Archive for December, 2015

So…..during 2015 I saw 45 films at the cinema, averaging just shy of one a week. Some were good, some were bad, and some were downright awful, but in amongst all of the bad and mediocre there were ten really good films that have worked their way into my top 10 for 2015.

Contained in this list are a few surprises, with arguably the biggest surprise for me coming in that I had no intention of seeing some of them, but then again it was the same for the film that I ended up ranking at number one in 2014, Nightcrawler. The Jake Gyllenhaal masterpieces is the reason that I ended up giving some of these films a chance, and I’m glad that I did.

So, with that in mind, it seems almost appropriate to start with a film that I had zero interest in seeing because of the story, the cast and near enough everything about it, but I ended up giving it a chance and loved it….

10) Brooklyn8903_poster_iphone

Cast : Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent

Plot : Sick of life in a small Irish town in the 1950s, Eilis (Ronan) decides to relocate to America and try to start a new life for herself. Despite initially struggling with homesickness, she soon starts adapting to American life very well, and she soon meets Tony (Cohen), a native from Brooklyn.

The two eventually start a relationship, but Eilis soon receives news that her sister has died from a mysterious illness and she goes home for the funeral. Before she leaves, she and Tony marry in secret. Eilis doesn’t tell anyone back home about her marriage and this leads her mother to try and force together a relationship with Jim (Gleeson). She also gets offered a job, but despite her insistence that she will head back to America, she soon finds herself pondering whether to stay in Ireland.

Why in the Top 10? : Brooklyn was one of those films that I had virtually no intention of seeing whatsoever, I had never heard of Emory Cohen before this so this was definitely nothing against him. The reason, pure and simple, as Saoirse Ronan. In a world in which a lot of films are being dominated by unacceptably bland young actresses, Ronan was one of the worst. I haven’t seen her in a single film in which she wasn’t making Kristen Stewart the queen of emotions.

I also expected Brooklyn to be a typical romantic film, with the character meeting the love of her life and leaving her husband for him, but it was the excellent reviews that convinced me to go and watch John Crowley’s film. So I sat with the lowest of low expectations…..and I was very pleasantly surprised.

The homesick feeling that Eilis experiences is definitely correct and something that I can relate to from person experience, and what I especially is liked is that her romance with Tony actually feels very well built and natural. Tony is a very likeable character, and Cohen’s performance is refreshing as he approaches the role with a very humble approach.

Brooklyn’s entire approach is one of being humble and it never feels forced and the conflict feels really in the sense that there is now a potential life for Eilis that wasn’t there before, but that leads me onto my only complaint.

My one real complaint with Brooklyn and why it’s not higher on the list is that there is never any real conflict in the romance sense for Eilis. Her and Jim never really look like a couple that will ever happen, and I was personally delighted when she ended up going back to Tony because the character has a genuine connection with Eilis, whereas Jim doesn’t once feel like the natural choice. That’s nothing against the character, or indeed Domnhall Gleeson’s portrayal of him, but there was only ever one logical choice for Eilis.

 

9) TomorrowlandTomorrowland_poster

Cast : George Clooney, Brit Robertson, Raffey Cassidy and Hugh Laurie

Plot : In 1964 Frank (young – Thomas Robinson, adult – Clooney) presents a jet pack at a World’s Fair and he impresses Nix (Laurie) and seeming-daughter Athena (Cassidy), although the pack ends up failing to work properly. Despite then being dismissed by Nix, Athena encourages Frank to follow the group and he ends up in a futuristic city.

Skip forward to the modern day and Casey (Robertson) is desperately trying to stop a rocket tower from being demolished, however, she is caught when trying to stop it and arrested. When she is bailed out, a mysterious button is in with her belongs, and touching it takes her to the same futuristic city. With her curiousity peaked, she decides to find out what she can about it, but that leads to being chased by assassins.

Why in the Top 10? : Tomorrowland is a film which some have since described as overly complicated and unnecessarily lengthy before anything actually happens in the film, but for me it was a return to what Disney used to do best and that was build up mystery and characters very well. The mystery surrounding the pendent and the land it transports the characters to is still shrouded in mystery right up until the point in which the main characters are actually there.

Yes, Tomorrowland has some fundamental flaws here and there, but for me it was just a fun film and there aren’t enough to them these days. You don’t have to think about Tomorrowland that hard and whilst it will NEVER win any awards for ingenious creation, it kept me interested for the entire run time.

The cast is absolutely fantastic and delivers excellently throughout. Clooney in particular is interesting to watch in a role that is very different from most of what he’s played before. Hugh Laurie, despite having a very small role, is an excellent antagonist, and his exasperation at this situation is great.

Tomorrowland is just a fun, sit back and relax kind of film, and I would definitely recommend it.

 

8) Knock Knockknock-knock-poster-405x600

Cast : Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas

Plot : Evan (Reeves) is a successful architect and is using his family’s trip away as an opportunity to finish a project. Progressing well, his door bell rings and stood there are two young girls, Bel (Armas) and Destiny (Izzy), that claim to be looking for a party. Evan invites them in until a taxi can arrive. He dries their clothes for them, but he grows increasingly anxious for the taxi to arrive as they start taking advantage of his hospitality. The taxi finally arrives, but the girls seduce him into having sex.

Evan awakes the next day to find them still there and he is horrified when he realises that he cheated on his, and even less so when Bel reveals herself to be just 15 years old, well under the legal age for sex in America. Reeves forcibly drives them away, but they soon find their way back and start torturing him and destroying his home, but can Evan successfully turn Bel against Destiny after they bonded over music earlier in the night?

Why in the Top 10? : I never thought I would have an Eli Roth film in my Top 10, but this Keanu Reeves led flick was one of the better mainstream horror films that I have seen for years for the simple reason that you can never true work out the motives of Bel and Genesis, and no matter how hard Evan tries to get out the situation, he never feels like succeeding because of how well the two are presented. It is the first film I’ve seen for a long time at the cinema in which the antagonists in the story actually feel like winning.

And the worst part is that they are genuinely dangerous in their intents. They know they’ve gotten Evan exactly where they want him, and this plays brilliantly into the feeling that even if he does escape physically from the situation, it will only be a matter of time until having sex with what he believe is an underage girl will catch up with him.

The respective portrayals from Izzo and Armas are almost perfect for their roles, and the casting in that sense couldn’t have been better. Even Keanu Reeves, who I have often been luke-warm about, at best, does a respectable job as Evan.

Away from the excellent acting from all involved, Knock Knock isn’t what you’d normally expect from an Eli Roth film, there’s virtually no blood or gore (if any), and most of the torture is mental rather than physical, although that’s not to say that there isn’t some physical violence during the run time.

Knock Knock will never be considered a classic, but for what it is and what I was expecting going in, I was very impressed.

 

7) Roomroom-poster

Cast : Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen and William H. Macy

Plot : Seven years ago Nick (Bridgers) kidnapped Joy (Larson) and forced her to live in his garden shed. She can’t escape as the only window is far above anyone’s height, and the door is coded. After two years she gave birth to Jack (Tremblay), and Joy makes it her mission to protect him from Nick.

One day, Joy is telling Jack about the world outside and he refuses to believe her about various things, so she decides it’s time to escape the room and tricks Nick into believing that Jack is dead. When he is taking Jack to dump his body somewhere, Jack manages to escape the van, although he is disorientated having never been out of the shed before hand, and he only barely convinces a stranger to help him.

Joy is eventually rescued and Nick is arrested, but how can Jack survive in an outside world that he doesn’t understand, and can Joy actually adapt back to normal life after what happened to her?

Why in the top 10? Room was the last film to enter this particular list, seeing it as late on in the year as December 14th, and I hear many of you ask how I can include a film that hasn’t technically been released in the UK yet. Well the reason is that the cinema chain that I work so has something called Unseen Screen, and this is basically a screening of a film before it’s release, but you don’t know what that is before going in. So I entered the screen and was hoping for The Revenent, but it turned out to be Room, but I was still excited as a friend had seen it and described it as one of the best films he had ever seen.

So based on that I was excited and whilst Room took a bit of time to get into, it turned into one of the best acted films that I had seen in quite a long time, and one of the most emotive due to the use of music, and more precisely, the use of one of my favourite instrumental pieces, “The Mighty Rio Grande” by This Will Destroy You. It was a piece of music used so effectively in Moneyball, and the song has also impacted my personal life. Every time I hear that song, it brings out such brilliant emotional connections that I can’t help but get emotionally invested in the scene.

The film is excellent from start to finish, and whilst there are quite a lot of spells where not a lot is really happening, you feel completed transfixed on the screen as the character development throughout is excellent, and in any other year there would be a chance that this film would have been ranked as top of this list. Even the minor characters are written perfectly, with Robert (Macy) being the best case of this. Despite being Joy’s father, he isn’t really involved after the she and Jack escape, but the character’s struggles to accept Jack due to him obviously being the result of Joy being raped by Nick.

Jack is comfortably the best character in the film due to the flexibility of what you can do with him. For example, it’s obvious that he’s never seen what the outside world looks like, so when he does eventually escape he looks at everyone with a sense of wonder and fear, something that is very difficult to capture in both writing and acting, yet they nailed it perfectly.

The only reason this film doesn’t rank higher is that after they escape from the shed, the film does lose something, not a lot but certainly enough to warrant lowering it’s position on the list slightly. I’d say that the first half of the film is a near enough perfect ten, but the second half is only really an eight.

 

6) Irrational Manirrational-man-poster

Cast : Joaquin Pheonix, Emma Stone and Parker Posey

Plot : Everyone at a New England university is excited when it is confirmed that Abe Lucas (Phoenix), an acclaimed philosophy professor, will be joining the faculty. Lucas has a reputation for influential and brilliant behaviour, albeit with an exceptionally erratic side. When Abe arrives, everyone is surprised by his morbid outlook on life and his belief that everything is ultimately futile. Despite his unusual behaviour, Professor Rita Richards (Posey) falls for him and the two start an affair.

Lucas is quickly impressed by the unusual thinking of Jill (Stone), a student in one of his classes. The two become friends and she invites him to a party, at which he decides to show a group of students the structure of chance by doing a one-man game of Russian Roulette. Whilst dining out with Jill, the two overhear a conversation between a woman and her friends in which she is reflecting on the realistic chance of losing her kids just to the judge in her custody case being friends with her ex-husband, and how he is constantly encouraging her to make costly appeals, only to reject them. Abe decides that this is the turning point in his life and decides to kill the judge.

Why in the Top 10? : A film that I’ve already covered on this site after it’s initial release, Irrational Man was an unexpected delight as the trailer made it appear was one type of film, whereas in reality it was something entirely different.

You can read the full review here, but below is a very brief summary of why I even said at the time that it would be likely to be included in this very list.

Basically Irrational Man is everything that I like a zany, offbeat comedy to be. It’s not laugh out loud or in your face comedy, it’s a dark, almost intelligent comedy. In this sense I liken it very much to the TV-show, Frasier. It’s a thinking-mans film, with very offbeat, and often dark insights into how fragile human life can be, and how bonds can easily break down, or indeed how people can easily turn out to be something completely different to what you believe them to be.

I don’t want to repeat myself too much when I’ve done an indepth review, so I’m going to leave this little section here.

 

5) The GiftUntitled

Cast : Jason Bateman, Rebeccca Hall and Joel Edgerton

Plot : Simon (Bateman) and Robyn (Hall) have bought a new home and whilst out shopping they run into Gordon (Edgerton), a man who went to school with Simon, although he struggles to remember him. Gordon initially presents as a very friendly and welcoming man, which Robyn really appreciates, but Simon soon starts growing suspicious of his intentions.

He questions why Gordon is taking such an interest in the pair, but he is also concentrating on his career and is on the verge of a promotion. Robyn also starts feeling very uneasy with Gordon’s presence, even thought there is no evidence that he has anything other than pleasant intentions towards them.

After threatening Gordon, everything seems to be back to normal, but the revelations of how he remembers Simon throws everything into unrest.

Why in the Top 10? : In a year in which I only saw a heavy number of films because I got them for free, The Gift was comfortably the best film in that category and that’s made even more remarkable by that I had precisely zero interest in watching it based on the trailer. The trailer made it look like a completely different film to what it actually was, and this is a good thing because the trailer made it look absolutely shit. Infact, I only went to watch it on the back of a review from Chris Stuckmann, the guy who initially inspired me to start reviewing film.

I loved the moral message of being careful how you treat others as it may come back to bite you , and what I found exceptionally interesting is that you go into the film with one expectation of who the antagonist of the movie is, but the seeming protagonist is actually the true bad guy of the film. You feel no sympathy for him by the end of the film, and I loved this twist on the situation.

Without revealing how the film ends, the situation that Simon finds himself in is normally something that you’d hate to see a character in, but all that I could think of was that he actually deserved it for how he had lead his life. He has got exactly what he deserved. What Gordo does to him at the end is so simple, and yet so effective, that you can’t help but admire the genius way in which he gets his ultimate revenge.

You get to know the character Simon quite well, and how the impact of Gordo in his life affects his relationship with Robyn, especially as there are quite lengthy spells without Gordo in them at all. Whilst a prominent part of the opening half of the film, Gordo practically disappears for the entire second half of the film, with the odd exception of a minute or two here and then.

 

4) Water DivinerThe_Water_Diviner_poster

Cast : Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Dylan Georgiades, Yilmaz Erdogan, Cem Yilmaz and Jai Courtney,

Plot : Joshua (Crowe) is a water diviner in Australia just after World War I, but he and his wife (Jacqueline McKenzie) are struggling to cope with the deaths of their three sons at the battle of Gallipoli. When she kills herself, Joshua decides that it’s time to find his sons bodies and bring them home.

