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Games, Movies and More - See the Nominees for The Escapist Awards 2014

The Escapist Staff | 17 Dec 2014 13:30
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Best Movie of 2014 Nominees

Big Hero 6


Stars: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Génesis Rodríguez, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., and T. J. Miller
Directors: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Released on November 7, 2014
Big Hero 6 (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)image


Marvel properties outside of the hands of Marvel Studios haven't always been hits, but Disney's first outing with their own spin on a Marvel team works as a Disney movie and as a Marvel movie. Big Hero 6 isn't just a good animated family film: it's a great superhero flick.

Excerpts from Bob Chipman's review:

While it's ultimately a team story and is clearly angling to kickstart a series, this inaugural installment is mainly built around nominal team-leader Hiro Hamada, a rebellious young robotics genius whose fast-track to early college has been waylaid by grief over the tragic death of a family member - I mean, what else would it be, in a superhero origin? - that he comes to suspect was not an accident but part of a mysterious supervillain's sinister plot involving next-generation nanomachine technology stolen from him. To aid in his investigation, he conscripts the aid of Baymax, an inflatable medical robot whom Hiro retrofits into a war machine. Baymax, for its part, goes along with the plan strictly because it fits with his programming to do whatever will aid Hiro's emotional and physical recuperation.

The big winner is Baymax, who along with being a marvel of character design is also one of the best renderings of what practical A.I. might actually look and behave like since the excellent, underappreciated Robot & Frank.There's never any suggestion that Baymax has a "soul" is magically developing into something humanlike, just that his programming is so reactive and functional that it allows a user (or an audience) to project humanity onto him - if in fact "him" is even the right phrase.

Snowpiercer


Stars: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, John Hurt, and Ed Harris
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Distributed by RADiUS-TWC
Released on June 27, 2014
Snowpiercer [Blu-ray]image

You wouldn't expect a South Korean film based on a French graphic novel to become a sleeper hit in the United States, but there's no denying Snowpiercer's success. The film had a rocky path to distribution in the US, where the Weinstein Company wanted 20 minutes of footage cut and new opening and closing monologues added for an American audience. The director refused, however, which led to the film getting a fairly limited release, state-side, through Weinstein's arthouse label, RADiUS-TWC.

Fortunately for movie fans everywhere, Snowpiercer was widely available on video on demand services which helped it rise to cult status -- and today it can even be found on Netflix. If you haven't watched it, this dark sci-fi flick featuring Captain America's Chris Evans, you've got no excuses not to.

The LEGO Movie


Stars: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman
Directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, Roadshow Entertainment
Released on February 7, 2014
The LEGO Movie (Blu-ray + DVD)image

How did anyone manage to make a movie about LEGOs and have it not feel like a feature-length LEGO commercial? We're still not sure, but we unabashedly love The LEGO Movie.

Excerpts from Bob Chipman's review:

Watching The LEGO Movie is akin to seeing some kind of daredevil high-wire act happening live right before your eyes. It's not just unbelievable that these maniacs pulled this off, it's unbelievable that they've been allowed to. How did anyone convince a major studio and a global corporate brand with everything to lose on a misfire and absolutely zero good reason not to play it safe to throw their weight behind something so specific and bizarre as this movie. At times it feels like we're watching a practical joke in progress, as though some mischievous film school anarchist snuck into the projection booth and swapped out whatever bland, flavorless movie one has every right to expect from a Warner Brothers toy property with their own devilishly goofy fan film. It's not that I'm shocked you can make a good movie out of LEGO, I'm just amazed anybody got away with it.

Guardians of the Galaxy


Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace,Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro
Director: James Gunn
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Released on July 21, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy (3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital Copy)image

Guardians is everything you could want from a good summer action flick -- though it works just as well if you pop it into your DVD player today, too. We'll let Bob Chipman's review speak for it:

A wildly irreverent action-comedy set in a richly textured, fully-realized world overflowing with memorable characters and crackling, humorous dialog. The kind of playfully joyous but emotionally satisfying ride that used to define the summer blockbuster before punishing dourness and bloated runtimes were the order of the day. If The Avengers was an expertly polished Disneyland fireworks show, this is more like a bunch of friends lighting off bottle rockets over a cooler of beer at the beach.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Stars: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson,Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson
Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Released on April 4, 2014
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (DVD)image

Marvel's been on a roll with solid superhero movies, and even though this isn't the only Marvel movie in our top 5, we'd be remiss to neglect it. The Winter Soldier is a superhero movie that's taken a sharp right turn into spy thriller territory, and the change in tone works beautifully as a way to watch Cap finding his way in the modern world with an expanded ensemble cast.

Excerpts from Bob Chipman's review:

This second solo outing for Captain America might as well be something out of John le Carre: a spy thriller where everyone is keeping secrets, everything has a dark undercurrent, and the whole thing seems to be one level of amoral corruption fighting other levels of the same. Well, almost everything: that's the film's quietly brilliant conceit. Drop Captain America into an otherwise semi-realistic espionage setting and watch him work like a reverse virus, a figure of absolute good whose mere presence upsets the machinery of deceit.

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