So far 2014 has been a pretty good, and expectedly bad, year for movies so far, and with the Hollywood blockbuster season simmering to completion I think it's time to reflect on the movies I've seen so far this year. With every intention of going over a few of these flicks at a later date with a more refined comb, for now I'm just going to brush over some impressions that these movies have left me with (in the order that I remember them in [if at all] ).
The Grand Budapest Hotel - The latest flick by my favourite director does not fail to entertain, at least not if you are comfortable with quirky humor. And of all of his films this might be the most approachable to people unfamiliar with Wes Andersons other works. It feels appropriately irreverent and the captivating presentation is simple and charming. The framing of shots mixed with antiquated aesthetics work together so well that its easy to let it all wash over you. The long winded speeches of the suave Mr. Gustav fizzle out hilariously into vulgarity that proved hard to stop doing myself after watching the film. Despite all the snow in this movie, it still has a very warm touch that will stay with you long after viewing, and I'm debating it's place in my favourite movies of the year, and possibly all time.
Robocop - Despite being one of the most unneeded remakes in history, this has to be one of the most disappointing films to come out this year. I truly, truly, wanted for this to be a good movie. Hell I would have gladly settled on a decent film. I went into this movie prepared to let a lot of things slide, and I did, and despite that Robocop could not stand up to the lofty heights set by the original. I watched this movie understanding that this was an adaptation that was for a generation of movie goers who might have not ever seen the original, but making this a PG-13 movie seems almost sacrilegious. On repeat views the problems just keep getting bigger and more obvious until the movie becomes nearly a parody of itself, if it wasn't for Gary Oldman carrying the events on screen with everything part of him then there would be nothing to see. The actual suit looks and moves impressively well, but the shaky cam makes everything impossible to follow and action scenes devolve into horrible looking cgi shootouts that look dated even now. This is a film I have every intention of getting into at a later time, but for now let's leave it at this: This films greatest crime is not that it was a bad movie, but that it might dissuade viewers from ever considering watching the 1987 original.
300: Rise of an Empire - This was one of the most forgettable films I've ever seen, and feels wholly unnecessary. It lacked the visceral energy or visual flare of the first film and the people involved, save for Eva Green, seem to be mourning the film as it plays out. The brutal slow motion ground combat has been replaced with naval battles for some reason. These are not at all fun to watch or easy to understand in terms of whose where and what plans mean as they are being shouted out. The main character has the biggest shoes to fill in place of King Leonidas and he never comes close to stepping out of that shadow. I can't even recall his name. And Xerxes himself is hardly in the movie at all despite all the promotional material making you think the movie was about him. However the new villain is far and away the best part of the movie. Eva Green plays the antagonist (I couldn't recall her character's name either) who seems like the only one having any fun and bringing energy to the screen, but all her hard work goes to waste ultimately as the rest of the movie shambles around trying to make itself more important than it can be, to its detriment.
The Lego Movie - A complete surprise to me and some of the most fun I had all year at the cinema. I'm not entirely sure how this movie didn't get on my radar as it came out, and even then it's immense success helped it stay in theatres for long enough for me to catch it randomly over a month after its release. Something about the premise felt like it was going straight-to-Netflix but holy crap was I wrong. This was an immensely funny and charming film that any fan of animation needs to see. Although the movie is cgi you still get the impression that they could have made this with actual Legos pieces (it just would have taken another ten years). It's a grand adventure with numerous colorful characters and amazing set pieces that thankfully doesn't pander to pop-culture tropes or date itself with celebrity gossip "humor" either. The voice acting is top notch too and matches the visuals just as much as the music does. This movie feels likes its on the fast track to classic status, and if the inevitable sequels don't spoil the magic for us, then we this could be proof that everything is awesome.
Surprisingly I'm still catching up on movies from last year still, and with Netflix posting new movies and old classics all the time, there's hardly enough time to watch them all. So as we all prepare for the summer onslaught of movies on the horizon, I'll be sure to watch them. And with any luck you'll be here to read about them.