He sets off for Turkey and quickly develops a relationship with Ayshe, a war-widowed hotel owner. Soon after he successfully crosses to the area of Gallipolli, he finds out that civilians are banned from the area, although Major Hasan (Erdogan) and Lt-Colonel Hughes (Courtney) agree to let him search, but he soon finds out that one of his sons may actually still be alive.

Why in the Top 10? : I feel in love with The Water Diviner pretty much as soon as I had seen it. I have seen Russell Crowe described pretencious quite a lot, but to be fair to him his directorial debut was brilliant, and much like a few other films on this list, it did spend a while at number one. It’s very rare these days that you get a film that spans several different continents and actually has a decent meaning behind it, rather than being done just for the sake of showing new locations, and Water Diviner does that brilliant.

The Water Diviner has that epic scope feel to it, right from the scenes that are set in vast, open expanses, such as the one in the poster, right through to where character are having conversations about Joshua, all the while him setting up camp on a beach. The visuals in The Water Diviner are stunning, and brought me right into the environment.

Away from the look, the acting through is stupendous from everyone, even Jai Courtney. No-one puts a foot wrong and you grow to appreciate pretty much every one of them,

 

3) The Martianmartian_ver6

Cast : Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig and Sean Bean

Plot : The Ares III mission to Mars is more than half way through it’s mission when a dust storm causes the crew to abandon the planet for safety, however, during the escape Mark Watney (Damon) is struck by debris and presumed dead. The crew lifts off without him. It turns out that Mark actually survived and he must now figure out how to survive on a planet that has no natural way of growing food.

Meanwhile, NASA discovers that Mark survived and try and come up with a rescue plan, all whilst trying to justify how he could be left behind. Mark eventually re-establishes contact with Earth, but the earliest any plan can rescue him will take him well beyond the date that the food will run out. What risks are NASA willing to take to rescue him?

Why in the Top 10? The Martian may have a lengthy run time, but it doesn’t feel like it lasts as long as it does because of how it is put together.

Let’s start with the tone of the film. Despite it’s very nature, The Martian isn’t actually a negative or bleak film at all, with the character of Mark personifying that very well. It would have been so easy for him to become exceptionally depressed by the situation he finds himself in and become suicidal….but he doesn’t. Mark stays optimistic throughout and it is only in rare moments that he actually lets the situation get on top of him. The optimistic nature drives the film on, and had it been the other way around then chances are that I wouldn’t have been as enthusiastic about the film as I am.

Matt Damon puts in yet another competent performance and is supported by a cast that doesn’t really put a foot wrong throughout. Each cast member plays their role exceptionally well and I can’t fault any of them.

The visuals on The Martian are pretty much from you would expect from a high budget sci-fi film. The NASA building looks accurate enough (I’ve obviously never been inside the NASA building but I would imagine that how it’s presented in the film is pretty much spot on), the inside of the station that Mark stays in looks realistic and they’ve done a great job making it look like his is actually on Mars, it’s very convincing.

2) Focusfocus concept poster will smith margot robbie con artist junaid bhat 2015

Cast : Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez, Rodrigo Santoro, Gerard McRaney, Brennan Brown and BD Wong.

Plot : Rookie con-artist Jess (Robbie) unsuccessfully tries to steal money from Nicky (Smith) after several obvious giveaways. She decides to learn from him and he reluctantly agrees when she follows him down to New Orleans, the site of the Superbowl. Nicky teaches her the tricks of the trade, along with Horst (Brown) and Farhad (Martinez). Over the space of the Superbowl weekend, the group, along with a specialist team, successfully steal more than $1 million.

To celebrate, Nicky takes Jess to watch the game itself, although not being a fan of American football, she decides to challenge him to several minor bets, and this brings them to the attention of Liyuan (BD Wong), a notorious gambler. He and Nicky enter several high stakes bets and Jess grows increasingly angry and Nicky’s insistence on betting everyone’s money, but what he is about to do will piss her off even more.

Why in the Top 10? : In any other year, Focus would not only be number one, it would be number one by a MASSIVE amount. I love this film.

I’m going to start with the scene between Jess, Nicky and Liyuan. Not only would I describe this as my favourite scene in any movie in 2015, I would describe the scene as absolutely perfect. It is flawless. The acting is stunning, the impending sense of doom is engrossing, your urge for Nicky to stop is genuine and the pay off with what happens at the end of the scene brings to an end what is about ten to fifteen minutes of brilliance. I can’t rate it highly enough.

I really want to get into why I like that scene so much, but to do so would be to spoil what happens and it’s a scene in which you really have to watch it in order to understand why I rate the scene so highly. It is one of many scenes in the film which end with a twist, and that’s why I love the film, you’re always left guessing and wanting more. It’s done superbly and even right at the end of the film I was left thinking of what twists they had left to bring, even when the credits started.

Away from that scene, I can’t find a flaw with the film, other than minor things here and there that aren’t really worth going into at all.

The chemistry between Smith and Robbie is not only believable, but you could picture them as a real life couple, but it’s not only their on-screen relationship that I could believe, Robbie and Santoro also share a decent chemistry, even though there isn’t any genuine love between the characters, and Robbie also shares a very fluidic friendship with Martinez and you look at them and think “yeah, I can picture them chatting in a cafe and catching up”. The characters of Nicky and Bucky have a natural level of antagonism and respect at the same time. The casting director deserves a well earned bonus.

 

So then, what becomes my second annual Number One mainstream film of 2015? Well this film is one that a lot like last year’s Nightcrawler, I probably wouldn’t have seen had it not been for a particular set of circumstances. This year was a film that had I not been allowed to leave work early before a holiday, I wouldn’t have been able to see the film as it was gone by the time I got back, but I’m glad work did because it gave me the chance to watch the Owen Wilson lead action film, No Escape.

 

 

1) No EscapeVVS_NoEscape_PromoPoster

Cast : Owen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Sterling Jerins and Clare Geare.

Plot : Jack (Wilson) has secured a new job working for an American company specialising in water systems, but the role is based in Cambodia. He moves his entire family out to the Asian country and everything seems ideal at first, and Jack in particular is very pleased with his new home. One day he goes for a walk before he notices a mob walking towards him. He quickly hides and witnesses the mob killing another American man.

The mob notices Jack and he barely makes it back to his hotel alive. He and his family then try to escape the hotel. They eventually learn that the locals are unhappy that the jobs that were offered to Jack and the other Americans was originally going to be for them, and the Cambodians are unhappy about foreigners getting their jobs.

Constantly chased down, the family has several narrow escapes from the mob, but how far can luck get them?

Why Number One? : If you’d have asked me in January if my favourite film come the end of 2015 would be starring Owen Wilson, I would have probably laughed in your face. I have nothing against Owen Wilson, but I have never been convinced by films that he has been in for the most part, but it was the same with Jake Gyllenhaal last year.

No Escape was a brilliant adrenaline rush and I was hooked on the screen for the entire run time. It was flawless action and enjoyment as Owen Wilson does everything he can to get his family through a genuine threat, and this includes not fucking about when it comes to getting his daughter across a gap between buildings.

The scene in question comes when they have to escape one roof onto another, and the daughter is understandably frightened. Jack has to talk his daughter into doing it, but knowing that she won’t he doesn’t give her a choice and tricks her into a false sense of security, all before literally throwing her across the game. It was at that moment I knew that barring some sort of miracle, this film would feature in the Top 5 for the year, at least.

There was no fucking around, he doesn’t waste time trying to see if his daughter will do it, afterall, why take that risk when the rioters will discover you any second? Everything about this movie screams realistic, and more importantly, brutal.

Scenes are filled with the violence and intensity that you would expect from a movie based on riots. The rioters are a genuine threat, no two ways about it. They are no nonsense, they don’t differentiate and if you are a foreigner, you will be killed. I just love the non-discrimatory way in which they do things, and much like the girls in Knock Knock, you genuinely feel like they have a chance of succeeding. Unlike some other films in which the family has to struggle through, there are numerous times when you feel that there is a genuine chance that they could die, and it makes the whole thing worthwhile.

So we reach my penultimate list of looking at films that I saw in the cinema in 2015, and now we’re getting onto films that were relatively decent, but I didn’t think that they were strong enough to make the Top 10.

Most of these films did feature in the Top 10 at some point, but ultimately I didn’t include them in the top 10 for a variety of reasons.

Just like Part 2, this page has been sorted into nothing more than alphabetical order.

Avengers 2 : Age of Ultronavengers_age_of_ultron

Cast : Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johanssen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and James Spader

Plot : The Avengers are celebrating yet another successful mission with a party, and the group all have difficulty lifting the hammer of Thor (Hemsworth), although Steve (Evans) does come very close to budging it, however, when Thor states that they’re simply not worthy, one of Tony’s (Downey Jr) suits walks towards them and threatens them all with extinction.

Tony and Bruce (Ruffalo) realise that their ULTRON program (voiced by James Spader) has achieved self-realisation, and the group must battle against what is effectively now a computer virus. ULTRON was built with the intention of helping protect the Earth from enemies, but after doing research, it determines that the only enemy to Earth is humans, and it sets about wiping out….but it isn’t only ULTRON that the Avengers have to worry about.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : The Marvel Universe has arguably been the biggest franchise of the last ten or so years, churning out hit after hit, and whilst one Marvel film this year featured in my Bottom 10, another (this one in case you hadn’t guessed), featured in my Top 10 for a hefty chunk of the time after it was released. However, a lot like other films in this list, it didn’t last that long.

I’m not going to lie, in the individual films of the Avengers cast, there has only been one sub-franchise that I have been excited by and that is Thor. Captain America is too clean cut for my liking, Iron Man is too one dimensional for me, Hawkeye and Black Widow haven’t been developed well at all, and whilst Hulk is arguably the most complex of the characters, they haven’t really touched on the potential of the character, especially under the wonderful acting of Mark Ruffalo.

I also find the antagonists in the Marvel franchise to be far too predictable, with the exception of Loki, and not one of them (other than the aforementioned Loki) has ever looked like winning. That is the main problem with the MCU, the bad guys are so poorly developed that they’re not even slightly convincing, and that is a big disappointment. Ultron never really felt like a genuine threat, and was far too jokey to be taken seriously as a threat.

That being said, Age of Ultron (just going to call is AOU for short) is a wonderfully fun movie. There’s one thing that can be said for all of the Marvel films, with the exception of maybe Winter Soldier, is that they are fun films. Marvel knows how to produce fun and they have again achieved this in AOU. AOU is a fun ride that doesn’t feel like it lasts as long as the run time suggests. The story has a nice flow and although you have to suspend your disbelief for long sections of it, it is an enjoyable few hours.

The uneasy friendships between a lot of the characters, such as Thor’s impatience with Stark after Ultron is released, is intriguing to watch and it sets up the rest of the franchise so well. All of the Marvel films have references to each other and something that’s so minor in one character’s film could end up having a major impact in another’s. The complex nature of the films means that you’re always wanting to go back  and watch them again, and this is the case with AOU.

Away from the storyline arc of the franchise, the acting is very good throughout and Renner brings a greater level of interest into the character of Hawkeye. Hemsworth is his reliable self and even the emotional-void that is Scarlett Johansson isn’t awful. That’s the thing about AOU, there’s nothing particularly awful about it other than the struggle to produce a believable villain.

BirdmanBirdman Movie Poster

Cast : Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts

Plot : Riggan (Keaton), a once famous actor for a role as a superhero known as Birdman, is trying to resurrect his career in a Broadway play. In amongst all of the chaos, Riggan is having visions of his famous character as it mocks him, as well as his daughter, Sam (Stone), questioning him at every turn.

As well as battling several legal aspects of the play with his lawyer (Galifianakis), and the very difficult to work with, but critically claimed actor, Mike Shiner (Norton), Riggan struggles to make his vision come through.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : I’m not going to lie, I find that I am surprised at myself for including Birdman in this list as the first time I watched it, I really didn’t like it at all. Whilst visually unique with it’s editing making it appear like one shot, and exceptional acting from the entire cast, I didn’t find Birdman particularly interesting and honestly, I even contemplated putting it in my Bottom 10 for a while. However, I wanted to give it another chance and it is only one of two films on this list that I watched for a second time just before sorting these lists out,  and I’m glad I did.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still didn’t find the film to be as brilliant as some made it out to be and I did find myself finding it hard to get attached again, but when you move away from the one-shot feel and look to the film, you realise just how much work has gone into it, and you appreciate it’s story even more.

Firstly, I’ve already mentioned them, but the best part of Birdman is comfortably it’s cast, with Ed Norton being particularly wonderful. I am a big fan of Norton as his performances in Fight Club, American History X and many others makes him one of my favourite actors, even if he doesn’t appear in a lot these days.

Zach Galifianakis breaks his type-cast with a role as a highly intellectual man, Keaton is exceptional as Riggan, and Emma Stone’s turn as Sam shows her flexibility in roles. Not a single member of the cast puts in a poor performance and this is something that I rarely say these days.

It’s hard to put a key element of why I like Birdman when it didn’t emotionally engage me, and that’s why this mini-review will end here. This is probably going to be the shortest mini-review I put in this section, I like it but I can’t put a finger onto why.

EverestEverest-IMAX-Poster-647x1024

Cast : Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sam Worthington

Plot : Rob (Clarke) is an experienced climber of Everest and regularly helps tourists ascend to the summit. In his group this time are the arrogant Beck (Brolin) and the humble Doug (Hawkes), the latter of whom is making his latest attempt after previously failing.

Supported by his ground staff (Watson and Worthington), Rob starts the latest climb, but regularly has to negotiate with other tour guides in order to schedule climbs, such as the laid back Scott (Gyllenhaal). As they’re approaching the top, bad weather reports start coming in, but can the group successfully make it to the top and back down again in time?

Why not good enough for the top 10? : Following on from one film that I can’t put my finger on why I like it onto another. I suppose in many ways it comes down to Everest not being your typical disaster film, or in many ways not even a disaster film at all, even though it appears like one.

