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Ruk's Top 69 Movies of 2014 (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People)

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Super Controversial Entry, I choose you!


37. Transformers: Age of Extinction

"How many more of my kind must be sacrificed, to atone for YOUR mistakes?"




Yes, seriously.


I'll admit, if you had told me earlier this year that I’d be ranking a Transformers films above Interstellar, I’d have assumed you were sniffing something. I've made no secret of my dislike of the Transformers movies on here. But no, this movie genuinely surprised in the most pleasant way. And I absolutely wasn’t expecting it.


Let me talk a bit about the Transformers films. My general opinion on them is that they have decent enough action but the characters (especially the ‘comic relief’) are so unbearably obnoxious, it’s really not worth sitting through. Now it may surprise you to learn this, but my most hated of the Transformers films is not Revenge of the Fallen. It’s Dark of the Moon. Sure, on a technical/story/character level ROTF is a worse movie, but I knew it was bad going into it. Dark of the Moon pissed me off because it actually looked like it was going to be pretty good. The trailer is one of the best I’ve seen to this day. Bay was saying in interviews that he understood why people hated ROTF and was doing his best to improve and remove things like Skids and Mudflap. And what did we get? Exactly the same fucking shit as the other movies. Sure Skids and Mudflap were gone but you know who wasn’t gone? All the other unbearable comic relief! Sam’s parents were still there. Sam was still fucking there! And then they go and add more shit comic relief equally as unbearable as Skids and Mudflap. And people have the gall to call it an ‘improvement’. It’s the same fucking shit as the other movies. No difference.


So basically, thanks to Dark of the Moon, I had zero wish to see Age of Extinction. No matter how good the trailers were. No matter how much Bay said he’s changed. Fuck that shit. And, for a while, it seemed like a good pay off. The trailers were only average. It got worse critical reviews than any other film in the series. Then, one day, my cinema did a repeat showing of it. I had an unlimited card and a day off with nothing to do (and nothing better to watch), so I figured what the hell. I wouldn’t lose any money over it. And, honestly... this was exactly the sort of film I was hoping for when I saw Dark of the Moon.


Seriously, everything about it is a step up from the previous Transformers. Mark Walhberg is a far more likable lead than Shia LeBeouf. The Autobots who aren’t Optimus or Bumblebee actually have personalities and I can tell them apart! Hell Optimus actually has a character arc in the movie. And a pretty good one, if you ask me. The villains are great! Kelsey Grammar and the guy who played Lockdown were both fantastically intimidating and memorable. And, most amazingly of all, I liked the comic relief! Whether that’s because the writing improved or because they actually got actors who could pull it off, like Stanely Tucci or TJ Miller, I don’t care. There wasn’t a single comic relief character I hated. Even that Joe Pesci bot from the previous movies was tolerable here!


Not to say the film isn’t without problems. It has one very big one that I just could not ignore. And that’s the running time. This did not need to be nearly 3 hours and it oh so feels it. It feels it so much I honestly think they could’ve just split the film in two after the escape from Lockdown’s ship. And if they’d done that, this might actually have made my Top 15. Also, Wahlberg’s daughter and her boyfriend were terrible characters who shouldn’t have received the focus they did. They were bland and whiny. But hey, considering what I’m used to from Transformers humans, that’s still an improvement.


To sum up, I’m honestly more impressed with this film than I am a lot of the films ranked above it. Why? Because it genuinely feels like Michael Bay is trying to improve. So many of the criticisms people have with the previous films, annoying humans, poor comic relief, an inability to tell the Transformers apart, sidelining the Transformers in their own fucking movie, all of those have been noticeably improved on. Sure, they're not fixed exactly , but an improvement is still an improvement and I appreciate it. Bay fans tend to whine about how critics rank the Transformer films low ‘just because it’s Bay’. And, obviously, I disagree with that. Except for when it comes to this movie. Because this film really is an improvement over the previous three and I’m really impressed with Bay for it. Heck, I’m actually even looking forward to Transformers 5 a bit now. And that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.


(Also, I should pre-emptively cut off an inevitable comment here. Yes, Ethan. We know Transformers is your favourite movie of all time. You don't need to bring it up every god damn time someone on these forums mentions the film.)

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36. The Equalizer

"That girl, Alana... She's gonna go on living. You... You're gonna bleed out all over this funky floor... All over 9,800 dollars."




