Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2014

It is once again that time of the year to celebrate film and to look back upon what films you remember to be the best of the best of that year. Sadly, I was not able to watch some films that are said to be excellent, films like Birdman, Foxcatcher, Under the Skin, Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice, The Babadook, Snowpiercer and Locke. Though, I hope my list will suffice anyway.

In just a little while, you'll see what my Top 10 movies of the year are, but just a reminder that this is my personal Top 10 list. It's the Top 10 movies of the year in my opinion, so please, if you have your own version, don't get mad that mine is not similar. Just voice your opinion in the comment section.

Let's get to it. My TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2014:

10.) Chef

I feel as if Chef is a movie about two stories. It's the story about chef Carl Casper (director Jon Favreau) and how he grew tired working for the classy restaurant (the big name movie studios) and their inability to try new things. Soon, he wouldn't even like the same tired food he was making (Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens), so he quits and goes off to do what he loves to do, cooking (directing) for himself. This is Jon Favreau's passion project, this is him doing a simple little movie about food and family, but he does it with a lot of heart and a lot of skill that I hope he never loses as a director. Smartly written and creatively crafted, this is one feel good movie that just oozes satisfaction.

9.) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

It feels good when you're most anticipated movie of the year doesn't let you down. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a thrilling and engrossing summer blockbuster movie, packed with action and full of emotion. I love that they gave more depth to Caesar as a character by really challenging him as a leader and as a "son" of two worlds. Of course, the extremely talented, motion capture expert Andy Serkis portrayed Caesar excellently, but newcomer Toby Kebbell also gives a jarring performance as the villain Koba. With all those and Matt Reeves' phenomenal directing, this movie just becomes another great chapter in the Planet of the Apes to commend.

8.) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Yes, my readers, out of all the five Marvel movies that came out in 2014, this is the only one that makes the cut. Why? Because it's just that great. Captain America: The Winter Soldier had, like, four villains, three different storylines, a ton of supporting cast members, a super soldier, and it still managed to throw all that in together and come up with an exhilarating political thriller that has a thematically coherent story that really goes into, with great depth, the character that is Captain America. This is not just the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, but it's also one of the best comic book movies in general. 

7.) Nightcrawler

I'm not morbid for saying Nightcrawler has one entertaining as hell story, right? Well, it does. It's also a sharp, unsettling story about #1 sociopath of the year (or is it number #2?) Lou Bloom. There just is no stopping Jake Gyllenhaal from performing his absolute best every single time. Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom is definitely my favorite performance of the year, but let's also not forget how good of a debut in directing this is for Dan Gilroy. This movie so engrossing, so thrilling, and so insane that you yourself will actually get that big Lou Bloom smile on your face.

6.) Interstellar

Remember when Anne Hathaway's character gave a speech about love transcending all things, and then it actually did?  Interstellar is Christopher Nolan science-fiction film about love. The film just works on so many different levels; technical, acting, directing, directing, and of course, an emotional level as well. It's jaw-dropping, intense, impactful and emotional. It's more than the spectacular visual experience, and even more than the amazing theater experience, it takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride through the dark and dangerous outer space.

5.) Godzilla

GWWWOOOOAAAGGHHHH. Coming in at number five is the King of the Monsters and the 2014 Summer Blockbusters, Godzilla. Gareth Edwards directed the hell out of this movie. He knows how to handle scale, and he made it tense, epic, disastrous and awesome. That's basically the exact way I'd want my Godzilla movie to be made. Many people are complaining that it doesn't give the human characters enough depth while that's the entire point of the movie, to show that we humans are insignificant when it comes to the clash of giant monsters. I'm sorry, I'm not going to rant about this again. I freaking love this amazing, wonderful, gorgeous movie to death, and you bet that I cheer everytime I watch the finale. That's just a must.

4.) Boyhood

What is Boyhood? Boyhood is life. Literally life. This is Richard Linklater's 12-year masterpiece. It follows the story of a young boy through childhood in the suburbs, elementary school, high school, relationships, college, moving out, growing up. It's a film that depicts life and growing up like no other film because it really is life! You see the child actor grow up in a span of hours, you see Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette give fantastic performances, and you see flashbacks of your own childhood. It's such a beautiful and emotional indie film that I hope a lot of you check out, because it's certainly going to go down as one of the all-time greats.

3.) Gone Girl

This movie pretty much seals the deal on the whole not-getting-married thing, right? Gone Girl is Gone Girl, man. If you've watched it, you know what's up. David Fincher masterfully directed this movie, Affleck is great in it, and Rosamund Pike is *shudders* scary good (sociopath of the year #1? Maybe.) It's an engrossing as fuck movie, terrifying and heartbreaking, thought-provoking and discussion worthy, and executed near-flawlessly. If you haven't seen it, please just contact me  immediately so we can video call and watch the movie together. Admittedly, I saw this film three times in theaters just to see the different reactions.

