Quick Synopsis: The Addams Family drive across the country, Wednesday thinks she’s not a proper member of the family, somewhere there’s an evil scientist.
I have seen the first one of these, but I didn’t review it for this site. If I had it would have just been me shouting the word “nooooooooooooo” for a few minutes. I had multiple issues with that film, none of which have been really fixed in the sequel. There has been a slight improvement in character design. The first one had almost every human character look more like a bratz doll, every step making it look like they’re going to break an ankle. The human characters look a bit more human here, but there’s still something wrong about them.
The casting is still wrong, but also weirdly right. Charlize Theron and Oscar Isaac would be absolutely perfect in a live action version, but having just their voices feels wrong, especially when the way the characters look doesn’t really seem to suit them. None of this is helped obviously by the casting of the live action ones in the 90s being near perfect. Occasionally a film has one or two perfect castings, those ones had the fortune to have the perfect Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, and Uncle Fester. So any castings will be compared to those, and are unlikely to come off favourably.
Some castings are just the wrong choice. Nick Kroll as Fester for example is just not a good choice. Know who would have been a better choice? Danny DeVito. It would be much less annoying a voice than Krolls is. Also, as much as I love Chloe Grace Moretz, her Wednesday leaves a lot to be desired. Instead of coming off as calm and calculated, she just comes off as flat and bored.
As you can tell by now, I did not enjoy this film. I feel part of that is because it never FEELS like an Addams Family movie. It feels like an animated movie starring them. Like it’s trying way too hard to be cool, way too much music aimed at a younger audience. And yes, I do know the 90s series had MC Hammer in it, but that was mainly restricted to “a song played at some point”. It didn’t do with him what this film does with Snoop Dogg as Cousin It: have him dropped into the plot by private jet, do absolutely nothing, get lifted off again, and then appear at the end to do a rap. You could remove his scenes entirely and you wouldn’t notice they’re not there. They add absolutely nothing to the narrative.
Well I say narrative, it’s mostly “stuff happening”. The plot (that Wednesday might not be an Addams) is predicated almost entirely on Fester juggling with the babies in the hospital, causing a possible mix-up. But the villain, how does he know this? He doesn’t. All of the things that convince Wednesday that she doesn’t belong to the family are things out of the villains control (not just the juggling babies, but also a DNA hair test Wednesday performs coming up “no relation” because Gomez wears a wig). Unless those things happen, the plot doesn’t move forward, but he has no idea those things will happen, he just lucks out. The screenplay is based almost entirely on you not thinking about it for a second, and just hoping you’ll go along with the lazy nature of it.
Great films inspire you to ask questions. The only question I have after this film is: Why?
I think I’m at the point where “new film by Jonathan Levine” will sell me on a movie. 50/50, Warm Bodies, The Night Before, and now this. I mean, it won’t be enough to make me pay full price for a DVD of a film I haven’t seen by him, I mean, he did still make Snatched which was pretty woeful and a waste of Goldie Hawn. This film is entertaining as hell and well worth a watch. Everything works well and flows together in this film, it’s a great example of everybody working well to create something great. The director brings the best out of everybody, Theron and Rogen have great chemistry, the ensemble cast work well together, the soundtrack is fun, and the script is superb.
Actually, I’ll give more about the script here because it really deserves plaudits, yeah the dialogue is a little too “Seth Rogen” at times, but mostly it’s a pleasure to sit through. The comedic set-pieces are hilarious, some of the dialogue is razor sharp, and when it uses the film to state something about the world, it does it in a way that is unsubtle enough for you to notice, but subtle enough that it doesn’t smash you over the head with it. It says a lot about modern news, modern politics, and modern gender. “The woman who stays with the man who has cum in his beard gets more flack than the man with cum in his beard” (I’m paraphrasing I think) is a gross way to make a very pertinent point. That’s what this film is GREAT at, focusing on what modern women have to put up with on a daily basis from a supposedly post-feminist world. A world in which “but women are equal” is said five minutes before “We can’t have a female president, what about when she’s on her period?”. And that is this world btw, make no mistake about it, it definitely is. Female politicians get described in one of two ways: icy and unemotional, or hysterical and emotional. If they show any form of passion they get slated, if they show none they get slated too. Think of how many of the criticism of Hilary Clinton were based ENTIRELY on her gender. Things like that annoy me, because I think Theresa May is an awful person, but it’s not based on gender, it’s based on the fact she seems to hate evidence-based policies and instead focuses on things to gain headlines. This is probably the most satirical film Rogen has been involved in since The Interview, but whereas that was focusing on large-scale politics, this focuses more on day-to-day stuff which effects everybody in modern countries; from the aforementioned gender issues, through to news all coming from one giant conglomerate, it takes a lot of shots, and hits like 81% of them. There are a few which probably won’t date well. Actually, considering a large part of this film is about Theron becoming the first female president, I really hope this film becomes outdated quickly.
