2014: The Year in Reviews (March)

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 started with January, and are going 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 March:

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).

March

300: Rise of an Empire

What I said about it back in January:

“I wasn’t really excited for this when it was scheduled last year. I just sort of figured, ‘Yeah… it’ll be all right,’ and didn’t think much of it. Then I went to see The Hobbit.”

“I was about to watch The Hobbit in IMAX, and a preview for this movie came up in 3D. And I have to say — it looked pretty spectacular. To the point where I actually thought about going to pay and see this when it comes out. So my spirits have lifted considerably on this one.”

“So I’m going to guess 3.5 stars. I think it’ll be a 3 star movie, but the visuals and the general enjoyment of it will carry it up to 3.5. I think that’s a safe bet. I’ll settle for 3 stars, but I really think there’s potential here for an entertaining movie. That trailer really won me over.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This was one of those movies where, at first, when I heard about it, I went, ‘Okay.’ … And then I saw a trailer in 3D IMAX in front of The Hobbit and went, ‘You know… that actually looks pretty entertaining.'”

“Of course, the finished product wasn’t gonna be as good as that initial excitement. And I knew that.  But still… it was the same palette as the original film, and because of that, I was entertained well enough.”

“It’s no masterpiece, but it’s entertaining. It’s a weird sequel/prequel hybrid. Clearly setting up for a trilogy.”

“Works for me. I can watch another one of these.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

If it wasn’t 3 stars when I saw it, it’s 3 stars now. It’s just not a very interesting movie. I barely remember anything that happened in it. It looked good and all, but honestly, all I remember is that sex scene and lots of fighting on boats. So I’ll give the movie a respectful rating, but I can’t even dream about giving this a 3.5. It’s entertaining, and I will, without hesitation, watch the next chapter in this franchise. That’s all I need.

(And honestly, if anything, I’m blaming that IMAX 3D trailer for my spike in rating. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d have gotten this right.)

(There’s always one that sways me. Always.)

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Was a little overeager for this, but not as much as I usually am. So I’ll consider that part a win.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s Wes Anderson. The cast list is in the poster.”

“I don’t need any more than that. You have him, you know what the style is, you know who’s in it, and we saw a trailer.”

“I might consider going higher here, but I’m gonna stick with 4 stars. Just because I don’t want to be overexcited for this, since I really don’t think this one’s gonna hit that level of Moonrise Kingdom. So I’ll stick with the standard Wes Anderson 4 stars (which he’s hit consistently), and let it go higher (or lower, though I doubt that one).”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s Wes Anderson. I know what I’m getting. This was amazing. From beginning to end. I don’t know how to rate this (especially now, when I know I’ll see it at least once more before year’s end) except for comparing it to his other movies. And on that level… I still put Life Aquatic and Fantastic Mr. Fox as his best two. Moonrise is pulling a tight third. But this one, I think, I’ll put right after that.”

“Other notes… Ralph Fiennes was awesome. Great makeup job on Tilda. Anyone else notice how much… freer… I guess is the word… the camera was here. I felt that the compositions weren’t as strict and rigid as they were in Moonrise Kingdom. Maybe because he made it immediately after and didn’t have that extra time to perfect everything? Or maybe that was the point? This definitely felt both more and less precise than what I’m used to from Wes Anderson. Not that it’s a bad thing. I just noticed it.”

“It’s also funny how unsentimental he is. He’ll just cut off from interesting or happy moments. Oh, and the other thing I really enjoyed was how he takes the same sort of character the actors in his stable played the previous time and basically gives them a variation on that, even if it doesn’t seem that way.”

“Otherwise, it’s nice seeing all those cameos pop up. He was clearly having fun with this one. Rarely do we see Wes Anderson have fun. I appreciated that. This will definitely end up in my top 15 for the year. I can’t see how it won’t.”

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

When I saw the movie, I immediately started comparing it to his other work. Now, having some time to let that settle in, and see the film again, I can rate it as a 2014 film, like I should be doing. And in that regard… this damn well might end up in the top ten. This movie was fucking amazing. I love it more every time I see it.

Also, forget what I said about this being less precise. It’s just as precise. He just opened it up a little more at certain parts. I think maybe it was the aspect ratio, or the fact that this is a bigger story than Moonrise Kingdom was. Either way, I retract that statement. It was wrong of me to say.

I loved this movie a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I’m curious to see how things shake out in two weeks.

* * * * ½ (4.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But it’s not like I’m gonna guess 4.5 stars. I don’t think I’ve ever guessed something as a 4.5 in January. Plus, I know it’s a minimum 4 star movie, so I’m always right there with his stuff.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

What I said about it back in January:

“Uhh… sure.”

