The LEGO Movie was so unexpected. When I stepped into the theater I'd read some pretty positive buzz about the film, but I didn't expect it to be so excellent all around, from the animation to the voice performances, to the unexpected places the plot went. Anyone who has ever loved LEGOS must see this one. It'll pull at that place of nostalgia in the best possible way.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier wasn't just a comic book movie. It had such a great tone and wit that it felt like a new genre, the superhero spy action epic. Mark spoke at length about its strengths as a film, but I'd like to add that I consider this one of the best comic book movies, and also flat out one of the best films of the year.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes wasn't quite my favorite film of the year. But damn, was it good. Not only did it improve on the first film (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), it had some of the best realized digital performances I've ever seen, and treated the ape characters with as much care as the human characters. The plot had a tangible sense of inevitability without feeling predictable.
Guardians of the Galaxy was labeled immediately as a giant risk by Marvel. Looking back, it doesn't seem like one. But a year ago, no one could've guessed how much fun Guardians would end up being. It wasn't just the writing, acting, and soundtrack that made this one impressive. It managed to create a world all on its own without having to depend on the rest of the Marvel movies. Mark again went into more detail about this film, and I agree with pretty much everything he has to say. Except that I feel this was my favorite film of the year.
I won't go into super detail here, but I wanted to mention all the good movies that came out this year. In no particular order:
X-Men: Days of Future Past had some the best resolution I've seen in years, plus it managed to patch up some of the horrible mistakes that previous installments have made. I'm just wondering if maybe they should be doing a reboot instead of another sequel.
Big Hero 6 was so much fun, and managed to explore the superhero origin in a new way. I just wish it had been a bit longer so more of the characters were explored. That being said, it was still a solid Marvel/Disney superhero film and an excellent animated movie.
John Wick was one of the most brutal (without being gory), unapologetic, and outright badass action movies I've seen in a while. It brought back Keanu Reeves and developed a fascinating new fantasy world. There were a few flaws, but they were easy to overlook when everything else was so much fun.
Maleficent nailed a lot of things perfectly, but wow was it dark. There were some rather significant issues with themes and content, and I'm not sure why Disney was compelled to make something so dark. Sunbunny broke down this film to a much greater degree.
Lucy went to places I wasn't expecting, and had some of the most interesting ideas this year. Perhaps the concept was silly, and a bit unoriginal. But the execution was well done, even if was a little bizarre. One thing I did get out of it: Scarlett Johansson can act and carry a movie on her own.
Veronica Mars, you made me a marshmallow and then gave me the ending I wanted. It wasn't the best mystery, but you brought it all back and made me happy. I'm not sure I could ask for more.
Edge of Tomorrow was an interesting exploration in character in a fairly straight forward sci-fi actioner. Tom Cruise managed to subvert his usual role, and gave some weight to his character's journey. But for me, the real star of this film was Emily Blunt, who stole every scene she was in. Will someone give her a big action franchise already?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One captured the first half of the book in a really wonderful way, and our readers have convinced me that the set up was worth splitting up the book into two installments.
I didn't see Oculus in the theater. No, I had to see it at home, at night, in a dark room. I'm an idiot. I don't get frightened of horror movies much anymore, and this one got to me. I didn't like the ending at first, but the more I thought about it the more I realized how well it fit. I just hope this film doesn't turn into one of those horrible franchises that goes on for far too long.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took a beloved franchise and missed the mark on nearly every level. Okay, I take that back a bit. The Turtles themselves were fun, but the character design, plot, acting, and even the special effects were all fairly bland and uninspired. Add to that a central performance by Megan Fox and well, damn you Michael Bay.
The Amazing Spider-man 2 could've been so good. But they tried to shove too much into the story, and by doing so they basically destroyed any advantages the amazing onscreen chemistry the leads had. The romance was the most believable and genuine thing in this film, and it wasn't utilized in a way that made any real sense. Add to that a villain that was woefully underused, and you get a mess. I tried three times to write a review, but in the end I didn't have the heart to rip this to shreds.
The Most Disappointing
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies wasn't a bad movie. But damn did it fail my expectations. I'll admit I haven't been super thrilled with the trilogy so far, but at least the character choices and pacing made sense.
Interstellar was so close to being brilliant. There were so many little things wrong with this film that despite the quality that went into it, I left feeling underwhelmed and ultimately disappointed.
I'm looking forward to next year where there are so many potentially good movies that the list is even more impressive than last year. Perhaps that's because we don't have two Michael Bay blockbusters.
Taken 3, Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son, What We Do in the Shadows, Chappie, Insurgent, Furious 7, The Age of Adaline, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Pitch Perfect 2, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World, Ted 2, Terminator Genisys, Ant-Man, Pan, The Fantastic Four, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hitman: Agent 47, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, The Martian, Mission Impossible 5...
and last but certainly not least...J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.