The Lego Movie (B+)
A fun kids' movie, and a nice ode to the importance of imagination. Also surprisingly anti-corporate (and maybe even a little anti-copyright, as a friend suggested).
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (A)
An excellent mashup of superhero movie and conspiracy thriller. Surpasses the first film, and is easily one of the best Marvel films.
A very intelligent and creepy horror film. Karen Gillan makes a particularly good showing.
A better film than the previous American take on Godzilla, but less of a thrill ride. (The designated main character also becomes kinda dull midway through.) Surprisingly, it owes more to the 1960s-1970s Godzilla films than the 1954 original.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (NR)
Any enjoyment I might have had from this film was choked out by Bryan Singer's involvement. (I only went to see it because refusing would have ruined a family outing.) I will say that it's not as good as First Class, and the ending makes a muddle of things.
A decent rewrite of the Sleeping Beauty story, with Maleficent as a sympathetic (though not always heroic) protagonist. Very much in the vein of productions like Once Upon A Time.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (A)
An excellent sequel to an excellent film, albeit with a different focus (on action instead of drama). Definitely looking forward to the next installment.
Guardians of the Galaxy (A)
The most fun film released this year, by far. (Once you get past that rough opening scene.) It's the great cast of characters that really sells the film.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (B+)
Probably the best-crafted installment of the Hobbit trilogy. However, it lacks the "wow" scene that the previous two films had, and it still falls well short of the original films.
I was prepared to dislike this, but it's actually a pretty solid SF movie. That it has a different approach from the semi-satiric original helps a lot.
Mr. Peabody and Sherman (B)
A decently amusing family film.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (B+)
Quirky and offbeat, yet sad and heartfelt at times, and always entertaining.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (B-)
Has its moments, but just not as good as the original, with mixed messages on family and war.
Edge of Tomorrow (B+)
There's a fundamental flaw in the setup (someone like Tom Cruise's character would just be a liability on the battlefield), but the clever execution of the rest makes up for it.
Highly derivative of other young-adult SF films from the last few years. Also a lot of scenes of running through the desert. Not terrible, but not great either.
- The major pleasant surprises this year were The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, both of which I doubted from early previews but was encouraged to see by word-of-mouth. RoboCop and Edge of Tomorrow are two others I wrote off at first, though I didn't wind up watching them until the home release.
- Godzilla deserves some credit for most misleading trailer. (I consider this a good thing.)
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 was probably the big disappointment of the year, though I didn't hate it or anything. The first film raised my expectations, I guess.