“I’m pretty sure I previewed this last year and they bumped it.”

“I doubt I was interested in this then.”

“Let’s just call it what it is and say 2.5 stars. I’m probably gonna not give a shit about this at all.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Ultimately, I didn’t care. But I don’t know what the fuck this was supposed to be. A dog adopts a baby and has a time machine? And they thought this would be a good idea?”

“It’s a kids movie though. So whatever. My main question was — if  they’re going back in time and doing this stuff… how come no one thinks twice about a talking dog? It’s just normal for a dog to be doing stuff? There’s actually a line in the movie that says, ‘A boy can adopt a dog. I see no reason why a dog can’t adopt a boy.’ I know you’re not supposed to really think about this stuff, but… nothing? No one has questions about this logic?”

“Honestly, if you watched this movie really high, you’d probably spend the entire time asking all these questions. (I just do it normally.) But yeah, didn’t give a fraction of a fuck about this movie.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

That’s about it. I didn’t give a fuck about this movie. So I won’t speak ill of this movie. I just didn’t care. I’ll leave this to the kids who enjoyed it, and move on.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Better Living Through Chemistry

What I said about it back in January:

“Starring Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan, Jane Fonda — you have to assume quality here.”

3.5 stars.”

“I thought this would for sure come out last year.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s never better living through calculus. Because math is evil.”

“People say that science is ultimately a smarter career choice than trying to be a writer or a director, but the movie called Better Living Through Chemistry was made by a film major.”

“It was fine. I enjoyed it enough and it’s entertaining. Plus, like I said, it has a good cast.”

“Worth seeing for them and you get through it just fine. Totally decent movie.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Liked it well enough, solid cast. That’s enough for a single watch. Definitely thought I was getting more than I did. Mostly because of the cast. The lesson from this is, “If it’s not getting an automatic theatrical, and is getting pushed, it’s probably not worth guessing that extra half-star.”

* * * (3 stars)

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

Need for Speed

What I said about it back in January:

“Sounds like it could be fun.”

“I’m not expecting much, but I also won’t be that negative on it.”

“I expect mediocre B movie with enough to get me through the once.”

3 stars.

I figure it’s gonna be 2.5 or 3. So I’ll be right there either way, and it seems I want to be positive this year.

What I actually thought about it:

“I was really expecting this to be truly god-awful. I knew it wouldn’t be a good movie (I mean.. come on), but I figured at best I’d get what I got. But going in, I expected complete garbage. And I actually was able to watch this and enjoy it a little bit.”

“It’s still not a good movie, but it’s fast cars, so I wasn’t so bored. Took too long to get going, but once it did, I was engaged enough. First thirty are rough though.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Honestly… I did enjoy this well enough. It’s a terrible movie, but it’s dumb fun, and it’s watchable enough for me to feel okay about it. Even now.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Single Moms Club

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s a Tyler Perry movie.”

“Automatic skip.”

“Not wasting time this year. Moving on.”

What I actually thought about it:

Didn’t see it. It’s Tyler Perry. We know this.

How close was I?: N/A

The Face of Love

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. I tracked it last year but skipped it when moving over to this year. The only reason I ended up seeing it was because I had the opportunity to the day after Robin Williams died. If it weren’t for that, I’d have never seen this.

What I actually thought about it:

“Meh.”

“Adults with adult problems.”

“Good actors, but the movie didn’t do anything for me.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Only saw it for Robin Williams.

I knew what I was getting, which is why I didn’t plan on seeing it when the year started.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Art of the Steal

What I said about it back in January:

“Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, Jay Baruchel and Terence Stamp are in this.”

“It sounds like it could be all right.”

3 stars.

“I’m still intrigued enough by this to want to see it.”

“Unless they don’t find a distributor by the end of the year. In that case, I might not want to see it.”

What I actually thought about it:

“These are the kinds of movies I used to love. These B movies that are either heist movies or thrillers.”

“I see no problem with a movie like this. If you think it through, you know how it’s going to end, but who cares, because it’s fun. I like heist movies.”

“This was entertaining. I’m sure it’s only a 3 star movie, but give me one of these any day over half the other stuff that comes out.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I do like these movies. And I enjoyed this. Probably a three star movie, but I’ll stick with the 3.5. I like heist movies.

This is one of those movies that’s almost definitely not worth the 3.5 star rating I’m giving it, but I give it that rating nonetheless because it represents a type of movie I feel there isn’t enough of. Either way, the rating is what it is.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. Definitely better than expected. The heist movie is like the trial movie. I always like it better than I think I will. Ultimately, I was probably right in terms of quality, but this isn’t about guessing quality. It’s guessing my reaction.

