Joel has written 11 reviews for films rated ★★★½ during 2014.

  • Captain America: The First Avenger

    Captain America: The First Avenger

    ★★★½

    A summer movie that packs in more style than actual substance. The film often feels like a piece of a much bigger puzzle, working to establish the MCU over creating an original story.
    Chris Evans plays the role of Captain America with a poise and dignity that helps separate him from the rest of the other superheroes. Sebastian Stan is great as Bucky and Captain America actually has a good villain in Hugo Weaving that excels in giving darker performances.…

  • Iron Man 3

    Iron Man 3

    ★★★½

    A movie with great action sequences, a strong lead actor (Downing Jr.) and a great tie-in from the Avengers. The movie has some surprises (some which alienated some viewers) that helped push the story along.
    The downside to some was that Tony Stark spent too much time out of the Iron Man suit, but the film brings out the humanity of his character and the banter he has with certain characters in the film is a fun addition.
    The best…

  • Into the Woods

    Into the Woods

    ★★★½

    Seeing this again, the part that makes it really good is the chemistry of the actors with each other. Whether it was naturally or good sound editing, many instances the actors would sing similar (or the same) lines together and the songs flowed seamlessly together.
    The second view cemented also how unnecessary the last 2/3 of the film felt. The movie could be trimmed by 1/2 hour and feel complete.
    I will maintain my score of:
    8/10
    My Take: A fun musical that includes an extra 1/2 hour bonus film. Go To The Woods!

  • Unbroken

    Unbroken

    ★★★½

    The film did a great job of staying true to the era cinematically (the set pieces all looked great and the feel of war was captivating), however making the story stay too true to the true events made for pacing issues as large portions of the film are slow moving.
    Jack O' Connell does a great job as Louis Zamperini and the odd relation between him and his captor Watanabe played by Takamasa Shihara is compelling.
    The overall story filled…

  • Into the Woods

    Into the Woods

    ★★★½

    A musical that brings several fairy tales together in one massive film that is great in portions and obnoxious in other portions. The portions with Meryl Strep, Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt are very effective and their singing performances are done well. The portions with Johnny Depp are odd and feel out of place (but are fairly short) while the portions with Chris Pine (especially one performance with Billy Magnussen) seems over the top and the singing performances off.
    The…

  • The Ides of March

    The Ides of March

    ★★★½

    A politically charged film that kept me on the edge of my seat for most of the running time. Clooney and Gosling brought out the intensity of the story well with Clooney wearing his cool swagger well in this film.
    The rest of the talented cast played their parts well. While not the best political film or taking the film's subject matter anywhere that new, it's still a damn good film and isn't that enough.
    7/10
    My Take: Good political film that offers a fine look at how elections are run.

  • The Woman in Black

    The Woman in Black

    ★★★½

    A strong return for Hammer Film in delivering a movie with a dark tone and a chilling dark presence in the film (Woman in Black). Daniel Radcliffe has done a great job of distancing himself from the Potter persona and delivers a nuanced low key performance in this slow paced period piece. The cinematography helps bring out the dark vibes of the film, lingering often in scenes and giving long shots that bring out the chilling effect of the film's…

  • Silver Linings Playbook

    Silver Linings Playbook

    ★★★½

    A film with powerful performances from Cooper and Lawrence that infuses their idiosyncrasies and strong chemistry to build off of a well written script. The movie feels disjointed at times with the character taking center stage over plot at times. There are several side stories that feel to take away from the main story, but tie together quite well at the end. Many side characters are given little to do (Chris Tucker feels liken afterthought),but Robert De Niro and Jackie…

  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

    The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

    ★★★½

    An epic cinematically but overall a movie too long for its own good, drawing out action scenes, forcing relationships, adding characters not essential to the story and most importantly feeling like a hold over movie to the Battle Of The Five Armies. The battle scenes are great to look but often seem to just be included to show of the world and not advance the story. Having Legolas in the Hobbit movies just took me out of the conflict as…

  • Rosewater

    Rosewater

    ★★★½

    A great directorial debut for Jon Stewart as he delivers a gripping drama that isn't afraid to throw in a little humor to lighten up the tone of the film. The film rests firmly on the acting ability of Gael García Bernal and Kim Bodnia and their great chemistry that they have with each other. The pacing of the film slows often, but fails to bore as the film packs emotion into the slower scenes.
    A great drama that doesn't take itself too seriously.
    7/10
    My Take: Future looks bright for Stewart. Great Movie.

  • Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler

    ★★★½

    An average screenplay that rises above its flaws by a breathtaking performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. The movie drags in its first two acts, but I didn't mind as much as the time was used to delve deep into the demented persuasive character brought to the screen by Gyllenhaal and helped the intense 3rd act shine through. The directing seemed flawed at times and the soundtrack is mostly forgettable, but it's really Gyllenhaal's show as it's his interactions with Russo's character that helps make this must see.
    7/10
    My Take:Worth A View