This film isn’t perfect at all, it’s a bit too long and formulaic. The length is a definite issue, the opening spends too long setting up the characters so obviously that it doesn’t make them seem real, it only really tells us what we need to know, and doesn’t leave anything unsaid either, as such you feel like these characters don’t really exist outside of this film. Also, you can basically plot out the entire film from the opening. But I suppose that’s not the point with this film, it’s not about where it takes you, it’s about how it takes you there. It’s a bit like a really good cover song, whilst it’s not original, it does something different with what you already know to create something wonderful. So yeah if you get the chance, go see this, and not just because it features this song, which is one of my favourites and genuinely made me slightly squee when I heard it in the film. Also, Andy Serkis is delightfully disgusting in it. It’s also delightfully sweet and lovely, but gross in parts, a bit like having sex with someone who doesn’t wash.
I had no idea what this film was about. I hadn’t even seen a poster. I assume a lot of you will be in the same boat so here goes: it’s about a couple who have just welcomed their third child (one of whom has an unmentioned disorder similar to autism, for drama) into the world and the mother is knackered, so they hire a night nanny so she can get some sleep. The night nanny is a young, confident go-getter who speaks slightly pretentiously (think Juno, and not just because Diablo Cody wrote both) and teaches the mother the real meaning of……sleep? I don’t know. I get it, a lot of people are going to like this film, personally, I didn’t. It’s not that it wasn’t a good film, it’s just such a personal story, but not one that engaged me personally. As such the things I would otherwise not mind, suddenly became huge problems for me. The adults who were speaking like pretentious movie teenagers just seemed really annoying and unrealistic. The one-scene characters who were just there to create conflict just made me think it was a waste of time. Actually, there’s a lot of waste in here. Infinity War was long, but it made those minutes count, almost every scene was needed. I can’t think of many scenes from that film where if you didn’t take them out, it wouldn’t make the film slightly less incoherent either in terms of story or character building. This is the opposite, it’s a lot shorter, but there’s more waste. In fact, I’d say there’s more waste than content. There are so many scenes here where if you cut them, it wouldn’t affect the movie at all, they’re that inconsequential, which, for a film that’s only just over 90 minutes long, is a terrible indicator. It’s the sign of screenwriting fluff (and trust me, if there’s anybody who knows about screenwriting fluff, it’s me, it’s my bread and butter, and black pudding, and sausages, and beans, and *checks word count* bacon, and eggs, and tomatoes and now I’m hungry).
Also the ending. It’s not quite as bad as Truth Or Dare, but it’s the kind of ending which you’ll either love or hate, I was not a fan. Mainly because I don’t think it earned it. It tries to be clever with a twist, but it just feels kind of cheap and doesn’t even provide a pleasing “aha!” scene. THAT’S what makes a great twist ending, that specific moment where a character in the film, and thereby the audience pieces it all together. Think of that scene in The Usual Suspects where you finally find out who it is, or the “where do you think we are?” scene from Scrubs. The entire ending could be summed up in that one moment, that’s the “wham” scene, where you marvel at the brilliance of it all. This doesn’t really do that, it just provides lots of little things in quick succession, so it means we don’t have that glorious memorable moment, to the point where I’m not entirely sure everybody in the screen I was in got what happened. Actually, I know they didn’t, as I overheard people’s discussions as they were leaving.
