No, I’m not talking about Boyhood or Birdman. I’m here to talk about the B movies. The ones you forgot about or deliberately avoided. Not all movies can be great, but some movies can provide a quick brainless distraction. A lot of this comes down to your expectations but I present these few mentions from last year as something you might enjoy. That is, if you don’t ask too much of them.
By now I’ve realized my tastes skew heavily toward blockbusters and action movies and this list reflect that fact. If you want something not too serious to pass a couple hours, here’s my pick of decent movies you missed in 2014.
Into the Storm
Coming in with very low expectations, I watched this mid-budget disaster spectacle hoping for at least a good tornado or two. While Twister will always be the definitive tornado film, Into the Storm is actually pretty great, even if it is quite simple in its execution. Luckily the film drops the found footage / time capsule conceit just in time for the storm to get rolling. I suppose the idea of do-whatever-it-takes storm chasers are rather cliche at this point but the real MVP of this film is surely the Titus, a tornado-proof tank designed to capture the inside of a twister for a YouTube world. The smartest decision the filmmakers made was to keep it short, wrapping up the story in a tight 90 minutes. I was so impressed by the bare simplicity of this film that I showed it to some friends who never watch movies and they enjoyed it well enough.
Moms’ Night Out
This semi-Christian comedy, featuring a group of stay-at-home moms who attempt a night away from their kids, probably slipped underneath most people’s radar. Although I don’t usually seek out this kind of movie, the subject matter made it a must-watch event for me and my wife who are current owners of an energetic toddler. I have no real complaints with the film although I’m not sure how much of the humor would translate for those who don’t have kids or go to church. Nevertheless, I was fairly amused by the story of one night where everything that could go wrong goes very wrong
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
If you’re looking for time to kill waiting for Mission Impossible 5, Bourne 5, or Spectre, I wouldn’t fault you too much for giving Shadow Recruit a shot. It’s a rather unambitious entry into the spy genre and ultimately a failed franchise starter, but it’s still cool to send a spy with minimal training into the field with little or no support. The film is competently made and there’s a couple memorable scenes that still float around in my head from time to time. If the big threats are often resolved too conveniently and the characters feel a bit flat, we can be happy that the future of this genre still looks bright.
I’m not sure if you really missed this one but I haven’t mentioned it anywhere else so far. The airplane thriller is almost a genre of its own and America’s favorite 60 year old action star Liam Neeson lands himself another solid entry as a very unlucky air marshal. Playing a supporting role is the villain of the piece , modern technology itself, portrayed beautifully by texting, programming, smart phones, and the theoretical idea of working in flight wifi. If the plot totally falls apart toward the end, it still doesn’t take away the joy of seeing Liam Neeson offer angry passengers free air travel.
I’m not going to say that Hercules is a great movie, because it isn’t. But despite a plodding start and a rather unremarkable vision of mythological Greece, the film just keeps getting better as it goes along. Keeping the real identity of Hercules a mystery for most of the run time, the story continually plays with your expectations of its main hero. Somehow Hercules’ little team of half-clothed Avengers absolutely works by the finale and there are just enough twists to make things interesting. By the time the thumping credits arrive to tell the true story of Hercules’ twelve labors, I’m almost convinced that I just watched a good movie.
Bonus Round: 5 Movies To Skip
While I don’t want to spend too much time putting down movies I didn’t enjoy, there are a handful that are worth skipping altogether.
As much as I like disaster films, the historical disaster film is sort of an uphill battle. In this tale of doomed romance, a volcano explodes, everyone dies, and Jack Bauer is an eviI Roman senator.
The Legend of Hercules
If Hercules rolled around in mud and didn’t do anything related to the Greek myths, then this would be his movie. Thankfully I have managed to block out most of it.
I’m willing to go along with anything as long as it is going somewhere interesting. However this baffling combination of gargoyles, demons, and Frankenstein-in-name-only ostensibly only succeeds in squandering its great cast
When your protagonist can be switched off at the slightest whim of the bad guy, it doesn’t make for a very fun story. As soon as anything exciting happens, you can just shut it down.
It turns out that spoiling the end of the movie in the opening scene is quite effective at sucking the tension out of everything that follows. If a godlike A.I. ever rules the earth, hopefully it does more than just resurrect rural townies in overalls.
Bonus Round #2: 5 Movies I Missed
Here’s where you can help me out. There’s a few non-essential movies I’ve missed that I’m on the fence about watching. I’m fairly forgiving of middling films. Any of these worth it?
Three Days to Kill
Million Dollar Arm
Exodus: Gods and Kings
The Maze Runner