From a movie that I really wasn't expecting to like to a movie that I should've loved but only ended up liking.


Seriously, on paper this should be one of my favourite films this year. It has a hero I liked, a villain I adored, some really good dialogue and plotting and some fun action.


But god dammit, I really could not stand Fuqua's direction here. Now, I should note I'm not talking about the action here, that was great. But every other scene is shot just so slow and dull and dark (in the MoS sense of the word (aka poorly lit)) that scenes that should be maybe a few minutes instead feel like they drag on for hours. Seriously, how many times and for how long did we just get a close-up of Denzel's head/face looking reflexive? Don't get me wrong, there were a few good shots like the one with shirtless Teddy leaning back in his chair while the camera flipped over him. That was great. But the rest was just so dull.


Speaking of, Marton Csokas as Teddy was easily the highlight of the film. And, like I said, there were a lot of things I liked about the film. The man oozed charisma and badassery in near every scene he was in. The best scenes were those where he and Denzel faced off against each other. And his (assumed) backstory was both original and actually pretty interesting. 


So yeah, it's still a good movie but, with a more capable director it could've been so so much more.

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Fury has some very stirring apocalyptic imagery. Especially the scene where they sit and watch the swarm of bombers and escorts darkening the sky with faint "end of days" music in the background.


The middle kind of drags. My main issue with the film is that there's all that tension and dislike between Lerman's character and everyone else, and then suddenly he's all cool with them and they're all cool with him and respect him. There needed to be a couple scenes that showed that progression rather than a sudden leap.

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39. Fury

"Ideals are peaceful. History is violent."


Remarkably Shia LeBeouf wasn’t the biggest asshole in this movie.

Okay, with the obligatory Shia LeBeouf jab out of the way, my feelings on this are kind of all over the place. On the one hand, most of the tank crew are assholes. And not charming and funny assholes like Blackadder or the Guardians of the Galaxy. I mean serious, fuck you guys, assholes. Yet oddly, when it came to the final action scene I was surprised to find myself actually emotionally invested in them. So I’m not entirely sure how they managed that but kudos.

But by far the best thing about this movie is the action. I freaking adored the tank fights and many of the action scenes. Especially with that score. Can you say ‘Epic German (presumably) chanting?’


My biggest problem with Fury was how on one hand they wanted to make a realistic war movie which actually showed the horrors of war and on the other they wanted a Hollywood action movie. Basically it was a good character study on how war can change a man to a corny Hollywood cliché ending in which the main priority was making brad pitts hair look perfect as he says cool lines whilst taking on an entire fucking army. The last 20 minutes prevented this from being one of the better war movies. Oh and Shane from walking dead (dont know his name) gave the best performance imo

One part made me laugh, towards the end where the kid sees the German army heading towards them, must have been less than a mile away. He was able to run back, warn everyone, set up traps, have a fag, share their life stories around, have another fag, wait for it to get dark and the army have finally caught up.if I was their general id expect then to march a little faster than that. At that pace it would have taken them about 50 years to leave Germany.

Edited by jessie
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Apologies for the gap. I've been busy the last few days. Plus the middle is always when I start to get tired.


35. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

"One day I'll remember. Remember everything that happened: the good, the bad, those who survived... and those that did not."




The Hobbit movies have been a bit of a mixed bag. I was not very fond of an Unexpected Journey, I was mixed on all the non-Smaug portions of Desolation of Smaug, but I'll admit I did actually really enjoy this more than the other two. Certainly, the pacing is wonky as hell and most of the dwarves are sidelined (although that's not exactly a criticism) and the CGI is fairly noticeable (although I'm not the sort to be that bothered about obvious CG). But I never found myself feeling too bored or annoyed with the film.


I think one of the reasons I'm kind of endeared to it is because I ended seeing all three Hobbit movies in a row at my cinema (not as bad you'd expect (and felt shorter than Interstellar)) and I realised that it is basically one big extended third act of one big movie. And I like the third act. The third act is where the fun stuff happens. Am I saying that the Hobbit trilogy should've been one movie? Not necessarily. There's a lot of detail for one movie and I think, had it been handled better, it could've worked just fine as three movies. But that's a discussion for another time. As it is, this is a perfectly enjoyable finale to a rather questionable trilogy.


