Blogging. As promised, that’s what I did for the last year and I guess that’s what I’ll continue to do. I wasn’t as ambitious as I wanted to be, as you may have noticed. My posts have been pretty much all reviews save for a few other things around February. That’s not exactly groundbreaking, but it is something to pass the time and force my opinions on people.
And who would have guessed, people actually read my forced, poorly-thought-out opinions for an entire year. Thank you to everyone who has read my posts, and especially to those who have came to me with kind words. Looking back to my first posts, I feel like I’ve definitely improved, and that’s partly due to the continued views and support that has given me the motivation to keep doing this. I still have a long way to go before I can call myself anything more than a kid with strong opinions who can type pretty quickly, but dammit, imma keep goin’!
And why not close out the first year of my blog the same way I began it: by channeling my inner Buzzfeed with my top five overrated movies of 2014 (that’s this one) and my top ten movies of 2014 (coming shortly afterwards)? Because I’ve complemented a lot of movies this year, but there’s nothing I want to do more than tear down a few.
(Very minor spoilers follow)
Under the Skin (April 4th):
It’s never good to start a paragraph with “maybe I’m stupid,” so I’ll start the second sentence with it instead. Maybe I’m stupid, but I completely missed the point Under the Skin was trying to make while I was watching it. Afterwards, I read up and figured out that it’s actually a universal commentary on gender and body image. But those important themes just happened to be buried under the most esoteric, artsy sci-fi movie you can imagine (outside of Upstream Color).
That said, this is a visually beautiful movie with one of the year’s best soundtracks, but here’s how I see it: if you have something important to say, why conceal it behind all of this cryptic, ambiguous nonsense and make it as inaccessible as possible? Why antagonize your audience, accept for all of those ‘genius’ critics who can’t rave highly enough about it? I get the idea that some movies benefit from repeat viewings, but I don’t quite understand why they should be necessary to make any sense of it.
On rottentomatoes.com, this movie has a critic score of 86% and an audience score of 54%. So basically, not even a fully naked Scarlett Johansson can fool audiences into thinking this movie is anything more than a good looking but ultimately pretentious puzzle. But hey, at least director Jonathan Glazer and all of his high art-appreciating fans can feel like they know something that everyone else can’t possibly grasp. Shout-out to Enemy, another indecipherable sci-fi art movie from this year that does the exact same things but at least has some semblance of a story to follow… Until it’s “F you, audience” ending.
Godzilla (May 16th):
I’ve never seen Roland Emmerich’s universally maligned entry into this defining monster movie franchise. Maybe if I did I would have less to complain about in this year’s version, directed by Gareth Edwards, who came off of the even more overrated indie Monsters. But I can still compare this movie to, say, the original Gojira from 1956, and despite the passing of multiple decades, there’s just no comparison. 2014’s Godzilla is a flat, disappointing lump of a Hollywood movie. I didn’t like it when I saw it in theaters, and my opinion of it seems to go down every time I think about it.
When I tell people I dislike this movie, most assume I’m mad that there’s barely any Godzilla in it. But no, what I’m mad about is that what we get instead of Godzilla is the worst case of a wasted cast I can think of. This movie is filled with actors, but what does Edwards choose to do with them? Let’s take a look:
Juliette Binoche, well-respected veteran actress — dead in the first act. Ken Watanabe, a great actor with a real dramatic presence — his sole purpose in this movie is to deliver the word “Gojira” to give the movie some Japanese cred. Sally Hawkins, the amazingly talented British actress — she gives some science-y exposition and then just stands next to Watanabe because we need to be shown that girls can be scientists too. Elizabeth Olsen, the most talented Olsen sister — well, she cries. And ignores phone calls. And then cries some more. And don’t get me started on Bryan Cranston.
But who gets top billing instead of all of these amazingly talented performers? Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The most generic, white, young male ‘action hero’ imaginable, who just happens to be wherever the special effects are. He’s the one guy we probably care about the least, and suddenly he’s the heart of an already soulless movie. When Godzilla finally appears at the end of the movie, the real reason we’re excited is because we’re finally getting something worth watching. And then it ends. Woo.