2.) The LEGO Movie

Everything is awesoooooooome. Damn, I love The LEGO Movie. It's just one of those animation movies that stretches the boundaries of imagination. It's another self-aware, fun, and hilarious adventure with tons of heart brought to you by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The voice cast is amazing, the characters are charming and full of life, a lot of eye candy, and some pretty complex themes I'd never imagine seeing in a kids' film. PLUS, HOW CATCHY IS THAT SONG (until you realize the song your singing is the robot slave song). 

The LEGO Movie is amazing, and it almost, just almost, became my favorite movie of 2014. That was until I saw... (drumroll, please)

No, not X-Men: Days of Future Past. It's

1.) Whiplash

The best movie of 2014 is, in my opinion, Whiplash. Holy crap, this movie. Where do I begin? Miles Teller is amazing, this is him at his best. J.K. Simmons delivers such a commanding and intense performance that it still deeply implanted in my memory. I don't think any horror movie in the past two years has kept me on the edge of my seat, scared, as much as J.K. Simmons' delivery of the line "not my tempo". The movie is fan-freaking-tastically directed by Damien Chazelle too. This is the only movie in 2014 to emit energy. This movie makes you feel energy. True story. It's very much a thriller in some ways. It's sharp and to the point, and it'll keep you on the edge of your seat. Whiplash is electrifying, an intense and exhilarating emotional ride, and will absolutely leave you breathless.

That about raps up my Top 10 Movies of 2014 list. This year was such an amazing year for film. I myself still absolutely loved the film I put around the 15s, 16s and 17s, so you can imagine how much I love these ten films I just ran through. 

You can check out my ranking of this year's films (from best-worst) by clicking here. You can also read through the normal reviews of the films in this Top 10 list by clicking on the pictures. I thank you all for taking the time to read it, and I look forward to read through some of yours. You can voice your opinion down in the comment section or you can tweet at me. Thanks, and I guess my next post will be in 2015!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Middle Earth Chapter III: Revenge of the Orcs

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the third and final installment in The Hobbit series, and is the final film set in Middle Earth. The film continues mere minutes after where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off. Smaug is about to attack the city of lake town and an army of Orcs is on their way to the Lonely Mountain. Meanwhile, Bilbo still has the One Ring, and Thorin and the company of Dwarves have taken back their Mountain. However, a battle between five major armies of Middle Earth is set to take place on the front yard of the Lonely Mountain.

I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan, and I quite like The Hobbit films. I do admit they have many problems realted to pacing, character development, and going overboard on special effects, but I still find them quite entertaining. It's definitely not Lord of the Rings quality, but it's a pretty fun watch every December. Now, we have the last installment, and I'm quite satisfied with it.

On the bright side, I predicted that I'd love the first twelve minutes of the movie, and I was right. I still would have preferred it if those first twelve minutes was the finale of the last movie instead of being treated like an after thought in this movie. I mean, I would've liked it if I had time to digest that battle scene and let it sink in before I was thrown into the next event.

One thing this movie, and the previous two Hobbit movies did right, was the Bilbo and Thorin storylines. Yeah, they kinda mucked up their film series by giving us a fellowship that consisted mostly of interchangeable, unmemorable dwarves. However, they did manage to deliver on the Bilbo and Thorin storylines. Both their story arcs come full circle in this movie, and it was executed pretty well. It's definitely no Aragorn becoming King nor Frodo living an adventure, but it did round itself out in the end. Hats off to Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage, they've proven themselves the best thing about this trilogy.

To my surprise, some sequences were better executed than I thought they would've been. I thought the really weak set-up or the bad characters would really affect the conclusion of some storylines, but they managed to make the best out of it,

That's not to say that I was disappointed with other sequences, because I was. Peter Jackson and his pretty bad editing has once again caused a film of his to contain a lot of fat on it. It happened with King Kong, and then again with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and I honestly thought it fixed when there was less fat in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, but no there's so many cringe-worthy, pointless scenes scattered throughout the movie. Most of them containing, the painfully unfunny Alfrid character. My biggest critique of The Hobbit series is that it sometimes gets too caught up on focusing on the bigger Middle Earth that it loses focus on Bilbo, Thorin, and the Dwarves. I get you want to set up Lord of the Rings and build up to this big battle, but don't sight of your characters. It's why we're invested in the journey in the first place.