Veronica Mars

What I said about it back in January:

“Never watched the show, and it’s gonna take some research to see if I should bother watching this movie or not.”

“I guess I watched Serenity even though I never watched Firefly. Not that I particularly enjoyed it, but I assume it’ll be standalone like that and I’ll just be able to see it as a movie and not anything else.”

“I know nothing more about it. Rob Thomas, the creator of the show is directing the movie. So, if nothing else, this movie should be…. Smooth.”

But seriously, I know nothing about this movie, and have no idea if I’m going to like it or not. And maybe because I’m feeling optimistic, maybe it’s 3 AM and I must be lonely… but I think I might go 3 stars here.

“Though, I don’t know. I know nothing about this. Maybe it’s not a good idea to… Push, myself into a decision. So let’s stick with 2.5 stars and let the movie decide its fate. That way I probably won’t be that far off and won’t risk the chance of getting all… Bent, out of shape.”

“I know. Too much. It’s not even the same guy. I promise I’m not crazy.”

“I’m just a little unwell.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Never watched the show, didn’t care about the movie. Still don’t care.”

“It was there, I didn’t care. That’s the perfect review. ‘It was there, I didn’t care.'”

“This was made to be a 2.5 star movie from me.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I had more fun with that preview than I did watching the movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Bad Words

What I said about it back in January:

“Bateman is directing and starring in this. So there’s that.”

“It’s gonna be rated R, I think, so that might be a plus.”

“I feel like it’s gonna be either 2.5 or 3 stars. So let’s say 3 stars. Why? I don’t know. But I hope I laugh.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s fun watching grown people be mean to kids. I wish there was more of it.”

“But this movie also does have a heart. Which, is kind of nice, and also not as cliche as you’d think. The way the competition ends is pretty funny.”

“Ultimately, this is a movie that could have amounted to more, but I’m glad it didn’t amount to less. It’s perfectly acceptable and definitely has its moments. Funny enough to recommend. Not highly, but you’ll enjoy it.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. I laughed enough. Enjoyable enough, has enough of a heart, and not cliche enough for me to dislike it. Solid three star movie.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Enemy

What I said about it back in January:

“This is the guy who did Prisoners‘s next movie.”

“I heard this is good.”

“Considering the guy, not only am I in, but I trust it to be good.”

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“What a weird, weird movie.”

“This works as a nice double bill with The Double. The perfect “double” bill, actually. (I’m awesome. I know.)”

“It’s hard for me to explain this…but it’s really good.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Loved this. Definitely a tier two or tier three for me this year. Big fan. This is one of the more underrated/underseen movies of 2014.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Divergent

What I said about it back in January:

“They’ve been shoving trailers for this down my throat for about three months now. I still can’t tell if this is gonna be good or not.”

“I love Shailene Woodley, so I’ll give this a shot purely for her.”

“They’re promoting the shit out of this, so I expect I’ll be seeing three movies of this, whether this is good or not.”

“And since I already know how the trilogy ends — I’ll go into it with an open mind.”

3 stars.”

“I’m thinking 2.5 might happen, the way it did with The Host, but let’s figure Shailene Woodley will get me that extra half-star, the way Saoirse Ronan almost did last year. The cast is definitely stronger than the cast for The Host was, so let’s call that the half-star.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Meh. It was fine. In terms of all the young adult franchises, I’ll say it’s about middle of the road.”

“There were aspects of this that I was interested in, and others I just didn’t care about. I thought it was interesting  that 2/3 of this movie is her going into the faction and training to be part of the faction. Which is more interesting than the stupid political shit that happens in the last 20 minutes.”

“But yeah… it’s fine. It’s not that big a piece of shit. It’s watchable. I guess. Not that I’ll be watching this again. But it was fine, the one time.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Terrible movie. But watchable enough. I imagine all of the ones in this franchise will be like this. They will be either 2.5 or 3 star movies, depending what the point is where I just stop giving a shit. Technically, I’m already at it. But there’s the point where I stop giving a shit and start tuning out of the movies.

This is just another one of those bad YA franchises that I will watch, get through, and then forget all about from there on out.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Muppets Most Wanted

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s the fucking Muppets. I’m gonna enjoy this regardless.”

“I like that they’re going outside the genre. Or rather, doing something totally different this time. That’s nice.”

“So I’m thinking 3 or 3.5 stars. Let’s say 3.5 stars and hope it’s really fun. 3 stars is the minimum on this, and I’m clearly going positive this year, so why not?”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s a Muppet movie. These are always enjoyable. It doesn’t have that extra charm the first one had, but that was a one-time thing. Plus, they couldn’t repeat that sort of thing for sequels.”

