2014: The Year in Reviews (January)

Every January, I go over almost the films that are scheduled to come out that year. I use Wikipedia’s year in film article as it exists at the time, and preview all the films. I use it to familiarize myself with what’s coming out, and, most importantly, use it to guess what I’m going to think about all of the movies. I like to guess ratings for all the films because, at this point, I know myself pretty well, and I selfishly like to see how close I can get up to twelve months out. Plus, it allows me to see which films at the end of the year surprised me, for better or worse. But mostly, it’s so I know what’s coming out. Sometimes I just want to know what to be excited for.

Aside from the films scheduled, I also go over films that have been finished (or are shooting), that, in all likelihood, will probably come out over the course of the year. I’ve gotten much more thorough about this since starting the blog. 2011 had 30 such films. 2012 had 90. Last year, I had 209, plus an extra 27 held over from the year before. At this point, there’s not much that I miss.

How these articles work: I recap what I said about the films in January, write up my review of the films based on the initial watch (which have been posted in three separate reviews articles from April, August, and… yesterday), and then I give my final thoughts on the film, after having had time to think about it some more, and finalize my ranking. Typically, the Final Thoughts space is for me to go, “Originally I gave it 3.5 stars, but now, it’s more like 3.”

We’ll start with January, and go month by month through December. After that, I’ll recap the films I tracked in January that didn’t come out (and ultimately decide which ones I’ll keep tracking next year). And at the end of it all, I’ll analyze all the numbers to see how accurate I was in guessing back in January. Mostly it’s to put all the ratings in one place. And of course, after that, we’ll end the year with the Unforgivables list and my Top Ten list. But that’s all not for another two weeks. Right now, we’re recapping January:

One thing I do in all these recap articles is explain how my rankings work.

* * * * * (5 stars) — I really loved the film. Five stars essentially guarantees the film a spot in the top ten or top twenty (Though usually top ten). (2013 examples of 5 star movies: Gravity, Frozen, The Wind Rises.)

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars) — I loved the film, but not unconditionally. Four and a half stars is usually the ranking for films in the top ten and top twenty. Rarely does a four and a half star film fall to tier two, but that’s all dependent on how many there are. (2013 examples of 4.5 star films: About Time, Inside Llewyn Davis, Prisoners, 12 Years a Slave.)

* * * * (4 stars) — I liked the film quite a bit, but it’s not one of those that I would automatically say is a top ten film. It could end up being one when all is said and done, but typically a four star film is one of those that I’ve solidly liked, and will openly say is a really good movie. Three and a half, I’ll say that I really enjoyed it. But four stars is where I’ll say that it’s a really good movie. Four star movies generally are top twenty and tier two. They don’t usually make the top ten, but it’s not unheard of. (2013 examples of 4 star films: Dallas Buyers Club, Escape from Tomorrow, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Pacific Rim, This Is the End.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars) — The film stood out to me as being particularly solid. I always differentiate three and a half from three by saying that three stars is for a film that I just enjoyed enough to give it the thumbs up. Three and a half is when I go, “Wow, that was actually really solid and I enjoyed it quite a bit.” It’s not alway a mark of “this was better than I expected” or, “It’s better than you think.” Sometimes it’s just, “That was really solid,” or, “That was awesome,” even though the film itself wasn’t particularly a masterpiece. It’s a very variable ranking. It could mean a lot of things. Usually it’s for something I enjoyed, but didn’t love enough to put it near the very top of my year-end list. Three and a half star films never make it above tier two, and most of them are tier three. You’ll see only a few populating tier two, but mostly they’re tier three. (2013 examples of 3.5 star films: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, The Best Offer, Frances Ha, Now You See Me, Pain and Gain, Upstream Color.)

* * * (3 stars) — Three stars is for films that were pretty good. Usually for a three star movie, I’ll say, “I enjoyed it well enough.” Or, probably the most common phrase I use is, “You can get through it.” But without qualification. For a two and a half star film, I’ll say, “You can get through it, but…” Three stars don’t have the qualification. Mostly three stars is for a film I enjoyed enough to say it wasn’t bad. I found it watchable enough that I wasn’t completely indifferent toward it. If I give a film that seems like it should have a higher rating three stars, then it means I didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else. And if there’s something you’d think was a piece of shit at three stars, it means I thought it wasn’t actually that bad. But most of the time, three stars just means, “Yeah, it was okay. I enjoyed it well enough.” They’re just entertaining enough for me to not be indifferent. (2013 examples of 3 star films: Beautiful Creatures, The Call, The Lone Ranger, Spring Breakers, To the Wonder, 21 & Over.)

