The 411 Movies Top 5: The Top 5 Summer 2014 Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 08.29.2014
From Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past to The Expendables 3, Edge of Tomorrow, Lucy and more, the 411 staff breaks down their top 5 movies of the summer 2014!
The 411 Movies Top 5: Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Movies Top 5 List. We take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to participate and give us their Top 5 on said topic. So, onto this week's topic…
The Top 5 Summer 2014 Movies
Michael Weyer 5. Sharknado 2: the Second One: Okay, I know some may grouse but no rules that they had to be theatrical. And I'm not the only one who found this Syfy original one of the absolute most fun movie experiences of the summer. The original had going for it some buzz but not really paying off on it. The sequel, however, did by going gloriously over the top as mega-storms bring hordes of sharks onto New York City and our only hope is Ian Ziering and a one-handed Tara Reid. From brilliant cameos (Judd Hirsch as a taxi driver and Robert Hays as an airline pilot) to celebrity appearances like Al Roker doing reports on the Sharknado to the Statue of Liberty's head rolling down streets like a bowling bowl, this was insane fun. The CGI was appropriately cheesy and we can accept the logic of sharks leaping wide distances to behead people with strikes to the fun dialogue ("If anyone's playing me in a movie, it's going to be me!"), it was just nothing but pure joy. If watching Kelly Ripa stomp a shark to death with her high heel isn't worth watching, I don't know what is.
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past: Both celebration and reboot of the X-Men mythos, this jam-packed blockbuster worked in the casts of the original series and First Classh wonderfully well with a fun time-travel adventure that also tackled larger issues of prejudice and human will. It was great seeing the two Xavier clashing on their philosophies and Hugh Jackman still terrific as the bad-ass Wolverine. Jennifer Lawrence continued to show depth as Mystique and Michael Fassbender as a sympathetic Magneto. It also boasted one of the single best scenes of the summer as Quicksilver takes out an entire room of guards in a fantastic super-speed bit that takes place in the span of a single second that cause my entire theater to break into applause. The ending was a fun twist to reboot the series and set up further films down the line but still terrific to see the X-Men back on track and in a fantastic adventure to remind you how compelling those characters are for summer fun.
3. Edge of Tomorrow: It's a damn shame this movie didn't become the massive hit it deserved to be. Its mix of time travel and alien invasion works well with our hero (who's not even that great a guy at the start) dying over and over again like a fool before he can learn any real combat skills. Tom Cruise was perfect in the lead, a smarmy propaganda guy who has to blossom more, using his age well for the role but reminding us of the star power he still has. Emily Blunt was great as the kick-ass female soldier who helps him despite their issues and the combat scenes were very well done. The final act may be rushed but still works out in the end and really isn't fair the movie didn't reach a much wider audience as it should have. Hopefully, it becomes a cult hit afterward (says a lot the upcoming Blu-Ray boasts the title "Live Die Repeat" which is much better) as it stands as one of the better blockbusters of this summer with a good theme and a star at the top of his game.
2. Snowpiercer: I've been waiting a while for this and it was worth it. Bong Joon-Ho's movie is what good science fiction should be, a daring setting mixing politics and class struggles in a unique setting. On board a train traveling a frozen Earth, the lower class is ready to final fight back against the one-percenters who control the swanky front half of the train. Chris Evans sheds his Captain America heroics as a fighter more desperate and willing to make sacrifices while Tilda Swinton is glorious as the evil boss of the front half. Tightly contained but daring in what it's attempting to say, the film may be a bit overlong but moves as nice as the train it's set on, a fantastic achievement that deserves to be watched and shows what properly done sci-fi can achieve.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy: Unlike others, I never had doubts this would be a hit. But even I never expected the sheer joy and fun this movie would provide. From its fun soundtrack to the great banter and performances, it was just an absolute treat as these "C-grade" characters provided more entertainment than most "big guns" of the Marvel Universe can do. Chris Pratt emerged as a star with comedy and action and the rest of the cast backed him up from Zoe Saldana's Gamora to Batista better than expected as the brutal Drax. And Groot and Rocket stole every scene to keep you laughing while enjoying a great sci-fi ride that also deepened the Marvel Cinematic Universe well. Even non-comic fans had to enjoy this, a terrific sci-fi experience with a cheese factor done right to keep you laughing along and a great time at the movies. Plus, the best post-credits scene of the year, a fine capper to a movie that shows what summer films should be, not needing an A-list star cast but just a fun time.
