As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the movies we all clamored to the theaters to see. This year has been full of sequels, new heroes to cheer for, a franchise taken in a new direction, and just a few thought-provoking movies. I might not have seen everything that other critics have seen such as Top Five or The Theory of Everything, but here we go.
10) The Lego Movie
A surprise hit this year, this adventure is based on the characters of the three-dimensional blocks children still play with today. This film helped increase the popularity of the LEGO toy line. Featuring a great voice cast with the likes of Morgan Freeman, Chris Pratt, and Will Ferrell, along with laughs and a strong story, The Lego Movie is fun for all ages.
While necessarily the strongest movie of this year, this film still does well to strengthen the power of Hollywood’s trend to adapt YA novels into big-budget movies. Shailene Woodley turned in a wonderful performance as Tris, helping improve her resume as a dependable leading lady. The novel has a great story and message of becoming an individual but that is overshadowed by the predictability of the YA formula to pull teens into the theaters. Might not agree with this but it works.
8) Transformers: Age of Extinction
When Transformers: Dark of the Moon ended, I honestly thought it was a fitting conclusion to the Transformers film trilogy. Figuring out that he could continue to make money based on the classic 80’s toys, Michael Bay returned with a new cast to join the robots in disguise. Nothing is really in disguise in this movie as Bay continues his typical formula of big effects and loud-action to support the story. Fans of the series will love this installment. All others, check your brain at the door.
7) X-Men: Days of Future Past
When the X-Men film series began a prequel trilogy with First Class, it was a breath of fresh air that the series needed. After that success, Bryan Singer returned to the series as director and brought in the original X-Men to join forces with their younger selves to save the future. The film combines the best elements of the series to produce a wonderful outing that ranks as the best outing so far for the franchise while also promising an interesting future for mutantkind.
6) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a great reinvention and reboot for the long time franchise. Stunning special effects. This sequel does a spectacular job expanding on the world that began with its predecessor. Along with an intelligent story and emotional harmony to go along with the stunning special effects, this film signals nothing but good things ahead for the reinvented storied franchise.
5) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Two weeks ago, fans of the Middle-Earth saga said good-bye to our epic companions. The final chapter of the saga might seems overwhelmed by its built-up spectacle based on the previous films, Peter Jackson ends his Middle-Earth prequel trilogy in a satisfying note with one last epic battle and finale that ties his films together.
4) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
The beginning of the end of this powerful franchise started this year with part one of Mockingjay. The book was not the strongest of the trilogy but splitting it into two films helps to make the story better. This penultimate chapter sets up the franchise for an epic finale with powerful performances by the main cast and a smart political subplot. While the action is not prominent in this film, Mockingjay – Part 1 follows the trend of the final Harry Potter films and saving the action for last.
3) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is possibly the strongest film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not because of the game-changing plot that altered the world of The Avengers but its political cleverness that draws similarities to what is currently going on in our world now. This movie thrilled die-hard Marvel fans as we watched the all-American hero stand for what’s right in a world that is colored in shades of grey and surrounded with land mines of distrust and hidden agendas.
2) The Fault in Our Stars
Wise, funny, honest, and heartbreaking, this film comes close to topping my list but not that close. The Fault in Our Stars does right in honoring its source material and staying close to John Green’s popular bestseller. Unlike other romantic comedies or dramas, this movie doesn’t keep the promise of a happy ending but it painfully honest of how real life is, no matter what you are going through and to live life to the fullest.
1) Guardians of the Galaxy
A kick-ass soundtrack, a great cast, and not to mention its a Marvel film, it’s a winning formula for the tenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Expanding into the far reaches of the galaxy, Marvel brought a band of intergalactic misfits together to take on evil. Full of laughs, heart, thrilling action, and spectacular visual effects, Guardians of the Galaxy is a must-see film that can be enjoyed over and over.