* * ½ (2.5 stars) — Two and a half stars is my ultimate indifference ranking. I didn’t necessarily think it was a bad film, I just didn’t give a shit about it whatsoever. I thought it was utterly generic. Nothing to make me like it, and it wasn’t bad enough to make me dislike it. It wasn’t memorable to me in any way. Odds are, if a “classy” movie is here, it means it was particularly disappointing, and if something that seemed like an Unforgivable is here, it means it actually wasn’t the piece of shit we were all thinking and was actually just about passable. It’s also my way of saying, “You might have liked this, but I certainly didn’t.” And also my way of saying, “This wasn’t very good, but at least it was competently made.” But for the most part, two and a half stars means I just didn’t care whatsoever and will not remember much about the movie in two years. They may also be Unforgivable, depending on my reasons. (2013 examples of 2.5 star films: After Earth, The Butler, Gangster Squad, A Good Day to Die Hard, Jobs.)

* * (2 stars) — Two starts means that the film was mostly competent and all, but I just didn’t like it. Either it wasn’t for me, it was a genre that I don’t like (horror movie), I just found it boring, or it was one of those generic shitty genre movies that populate the early months. Or it was just a giant piece of shit that at least looked like a good movie. So two stars is for — “They tried… it just wasn’t very good.” Depending on how bad they are, they do have a shot at the Unforgivables list. (2013 examples of 2 star films: The Big Wedding, A Haunted House, The Internship, Lovelace, Safe Haven.)

* ½ (1.5 stars) — One and a half usually means the film was terrible, but it’s not a surefire Unforgivable. Probably because it’s a shitty thriller, a shitty horror movie, or a horrible sequel in a franchise that has churned out nothing but horrible sequels. Or it’s for films that could have gone two stars, but I just have a particular dislike for them. These have a pretty good shot at the Unforgivables list, and should for sure make my bottom 25 list. (2013 examples of 1.5 star films: Battle of the Year, The Heat, Identity Thief, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, We’re the Millers.)

* (1 star) — I really didn’t like the movie. It was so bad it was almost unwatchable. Typically a one star film is certain to be Unforgivable. Sometimes one star movies get saved by virtue of being a certain kind of sequel (like Big Mommas House: Like Father, Like Son) or being something that’s too easy to make Unforgivable (like Marmaduke, or a Friedberg and Seltzer movie. Movies we knew were gonna be pieces of shit going in), but in any case — they’re really awful movies that shouldn’t exist. (2013 examples of 1 star films: Ass Backwards, The Canyons, Inappropriate Comedy, So Undercover.)

0 stars — It means I hated the film. Guaranteed Unforgivable. It’s a film that should never have been made, and has actually lowered the bar for cinema as an art form and has actually detracted from a culture that’s in the toilet to begin with. A film with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and one that physically made me angry while watching it. (2013 examples of 0 star films: Grown Ups 2, The Starving Games.) All right, now let’s get recapping: We’re gonna start, as we always do, with a combination of 2013 films that I didn’t get to see in time for last year’s articles (or are clearly 2013 films that weren’t released until this year or are ones I just didn’t know about until this year).

2013 Films and Unreleased 2014 Films

The Anomaly

What I said about it back in January:

“Interesting.”

“I don’t like that it’s considered sci fi. That worries me.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

You haven’t heard of this, but I tracked it and had the ability to see it. So I did. Didn’t really do anything for me. So we’ll just leave it at 2.5 and move on, since I know you’ve never heard of this.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Good to know that I had a handle on this beforehand.

Honestly, if I wasn’t tracking it, I’d have never seen it.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Beauty and the Beast

What I said about it back in January:

“Didn’t I track this last year?”

“Still willing to see this.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Mostly I didn’t care.”

“Looks great though.”

“This was done better twice before, once by Cocteau and once by Disney. Watch those. Unless you really love the story, in which case, this is perfectly acceptable.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Looked good, but I didn’t care.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.Apathy. Mostly.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Sure.

Berberian Sound Studio

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Discovered it when a guy at the office told me about it.

What I actually thought about it:

“This is a weird little movie. I recommend this one just for the experience. It’s like a Kafka novel mixed with Hitchcock mixed with Blow Out.”