There’s no way to discuss this without actually saying what the ending is so here goes (spoiler warning): the night nanny she hired doesn’t exist and is a figment of the main character’s imagination, she’s imagining a younger version of her. It’s narratively unsatisfying and asks more questions than it answers. Specifically; what happened to the actual nanny then? It wasn’t ordered by her, her brother said he’ll pay for it and get it organised etc. It’s mentioned to him that they now have a night nanny, and he doesn’t respond “Well let me know the costs and I’ll cover it”, or “so when you order one it’s fine yet you refuse mine? What the fuck?” Or even “Where from?”. It’s just kind of frustrating. Which is a shame as there are some things to like in this, Charlize Theron is outstanding as always, she just throws herself into every character and it’s superb to see. Some of the dialogue will definitely cause a chuckle (although there are moments where the dialogue is written in a way that you’re reminded it’s a movie because it seems so fake), and the soundtrack is pretty damn cool as well. It’s just a shame it never really clicked for me. I think that’s the main flaw, I didn’t personally click with it, and I felt I should have. Which meant its flaws annoyed me more than it should, and the good things didn’t hit as much as they should.
Our final look back at 2017, after this it’s onwards and upwards as we look forward to the wonders of 2018 (by which I mean, Coco, Ghost Stories, and Three Billboards, two of which I’ve already seen, so really the year is all downhill from here)
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
The entire film sinks or swims on his performance. If he doesn’t give a good performance then this entire film sinks. The writing, the directing, it’s all for nothing if you don’t buy the central performance. Fortunately, he’s superb. Not just vocally, visually he just owns this performance. Starting off seeming really cocky and arrogant, then ending up terrified. If this doesn’t lead to him leading more films then I officially give up on Hollywood.
I know, the film that had this in the trailer ended up being creepy, who’d have guessed?
Jason Sudeikis. – Colossal
Genuinely creepy and unsettling. Brilliant. I expected his performance to be comedic and one-note but he managed to turn in a magnificent performance that made him seem like the creepiest person on the planet, but believable. You could see his thought processes in play and knew why he was thinking like that. The revelation about his creepy persona makes sense because of how well it’s been set up. A sign of not only a great performance, but also great writing.
Hugh Jackman – Logan
This is a personal choice, because I didn’t think he could do as much as he did in this. The way he carries the character contains a lot of backstory. He’s no longer the invincible hero, he’s playing him as someone who knows his time is up. Someone who knows he’s not long for this world and is struggling to face his own mortality. It’s a depressing performance for a comic book film, but works wonderfully.
McKenna Grace – Gifted
Want to know how good this performance was? It was a performance by a child actor that I didn’t hate. The character is a know-it-all smartass. So it would be incredibly easy for her character to come off as annoying and pretentious. The way McKenna plays her, however, is great. She’s played as someone who knows the downside of her intelligence, someone who knows that whilst she is much smarter than her uncle/caregiver, that doesn’t necessarily mean she knows more than him. It’s played with a slight vulnerability to her which renders her incredibly easy to root for and support. No idea where she, as an actress goes from here but I’m intrigued.
And she had great chemistry with Chris Evans
Anne Hathaway – Colossal
I do love Anne Hathaway. She’s most known for romantic comedies sadly but has a phenomenal range. For proof of this watch Rachel Getting Married, she gives an amazing performance as a recovering addict haunted by her past choices. She’s just as good in this. Some of that is obviously down to the script, but a lot of it is down to the performance. She plays someone who is broken incredibly well, I’d like to see her as a psychopathic killer in a film.
Mandy Moore – 47 Meters Down
Yes, THAT Mandy Moore. What do you mean, who’s that and what’s that song? Do you people have no respect for late 90’s pop? Damn kids, get off my lawn! Anyway, in this, she was very, very, good. So good that I forgot I was watching a former pop star and just got heavily invested in the story. I kind of forgot I was an actress and felt I was watching actual people. That’s not the easiest thing to do.
Very bad, but all the worst because it had a good concept. If a film is just bad, that’s okay, if a film is bad but has the potential to be good, I find that a lot harder to forgive. Even the good parts of the film seem to have come from other, better films.
Dull, dull, dull. So boring. I’ve suffered from insomnia for years and this film almost put me to sleep. It almost feels like it would take effort to make an action film this dull, so in some ways, it’s actually quite impressive.
The Belko experiment
It runs out of ideas before the trailer has even finished. Would be a great short, but as a feature-length film, it’s an abomination.
The Dark Tower
“surely this isn’t as bad as everybody says?” It is. It really is. And serves as more proof that Idris Elba really needs to fire his agent.
