Extinction” (which I didn’t see just for the record) says it all. So now, as we approach the final few days of 2014, I have decided to go through all of the films I saw at the cinema over the last 12 months, discussing which worked, which didn’t and why. I would normally include the films I have reviewed on this website but in the interest of fairness I can’t compare those films to the films which have enjoyed a much, much wider released.
So, let’s with the worst.
For me the worst film that I saw at the cinema this year was “Pompeii”, the Kit Harrington historical disaster movie. Based on the historical event that consumed that part of the Roman empire, the film fails to really get you involved in any of the story at all. It turns the tradegy of Pompeii into a half-arsed love story and it is just not engaging in the slightest.
“Pompeii” had many problems, but one of the biggest was the acting ability, or lack there of, of Kit Harrington. I watched a bit of Game of Thrones before getting bored with it and during that brief stint the stand out performer was Harrington, not because he was good at acting but more because he was unbelievably boring, and he was the same in “Silent Hill : Revelation”. He isn’t suited to be a movie actor and I really struggled to get behind him as the film’s protagonist.
The film doesn’t get any better after the volcano erupts and like many disaster films these days, it seems to rely too much on the disaster, but if you don’t care about the characters then how can you care about the disaster?
All being said though, this is the only film that I saw at the cinema that I would class as being truly awful during the whole of 2014. I am more than willing to give most films a second chance, so out of the 23 films that I saw on the big screen this year, only one falls into my awful category, which is good going I think.
Had they focused more on the plot or character, rather than just building for the disaster which is coming, then this film would probably have been more enjoyable.
I’m going to start the poor section with what was probably the most hyped film of the year. It was a film that was promoted as one of the most visually stunning films that you will ever see and you will walk out of the cinema on the back of one of the most amazing experiences ever. I got exceptionally excited, especially as it was created by one of my favourite directors, but ultimately “Interstellar” was one of the most disappointingly self-important films I had ever watched.
The film itself just wasn’t that interesting at all. I was just sat there for nearly three hours and I was so underwhelmed that it was unbelievable. The problem with “Interstellar” is that it seems to think that it would be well received just because it’s visually awesome (which it is) and it’s made by Christopher Nolan, however, it requires more than that. The storyline isn’t that great, it stumbles over itself far too often and ultimately fails to make you really care.
If I had to compare it with anything then I would compare it to Avatar. For me Avatar is probably the most visually stunning film ever made, it is truly incredible, but the problem is that the visuals distract you from what is an otherwise poor story. It’s the same with Interstellar.
I will mention this a few times during this run down but I found myself not really caring about the fact of any of the characters and none of the actors really seem to be enjoying what they are doing, and if they’re not enjoying the film, how I am supposed to be enjoying it.
Interstellar just lumbers on for far too long and doesn’t really go anywhere, ending with one of the most ridiculous climaxes to a film that I have ever seen. The only reason I’ve not put this into the awful category is that I love science fiction and would give this film a second chance in the future, but for now I want to stay clear of this because of it’s self-important attitude.
A rather less than surprising addition to this category is “A Million Ways to Die in the West”. I love Seth McFarlane because of the work he has done with Family Guy, however, I have failed to find either of his films particularly funny as the comedy feels forced, it isn’t particularly natural and whether it’s just because I’m now 30, I found a lot of the jokes in AMWTDITW very immature and I didn’t laugh once. To be honest I am surprised that I found myself in the cinema watching it.
That was the only comedy I saw this year that fits into this category but there are a few movies based on comic books and the first of which that I’m going to talk about is “Captain America : The Winter Soldier”. I’ve said this to a few people and they have all looked at me like I have just shot someone, but I found CATWS to be boring.
I enjoyed the first film in the series but this one didn’t feel as fun as the first entry and I don’t particularly find Steve to be a particularly interesting character. I’m not a fan of Scarlett Johansson and she looked extremely uncomfortable in a role where her character finds herself becoming attracted to a guy and the reason it’s uncomfortable is because her and Evans just have no chemistry whatsoever.