“I really think it’s worth watching just for how they use sound design. Few films really use sound design artfully and as a part of the plot. And I’ll always speak highly of this film for that alone.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s pretty good. Loved the sound design on it. Worth seeing for that alone.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Best Man Down

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I had the chance to see this last year but didn’t. I’m not sure what spurred me to actually go ahead with this. I’m not that far behind, though. It did only come out last November.

What I actually thought about it:

“It really defied my expectations. For some reason I thought it would be more about what the first fifteen minutes are and not what the rest of the film is.”

“This film really had a heart, and was really more than I thought it was going to be. So for that, I say good job.”

“I liked this movie. It doesn’t rise above being an ‘indie,’ quotes and all, but it’s still a movie that was more than I thought. And I like when that happens.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I thought I wouldn’t like it, but I did. I like when I think I’m getting a piece of shit and it ends up having a heart. Solid little movie. Glad I saw it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Captive

What I said about it back in January:

“I’ll stick with the director and the cast.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“(I’m not sorry about this.) This movie was pretty… captivating.”

“I didn’t love it, but it was definitely engrossing.”

“I was engaged. I liked the acting in it, and it was completely watchable.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I was engaged enough to not say indifference, but otherwise there wasn’t a whole lot here for me to give a full thumbs up to. It’s all right.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Cas and Dylan

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I found out about it around Halloween, purely by accident. And given the two stars, there really wasn’t any way I wasn’t going to see this.

What I actually thought about it:

“You haven’t heard of this. That’s okay. I hadn’t heard of it either.”

“It was delightful.”

“Don’t go in expecting reinvention of the wheel. Just go in because the two stars are awesome, and it’s fun as shit.”

“I watched this at midnight, and I loved it. And since you have no idea what it is, I bet you’ll come out thinking positive things about it as well.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I’m not gonna grade this one too harshly. You don’t even know what it is, and I thought it was lovely.

Go Canada.

(P.S. Jason Priestly directed this. So there’s also that.)

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Clouds of Sils Maria

What I said about it back in January:

“Sure.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“You hear that this is starring Kristen Stewart and Chloe Moretz. But it’s not. It’s about Juliette Binoche. Which is a nice magic trick.”

“The problem is — this isn’t very interesting. It feels borderline pretentious. In what it’s about, how it’s made, all of it.”

“Complete indifference about this one.”

“I’m glad I saw it this year and not next year, when this is supposed to come out. This way I can get the indifference out of the way.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Complete indifference. You don’t need to bother with this one when it comes out in the spring.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Decoding Annie Parker

What I said about it back in January:

“Been tracking this for two years now. Still no release.”

“Still want to see it, still think it can be good.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It was never going to live up to the hype. But I still got an entertaining movie that I liked. Which is fine.”

“But it’s one of those indie movies that barely got released, that no one will see, and is one that I can’t even recommend that strongly, because it’s not good enough to overcome a strong sell.”

“This will end up languishing on IMDB pages until people do that thing where they go, ‘Hey, I really like this person,’ and go look up all of the movies they made. And you’ll be treated with a movie you never knew about that’s actually pretty good.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not sure what I was expecting, but it was all right. Thought it would be a gem. Turns out, it’s pretty forgettable. I barely remember what happened. Oh well.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Makes sense. I should learn to lower expectations the longer something isn’t released.

11 A.M.

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I randomly stumbled upon it, thought, “That sounds interesting,” and watched it. That happens at least a half-dozen times each year.

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s Korean, and it’s about people working on a time travel machine. And they get it to work, but haven’t yet tried it on humans. What it does is move objects forward one day into the future. So they decide to test it on themselves. They go forward one day, and when they get there, shit is chaos. Everyone is missing, and people are out to get them. That’s what got me in.”

“As a finished product — it was okay. Nothing outstanding, but watchable. Typical time travel tropes. Interesting concept though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Decent movie. But it does need an American remake to fully flesh out the potential.

But it has to be done right. Because this could be done really badly by an American.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Grace of Monaco

What I said about it back in January:

“This got pushed out of Oscar season, which should let us all know how atrocious this probably is.”

“Who thought Nicole Kidman was a good choice for Grace Kelly to begin with?”

“Though I highly doubt this is gonna be as bad as that Diana movie from last year that they wisely swept under the rug and didn’t let anyone see.”