Also, it has one of my favourite posters of the year as above. That is awesome personified. 

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34. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

"You Russians like to think you're poets but perhaps you're just touchy."




The first major 2015 release I saw this year, I remember really enjoying this movie. Certainly, it's little more than light spy action fluff, but it's good spy action fluff with a likeable leading performance from Chris Pine and a very solid supporting cast. Not much more I can say.

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33. Into the Storm

"Please marry a rich guy. Please marry a rich guy. Please marry a rich guy."




When I first saw the trailer for this, I was intrigued. It looked like a fun B-movie disaster flick. Then I heard that it was going to be found footage and that anticipation went straight out the window. Then, when I actually watched it.... it ended up being a fun B-movie disaster flick like I was expecting it to be. Really, during most of the exciting stuff, the found footage aspect is an afterthought and even the film seems to forget about it a lot of the time. The only moments the found footage seemed noticeable was in the opening sequence and the first third which is admittedly pretty terrible, but that's basically universal for B-movie disaster flicks. And the remaining two thirds more than make up for it with some fantastic effects and a genuinely tense atmosphere. I had flashbacks to watching the Day after Tomorrow for the first time and that's only a good thing.


Armitage manages to hold the film together very well with an admittedly basic character role and there was some good acting in the supporting cast (and some bad but again standard for B-movie disaster flicks). Honestly, it's a disappointment this performed as badly as it did because it was actually a very fun watch and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a disaster movie to just switch their brains off and watch

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32. Boyhood

"Why don't you say goodbye to that little horseshit attitude, okay, because we're not taking that in the car."




It's difficult to talk about why Boyhood is here on the list. Not just because everyone else seems to love it but because I think the reason everyone seems to love it is related to the reason I'm a bit iffy about it. And it comes back to this opinion I have on it.


"Boyhood is the most realistic portrayal of growing up I've seen in a film."


And I can say that with complete honesty. With the timeline of the film, I'm literally only one year older than Mason is in the film and they capture the portrayal of not only the time periods and trends, but just how kids that age act both with each other and with parents. It feels startlingly real. But here's the big question.


"Does making something as realistic as possible necessarily make a better film?"


While obviously in answer to this, I expect your minds to go to blockbusters and superhero movies and other escapist media and there's plenty you can talk about there, but I'm thinking far deeper than that in terms of just basic narrative structure. There's no three act structure in Boyhood, just like there's no three act structure in life. Subplots and largely undefined characters appear and disappear sometimes with little conclusion or resolution. Like in life. There's basically no structure at all in Boyhood. Scenes just happen and only a few of them have consequences that stretch into later scenes. Just like in life. Were it any other movie that was trying to do this I would probably criticise it, especially since as a writer I have to take this stuff into account all the time (and from trial and experience can see just how necessary it is in a good story), but does Boyhood get a free pass for being so lifelike? Should it be praised for committing itself to its realism so much? It's an interesting question, one that has legitimate arguments for both sides.


In a way, Boyhood doesn't feel like a film, both in a positive and negative way. It feels like watching a hidden camera filming someone else's life. And while that can be interesting, it depends on just how interested you are in that person and their life. And I guess I just wasn't that interested in Mason. The near-3 hour running time and my general disinterest in slice-of-life dramas probably didn't help either. Don't get me wrong, it's still a very good and unique movie and I wouldn't object to it winning the Oscar, but I guess it just didn't click with me like it has so many others.

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31. Wild

"How wild it was, to let it be."




This movie could've been a lot higher on this list.


It's a rather unconventional premise, the idea of simply following this woman on a several thousand mile hike but, thanks largely to a deservedly Oscar-nominated performance from Reece Witherspoon, the hiking often ended up being my favourite parts, just watching this woman on her journey, pushing past obstacles, meeting people both good and bad. Something I very much enjoy and rather rarely see in movies... heck, in media in general, is an occasion where you really feel how much effort and blood, sweat and tears someone is putting into a task. This is one of those rare movies that succeeds in doing that and, as a result, you end up becoming so invested in this character and you just want to see her struggle on and on. Quite frankly, they handled the hiking bits so very well, I think they could've just made the entire movie from start to finish just her hiking and I would've loved it.