With numerous plot twists, including being unable to decide if Nick Fury was dead, I found myself failing to enjoy CATWS and I was just sat there waiting for it to end. The only thing that saves it from being in the awful category is that it did have one or two moments that made me chuckle, but other than that is was one of the least enjoyable times I had at the cinema this year.
CATWS certainly wasn’t the only boring film that I saw on the silver-screen this year, with the Brad Pitt war film “Fury” also fitting neatly into the same frame. Again, the trailer made this film look awesome but when it did finally arrive it was nothing like what the trailer had promised. It was boring, predictable, and the ending made no sense whatsoever.
I have no problem with any of the cast, I always find myself enjoying Brad Pitt films, I have nothing against Logan Lerman and despite all of the media fuss about him, I don’t mind Shia Labeouf. For me it was just the actual story that I found uninteresting. “Fury” just plodded along without ever getting that exciting, tense or thrilling. It was incredibly predictable and the funniest moment for me was when I was walking out of the screen, the guy in front of me turns around and says “that was brilliant, wasn’t it?” and my first thought was “obviously we were watching different films”.
The final film in this section that is based on a comic book/graphic novel was “The Amazing Spiderman 2”. I don’t even know why I went to see this because I don’t actually like Spiderman at all. I found the Tobey Maguire films to be generally terrible, and although Andrew Garfield was a big improvement, I don’t really give enough of a crap about the character to actually like the franchise, so I’m not sure why I went.
TAS2 had quite a few flaws and whilst Garfield is excellent, he is the only part of the film that is actually enjoyable. Am I supposed to care that (spoiler alert) Gwen dies at the end when she has been underdeveloped? Am I supposed to feel the plight Spiderman faces against bad guys such as Rhino when they only appear on screen for just a few minutes? No. Overall I just didn’t care and it’s a problem with a lot of superhero movies, you know that no matter what, the superhero is going to survive and it takes a lot of tension out of the film.
Due to being agnostic I didn’t particularly enjoy “Noah”. It was overly preachy and whilst there were some aspects that were good, such as seeing the people who have climbed to the top of mountains to try and escape the water screaming, but ultimately I just found it to be too preachy, leaving too many questions and arguably the most guilty element, just adding characters that don’t exist in the Bible to make the story more “thrilling”. I may be agnostic but I still know the story.
Finally in this section comes “The Maze Runner” and whilst again it did have a good level of intrigue to it, it is full of one dimensional characters. I did find myself not getting annoyed by Will Poulter for the first time in my life, probably because he is playing an antagonist, but other than him there wasn’t really an enjoyable part to the film.
It’s a problem with a lot of books that are converted into films (there are plenty of others coming in this list), they just don’t translate what made the book enjoyable and that just ruins it. I haven’t read the book but from speaking to friends who have read it, they are almost in a state of rage with how much the film messed with the story of the book.
I’m going to start this section with the last big film to come out in 2014 and that is the third installment in the Hobbit franchise, “The Battle of the Five Armies”. I loved the original Lord of the Rings trilogies, they were some of the most groundbreaking and visually stunning films that I have ever seen, but the Hobbit series has fallen somewhat short of that.
The first film in the franchise was decent enough, but it really started struggling to keep it interesting in “The Desolation of Smaug” and things didn’t really get any better in TBOTFA. Don’t get me wrong, as a stand alone film it isn’t that bad, but it’s no more than a 6/10, at best, and a lot of the tension is taken away because you know who survives.
Early on there is a scene where Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and Gandalf are confronted by the Nazgul, yet you already know that all four of them survive because they’re in the main trilogy, so there was very little genuine threat there, and it was the same with Gandalf and Bilbo throughout the film.