“Though I will say — didn’t they do this same exact thing for their last sequel? But outside of that — the cameos are fine, the songs are pretty inventive, and it’s your typical enjoyable Muppet movie. You know what you’re getting, and that’s not a bad thing.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I mean… it’s a Muppet movie. Obviously 3 stars is a base. It doesn’t rise above, but it doesn’t need to. I was perfectly happy with this.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But in line with expectations.

Blood Ties

What I said about it back in January:

“Technically this was out last year. Just not in this country. (It was #2 on my Best Posters list.)”

“I’m assuming 3.5 stars as a minimum, and I’m hoping for 4. This sounds right up my alley.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Loved this.”

“This film was incredible. One of the best soundtracks in years, a great ensemble cast.”

“Terrific 70s crime film. Do yourself a favor and seek this one out. It’ll be one of the better movies you see this year.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Really loved this movie. Tier 2 for sure. One of the best underseen movies of 2014.

And probably the best soundtrack of 2014.

* * * * (4 stars)

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

Nymphomaniac: Vol 1

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s Lars Von Trier’s film. Two parter. Can’t wait.”

3.5 stars.”

(This covered both of them in my article.)

What I actually thought about it:

“I know what I’m voting for Best Sound Mix!”

“Man… this was something. Within thirty minutes, she gave that guy on the train what looked like an unsimulated blowjob and jizz ran down her mouth. (Just like in Captain America.)”

“I certainly commend the sound team on that one. It was uncomfortably realistic.”

“But yeah… we’re dealing with a two-parter here, so a review is going to be tough. So I’ll just say that Part I is definitely the better of the two parts. It’s more engaging, and I found myself liking it more. On the whole, it’s a weird movie, but between the two segments, to me, this was the better one.”

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

I did like this one better. This, to me, was the better half of the two, but it’s kind of one movie, so it’s hard to separate. But, for the purposes of this article, I liked this better.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Nymphomaniac: Vol 2

What I said about it back in January:

3.5 stars.”

What I actually thought about it:

“Kind of loses steam in the second half. Mostly because for the first hour she gets tied up and whipped and beaten by Jamie Bell. And I just was not interested in that at all.”

“I mean, mostly it’s about her fucking up her family by continuing to fuck guys. I didn’t mind that it was the sad half, because obviously that’s what it was set up as, but I just wasn’t as engaged with this part as I was with the first part. Mostly because there was that weird section with her and the underage girl, and then she got peed on… and the black guy almost-double team… it just gets strange.”

“I wasn’t totally invested in this part as I was in the first part. As an entire film, it’s good, but as just this second part, it’s not as interesting as the first half. And I don’t even mind the ending, because that made perfect sense to me. That’s really the only way to end a story like this.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Liked it, just not as much as the first one. So this is a 3 star rating based on this part, but in a way, it’s one movie. So I’m not sure how to handle this one.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: I’m not really sure how to rate this one. I rated them as a single movie, but saw them as two. If I had to rate the entire thing, I would give it 3.5 stars, so I’m gonna call this correct.

Cesar Chavez

What I said about it back in January:

“I saw a trailer for this in front of Wolf of Wall Street, of all things.”

“I’m guessing I’ll have to see this. I’m not particularly interested.”

“I really doubt I’m gonna care about this.”

2.5 stars. Let it be engaging.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s generic. It was directed by an actor, and it shows. It’s trying too hard. It’s too broad and whitewashed. There’s nothing of interest in it.”

“It’s a pretty marginal (albeit important) story, but ultimately doesn’t do much, despite the best attempts of its actors. So it’s just there. No need to crush it, but it’s not particularly good either.”

“One of those ‘meh’ forgettable films of 2014 that you see and forget about thereafter.”

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Complete indifference.

I am in a place of feeling bad about all the white people who didn’t care about this movie, yet also am technically a white person who didn’t care about this movie.

* * ½ (2.5 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Jodorowsky’s Dune

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. One of those things I found out about during the year and thought would be interesting enough to actually see.

What I actually thought about it:

Final Thoughts:

How close was I?: N/A

Noah

What I said about it back in January:

“I’ve been excited for this for over a year. I know it could turn out to be a disaster (pun ridiculously intended), but I trust Darren Aronofsky.”

“Obviously this looks at the outset like it’s not going to be as good as those three (The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan), but, since he is who he is, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I have a hard time finding this particular story interesting, but sometimes you just have to trust a director.”