“This sounds like a movie that should be called ‘Rich White Woman Problems.'”

2.5 stars. And I’m being nice. I fully expect this to drop to 2.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Not to anyone’s surprise, this was pretty lifeless.”

“Horribly miscast, and it will go down along with movies like Diana last year as ones that just don’t do biopic correctly.”

“It’s not like I had any particular hope for this one. It seemed a bad idea from the start. So it comes and goes and we move on.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Rich White Woman Problems. That’s what this is. It’s pretty ridiculous that they thought this was a good idea. The script was supposed to be great. The execution… nuh uh.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact

Haunter

What I said about it back in January:

“Could be okay. Maybe.”

“Directed by Vincenzo Natali.”

“I liked Splice. So I’ll see it.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Broad concept is okay. Execution is pretty weak. Overall… meh.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Acceptable.

I Know That Voice

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I had no idea this existed.

What I actually thought about it:

“I love voice actors. To me, they are one of the most talented, least appreciated, groups of people in the entertainment industry.”

“Plus, if you’re not that knowledgable about the people who do a lot of these voices (and don’t know who Tara Strong, Jim Cummings, Kevin Michael Richardson and John DiMaggio are), you get to see them in person doing their most famous voices, and you’ll realize that you grew up with these people and have seen them do their thing many, many times, many times without even realizing it. And that’s a special feeling.”

“Everyone needs to see this movie.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

LOVED this.

See this movie. Everyone.

I wish I could make this tier two, but it’s so clearly a 2013 movie. That sucks. But see it. Because it’s amazing.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

In a World…

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Just sort of watched it midway through the year.

What I actually thought about it:

“I was entertained.”

“Overall, it’s a decent enough movie. I’m glad I saw it just because I like weird stuff like this that shows professions no one would ever think to do a movie about.”

“I’d still say to watch I Know That Voice instead, just because of how amazing voice actors are, and how this really doesn’t show a glimpse into the life of trailer voiceover artists so much as it’s a story built around the profession, but the movie is still pretty good, and I certainly wouldn’t tell you not to watch it. So, really, you’re an adult, and you can make your own damn choices.”

* * * (3 stars)

Finalt thoughts:

Good movie. Liked it.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Maps to the Stars

What I said about it back in January:

3.5 stars.”

“Trust Cronenberg.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This is one of those 3 star ratings that’s actually a 3.5 star in spirit. I’ll think about it as a 3.5, but I only enjoyed it as a 3.”

“It’s a weird fucking movie. There’s incest, people get set on fire, and Julianne Moore has a threesome with her dead mother.”

“I didn’t like it as much as I liked Cosmopolis, but it wasn’t a bad movie.”

“Be warned — it’s very odd.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I did like this. It’s somewhere between a 3 and a 3.5. Like a 3.35. Not really sure how to rate it. I want to give it a 3.5 here to balance it out, but I’ll just stick with the 3. It’s worth seeing, but it’s really weird. Still also like Cosmopolis better.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Technically off on the rating, but not necessarily off in how I felt about it.

Playing It Cool

What I said about it back in January:

“Nice cast.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This reeks of first screenplay indie movie. All the tropes. A lot of the first screenplay moments of feeling really clever, and a lot of the indie moments of people talking intellectually about subjects like love in bar situations.”

“You’ve seen this done  hundred times. This is somebody’s first screenplay and was pared down into a fine-tuned movie.”

“This one ended up just okay. Just because the cast is game and makes it watchable. Otherwise, this is that indie stuff and rom com stuff that is a little too full of itself to be good or unique.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

The other thing I forgot to mention — these movies always attract decent casts of actors because these scripts, while being stuff they don’t get to read everyday, still manage to end up with exactly the same finished quality. Always.

It’s just okay. It went VOD. That’s all it is. Some people might think it’s all right, but trust me, this is not “I’m gonna watch this more than three times in my life” good.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Riot Club

What I said about it back in January:

“Lone Sherfig’s new movie.”

“Based on a play, so I imagine it’ll be all right.”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

I have it. Will see it by the end of the year. Probably the end of the week. I’ll update with my thoughts.

Final thoughts:

How close was I?:

The Salvation

What I said about it back in January:

“Western. I’m in no matter what.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Always excited for a western. This one — meh.”

“Three stars, but not anything particularly memorable.”

“It’s a formulaic western, and the problem with that nowadays is, they’re too serious.”