Rather than being a thrill-a-minute fight for survival, Everest is more a character study about how humans will strive to reach their goals, and some won’t let go of them, regardless of how dangerous they are. For example, the character of Beck, played with precision by the ever dependable Josh Brolin, has the dream of reaching the top of Everest and it ends up costing him various body parts without ever reaching the top, whereas John Hawkes’ Doug is far more humble in his approach (the character, not Hawkes, who is likewise fantastic in his portrayal), but just as desperate ends up reaching the top and you feel a genuine sense of joy when he actually reaches the top.

Everest really makes you think about your goals in life and what you’re willing to put your body through to achieve them, but you want these characters to succeed and survive, even Beck and he’s probably the closest thing that Everest has to an antagonist.

But away from the moral message, the humble approach to story telling felt genuine. It shows that climbing Everest isn’t just a simple thing that can be done easily. It accurately shows that you have to take your time whilst doing it, otherwise you pretty much end all chance of making it, and I love the realism. It doesn’t rush into the film itself, or the point where they reach the top, or even the disaster starting. It’s pacing is realistic, but I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t like this as it does take a long time for anything to actually happen. It’s very slow in parts to say the least. I don’t mean that in a negative way from my perspective, but yeah, I can see why some people wouldn’t like it.

The cast is fantastic, although it is a bit strange that some actors, such as Sam Worthington, gets one of the star billings on the poster, even though he doesn’t really warrant it. I don’t mean that in a negative way against him personally, but he just hasn’t done a lot over the last few years in terms of mainstream film, and he is probably only in Everest for a total of 10 or so minutes, if that. Jake Gyllenhaal (his first of two appearances in this section of my look at 2015) has a far bigger and more important role than Worthington, and yet he is below Worthington on the poster.

I feel really bad for what seems almost like I am heavily criticising Worthington there, I’m genuinely not. As I say, the cast all do a good job, although as usual Jason Clarke is just his usual, forgettable self. He’s an actor that you could sum up by saying “he’s just there”. He doesn’t stand out and whilst not awful at all, you get the feeling he brings nothing to a role that no-one else could bring. For example, Gyllenhaal was fantastic in Nightcrawler last year and played it so well that I don’t think that anyone else could have played the character of Lou. Most actors find THAT role during their career, a role that they make their own and Jason Clarke just hasn’t brought that to any role for me, and he is like that in this as well. He’s just kind of there, nothing more, nothing less.

Anyway, I’ve deviated slightly. Everest is what it is, a humble story about a fight for survival. It’s not in your face and I liked the approach, but I can equally see why others wouldn’t.

Jurassic Worldjurassic-world-poster-mosasaurus

Cast : Chris Pratt, Bryce-Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpsons, Nick Robinson, Imran Khan and BD Wong,

Plot : 20 years after the first Jurassic Park incident, they have finally opened a park, but the public’s interest quickly wains due to new attractions being few and far between, so Claire (Dallas-Howard) and Dr Wu (Wong) genetically mix several species together to create a new super-predator.

Meanwhile, Owen (Pratt) has successfully trained Velociraptors to be controlled, but he is constantly fighting off Vic (D’Inofrio) who believes that they should be used as military weapons, and the super-predator successfully getting loose might prove his point.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : Jurassic World was in my Top 10 for a while, but almost entirely by the default at the time that I hadn’t seen 10 films. Now, I did like Jurassic World whilst watching it, but then I watched it a second time a few days later and I got exceptionally bored.

Now don’t get me wrong, Jurassic World is a good film in my opinion, it wouldn’t be appearing in this list if it wasn’t, but it’s definitely one of those that loses a lot about it on a second viewing. Unlike Jurassic Park, Jurassic World doesn’t really have re-watchability to it and this is a shame as it isn’t an awful film. I don’t think it was until the second play through that I realised just how many nods that they had made to the original, such as very similar shots, and whilst it’s great for the nostalgia feel, but after a while you want it offer you something new, and unfortunately Jurassic World lacks heavily in this sense.

I grew up loving dinosaurs, even before the original Jurassic Park came out, and I know that there is a plethora of threatening dinosaurs, but Jurassic World constantly keeps going back to the well with the T-Rex and the Raptors (who aren’t even raptors), or indeed a new genetically modified mix of the two. I just wish that they would try something new and give us a break from the same old dinosaurs.

The cast are just bland and uninteresting, and Chris Pratt really feels out of place in this film. Then again, it’s hard to feel in place where you’re with a poor cast, and I don’t think the casting of Bryce Dallas-Howard helped keep the film alive on the second watching as she is just bland beyond belief. I’ve never been impressed with her “acting” and seems to be yet another one of those who has graduated from the acting school in which you don’t get out until you’ve lost your last possible emotion.

So you may be wondering why I’ve put Jurassic World in this section rather that the previous look at poor film and the reason is that despite all of it’s flaws, of which there are many, it’s still a decent watch. I did watch it for a third time recently, about six months after I last watched it, and I did enjoy it more than the second time, and I think it’s definitely one of those that you can’t watch a regular basis.

Obviously there is a lot of CGI in the film, but there are some great practically effects as well, such as when the characters find a field of downed dinosaurs, and the characters try and comfort it as it dies.

KrampusKrampus-Poster

Cast : Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Emjay Anthony, Alison Tolman and Conchata Ferrell

Plot : The holiday season is in full swing as Tom (Scott) and Sarah (Collette) await the arrival of the latter’s sister for Christmas. Along with Linda (Tolman) comes Howard (Koechner), Dorothy (Ferrell), and their kids. Upon being bulied by Stevie (Lolo Owen) and Beth and Beth (Stefania Owen) for still believe in Santa, Max (Anthony) tears up his letter to the mythical figure and throws it out of the window.

Everything seems fine at first, but the group then notice that the world seems dead outside, with no movement, cars or people around. They all soon start realising that something is coming to get them, the demon of Christmas known as Krampus, and they need to put their differences aside and work together in order to survive.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : Krampus was a very different type of Christmas film and in many ways it reminded me of Scrooged, with dark humour being the order of the day.

Adam Scott again impresses after previously being very enjoyable in the excellent Parks and Recreation, as well as being arguably the best character in the luke-warm The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Scott is comfortably the best actor in Krampus and he has the best “I’m sick of your shit, but will act happy about it for the sake of peace” face.

The whole cast play their respective roles well, and Koechner feels right at home with the ultra-macho Howard, a role very similar to most of his history on screen, and it’s hard to really place a bad word against any of the performances from the actors and actresses involved. Even the performances from the younger actors aren’t even awful.

I only really have two issues with Krampus. The first is the elderly female character is German, and speaks her native tongue for the majority of the film, although everyone has discussions with her by speaking English. It’s very strange to see an entire conversation in which one person is speaking English and the other German, but then there being claims that the German person doesn’t speak English. If she doesn’t speak English, why speak to her in that language and more to the point, she wouldn’t be able to understand them.

The second is that after all of the build up to Krampus being the ultimate demon and horrifying, but then when you finally see it’s face, it is almost looks like they’ve just painted the mask from Scream. The face doesn’t change and just looks ridiculous. In many ways it takes away the genuine scare the fear factor of the demon.

Mission Impossible : Rogue Nationroguenation02

Cast : Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin and Sean Harris

Plot : Following on from successfully capturing nerve gas that was intended to be sold to terrorists, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is determined to prove the existence of an international criminal consortium known as “The Syndicate”.

The IMF team is then shut down and all of the agents become employees of the CIA, but the problem is that they don’t believe the Syndicate actually exist, and this causes Hunt to track them down without approval, making him a target for the CIA.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : I had never seen a Mission Impossible film before going to watch the fifth installment in the franchise, so I had virtually no expectations going in. I’m not a fan of spy films, or action films in general, and that will almost certainly remain the case through the remaining 40 or 50 years of my life, but despite that I did actually enjoy Mission Impossible.

Unlike Spectre, it treated the genre with a certain level of fun and this even briefly made it into my top 10 of the year, very briefly indeed. The film flowed relatively smoothly and nothing really felt forced. There was nice, methodical way of doing things and the antagonist, whilst threatening, wasn’t shoved down your throat and made to seem more dangerous than they actually were, unlike Spectre.

The cast was strong all around and each put in an excellent performance, especially Cruise. I’ve never understood the hatred towards Tom Cruise. He is a very good actor and you could probably count the bad films he’s been in on one hand, although very few of those are bad because of him. Ferguson is fun to watch and whilst the rest of the main cast, such as Pegg, Rhames and a few others aren’t involved as you would expect, they enhance the parts of the story that they are in.

The one main issue with Mission Impossible 5 is that the main antagonist isn’t really in the film and must like Spectre, the threat was merely implied rather than actually acted on, and in that sense it was a bit of a let down. Other than that Rogue Nation is a fun action film.

 

Mr HolmesMr._Holmes_poster

Cast : Sir Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker and Hiroyuki Sanada

Plot : A long retired Sherlock Holmes (McKellen) is in the early stages of dementia and is living with the harsh, albeit caring, Mrs Munro (Linney) and her son Roger (Parker). He is trying to recall a final case and what went wrong with it.

Whilst trying to recall what happened so that he can write about it, Holmes uses some other cases to try and put pen to paper, but his friendship with Roger could end up causing tragedy.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : If you’ve not heard of Mr Holmes then I wouldn’t be surprised. When I went to my screening there was only me and four others in there, and the sales for it weren’t great. It was very much a sleeper style film, in other words one that’s just there that a lot of people wouldn’t know about.

When I saw Mr Holmes, I liked the numerous aspects to it’s script and storyline, with multiple stories going on at one time or another as the elderly Holmes is almost treated like a mythical figure, and the other characters try and figure out which stories about him are true, and which were fabricated.

Several seemingly unconnected stories then start intertwining by the end of the run time and I love the multi-faceted elements to the story, and also how each story is played out separately through. In many ways I liken it to the TV show “Lost” in that you’re seeing events in both the past and the present, and what’s happening the past reflects the current situation, but you don’t get the full picture right until the end, and that is exactly what happens in Mr Holmes.

This was another film that was in my Top 10 for quite some time, but slowly moved it’s way down the list and was always likely to slip into this list, but there is nothing at all wrong with Mr Holmes. Yes, it’s a very slow film, and very humbly put together, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon style film, and each of the cast are not only competent, but excel in this roles.

 

movies-ronaldo-poster

Ronaldo

Cast : Cristiano Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo Jr

Plot : In 2012 Lionel Messi beat Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or for the fourth year in a row. Ronaldo doesn’t react well at first but this documentary follows his journey over the following few years as he develops into a player that then won it in 2014 and 2015.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : It explores his life on and off of the pitch, including an insight into his relationship with his son, Cristiano Jr.

Can I really count Ronaldo, the film about arguably the best football (no, not the American version of rugby, I mean actual football, you know, where you kick a ball with your foot)? There is a part of me that says yes and another that says no.

Let’s start with the no and the obvious reason of that it’s not really a film in the true respect of being a film, it’s more of a documentary about a year in the life of Ronaldo. That being said, it was released in the cinema in the UK during 2015, even if just for a single showing, and therefore, as per the rules I set out in the Bottom 10 articles, it must be included…..so here it is.

As I personally believe that he is, at the time of writing, the best player and that’s not an invitation for a Ronaldo vs Messi debate, and the simple reason is that the film shows that the rivalry is merely professional. They personally interact with each other at various points during the show, including Messi saying hi to Ronaldo Jr,

The only real antagonism between them in the film is right at the beginning when Messi wins his fourth Ballon d’Or (the award for the player voted best in the world every year) and Ronaldo is upset that he didn’t win it as he thought he’d earnt it. This is obviously initial disappointment, but it shows the work that he puts in to make himself better, and it’s a great character study of a man who not only believes he is the best at what he does, but is determined to prove it. It could easily come across as arrogant in many ways,

My only real fault with the film was that I wish it had covered Ronaldo’s career before the year a bit more, such as his spells at Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United, but other than that it was an enjoyable way to spend an evening at the cinema.

SouthpawUntitled

Cast : Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence and Miguel Gomez

Plot : Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) is a champion boxer and destroys opponents for fun, all with the loving support of his wife Maureen (McAdams) and daughter Leila (Laurence). At a dinner celebration, Billy fails to ignore insults aimed at his wife from the number one contender (Gomez), and the ensuing fight results in Maureen being shot. She dies soon after.

Billy struggles to keep his emotions from collapsing and he quickly loses custody of Leila. He also returns to the ring and it comfortably beaten. He realises that he needs to get his life together again to stand a chance of not only getting back to the top of the boxing world, but also get his daughter back.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : Southpaw is a very competent sports drama. The acting is good throughout, the fights are brutal and unforgiving, and the drama is very engaging, but there was one particular reason that I didn’t even consider Southpaw for the Top 10 and that is the daughter.

The daughter is one of the most selfish characters I have ever seen in film. She has no appreciation for her father’s struggles and it’s not even as if she is a young child, she’s maybe 10, and yet she’s so wrapped up in her own desires and needs that she might as well be three. The character basically hates her father for not coping well following Maureen’s death and not having the luxuries that she has obviously grown accustomed to, she rejects any chance to be with him again once she realises that if she goes with him, she won’t be in a life of luxury anymore, and only seems interested again once his fortunes improve.

It’s yet another case of a child character almost single-handedly ruining an otherwise enjoyable film.

Away from the selfish brat of a character, the film is otherwise fairly enjoyable and Gyllenhaal’s dedication to the role is evidence again, going from his dilapidated appearance in Nightcrawler, to the ripped physique in Southpaw. He was an actor who I didn’t have an opinion on until 2014, but since then he has continually impressed me.

