2014 IN REVIEW: It’s The Viewer’s Commentary’s Fourth Annual Year in Review!
It’s January! That means that we’re all looking forward to a year of new movies while looking back on the year past and nitpicking all the stupid things that we think Hollywood should avoid in the future while totally ignoring the fact that they’re all really going to just keep doing the same stuff over and over again.
And that really was the general consensus regarding 2014, from what I can tell. While 2014 had plenty of films we hoped were going to be good, there weren’t very many movies that we could look forward to with certainty of their excellence, either. Examples:
- There was a freaking movie based on LEGO blocks…
- Marvel was hedging their bets on two of their most ambitious films yet. The first was a sequel that completely changed up the series’ tone from the retro sci-fi cheerfulness of its predecessor to a more serious, pessimistic, and shockingly violent espionage flick, despite it being helmed by a duo who were heretofore better known for working in TV comedy and directing You, Me, and Dupree. The second was a film set at a far point in the galaxy with all sorts of weirdness going on, including a talking raccoon and a tree with an extremely limited vocabulary in two of the lead roles.
- Hunger Games fever was seeing its first major me-too film adaptations in The Giver, The Maze Runner, and Divergent while the actual Hunger Games film series continued with the first part of the cash-grabby, two-part Mockingjay adaptation. What’s next? Hobbit knock offs?
- Disney was following up their smash hit, Frozen, with their first ever Disney-branded Marvel adaptation in Big Hero 6, which took serious liberties with the X-Men-related comic book source material, including moving the story from modern day Tokyo to the far future hybrid city of San Fransokyo.
- No Pixar film, while DreamWorks was churning out an update to a classic cartoon in Mr. Peabody & Sherman, a sequel to How to Train Your Dragon, and a spinoff of Madagascar starring the Penguins of Madagascar… titled Penguins of Madagascar.
- Teenage romance films in the same vein as the seemingly never ending Nicholas Sparks adaptations, one of which was a remake of a crappy 1980s teenage romance film, one involving a girl on the brink of death while roaming around in a ghostlike form, and, perhaps the most egregious sounding of the three, an adaptation of a novel about two kids with cancer who happen to also fall in love.
- More reboots:
- Godzilla. Another one. Made by Americans.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, courtesy of producer Michael Bay, who was meanwhile continuing his Transformers series with a reboot of sorts, too.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past, which actually managed to make erasing the previous series of films from the new timeline a part of the storyline.
- Veronica Mars, which was a crowsource-funded restart of a cancelled TV series.
- Left Behind, which also managed to shove in freaking Nicolas Cage in there in one of his most baffling roles of his career. Speaking of which…
- Christian films reached both an all time high for popularity, at least as far as theatrical release goes, and a nadir for quality, the most offensive being the latest Kirk Cameron atrocity.
Yeah, 2014 looked like it was going to be a pretty bland year, even if you weren’t into the serious dramas and independent film scene, which… I honestly don’t keep up with nearly as much as I probably should when it comes to pre-release buzz. I can’t imagine that there are that many who do beyond actual paid professional critics, of which I am tragically not.
In the end, it was indeed a pretty off year for films, but I’m actually not so sure that’s a bad thing. While there were plenty of terrible movies, most of those were easy to spot from a mile away, and many of those uncertain major films actually managed to prove themselves to be a non-issue, while some of them actually turned out to be pretty fantastic, in fact! Yet more unexpected gems also emerged from the darkness to surprise everyone with how good they were… or, at the very least, they surprised me. Looking back, 2014 was a year that the expected gave way to the unexpected — and it was refreshing and satisfying.
On a personal level, 2014 was also pretty great for my film habit, by the way. I managed to buy myself a surround sound system finally thanks to a nice Christmas bonus. (Yay for being freaked out about whether the neighbors will complain!) It was the first year in which I rented a film that was also still playing in theatres — some of them either not available in my area and some just because I was a lazy bum who didn’t want to make the trip. I don’t anticipate me doing this for every release in the future, though, as I still love going to the theatre, and the prices for these films are pretty much comparable despite my TV and sound system not matching that of a theatre, but for things like documentaries or limited releases that are playing just too far away from my apartment, it’s proven to be a pretty convenient medium — particularly when I managed to get some free Vudu rental credit.
Consequently, this was also the year that I broke a personal record for the number of films I saw before the year’s end: a whopping 104, either through theatrical release or rental. By comparison, in 2011, the year I started blogging, I’d only seen 32 from that year in total, with some spillover into 2012 for the viewing time frame. With the added incentive of blogging from the very start, 2012 saw an increase to 58 by the time I posted my last year in review entry. 2013 again saw an increase to 68, meaning my 2014 viewing habits increased by nearly 53% from the previous year — and I’m not done yet, as there are still some films I want to see that I’ll likely watch before I complete this review series. I don’t know whether I should be proud or not… but I choose to be proud. I’ve already told my friends and family, anyway, and it still didn’t inspire them to stage an intervention, so I think I’m good.
So, yeah, I’m actually pretty excited to talk about the films of 2014. I anticipate that it’s going to be interesting and pretty different compared to past years. As always, I’m going to roll this out in stages, first with three entries discussing the films I didn’t see, then an entry discussing just the middle ground films I saw, an entry on the worst films I saw, and, finally, my favorite films from the year. (I say “favorite” because, while they’re all good, in my opinion, I do not rank them in order of excellence but rather personal favor. The “worst” list works pretty much the same way, pretty much, but in the reverse.)
For a rough schedule, here’s how I anticipate it working out, though it’s subject to change if I need to space it out (I will have seen over 104 films, after all, and I might choose to break up the middle ground film entry just due to numbers):
- 2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (January – April)
- 2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)
- 2014 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (September – December)
- 2014 IN REVIEW: Everything in Between That I’ve Seen
- 2014 IN REVIEW: The Worst Movies of the Year
- 2014 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year