STORY BY NED LEEBRICK-STRYKER
If you’re new here, or you never read my column last year (shame on you), I like to talk about movies. That’s almost all I do. They make me happy. That hasn’t changed much since I last wrote in the paper. In fact, this summer I may have been happier than any other year in existence. There was something for everyone: animation, action, comedy and drama, most of which were pretty darn good. That’s right. This most recent, three month long vacation had a pretty good track record.
So picking five of my favorites was tough. I know tomorrow, when I have already sent my article to my boss, Tom, I’ll be regretting not mentioning something. But a list is a list and this article is already a day late, so there’s no turning back now. Without further ado, here are my top five favorite blockbusters of summer 2014.
“Neighbors” surprised me. Yes, I knew it had Seth Rogan, who no one can say they don’t like, but it looked like another comedy with jokes for people with shallow senses of humor.
It looked like your typical “bro” comedy and I wasn’t really expecting much. But upon seeing Zack Efron hamming it up as a frat boy with no future and Rose Byrne being goofy as a parent trying to recapture her youth, I was won over. It was hilarious, raunchy and surprisingly poignant and touching. It’s making me look forward to Seth Rogan’s next movie, “The Interview,” which is already making headlines for its plot about the attempted assassination of Kim Jong Un by James Franco. That story is as funny as this movie.
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes “
I don’t think I’ve ever been more emotionally yanked around in a movie than “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” I thought it was going in one direction, then another, then another, until its devastating ending. The plot is memorable, but the real star of the show is Andy Circus, who plays the ape leader, Caeser, via motion capture. Circus has the movements of an ape down to a science and it’s hard not to be drawn into the screen. I read an article that called it “a thinking man’s sci-fi film.” I’d say that’s an apt description. The action was exciting and easy to follow. No world-ending final battle in New York in this one, though the last fight was pretty cool. It was slow and restrained, but paced well. For a film primarily about primates, it was very human.
“Edge of Tomorrow”
Another surprise. Maybe I should stop watching trailers before I go to a movie. My expectations get either too high or too low. This was entertaining from start to finish. Practically “Groundhog Day” with guns, aliens and explosions, “Edge of Tomorrow” had the most interesting way of developing its characters that I’ve ever seen in a movie. Tom Cruise gives a surprising performance as something other than his usual beefcake roles, playing a scummy wuss. Everything felt refreshing: a perfect “popcorn” movie.
“X–Men: Days of Future Past”
Maybe I should have said this earlier, but I’m a sucker for the comic book movie. Lucky for me, there have been a slew of fantastic ones in the past few years. “X–Men: Days of Future Past” was incredible. Its ensemble was fantastic, with Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen and so many more actors all delivering solid performances. It was well written and flowed smoothly. It took time to stop for humor but did not overstay its welcome. The villainous “sentinels” were scary and the action was interesting and utilized its cast of “mutants” and their powers very well. It was almost perfect. But there was one movie that it couldn’t quite beat.
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
It all started when Chris Pratt entered an ancient cave and turned on his Walkman. The song “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone began playing, Pratt started to dance and a giant, goofy grin enveloped my face and it never left. I knew what I was in for. “Guardians of the Galaxy” was the most fun I’ve had at the movies, ever. Let that soak in. I went back and saw it two more times later that week and I’d gladly go back to the theater and pay $8 again right now if I had the opportunity. This generation has its new “Star Wars.” Pratt’s Peter Quill will no doubt become a pop culture icon in the coming years, as well as Vin Diesel’s Groot, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon, and professional wrestler Dave Batista’s Drax the Destroyer. It was well written and full of winning performances. It oozed originality and creativity, despite being based off of a comic book series. I can keep going and going, but just go see it already if you haven’t. You won’t regret it. Until next week readers.