If you’re going to watch this, watch it for Gyllenhaal alone.

star-wars-force-awakens-kylo-ren-adam-driver-poster-hi-resStar Wars : The Force Awakens

Cast : Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Dohmnall Gleeson, Carrie Fisher and Oscar Isaac

Plot : 30 years after the death of Darth Vader and the fall of the Empire, a new force has arisen in the galaxy called The First Order, and more particularly it’s figureheads, General Hux (Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Driver). Another resistance is in place, once again run by Leia Organa (Fisher).

Meanwhile, on Jakku, stormtrooper Finn (Boyega) crashlands along with Poe Dameron (Isaac), although the latter disappears. Finn eventually runs into Rey (Ridley), a girl seemingly strong with the force. She also has in her possession Poe’s droid, a droid that contains a map to the location of Luke Skywalker, and they need to take it to Leia, so they escape on a seemingly scrap ship, the Millennium Falcon.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : Please note that as this is still out at the time of writing, the below contains spoilers. I’ve never been the biggest Star Wars fan, as I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this website, including a preview I did to The Force Awakens several months ago. I do like them but don’t see the obsession that some have them, and coming into December I was absolutely sick to death of hearing about Star Wars, and in the days following it’s release I grew tired of everyone asking if I had seen it, so I decided to go and watch it far earlier than I was planning.

So, much like the rest of the Star Wars franchise, I didn’t mind it but I wasn’t going to consider it as good as some have said it is. There are many reasons for this, but I’m only going only talk about the main ones for me, the first is the character of Kylo Ren, whilst brilliant in terms of a character and a sympathetic villain, just lost a lot for me when he actually got into the fights at the end with Finn and Rey. Kylo’s win over Finn is rather unconvincing, and then he struggles against Rey. I don’t care how powerful Rey is in terms of the force, experience counts for a lot in fights and not once because he actually look like beating her. For me it weakened a character that I had otherwise enjoyed.

Despite that, Kylo is arguably the most interesting character of the new trilogy as he is bad, but quite clearly has traces of good in him, but level of unpredictability makes him extremely dangerous, as evidenced by the scene on the bridge with Han Solo, and most excitingly, means he can be taken in several different directions. In many ways, I’d say he’s possibly the most flexible character that has appears in the franchise.

For me the true evil in this film is actually the character of General Hux, played by Dohmnall Gleeson. I had never been that fussed about Gleeson before this, but he was stunningly brilliant at Hux. There is a scene in which he is rallying his troops, almost like a Nazi-style rally, and Gleeson’s passionate anger roused me to the point where I almost applauded. It was that good. For me this was the best scene in the entire film as it shows that the First Order meant business, and the Gleeson, despite not having any force powers (as far as we’re aware at this point).

Whilst the antagonist characters were excellent, I didn’t really feel any particular attachment for the protagonists, and whilst not poorly acted or portrayed, they certainly don’t have the same level of presence on the screen as Kylo Ren or General Hux, but there are still fortunately two more films for them to develop.

 

UnbrokenUntitled12312

Cast : Jack O’Connell, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund and Domhnall Gleeson

Plot : Louie Zamperini (O’Connell) is on board a bomber in a 1943 bombing mission against the Japanese when the engines fail and they have to crash into the ocean. He and several others survive on a life-raft, although with thousands of miles of ocean in numerous directions, they all struggle to survive with little food and water.

Eventually, only Louie and the pilot, Phil (Gleeson) survive long enough to be rescued, although it is a Japanese ship and they are subsequently separated and sent to different POW camps. Louie is sent to the camp that is run by Mutsuhiro Watanabe (Miyavi), a man infamous for vicious treatment of those in his care.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : Unbroken was the first film I saw during 2015 on January 3rd and for a long time it was in my Top 10 of the year,  and it wasn’t until December 14th that it was forced out. At this point many people were curious why Unbroken was even in that list to begin with, but the reason is that I simply enjoyed it.

Now, I haven’t watched it since seeing it in the cinema, so this will be a relatively short mini-review.

I’ll start with the story and whilst the story might seem a little far fetched, I read Zamperini’s book soon after watching the film and the film seems to match large sections of the book, so obviously we’re only taking his word for it that things happened as they did, but for me it seemed like a fairly realistic portrayal of being a prisoner of war, as well as a great story of the human instinct to survive.

The film’s division into various sections works very well and you get several mini-films within. My favourite of which is probably when they are in the boat and are desperately trying to hang on, with several trying desperately to about dehydration. That part of Unbroken is interesting to watch because you get a true representation of what characters are actually like when the situation gets too dire for them

I think that the dire nature of the film and the situations that the character find themselves in are why a lot of people didn’t like Unbroken. It’s not a positive film, with torture, desperation and other similar themes throughout, and very few positives in the film, except for Zamperini’s defiance.

Unfriended368285ec6d263ccf5634bca7c620ff91

Cast : Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki and Courtney Halverson

Plot : It’s one year since the death of the popular Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) by suicide. She had killed herself following a video being uploaded of her heavily drunk and having defecated herself. Her best friend Blaire (Hennig) is feeling down about the anniversary, but she is hoping that a night chatting with her friends online can help take her mind off of it.

As the online-chat conversation between the friends start, they notice that another, unknown person is in the conversation, but they can’t get rid of them no matter what they try. The mysterious person appears to know that one of the six people in the conversation was responsible for Laura’s death, and they will make the group feel considerably lower than they did before.

Why not good enough for the top 10? : Unfriended was a film unlike any other that I had seen at the time and took the unusual approach of having the entire run time take place on a computer screen, and whilst the might sound extremely limiting, it’s surprisingly not. I’m not going to sit here and claim that Unfriended was a brilliant film, it has many flaws, but I applaud anyone who releases something is seemingly relatively original. Since I saw this I became aware of another film released prior that is similar in terms of the online aspect of things, but Unfriended isn’t really anything like it and in that sense, is relatively unique.

The young cast feels at home in the technology based situation, obviously using their experience using the software to their advantage in terms of camera angles and various other things. They seem to do the acting part reasonably well for a young cast, although again, some of their performance is relatively predictable.

Despite the positives, the main negative for me is that they wasted the chance for a relatively impactful ending. *spoiler obviously* Basically only Blaire survives to the end and the person on the mysterious line is basically Laura’s ghost. When it’s finally revealed that Blaire released the video, the ghost posts the full length video in which Blaire appears mocking Laura onto her Facebook, and Blaire is forced to watch as all of her friends turn against her online. The laptop lid then shuts and a spirit lunges at her.

It would have been more impactful to me if she had been forced to live with the consequences, rather than seemingly being killed. There is a film that features in my Top 10 that has a similar ending in which a person is forced to see the aftermath of their reactions online, but it sticks, and it has far more of an impact that how Unfriended ended.

Ultimately, the reason that I didn’t include Unfriended was that there were simply ten films that were better than it. It’s not an awful film by any stretch, but I can see why others wouldn’t like it. For me it’s one of those films to watch on a Saturday evening when you have nothing else to do, and although I haven’t watched it since, I remember liking it quite a lot.

So after yesterday’s Bottom 10 of 2015, I now move onto films that whilst not bad enough to be in the Bottom 10, were certainly never anywhere near being in the Top 10 either (my next list will be those that were in the Top 10 at some point but didn’t quite make it). I’m not saying that all of the below films were awful (although some were), but to say that they were good would be pushing it.

Please note that these films are sorted into nothing more than alphabetical order.

 

A Walk in the WoodsA_Walk_in_the_Woods_Poster

Cast : Robert Redford and Nick Nolte

Plot : Bill (Redford) is an acclaimed writer and has returned to his native US to retire. Despite trying to resettle into normal life, he longs for one last adventure and decides to walk the Appalachian trailer, a wooded route of nearly 2,000 miles.

After initially struggling to find someone to go with him, he eventually enlists the help of old friend, Stephen (Nolte). Stephen’s health is heavily deteriorated due to alcohol abuse, but the two set out on the journey together.

So why only “Ok, at best” : On the face of it this was going to be one of those films that appealed to hikers themselves and those with a bit of wanderlust, the latter of which I fall into. The locations are beautiful and look like somewhere that I may want to visit myself,

The “humour” relating to two older gentleman struggling to keep up with their younger counterparts soon wears thin. Granted, it does have the initial laugh but then it sticks with the theme of them not being as fit as younger people, almost as if it’d come as a surprise that two men within their latter years aren’t as physically fit as people that are in their 20s and 30s.

However, the biggest disappointment for me comes with the ending. *SPOILER* Bill and Stephen reach a map which shows where they are on the route and they realise that they’re not even close to even being half way. After a bit of discussions they decide to give up. Yep, all of that build up until that point and they go home. For me this was such a let down and whilst some will argue that this is a story about two friends trying to achieve a dream and getting more out of it than they would have done had they kept going, it just felt like such a let down.

Out of all of the films that I saw this year, I would rate this as the second worst ending, second only to the bland nature of “Still Alice”.

 

Billfid14691

Cast : Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Jim Howick, Ben Willbond, Laurence Rickard and Martha Howe-Douglas

Plot : A young William Shakespeare (Baynton) decides to travel to London to try and find his fame and fortune, and he quickly befriends Christopher Marlowe (Howick) and the Earl of Croydon (Farnaby), the latter of whom enlists him to help write an epic play for Queen Elizabeth (Helen McCrory), whilst also plotting to help King Phillip II of Spain (Willbond) to invade England.

So why only “Ok, at best” : I do feel very harsh in rating Bill so lowly because it is ultimately a kids film and therefore not designed for someone who is 31. For those who aren’t British, there is a TV show called “Horrible Histories” that teaches children the history of the world in a sketch style format, and in many ways it is like a child friendly Monty Python. This shares the same cast as the TV show and in many ways it was largely enjoyable, especially as each actor players three or four characters each.

I am a big fan of Baynton, who has recently come off of a successful run in the TV show “Me, You and the Apocalypse”. He has many likeable qualities and out of everyone who was in the film, he was definitely the right actor to put as the main character and he is again largely enjoyable, however, he is the only cast member that translates successfully from TV to film, and this is a shame as Jim Howick has also been fantastic in TV shows that include “Reggie Perrin”.

It’s hard to put a finger on why I rate this film so low because as I say, it’s not an awful by any stretch, but I seem to recall the comedy being exceptionally one dimensional and re-watching the trailer to post below backed that up. I can’t imagine that even kids would find a lot of the jokes funny, and a lot of them stay long beyond their welcome.

Whilst enjoyable on a lot of levels, it wasn’t on many others and this is why it is in this half of the list.

Child 447966

Cast : Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman and Noomi Rapace

Plot : Shortly after the finish of World War 2, Russian soldier Leo Demidov (Hardy) has risen to be part of the Ministry of State Security and he soon starts noticing a pattern relating to child murders. He soon started investigation before things take a turn as his wife, Raisa (Rapace) is arrested and accured or being disloyal to Russia. He suspects that it is the work of Vasili (Kinnaman), a fellow agent in the MGB that has taken a particular dislike to Leo’s rise.

Leo joins Raisa in an outpost that she has been sent to, but whilst there he forms an allegiance with General Nesterov (Oldman), and together they try and solve the murders.

So why only “Ok, at best” : For a lack of better words, Child 44 is just plain boring. It’s not memorable in the slightest. I had to look up what the major plot points, the only film that I have had to do that for for this entire run, and that should tell you everything that you need to know.

Tom Hardy, whilst normally enjoyable, is just a bit mopey throughout, Gary Oldman is largely forgettable and the very fact I forgot Noomi Rapace was even in the film should tell you everything that you need to know.

I’ll be completely honest when I say that in any other year, or if I hadn’t started working at the Odeon a few months after seeing this and therefore getting films to free (therefore seriously increasingly the numbers that would have otherwise appeared on the list), this would have comfortably been in the Bottom 10.

 

Hitman : Agent 47Untitled

Cast : Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto and Ciaran Hinds

Plot : Katia (Ware) lives in Berlin alone and has dedicated her life to finding her scientist father, Dr Piotr Litvenko (Hinds). Katia is curious about her father having known about his involvement with a training program that developed perfect assassins. She is approached one day by a man named John Smith (Quinto) and he warns Katia that there is one of these assassins on his way to kill her.

The pair just manage to avoid the agent (Friend), but he soon catches up with them and appears to kill Smith, however, he soon arises and it turns out that the agent has actually been sent to protect Katia from a group that Smith works for. The trio then play a game of catch and mouse, all whilst continuing the hunt for Dr. Litvenko.

So why only “Ok, at best” : Let’s put it this way, I would not have gone to see this film had I not got unlimited free tickets at the cinema.

I have never played any of the Hitman games so have very little idea of the majority of the story of the franchise, other than the basics of “you go around killing people” and to be honest the only reason I was even slightly excited about the film was Zachary Quinto, who I know can produce excellent performances after his roles as Sylar (Heroes) and Spock (Star Trek), but even then his inclusion was pushing it.

The problem with Agent 47 is that much like it’s lead character, there’s just nothing there emotionally and I wasn’t engaged with the story in the slightest. Hitman offers precisely nothing new to any genre of any kind, and it feels very much like I have seen this story many times before.

Much like Child 44, I couldn’t really remember a lot that really happened in Hitman and had to look up the major plot points of the story but as soon as I did I remembered one of the reasons that I didn’t like it. There is all this struggle to find her father, but then one day he’s just there, it’s so unwarrantied, , and I think that unlike other movies based on games, you really need have played the games to get any semblence of joy from this, and, again much like Child 44, had this been any other year then there is a heavy chance that this would have been in the bottom 10.

 

Lady in the VanThe-Lady-in-the-Van_poster_goldposter_com_1-400x593

Cast : Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings and Jim Broadbent

Plot : Play-write Alan Bennett (Jennings) has moved into a new house and seems to be enjoying his life, other than struggling to come up with a new hit for the stage.

