2014: A summary about this summer in cinema

The “Back to School Era” is almost coming to a close and with it, the summer of 2014 is well into its twilight. September 22, will officially be the first day of fall but with all of the back to school shopping and the fact that my next semester at NYU begins in a few days, I quote Tony Stark from the first “Iron Man” film:

Yeah, vacation’s over.

Anyway, here’s my opinion about this year’s crop of summer blockbusters: “Meh.” I’m saying, that this year’s collection of big budget flicks were highly anticipated but one way or another, they missed the mark in terms of effectiveness. This summer is highlighted, by aliens, heroes, apes, turtles, dragons and mutants. There were some defining moments and tragic letdowns in all, so let’s take a look at the best and worst of the blockbusters of 2014.

Surprise of the summer: “Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s band of anti-heroic outlaws are the biggest surprise of the year.

When this feature was announced as an installment of Marvel’s Avengers Initiative, I thought it was doomed for failure. I understood that it was a necessary platform to introduce the “overlord of villainy” whom the Avengers would stand toe-to-toe with in their final battle, but once I finally saw the finished product, I am proud to admit that I was impressed. James Gunn, did a great job bringing the cosmic corners of the Marvel Universe to the big screen and he did right with the cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Glenn Close and a great assortment of diverse actors. “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a surprising and entertaining feature.

Biggest Disappointment of the summer: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The rebooted tale of Peter Parker and his alter-ego is beginning to spiral into a chaotic mess of a franchise. Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield began this project of taking Spider-Man into his early origins and went in with big shoes to fill trying to follow Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire’s version. Spider-Man had to contend with three villains in his second outing: Paul Giamatti’s Rhino, Dane Dehaan’s Green Goblin and Jamie Foxx’s Electro and this movie failed when it tried to juggle multiple subplots and it simply couldn’t handle everything Webb and the writers wanted to accomplish and now the franchise is at a trending downwards-crossroads. Big disappointment.

Best Superhero Movie of the summer: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The First Avenger earns top marks in his second solo outing

Marvel Studios has it all going on! Phase 2 of Marvel’s Avengers Initiative closed with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but the film that came before it was top of the class in terms of the superhero genre outings of the year. The Russo Brothers took the helm of Captain Rogers’ solo installment, pitting Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson against the mysterious Winter Soldier and the resurgent H.Y.D.R.A., while setting the stage for the next grand adventure that lies in store for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and they did it with aplomb! This was the smartest, action-packed, outstanding superhero summer blockbuster of the year.

Worst Superhero Movie of the summer: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”

I don’t want to say Spidey fell on his face in his second outing but…

Spidey may have won against the Goblin and Electro but he failed to win over audiences. The biggest lesson to learn from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is that handling multiple plots in a rushed method is hazardous to a film’s chances for success.

Best Visual Effects: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

This was a close call between “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Captain America: the Winter Soldier,” “Godzilla,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past” but the film with the elite visual effects had to go to “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” What separates “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” from the rest of the films of summer 2014 is not only the quality of the visual effects but also the subtlety of their usage as well as the camerawork/cinematography utilized by Michael Seresin.

HTTYD 2 didn’t get the respect it deserved at the box office, but it was first class in my book

Best Animated Film of the summer: “How to Train Your Dragon 2

This was hardly a close call at all. In fact, I consider this film to be one of the best of the year. The flying sequences, the setting designs, the characters were all as lush and beautiful as the story written and directed by Dean DuBlois. I expect this film to be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be one of the best animated features of 2014.

Best Motion Picture of the summer: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

This was another close call, but in terms of overall craftsmanship, entertainment and exceeding expectations “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” ended up coming out on top when it came to the class of 2014 summer blockbusters.

Worst Motion Picture of the summer: (tie) “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Michael Bay may feel insulted by this but this was no contest. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” had a lot of shiny bells and whistles, but let’s face it, there was virtually no substance behind it and the plot-holes were as large as Texas. Michael Bay must have exhausted his personal ammunition cash making this unnecessary sequel and maybe that was the entire point of making this unnecessary sequel. As for the movie he produced, not directed (that “honor” belonged to Jonathan Liebesman), the sole honest truth about “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is that when people saw it, scores of brain cells lost their reason for existing. A lot of factors worked against the live-action reboot of the heroes in the half-shell. Let’s leave it at that.

Final Summary: To be honest, this year’s summer blockbusters weren’t exactly awesome as a whole but there were steady and entertaining films released this summer. Anyway, that is the final word of the summer season of 2014 blockbusters and now we can look ahead to the fall season where potential Oscar contenders could come out to play. It will probably be a while since I come back to give reviews; nothing notable will be out until at least mid-September, but I will be about if anything newsworthy needs to be reported. Check ya later.

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