The problem with most of the Hobbit series of films was that they just weren’t as interesting as the original trilogy and that really isn’t helped by a poor cast of secondary characters. There are 13 dwarves in the quest to reclaim the mountain but only two or three of them are really given any decent screen time. Am I really supposed to give a crap about Bombur, Oin, Bifur, Dori, Dwalin, etc, when they are barely on the screen? I couldn’t care less what happens to these characters, I really couldn’t.
It isn’t just the secondary dwarves that I couldn’t care less about, it’s some of the human and elf characters as well. Do I really care about Bard and his sudden rise to power? Not really. He is played in an incredibly bland fashion by the ever monotonous Luke Evans. Do I care if Legolas is able to return to his home after seemingly betraying his father? Not really, and speaking of which, if this is set 60 or so years before the original trilogy, why does Legolas look considerably older in this film? Obviously I know Orlando Bloom is now 13 years older than he was when “Fellowship of the Ring” came out, but still, they could have at least made the effort.
Whilst TBOTFA has it’s moments, it is ultimately a bit bland, and the fact that one of the armies doesn’t even technology get involved in the battle (they turn up just as it’s ending and are taken out by the Eagles, meaning they never officially enter the battle), it does somewhat ruin it for me. For what it’s worth it isn’t an awful film, not by any stretch, and would be a nice little film to watch on a Sunday afternoon, but ultimately it is nothing more than average.
TBOTFA wasn’t the only sequel to be very average this year and another example was “300 : Rise of an Empire”. I loved “300”, it is definitely in my top 10 films of all time because of how fun it is, but ROAE definitely loses that fun factor and again, much like the Hobbit franchise, the characters just aren’t interesting enough to keep me going.
Sullivan Stapleton is exceptionally bland as Themistocles, whereas Jack O’Connell, Hans Matheson and Callan Mulvey are actually better actors and portray their characters with a far more charismatic feel to them. Eva Green just trudges through the film without ever really developing a secondary character trait and ultimately it loses a lot of what made the first film enjoyable.
Despite that, ROAE does again have it’s moments, such as when Themistocles tricks the Persians into going into a very narrow tunnel and easily taking them out, and in the sense of an actual action film it actually works relatively well, but it requires more than just good action to make this as good as the first film.
The other sequel that came out that was average was “The Purge : Anarchy” and despite me saying it was average, I did actually enjoy it more than the original. Whilst I’m not going to go fully into it, there is a genuinely sense of danger with the characters being trapped on the street and unlike the first one, you actually care about the characters.
There is one scene I like towards the end when it turns out that the rich and powerful have decided to gather people on the street before forcing them into an arena to face armed people, however, there in also lays the main problem. The armed characters are all taken out by one day and I don’t watch the Purge films for one guy to be a seemingly unbeatable killer. I don’t like films where one guy is made out to be pretty much invincible and that ruined it for me, taking it down from a 7 or 8 out of 10, so more of a 5, maybe a 6.
Finally we get to a film where I was desperate for it to good. I had seen the trailer for this film and even though it’s not the type of film that I normally go for, I was really up for “If I Stay” starring Chloe Grace Moretz. I got into it so much that I even bought the book and read that before the film came out. Now, I know what you’re all thinking, surely I’m not going to go and compare the book to the film and you’re right, I’m not. I did however love the book and was really pumped for watching a film that I normally wouldn’t have been excited about.
I’m not sure if it was just because I pumped myself up for this film too much but I found myself not really enjoying this in the cinema. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful by any stretch and had I not been as pumped for it then I probably would have enjoy it more, but “If I Stay” was just missing something.
Visually it’s excellent and Moretz does a brilliant job as Mia, infact all of the cast play their characters very well, and the whole plot is quite an intriguing one, and I really wish I could put my finger on why I just didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would. It wasn’t a bad film, not by any stretch, but I can’t score it higher than a 6/10 and be honest with myself.
I would recommend it as a date-film but maybe nothing more than that, and again I wish I could put my finger on it.
So there you have it, Part 1 of my breakdown of all the films I saw at the cinema in 2014. I have 10 more films to write about and they will be featuring in Part 2, which will appear within the next few days.