Slade’s end of Year… Thing

Well it is the end of the year and everyone is doing their top this and top that… I suppose with little else to write about at the moment I could do a ‘list’. About what? Well about movies. Now my movie watching was slim this year. Buying a house and hosting several gatherings at my house took my funds away a good bit and left me unable to see a two or three films a month. This year I saw 11 films in the theater and I shall now rank them in order from best to weakest, with explanations. Needless to say SPOILERS AHEAD!

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – This film deserves the top spot on my film watching for several reasons. Say what you want but it is clearly the best written and directed of the marvel films. The plot was so well crafted that you could remove the marvel elements and still had an excellent film about government corruption, which leads us to the last reason I will list… this film could happen. Maybe not with Hydra, but imagine if you will Obama walking away from a podium. Backstage he crosses paths with George W. Bush and the two quietly exchange “Hail Hitler” as they pass. What a scary world that would be.

2. Fury – What can I say. I’m a sucker for War movies, especially if they deal in World War 2 and since my Grandfather drove tanks this movie was a shoe in on my watch list. I felt the cast delivered strong performances all around. Having served I know how soldiers tend to behave and the things they chat about, and listening to a bunch of soldiers say things like “hey you think Hitler would let us fuck him for a pack of cigarettes?” just made me feel like I was back in my unit. Hell everyone did such a good job I didn’t even mind Shia on screen. He did well too, and the action sequences were not too over the top. Nothing was done in that film that could not have actually happened. It was a well rounded film showing some grittiness of a war in which many of us are fortunate to have never had to participate.

3. The Monuments Men – Yet again I find myself plunged into WWII. I enjoyed this film mostly for its subject matter, but also the casts was top notch, even if it wasn’t any of their best performances. My complaint isn’t even the lack of action. That’s not what this story was about. It was about art, and that’s something I’m passionate about, but I felt this film didn’t quite capture the realism in dialog that Fury did, which is why it finds itself below said film. Still with fun quotable scenes, and memorable script this film finds its way very near to the top of this year’s list. On ward to the rest.

4. If I Stay – No matter what you believe in; afterlife, or nothing, this film was nothing short of fantastic. Never really knowing if what she saw was in her head in a coma or if she was really wandering the hospital in some sort of Ethereal form. Going back and seeing the past is what made the film. Watching to see how the past would affect her choice to live or die. And in the end I’m a closet Romance fan, and this was certainly above all else a love story. Not to mention it was nice to watch Cloe do something that didn’t involve killing people.

5. X-Men days of future Past – A bit high on the list but yes this was my 2nd favorite of the marvel films I watched this year. After deciding to be ok with the changes made in the first two films I was horrified when I saw “Last Stand” and further dumb founded when even Wolverine Origins and First class couldn’t seem to keep to the established continuity for the films. This film breathed fresh life into the series. I felt the way I did when I watch X2. And the events of the film nullifying everything except First class was really just the icing on the cake. It took itself just as serious as it needed to and had fun where it could (Quicksilver anyone?)

6. The Amazing Spider Man 2– Hot off the heels of the First ASM I this film didn’t waste time delivering what we really wanted to see. Spider Man duking it out with a bad guy. Yes it was campy writing, yes, it was campy acting (rhino….. SMH) but that’s what I watch spidey for. My complaints are limited to the very different Harry Osborn, the death of Norman before he became a threat, “Don’t you know, Doc… I’m electro!” And worst of all, they killed Gwen Stacey.. Yes I know she dies.. but I am going to be honest with you. I never liked Stacey in the comics. I certainly didn’t like her in Spider Man 3 (there was very little I liked about that movie) But ASM showed me a Stacey I could fall in love with… and I did. And some little part of me was saying “They change stuff in movies all the time. Maybe they will let her live…” however as much as I hated it I knew it had to come. For Gwen’s death was a turning point for the character. It is when he learns that he can’t save everyone. So yes for such a deep lesson in an other wise casual film I place this movie at number Six… above…..

7. Guardians of the Galaxy – Some of you are likely thinking “Is he an idiot?! He saw this and it’s not at the number 1 spot?” That’s right. I liked this movie, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it deserves best movie of the year nor do I even think it is the best film in the MCU. It was fun, well written and the actors all had good chemistry. A possible factor could be that I am not as familiar with these characters as with other marvel films. It was a movie that knew it was there to entertain and that’s what it did. Nothing special really.

8. Transformers Age of Extinction – Let’s face it, Bay Haters, if we hated Bay so much we would stop watching his movies. Nope we keep watching them. Why? Because deep down we love thin plots and dollar store performances from otherwise good actors. We love seeing explosions and we love seeing robots kill each other. This movie gets dinged for two major things.. 1 it just forgets about Galvetron, and 2… we went to see Dino bots and we had to wait over 2 hours and got only 10 minutes if that.

9. The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – Speaking of thin plots. What do you get when you take a great story, chop it into three movies, remove important details, and make up shit on a whim to make it “better”? You get the Hobbit trilogy. Two movies in I really enjoyed it. Then I read the book which is what brought this film down.. down on this list. Sometimes I wish I could unknow stuff and watch like the average movie goer. It was a pretty film, and the fights were awesome, but the white orc was not in the Hobbit. There was no grand fight to be seen between him and Thorin. And I feel like the red headed elf was simply made so we would feel sorry when Kili Dies. I guess the average movie goer wouldn’t feel sorry enough for a Dwarf. They had to have him leave a love behind. I don’t know. Then there was the mentioning of Ranger known as Strider.. when Aragorn would have been like 10 on that day. Cinematically it was a good end to a cinematic masterpiece of a saga. If I could watch it and rank it without the knowledge of the book it would likely climb higher on this list.

10. The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 – So I’ve never read a Hunger games book, so I can get my wish with this one. The movie is pretty, and it certainly involves a deep plot. Anything dealing with dirty governments is a serious plot, but in the end the characters are not so believable. I don’t get lost in the watching. I do not get absorbed. Example is, when I watch Harry Potter I feel like I’m peering into another world where I’m seeing Harry Potter. When I watch the Hunger Games, entertaining as they may be I feel as if I’m watching Jennifer Lawrence recite lines. The rest of the cast doesn’t even help despite their acting chops, though that could be writing or directorial issues. Still that lands this movie at near the bottom.. But I said I saw 11 films. So which film didn’t make the top 10 for me?

11. Lucy – I wanted to like this film. I really did. I didn’t care that it was using the old (and inaccurate) plot of us using only 10 percent of our brains. I’ll let my imagine nation run wild for two hours.. oh wait.. I only needed it to run wild for 90 minutes. Now a good movies doesn’t have to be long, but I feel like this one might have been better if it ran longer. There just seemed to be bits missing. By the end of the film she could control every cell in everything and yet didn’t stop a gun fight happening right outside the room she sat. She didn’t bother teleporting to the places she needed to be. I feel like a far better film was left on floor of the cutting room and frankly I ‘d like to see that film. The dead pan acting from Scarlet was even forgiven once it was established she didn’t feel emotions like a normal human, but that didn’t help the odd images we were presented during the time travel sequence. I’m really not sure what was going on in a few frames.. and to be honest, watching her turn into some bio super computer and spitting out the biggest jump drive in history containing all of knowledge ever was kinda dumb. It was like the whole movie was a big joke and the audience was the punch line. I might watch it again if it comes on HBO and I”m bored but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.

Well there you have it. The 11 films I watched this past year, ranked. Let me know what you think. Let us hope next year I’ll have more to rank.

-Contributed by Matthew Slade

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