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The summer movie season is nearly at an end and now is a time to reflect on the year that has passed so far and we at Entertainment Fuse Movies will look at our top five flicks.
It was very hard to pick just five from the large number of strong offerings bestowed upon us this year. These were some of the films that represented the reasons we go to the movies. We go to escape to beautiful, magical lands with friendly creatures, which Dragon was all about. We go to see the world we live in reflected back at us, which The Winter Soldier did very well. We go to experience excitement, suspense and to be genuinely surprised. Godzilla gave us this. Apes asked us to question our relationship to our fellow man in the face of our differences. It reminds us that we are no better than our fellow man no matter the color of your skin, no matter if you are an ape or a human. Finally, Stars gets to the core of our existence. It reminds you just how precious life is and how much there is to be said for living in the moment, which is always fleeting. Any film that makes you come away thinking about your own life and what really matters, is definitely worthy of a top spot.
1. X-Men: Days of Future Past
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2
3. Under the Skin
4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
My top five films of the year represent the best of independent and mainstream cinema. The movies are a combination of franchise films and daring smaller features. Each film took risks in their vision and created exciting pieces of fiction. Most importantly, these movies represent something of the world that we live in, through the guise of animation, fantasy or sci-fi. They reflected our society by presenting the universal themes of prejudice, class, sexism, survival, and most importantly, a sense of community or home. These films are some of the finest of the year so far and we look forward to what creative visions lie ahead.
1. The Lego Movie
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past
3. Edge of Tomorrow
4. Captain America: The Winter Solider
I can’t remember a year where my favourites list was littered with big studio releases – ones with stellar reviews but less box office potency – rather than the smaller films often overlooked by the average moviegoer. These have typically been my reprieve from the usual cookie cutter schlock. Superheroes (in one form or another) have my list under a tight grasp as all but one of my picks have an underdog rising to the occasion to save their respective world from annihilation at the hands of a benevolent force. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a sometimes overstuffed sequel that nevertheless was intelligent enough to bring a spy thriller approach to the character, and in doing so brought an air of gravitas that served the plot well and grounded what were inherently ridiculous action set pieces. So too did Edge of Tomorrow bring an uncommon agility, humour, intensity and flair to a sci-fi actionier that could have easily – easily – become a repetitive slog. Revitalizing its franchise in my mind and taking my number two spot was X-Men: Days of Future Past, a brilliant bit of dystopian superhero science fiction with a richly realized future, pitch perfect past and mind-f**k time travel elements handled in a way nothing short of impressive. Add in a towering cast, subtlety integrated humour and the usual X-Men brand of political and social commentary and you have one of the best blockbusters in recent memory. The one divergence from my picks comes with a little mind-bug of a film called Oculus, the type of offering that continued to bore itself into my mind until I was unable to shake it. Mood, performances and what is one of the most intriguing and deft cases of editing I’ve seen in any film (let alone one set within the horror genre): all combine into an unsettling piece that transcends the genre into something much more than an effective fright fest (something is accomplished nevertheless). But in the end it’s all salute the Kragle! The surprise of the year in terms of originality and its transcendence of the toys-to-screen stigma, The Lego Movie is a brilliant, vibrant piece of satire and one of the flat out funniest films of the last five years. The fact that it could simultaneously shed and embrace its angular origins, all while making old and young alike want to buy its damned product anyways is a testament to what filmmakers Chris Miller and Phil Lord pulled off with this animated powerhouse. Everything is awesome indeed.
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. The Lego Movie
3. The Edge of Tomorrow
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
5. How to Train Your Dragon 2
The first half of 2014 has seen some great action and animated movies. The year started off with the much-anticipated Lego Movie, which was one of the most well thought out pieces of “children’s” entertainment in years. Full of slapstick comedy for the younger generation, and awesome Lego-fueled throwbacks for more-seasoned Lego enthusiasts, it was a welcome addition to the lexicon of animated entertainment. My favorite film of the year was my most anticipated feature, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Beautifully shot in Anderson’s signature, and incredibly artistic style, this return to “adult-oriented” film was a long time coming. The Edge of Tomorrow was a welcome respite from the classic action movie formula, with a very relatable action “hero”. X-Men: Days of Future Past was a very worthy return to form for the X-Men franchise, that had been left sagging and disjointed from the myriad of films in the series. Director Bryan Singer did a wonderful job at connecting all the pieces, and restoring order to the franchise. I Loved How to Train Your Dragon, and must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the sequel. Filled with just as much action and whimsy as the original, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a very solid follow-up.
1. The LEGO Movie
2. The Fault In Our Stars
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
4. 22 Jump Street
No one expected much from The LEGO Movie before its release earlier this year. I, for one, didn’t expect to see it topping my favorite movies of the year list. But there it is, with its intoxicating animation, acerbic wit, and mind-imploding, crackerjack final act, this is a movie where saying, “There’s something for everyone” is actually, honestly true. Then there’s The Fault In Our Stars, probably the most honest adaptation of a novel I have ever seen, yet one not without its share of, well, faults. It loses some of the emotional gut-punches in transition, but it is nearly as achingly beautiful as John Green’s masterwork, and Shailene Woodley is a rock star. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a movie, unlike, say, The LEGO Movie, that we all expected to be pretty good. What no one expected was for it to be this good, rocketing to the top of everyone’s favorite Marvel movies (though not quite of mine) in the process. Its clever, topical script matches the whip-fast and visceral action scenes in a synergistic, eager-to-thrill level of super heroic mayhem, and its outcome feels weighty and integral to the Marvel Cinematic Universe unlike most of its brethren. As a comedy, 22 Jump Street is probably a perfect ten. It apes its predecessor in increasingly hilarious ways but never forgets what it is: a big, dumb sequel. From an opening “Previously on 21 Jump Street” gag to what may be the funniest, most raucously clever closing credits sequence I have ever seen, Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s second movie on this list absolutely nails it. My number five is a bit of a downer as post-apocalyptic movies go. Snowpiercer, starring Captain America himself, concerns the class warfare goings on inside a world-spanning super train that supports the lives of the last humans on Earth. “Obvious metaphor”, you may say; “Sounds heavy-handed”, would be apt, too. Here’s the thing: it’s not. It’s nearly a video game in its structure of advancing car-by-car, but it’s never derivative and its themes, while obvious, are never ham-fisted. Each car is a miniature world, and a wondrous, tangible surprise, much like the film itself.
2014 has produced a lot of films and providing to be a strong vintage. While there are some excellent indie films like Tracks and Chef,, my top five so far is made up from big budget blockbusters. Fox has had a double whammy, making two excellent sci-fi blockbusters and secured the top two stops on my list. X-Men: Days of Future Past and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are excellent continuations to their respective series, serving as smart sci-fi movies and delivering on big action spectacle. Talking about spectacle, Darren Aronofsky made a big budget biblical fantasy movie, Noah: it was big, controversial and divisive, but it was a bold movie looking at the wrathful, crueller side of The Bible. The Raid 2 is the only foreign language on my list, an excellent sequel to the fun first action movie, expanding on the original, turning The Raid series from a martial arts to crime epic and has some of the best action sequence of the year. Finally there is The Amazing Spider-man 2: I am aware of the negative response the movie received, but I will stand by my opinion that it is the second best Spider-man movie, close to the comic books and cartoon series as it mixes comedy, action and melodrama.