“I wish I could have rated this higher and touted it more, but I can’t. It’s nice to see the genre, but this movie was nothing special.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

That’s about right. I like a western, so there was always going to be a moderate admiration for this movie for even existing nowadays, but otherwise it was way too serious, and didn’t have enough in it to make me really want to tell people to go out and see it.

I need more westerns.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half star. But I regret nothing.

Serena

What I said about it back in January:

“Could be too moribund to be good. That’s my main concern, otherwise I’d have gone 3.5.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Pretty boring. That’s why this was swept under the rug.”

“Not paced very well, and without the stars, no one would ever see this.”

“It’s just okay. Not great. Didn’t even enjoy it enough to give it 3.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Didn’t care for this. Pretty boring. Decent enough, but indifference wins.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Sunshine on Leith

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. It showed up around January, and I said that it was a musical, and immediately added it to my watch list.

I won’t turn down a western or a musical. I just won’t.

What I actually thought about it:

“My god, did I love every single minute of this.”

“Everyone sings. All the time. And entire rooms just break out into song. And not only am I very okay with that, I actively encourage it.”

“It’s so fucking likable it’s impossible to say bad things about this.”

“This was an absolute joy of a film to watch, and if you like musicals, you’re gonna love this.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Technically it came out in 2013 in the UK, but hasn’t come out here. So it’s not really 2013. But whatever.

Either way, I loved this. And everyone should see this, especially if you like musicals as I do. This was so fucking fun, and honestly, give me this any day of the week over any of that superhero bullshit.

* * * * (4 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

To Write Love on Her Arms

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. As I’ll explain in a second.

What I actually thought about it:

“Here’s how this one happened: around Thanksgiving, I started gathering my list of 2015 movies for the Film Release Calendar. Typically I do a quick run through at the end of November, one more thorough run through around Christmas, and then one last check in January before the articles go up. I noticed this on there. It had a unique title. I wrote it down. Then, about four days later (not a joke. Actually about four days), I had the ability to watch it. So I did.”

“The results — I didn’t care. By about minute 40, I’d tuned out almost entirely.”

“If you put a gun to my head and asked me which movie was more memorable for me, this movie or Gimme Shelter, the Vanessa Hudgens movie, I’d say that one. So that’s what I got.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

That’s what I got.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

12 O’Clock Boys

What I said about it back in January:

I heard this documentary was good. I saw the trailer and it seemed interesting enough. They called it “The Wire with wheelies.” Plus it’s about kids who basically say “Fuck you” to the cops all the time. That was interesting to me. And then I figured, “Well, maybe it can help me get over my aversion to documentaries.” And then I had the ability to get the movie. So I got it. Basically another doc to add to my already impressive 2013 numbers.

Something tells me I probably won’t hit those numbers this year.

What I actually thought about it:

“This was pretty great. The thing that really makes it work is the fact that it gives you a glimpse into this neighborhood and how people interact in that neighborhood. That’s the kind of stuff that gives movies authenticity.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Solid documentary.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

What We Do in the Shadows

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Discovered it when the trailer came out during the year.

What I actually thought about it:

“It was fun. Not as great as you’d think, but they get enough out of the premise to make it worth the while.”

“Definitely one of those solid movies that no one will know about that you can pull out and show them.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final thoughts:

It was fine. I liked it enough that I could recommend it as a potential “Check this out” kind of a movie. Everyone needs those.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

Wild Tales

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. Screener film.

What I actually thought about it:

“This was fun. Big fan of the anthology film.”

“I love the way it starts. The prologue is really good and gets you into the mood and tone of the film. And the stories are fun.”

“It’s a really nice dark comedy. Highly recommended.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final thoughts:

Go see this one. It’s worth it.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s Jean-Pierre Jeunet, which means 3.5 stars. Love his stuff.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This is Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I’m always down for his stuff.”

“This is also his most toned down film he’s made in a while.”

“It’s a very likable film.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Months later, I’d say my feelings about this are that it’s between a 3 and a 3.5, but I’ll leave the 3.5. Fuck it. It was likable, from what I can remember.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Zulu

What I said about it back in January:

“Been tracking it, so, why not keep going?”

3 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I feel like the synopsis I thought I remembered about this was different from the movie I got.”

