I like to think I am pretty good judge of movies. I have been reviewing them for almost two years now and this year saw me break into working behind the camera for the first time, which has made me appreciate the hard work and certain tricks used to make the movies in our cinema so astonishing. I also like to use my experience with films to act all big-headed and unbearable, which means that when the start of the year rolls around, I throw out my predictions for the Top Five films of the year. Last year, my guesses were respectable, so maybe it is time for me to provide some evidence for my ego, and analysis my predictions early on in the year. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t go well.
5 – INTERSTELLAR
At the time I predicted this one, I knew absolutely nothing about it. I knew it was about a Sci-Fi, along the lines of Stanley Kubrick’s work. I knew it was directed by the ‘can-do-wrong’ Christopher Nolan and he was casting Matthew McConaughey as his leading man. Was it a wise move to put him in my Top Five with such limited knowledge as to what the movie was about? Probably, but I had every faith in Christopher Nolan to deliver. He has never let me down before, and while he has a problem with handling exposition, his imagination and creativity usually means a movie experience like none we have ever had before. I was expecting Inception in space.
And how did it do? It was a good punt, in truth. I loved it and I had to lean back and admire the visual spectacle. I very rarely go to the big IMAX screens, for financial reasons, but for Interstellar, I had to spend that little bit extra money. In terms of special effects, Interstellar will have a very good chance at collecting a few awards (and this is a year that the Hobbit finale is competing). But it doesn’t quite make my Top Five list later on today. As I said above, the exposition is a problem and the movie keeps hitting the brakes and slowing down. The length sadly trips it up. The ending is typical Nolan, but it will take a few watches before the appreciation truly sinks in. A great achievement and a must-see for any Nolan or Sci-Fi fan, but it just misses out on the list. However, with this prediction, I can hold my head up high.
4 – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Anyone that has read my review will know that I felt very differently to Guardians of the Galaxy to the rest of the world. I liked it (no, I loved it!), but I definitely wouldn’t put it on my Top Five list. It was just a little bit too Marvel, grounded by gags and fun, rather than tackling any serious issues (like a good villain, for example). But my little cry of dismay was drowned out by the rest of the world, as they applauded this movie as Movie Event of the Year. It must have been the number one Christmas present of the year and when we draw up our little lists for the end of the year movies that us bloggers like to do, Guardians of the Galaxy will be one of the main features. I reckon it will be on a lot of other blogs’ top five lists; sadly, it will not be on mine. However, it definitely deserves a standing ovation at the most fun I have had in 2014.
3 – DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Out of all of the films on this list, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was the one that probably ended up just as satisfying as I predicted it. The best thing about this movie was that it was so consistently excellent that eventually you forgot how good it really was. The motion capture CGI was so realistic that we kept forgetting that what we were watching was even animation. I honestly was so captivated by Andy Serkis’s performance, I stopped seeing Caesar as an ape, and I saw him as a fully-functional character in a blockbuster movie. The most appealing thing about this movie was that it showed the audience how intelligent our action blockbusters have become. Yes, this is an action event with the third act proving to be a great place for all-out chaos. But while this fun was going on, we were still discussing morality, humanity and social issues. It engaged the audience and spoke to our inner adult, while amusing our more base needs (finally seeing a monkey ride a horse!)
2 – THE HOBBIT: BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES
Ah, the one that got away. It didn’t quite make it, did it? I refused to write this article up early, because every part of me was sure that the final Hobbit was going to wade in and take the Number One spot this year. I loved Desolation of Smaug endlessly, seeing it as the perfect Middle-Earth movie and, in my head, all it needed to be beaten was an actual ending, something which the Battle of Five Armies was able to give us. Sadly, perhaps I hyped this up too much, or maybe there just wasn’t enough book left to make a movie out of. The final war was a bit of a mess, nameless figures being killed off and a bit of confusion stringing set-pieces together. Saying that, this is by no means a bad movie. It still features the impressive spectacles we all wanted to see. Legolas is on his finest form with some spectacular action sequences, the showdown with Agog is a great way to end the trilogy and when it comes to visuals, Peter Jackson can be beaten by no other. There just was too little story to hold these amazing moments together.
1 – TRANSCENDENCE
Oh god, this is embarrassing. Yes, I gambled my number one spot back in January. I didn’t want to invest too much faith in the obvious options and Transcendence intrigued me. It came across as an intelligent Terminator, but with the cinematographer behind most of Nolan’s movies. While Terminator is too focused on fun and action to truly dissect its core topic, I thought that Transcendence could end up becoming the thinking man’s Sci-Fi. It helped that Johnny Depp was leading the charge, a truly great actor who needed a win really badly. As much as I was gambling, at the time of my prediction, the key pieces were in place to make this the surprise success of the year.
Which makes it so excruciatingly heart-breaking that this was the flop of the year. It was just a complete mess. I don’t quite hate it as much as everyone else did, seeing where Pfister was trying to go with the material, but at the same time, that is counterbalanced by my unwavering certainty that this would work out. There is a lack of heart and character to really pull you into the story. There is no mystery making you wonder or care how it is going to turn out. Depp drifts through his performance, poorly directed. You just sit there, watching the movie and not caring a jolt about what is going to happen. When I make my predictions for 2015, I will no longer be as arrogant as I was at the start of the year. Turns out when it comes to movies, I am the biggest idiot out there.