Summer Summer-y: The Summer Movies of 2014
Posted on August 31, 2014 at 3:46 pm
A good summer for food movies: “The Chef,” “The 100-Foot Journey,” and “The Trip to Italy” had some big-time actors but the real stars were the luscious meals. Special mention of the delicious French comedy “Le Chef,” starring Jean Reno, and “The Lunchbox” as well.
A bad summer for comedies: “22 Jump Street” was uneven, but at least it had some laughs. Can’t say the same for “Neighbors,” “Blended,” “Tammy,” “The Other Woman,” “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” or “Let’s Be Cops,” excruciating and un-funny wastes of time and talent.
A good summer for super-heroes: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” were all we hoped for in summer comic book blockbusters. “Spider-Man 2” was pretty good, primarily due to the sizzling chemistry between leads Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.
A good summer for Scarlett Johansson: She followed up last year’s prestige hit, “Her,” with brilliant work in an astonishing range of films, from the spooky “Under the Skin” to her witty performance in “Captain America.” She was even good in Luc Besson’s second-rate “Lucy.”
A good summer for YA adaptations: “The Fault in Our Stars” was skillfully brought to screen, with “If I Stay” and “The Giver” solid runners-up.
A good summer for CGI: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” was a new leap forward in the realism of the motion capture and special effects, especially the expressiveness of the characters. “Guardians of the Galaxy” had terrific CGI, especially Groot.
A bad summer for CGI: “Godzilla” was a disappointment.
I loved: “Boyhood” and “Life Itself”
I wanted to but did not love: “Jersey Boys,” “Magic in the Moonlight,” “Wish I Was Here”
I cried: “The Fault in Our Stars” and — yes — “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
Deserved better box office: “Edge of Tomorrow”
Got better box office than they deserved: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Transformers”
SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT
We’ve had quite a string of what I call Pogo bad guys. Remember when the comic strip character Pogo looked sadly at a polluted river and said, “We have met the enemy and he is us?” I’m not sure whether it is a lack of imagination in screenwriters or a reflection of the zeitgeist mistrust of institutions, but in films like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The November Man,” and even “Let’s Be Cops,” the bad guys turned out to be inside the U.S. Government.