“Ultimately I didn’t care. It was interesting to see Orlando Bloom doing stuff. He so rarely acts anymore. And here he was at least playing an adult with problems as opposed to an action hero who speaks with conviction in every line. So there’s that.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Did not care.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

– – – – –

Also, before we get into it, I did watch some TV this year as well. I watched Fargo, The Knick, and the second season of Orphan Black. And I always watch the seasons of Archer, House of Cards and Louie. So TV-wise, I’m actually better than usual. Somehow. Just thought you all should know that.

And now for 2014 proper:

January

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

What I said about it back in January:

“I honestly couldn’t tell you what these are supposed to be about.”

“I’ll be skipping this, and you can guarantee that.”

What I actually thought about it:

I didn’t see it. I was finished with this franchise after the first one, and somehow hung around until about midway through the third one.

Totally finished with this franchise.

How close was I?: N/A

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box

What I said about it back in January:

“Is this a thing that exists?”

“This reminds me of all those TV movies Noah Wyle did a few years back. Like, ‘The Librarian: Quest for the Spear,’ or some shit like that. (No joke, I actually got that one right.)”

“You can tell it’s British. No one else would use the word “adventurer” in a title.”

“Uhh… 2.5 stars. I’ve a feeling 3 stars is max for this, and 2.5 is most likely. It should certainly be one or the other.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Very poorly made. They had like, no money here.”

“It looks like one of those Librarian films CBS makes every so often. Remember those movies? Quest for the Spear? I do. They looked like shit. This also looked like shit. Which isn’t totally their fault. They had what they had.”

“As it is, it’s a movie about kids. It could have been a Wishbone episode. The kids are the stars, and the adults are just there for star power. I get it. It wasn’t bad, either. I got through it and enjoyed myself well enough.”

“This is the kind of movie you’d expect to see on the BBC equivalent of the Disney Channel. This is their Luck of the Irish. And Xenon. Remember Zenon? The 21st century looks nothing like that.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Completely generic. I doubt you even know what this is. And you don’t need to.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Jamesy Boy

What I said about it back in January:

“I actually have this movie already. So I’ll see it.”

2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Nope.”

“You don’t know what this is, and you don’t ever have to. Just move on and forget about it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Basically that.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

The Legend of Hercules

What I said about it back in January:

“Origin story? Really?”

“Also pretty sure that Heracles is the Greek name and Hercules is the Roman one. But something tells me this film doesn’t give a fuck about accuracy.”

“It’s nice to see Renny Harlin back, though. I guess.”

“The movie stars the sixth lead of Twilight. So I’m sure that’s a good sign. The female lead is hot as shit, but how hard is it to have that?”

2 stars. Are we not expecting a complete and utter disaster from this?”

What I actually thought about it:

“Huge piece of shit.”

“It just looks poorly made. The whole thing was just a bad idea from planning through execution. The script is terrible, it’s poorly written, no one in their right mind would find the story interesting, it looks like it was made for $20, the acting is bad, all the stars are C-listers at best… everything about this movie screams ‘terrible.’ And it is terrible.”

“Easy bottom 25-er for the year. This is one of those movies where I’m the only one who actually saw this because… why would anyone else? (And then I bring it up and people go, ‘You actually saw that?’ Because of course I did.) Don’t ever waste your time with this.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This movie has the production value of when those kids made a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Pegasus looks like a fucking horse with a stick glued to its head.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Devil’s Due

What I said about it back in January:

“Won’t see this. We know me. Horror movies are my one genre I pass on.”

What I actually thought about it:

Didn’t see it. I skip the shitty horror movies. It’s what I do.

How close was I?: N/A

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

What I said about it back in January:

“We previewed this last year. They bumped it from a crowded Christmas schedule into the little pond that is January.”

“This is gonna demolish everything around it. And it’s clearly not of a January quality, which is nice for me, and good for this particular month, because it’s gonna end up bumping up the overall ratings average…. The fact that they were ready to put this in December tells me its definitely of a certain quality.”

“I’m sticking with 3.5 stars here. Nobody has the balls to make the Russians the villains anymore. This film is unabashedly doing so, accents and all.”

What I actually thought about it:

“When they bumped it into January, quality was clearly the issue. (The release date never lies!)”

“Because this is a bland movie. I like that it doesn’t become a mindless action movie ever. Problem is… it’s not particularly intriguing either. Not much happens of interest. It’s definitely no Hunt for Red October.”