Best Film Moment
Atomic Blonde: The Stairwell Fight
I am a sucker for a good really long shot. Especially in action sequences. I love nothing better than a fight scene where you can almost feel the impact of every hit, where’s there no cutaway before every impact. If one of those goes on for a minute I’m in heaven. I know that doesn’t seem long, but sit back and time that out, and picture a fight scene with no cuts lasting that long. Bit difficult isn’t it? This was NEARLY 10 MINUTES! Now this isn’t actually, one shot, it’s just edited like that, but it’s still a really impressive feat and is visually magnificent. The seemingly unedited nature of it means when the character hits someone, you really feel it. It feels like a fight, rather than a fight scene. It’s actually really great character work too. It means you don’t view Charlize Theron’s character as some kind of invincible hero, you view her as a human who is potentially one mistake away from being severely injured.
Wonder Woman: No Mans Land
No Mans Land. If you want to explain Wonder Woman as a character, and as a feminist icon, show this scene. Without a doubt the best moment in the DC cinematic universe, by a long shot. This film may have been underappreciated when it comes to the oscars (which is something I don’t agree with, but I get why), but this scene is something that I feel deserves to be seen by everybody.
Spiderman Homecoming: The Car Scene
You know the one, where Michael Keaton’s character is taking Peter Parker to the school dance and slowly comes to the realisation of who he is. Marvel films have had great action set pieces in films lately, but this is a great character piece. It’s a testament to both the script and the performances that what could have been dull turned into one of the tensest scenes of the year.
A Monster Calls: The Stories
This was a great film, super depressing and wonderful. But there were moments throughout the film where it became magnificent. Whilst the Liam Neeson tree was telling stories (it’s an odd film) the art style switches from a normal live-action film to something which can be best described as a living water-colour painting. The images flow through each other like they’re made of water showing off a multitude of colours leaving the viewer gobsmacked at the pure unrelenting beauty of the whole thing. This is the one out of the three that you might not have seen, so here’s the scene in question:
Not just a good film, a very very important one too. This is like the fourth time I’ve had to talk about how much I love this film in these end of year blogs. It’s had almost everything you need. Great story, great actors, great script, great directing, not too many cliches. This film will be spoken about for years to come, and hopefully, lead to a resurgence in socio-political horror.
More than just a superhero film, a great western tale about morality and mortality, with a great performance by Dafne Keen too.
Yes, Get Out is a better horror film. But this was more than that. This was a great coming of age film. Genuinely heartwarming with characters it’s impossible to not to love.
The Big Sick
I’m a sucker for romcoms, and I’m a sucker for depressing bleak films. Who’d have thought they’d be a film that can combine both? Made all the better for the fact it’s based on a true story. Also the winner of the “Most surprising cameo by a cast member of Crazy Ex Girlfriend” award, which doesn’t exist as an award, but if it did, this would win it, and Downsizing would win the award for 2018, and nothing else because it was dull.
The “Well I Liked It” Award
Murder On The Orient Express (Rotten Tomato Score: 57%)
The visuals alone should have merited a higher score for this. I think part of the dislike for this is just because it’s a remake. Every single remake has had people bitch that it’s different from the original (I bet back in the day people were complaining that DeNiro in Cape Fear wasn’t as good as Robert Mitchum in the original). Yes, the glut of remakes is a problem. Actually, no, strike that, the glut of lazy remakes is a problem. You can remake anything you want as long as you put the effort in. I would much rather watch a remake made with love than an original idea made “just because”.
Table 19 (Rotten Tomato Score: 26%)
I’d accept a low 50 score for this, but 26 is far far too low. Incredibly funny, great performances and a magnificent script. I’m a sucker for great dialogue, which this had in spades.
The Last Word (Rotten Tomato Score: 37%)
Do people just not appreciate dialogue any more? Yes, the story was cliche at times, but the way it told it was magnificent. Also it should be commended for promising something dark, and then delivering on it rather than just going for the happily ever after ending.
Best Film To Look At
Blade Runner 2049
Because LOOK AT IT!
Do I actually need to say anything else? It looks so gorgeous I almost made an audible response so many times. Almost every shot could be used as a poster.
Mainly because it proved that spectacle cinema can still work in this day and age. I’m a cynical person so assumed it would have no impression on me. Yet I was amazed when I watched it. Was sucked into the universe completely.
It’s every movie blog’s right of way to write about the Oscars, so a week later and barely still topical, here are our thoughts on the industry circle jerk we call the Academy Awards. (Don’t worry we’ve got some interesting posts coming in the next few weeks, including American Beauty; the secret stoner classic, and a look at possibly the best TV Show of the last ten years, Mad Men.)
