Monday, February 9, 2015

2014 Superhero Films in Review

So 2014 saw a great number of superhero films (although still not enough!); for fans of sci-fi or fantasy, superhero films are quickly becoming the highest-quality way to get your fix.

In my eyes, there are about 5 superhero films that you can talk about; in order of release: Captain America: the Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Big Hero 6.

Some people would include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I haven't seen it so it's off by default. 

So let's break down the best and the worst, best films, best acting, best heroes, best villains, etc.

I'll start with a quick word and movie poster for each film:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier — A genre-transcending, Marvel Cinematic Universe-escalating, tour de force of a film. A political thriller disguised as a superhero film.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 — Revolting.

X-Men: Days of Future Past — Overhyped, but an enjoyable ride that successfully fuses the X-Men franchises and erases the bad taste X-Men 3 left with us.

Guardians of the Galaxy — Surprise smash hit with a soundtrack that doesn't quit. It's not Star Wars like some people are saying, but I can understand young children holding it as the first something similar of their generation.

Big Hero 6 —  Gorgeous animation with a heartfelt tale behind it. Really surprised me how much I enjoyed this movie.

OK, so let's get into a straight-up listing to begin with.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 doesn't even make the list. If you want to see why, you can check out some of my deep thoughts here (first review) and here (revisiting review).

Top 4
At #4, I have X-Men: Days of Future Past. For some reason, this movie really didn't strike very many chords with me. I don't know if I've been jaded by past X-Men movies, or maybe it's just the thought of starting over with characters we've already seen. I love Xavier, Magneto and Mystique, but what haven't we seen from these characters? Mystique isn't going to be redeemed in these films because she was the brainwashed soldier of Magneto throughout the modern day films. First Class was a little interesting in that we got to see her fall, but that's done now. It's sorta' nice seeing Beast, but he feels underutilized in this film.

At #3, Guardians of the Galaxy. Can you say fun? There was a certain point after the beginning exposition/set-up finished where I started smiling and I did not stop until the credits began rolling. Fun, funny, sincere, great chemistry between the characters, and such a great soundtrack. Wonderful.

At #2, duh duh duh duh! Big Hero 6. This movie was fantastic. The bumping fist stuff was so endearing, and the "Are you satisfied with your care?" The first half of the film is practically flawless and the last half was thoroughly good.

Aaaand finally, coming in at #1, and making a run for #1 all-time, is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I recently took the opportunity to rewatch this film again (having seen it three times in theater and when it first came out on DVD as well) and this last watching recaptured the amazement I felt during the first watching and really brought out the beats of the political thriller that this film was.

When reviewers started saying that the movie was a political thriller, I scoffed. I didn't feel that it was a political thriller in anything other than the most superficial ways, but with this last rewatching you can really see it, from the direction, the choice of shots they used, I mean, it was really flipping good. And the action was incredible. There's one sequence in particular that I would pick today as the #1 superhero action sequence I've ever seen.

When I watched it in the theater, I was literally breathless. I could not breathe from the amazing that I had just seen. I was covering my eyes, trying to distance myself from sheer awesome.

OK, so that's the top 4. Let's talk about best villains.

Actually, it might be more fruitful to talk about worse villains. Sheesh, do we have to wait until Avengers 2 to get some good villains? In nearly every film, the villains were a weak point. Guardians of the Galaxy with Nebula and Ronan was pretty cool. Both the Winter Soldier and the other two villains in Captain America were pretty good also, and served the film excellently. I was very pleased with it.

For Spider-Man, the villains were HUGE problems in the film. For the rest, they just weren't anything special.

Best Hero. Spider-Man was actually a pretty good hero, but ended up dropping the ball (or something) by the end of his film. Wolverine and Xavier were underwhelming in X-Men. Baymax was a really nice surprise. I was dreading this guy to be just comic relief, but he actually really brought it. Cap takes the cake though. He's the best.

Best Scenes. There were some really amazing scenes all-around this year. In Spider-Man, the Times Square scene was some of the best Spider-Man action we've ever seen, and if the Rhino fight hadn't been cut off, that was starting to be really epic. The intro to Guardians of the Galaxy as we see Star Lord dance his way through the ruins of some planet set the tone for the rest of the movie and this character perfectly. Some of the actions of Groot really impressed as well. When Baymax learns to fly in Big Hero 6 was excellent. In Captain America, the escape from the Triskelion goes down as one of the best things I've ever seen with my eyes.

So what were your thoughts on this last year of superhero films? What are you excited for coming up? #1, subscribe, and comment below. Thanks for reading!