This list covers films that I reviewed in 2014, were released in 2014, and made it onto South African cinema screens in the same year. There’s a lot of movies from the States (such as Birdman) that are only heading here now, so I may not have seen them yet. There are also films that I didn’t get to see in the cinema (Gone Girl) because I was just too busy at the time. And you might also notice a distinct lack of Marvel movies on this list. Look, as fun as Marvel movies are, I’ve seen enough of them to know they’re incredibly formulaic. As a result, as much as I enjoyed these films I decided to keep them off my list.
Now that we’ve laid down the ground rules, on with the show.
The Internet’s Own Boy
The Internet’s Own Boy is the story of Aaron Schwartz, a brilliant young man who believed that information should be free and whose work was soon noticed by the American government. The government decided that Aaron was a threat and tried to put him away. Aaron, unable to deal with the possibility of being trapped in prison for 30 years, took his own life on January 11, 2013.
This documentary is one of the most important films this year. America, despite what some may say, is a country run by corporations. People with money make sure their interests are protected, and Aaron was a threat to that. This documentary explores Aaron’s story, and how he affected those around him.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the 2011 reboot that turned out far better than most people expected it to. Set a few years after the events of the first film, human society has collapsed and the apes from the first film have formed a colony in the forests outside San Francisco.
The first film Ape’s film was very enjoyable but wasn’t an amazing film. Dawn was a definite improvement on the first film. The strongest part of Dawn is undoubtedly the power struggle between the various apes (overshadowing the lackluster human story to a large degree) and the amazing performances from the ape characters.
22 Jump Street
22 Jump Street really takes the idea “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to heart. The story picks up after the events of the first film, with Schmidt and Jenko this time going undercover in order to bust a college drug dealer.
Even though this film is sort of lazy, it was so funny my face was sore afterwards. That’s only happened once before.
Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)
Aliens have invaded and taken over most of Europe. The Americans and British launch a top secret assault to take back mainland Europe, but discover that the aliens were expecting them. One of the soldiers, a cowardly officer named Cage, dies during the battle only to wake up the day before the invasion. When this happens again, and again, and again, Cage realises that it’s up to him to figure out how to destroy the alien menace and end the war.
Great performances from all the actors involved, sweet action sequences, and surprisingly a fair amount of humour. This movie was so thoroughly entertaining I bought it on blu-ray the day it came out. Unfortunately, most people missed it because they didn’t know what the movie was actually about (the marketing campaign was so bad the film was renamed for it’s release on DVD/Bluray), or because they don’t like Tom Cruise.
The Lego Movie
An ordinary construction worker, Emmett, discovers that he’s the “Special”, the one who will help save all the Lego worlds from the evil Lord Business.
Everything is awesome! Seriously, apart from having a really catch soundtrack, The Lego Movie had a very frantic, but entrancing pace. It was also quite funny, and towards the end of the film, revealed quite a lot of heart.
A retired hitman goes on the hunt for a mobster’s son after he takes away the only two things that John had left in this world: his dog, and his car.
John Wick may not sound like much, but it was undoubtedly my favourite action film of the year. It took a no-frills approach to its action and kept things incredibly grounded. It was tense, action packed, and took place in a world I would love to see more of.
An alien arrives on earth only to have the remote control to his ship stolen. He searches for God after people tell him that He is the only one who knows where it is.
This Bollywood film is undoubtedly one of the best movies of the year, and barely anyone outside of India would have seen it. It’s a smart, funny, and sweet satire on religion, that will no doubt get the cogs turning if you haven’t given much thought to the subject.