The Fault in Our Stars (June 6th):
I get that I’m not a teenage girl. But since my movie preferences make it seem like I am, I consider it valid for me to say that The Fault in Our Stars is overrated without feeling like I’m attacking something that just isn’t meant for me. It’s especially disappointing given that Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter are two of my favorite screenwriters, having done 500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now previously.
This is a movie about cancer, so the lives of the two main characters are on the line from the very beginning. It’s telling that, despite the fact that it wasn’t even long ago that I saw the movie, I can’t for the life of me remember what actually ended up happening to either of them. I think maybe one of them died. Or both of them? I don’t know. What I remember most clearly is the bizarre middle section about main character Hazel trying to go to Amsterdam, and then finally going there thanks to boyfriend Gus.
This long, meandering plot-line removes all of the dramatic stakes of the story, replaced by an odd teenage fairytale in which everything is nice and perfect (until it’s not, of course, because they have cancer. Remember?) This unnecessary, manipulative, sappy segment drags the movie into two-hour territory, and by the time I was supposed to cry, I was simply too bored to do so. It’s a good thing that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort — is that his name? Is that a name? — are so talented, because if it had been anyone else, I would have been tempted to throw a Nicholas Sparks book at the screen in frustration and rewatch 50/50 instead.
The Boxtrolls (September 26th):
Here’s how I assume the first Laika pre-production meeting for The Boxtrolls went:
“Alright, team. We’re Laika, makers of the askew, off-kilter stop-motion hits Coraline and ParaNorman. It’s time to make our next film, and dammit we have a reputation to uphold! We need this to be quirky and cute. But most of all, we need to be original.”
“I know! Let’s prominently feature a bunch of adorable creatures that babble nonsense!”
“… Not so fast, Bob. Wouldn’t that just be ripping off Dreamworks’ minions?”
“Whatever, it’ll get us dat cash. Oh, and let’s name the main character ‘Eggs’. Because that’s quirky!”
“Bob, you’re a genius.”
“And let’s have a cross-dressing villain. I’ve never seen that before! And his henchmen are idiots, because I’ve never seen idiot henchmen before either.”
“Yes. Very original. But we also need it to be sophisticated. For adults, you know?”
“Okay. So let’s make it an incredibly obvious metaphor for Nazi Germany! And for good measure, we’ll have the theme be about being yourself. That’s original, right?”
“Eh. Good enough. Let’s rev up those 3D printers, these stop motion movies are a bitch to make.”
Rottentomatoes: 74%. (Interstellar, 73%) Hmph.
Nightcrawler (October 31st) and Wild (December 3rd):
Last year, the only award-bait movie that I thought was undeserving (and probably the most overrated movie of 2013) of its hype was American Hustle. Now it’s Oscar season once more, and this year I’ve got two hopefuls that have been getting insane amounts of praise… And I seriously can’t decide which I think is more unwarranted. It’s clear why they are getting so much attention, though: both have a good lead actor (which in my opinion, elevates otherwise two mediocre movies).
Last year I said American Hustle was a movie that “couldn’t keep up with its actors,” and I could say the same for Nightcrawler. Jake Gyllenhaal is so good. Probably the best he’s ever been. While he makes his movie much better than it would have been with likely anyone else, I find Reese Witherspoon’s performance in Wild to be just as overrated as the movie itself. As I said in my review, i don’t think she’s any better at the whole survival/dealing with trauma shtick than Jennifer Lawrence was in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
Apart from Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler’s satire of the media through the avenue of local television news felt too outdated, its side characters too flat, and its tone too jumbled. A decent movie, but like it’s character, too unhinged and schizophrenic to be truly likable. Wild, meanwhile, is a well-directed film with a flashback structure that constantly takes you out of the wilderness. And while that backstory we keep getting dragged into is intriguing, it keeps the hike at the movie’s core from being as immersive an experience as other, better survival movies.
Oh, and Laura Dern plays a mom in two of the movies on this list. I don’t know what that has to do with anything, but there’s a useless fact for you.
Thanks again for the support I’ve gotten this year, and I hope you all disagree with something on here! Okay, bye.