5. THE PURGE: ANARCHY - This action/horror/sci-fi sequel takes the idea of the annual "American citizens killing other American citizens over a 12 hour period" and gives it a bigger canvas. Instead of watching people trapped inside a fortified house attacked by heavily armed yuppie scumbag psychos, Anarchy is a sort of ensemble movie where we see a Frank Grillo try to keep a group of people alive after they're all stuck outdoors during the Purge. And Grillo rocks as the movie's hero. You're never quite sure what his real deal is, but you're willing to root for him because he seems to have a moral code (he could have killed everyone he rescued but he didn't). The movie also has a sort of political message that will be sure to annoy some people, which is always fun with this kind of movie. What the heck will the third The Purge show us? I can't wait to find out.
4. LUCY - I'm still not quite sure what the heck this Luc Besson sci-fi action flick is supposed to be about, but I think it's that weirdness is what makes it watchable and fun. Scarlett Johansson does a great job going from a sort of naïve young American woman tricked into becoming a drug mule to an unstoppable killing machine, and it's a pleasure seeing Besson's shoot out and fight scenes on the big screen (there's also a nifty car chase sequence). But the movie never really explains why, if a person could start using a higher percentage of his or her brain, he or she would be able to control cells and, eventually, alter space and time. I mean, what would happen if multiple people could do all of that stuff at the same time? How can two people alter time at the same time? And does the drug dealer that forces Lucy to become a drug dealer, Min-sik Choi's Mr. Jang, know about the time altering stuff? Is that why he wants to get his drugs back so bad? We'll be wondering about this stuff for a long time, unless Besson decides to make a sequel and explain everything. That could happens since Lucy made money at the box office.
3. EDGE OF TOMORROW - This Tom Cruise sci-fi action flick didn't make much of an impact at the North American box office, but I'm confident that, when it finally hits home video and word of mouth spreads Edge of Tomorrow will become a must see for everyone. The movie is funnier than you would expect it to be, and it's odd seeing a sci-fi action flick hero be such a coward, as Cruise's Cage never quite gets the hang of his predicament until he figures out how to stop being a coward. Emily Blunt does a great job as Cage's mentor, and Cruise shows the world again that he is a cinematic force to be reckoned with (if only people could get over his personal weirdness and the whole Scientology thing). And kudos to director Doug Liman for making a movie that works and isn't goddamn annoying. Jumper was terrible and I was afraid that was what we were going to get with Edge of Tomorrow. Thankfully that didn't happen.
2. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is easily one of the greatest sci-fi sequels of all time. Picking up a few years after the brilliant Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the movie focusses on Caesar (the great Andy Serkis) and his growing ape society. Life is generally peaceful as humanity is essentially gone, decimated by a worldwide disease, with survivors existing in small, scattered enclaves. When humanity and the new ape society do finally intersect just about everything goes to hell. The motion-capture animation is goddamn amazing, as both Serkis and Toby Kebbell as Koba do outstanding work (they both deserve award recognition). And director Matt Reeves gives us one of the scariest scenes of the year: pissed off apes armed with machine guns and riding horses appearing out of the smoke waging war. If that sequence didn't give you nightmares you clearly weren't paying attention. And good job, Gary Oldman, for once again playing a douchebag. You do it so well.