Who Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Who should have Won: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. Is it his best performance? No. Does it feel a bit more like a career win than anything else? Yes. But in not a very strong year for lead acting performances, his raw and bleeding turn in The Revenant was definitely deserving and definitely won’t be remembered with the same hate other career wins have, like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman.
Who should have been nominated: Surprisingly difficult to pick another great lead performance from 2015, but I’m going with Michael Caine from Youth. Though a very natural role for the old actor to slip into, it was still towering above anything he’s done in the last few years, and maybe even his whole career. Caine brings a real edge and melancholy to the aged composer, and though a very specific character in his own right, manages to cut to the heart of all people old and young, to make us treasure the life we still have to lead, and the life we already have.
Who Won: Brie Lawson for Room
Who should have Won: Brie Lawson for Room. No I don’t agree with every choice, but this was another good one. Along with the snubbed Jacob Tremblay, the pair brought the needed heart to what could have been (and in some ways was) an over wrought melodrama with a very topical and timely story. But the performances are what boosted this to an effective and moving drama, and the whole film is worth it for that escape scene alone.
Who should have been nominated: Bel Powley for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. No actress last year gave more of an emotional, funny, heart-breaking, fun, sincere, and just naked performance than Bel Powley in The Diary of a Teenage Girl. She was the embodiment of the teenager, and her courage to commit to the sexually explicit role added more emotional weight than all of the actual nominations combined.
Best supporting Actor
Who Won: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies
Who should have Won: Sylvester Stallone for Creed. Not that I think his performance is better than Rylance’s (but it is as good), I just think the sentiment of Sylvester Stallone winning an Oscar for Rocky would have been nicer, as we all doubt he’s got another one in him (but who knows). His performance is also genuinely very strong and thoughtful, and I think the main reason he didn’t win in the end was because Creed got too sentimental about itself near the end, and the cancer subplot was a bit much.
Who should have been nominated: Jason Segel for The End of The Tour. I already went into detail about his performance in our year end awards post here. But to say again, Segel shocked everyone with his subtle and quiet turn as the famed writer David Foster Wallace, his performance doing the surprising thing of letting us see his humanity, instead of understanding his genius (like most biopic type films try to do). With the right push I could have seen him getting a nomination, the Academy tend to love when comic actors go serious.
Best supporting Actress
Who Won: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl
Who should have Won: Ahhhhh let’s say, Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. Don’t really have much for any of the nominations, but Leigh’s excellent turn as the vulgar and funny Daisy Domergue was one of the films highlights, having physicality you don’t see enough in female roles, and it was one of the few nominations that didn’t feel Oscar-baity.
Who should have been nominated: Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road. Talking of physicality, Charlize Theron has in in buckets as Imperator Furiosa, and gave one of the most intense and physically (and emotionally) raw performances of last year. The fact Rachel McAdams’ got a nomination for her okay work in Spotlight and Charlize Theron didn’t is just an insult, especially with how Oscar friendly the film was treated. Would an acting nomination really just too much for you Academy? Did all the sand and dust confuse you and you thought she was black!
Who Won: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant.
Who should have Won: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. Like with the supporting actors, this is less a who’s better choice, and more just the context of the win. Both directors worked in insane conditions to produce their fine films and I think the directing shown in both is as good as each other, from the harrowingly naturally lit landscapes of The Revenant, to the perfect mess of explosions and carnage of Fury Road. But with Alejandro G. Iñárritu having already won last year for Birdman I think it would have been better for the Academy to show love for the talent in a genre and style that rarely gets it.
Who should have been nominated: Paolo Sorrentino for Youth. A very underrated film that should have been much more award friendly than it was. Paolo Sorrentino’s funny and heart-warming if also heart shattering meditation on aging and fame was one of the most breath taking films of 2015, and was directed with more abstract beauty than any other, and felt more like art than a film in many ways. Just look at this opening shot!
Would of given this to Pete Docter for Inside Out, but I guess I went with style over practicality.
Who Won: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for Spotlight.
