Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - The Highlights (lionsroar)

Films watched for the first time and reviewed in 2014

Note: Since Trophy Unlocked has to pay for most of the movies we see in the theaters and for most of the films we watch at home, we don’t have the scope of a newspaper reviewer. We don’t see everything that’s out, so our ratings of films are based on what we decide to spend our money on.

Best Films of the year

In no particular order:

While this is not a film that will win Academy Awards, I really thought Michael Keaton showed a lot of range and bravery with his performance. The filmmaking was experimental with the attempt to make it appear to be one long continuing shot, something Hitchcock attempted with Rope (1948), but technology has improved so that director Alejandro González Iñárritu has more success. The soundtrack, which won’t be eligible for the Oscars, is interesting, but a little tiresome. Not a great film, but it has enough interesting pieces to make it a must see from the year.

Perhaps the most fun I had at the movies this year. While I had never read the comics it was based on and was somewhat doubtful of the project, I really liked the movie. So much in fact, that I actually bought the soundtrack as a audio-keepsake, even though it is filled with songs that when they were first played on the radio I would turn the dial so as to not listen to them.

There were a lot of very fine animated films this past year, but perhaps the best all around was Frozen. Released in 2013, this was reviewed on the blog at the beginning of 2014. The film features the voice acting and singing talents of Broadway standouts Idina Menzel and Josh Gad as well as Kristen Bell and songs such as Let It Go, In Summer and For the First Time in Forever.

Disappointments of the year

In no particular order:

Not sure why this film was made. While it does tell a story that is similar to what’s in the Bible, that story is augmented with supernatural elements. I don’t know much about Noah, but if he was anything like he was portrayed in this film, he was not a very likeable guy. As with most biblical films, this one is slow paced and uninvolving.

Not really a bad movie, but one that definitely could have been better. A similar set up as Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie based on a little known Marvel comic with a cast of heroes. But while Guardians managed to flesh out their cast into three-dimensional characters, most of the big six remain one-dimensional. I also had some problems with the timing of events. While I’m sure there’ll be a sequel, I hope they get it right the next time.

Since 2014 was the 75th Anniversary of Hollywood’s Golden Year, 1939, Trophy Unlocked made an effort to highlight several films from that year. Not all films from 1939 are great however and some have aged poorly. I’m sorry to say Gunga Din falls into that category. As a Cary Grant fan, I have rarely seen a bad performance from him and for the most part the acting is okay from all the leads. The problem is the pacing, the story and the laughable special effects. I had wanted to watch this film with my family for about a decade, so imagine how disappointed I was when the only thing we talked about afterwards was the poorly done snake pit scene.

Anniversaries all around, this one goes back 100 years to the first feature length comedy shot in Hollywood. Like Grant, I am usually a fan of Charlie Chaplin’s work, but most of my exposure to him had been in films he wrote, directed and starred in. Here he is given third-billing behind Marie Dressler and Mabel Normand and is directed by Mack Sennett. This film, unfortunately, has not aged well.

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