Unfortunately, they didn't and that's where this movie flops. You get the impression that the director wanted this movie to be all artsy and deep and meaningful and does his best to push that but, quite frankly, comes as pretentious doing so. And not just pretentious, boringly pretentious. Most of the 'so deep and tragic' flashbacks felt emotionally manipulative at best and I never felt even a fraction of the connection to the character than I did when she was simply hiking about. Heck, she came off as pretty unlikeable in the flashbacks as opposed to the snarky but determined woman in the hiking segments. And don't get me started on the ending, where the director takes the previously enjoyable hiking moments and practically pumps the air with pretentious editing in an attempt to make it seem like the character was going through this great revelation but, quite frankly, just annoyed me. Hell, it even had a little boy singing for a poorly defined reason. I thought it was a freaking joke. And then the movie just ends after that. Little resolution, it just ends.


So yeah, this film simultaneously has some of the best stuff I've seen in a movie this year and some of the worst. It's a movie of two halves, one frustratingly pretentious, the other simple but so sincere it somehow comes off as a million times deeper and more emotional than the pretentious half.

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30. Dracula Untold

"Men don't fear swords. They fear monsters."




This movie genuinely surprised me. Honestly, I was expecting something more akin to I Frankstein with Luke Evans being dark and angsty while fighting legions of bland enemies to defend his bland family. But what I got was closer to a superhero origin story and, honestly, not a bad one.


Luke Evans was fantastically compelling and likable in the main role without becoming too angsty and his fall into (kinda sorta) depravity is understandable. His powers looked freaking awesome and had some really inventive techniques in there. His family and the main villain, while not exactly memorable, were far from being bland and annoying and, indeed, the villain even managed to believably and rather cleverly put himself on even footing with Evans for the climax.


So yeah, a surprisingly enjoyable flick. I’m actually kinda looking forward to where they go with this shared Monsters Universe now. Honestly, I’m looking forward to it far more than the DCCU

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29. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

"Apes together strong!"




I have a similar view to the first two Apes reboot films as I do to the first two Hunger Games films. I think they're good movies, yeah, but I just can't bring myself to like them as much as everyone else seems to. They're enjoyable but not outstanding flicks. Yeah, Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell are both great and there are some fantastic moments, but I can't bring myself to give this more than a B+. Maybe it's the muted colour scheme, maybe it's some of the forced emotional moments, who knows? The point is, while I think this film is undeniably very good, I don't think it's as great as everyone else is hyping it up to be.

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28. John Wick

"John wasn't exactly the boogeyman. He's the one you sent to kill the fucking boogeyman."




I'll admit, this film is probably lower than it should be if only because I had to watch a mixed quality pirated version, since for whatever asinine reason this isn't coming out in the UK until April (during which I'm probably going end up rewatching it 2-3 times to make up for pirating). And I really wanted to see it because it looked and sounded better than anything in UK cinemas at the time. And even with some fuzzy camerawork, this was still a ton of fun. Wick is a role that perfectly utilises Keanu Reeves's.... muted emotional range as  well as his obvious action prowess. The worldbuilding is small but fantastic and I haven't heard a single person who hates the idea of the Continental Hotel (of which I'd love to see a TV series set in). And the action simply goes without saying. All in all, a great vehicle for Reeves to make a comeback. I look forward to being able to watch it as it should be in two months time (seriously, WTF is with that April release date though. Just because we get all the Marvel movies a week early...)

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27. Lucy

"Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge."




I'll admit, I was not looking forward to this film going into it. Mainly because of the tagline and whole basic premise of 'We only use x% of our brain' which as anyone who knows anything about science can tell you is just plain wrong. But really, that tagline was an excellent hint as to how you should enjoy this movie. This isn't a film to think about. This is a film to shut your brain off and just enjoy the sheer chaos and surreality of it.


I mentioned in my Interstellar review that that film explained too much in its third act to make the 2001-esque ending really work. Well, this film nailed that. You have little to no idea what is going on but, quite frankly, you don't care because looks goddamn amazing. Luc Besson goes head over heels insane with his style and the movie works all the better for it. Certainly it's filled with obvious plot holes (why doesn't Lucy wipe out the gangsters in the finale) and the comprehensible story and characters are pretty cliche and flat. But, like the tagline suggests, this isn't a movie you think about. This is a movie you experience. And I had a hell of a lot of fun doing so.

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