Who should of Won: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley for Inside Out. Inside Out is one of the most imaginative, smart, and emotionally resonating films I’ve ever seen, it already stands proud amongst Pixar’s classics and was considered by many to be the pinnacle of 2015’s films. And the idea on paper could have gone soooooo wrong, ‘what if feelings had feelings’, it sounds more like a joke Pixar film than a real one. But with an intelligent script, vivid and mature takes on the ideas, and the most poignant message given to us last year, Inside Out was definitely it’s best original script…that I saw.
Who should have been nominated: 99 Homes, an almost mathematically well written and very emotionally intense film about the housing crises. I’m a fan of stories about the good man’s fall to the dark side (Star Wars prequels withstanding) and this film does this masterfully, shaping a very sympathetic lead with the single father Andrew Garfield and a very compelling antagonist with Michael Shannon’s corrupt estate tycoon, who should really have had his own supporting nod too. With this, on top of The Big Short and Margin Call, you really get a complete picture of the different effects of the 2010 housing crises.
Best Adapted screenplay
Who Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short.
Who should have Won: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short. I agree with the Academy again for this one; Adam McKay and Charles Randolph took a highly complex issue and made it not just understandable and relatable to a mass audience, but funny, dramatic, and engaging too. Some people complain that the film fails because even after it they were even more confused by the credit crunch than before, with its use of celebrities using big words, but do you know what I call those people; Americans.
Who should have been nominated: Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs. Arron Sorkin writing a feature screenplay is like Meryl Streep acting in anything, it should almost automatically get nominated, and Steve Jobs is no exception. His second film about a computer billionaire, Sorkin’s signature dialogue crackles in this very showy and masterfully executed play set in three real time acts, that manage to explore the humanity of Steve Jobs and his co-workers without leaving the confides of the backstage.
Who Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.
Who should have Won: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight. Not really in love with any of the nominated scores, so I thought I’d go with the consensus, and it’s nice for the Grandfather of western soundtracks to finally bag the award, also it is a damn fine score.
Who should have been nominated: Michael Giacchino for Inside Out, Bundle of Joy. This is legitimately my favourite score of 2015. It’s charming, catchy, and effective. It perfectly captures the bright tone of the film while still resonating for the emotional moments; the ice skating memory scene being a real favourite of mine. It’s magic. What can I say; Inside Out is already a classic, and what classic isn’t complete without its iconic music.
Who Won: Spotlight.
Who should have Won: Spotlight. Mad Max was close, but out of the nominations I really think Spotlight was the most worthy of them all. Was it the most artsy? No. The most experimental? No. It was a good old fashioned journalism film about a very hard issue, and it taught us all something we should learn, about the power of understating and letting the story and facts speak for themselves. Some people call it boring because it intentionally holds back on the easy drama, and focuses on it like a mystery instead of lampooning Priest and the catholic Church, as it’s smart enough to let the facts do that for it, and not to ‘sex’ it up in anyway like a lot of investigation films do; because that would make it shlock.
Who should have been nominated (and fucking won): Inside Out. I’ve already spoken in great detail about why this is the best film of 2015, and I was shocked after all it’s critical praising that it wasn’t at least nominated for best picture, because that’s what it was. Hell, back when I first saw it I would have put flesh on it being the first animated film to win best picture. But it’s shameful absence just goes to show that, along with race, sexism, homophobia and everything else, the Academy still have a long way to go before they really look at all films and filmmakers equally.
And that’s that for this year’s Oscars! I know I didn’t even cover half of the awards but I covered the ones I care about, and I know who’s ever reading this doesn’t want to hear me prattle on for pages about what I think should win an arbitrary award that means about as much to the quality of a film as a #1 Dad coffee mug.
The best kind of thriller; nailbiting, bleak, and full of characters you actually give a shit about. The director of the amazing Prisoners and Enemy solidifies his place in the Western filmmaking world with this all-star thrill-ride. Hosting an Oscar worthy Emily Blunt, a shit-ya-pants Benicio del Toro, and an oddly chilled out Josh Brolin who adds the much needed levity between all the torture and mutilation. Directed with a Finchian level of detail and pristine, it follows by the books SWAT officer Emily Blunt as she is submerged into the murky work of the War on Drugs, and is tasked along with the mysterious Benicio del Toro to bring down the head of the Mexican Cartel. Sticking well clear of action tropes this isn’t a glorious, FUCK-Yah-‘Merica tale of beating the bad guy, this is a twisted, gritty, and dark morality tale that tells us that rarely the right thing to do, is the best thing to do.
