Joel has written 21 reviews for films rated ★★★★ during 2014.

  • Warrior

    Warrior

    ★★★★

    A movie that rises above its standard underdog fighting story to tell a great story about two brothers and their struggle played out by the great performances of Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. Nick Nolte almost steals the show as a father dealing with alcoholism. The other outstanding performances include Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo and even Kurt Angle, who has a strong presence in the film despite being a tad bit off-putting as a Russian.
    The fighting is done well…

  • Force Majeure

    Force Majeure

    ★★★★

    A beautifully filmed, deeply provocative film that is excruciating at times to watch. The film revolves around close call due to an avalanche (shown in the trailer) and the repercussions as it relates to said event.
    The film goes into great detail about how each member of the family reacts to the situation. The film often lingers on shots of people standing around or a white screen. The film often forces the audience to put themselves into the mind of…

  • Blue Ruin

    Blue Ruin

    ★★★★

    A gritty realistic thriller that keeps the audience's attention throughout with its beautiful cinematography and compelling story that delivers on every small reveal. The ending felt a bit underwhelming, but holds true to the dark feel of the movie.
    9/10
    My Take: Intense gritty thriller that delivers on its premise.

  • Gremlins

    Gremlins

    ★★★★

    A great balance of comedy, horror and fantasy that captures the holiday atmosphere so well and gives us an endearing force of nature in Gizmo. It's over the top at times but in the best ways.
    The movie definitely feels like an 80's movie in that it feels dated to that era. The inclusion of Phoebe Cates and Corey Feldman bring this 80s feel home as well as the general set pieces and outdated technology.
    That being said, the movie…

  • Thor: The Dark World

    Thor: The Dark World

    ★★★★

    A strong follow up to the original that tells a better story (than the origin story of the first film), but the villain is underwhelming and the film's overuse of comedy (Darcy is the biggest to blame here) and its reliance on Loki (antihero) to keep the film interesting.
    The action is exciting and the world of Thor is as great as the original.
    The storyline may be a little hard from some viewers to grasp however as it relies…

  • All Is Lost

    All Is Lost

    ★★★★

    A one man show for Robert Redford that would have been a lackluster man vs. nature story without his emotion filled, nearly voiceless performance that he brings to the film. The film drags quite a bit, but the performance itself should be praised and makes the movie worth the time spent watching.
    8/10
    My Take: The Robert Redford show.

  • Thor

    Thor

    ★★★★

    Thor does a great job of connecting well with the Marvel universe, giving a great origin story for Thor and providing an excellent action film without feeling like being any of these things out of necessity.
    Comedy is thrown in for good measure without being overbearing (looking at you Dark World) and incorporating a strong origin story without feeling forced (Captain America : First Avenger)
    Chris Hemsworth has arrived as a star and this role (Thor) was his vehicle to…

  • 21 Jump Street

    21 Jump Street

    ★★★★

    A self aware film that pokes fun at its flaws while being more funny and original than it had any right being. The film surprised me in a big way.
    The best parts of the film are in its satirization of action movies and teen films, but does recycle a lot of what makes it good throughout the film.
    Hill and Tatum make for a great team and Ice Cube and Offerman do well in their short onscreen time. The…

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes

    ★★★★

    A movie with a great origin story to be told, great action with a final battle scene on the Golden Gate Bridge being most memorable and a great motion capture performance by Andy Serkis as Cesar. James Franco and Frieda Pinto give great performances as well with the chemistry Franco and Serkis have in the film bringing a lot of the heart and soul to the story.
    The ending feels a little lackluster, but seeing this with Dawn helps to see how the ending serves the franchise as a whole.
    8/10
    My Take: Strong reenergizing of an old franchise with a great motion capture performance.

  • Rush

    Rush

    ★★★★

    An exciting film with breathtaking race sequences elevated above the action by the great performances by Hemsworth and Bruhl and their explosive chemistry with each other.
    8/10
    My Take: A great racing film with better acting.

  • The Warriors

    The Warriors

    ★★★★

    A movie that back in 1979 probably was a controversial gang movie, now feels dated to its time. It's still a gritty movie with intense action, endearing characters (the Warriors) and instantly quotable lines. Some of the fighting feels cheesy now (Warriors against gang painted to look like baseballs) but their struggle to return to their home in Coney Island helps keep the audience invested in what's happening. A romance between Mercy and Swan feels natural and does not detract…

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

    ★★★★

    Indy returns in this film that benefits from a darker tone, a more sinister villain and a more active Indiana Jones (Indy feels a more passive observer in Raiders).
    The film often trails into over the top action scenes (using a inflatable raft as a parachute from a plane) and the child actor playing Short Round is annoying while Kate Capshaw's Willie overacts in almost every scene she is including flipping out over an elephant and becoming disgusted over the…