From ‘Guardians’ to ‘Godzilla’: Summer movie wrap-up

08/29/2014 4:15 PM

08/29/2014 4:15 PM

It was a wacky summer at the movies.

Audiences were fickle. Or would that be picky?

Box office numbers overall were down from previous years, sending Hollywood execs into a panicked whirlwind that rivaled “Into the Storm’s” tornadoes.

It didn’t help that some films that had high hopes took a dive faster than you can say “Sin City: A Dame to Kill —.” Oops, too late.

But there were also some nice surprises:

BEST MOVIE OF THE SUMMER

Hands down, “Guardians of the Galaxy” was the biggest and most rewarding surprise of the summer, a manic, irreverent space opera that had B-movie glee, a killer soundtrack and a new movie star in Chris Pratt, who had enough charisma to fill an entire galaxy. Or two. But while the film was an absolute blast, it also said things about trust, friendship and, ultimately, loyalty. I can hardly wait for Awesome Mix Vol. 2.

BEST COMEDY

“Neighbors” wasn’t really a story as much as a string of funny come-uppance scenes between a couple of new parents (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) and the party-hearty frat boys (led by Zac Efron) who move into the house next to them, but it was hilarious.

BEST MOVIE NOT SHOWN IN THEATERS

It opened in only eight theaters across the country, but “Snowpiercer,” a post-apocalyptic tale about survivors aboard a train who are all that is left of mankind, blew up when it was simultaneously released online. It skyrocketed to No. 1 on iTunes and other platforms after its launch, thanks to word of mouth. It’s a thought-provoking, dark action film that’s making Hollywood re-think how it distributes movies.

BEST TIME-TRAVEL MOVIE

Sorry, X-Men, but “Edge of Tomorrow” was a nice return to form for Tom Cruise as a soldier who keeps reliving his first day in battle. It was a clever story that had fun with its trippy premise and kept us guessing.

BEST INDEPENDENT FILM

Richard Linklater’s astonishing “Boyhood” was a novel idea: Film the same core cast over a period of 12 years and tell the simple, intimate story of a family and its son growing up. There was no melodrama – no one got deathly ill or killed in a car crash, but it was rich storytelling that was ultimately life-affirming.

BEST USE OF AN ANGELINA JOLIE BODY PART

Her cheekbones in Disney’s “Maleficent” look like they could cut through a mountain. She looked downright frightening. The poster still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

BEST ACTING

The digital apes in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” had more internal monologue and depth than some real-life actors I can think of.

BEST MISUNDERSTOOD MONSTER

So it turns out “Godzilla” is just a big, kindhearted lunk. Thanks for saving the planet, dude. Don’t worry about the mess, we’ll get it. Go back to sleep.

BEST MOVIE ABOUT FOOD

Foodies got their fill with Jon Favreau’s “Chef,” his labor-of-love project that he clearly called in a lot of favors for (notice all the big-name cameos). The story was slight, but you could feel Favreau’s sheer joy. And the food looked deee-licious.

BEST SIGN THAT AUDIENCES AREN’T DUMB

The empty seats in theaters showing “Sex Tape.”

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Even I was surprised that I loved the first film in the “Spider-Man” reboot, but “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” failed to find that magic again, with a convoluted plot, a lame villain and too many characters. It was more like “The Inadequate Spider-Man 2.”

BEST REASONS TO CALL IT QUITS

“The Purge: Anarchy” and “Expendables 3” were sequels that limped away into oblivion. Just stay there, already.

SCARIEST MOVIE

Transformers: Age of Extinction” – because it’s further proof that Michael Bay is going to ruin everything.

Reach Rod Pocowatchit at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

Top-grossing 2014 summer movies

(In millions)

1. “Guardians of the Galaxy” ($257)

2. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” ($244)

3. “Maleficent” ($238)

4. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” ($233)

5. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” ($204)

6. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” ($203)

7. “Godzilla (2014)” ($201)

8. “22 Jump Street” ($190)

9. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” ($172)

10. “Neighbors” ($150)

Source: Box Office Mojo

About Movie Maniac

The Eagle's Rod Pocowatchit offers his musings on the screen scene.

Reach Rod at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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