“I don’t want to overdo this, so I’m gonna go 3.5 stars. 3 would be a disappointment, and 4 would be pretty expected. Higher than 4… not that expected, and I’ll actually be very impressed, if he manages that. 3.5 or 4 seems most likely, with 3 being the ‘disappointed’ rating.”

What I actually thought about it:

“I have very distinct feelings about this one.”

“Despite how it would appear at the surface, with my definite thoughts about religion as it is defined in the world we live in and the majority of religious people in this country, I am, and have always been, a fan of biblical stories.”

“I am willing to watch any movie Darren Aronofsky wants to make. I wasn’t going in hesitant against this because of the subject matter. I was totally embracing it. Because Darren Aronofsky has proven himself a very visually interesting filmmaker, and what is the story of Noah but a visual spectacle waiting to happen? So I was completely on board (pun ridiculously intended) with this from the start.”

“And, after seeing the movie, I can honestly say… it’s good. Not great, but it’s really good. It looks amazing, and is totally watchable.”

“However, because this is the Bible, the story wasn’t completely interesting, since we know what happens, and the extra space is filled up with scenes that help tell the story, but don’t grip me the way other movies would. It’s hard to explain.”

“I love the visuals, and I’m interested in watching what’s going on, but I still feel a disconnect from it, which I’m guessing comes back to that core of those feelings of religion I have. Oh well. Maybe it’ll grow on me as I get older.”

“Still really liked this quite a bit.”

* * * * (4 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s hard to really top that review up there. So I’ll leave you with… it hasn’t held up for me. I’m dropping it a half-star. Hasn’t stayed with me like Aronofsky’s other movies have. It’s a good movie, but — not my favorite from this year.

* * * ½ (3.5 stars)

How close was I?: Off by a half-star. But this was an expected outcome. I just made sure not to overdo it beforehand.

Sabotage

What I said about it back in January:

“It’s a Schwarzenegger film, which means a base of 3 stars. It’s also a David Ayer film, which really means it’s a base of 3 stars.”

“Them bumping it is a wash, since it went from late 2013 to January to April. Which leads me to believe they think it’s better than a January movie.”

“It’s also supposed to be loosely based on ‘And Then There Were None,’ so there’s that.”

“I’m gonna stay with 3 stars, though I can see this going up to 3.5. I can’t imagine this goes less than 3, given everything I just said. I’d like it to go higher, but I’ll stick with 3 for now.”

What I actually thought about it:

“This is what you think is a standard generic action movie, only directed by David Ayer, which gives it a weird gritty, dark twist. Making it a very bizarre movie. This will stand out for me among the generic action movies of the year purely because of that.”

“Of course, it’s a lesser David Ayer, but a lesser David Ayer is still more memorable than something generic.”

“Ultimately, this doesn’t amount to much, but you have some memorable faces (mostly TV) and Schwarzenegger doing something different. Which makes it a weird little movie that some people are going to like. Ultimately, though — I’ll take memorable enough.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

It’s gonna stay 3 stars just because it has some weight to it, and because it’s more than what you think this movie might have been, going in. It’s watchable enough, and while I didn’t like it too much and just thought it was watchable, I think it elevates itself above what this could have been, without someone like David Ayer at the helm.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: Exact.

Finding Vivian Maier

What I said about it back in January:

Nothing. The only reason I watched it was because we got it as a screener.

What I actually thought about it:

“I only saw it because we got a screener. It was fine. Ultimately didn’t care that much. But it’s a little bit interesting. So there’s that.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. It was there. Only saw it because I could.

* * * (3 stars)

How close was I?: N/A

The Raid 2: Berandal

What I said about it back in January:

“The first Raid was incredible. It was fun, it was badass, I enjoyed it quite a bit.”

“Will this one be as good? I don’t know. But I’m willing to bet it isn’t more than a half-star worse.”

“All we know about this is that it takes place two hours after the first movie ends. That’s all I need, really.”

“Let’s say 3.5 stars. I’ll go for the same rating as the last one, even though I feel like 3 stars is most likely. But let’s assume this is just as badass as the first one.”

What I actually thought about it:

“It’s got badass action, and it’s definitely longer, but I didn’t like it as much as I liked the first one.”

“Maybe it was the length, maybe it was because this one told more of a story instead of just being badass action, and maybe I just wasn’t ready for that, but ultimately, while this was a good movie I just liked it moderately.”

“I’ll totally see the next one, but this one was just pretty good for me.”

* * * (3 stars)

Final Thoughts:

Yup. Liked it, but can’t rate it higher, even though it’s a good movie. I just didn’t like it any more than 3 stars.

* * * (3 stars)

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

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, April.

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