A nerd’s 12 best and worst films from 2014


#1

[Permalink]


#2

What a strange list… Such mixed emotions on Guardians Of The Galaxy seems odd. That movie embodied everything geek. It was an 80’s Saturday morning cartoon show brought to life.

And no mention of Captain America: The Winter Soldier here, which even got some love from non-geeks.

I will agree that Godzilla is much better than some critics’ reviews I’ve seen. Feels very true to the old movies while being beautifully updated.


#3

Of all the things Guardians of the Galaxy was, ‘boring’ is not one of them. It’s probably the last word I would choose to describe that movie, really.

I do agree with his thoughts on the final Hobbit film, however. I staunchly defended Peter Jackson’s story changes in the LOTR films, and enjoyed the first two Hobbit films, but I became one of those fist-shaking Tolkein fans when watching this one. When your own invented characters have more screen time than the title character, you’re doing something wrong.


#4

I think I’d put “The Imitation Game” in the category of film most likely to enrage nerds due to gross inaccuracies that both tarnish Turing’s character and completely miss the point of what a Turing machine on so many levels that it could cause an ulcer if over-thought.


#5

Snowpiercer.

I never thought i would make it through and so thoroughly enjoy it. It is hard to say it is a good movie, but in some ways, it’s a great movie. So many themes crashing into each other. The train sounds like a stupid idea. As soon as you suspend that last shred of disbelief this movie will reward you.


#6

I still don’t get the love for ‘Under The Skin’.

I understand that the book it was based on was well received and that people that read the book really got the film but it was slow and incomprehensible to me.

I wonder how many of the men that Scarlet picked up in the van didn’t agree for the footage to be used (and the full frontals). Makes me wonder how much truth there was to that.


#7

Yeah, I was half-interested in The Imitation Game (even bored as I am with the ubiquity of Cucumberpatch - I don’t care who the next Bond is, as long as it isn’t him or Fassbender), until I read this:

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/nov/20/the-imitation-game-invents-new-slander-to-insult-alan-turing-reel-history

I hate it when people fuck around with biopics. These are fascinating people, present their stories honestly, don’t make shit up.

Under the Skin felt like an art project, not a movie. I didn’t really understand the point of it (if there was one). Talking of Scarlett Johansson, no mention of Lucy? (I haven’t seen it, but it sounds like silly fun).

Kermode liked Transcendence, even if nobody else did, so I will give that a try.

GotG, we really liked (especially the soundtrack), but it was overlong, mostly due to overextended battle scenes, natch. Always good to see Serafinowicz pop up somewhere. I do remember the old Rocket Raccoon Marvel strips from when they ran as the back-up to Transformers in the UK, so that was a nice bit of nostalgia.

Interstellar I was put off by the cast, don’t like either of the two leads at all, but I’ll get around to it eventually.


#8

All good points.

But if you already know all that you can decide to put it aside and watch the movie and see it as a fictionalization of a smart man solving a tough problem (with others) to benefit the war effort. You can see the emotions and frustrations of the characters played by excellent actors, you can revel in them solving the problem and be deeply moved as they were by the accomplishment. You can rail at the system that failed Turing after the war. You can leave inspired to do good work and to fight prejudice.

Perhaps those watching the film who had never heard of Alan Turing will be interested enough to learn more. It isn’t like we can’t easily find 10 blog posts where knowledgeable people point out our what is incorrect in the movie.


#9

I was bored by Guardians of the Galaxy.

I never hated it, but for me it was just stuck on this very consistent almost-good level pretty much all the way through.
I didn’t quite stop watching, but I sort of wanted to go do something else.

The music was great though.


#10

I really appreciated the measured assessments here, instead of the all-too-common rave or flame responses.

Since its release, Interstellar seemed targeted for a critical death-by-a-thousand-cuts, but it remains the high point of my year, a return to a kind of theater-as-temple for art experience I haven’t had since (yep) seeing 2001 at the Seattle Cinerama in 1968, at the tender age of 13.

In a day when many are satisfied by consuming movies on their phones and tablets, this was an experience designed for 70mm film and all the power an IMAX sound system could bring to bear. I was in a state of near-rapture as Zimmer’s pipe organs buffeted my clothes and ears.

Spectacle isn’t everything, and if you choose to, you can always find something to nitpick… but Interstellar had aspirations, a solid aesthetic, and is pretty much the only film to date that attempted something of an homage to Kubrick without making me snort with derision.

That viewing of 2001 nearly 50 years ago remains the second most significant experience of my life; for a while, sitting in the IMAX theater, I once again felt the inspiration, the sheer awe that filled my heart and mind as a kid. Chris Nolan and his collaborators have my sincere gratitude for once again making “me dream, eyes wide open.”


#11

Some people enjoy 80s-Saturday-morning-style action and explosions, and some don’t, I suppose. I’m really, really glad I do!


#12

Computer graphics ruined the incentives. All of the movies in your list suck, with a couple exceptions that might only sort of suck. None of them are gems.

Computer graphics are the reward at the end of the video game. Used to be. You’d play the game, and then at the end, you get a cutscene. So its a visceral treat.

The treat is good enough, that story is sufficient to earn $$: what happens next. Plot: why? is no longer required. Since plot adds risk, it can be safely excreted and left in the alley next to Janis Joplin and such refuse.


#13


#14

That’s a heavy, heavy requirement when the problems of food production on the train are actually discussed onscreen, access to and from the drug den is through the preschool, and nobody in the movie appears to have any desire to find meaning in their life (except maaaaybe the security guy; and that only through violence).

As anti-capitalist allegory, though; it’s pretty good.


#15

Sure, the film might inspire some to learn more about Turing and his work, and isn’t a purely bad thing, just glaringly inaccurate in ways that are often completely pointless. The historical Turing was a much more interesting character than the stereotype they shoehorned him into and its disappointing to see what was dropped to make him fit the standard Hollywood model of “brilliant person” that’s so completely unlike most brilliant people.

That’s expected, somewhat forgivable, and a minor nit compared to how they completely and utterly butchered his actual work. They implied the Bombe (which they called “Christopher” apparently to annoy anyone who had prior knowledge of the Bombe) was a Turing machine (it isn’t), and then described a Turing machine as exactly that thing that Turing proved couldn’t exist using Turing machines as his model of proof in his paper on the Entscheidungsproblem. It’d be like a film about Einstein in which the fictional Einstein described how Relativity proved the existence of luminiferous aether.


#16

The movies I enjoy most are the ones that are not explained, and that I get to think about and discuss for a couple of days afterwards. So with that in mind…

Interstellar was a nightmare for me. Why must I sit in a room/capsule full of astrophysicists listening to them explain the theory of relativity to each other? Imagine what 2001 ASO would have been if one of the actors had to explain every detail that was occuring.

Guardians: I didnt expect lasting thoughts or revelations, just entertainment. I thought it was ok, but by the time the end battle raged I was tired of watching. Lack of twists? No emotional up and down? I dont know, just another hollywood action movie to me. I did love the look of the aliens… good designs and great end results here and there.

Under the Skin: now this is my movie. Creepy, artsy, and generally a blank canvas that allows my mind to fill in the blanks. My wife and I discussed topics like abuse, control, feminism, and even consumerism and our throw away habits for days. Loved it.

Here is some extra credit: The One I Love. Dont read anything about it, just go watch it.


#17

Why not tell us what movies this year did not suck? What gems did you discover this year that are worth seeking out?

Computer graphics have been an integral part of moviemaking for around 30 years or so, at this point. I’d suggest that rather than let them ruin every movie for you, it’s better to accept that they’re not exactly going anywhere, and are extremely handy tools for creating imagery.

(Also: Janis Joplin?)


#18

That’s why I read the other stuff on Turing and anything about Bletchley park, and took your non-ulcer causing advice and a heap of willing suspension of disbelief pills before I went to see Imitation game.

Movies are like real life only they amp up the coincidence and emotion to crazy levels. Christopher to amp up the emotional connection and fit the stereotype of unrequited love and obsession of the lonely genius. The lone hero instead of a team because that is the way legends work.

Wait, if I think about this too long, I won’t like the movie!


#19

Interstellar was more predictable than Transcendence, and ultimately it made them about equally boring. Every plot twist was blatantly Chekhov gunned in the first quarter of the movie, and regardless of how fancy and scientific the black hole/wormhole rendering was, the planets and the Cold Equations dilemmas were too ridiculous to suspend disbelief. And oh gawd that dialog.

Guardians of the Galaxy was the only film that didn’t make me angry with disappointment. Hell, it was the only high point in a long span of disappointment whose only other relief was The Avengers. I’m still not over Prometheus.


#20

Yeah I went in with the mind set - Ok - the whole premise is stupid, illogical, and unrealistic.

But - I realized it was a metaphor for other things, in a way an art film is. It’s not supposed to be taken as something “real”. But the messages, hidden and obvious, were great. The scenes were all beautifully shot. The characters were great. Loved the design. Everything about it was great. Actually watched it twice which is rare for me to do this day and age. This is a film I would have loved even more when I was younger and less jaded.