Well, what a year at the movies it has been! 2015 was rather unforgettable in that regard as I reviewed 72 new films throughout the year (a personal high). As I did with my first new post of last year, let's review some of the highs and lows at the cinema, shall we?
Worst Films of 2015 (in no particular order):
American Ultra: Not really a film I was looking forward to regardless but this was a failed attempt at merging stoner comedy with an action film. My distaste for Eisenberg aside, the film wasn't that funny at all and the action was pretty lame too. All around a fairly non-enjoyable trip to the movies. RRS: 4/10
Tak3n: I may have overrated this one a bit but the *hopeful* conclusion to the Taken trilogy is only slightly better than Taken 2, but still pretty awful. Why? For starters, the plot is cliche/obvious/boring (whatever you'd like to call it) and second, the directer, Olivier Megaton, is terrible at his job. His quick edits make action impossible to comprehend which is the exact opposite of what you want in an action movie. Duh! RRS: 5.5/10
Fantastic 4: Another film that was DOA, many are now trying to defend it by saying "it's not that bad". No....it is. There are moments of light and that first third is still a merely decent start. As the film progresses, it begins to implode on itself, struggling to tell any type of story and mounting in a conclusion that's one of the worst I've seen for a comic book film. RRS: 4.5/10
Hot Tub Time Machine 2: The absolute worst film of 2015, this received the second lowest score I've ever given. Void of any laughter and a lot of characters to dislike, this was one worthless, unnecessary, sloppy, stupid sequel. RRS: 1/10
Best Films of 2015 (in no particular order):
Ex Machina: It may not have been seen by the masses, but nearly everyone who saw it loved the film and it's making appearances on many critic's Top 10 lists. Ex Machina dives into the question: if something is true AI, how would it react and behave? I won't spoil the film but there are so many angles to that question that's it's a bit scary and the film is an eerie analysis of the answers. RRS: 9.5/10
Sicario: The most beautifully shot film of the year, thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins, this is a haunting, yet realistic film about the Mexican drug cartel. Because of this gritty realism, the film is much more intense than one would anticipate, making it hard to stomach, but also hard to look away. Not for everyone, but a frightening film that's superbly well made nonetheless. RRS: 10/10 -- Instant Classic
Kingsman: The Secret Service: One of the most ridiculous but insanely fun films of the year, Kingsman was a film that stuck with me a long time even though I saw it in February. It's a funny and highly enjoyable take on the spy genre, features one of the craziest scenes of the year (or any year for that matter), and is highly re-watchable. An absolute blast, even on your 6th viewing. RRS: 9/10
Star Wars - Episode VII: The Force Awakens: Living up and even surpassing the unrealistic and lofty expectations, the seventh iteration in the franchise may have borrowed too much from past films, but was still such a breath of fresh air and so darn enjoyable that it's hard for me to say a negative thing about it. Perfect? No. But one of those times where you won't be disappointed? Absolutely. We're very lucky to even get a new Star Wars, much less a film as great as this one. RRS: 10/10 -- Instant Classic.
See what a great year it was? Now let's recap a busy December before we break into what's coming in January.
Krampus: One of the many films I skipped in December, this corny horror film seemed to miss the mark on being "so bad it's good" by not actually being that bad. Many said it was forgettable and I think that's about what we all expected.
In the Heart of the Sea: Ron Howard's latest was fairly dull, despite the Moby Dick subject matter. I was hoping for more, but expecting about what I got as Howard has a decently hard time capturing emotion in his films. RRS: 6/10
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Already discussed briefly in this post, Star Wars didn't disappoint and in turn was one of the most enjoyable films of the year. What else is there to say? RRS: 10/10 -- Instant Classic
Sisters: Not a classic by any means, but also pretty darn funny. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are a great duo as always in this R-rated comedy. RRS: 7.5/10
Carol: Not covered in last month's post, I was able to catch a free screening of the highest "critic" rated movie of the year about two lovers hiding their forbidden love. Carol has strong performances, and is well made, but incredibly dull and boring. This is a critic's film through and through, clearly not designed for someone with my tastes. RRS: 6.5/10
The Big Short: Another film I didn't cover last month due to a super weird limited release schedule, this was a highly entertaining and informative film about the housing crisis in 2008. It features a great cast and balances the laughs and drama very well, making for one of the year's best. RRS: 9/10
Concussion: Controversial subject matter and Will Smith at the helm didn't seem to do much to save the film. It received average reviews with many calling Smith's performance great, while the film? Not so much.