I know this is basically a comedy, but it is also an intense Sci-fi thriller and if I didn’t put it here this section would be pretty spare. Ridley Scott’s best film in years (though I think I’m the only guy with a soft spot for The Counsellor), is a beautifully shot adventure following a marooned astronaut on Mars and his optimistic fight for survival. Now I don’t think there’s much more I can say about this, its just a damn good film, Matt Damon reminds us why he’s a superstar, and “Science the shit out of this” is destined to become an obnoxious over used phrase. But what allot of people I think fail to mention, is just how damn fun the Earth team is. Yeah the focus is on Damon, but Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor and their team on Earth are just as engaging to watch as they have to ‘Science the shit out of it’ there end, to work out how to get to Damon before he dies. If you haven’t caught it already, it’s more than worth the two hour plus run time.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Screw the next film on this list, THIS was the funnest action film of the year. Essentially a spy flick parody with a real plot and its gun barrel firmly planted in its cheek; it’s bloody, stylish, and with a perfect twee British sense of humour. It’s like if the Pythons directed a James Bond flick, but not without some studio supervision. Taron Egerton proves himself a bankable action lead and rising star in Hollywood, and I can’t wait to see where he goes next; while Colin Firth does a clean 180 and flawlessly reinvents himself as a very convincing action star without losing an of his preppy Britishness we’ve come to love and treasure. The bad rep this seems to be getting from some critics should be completely ignored as high-brow snobbery and the last thing I’ll say is go in expecting something silly but amazing, and be ready for some ultra-violence
Mad Max: Fury Road
Because it Mad Max fucking Fury Road. The action is kinetic, Charlize Theron is jaw dropping, and it tells us more about it’s world with barely any dialogue than three Star Wars prequels could. What else needs to be said?
God damn I love me some good old Sci-fi mind fuckary, and I love Oscar Isaac. This was his other big Sci-Fi film of the year, you know apart from…you-know-what, and in my opinion it’s the stronger of the two. In almost every way a closed box thriller, Domhnall Gleeson plays a dweeby programmer brought to an underground house by his eccentric bro-y boss to perform a turing test on a Female robot he’s created, and work out if she really can feel. And from that it breaks out into a tense psychological game of cat and mouse and fox, and I won’t ruin who gets eaten.
Who knew the best super-hero film of 2015 would be Ant-Man. Plagued with production issues for years, worst of all being the walk out of geek god Edgar Wright from directing, but despite all that Ant-Man STILL came out kicking. Helped by a great cast led by an always loveable Paul Rudd and an enjoyably cranky Michael Douglas, Ant-Man found its strength by keeping the comedy present throughout, in character scenes, exposition scenes, and action scenes, it always stays funny. Which makes it’s few moments of seriousness hit that much harder, him shrinking to the quantum realm was truly amazing, and gave the film the weight it needed. Is it perfect? Far from it; but it was a fun ride, with good action, and a much needed breath of fresh air for the quickly staling Marvel verse.
It Follows Easily the best horror film of the year. A real 80’s throw back to the likes of Halloween and Nnightmare on elm street, you can practically see Wes Craven’s fingerprints. With a focus on building atmosphere and tension over moderns mindless jumpscares, an actually likeable cast, and an intriguing story, It Follows will leave you glancing over your shoulder and watching off into the mid-distance.
Does this have problems? Yes. Are all of them made up for by pure retro-charm and heart? YES. I don’t know what people went in expecting with this film; some epic Sci-Fi drama that would change the world itself? Who knows? But if you went in just looking for entertainment, you got it in space-spades. A glories throwback to science fiction films of the 1940-50’s when the future was still fun, Tomorrowland may be slow to launch, but when it does it rockets through so many awesome set pieces, ideas, and so much enjoyable pseudoscience and alternate history bollocks , you can’t help but be charmed. Britt Robertson proves herself to be more than Jennifer Lawrence light, George Clooney shows he can wear the old curmudgeon hat with panache, and Raffey Cassidy is becoming one of the most unique child stars acting today. Is it a perfect film, no, but not everything has to be! We seem to be living in a world where if something isn’t ‘#tHeBeSTThInG_EVEEER’ then it’s terrible…No. Not everything has to be perfect in every aspect if it wasn’t trying to be. This film wanted to be nothing more than a fun family adventure with a good message, and it was hung because that’s all it was.
Oh and like Star Wars happened I guess. It was pretty good.