Speaking of the big battle, the actual Battle of the Five Armies was disappointing. I found it to be cluttered, unfocused, and overly reliant on special effects. It's all over the place, really. Well, for one thing, most of the battle doesn't really focus on characters you're rooting for. Instead, it focuses on the side characters who can really kick ass in a fight, the cool visual effects of giant troll and orc things, everything I didn't want to focus on. There was no real flow through to the battle too. It was basically jumping from one battlefront to the next, getting the best looking kills as possible. Not really the stuff of epics.

I know that made me sound like I didn't like the film, but I actually did find it entertaining. I realize these films have major flaws and the films suffer for it, but I don't hate any of them. The film still has excellent acting, turn-your-brain-off entertaining sequences, and the Bilbo and Thorin stories were quite well done actually. It's not the epic finale to the Middle Earth saga as it was hoped to be, but it still manages to be pretty good and entertaining.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Flash/Arrow crossover event review

Who ever thought that DC's first live-action crossover event would be between two television shows on the CW?

The Flash vs Arrow and The Brave and the Bold are a two parts of a special crossover event between CW's The Flash and Arrow, and of course, I'm here to share my opinions on it. 

I've been a fan of both shows for quite some time now. I survived through the dark days of Arrow Season 1, back when the show was still trying to find its footing, and I was there for the awesome-fest that was Arrow Season 2. As for The Flash... it's basically my favorite comic book television series currently airing. I had pretty high expectations for this crossover, and it absolutely did not disappoint at all.

Kicking things off last Tuesday was the accurately named Flash episode, The Flash vs Arrow. In the episode, Barry is tracking down Prism, a metahuman with the ability to induce rage in people by simply looking at them. During his search, he finds that Oliver Queen aka the Arrow has come to Central City looking on a case. The unlikely duo team up, and Barry soon realizes teaming up with Oliver isn't all fun and games.

This is a crossover event, so there's not really a lot of plot going on in the episode. Other than the regular villain-of-the-week formula The Flash has been using lately and the small Eddie plotline, the episode is mostly dedicated to the team-up of the Flash and Arrow and showing the huge contrast between their characters and the worlds they live in, and that's honestly what I really loved about it.

The Flash has made a small reputation for himself as the hero of Central City. He's been good, and it's been fun for Barry, but then now comes the Arrow. He brings his seriousness and his brutality to Central City, and it causes quite a bit of conflict for both main characters and the supporting characters as well. Much of the episode is also dedicated to Oliver teaching Barry the importance of slowing down and thinking before rushing in head first.

That first half of the episode was followed by an extremely fun second half where Barry just goes full-on rage mode on his friends, on Eddie, and on Oliver, which leads to the versus part of the episode. Wow... that final action sequence was the combination of the amazing stunt choreography of Arrow and the special effects-heavy action sequences of The Flash, and it was amazing. 

Of course, Barry learns his lesson by the end of the episode, and that's really one of the main strengths of the series. You see Barry develop from this average, likeable dork to the hero of Central City. It's classic origin story formula, and it's being delivered extremely well so far.

Following that was The Brave and the Bold, where this time, Flash is the one doing the visiting. Team Arrow is still tracking down Captain Boomerang when Barry and his Star Labs friends come to town to help them out with their case. The episode starts out really well too, and it only escalates as soon as Flash shows up after the first fight between Oliver and Roy and Captain Boomerang.

This time, it's Flash doing the advice-giving as another huge contrast between their characters and worlds is presented. Barry is used to fighting silly, super powered criminals in the bright and sunny Central City while Oliver is used to beating up and shooting through organized crime members and assassins in the dark and gloomy Starling City, so when Barry and Oliver team up yet again, Barry discovers he's not exactly a fan of the way Oliver gets his results. This is where Barry tries his darndest to convince Oliver that deep down, even though he doesn't believe it himself, he is a hero.

The flashback sequences also helped really send this message across, because the flashback sequences focused on Oliver's humanity and his faith that people could still do good. Oliver feels like he has been lost in the Arrow, but then Barry comes along to bring forth his inner good. The flashback sequences worked so well with the rest of the episode, which makes the episode a real standout in the season, because it's so far the best flashback this season.

Another thing I liked about the episode were the interactions between Team Arrow and Cisco Ramone and Caitlin Snow. It's just nice to see a fresh and cheerful face in Starling City (other than Ray Palmer. He's awesome), you know? 

Yeah, the CW is pretty much doing DC a huge solid by getting me pumped about their properties. They quite hit their mark (pun very much intended) with this crossover event, because I'm super stoked about the next episodes of The Flash and of Arrow, and OF COURSE, I'll be game for the next time these two Christmas-colored superheroes team-up.