He soon becomes aware of a woman calling herself Mrs. Shepherd (Smith) who lives in a van and resides outside of people’s houses. The neighbourhood describes her as a menace, not helped by her increasing stench of body-odor. The street is eventually turned into permit parking only and Mrs. Shepherd guilt trips Bennett into letting her stay on his drive way.

Bennett makes it clear that this will only be a temporary fix, but it turns out to be anything but.

So why only “Ok, at best” : I have said to many friends who have contemplated seeing Lady in the Van that chances are that you’ll only like it if you’re over 50 years old as there isn’t anything there for anyone younger. The problem with that is that they have tried to get the younger crowd into the film by showing James Corden as a market trader and that he has arguably the film’s best line, but if you watch the trailer then the part you see with him in it is his only scene and the only two lines he has.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a James Corden fan and if you’re English, chances are you share that sentiment, but it’s blatantly obvious that they were trying desperately to get younger people more interested in a film that generally wouldn’t appeal to them. As I am “only” 31, this film wasn’t designed for me, but unfortunately I can’t view it from the eyes of a much older person, and I think that during the screening I went to I was the youngest person in the screen by at least 20 years.

Lady in the Van isn’t necessarily a bad film, but there’s nothing particularly remarkable about it either and it’s just a nothing film. They try and build the character of Miss Shephard as someone who is quite remarkable….and yet there’s pretty much nothing remarkable about her other than that she was a nun who once *spoiler alert* accidentally killed someone through no fault of her own. She isn’t a particularly remarkable characters.

The dramatic parts of the film aren’t particularly moving, the comedy isn’t particularly amusing, and the acting is bland, at best. The acting throughout is not convincing from any member of the cast and for lack of better words, I was bored.

 

LegendLegend

Cast : Tom Hardy, Emily Browning and Christopher Eccleston

Plot : In 1960s London, the Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie (both Hardy) are feared by pretty much everyone. Whilst Reggie is viewed as the more sensible of the two, Ronnie is mentally unstable and has already served several stints in institutes specialising in mental health.

Whilst Reggie is courting Frances Shea (Browning), Ronnie’s actions cause the two to become increasingly known by the police, eventually causing Nipper Read (Eccleston) to start a thorough investigation into them. Reggie struggles to keep Ronnie under control as they both struggle to keep their head above water, but it isn’t until Ronnie acts out a revenge kill that the pair get involved an unstoppable road towards jail.

So why only “Ok, at best” : Oh, I can already feel the hate coming in from all angles demanding to know why I didn’t like Legend. Now, rest assured that you aren’t the only one who is questioning this, infact, I seem to be the only person who didn’t enjoy Legend and to be honest, I can’t recall why.

Legend looks great, the acting from Hardy is superb, infact, if he doesn’t get nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Ronnie alone then I’d be surprised, and the storyline is engaging…..BUT I just didn’t enjoy it. Now don’t get me wrong, this film is probably the closest on this list to have made it into my third list (those that were good, but not good enough for the Top 10), but I couldn’t honestly put it in there because I simply didn’t enjoy it.

I think the reason for this is that I went in so incredibly hyped for this film. It was probably the most excited that I have been for a film in 2015, but I think that that is the problem. I went in with such high expectations that they were probably never going to be met, and because of that I look at it rather negatively.

As I say, there is nothing overly wrong with the film but for me personally, I couldn’t put it into a list that considers it to have been better than being ok (at best) and have been honest with you all. I’d rather given you my honest opinion of the film than lie just to be popular.

 

Pixels51n2ntzrn3L

Cast : Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage and Sean Bean

Plot : Back in the 1980s, still in the early years of arcade games, Sam (Sandler) and Ludlow (Gad) come close to beating Eddie (Dinklage) in a tournament. Around the same time, America decides to try and communicate with alien life by sending out images of their culture, including scenes from games such as Donkey Kong, PAC-Man and various others.

Skip forward to modern day and Sam has become a fix-it man for technology when he is suddenly invited to the White House by his friend, and President, Cooper (James). It turns out that the aliens misinterpreted the message sent in the 1980s and have started a war on Earth, with what is effectively a Best-of-Five series of battles, with video games being their battle of choice.

Sam, Ludlow and Eddie are all forced to play video games in a life or death situation, but sometimes cheaters just can’t change their ways.

So why only “Ok, at best” : When I first saw the trailer for Pixels I got quite excited and loved the ideas of video games coming to life and trying to kill us all. It looked like an amazingly fun movie and I eagerly anticipated it…..that was until Adam Sandler appeared on my screen. My enthusiasm very quickly faded after that but I still went to see it when it was released….that’s the thing with getting films for free due to working in a cinema, you go and watch films that you wouldn’t even consider otherwise.

So I took my seat in Screen 9 of Lincoln Odeon, and the sparsely populated screen tells you all that you need to know about England’s opinion of Mr Sandler, but then the film started and I realised about half way through that I was actually enjoying myself. Other than the occasional dose of what could best be described as “Sandlerisms”, I was enjoying it.

I’m not going to lie, it did actually appear on the “Top 10” tab on my spreadsheet for a few weeks, but then came the moment I realised that maybe I hadn’t enjoyed it as much as I had. There have been many occasions during my 31 years on this planet that I have seen a film more than one at the cinema, a list that includes films such as Star Trek, The Fellowship of the Ring and some films from the 1990s that I am actually embarrassed to admit to watching, and Pixels almost became another addition to the list.

I had been invited by two of my fellow colleagues to watch it with them before my shift, and I agreed, but it got to about two minutes before it was due to start and I realised that I just couldn’t be bothered. It was at that point I started looking at the film in depth and certain scenes, and realised that I just hadn’t enjoyed it afterall.

Now, this never had any danger of being in my bottom 10, I enjoyed it too much for that to be the case, but I can’t knowingly put it in anywhere near my Top 10 either due to the previous paragraph.

 

 

San Andreasb_qd3q7usaacgny

Cast : Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario and Ioan Gruffudd

Plot : Helicopter rescuer Ray (Johnson) is separated from his wife, Emma (Gugino), but they share a good relationship and they both spend decent amount of time with Blake (Daddario), their daughter. One day, whilst doing his job, Ray notices that the San Andreas fault is having major activity and it causes massive destruction to that region of California.

After he is separated from his family, Ray must find a way to get them all back together, although all of the family’s trust in Emma’s boyfriend (Gruffudd) is abandoned when he enacts Darwinism, abandoning Blake. As the waters rises because of LA’s sinking into the ocean, can Ray rescue his family before a massive tsunami gets to the city?

So why only “Ok, at best” : If you’ve seen one American disaster film then you’ve seen them all, and that was yet again the case with San Andreas. The problem with all of these disaster films is that, without any exceptions as far as I’m aware, the major Hollywood ones all have the family being separated and then having to fight through the disaster, all before being reunited….and none of them suffering any major harm.

Everything feels artificial and whilst not awful, you never genuinely feel like the main characters are in any danger, and San Andreas definitely sticks to this. Dwayne Johnson is an excellent action star, but he seriously needs to broaden his range as in pretty much every movie I have seen of his, he just seems to be playing pretty much the same character, and it makes his presence in movies a bit boring.

Outside of the predictability of the story and Johnson’s more one dimensional character choices, San Andreas isn’t an awful film by any stretch, but it brings precisely nothing new to the genre. It’s watchable, but nothing more.

 

SpectreUntitled

Cast : Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christophe Waltz, Dave Bautista and Andrew Scott

Plot : James Bond (Craig) is recovering from the events of Skyfall when M (Fiennes) bans him from going into the field after he causes mass destruction in Mexico. M is also trying to fight off the new head of the agency, C (Scott), who believes that the program for spies such as Bond has now served it’s purpose. Bond obviously ignores his banning to investigate the mysterious group known as Spectre.

He eventually gets into a secret meeting in which he hears a mysterious man (Waltz) talk about a plan to take the world, but the man knows that Bond is there and he only just survives a pursuit from Hinx (Bautista). As Bond’s investigations run deeper, he realises that he needs to protect the daughter of an old ally, but with the man and Hinx on his ail, it certainly won’t be easy to protect her.

So why only “Ok, at best” : I’ve never been the biggest fan of Bond films and before about two months ago I hadn’t seen any of the non-Brosnan Bond films. For me, much like San Andreas, they’re far too predictable and you know that Bond is never going to die. You can put him a nano-second from death and you know he’ll somehow find his way out, and that is why I’m not a fan of Bond films.

The strange thing about Spectre is that Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld is advertised as the main villain in the film, and yet he’s only in it for what can’t be more than ten minutes. The main villain isn’t in more than 90% of the film and that is never a good thing. Dave Bautista’s Mr Hinx is viewed only as the secondary villain, and yet he is a far more genuine threat than Blofeld, and the best sequences in the film are the ones where Hinx is involved.

With a lengthy run time that runs just shy of 2 and a half hours, Spectre drags and drags and drags. There are spells where nothing its really happening, characters aren’t being developed, the story isn’t moving along and everything is just dragged out to the point where you feel bored. It just doesn’t move, and then by the time something actually does happen, you’ve been so bored by Daniel Craig’s monotonous acting, the least interesting Bond girl (if you can even call her that)

The only thing that I truly liked about this Bond film is that it continues to back up the theory that James Bond is merely a code name, and that it is given to a new agent when the previous one gets too old, dies or gets captured. This is backed up by the code name of M passing from Judi Dench to Ralph Fiennes after the former’s death in Skyfall.

 

Steve Jobssteve-jobs-movie-poster-800px-800x1259

Cast : Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jeff Daniels and Seth Rogen

Plot : Steve Jobs (Fassbender) is getting ready to launch the Apple Macintosh in 1984 and is 40 minutes away from the product being officially launched. During this time he is forced to interact with a girl who he is adamant isn’t his daughter, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. Jobs is distracted throughout by the voice recognition system not working properly and demands that Andy Hertzfeld (Stuhlbarg) fix it. The product is a flop.

Skip forward to 1988 and Jobs, now fired from Apple, is getting ready to launch the NeXT computer. In the four years since the Macintosh launch he has acknowledged the girl to be his daughter, but he struggles with other relationships, including that with Steve Wozniak (Rogen), co-founder of Apple. Jobs is irate with Wozniak for quotes in an article and scolds him. Meanwhile, Jobs has slandered John Sculley (Daniels), the CEO of Apple for trying to oust him unfairly, although this is shown to be false in flashbacks. The NeXT flops.

Skip forward to 1998, can it be third time lucky in the various aspects that are lead up to the launch of the iMac, the first product launched after Jobs returns to Apple?

So why only “Ok, at best” : Whilst an excellent character study into how people change over time, and how a man can keep rising again despite constant failure, Steve Jobs just didn’t do anything that made me want to watch it again. Now don’t get me wrong, Steve Jobs is not an awful film, not be any stretch, and the cast are very competent, but just like some other films that appear on this list, is suffers in many ways from just not being that interesting.

I imagine that if you’re a fan of Apple’s products, or had an interest in the man himself, then you’ll probably like this, but I do not fall into either of those categories and because of that, I failed to be engaged at all by Steve Jobs and whilst it’s relatively well made, I was just sat there just slightly above being bored.

That’s all I really have to say on the matter really.

 

The Good DinosaurUntitled

Cast : All voices – Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Marcus Scribner and Jack Bright

Plot : Set in an alternative reality in which the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs actually missed Earth, a young Apatosaurus is born and is considerably smaller than it’s siblings, he is named Arlo (Ochoa). Arlo struggles to keep up with the rest of the family in work on the farm, and his failure to keep out a human child (Bright) out of the corn reserves, angers his father (Wright).

As they chase the child, the pair get to an unfamiliar location and the heavy rain causes a flood that claims Arlo’s farther’s life, and sweeps Arlo to an unknown area of the world. He must make it back before being picked off by carnivores.

So why only “Ok, at best” : The Good Dinosaur is arguably Pixar’s worst offering to date, with an unoriginal storyline, characters that just aren’t that interesting and one of the most ridiculous animations that I’ve ever seen, and that’s where I’m going to start.

Whilst the backgrounds and environments in TGD are stunning and almost photo-realistic, they’ve seemingly put so little effort into the actual characters that it just looks absolutely ridiculous. You’ve got T-Rex’s that look like they’ve been breeding with pugs, Apatosaurus’ that just look ridiculous, and just a plethora of other horrendous visualisations.

Away from the look of the film, it’s hard to really get emotionally interested in The Good Dinosaur because you know that he is going to make it home and earn his mark. In many ways it feels like a rip off of The Land Before Time, it’s a fairly similar set up in many ways, but TLBT is far superior to The Good Dinosaur.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few heartwarming moments throughout, but it’s a largely empty film with very little worth being excited about.

 

The Hunger Games : Mockingjay Part 2mockingjaypostersmall_0

Cast : Jennifer Lawrence,  Josh Hutcherson,  Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour-Hoffman and Liam Hemsworth

Plot : Katniss (Lawrence) is still the figure head for the resistance in their fight against the capital, and it’s finally time for the assault on President Snow (Sutherland) and the capital. Katniss is wary that Peeta (Hutcherson) is still going to act violently against her after the events at the end of Part 1.

The group move in after the main assault on the capital, and they narrow survive several traps before Peeta tries to kill Katniss. The group forces them to separate but as they move towards Snow’s mansion, the trust is at an all time low as they battle against traps, soldiers and other such creatures.

So why only “Ok, at best” : The fourth installment of a franchise that started with the blatent rip-off of Battle Royale was nowhere near as epic as some would have you believe. Now don’t get me wrong, Mockingjay Part 2 (I’m just simply going to call is MP2 for each) isn’t awful, it’s a very watchable film, but the main problem is that there are so many storylines that are brought to a very unsatisfactory end. Even if I was a fan of the franchise, I would still have been disappointed with this final installment.