Daddy's Home: Unfortunate that a re-team up between Ferrell and Wahlberg couldn't rekindle the magic of The Other Guys. Daddy's home was kind of funny, but inconsistent and another lame comedy in a year of a lot of lame comedies. RRS: 6/10
Joy: Similar to Concussion this was A) a film I skipped, B) a weak drama, and C) headlined by a great central performance. Moving on...
Point Break: Oh joy! Another Christmas release! This was the remake that no one asked for that apparently no one saw as its box office was paltry and it has few critic reviews, mostly all of them bad. The stunts are pretty, but that's about the only light in this useless and hidden release.
The Hateful Eight: I was lucky enough to catch this one when the 70mm road show came through Denver. Not my favorite Tarantino film by any stretch, but I still found a ton to enjoy among the dialogue, carnage, and quirkiness, even if the film does go a bit overboard in some areas. RRS: 8/10
The Revenant: Oh...you don't want to release anywhere other than a few theaters in 2015? Well too bad! I banish you to the abyss of 2016 movies. I plan on this being the first film I see in 2016, so I shall update with my findings next month.
Anomalisa: I've already seen this one a while ago and I'll just say that it's stuck with me for a while. Highly unique and memorable. Feel free to read the review for more insight. RRS: 9/10
Most Disappointing: Daddy's Home
Most Surprising: The Big Short
Worst Movie: In the Heart of the Sea out of the ones I saw
Best Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let's take a look at what's coming during the month of January! As always, trailers linked in the titles.
Why It's Worth Seeing: I feel like Natalie Dormer usually doesn't work on something unless she wants to so I'm curious to know if there's something special about this horror film that drew her to it.
What Could Go Wrong: Actors also work for money and this could have been a quick paycheck. Not many horror films release in January and of the ones that do, fewer still are actually worth watching.
Why It's Worth Seeing: One of the most politically controversial topics of the last decade, this film promises to be a portrayal of what went down in Benghazi when, technically speaking, U.S. soil (embassy) encountered a terrorist attack. Plus the casting of John Krasinski (Jim from the office) as a soldier intrigues me.What Could Go Wrong: With Michael Bay it will probably get torn to shreds by critics (unfairly), but he does have some reoccuring issues that worry me. For starters, he can't ever make a film less than 2 hrs...I'm not sure this one needs to be that long. Additionally, his action editing is overdone and this is a military film so...we'll see.
Why It's Worth Seeing: I never saw the first film, but Kevin Hart and Ice Cube both have substantial comedic talent and apparently the first one did well enough to warrant a fast-tracked sequel. The trailers have some funny parts so there's hope.
What Could Go Wrong: This seems like a film "banished" to January so that it doesn't get completely lost in the summer. I get the feeling that most of the funniest parts are in the trailers.
Why It's Worth Seeing: I always enjoy Chloe Grace Moretz, even if her films sometimes leave a little to be desired. The trailers make it seem like this could be a more mature YA adaptation of a series that I haven't even heard of.What Could Go Wrong:Why haven't I heard of this YA series? My guess is because it's not that good. It's very rare that a mediocre book turns into a better movie...
Why It's Worth Seeing: This looks like a really fun, odd pairing of Efron and De Niro, both of whom I enjoy. The early trailers have been pretty funny/outlandish.What Could Go Wrong: Again, it worries me that a comedy is dropping in January. Is this one more raunch than laughs?
Why It's Worth Seeing: It's made by Disney, tells an interesting, yet unknown tale of heroism, and Chris Pine often does well.What Could Go Wrong: It looks like a film that you won't remember by the time Feb 29th rolls around this leap year and the uber-generic title doesn't help either.
Why It's Worth Seeing: The Kung Fu Panda films have both had some great quality so far and there doesn't seem to be any reason that the third film wouldn't continue that. It looks fun.What Could Go Wrong: Disney/Pixar excluded (I'm thinking mostly of Shrek here), the third film in an animated series often shows dropoffs in returns as far as laughs, characters, and enjoyment. I'd hope this is the last Panda film, unless of course it's amazing.
Must See (in order): Kung Fu Panda 3
On My Radar: 13 Hours, Ride Along 2, Dirty Grandpa, The Finest Hours
Predicted Duds: The Forest, The 5th Wave
Welcome to 2016 everyone! Hopefully it's as great of year in the theater as it in 2015. As always, I'd be really appreciative if you came and followed me through Blogger at RATH'S REVIEWS and like me on Facebook HERE! I follow-for-follow 100%. Thanks again!!