“I’m actually being nice when I give this 3 stars. But it’s fine. The movie’s fine, and it’s completely forgettable, and we can all forget this movie was even made by next year. That’s what it is. Sometimes things don’t work.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s lucky it’s not lower. This was a real disappointment. Shouldn’t be surprising, them pushing it into January. But man… what made them think this was worth a December release in the first place?

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But this was a real disappointment.

Ride Along

What I said about it back in January:

“The poster says it all.” “You know… I’m gonna give this one a shot.”

“My gut says, ‘Just say 2 stars and get it over with. You know what you’re getting,’ but… I’m gonna give it a shot. I’m gonna go 2.5 stars, and know that when this does end up being 2 stars, I’ll be right, because I know what I’m getting.”

“This is just my way of saying — I’m not gonna prematurely shit all over this movie, because I know everyone is gonna shit all over this movie. I’m gonna go in with even expectations, and if this movie wants to drop to 1.5 stars and make a case for Unforgivable… that’s okay. I’m just saying… it’s getting a fair shot.”

“(But we do all expect this to be a piece of shit though, right?)”

What I actually thought about it:

“I was expecting utter disaster, and I got passable.”

“Not good, by any stretch. I mean, Kevin Hart is the star of the movie. And Ice Cube does his one-note straight man routine. So you know what you’re getting. But it’s watchable enough.”

“I can confidently give this 2.5 stars despite most people expecting me to go surefire Unforgivable here. But that wasn’t the case. It’s indifference more than anything. It’s just there.”

“Now… the second one… all bets are off. (It made a shit ton of money. There will be a second one.) But this one… fine. You get a pass. I didn’t despise it.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I didn’t have a problem with this. Who thought that would happen? I expected bottom 25. Definitely wasn’t that. Still don’t like Kevin Hart, but this movie — decent enough by me.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact. Somehow.

The Nut Job

What I said about it back in January:

“Some chick I met at a New Year’s Eve party gave me one of these.”

“The only way I can really enjoy this movie is if Surly is the most miserable piece of shit in the world. I’m talking like — if Surly were voiced by Larry David, and the movie went that route… then I’d give it a chance.”

“Otherwise — nah.”

“Oh, also — Brendan Fraser is in the cast. That’s never a good sign nowadays.”

“And so is Katherine Heigl. In case you weren’t so sure.”

“And Gabriel Iglesias.”

“And Jeff Dunham.”

“You guys tying the noose yet, or what?”

2 stars. If it goes 2.5, and I do end up being indifferent about this, I’ll actually be surprised. Not terribly, but, enough. It’s really hard for movies like this to not suck. And this is January. So why expect otherwise?

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s terrible. But it’s a kid’s movie. So ultimately I didn’t care.”

“I did think I’d hate it and that it wouldn’t even make it to indifference, but it did. It’s okay enough.”

“Even non-discerning children won’t be too engaged by this.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Technically I was indifferent about this, but it was a bad movie. I’m just indifferent because I didn’t have the energy to say I didn’t like it. Do people even remember that this came out? My point exactly. What’s the point of beating this up?

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Barely.

Gimme Shelter

What I said about it back in January:

“I must have been tracking this for two years now. Finally it’s coming out.”

2.5 stars. I’m not expecting much. James Earl Jones is in this, but so is Brendan Fraser. But, you know… maybe it could be moderately interesting. After two years, I hope it’s at least 2.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Ha ha. Vanessa Hudgens tries to act.”

“Probably not a good idea when Brendan Fraser is in your movie.”

“The best part about this movie is that it wants you to believe Brendan Fraser had sex with Rosario Dawson.”

“This seems like it was based on the novel ‘Pull’ by Sapphire’s less-talented sister.”

“But James Earl Jones is in this. That keeps this from dropping to 2 stars.”

“It’s bad, but it’s not awful. Well… all right, it’s kind of awful. But almost in a laughable way. They’re trying too hard, and it’s just completely misguided, from the casting on down.”

“I mean — I’ll leave this at indifference. That’s the nicest thing I can say here.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Bad movie. Really bad movie. Not sure what the point of this was. Vanessa Hudgens is… not good.

But I’ll stick by my James Earl Jones rule. It’s bad, but I didn’t actively dislike it.

It’s fucking close, though.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

I, Frankenstein

What I said about it back in January:

“Uhh… all right.”

“I mean, I knew about this from last year, because they bumped it from September or October or something. Which… just like Gangster Squad.”