Let’s go with the whole Katniss vs Snow story arc. The film builds up to what would be an absolutely epic final encounter, only for Katniss to be knocked unconcious, awaking to find that Snow has been captured and is simply in his greenhouse. Where’s the excitement in that? It’s such an anti-climax to the main arc of the story that you’re just left completely disengaged.

Then we go to the whole “who will Katniss choose” arc with Peeta and Gale as the two options, however, before watching MP2 I sat and watched the entire franchise, and there’s nothing about Gale and Katniss’s friendship that ever really suggests that they’re more than just friends. Whilst I can see the whole Katniss and Peeta connection without any issues, Gale and Katniss are never seemingly close to getting together. They have somehow managed to make a love triangle that is worse and less convincing that Twilight.

I could continue going out but I really don’t want to. The only thing that saves MP2 from being in the bottom ten is that again, it is relatively watchable and the early tensions between Peeta’s breakdown is comfortably the best part of either of the Mockingjay films.

 

The Night BeforeThe-Night-Before

Cast : Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Lizzy Caplan

Plot : When they were young adults, Ethan (Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Rogen) and Chris (Mackie) discovered that an unforgettable, almost legendary, party exists, but they can’t find it, that despite all of their best efforts. Several years later, Isaac and Chris have both moved on in their lives and are responsible adults, whereas Ethan hasn’t and is still obsessed with the party.

Ethan is also depressed after breaking up with his girlfriend, Diana (Caplan), but whilst at his job as a waiter at a party, he stumbles across tickets for the party and the trio all set about getting ready for it, although getting there proves to be more of a struggle than they had initially anticipated.

So why only “Ok, at best” : The Night Before was just your average comedy and there was nothing particularly remarkable about it, and therein lies the problem. I write this mini-summary four days after watching the film and other than the main talking points in the film, I can’t really recall much of what happens. It’s a largely forgettable comedy that will no doubt appear on various TV stations every year due to that being the nature of Christmas themed films, but it’s not really worth a watch.

Now that’s not to say that I didn’t laugh. Far from it, I laughed at least five or six times, and one was a particularly hearty chuckle with the scene set in the church, that scene is by far the best thing about The Night Before and summed up Seth Rogen’s ability to make you laugh in a situation that any other comedian wouldn’t be able to.

Whilst Rogen brings a certain skill to his role, and Gordon-Levitt yet again does well in a “mopey-I’ve just been dumped” sort of role, Anthony Mackie (aka Discount Will Smith) offers precisely nothing new to his repertoire that you haven’t seen before, and his acting is so one dimensional that he’s practically the same as he is within the Avengers films.

 

The WalkThe_Walk_(2015_film)_poster

Cast : Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ben Kingsley

Plot : In the 1970s, Philippe Petit (Gordon-Levitt) developed a dream to walk the gap between the two towers of the World Trade Centre on a wire. It is of course completely illegal and therefore they have to find a way to do it without alerting the authorities before hand.

Along the way they find many difficulties in not only hanging the wire, but also getting up to the top floor to begin with, but can Philippe successfully make his way across?

So why only “Ok, at best” : The second Joseph Gordon-Levitt entry in a row on this list was one of my biggest disappointments of the year. I was really looking forward to The Walk, even though all tension was taken out of it when I discovered about a week in advance that the real life Philippe Petit not only survived his crossing, but kept changing direction to worry the nearby cops (their reaction to him turning on the spot whilst suspended several hundred metres in the air is great), but even with knowing this, Petit is portrayed as extremely competent in doing what he’s doing, and it takes a lot of the tension out of the scene.

He might as well start skipping along the wire, that’s how farcical the whole thing becomes after his third or fourth pivot. Not to forgot they he successfully lays down on the rope, regularly gets up and down, as well as many other party tricks, however, it just occured to me that technically Philippe doesn’t actually complete the walk across at any point. He keeps turning around and ends up exactly where he started. He actually failed to reach the other side because he never steps foot on the second tower.

Ultimately, The Walk reminded me a lot of a disaster film in the sense that you spend so long building up to the event, but the audience is only there to watch the event, they tend not to really care about the stuff before, and whilst the storyline before the crossing happens isn’t bad by any stretch, there’s nothing particularly unique with The Walk.

It’s presented in an unusual fashion, almost dream like and whimsical in many ways, but again this didn’t help with the actual film itself as the danger isn’t made to feel real. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does his best in a rather limited role, but there are times in which his fake French accent is so strong that it’s hard to understand what he is saying. The rest of the cast are pretty much non-eventful and the fact that I can’t remember who else is in it other than Gordon-Levitt without having to look it up should tell you all that you need to know.

 

Victor FrankensteinVictor_Frankenstein_2015

Cast : James McAvoy, Danielle Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay and Andrew Scott

Plot : Igor (Radcliffe) is a circus performer and has a very low down position due to a hunchback. One day he impresses Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) whilst performing a medical procedure following an accident. Victor frees Igor from his cage and takes him back to his home in London, and removes the hunch, revealing it to be nothing more than a sack of pus that has gone untreated for years. He then equips Igor with a brace so he can walk upright.

Victor invites Igor to live with him, but things start taking an odd turn when the former invites the latter to join him in a science experiment to bring the dead back to life. Initially horrified, Igor becomes exceedingly intrigued as time goes on, and equally horrified as Victor’s ambitions exceed bringing simple animals back to life.

So why only “Ok, at best” : Re-tellings of classic stories are never likely to be good, effectively you’re just making up stuff as you go along, other than a few points here and there. That is one of the main reasons why the Hobbit trilogy was so bad compared to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the latter stuck to it’s source material (other than the odd minor change here and there), whereas the Hobbit trilogy, especially “The Battle of the Five Armies” was mostly plucked from thin air. The point I’m making is that you’re effectively making stuff up about characters that people know very well indeed.

That being said, I can only rate Victor Frankenstein as a stand alone film and even then it’s largely unsatisfactory, and whilst I normally enjoy McAvoy and Radcliffe, neither were particularly above average in their respective roles, although the latter does bring a nice level of sympathy to the role of Igor.

The story itself is bland, for lack of better words, and nothing ever seems like a genuine challenge. You know that they’re going to end up creating a create that walks around and it’s just a matter of time before they get it right. There is no genuine struggle for either Victor or Igor, and it’s a big disappointment that when the monster is finally awoken the penultimate scene of the film, it’s visually bland and uninspired. They’ve made very little attempt to make the monster look life-like.

WhiplashUntitled

Cast : Miles Teller, J.K Simmons

Plot : Igor (Radcliffe) is a circus performer and has a very low down position due to a hunchback. One day he impresses Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) whilst performing a medical procedure following an accident. Victor frees Igor from his cage and takes him back to his home in London, and removes the hunch, revealing it to be nothing more than a sack of pus that has gone untreated for years. He then equips Igor with a brace so he can walk upright.

Victor invites Igor to live with him, but things start taking an odd turn when the former invites the latter to join him in a science experiment to bring the dead back to life. Initially horrified, Igor becomes exceedingly intrigued as time goes on, and equally horrified as Victor’s ambitions exceed bringing simple animals back to life.

So why only “Ok, at best” : The final inclusion on this particular list is one that shocked a lot of my friends, with some even saying that it was their favourite film or the year, and yes, whilst J.K Simmons is fantastic and you understand the film’s morals and point, I didn’t feel engaged with it whatsoever.

Amongst many other reasons, the major issue that I have that causes me not to like Whiplash is that <INSERT CHARACTER’S NAME>’s whole story arc is basically a guy who just can’t accept that he’s not good enough to even be classed as competent. Seriously, watch the film again. <INSERT JK’s CHARACTER’S NAME> is basically asking him to be in time, and <INSERT MILES> is so incompetent in doing that to the point that <JK> justifiably ridicules him, and I refuse to feel sorry for a character that simply can’t accept that he’s not as good as he thinks he is.

This really isn’t helped by the monotonous acting of Miles Teller, who seems to have come from the school of acting that promotes you not to show any emotion whatsoever, a school that a lot of actors and actresses seem to graduate from with flying colours these days. Granted, his poor character doesn’t lend itself to a great performance, but even then he made me dislike an unlikable character even more.

I just really didn’t like Whiplash and all, and in all honesty, had this been any other year then much like a few others in this section, this would have comfortably been in my bottom ten.

It’s that time of year again where I take a step away from the independent and low budget films that I normally review, and instead concentrate on film that were released in cinemas across my native UK. 

Last year’s review was done in two parts as the 23 films that I watched in 2014 was easy to manage, but during 2015 I obtained a part time job at a local cinema and was therefore able to see considerably more, and therefore this review of the year will form four parts;

  • The bottom ten films of 2015 (this review)
  • The films that were poor but not bad enough to make the bottom 10
  • The films that were good but didn’t quite enough to make the top 10
  • My top ten films of 2015

Now just to clarify the situation after last year’s controversy in which I included The Wolf on Wall Street (controversial as some were saying it shouldn’t been included because it was a 2013 film, my counter was that it was only released in the UK in 2014 and therefore counted), the film must have been at UK cinemas at some point in 2015, but couldn’t have been re-releases (so no Back to the Future), however, the film could have been released in late 2014 as long as I saw it during 2015.

So anyway, we’ll start with this list, the bottom 10 films of 2015.

10) Terminator Genisysterminator-genisys-motion-poster

Cast : Arnold Schwarezenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney

Plot : After years of fighting the machines, John Connor (Jason Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Courtney) have seemingly finally defeated Skynet, but fail to reach the main hub before a terminator can be sent back in time to kill off Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) before she can give birth to John, in other words, the events of The Terminator. John decides to sent back Kyle, although he already knew that he was going to be sending him back. Just as the time travel begins, Kyle witnesses Jason being attacked by a soldier, but he is helpless to do anything about it as he is sent back to 1984.

Kyle narrowly avoids being killed off by a liquid-metal terminator before eventually being rescued in the middle of a store by Sarah. Sarah reveals that a new Terminator was sent back to protect her when she was a child and they have successfully killed off the original 1984 Terminator, and they now have to do everything that they can to stop Skynet once and for all, but when John suddenly emerges, things take an unexpected twist.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : The very fact that I struggled to make the storyline try and sound like it makes sense should tell you all that you really need to know. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film purposefully destroy it’s own canon, including the only two good films in the series, and it’s own blatant disregard towards the fans is just ridiculous.

Now for me there were a few glaring mistakes in the film and one comes in the opening scene when Kyle is sent back in time. At this point the timeline hasn’t changed from his perspective, which means that the Kyle Reese in the original film would have known about what happened to John just as the time-travel started, and yet that version of Kyle didn’t mention it once, so in a film where they fuck up the timeline so much that it renders all of the previous Terminators non-canon, even the good ones, they’ve already caused their own problems within the first few minutes.

The Terminator franchise has turned into a woodwork project in which they were doing great, then they fucked up slightly and have been trying to correct it ever since, but every attempt at fixing it ends up somehow making it worse. I remember being sat in the screen and texting my friend, Stuart. We had both been heavily criticising the trailer and I kept telling him what was happening. He said it convinced him not to go to watch the film and I’d be surprised if he didn’t stick to that promise.

Genisys’ one saving grace is the scene in which they successfully kill the liquid metal Terminator and they is by giving it an acid shower, something which they couldn’t recover from in time before the acid continued to destroy it. It was a brilliant way to kill of a liquid Terminator, but that is literally the only scene in the entire film that was worth wasting nearly 2 hours of my life on.

 

9) Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypsescouts_guide_to_the_zombie_apocalypse_poster_art

Cast : Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont and David Koechner.

Plot : Ben (Sheridan) and Carter (Miller) are thinking about leaving their local scouts association, but they have trouble telling Augie (Morgan), their friend who lives by the code of the scouts. Despite their lack of interest in the subject, the two must end up using the skills that they have learnt to survive when a zombie apocalypse takes over their town.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : I’m going to call this Scouts Guide for this mini-review as it’s just easier.

I’ve mentioned plenty of times on this site that I have grown exceptionally tired of zombie films. They are dull, predictable, and unimaginative, but I decided to go and watch Scouts Guide anyway whilst I was on a weekend in Brighton. I went in with low expectations and that is pretty much what I got.

Back when I was a child….and still male, I was in the scouts myself up until the age of about 11, after that I realised what a colossal waste of time it was and actually decided to spend my Friday evenings doing stuff that I enjoyed…skip forward 20 years and I am sat in the cinema watching a film about teenage boys in scouts uniforms fighting zombies.

Now don’t get me wrong, Scouts Guide is quite a unique take on the genre and does have some original ideas, but it is just countered by childish and purile humour that whilst making you chuckle slightly, leaves you very unsatisfied, and throughout the film’s run time of around 90 minutes, I was waiting for it to be over.

The characters are horribly one-dimensional, especially Logan Miller’s sex obsessed Carter, and ultimately the film’s message of being true to one’s self and embrace what you like is somewhat awesome, it’s heart and meaning is followed up by fart jokes, the seemingly inevitable showing of breasts, and so many other horrible cliches of the genre.

Whilst not the worst comedy I’ve seen during the year, and whilst maybe something I’d watch if it was on TV and there was precisely nothing else to watch, ultimately Scouts Guide is just a poorly made movie.

8) Still Alice8313_poster_iphone

Cast : Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart

Plot : Alice (Moore) is a professor in linguistics and one of the most respected figures in her field, however, during a presentation she struggles to remember part of her speech and panics because of this. She visits her doctor and he tells her that despite it being highly unusual for someone of Alice’s age, she has developed Alzheimer’s.

Despite trying to live a relatively normal life, Alice soon struggles to even remember the basics, such as where the toilet is, and this puts pressure on her relationship with her husband, John (Baldwin), and her already strained connection with budding actress daughter, Lydia (Stewart)

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : If there is one film in here that I feel exceptionally harsh about having it included in this list then it is “Still Alice” and the reason for this is that whilst it’s well acted, is probably genuine reflection of real life and is a tragic story, I found myself desperately trying to cling on to being interested during it’s run time, it was predictable and worst of all, out of all of the 40 something films that I saw during 2015, it had arguably the worst ending.

