Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Movies - Runners Up!

These received the Top Ten mark when I saw them, but it was a good year for movies. I wish that "ten" had fourteen numbers in it.

Number 14 - The Lego Movie

Everything is Awesome about this movie. There are two different layers of the Lego Movie that make it work. The first is the overall plot idea involving the "real" Lego bricks. In case you haven't seen it, I won't give away too much. If someone wanted to make a cool short movie about playing with Lego bricks, that would have worked. It would have been sweet.

Someone was smart. They realized that it wouldn't have worked as a full length film. In addition, it could have been about so many other kinds of toy, including  the Tinker Toy Movie or just the Toy Model Movie.

So then you get all of the fun with the Lego toys themselves. How about they throw in Batman and the rest of the JLA? What about Star Wars figures? In reality, Disney COULD make an Avengers/Star Wars movie. But remember that the JLA/Star Wars movie came out first. Or in reality, a JLA/Star Wars/Shaquille O'Neil movie.

The voice work is great. Chris Pratt, will return to this list, gives a non-generic, fun voice to the lead Lego. I have my fingers crossed that he's be on the 2015 list with Jurassic Parks and Rec. Will Arnett is one of the best on screen Batmans. You have Morgan Freeman, Nick Offerman, Liam Neeson, Channing Tatum, and Johah Hill. And if Lando Calrissian isn't in the upcoming Star Wars movies, at least Billy Dee Williams got to play him again.

And one more thing is the great social commentary that comes from the Everything is Awesome song about conformity vs. individuality. But that's too deep. Lego!

Number 13 - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

These movies have no right to be as good as they are. The Charlton Heston movie is fun but cheesy. The Marky Mark version removed the cheese but took the fun with it.  These two movies have nailed it.

A big reason has to be the level of expertise that creators have hit with CGI. We're able to make Caesar the focus of the movie. He's the hero. He's the one we want to sympathize with. That never would have worked with a latex mask.

That gets expanded in Dawn. We also have a legitimate villain, Koba. We see the badguyness in his eyes. He's the one we want to root against.

Yes, there are human good guys and bad guys in here. But we're almost at the point that they aren't as necessary to the story. The third movie has been announced for 2016. I hope to see the apes continue to push even more humans off of the screen. I want them to develop even more interesting ape characters.

Number 12 - Gone Girl

There are plenty of moments where Gone Girl teeters on the ridiculous. It may even go over a few times, but the actors are really, really good.

Ben Affleck carries this movie in what isn't an easy role. If there weren't so many other great performances this year, I would whisper Oscar nom.He's got the chops. Can he out Batman Will Arnett? Maybe.

Here's the other newsflash. David Fincher is good. Damn good. Remove that ridiculous crapfest Benjamin Buttons from his IMDB page and you have a really special career. I keep hoping they'll bring him back for another Girl Who movie.

And hey - Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris are also pretty good, though a lot of their stuff is the stuff that gets close to ridiculous.

So has anyone out there read the book? Is it worth reading?

Number 11 - X-Men: Days of Future Past

Comic book movies. Here's your warning: there will be more in the top ten.

These movies started moving in the right direction with First Class. Days of Future Past brings one of the most classic comic book stories to the screen, and keeps moving the right way. Just like heading to the 60s was a great movie in Class, the 70s hit the spot in Past.

A little comic book lesson for y'all. Back in the day when Stan Lee was writing a comic, each story was usually self contained in a single comic. There were usually bigger storylines that continued through the books, but you didn't need it to understand that single comic. This story, though, took TWO full issues to tell. Yeah. That's how important it was. (No, it wasn't super rare. The first Galactus story from the Fantastic Four was three issues, and the Kree-Skrull War from The Avengers was nine issues).

I mention this because many movies are made from books which are several hundred pages long. This story was 43 pages long, and a lot of that is art. So yeah, they need to add stuff. They need to change things. Personally, I would have been OK with Kitty Pride keeping the starring role instead of Woverine. It would have been a bigger risk for the movie, but the studios never would have approved.

I'm very curious about the next planned movie, Apocalypse. In the comic books, that's when the X-Men started getting too many different books and too many different characters. It became more and more confusing to understand what was going on. It actually got even worse for the next 20 years, with a few exceptions. So I don't know the story nearly as well.

On a brief tangent, as I've started rereading Marvel books over the past six months, X-Men comics and Avengers comics have flipped around. I'm really enjoying the different X-Men books while the Avengers books are getting more and more convoluted. Every story is a time travel story with way too many characters. Comic book lesson continued, today comic book stories take five or six issues to tell. It's rare to get a single issue story. This is so they can sell trade paperbacks with those stories bound together. The Avengers books are trying to create stories that are way too big with consequences that are way too big, and I think its to justify the story being five or six issues long. Except these stories are continuing until ten, twenty issues. And they aren't good. When the Marvel movies get to these Avengers stories, that's when the movies will decline.

People are taking about the direction Sony is taking with Spider-Man, and mostly want them to give him back to Marvel. The upcoming Fantastic Four movie looks like a disaster. I hope it's some elaborate troll and the movies are actually nothing like what has been described. So people want the FF to revert back to  Marvel.

But the current direction of the X-Men movies? I dig it. Yeah, I want Fox and Disney to play nice so that characters can cross over. Marvel and DC have worked together in the past, sometimes with really cool results. I hope these studios can move past ego and instead view the huge bags of money that we are offering them to get along. I have hope that money might actually start to influence a few people in Hollywood.

NEXT: Number TEN!

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