Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Films of the Year 2014 - The Alternative Awards!

        Before we get too far into the new year, lets get this out of the way:  Films of the Year 2014 - The Alternative Awards!

        Including such categories as: Most Disappointing Film, Most WTF? Film and Best Fight, etc… 
       Read on to see what I thought!

        Once again, this is just my opinion (and also films I saw, but not necessarily released in 2014 are allowed) - and is based on this list of films that I saw last year. If you want to check out my article for the Top 10 Films of 2014, click HERE.

The 3 Most Disappointing Films of the Year

        Now don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad film by any stretch. In fact, I reviewed it rather favourably HERE.
        What makes Godzilla feel somewhat disappointing however, is the lack of the titular beast himself – he hardly appears in his own movie! Far too much time is devoted to the threat of the MUTOs and even more on the (rather dull) human perspective – certainly after Bryan Cranston exits anyway.
        The final battle in the film was more like what we wanted to see throughout, but overall it just seemed a bit lacking.
        For the sequel: more of Godzilla please!

You can read my earlier review of Godzilla HERE.

2) Lucy

        Luc Besson back on form? A slick femme-fatale actioner? Closest thing to a Black Widow movie?
        Sorry, No dice.
        Lucy is disappointing because it tries to be too many different things (tense gangster/crime thriller, action flick, sci-fi, superhero, philosophical, art house - not to mention the overuse of nature footage, and even time-travelling?!) without actually really excelling in any individual one of these areas. The ambition was there, but it severely lacked focus.
        And you know the film has really lost the plot when Scarlett gets chased by a CG dinosaur…

You can read my earlier review of Lucy HERE.

        I was pretty excited for Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, as he was Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer on the Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception among others. Having Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall as the leads couldn't be bad either, right?
        Unfortunately the film was just a confused mess. It started out interestingly, but gradually fell apart and the more it went on. If Wally concentrated more on actually writing a half decent script instead of spending all his time trying to capture footage of the perfect raindrop, we could have seen something half decent. What a let down.

You can read my earlier review of Transcendence HERE.

3 Films That Were Pleasant Surprises

        Hardly anyone saw this and it's not even one of Steven Soderbergh’s more well known films – which actually works to its advantage. I hate using the word ‘Hitchcockian’ to describe a film, but Side Effects manages to twist and turn against your expectations often and to great effect.
        It’s a great little mystery thriller that’s well worth a watch, and features a great performance from Rooney Mara.

        Animated comicbook films are, on the whole, pretty average. DC tend to make slightly better ones than Marvel (in my opinion) and Assault On Arkham - which they should really have just been called ‘Suicide Squad’ (presumably they didn't in order to keep it a but more kid friendly) - is one of the better ones.
        Despite the title, Batman isn’t actually the main focus here (for the most part) and instead we get to tag along with a motley bunch of villains (lead by Deadshot) as they are forced to take part in a deniable ops mission that includes the infiltration of Arkham Asylum.
        It’s well animated, has some neat twists, is refreshingly violent in places - overall a different ‘Batman’ experience, since the Dark Knight himself takes more of a back seat this time around.
        Look forward to the David Ayer (Fury) directed Suicide Squad film – currently scheduled for a 2016 release.

1) Locke

        I was curious more than anything about how effective this chamber piece could really be. Seriously, just one guy driving in the car? For the whole movie? The answer is: VERY effective.
        It sounds dull as a set-up, but Tom Hardy’s performance is quite riveting – his phone conversations during a night time drive from Cardiff to London gradually illuminating who he is and the reason for taking his journey.
        The acting is phenomenal, both from Hardy and the various voices on the phone (see if you can identify the actors!) – and the film feels pretty tense, despite its (perceived) limitations.
       Perhaps the most impressive thing though is that Hardy pulls it off whilst maintaining a Welsh accent throughout. Great stuff.

The 3 Most WTF? Films of the Year

        Nicholas Winding Refn’s follow up to Drive is an odd one. A violent revenge story set in Bangkok’s seedy underbelly - it has a lurid dream like quality throughout. Most scenes crawl at a snail’s pace, everything is soaked in red neon and there is karaoke. Lots of karaoke.
        Ryan Gosling stars, but only has a handful of lines throughout the film. He gets his ass kicked. He seems like a nice guy, but his family is crazy (especially his terrifying mother, played by Kristin Scott Thomas). Hands are cut off.  People get tortured. It’s a film that polarised critics and audiences alike.
        Oh, did I mention the karaoke?

