It’s about that time to put a nice, big bow on 2014. It’s been quite the year at the local cineplex, and we are looking forward with great anticipation to 2015. However, before we say a big, sappy goodbye to 2014, let’s look back at some of the movies that made their indelible mark on the cash registers of Hollywood. We’re taking a gander at the Top 5 Grossing Movies of 2014. They aren’t all good, but most of them justifiably made loads of cash because they struck a chord with a wide swath of the movie going public.
Another wonderful fact about all these movies is that each of them have a respective episode of the podcast to go with them (with one notable and obvious exception). If you haven’t listened to any of the podcasts, the links are included and you can have a listen before you have to throw out your local sportsball team themed 365-day calendar and put the new one on your desk for 2015.
5) Transformers: Age of Extinction – Domestic Gross: $245,439,076
MovieByte Episode #95 – Enablers
Here was our exception. However, you can listen to Mikey talk about the movie on the MovieByte Podcast. This movie slotting in at #5 is not really a surprise. It is the quintessential big budget, popcorn movie that has been the focus of criticism for the changing landscape of blockbuster movies.
However, your problems with Michael Bay, the movie itself, the franchise as a whole, are not what is wrong with this movie. As Fizz contends on the MovieByte podcast, what breaks this movie is that they have gotten the character of Optimus Prime wrong. We resonated with Prime in the late 80’s because he was a cool and updated Saturday morning cartoon version of Superman or Captain America. All that other stuff is just background noise to this one dissonant melody in Age of Extinction.
4) The LEGO Movie – Domestic Gross: $257,760,692
RWT Podcast #036 – The LEGO Movie and The Man Upstairs
One of my favorite movies of 2014 and the movie I have seen more than any of these other movies on the list. It is a staple of my kids regular movie viewing rotation on the long car rides when we visit my family. Both the kids and I can quote rather lengthy sections of the movie. “Everything is Awesome”, “Honey, Where Are My Pants?”, Bad Cop, Metal Beard, and Princess Uni-Kitty are just some of my favorite things from movies for the whole year. 2014 was Chris Pratt’s breakout year as a star and he is perfect at every step in this movie. We will hear about Pratt again in just a little bit. “SPACESHIP!”
3) Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Domestic Gross: $259,766,572
RWT Podcast #024 – Captain America and the Hero We Need
While it is no real surprise, given their track record, that Marvel would have some of the biggest grossing movies of the year. It’s a positive sign when a great movie like this makes so much. This is not really a wall-to-wall action blockbuster movie as much as it is a really great spy movie. On top of that, Captain America, as the title of the Reel World Theology podcast suggests, is the Superman-type hero we haven’t gotten from a Superman movie in decades. We need a hero that will not only fight bad guys and do heroic things, but do them because he believes in truth, justice, and equality. Our hearts resonate with Captain America’s heart to the tune of $260 million.
2) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Domestic Gross: $306,719,406
RWT Podcast #044 – Mockingjay Part 1 and the Power of Propaganda
All of my thoughts aside on this movie, and they are legion, The Hunger Games had an impressive run at the top of the box office. It stayed in the #1 spot for three weekends in a row and lost out only to its predecessor, Catching Fire, and Frozen for highest Thanksgiving weekend box office gross ever. The books were massively successful and among some the best fiction I have read in the past couple years. The strong presence of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen has helped propel the franchise into the imaginations of both women and men, young and old. While it is my least favorite of the series so far, I am looking forward to the second half of Mockingjay and a more accurate appraisal of both parts once it is concluded in 2015.
1) Guardians of the Galaxy – Domestic Gross: $332,862,030
RWT Podcast #033 – Guardians of the Galaxy and Unlikely Heroes
I have to be honest, It gives me such joy that Guardians of the Galaxy is the #1 grossing film of 2014. I only have one movie left this year to see that might be able to usurp Guardians of the Galaxy as my favorite movie of 2014. However, even if it does, I’m pretty sure Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the only movies I will buy, watch, and then watch again and again. Chris Pratt kills it as Star Lord and the supporting cast of characters are not just paper thin additions, but equally strong, fleshed out characters that will have their foundation built on in the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It’s action-packed, funny, complex, and just so much fun!
The craziest part about this movie is that it was completely unexpected to do so well. Guardians of the Galaxy is not even close to the most popular of the Marvel comic books, and I am sure few of you had actually heard of them before seeing the movie. Maybe that had something to do with it? Not only are the characters themselves, within the universe of the movie, unlikely heroes because of their criminal pasts, but we also had no real vested interest in them being heroes since we hadn’t heard of them. It is a testament to the great story-telling and quality movie making that Disney and Marvel studios are doing right now that a bunch of misfit, goofy heroes could jettison into the cultural lexicon with Walkmans, 80’s jokes, crass raccoons, and, “I am Groot,” Come and get your love.
Josh Crabb (@HeyItsThatJosh) is an editor, writer, and sometimes contributor to the podcast for Reel World Theology. He has a new Top 5 list every Tuesday for all of you OCD types that really love lists and order and arguing.