Now I am going to caveat what I writing her in saying that Julianne Moore is wonderful and justifiably won all of the awards that are listed at the top of the poster on the right hand side of the page. She is comfortably the best part of the film, and Alec Baldwin is also highly enjoyable to watch in what is a very different role from what I’ve watched in the past.

However, as good as Moore and Baldwin are, Kristen Stewart puts in her usually level of bland performance and you’re never once convinced that she is genuinely concerned by her mother’s condition throughout the entire run time of the film. She never moves away from that botoxed-look to her face and it is astonishing that she still gets offered as many roles as she does.

Now I know some of you will look at this choice and will be angered, and will no doubt look at films I’m going to put in the other three parts of this look at 2015 in film and think “well that’s worse”, but for me personally I just got nothing out of Still Alice. It didn’t excite me, it didn’t engage me on any level, it did nothing, and for that reason I’m including it in this list.

 

7) Absolutely AnythingUntitled

Cast : Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Rob Riggle

Plot : Neil (Pegg) is a failing teacher that is ignored by practically everyone in his life, but his life changes one day when he wakes to find that he has been given the gift of being able to do anything he wants. He quickly uses this for personal gain, including using it to spy on Catherine (Beckinsale), his downstairs neighbour.

As time progresses Neil does eventually start to help others with his powers, but everything he tries backfires, such as wishing no country had any reason to go to war, only for peaceful countries to then declare wars on each other for “no apparent reason”.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : Despite trying to live a relatively normal life, Alice soon struggles to even remember the basics, such as where the toilet is, and this puts pressure on her relationship with her husband, John (Baldwin), and her already strained connection with budding actress daughter, Lydia (Stewart)

It’s interesting that on the day that I write this mini-segment, I had a discussion about Absolutely Anything with a colleague at work after he had seen it for the first time, and this after thinking that I was being slightly too harsh in putting this in my bottom 10. There were several reasons for this, but the main one being the Absolutely Anything, a comedy, made me laugh on numerous occasions, and that is hard to do. I don’t find a lot of things funny, especially in comedies, but Absolutely Anything made me laugh, so kudos. It also made my colleague laugh, but the problem is that whilst we both agreed that it made us laugh, there wasn’t really anything else to the film.

At the time of watching it, despite laughing occasionally, I got exceptionally bored with the one dimensional characters, tired storyline and the rather tedious predictability of what happens throughout. There’s just nothing enjoyable about the characters and you really couldn’t care less about their problems. For example, one of the characters wishes that another teacher loved him, but it becomes a dangerous level of obsession, but it’s just bland, and then later on, when the wish is de-granted, the woman returns to a state of hating him, almost as if nothing ever happened, making the whole thing seemingly pointless.

Absolutely Anything could have ranked up there with Simon Pegg’s other comedy efforts had it actually put in some proper effort, but instead it was nothing more than a film that I knew would feature in this list as soon as I saw it.

It just seems to want to ride on some of the major names in comedy that are appearing in it, such as Robin Williams and the Monty Python gang, but largely it’s definitely style over substance and I never have any intention of watching it again.

 

6) Pancjznj-iuwaecofz-jpg-large

Cast : Levi Miller, Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund and Rooney Mara

Plot : Peter (Miller) is trying to survive life as a boy in an orphanage. Whilst trying to get to sleep one night, he notices several men coming in and taking children at random, and he is eventually taken himself and forced aboard a floating pirate ship.

The ship goes up into the sky and eventually into a large quarry run by legendary pirate, Blackbeard (Jackman). Peter is forced into slave labour, but he manages to escape with the help of James Hook (Hedlund). The two eventually find temporary sanctuary in the home of a local tribe and together they decide to stop Blackbeard destroying the area once and for all.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : Pan was a film that I first saw a trailer for at some point in 2014 and I thought to myself that I would quite like to see it. It seemed like it would be one of those fun reboots, rather than the poorly made ones that were just cash grabs. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

If you’re after a dumb film that you don’t have to think about too much and doesn’t make a lot of sense then you will probably enjoy Pan, but if you have taste, or rightfully question how over 10,000 pirates and kids could know the lyrics to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” a full 50 years before the song was released, then you will hate this film.

Yes, you just read that right, they sing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and not just quietly to themselves, but in a massive chant. Now, whilst this does feel like kind of a piratey song when sung how they sing up, the logic of time means that I can’t just ignore that they’re singing a song that was written by someone who wasn’t even born at the time. It’s almost as if they wanted to give Hugh Jackman a song to sing and they picked a rebellious style song at random.

Infact, here is that scene.

Away from that, the film’s casting is just completely wrong. Hugh Jackman doesn’t make a believable Blackbeard and you never feel like he is a genuine threat, the normally reliable Garrett Hedlund gives a very toothy and annoying performance, whereas I’ve never been particularly impressed by Rooney Mara…..I’m not even going to bother getting into the whole Tigerlily played by a white actress argument….mainly because I don’t care enough to comment on it.

But the worst part is that it does the ultimate movie sin for me in the final part and that is try to set up a sequel, rather than giving the film a natural ending. You’re just sat waiting for the start of the rivalry between Peter and Hook and yet there’s not even a slight hint of it, other than a poorly written piece of dialogue in which Hook can’t think of why they won’t be friends for the rest of their lives. It’s not organic, it’s not natural, it’s a blatant attempt to trying to force a sequel. No, just no.

5) Me and Earl and the Dying GirlMe_&_Earl_&_the_Dying_Girl_(film)_POSTER

Cast : Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cook, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton and Jon Bernthal

Plot : Greg (Mann) is a judgmental student that is simply trying to get through school. He and his friend, Earl (Cyler), make exceptionally poor parodies of well known films. One day Greg is forced to visit the house of fellow student, Rachel (Cooke) after he is diagnosed with cancer.

Despite neither Greg or Rachel actually wanting to spend time with each other, they soon develop a friendship. Greg eventually starts making a film specifically for Rachel, but her deteriorating health means that he is in a race against time to get it done, and this isn’t helped when the two get into a vicious argument.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : I first heard of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” last year and I got really excited by it. It was a film that I thought I would love and although I was a little surprised that it got a mainstream cinema release, I was very excited to get the chance to watch it. I wish that I hadn’t bothered.

Let’s start with the obvious and that’s the title. It’s called “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” but it should really just be named “Me and the Dying Girl” because Earl is barely involved in the film. Although I obviously wasn’t counting, his own screen time couldn’t have been longer than 10 minutes and you could take him out of the film and it would remain largely the same.

It’s just one of a many amount of problems with this film, with the main one being that is it just boring. The two main characters are exceptionally dull and have precisely zero chemistry. It might as well be called “Mopey teenager gets cancer and is then subjected to an equally mopey teenager”. I can understand that Rachel (the dying girl just for clarification) being mopey, afterall, dying isn’t exactly something to be considered fun, but Greg (the ME in the title) is just a mopey, uninteresting, shit-stirring teenager with no personality whatsoever.

Then we get onto the film that Greg makes for Rachel that moves her to tears towards the end of the film. It is one of the biggest pieces of shit that I’ve ever seen in my life. I appreciate that they’re amateurs and it’s just kids messing around, but even then I doubt anyone would be moved by the piece of shit that was put together. *Spoiler Alert* She dies during the showing of this film, which should tell you all that you need to know.

The one saving grace that stops this film from being closer to the top of this list of worst films of 2015 is Nick Offerman. I got into “Parks and Recreation” during the year and became an instant fan of Offerman, and it’s great that he can play a completely different character that one her is stereotyped as. He is delightful to watch and he single handled prevents this film from closer to the worst film on this list.

It astonished me that this film has a rating of 7.9/10 on IMDB (at the time of writing). I hated this film.

4) Ant Man

Cast : Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline LAntMan_LazMarquez_LRilly and Corey Stoll.

Plot : Scott (Rudd) is a career-criminal and is released from prison following serving his latest sentence. He tries to go clean to give him a better chance of seeing his daughter, but he quickly gets dragged back into the life of a criminal when he is encouraged to break into a safe. He succeeds but the only thing that’s inside is a red suit, and Scott is arrested when he is caught leaving the property.

He soon gets contacted by Dr. Pym (Douglas) and he has chosen Scott to take over as “Ant-Man” and stop his former protege, Darren Cross (Stoll), from creating something that will destroy the world. The only problem with that is that Scott clearly isn’t ready, and Pym’s daughter (Lilly) gets exceptionally frustrated as she believes that she should do the mission.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : I’m going to get some angry comic book fans posting on this when they realise that I have included one of their fabled Avengers on this list, but Ant Man is the exact opposite of what has made the rest of the Marvel Universe so enjoyable.

The MCU films have been largely enjoyable, but the problem with them at the moment is that they’re coming out on such a regular basis is that they’re losing what made them fun in the first place. With MCU films you know what you’re going to get and whilst that isn’t a problem with the more established characters, it’s no longer a format that works for introducing new characters, and this is the problem that I had with Ant Man.

Ant Man spent so much time trying to establish the story that you didn’t really care that much about the characters or their problems. You’re force-fed Scott’s poor relationship with his daughter, even though the two have precisely no chemistry, and the difficulty that he is having with

The worst part however for me is that Ant-Man continues the MCU’s tradition of having poor antagonists. Other than Loki, not a single one of the antagonists in all of the MCU films have felt like a genuine threat and it is comfortably the worst aspect of the films in the franchise, and unfortunately Ant-Man continues that with Corey Stoll’s “Darren Cross”. Not once does he ever look like winning and he is so one dimensional that it just takes any genuine fun out of his mission.

 

3) Ted 2

Cast : Mark Wahlberg, Seth McFarTed2_Regular_1Sheet_KeyArt_LoReslane, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, and Giovanni Robisi

Plot : Animated teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) is enjoying married life, but after a big argument, he and his wife briefly split up. They reconcile with the help of John (Wahlberg) and they eventually move onto the discussion of having children. With Ted obviously unable to produce children, they discuss adoption, but during their application it is established that Ted has no legal rights as he is legally defined as a thing. This removes all of his rights and he quickly loses his job and various other aspects of his life, including his marriage being annulled.

John and Ted decide to fight this legally and the case is assigned to Samantha (Seyfried), a young lawyer who spends her spare time getting stoned. Whilst trying to legally fight Ted’s case, Samantha and John start a romantic relationship.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : Ted 2 is just stupid. Pure and simple. It’s unfunny nonsense, full of the same on tired cliches and I really can’t be bothered to sit here and go through all of the problems that Ted 2 has.

To sum how stupid some of the jokes are, at one point during the film they find a massive field full of marajuana plants and the Jurassic Park theme tune starts playing as the characters look in awe….and Ted then comes out with “They do move in herds” quote from that same film, which makes sense to us as a joke, but if you took the music out and he said that then it would be completely out of context and it makes no sense that the characters aren’t confused by him saying the sentence.

The only thing that saved this from from potentially being my worst part of the year is the wonderful cameo from Liam Neeson and the scene in which he is in. It adds nothing to the film and has no impact at all on the story, but if like me you like Family Guy, then you will love this scene.

Ted 2 is comfortably one of the worst films released during 2015 and I definitely wouldn’t have seen it if I didn’t get films for free.

2) GallowsUntitled

Cast : Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos and
Cassidy Piper

Plot : Twenty years ago an accident in a school play left one of the characters being genuinely hung to death. The teachers at the school think it’s time for everyone to move on and re-do the play, much to several people’s objections.

Reese (Mishler) is a jock who is taking part in the play for the simply reason of trying to impress a girl that he is attracted to, but he soon realises that it isn’t worth the hassle and wants to quit, but doesn’t know how to tell anyone directly involved that he isn’t interested, so one night he, Ryan (Shoos) and Cassidy (Piper) all break in and try to destroy the mock-gallows with an axe.

They are soon caught by enthusiastic actress, Pfeifer (Brown), however, when they all go to leave the exit is now locked and soon a mysterious figure starts pursuing them.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : Why, oh why did I go and watch a found-footage horror film at the cinema? Several months after seeing this atrociously bad film I am still asking myself this question.

The Gallows is basically every cliche about found-footage films that you can fit into a film and a “twist” ending that is not only unnatural, but is completely unhinted at throughout the entire film, making it completely pointless and ridiculous. I can’t say that I’m overly surprised as there is just an overwhelming level of carelessness throughout the entire film, and it’s even a major plot hole.

Infact, here is the ending *spoiler alert obviously*. Basically Pfeifer turns out to the be the daughter of the ghost and she purposefully gets the only other survivor killed. This makes pretty much no actual sense as if the death of her father was 20 years ago, meaning that her mother would have been pregnant before he’d died, meaning at Preifer is at LEAST 19 and therefore she wouldn’t be a high school student as she’d be at least a year above the age for a senior, and her character quite clearly wouldn’t have been held back.

It’s just one big, predictable mess, and to sum up just how bad and predictable “The Gallows” was, I spoke to my colleagues at the cinema just before going in and predicted five things that would happen during the movie….and all five happened. I have no time for films that I can successfully predict what will happen in them (and I’m not talking about the obvious ones, such as Titanic), and I found myself sat in the screen, on my own, getting angry that I was wasting my time watching this complete and utter nonsense.

It’s not scary, not in the slightest, and you can tell from the exceptionally minimalist trailer that it is reliant on jump scares, but jump scares just don’t work anymore as audiences have gotten wise to them, and “The Gallows” offers nothing new or noteworthy to what is already a genre that people wish would just fuck off already.

This is not only one of the worst films of the year to be released at the cinema, but I would also go as far as saying that is the worst horror film that has been released at the cinema in many a year. I could have easily written a review for this website but that would have involved having to watch it again to get comprehensive notes on why it was so bad, but I have precisely zero intention of ever watching it again, or going anywhere near it.