“Maybe that was their way of telling me, ‘Don’t make that same mistake twice.’ Though I doubt I’d have ever made that here. It’s about fucking Frankenstein. Tell me this doesn’t reek all sorts of Jonah Hex.”

“It’s 93 minutes long. It has ‘shitty’ written all over it.”

2.5 stars. Maybe it’ll be shitty and watchable. 3 stars would shock me. 2 stars is also possible. But we’ll figure I’ll just get through it.”

“Bill Nighy is also in this. He was in Underworld. He must really like getting paid from these movies.”

What I actually thought about it:

“What the fuck was this?”

“I mean seriously. Who thought this would be a good idea? Frankenstein’s monster is alive and immortal. There’s a weird demon faction that wants him to be on their team. There are gargoyles who turn into people who want him to be on theirs. They fight. Through eternity. I mean… what?”

“Someone thought this would be a good movie to drop $65 million on? They spent more on this than they spent on Jonah Hex.”

“Seriously, this was an unholy (pun ridiculously intended) piece of garbage. It’s not that it’s laughably bad. It’s that you watch this movie, and not a second goes by where you don’t think, ‘Why would anyone make this?'”

“I’m confounded that anyone legitimately thought this was a good idea. And believe me… in some way or another, you will be hearing more about this in December.”

* * (2 stars)

Final Thoughts:

This was absolutely fucking awful, and if I didn’t know that going in, it probably would have been Unforgivable. Holy shit was this bad.

* * (2 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star.

Best Night Ever

What I said about it back in January:

“Why is this here? Because of who directed it.”

“If you can guess this without already knowing, you win the prize.”

“But you can’t. Because unless you know, you won’t be able to guess it unless it’s as a joke.”

“Because who directed this?”

“Friedberg and Seltzer.”

2.5 stars. I have to see this.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Friedberg and Seltzer made this movie.”

“Think of it as a female version of The Hangover, shot entirely as a found footage movie. So, if you thought there wasn’t a perfect trifecta of things I hate, you were wrong.”

“I will give them credit for at least trying to make a movie with a coherent story, that’s not an assemblage of what they consider parody (I have no idea what it actually is).”

(NOTE: It is basically an assemblage of awfulness, but it’s not parody. Thank god. It’s just a bad version of a loose concept.)

“Holy shit, was this movie awful. I mean… yeah. You know what you’re getting at this point. It’s just lowest common denominator humor. Nothing good can come of this movie. And you shouldn’t watch it. Unless you hate yourself. Because it’s bad.”

“It’s not Unforgivable, because I don’t even know if I even want to waste the time on these guys anymore. Plus, no one but me even knows this movie exists, so it’s not like it’s worth berating too much. I bet at least a dozen people reading this thought this was Moms’ Night Out.”

“Enjoy it while it lasts, people. This is their ‘serious’ movie.”

“Now they’re going back to ‘spoofs’ or whatever the fuck they call them, of Fast and the Furious and Taken. So if anyone’s looking for more ammo for that suicide note…”

* ½ (1.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s terrible.

And I don’t want to give anything away just in case I want to put them on two weeks from now.

* ½ (1.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a full star. Why the fuck did I go so high?

That Awkward Moment

What I said about it back in January:

“The cast is actually good. I mean — Efron… whatever. But Miles Teller is a plus and Michael B. Jordan is nice to see. And then Imogen Poots, who I’m starting to enjoy seeing in things, Addison Timlin, who I fell in love with after seeing her in Odd Thomas, and then the guy who wrote it is also directing it, which means it’ll be the movie he wants to tell, for better or worse.”

“I honestly can’t go any other way but 3 stars. I really can’t see this ever going higher than this, and would be surprised if it wasn’t either 2.5 or 3. If I can get out of this one with 3 stars, I’ll be totally satisfied. It’s January.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Not sure what I was expecting. I liked that it was written and directed by the same guy, so ultimately we got the version of this movie that he wanted us to see. So, for better or worse, I have to respect that.”

“Tonally, it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, since it does try for drama at points, and doesn’t quite get there, but ultimately, this movie is watchable. And the cast is solid.”

“It’s definitely watchable. And that’s all I needed out of this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Not great, but not terrible. I enjoyed it well enough. The leads were likable, though it did struggle to find a tone. Yet for some reason I was okay with that. I’ll give this a pass.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, February.

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