        Okay, now things are getting weirder. The Act of Killing is a documentary wherein former Indonesian death-squad leaders are encouraged to re-enact their mass killings... filmed in whatever cinematic genre they wish?
        So you get noir crime thrillers, surreal musical numbers, and even some gruesome re-enactments. It's grotesque (these are, after all, real-life murderers here – showing little to no remorse for what they have done) and yet the whole thing is strangely mesmerising. They see themselves as the heroes of their own story, and it’s often very surreal and disturbing to watch.

        Did you ever see Shane Carruth’s Primer? It was low budget time travel movie that literally did nothing to hold your hand. For the most part, you barely had a grasp on what was going on - so little is explained to you during the course of the film.
        His follow up, Upstream Color (which he also, writes, directs and stars in) is quite possibly even more of a head-scratcher. It involves parasitic worms used to hypnotise people – and that’s just the part that actually makes the most sense. I can’t even fully describe it, nor can I even fully be bothered to attempt to right now.
        Some may call it art or an ‘experience’, for others it may be too abstract and/or pretentious. I struggled to stay interested whilst sitting through it be honest. Bonkers.

Best Debut

        Okay, so he was in some lesser parts plus some TV (Downton anyone?), but playing the lead role of 'David' in The Guest was like seeing a star arrive fully formed on the big screen.
        He’s wickedly charismatic, looks to be having the time of his life and most of all pretty darn convincing as an all-American (when he is fact, very much a Brit).
        Following up The Guest with roles in A Walk Among the Tombstones and the third Night at the Museum movie, expect more from this guy in the future.

You can read my earlier review of The Guest HERE.

Guy Who Killed It The Most in 2014

        With lead roles in 2014’s highest grossing and fourth highest grossing movies (US box office figures), it’s hard not to have seen this guy blowing up.
        He has the right mix of everyman/hero, seen in both Emmet Brickowoski and Peter Quill, with a great comic delivery and timing, handles drama and action well - and has the ability to brush up well (for the female fans…).
       With a major role in this year’s hugely anticipated Jurassic World (as well as an inevitable Guardians of the Galaxy sequel further down the line), the it looks like this guy has the potential to keep getting bigger.

You can read my earlier review of The Guardians of the Galaxy HERE, and The LEGO Movie HERE.

Best Performance

        Whilst the film was good but not truly great – Jake Gyllenhaal's portrayal of Lou Bloom was – it elevates the film to a whole new level.
       Just watching trailers or short snippets is not enough – you have to see this guy in action. How he manipulates those around him with his pseudo self-improvement talk. How chillingly sociopathic he can be towards others whilst simultaneously garnering our admiration for his dedication and ambition to his new chosen career. It’s fascinating to watch.
        Although supported by great performances from his fellow cast members (Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton and Rene Russo are all great in this), I would argue that it’s worth seeing Nightcrawler just for Gyllenhaal’s performance alone.

You can read my earlier review of Nightcrawler HERE.

Best Soundtrack

        The obvious choice would have been the retro pop-rock of Guardians of the Galaxy. But for me, the soundtrack that really stood out in 2014 was the synth-laden songs of The Guest – a mixture of old songs (‘A Day’ by Clan of Xymox), and new (‘Anthonio [Berlin Breakdown Version]’ by Annie) along with the actual score – all fit together in a cohesive score that not only felt nostalgic (harking back to an 80’s thriller/slasher) but was also super cool and hip in its own right.
        I admit I do have a penchant for 80’s pop and synth heavy electronic music, but this soundtrack was truly a pleasant surprise and used to great effect in this movie. I rushed to look up the songs as soon as I got back from the cinema.

You can read my earlier review of The Guest HERE.

Best Fight

        How to top the final Rama and Andi vs Mad Dog fight in the original The Raid? Why not have Rama fight a warehouse full of henchmen, then simultaneously take on Baseball Bat Man and Hammer Girl, then finally having a showdown with ‘The Assassin’.
        It’s exhausting just to watch – the build-up is excellent, the fight itself goes on for ages and you simply have to marvel at the amount of work put into the choreography and shooting of the scene. I’m still gobsmacked every time I see it.

You can read my earlier review of The Raid 2 HERE.

        So there you have it – just some random film awards from 2014 that I felt needed mentioning. If you want to check out last year’s Alternative Awards, click HERE, or check out my main Top 10 Films of 2014 article HERE.

12th Jan 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment