There have been some smash hits and there have been some right rotten tomatoes, but here’s Matt Blackwell’s take on the good, the bad and the ugly of 2014 in film.
Y’s Film of the Year – Guardians of the Galaxy
The cinematic powerhouse that is Marvel Studios presents its latest offering – a slice of action-packed sci-fi escapism and the best film of 2014. Heroes Star Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax may not be as well known as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, but director James Gunn has ensured they will soon be household names. Peter Quill, aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt), is abducted from Earth as a child in 1988, after saying a tearful farewell to his dying mother. Raised by a group of thieves and smugglers, he grows up a rogue who finds himself in possession of a mysterious orb and the subject of an interstellar manhunt led by the villainous Ronan (Lee Pace). Quill is then forced to form a rag-tag crew of bounty hunters and bandits to save the galaxy.
The film’s soundtrack, which heavily features songs from the 70s and 80s, is equally excellent and is guaranteed to linger in your head for days after watching. Striking a perfect balance between action and laugh-out-loud humour, Guardians of the Galaxy is definitely not a movie to be missed.
Runner-up: 22 Jump Street
What is so great about a sequel some may ask? To which the simple answer is The Godfather: Part II, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Need I list any more examples to prove my point? Every so often, there comes a film that not only meets the expectations of fans, but actually surpasses them and achieves the rare accomplishment of being better than the original. 22 Jump Street sees special narcotics agents Morton (Jonah Hill) and Greg (Channing Tatum) team up again, this time going undercover in search of a drug called “WHYPHY” that was responsible for the death of a college student. On the surface, the formula is near enough the same as 21 Jump Street, but the filmmakers are acutely aware of this and play with the audience through self-referential jokes in the script. The Hangover series could learn a lot from this. Originality aside, the on-screen relationship between Hill and Tatum is laugh-out-loud funny and the tongue-in-cheek scenes that play out over the closing credits alone are reason enough to watch the film.
With hundreds of films released each year, whittling the selection down to just two is a difficult task to say the least. Boyhood, with its groundbreaking approach of filming the actors over a period of 12 years, gave viewers a unique and literal take on the coming-of-age theme. Interstellar wowed audiences with stunning landscapes of distant planets, while the recent Nightcrawler gave us a voyeuristic insight into the sometimes skin crawling underbelly of LA and the world of crime journalism.
As we are just days away from the beginning of 2015, the film landscape is already shaping up to be something quite special. Titles that have grabbed our attention so far include The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, Jupiter Ascending and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest chapter of one of the world’s most popular franchises.