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.
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 Apocalypse
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.
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 Anything
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.
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.
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 Lilly 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 McFarlane, 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.
Cast : Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos and
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.
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.