Review of the Year 2014 – Films

Well another year gone and another load of films, tv shows, music, games and sport to keep us occupied. As a huge fan of comic books it has been a great year with successful films, tv shows and huge announcements, whilst in the world of sport we were treated one of the most memorable World Cups ever. So here is the film section of the Review of the Year

Last year my films of the year were filled with comic book films, sci-fi and fantasy films, obviously topped by the Hobbit, the third part of which I was convinced would once again be topping this years, well boy was I wrong.

1) Guardians of the Galaxy. So this was seen a risk for Marvel studios, a virtually unknown comic book (I had heard of it, but never read any until the film was announced) but it turned out to be a huge success. I was so excited for this film through the great trailers, and was so happy when it managed to deliver. With only one of the central team being a human character it wasn’t hard to see why people thought it was a risk, a talking raccoon… a tree that can only say “I am Groot”… this didn’t sound like a recipe for success. But James Gunn absolutely nailed it in terms of the tone of the film, he found the right balance between the outlandish Sci-Fi-ness and sheer fun and joy of the film. Straight from the opening we knew the film was good hands when after a bit of build up all the tension was suddenly relieved by Chris Pratt singing dancing along to Come and Get Your Love. The rest of the films carries this off perfectly to make it in many peoples eyes the best Marvel film ever made.

2) The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Second place for a Tolkien film, yes I am also shocked, but BOTFA was still one of my favourite films of 2014. Again, like Guardians, I went into it with a hell of a lot of expectations, and was impressed that it managed to deliver. But for me BOTFA delivered in a different was than I was expecting. I went into anticipating Peter Jackson trying to beat the scale of the previous battles in the Middle Earth franchise, especially those of Helm’s Deep and the Pelennor Fields, instead he produced a much smaller and personal battle, really focusing on the characters, in particular Thorin. It also succeeded in the daunting task of finishing one trilogy and setting up another, much better than say, Revenge of the Sith.

3) Pride. Now we’re into the point where 2014’s list starts to differ from last years. Pride tells the story of LGSM, a LGBT group who decide to support the striking miners as a show of solidarity, and formed an alliance with miners in a small Welsh village. I don’t think any other film in a long time has been so successful at being a really funny, emotional and joyous film that made surely everyone who watched it laugh, cry and smile, sometimes all at once. Filled with great performance from a lot of great actors including, but certainly not limited to, Ben Schnezter, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton. An absolute must see for anyone who hasn’t already.

4) Paddington. It’s been a great year for family films, The Lego Movie has been a huge success, How To Train Your Dragon 2 has built upon the success of the first and reached even higher and Penguins of Madagascar was just hilarious, even it the plot was very ropey. But it’s Paddington that takes the biscuit. I must admit to being very sceptical when I first saw the trailers for the film, but once I’d seen it I’d had a complete change of heart. Funny, heartwarming (Again? I must be going soft) and a great tribute to the beloved character, Paddington is the stand out family film of 2014.

5) What We Do In The Shadows. I have to admit I didn’t even hear about What We Do In The Shadows until December, but this New Zealand comedy vampire mockumentry that was co made by one half of Flight of the Concords deserves to be heard about. Setting several different eras of vampires all sharing one house together in Wellington. One of the funniest films of the year including some of the best lines, “Werewolves not swearwolves” springs to mind. Anyone who has been longing for a proper vampire films after that Twilight shambles, or is a fan of Flight of the Concordes, should certainly look out What We Do In The Shadows.

There are a few films that got very very close to making my top films of the year, 2 in particular, Intersellar and Nightcrawler. For me Interstellar is one of Christopher Nolan’s best bits of work, it manages to balance huge sci-fi epic with a very personal and moving father and daughter story. Nightcrawler is Jake Gyllenhaal’s best performance, and one he’d struggle to top, as Lou Bloom a nightcrawler, someone who films footage to sell to news stations, and is a very brave film for having it’s lead as a dark, sociopathic and creepy character, but with a certain charm and charisma that keep the viewers hooked.  Also deserving of mentions are Gone Girl, another thriller with a great central performance, this time by Rosamund Pike, 22 Jump Street, a very funny and meta sequel to 21 Jump Street. There were also some other great Superhero films, Xmen Days of Future Past, Captain America the Winter Soldier and Amazing Spiderman 2, although the last one failed to stay with me in the same way that the other two did, and is pretty much carried by two fantastic performances from Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Xmen is a triumph of ensemble film making from Brian Singer who has breathed new life into the Xman franchise, and also can lay claim to the greatest sequence of the year in Quicksilver in the Pentagon. Captain America also managed the unbelievable by making not only a Captain America movie good, but the character cool and interesting, surely a first. Finally Calvary is John Michael McDonagh’s follow up to 2011 film The Guard, also staring Brendan Gleeson. It’s less funny than their first collaboration, but a storyline thats interesting enough to hold your attention the film succeeds through some fantastic performances from everyone including Chris O’Dowd, Aiden Gillen, Dylan Moran and of course Gleeson himself.

It wasn’t all good however. Michael Bay continued his one man assault on my childhood with a fourth, yes FOURTH instalment to the Transformers franchise (I mean serious who is still going to watch this rubbish, even Shia LaBeouf, possibly the worst actor/charisma vacuum ever, has quit) and producing the nearly as bad Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There was also the sequel/prequal/same-timequal to 300 that no one asked for and unsuccessfully tried to copy all the best bits from the first film. There was the criminally boring Robocop, that just lacked, well anything of interest.

I haven’t managed to see every film that I wanted to this year, The Raid 2 is one that I’m particularly annoyed to have missed in Cinemas. Theres also the two scientist biopics The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything, Which Eddie Redmayne is heavily tipped for award wins for. Also Zach Braff’s second film Wish I Was Here.

Overall 2014 was a splendid year for films, and we can all hope that 2015, with treats such as Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, can live up to it.

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