Here are our picks for the best of summer 2014.
The summer of 2014 is over and we will never see it again. These are our favorite films of the summer, some of which have carried over from our Best of 2014 So Far, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing a few still clinging for dear life onto our Best of the Year List down the road. So, no more shenanigans, let's do this!!!
The Rover takes place in a desolate future that gives Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce a real place to prove that they’re two of the most diverse actors working today. The film is written by Warrior star Joel Edgarton and takes audiences to another depressing vision of the near future when the world’s economy has been totally collapsed. Both actors are totally believable in their authentic acts of desperation and violence. The Rover may not be for everyone but it certainly continues the upward trend of Australian releases.
9. Snowpiercer (director: Bong Joon-ho)
This is the best film about a perpetual motion train that circumnavigates a post-apocalyptic frozen earth you will see all year. Yes, the premise is absolutely ridiculous but somehow it still manages to be engaging and a blast to watch. It’s directed by Bong Joon-ho, who is most famous for the Korean horror flick The Host. This happens to be his first American feature and he managed to get some high profile stars: Chris Evens and Tilda Swinton. For some reason, there weren’t too many sci-fi action films released this summer so it was refreshing to see something a little different. There are some cool action sequences and set-pieces if you can get past the admittedly disjointed story you can have a lot of fun with this one.
8. The Purge: Anarchy (writer/director: James DeMonaco)
It’s not often that a sequel outdoes its predecessor in every single way. The Purge: Anarchy takes the idea of the first movie and twists it in to something new and fresh while building a solid foundation for another continuation of the series. Under the lead of Frank Grillo, this sequel turned out to be a more entertaining, slightly less violent morality tale that fits perfectly with modern urban decay and today’s news headlines. The Purge: Anarchy is everything we wanted from the first but didn’t get. It takes the story to the streets and ups the amount of tension with a better story, more character development, and just enough bloodshed to satiate any horror fan’s appetite.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy (director: James Gunn)
Everyone on Earth for some reason thinks Guardians of the Galaxy is God's gift to sci-fi movies. First of all, grow up. Second of all, OK, fine! It's pretty good. Take away the charming characters and your left with a pretty hum-drum, but gorgeous looking popcorn flick. Put them back in and it becomes arguably the most exceptionally enjoyable dumb fun movie of the year. Guardians is every boy's toy chest dumped into a pile and made into a live-action movie. Each creature, character, space ship, and world looks like it belongs in a playset commercial of the 80s with little kids smashing things together in brainless, blissful fun. This is the definitive popcorn flick and it's why I love America.
6. Edge of Tomorrow (director: Doug Liman)
Tom Cruise returned to the science fiction genre with another mind blowing excursion in to the battle worn future. Edge of Tomorrow is a sleek feature that blends classic sci-fi elements with stunning visuals, massive battle sequences, and a perfect pairing of Cruise and Blunt. While it didn’t light the box office ablaze, it was one of the best looking and thought provoking pieces of the summer season. Audiences may have shied away from this Tom Cruise vehicle but they missed out on a movie that was easily one of the best of this last summer box office season. Cruise continually makes great action/sci-fi flicks. Edge of Tomorrow was just as good, or possibly better, than his last few efforts. The really cool thing about this one is the re-watch value. Check this one out again and you’ll be sure to find something new that you didn’t see the first time.
5. 22 Jump Street (directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller)
The sequel to the unexpectedly funny 21 Jump Street has no right being as awesome as it is. Don’t they know that sequels to popular movies should be derivative and lame? How dare they take all of the ideas from the first film, expound on them, and improve on them in almost every way! Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reprise their roles and adorable bromance of the original movie and it works even better the second time around. What surprised me the most was how incredibly smart and self-aware the writing was—it’s a sequel that makes fun of sequels! While it’s no Oscar-winning film, it’s light-hearted and hilarious. The writers could have gone for the lazy cash grab (and probably still made some money) but they actually put some effort into it and it shows. Make sure you stay after the film to see one of the most hilarious ending credits sequences ever.
4. Boyhood (writer/director: Richard Linklater)
Richard Linklater spent twelve years slowly making Boyhood, gathering his cast for a few days each year to film new segments. The result is one of the most unique and engaging films of the summer if not the past decade. It was a huge gamble by both the director and his cast to commit so much time to one project but the effect is a seamless coming of age story about a young boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his family played by Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and Linklater’s real life daughter Lorelei. Never before has a fictional story felt so real—it’s a testimony to everyone involved in this project. In a summer full of superheroes, robots, and action scenes Boyhood dares to be the most real thing on the big screen.
3. Frank (director: Lenny Abrahamson)
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (director: Matt Reeves)
Continuing the successes of Rise with awesome CGI work, great actors, and a character driven story, Dawn chronicles mankind’s ongoing downfall. While Dawn suffers some mild pacing issues and ruminates too heavily on the evils of man and its weaponry, this is a great summer movie that will undoubtedly spawn many more sequels. This is an entertaining piece of cinema that continues to rework the classic Planet of the Apes story in to a more thoughtful retelling that will continue to smash box office numbers for years to come. The story of Caesar and Koba is endearing to audiences and holds distinct comparisons to current power struggles in our own civilization. These Planet of the Apes movies are smarter, less cheesy, and have just enough action to stay semi-believable and entertaining.
1. X-men: Days of Future Past (director: Bryan Singer)
Like Zack Snyder's Watchmen, Days of Future Past is a superhero opera of the highest caliber. The dialogue is exceptionally sharp and engaging, carried by impeccable performances from some of the finest casted actors in comic movie history. McAvoy and Fassbender, especially, are flawless in their portrayals of Professor X and Magneto respectively. I can't stop raving about Days of Future Past and I have a strong feeling it will remain a favorite by the end of the year. Quicksilver, man. Quick-flipping-silver.