Top 10 Films of 2014

10.) The Guest 

Directed by Adam Wingard

The Guest is a testament that good action movies can be made with low budgets and relative        unknowns. Dan Stevens is positively frightening “David”, a soldier who meets up with a family of a dead solider that “David” claims to be friends with. When people start turning up dead the family sticks by him except for the oldest daughter, Anna, who suspect “David” of being more than we he lets on.

The Guest is brimming with tension and suspense. We don’t know what is going to next. The team of Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett give us an action movie that has hit of comedy and horror and throw in some 80’s themes and music. To top that off, there are a ton of references to other movies, so many that you won’t catch them all in your first viewing. Doesn’t matter, though, because you will want to watch this movie again.

9. Dead Snow 2: Red Vs Dead
Directed by Tommy Wirkola

I was not the biggest fan of Dead Snow. I thought that the idea was played out even before the movie began. The fact that Dead Snow 2 is very different movie is a testament to the filmmakers. They could have gone in the same direction, Nazi zombies kill a bunch of people, but here they upped their game and their budget. The movie now is about a war between Nazi zombies and and Russian zombies and it is glorious. The upped budget means that the gore is at an all-time high. The movie reminded me of early Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi. The movie is funny, exciting, and gory as hell.

8.) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by Matt Reeves

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a very strong film and had so much riding against it. Dawn had Rise come before it so the film had less to prove, but it turned out better than anyone had hoped. Dawn has long stretched where the film focuses on the Apes, who don’t speak English to each other and we are not given subtitles. This means that we have to rely on storytelling to get us through the film. I know, it is something that we don’t see in a lot of films. This is also the film that upped the ante in terms of effects work. Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar for his performance as Caesar, an ape that is trying to make things work but also wants to do right by his family and species. This is a wonderful film filled with a lot of nice character work and action scenes.

7.) Milius

Directed by Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson
I love this film. I just can not say that enough. I had heard about the film a long time ago and then it seemed like nothing was coming of it. Then, it showed up on Netflix. I was a happy camper. I sat down and watched the entire thing. John Milius is a writer, director, and gun nut who has been involved in some of the best films during the 70’s and the 80’s. He wrote the “Indianapolis” monologue from Jaws, a scene that is remembered fondly today, but also made the military open up the books about what really happened that day. He also wrote Apocalypse Now and wrote and directed Red Dawn (Go Wolverines). Milius is a man who always has a story to tell and was the basis for the Walter character in The Big Lebowski. I have seen this film three times and I still love it.

6.) John Wick

Directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch

John Wick was a film that people had hoped would do well at the box office, but never expected to be as good as it was. It took a simple, yet seemingly odd story about a man who is going after the Russian mob because they killed his dog. (The reason is more complicated than that, but still makes heads turn when they hear it.) The film is not just an action film but also a world builder. There is a hotel where assassins are allowed to be normal people and still mingle with each other. No business is conducted on the grounds and everything is peace and quiet. But then John Wick shows up and things go to shit. This is a fun action film with a lot of headshots and a dark sense of humor.

5.) How to Train Your Dragon 2

Directed by Dean DeBlois

I have never read the books that the films are based on so I can not give a report on how accurate they are, but I can tell you that both films are fantastic. The first Dragon had that sense of wonder and excitement at  something we have not yet seen. Dragon 2 adds to that the importance of family and friends. This is how a sequel should be done. Take us on a new adventure, but never forgetting the past. This film is everything the first one was and more. I just loved it.

4.) Guardians of the Galaxy

Directed by James Gunn

Galaxy takes us where we have never been and does so in a really new and interesting way. Everyone was skeptical about James Gunn helming the film as he has never done a big film like this, but he knocks it out of the park. The sights, the comedy, the way things unfold are all what Gunn has been building for years. While Marvel has failed in the past with bringing director to the big leagues, they have definitely picked the right person for the job. The only thing I wish that Gunn had done something different with were the fight scenes. They are all typical American fight scenes, meaning that they are edited to look way more brutal than they really are. Show us the actual brutality not the illusion.

3.) Godzilla 

Directed by Gareth Edwards

I am a huge Godzilla fan. I have all of the films either on blu-ray or dvd and they are some of my go to films. I was really pumped to see this film and then I got sick. Really sick. I had no intention on seeing the film in theaters because of how sick I was, but my wife made me go see it and I was glad I did. Godzilla helped me get through another day. The film is not what anyone was expecting, but that was a good thing. Sure, Godzilla is only onscreen for 12 minutes, but those are some good 12 minutes. The rest of the film shows how people in this day and age would react to a disaster like this. Not that it would ever happen, but what if it did? Godzilla has shown us the way.

2.) Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

Directed by Stephen Chow and Chi-kin Kwok

I love Stephen Chow. I think that he is one of the most gifted filmmakers of all time. He has made some of the funniest films of the last thirty years and has continued to show the world how to make people laugh. Journey to the West is a wonderful fantasy epic. It is an origin story to a much larger plot and it hits all the right notes. The opening scene in a town that hangs over a river to the hilarious scene with the troupe of demon hunters, there is more imagination and wit than there is in most films. I have seen this film many times and it still makes me laugh. I wish that Stephen Chow would make more films because the world would be a better place.

1.) Snowpiercer

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

Bong Joon-ho has only made a handful of films, but he has cemented himself as a director that needs to be watched. Snowpiercer is Joon-ho’s first English language film and it is a doozy. He has taken a French language comic book and adapted it into what should have been one of the biggest hits of the year. Sadly, the film was not a hit in the US because the loveable losers at the Weinstein Company refused to give the film a wide release unless Joon-ho cut 20 minutes out of the film. I have seen the film a bunch of times and can not figure out what they wanted cut out. The film works so well that it would have been a crying shame to not see it in all its glory. This is a visual masterpiece that will be remembered for years to come.

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