1. THE EXPENDABLES 3 - I, like plenty of other action movie nerds, was worried about the prospect of a PG-13 Expendables as it just seemed wrong to have a Expendables movie without gore and blood and multiple decapitations. Thankfully, The Expendables 3 is a kick-ass action movie that works even without gore and blood and multiple decapitations. The giant cast does great work, especially the just out-of-prison Wesley Snipes (the man hasn't lost a step in terms of his on screen martial arts skills and his screen charisma), Antonio Banderas (his endlessly talking Galgo is hilarious), and Mel Gibson as the villain Stonebanks. Gibson's speech in the back of the van is a true movie highlight (it will no doubt have a long life on youtube). Hopefully the movie does boffo international box office so we get another Expendables in a few years as this franchise, despite the anemic North American box office, still has plenty of life in it. There are always more bad guys to take on. A 10 out of 10.
5. Edge Of Tomorrow - I must admit I've not been too much of a fan of Tom Cruise's recent action sci-fi output but this came along and really blew me away. Based on the All You Need Is Kill manga, the clash of Groundhog Day and Aliens is a damn fine mash up of sci-fi genres of films and it's probably Cruise's best performance in awhile since he's no longer the bland superman in all his films usually. Instead, he's the snivelling ad guy who has a decent character arc of learning his way through the same ill-advised D-Day landings again and again until he can find a way to stop an invading alien menace. I know it didn't do well massively at the box office but there seems to be high hopes for it on home media and it is a proven winner buzz-wise. Check it out - you won't be disappointed at all.
4. Guardians Of The Galaxy - It's a sign of how good a summer quality-wise it was really when this is at number 4. The dicks in space genre got a healthy boost in the arm with an adaptation of one of Marvel's lesser known comic properties and the rags-to-riches in Hollywood production story in James Gunn crafted one of the most crowd-pleasing, nostalgia based, top drawer space adventure movies in awhile. Star Wars Episode 7 should be on high alert after this one. I must admit, I wanted to be in love with this from the first time I saw it and whilst it's still an ace, fun picture, it's taken me a few times to get to that point. The trappings of Marvel films are there still but when the focus is creating a lovable cast of a-holes doing space stuff it's accomplished it's task. Be nice to have an explanation how does Starlord get batteries for his Walkman tape deck in space mind.
3. X-Men: Days Of Future Past - I won't lie, I'm a huge X-Men mark in life in general and was always going to be a bit bias towards this. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination with tonnes of time travel snafus and such (seriously, how is Charles back in his original body after The Last Stand?) but it's a damn fine superhero movie combining the original set of movie mutants and the First Class reboot team in one kick-ass time spanning flick. Seriously great albeit with most of your favourite characters from the original gen relegated to small roles but at the same time you're not too bothered with the appeal of a charater-based, ideological X-Men movie proving too irresistible in the end to dislike. Oh and bonus points for throwing Wolverine into the background for a rest.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - The opening shot of the Summer season, all the way back in late March/early April - and blockbuster wise it was never really topped. The return of Cap in a solo adventure on the big screen more than made up for a lacklustre, hands-tied original in a superb mix of spy and action scenes as Captain America is shown adapting to the modern day after being thawed out for The Avengers before dealing with corruption within SHIELD and another super soldier assassin in the titular Winter Solider. With some nice surprises thrown in (George St. Pierre as Batroc?!?!), the only fault you can level is the traditional trappings of Marvel movies with meh villains (but the Winter Soldier to a point was their best number two villain behind Loki in sheer badassery) and the slight plotholes it's big middle film revelation opens up but there's opportunity there to explore in other avenues if Marvel are clever. Cap wise though, we finally got the 100 mph action film we always wanted for him to be in. Top stuff.
1. The Raid 2 - Yeah not what you were expecting was it? Welsh graduate director turned Indonesian martial arts nerd returned to doing what he does best early on this summer, following up with one of the best action movies of the last decade with perhaps the best crime action movie ever made. Taking his stock cast and placing them into a brilliant setting and ramming it with memorable action set-pieces works amazingly well and it's on par with the original at the very least. Also, The Raid 2 has my favourite fight scene of all-time with Rama fighting the Assassin in the kitchen. The fight gets even more brutal with broken glass coming into play with a perfect fitting piece of music building to a fitting crescendo and finale. The complete antidote to western cinema continuing to over-estimate big budget disappointments with an awesome display that you really should make the effort to see. It's complete genius.
YOUR TURN KNOW IT ALLS
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