 

1) Vacationvacation_ver6

Cast : Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Skyler Gisono, Steele Stebbins, Chevy Chase, Chris Hemsworth and Leslie Mann

Plot : Rusty (Helms) is going through a bit of a midlife crisis and wants something better for his family, so he decides to treat them all to a holiday at “Wally World”, but instead of flying he wants to drive it, giving his family the chance to bond. His family are less than impressed with the idea.

Along the way his wife, Debbie (Applegate), encounters her old university campus and unsuccessfully tries to prove she’s not old, Kevin (Stebbins) successfully cock-blocks James (Gisono) on numerous occasions and all the while the family are being pursued by a trucker that they offended near the beginning of the journey.

Why it’s in the bottom 10 : Vacation was without any semblance of any shadow of any kind of doubt the worst film that I saw during 2015. When I was getting the cast for above, I was genuinely shocked that the film has a rating of 6.2/10, 6.2. That is a lot of the 26,081 people that have voted on IMDB that have precisely zero taste.

I would normally go with the old adage of “the funniest bits are in the trailer” but there problem with that logic would be that the film would have to contain funny bits. It is woefully and diabolically unfunny.

The comedy is dry and predictable, with the characters being ridiculous and stereotypical. You’ve got a father who wants to re-capture his youth, a woman who wants the same but quickly regrets it and realises she’s old, a young child who’s just a pain in the arse and a teenage soon who is on page 1 of the book of the stereotypically nerdy teenage

Acting is just beyond horrible and the film is just stupid and tries to force as many cameos in as possible and they have no pay off. For example, early on in the film the family pisses off a trucker, and throughout the film they keep running into this trucker and he constantly tries to run them off to the road before eventually catching them and chasing Rusty into the desert. The truck stops and it turns out to be Norman Reedus and the reason that he has been following the family to give Debbie back her necklace.

Firstly, if you’re following them just to give them a necklace then why are you trying to run them off the road? Not to forget that the chances of this family constantly stopping in various places, and yet the driver keeps finding them. There is not a chance in hell that the driver would constantly run into them, especially when they keep stopping. It’s pure nonsense.

You’ve also got Chris Hemsworth doing pretty much nothing and being there for no reason other than to appear half naked, and the less said about the ever dependably-awful Leslie Mann, the better.

There is precisely no chemistry between any of the family members of the only drama between them is the poor relationship between the brothers, and it takes a LONG time for the older brother to stand up for himself after a girl that he is attracted to encourages him. It takes ages for him to ask the girl out and then when he finally does, the only pay off is seeing that he has changed his relationship status on Facebook….and then the girl is never seen or even referenced, and there’s still a LOT of the film left to go.

I would go as far as saying that this isn’t just the worst film of 2015, but the worst film of the 2010s for me.

That is some mystical shit!

Year Released : 2015ridic_key_002_h-720x1066
Director: Frank Coraci
Cast : Adam Sandler, Terry Crewes, Taylor Lautner, Jorge Garcia, Rob Schneider, Luke Wilson, Nick Nolte, Steve Zahn and Harvey Keitel

In my upcoming look at all of the mainstream films I saw during 2015, I describe Adam Sandler (the film I write about when saying that is Pixels) as a man who can single-handedly make me not want to watch a film I would have always been excited about. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing personal against Sandler, and I have seen a lot of his films and enjoyed them, but his misses far outweigh his hits.

He’s an actor that needs a big hit to resurrect a film that sees his films regularly panned by critics, but the problem is that he constantly chooses stupid projects, or brings his stupid Sandlerisms (such as doing gloating in a really sarcastic, high pitched voice) into other serious films.

Anyway, I stumbled across this the other day and despite it more than likely becoming well known in time, at the moment it is not and I’ve decided to take the chance to review a film which has a plethora of well known stars, but can they turn make a success of a film that has the word ridiculous in the title, or will that be an appropriate word to use?

Plot

Tommy (Sandler)’s mother was killed when he was a young child, and in the absense of a father in his life he lives with a local native American tribe. There he falls in love with a local woman and lives an ideal life. One day the camp is visited by a man named Frank (Nolte), who claims to be Tommy’s real father. After some bonding, Frank is seemingly kidnapped by a passing cowboy gang that claims he stole $50,000 from them.

After doing some soul searching, Tommy decides that he needs to find his father and to do that he will need $50,000 to do so. He soon sets out and as time moves on he gradually meets men who also seem to have been fathered by Frank, including Ramon (Schneider), Herm (Garcia), Chico (Crews), Danny (Wilson) and simple-minded Pete (Lautner).

The group is successful in stealing $50,000 not once, but twice, but they are hunted by various gangs and groups, but the most dangerous person that they meet on the way might be the man that they’re trying to find in the first place.

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So, is it ridiculous?

There was a time during this film when I had high hopes, mainly because Sandler seemed to be playing the role straight and not with any intention of using his usual approach to films, however, that soon disappears as within minutes of the first scene as he single-handedly takes out a gang, some of which he takes out whilst walking on his hands. It’s one of many scenes where they could have actually been considerably more impactful than it actually is, and it’s easy to understand why The Ridiculous 6 has been panned by critics.

A lot of the jokes just aren’t funny. For example, Terry Crew’s character acts as if people won’t notice that he is black, and is creates an awkward atmosphere in the film for a minute or two as it’s just not funny. I know that they’re trying to be funny, almost as if they’re trying to a satire of genre stereotypes, almost like a modern day attempt at Mel Brooks’ satires of the 70s, 80s and early 90s, but the different is that Brooks’ were funny and had some ingenious jokes.

For a film that is two hours long, very few genuinely funny jokes makes that a very long two hours indeed. For example, there is a scene about half way through in which Pete is getting hanged, however, having a rope around his neck has no impact on him, and he basically mocks all those that are having him by swinging from side to side, flapping around purposefully like a fish and so many other unfunny movements.

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To be fair to the mainstream cast, no-one is truly awful in their roles, it’s just the roles are unfunny. Taylor Lautner is just bizarre as the mentally-handicapped Pete, and most of the jokes in the film revolve around the character’s inadvertent stupidity, and in many ways it feels almost like it’s being disrespectful to those who do have disabilities, not to mention that pretty much all of the women in the film that aren’t native-American are portrayed as sex-obsessed and have no other traits.

The cast is full of cameos from established actors who have been in far, far better films than this and have been acclaimed within them, and it makes you wonder why they agreed to this. Now don’t get me wrong, I did like the game of spotting the cameos, and some did take me by surprise, such as Chris Kattan, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel and even Vanilla Ice makes an appearances, although the less said about the latter’s performance as a “street” version of Mark Twain, the better.

I briefly alluded to the run time of two hours a few paragraphs ago and as well as the poor jokes, that run time is one of the main problems with The Ridiculous 6. Two hours is far, far, far too long for any comedy, let alone an unfunny comedy. Comedies are the only genre that should never really go beyond the 90 minute mark, 100 minutes at the absolute most, and there is a reason for that. If you make your comedy too long, people will stop caring, and the final twenty of so minutes of The Ridiculous 6 fit that heavily.

adam-sandler-the-ridiculous-6-netflix

Summary

The Ridiculous 6 could have been Sandler’s chance to prove that he can still produce a hit every now again, but unfortunately he has chosen yet another project that will only harm his reputation. Even if I were so inclined, it’s impossible to stick up for Sandler in reviews.

That being said, Sandler isn’t the worst thing about Ridiculous 6, infact, he was relatively tolerable in The Ridiculous 6, which isn’t a good thing. Ultimately it’s a poor film with awful jokes and I can’t think of a single good word to say about it.

Don’t waste your time.

Screw your stuff! You don’t have time

Year Released : 2015bolgen-poster-thumb-300xauto-56104
Director: Roar Uthaug
Cast : Kristoffer Jone, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro and Edith Haagenrud-Sande

In September of this year I spent my 31st birthday in the Norwegian city of Tromsø, the most northern city in the world. Whilst there I fell in love with Norwegian culture and I can picture myself living there one day. One of the many places I visited during my short stay in the city was the cinema and there I watched Bølgen, a film about an inevitable disaster in the village of Geiranger.

As you would expect with a Norwegian made film, it is in the Norse language and with my Norwegian not being particularly strong, I didn’t really understand most of the dialogue, but you could follow the story easily enough, however, I didn’t want to watch it until I saw it with the subtitles on.

This film has been chosen to be Norway’s representative at the 2016 Academy Awards for “Best Foreign Film”, so is it worth it?

Plot

Kristian (Joner) is a geologist in the small village of Geiranger, but he will soon be moving his family to Stavanger to work in a new industry. On his final day at his job monitoring the movements of rocks in the local area, Kristian notices some odd readings and he can’t shake the thought of it as he is driving his children, Sondre (Oftebro) and Julia (Haagenrud-Sande) to the ferry ahead of their move. He turns around and heads back to his now former office.

Idun (Torp) is less than thrilled about her husband’s last minute turn around and whilst she houses Sondre at the hotel she works at, Julia begs Kristian to take her to the house for one last night. Whilst Julia sleeps, Kristian receives word that the geometric readings are going off the charts and as predicted, a landslide occurs, creating a tsunami of around 80 metres high.

The geologists in the area raise the alarm to evacuate Geiranger, but with less than 10 minutes it’s a race against time for everyone to be saved, but Idun and Sondre have more than simply the water to deal with when they become trapped in the hotel’s basement with Philip (Thomas Bo Larsen), a man who blames Idun for his wife’s death.

the-wave

So, worth of being nominated for the Oscars?

The Oscars are a strange beast in that there have been years when some of the films that have been relegated to simply being “Best Foreign Language Film” have actually been better than some of those that have been nominated for the “Best Picture” nod, but this isn’t one of those occasions.

Bølgen may very well be the best film in Norway over the last few years (I don’t have a lot of basis for comparison just to clarify), but despite an excellent opening 75 or so minutes, the remaining 25 minutes really stretch it out to the point where it went from being near guaranteed being given the “approved” tag, to a film which is drastically let down by it’s final quarter.

Let’s start with the positives though and the brilliant visuals in the film. One of the reasons that I have fallen in love with Norway is that it is a beautiful country. This film captures that beauty wonderfully. Locations are regularly one of the few things that independent/lesser known films beat mainstream films on and Bølgen delivers. Even the massive wave looks fantastic.

Untitled

The dialogue in the film feels very different from other films and almost genuine. The family have real conversations and very few things in the first 3/4 of the film that doesn’t feel forced. Even the geologists are having more human conversations and you get to know them on some basis, whereas in other disaster films everything is so to the point that there’s no personality to the characters, and you don’t care about them. However, in Bølgen you genuinely feel for the characters and the situation that they find themselves.

In films such as 2012, San Andreas and many, many others of a similar nature, the character building seems to be secondary to the destruction and special effects, but Bølgen is very much the opposite. Even when the wave is created, the film focuses more on the tension of the wave approach, rather than the immediate disaster. For example, Kristian realises he won’t get high enough on a road soon enough, he climbs into a nearby car and watches as the wave very slowly approaches. The tension that builds is done excellent and then the pure chaos when the wave hits is realistic.

Whilst horror might not be the right word, the tension that the film builds as the wave approaches is fantastic, and as soon as the siren is sounded you felt the genuine panic of those that knew what was coming, which is perfectly contrasted by those in the hotel that don’t realise just how serious the situation is and just casually stroll around. The size of the wave also seems very realistic, which makes a refreshing change, and everything about the film feels scientifically accurate. I will caveat that with that I am not a scientist and only got a C.


bølgen

However, away from the great visuals and excellent character development, the film is just too long and it wains towards the end. Whilst I was engaged for the first and a bit, the last quarter of the film was no different from your typical ending in a Hollywood film, and that was so disappointing. Before then it was easily going to get my approval stamp, but the final 25 minutes are cliched to the point where I forgot (other than the language) that this wasn’t a mainstream film.

The film spent it’s time so well before then in character development and excellent pacing, but the final 25 minutes just became so predictable that it took a lot of the enjoyment out of it, and judging by the IMDB page I am not alone in the sentiment. I hate predictable films and even when I wasn’t sure what was probably being talked about when I went to a non-subtitles viewing, I was still easily able to predict what was going to happen at the end.

Other than that it should have ended 25 minutes earlier than it did, I don’t really have that much to complain about with Bølgen.


the-wave

Summary

Bølgen was twenty-five minutes away from getting an approved stamp. Before that it was genuine, fresh and relatively original. The characters were well developed and built, and you feel like the want the characters to survive.

The film looks fantastic and the locations are brilliant. The terror of the wave approaching is genuine and it creates a genuine atmosphere of tension that is created.

If only it ended twenty minutes earlier.

Hello all

Firstly, thank you to anyone who takes time out of their day to read any of my reviews, it is very much appreciated and with a steadily growing base of readers (I recently had a record number of hits in a day, doubling the previous amount), it gives me motivation to continue reviewing films

This is just a quick post to reference why my reviews have been so few and far between in recent weeks. I wanted to take a week off after writing a review for a horror movie every day during October, but that week turned into two weeks, and because of working two jobs I struggled to find the time to write reviews during November, and that will probably be the same during December.

I am going to be moving to Leeds, England, at the end of December to start a new role as a Project Co-ordinator within the company that I work for, and will spent most of Christmas packing and moving. The only time I’m getting to spend on this site is writing my now annual review of films that have been released at the cinema, and this year that will be spread across four articles. I will try and review films as well on a semi-regular basis as well, but I probably won’t be returning to my previous “one every three or four days” until at least January.

In the meantime, please feel free to like the page on Facebook for all updates, as well as the odd post about other things, including a few trailers every now and then that strike my interest for whatever reason.

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Kate