Quick Synopsis: Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall ask for The Rocks help to take a small boat down the Amazon river so they can find a magic tree.
To say I went into this with low expectations would be an understatement on the scale of “cheese is good on toast”. So much of it pointed to it being a bad film. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Rock and he’s always entertaining to watch, but he’s not someone that will make me go see a film just because he’s in it, he does have a history of films which are kind of forgettable and bland (I’ve seen San Andreas, cannot remember anything from it). Plus as much as I find Jack Whitehall amusing, his character seemed incredibly one note and stereotypical.
I was wrong. Not about Whitehall, his character is quite one note and once you’ve seen him in one scene you know exactly how his character is going to react to everything. You can also guess he’s gay. It’s not explicitly stated, but it is signposted more than Disney usually feel comfortable doing, with him saying that none of the women he was asked to marry “were really suitable for him”. That’s as obvious as they make it, and they count this as progressive, doing the bare minimum.
Other than that, it’s actually fun. It’s not a movie that’s going to change your life. But it is one that you can put on and comfortably watch. It’s the kind of movie they don’t make anymore. A fun adventure movie for kids that will inspire kids. It won’t inspire them to buy merchandise, or to go online, or purchase the video game. It will simply inspire kids to play. To go outside, pretend to be the characters and jump around the park. That’s something weirdly sweet coming from a film based on a theme park ride.
It’s not all fun though, the CGI is unforgivably bad for a film of this budget, normally when I see something this ropey in this type of film, it’s a bridge going over a canyon. The pacing is a mess, and the story is so incredibly formulaic and bland. It also is too obviously hoping for a sequel. It’s also lacking a truly impressive scene. There’s no big action sequence that the film builds towards. No “holy shit” moments. A film like this requires a big marquee moment which everybody who watches will remember. It needs a cinematic mountain to climb, this doesn’t have that. It has the occasional action sequence but they’re more like cinematic small hills. The excitement level stays pretty constant throughout, with no notable highlights.
Maybe kids won’t notice, but adults will. They’ll still have fun though. The film is a wonderful throwback movie to a simpler time. It’s not saying anything major about the human condition or society. You won’t learn anything, and you won’t be changed as a person. But you won’t be annoyed or angered either. You’ll just be taken to a different place for the duration of the film. And sometimes that’s enough.
Words alone do not do justice to this film. A true game-changer in terms of horror. The typical approach to directing horror films is “quiet, intense music, quiet, LOUD, OH SO LOUD”, replacing genuine terror with jump scares. Which are fine, they scare you during the film, but they don’t completely mess you up and fill you with dread. This film shows the importance of sound in horror, actually, screw that, it’s the importance of sound in cinema in general. It’s a great showcase of the power of cinema, not in a “this film will emotionally devastate you for days” way, but in that it changes the way you watch films. The disadvantages of going to the cinema to watch films normally involve other people: they make too much noise talking or eating or (when I went to see Hunger Games) getting drunk, falling asleep and snoring, then getting annoyed at the cinema staff that they didn’t pause or rewind the film for you (if you think that’s a reasonable request to make: go fuck yourself). This film is different, from my experience (and from what everyone who has seen) everyone in the cinema partakes in an unspoken (hah) pact; if you speak we will hurt you. I haven’t seen a film influence the audience this much since….well, ever. Nobody made a noise, and it was a busy screen. It was actually pretty great, as when there was a loud scene, you could just hear everyone finally open their food/cough etc. When I say “nobody” made a noise, there was a few coughs here or there but that can’t be helped, and if anything, that enhanced the experience. In 1952 John Cage composed the piece 4’33”. It’s basically: everyone in the orchestra puts their instruments down and do nothing for four minutes, thirty-three seconds. The intention is that it makes people listen to the background noise, to make them aware of the atmospheric sounds around this. This film does that, Because the audience noise was so sporadic, when it did happen it wasn’t annoying, it was scary. That’s what makes this film unique, every time you see it will be different because you’ll have to listen to the background noises around you. They’ll be people uncomfortable who’ll be adjusting their position, which creates noise that scares you, that exact scare will never happen again for any other screening, it’s unique to that one experience. It’s a horror movie with audience participation.
It’s not just the sound, the way the film looks is superb too. John Krasinski has done a GREAT job with this. Even more so considering it’s only his third film, and his first horror. Horror is a genre where you need a good director for it to work. Comedy you can kind of get away with it looking bland if the script is good, horror doesn’t allow that, you NEED someone who is a master behind the camera, and the fact he’s this accomplished is a great sign. With him and Jordan Peele doing work like this, this early in their careers, other directors will need to step up their game for their films to be considered great. Films will no longer be allowed to be as cartooney and silly looking as Saw 3D (holy hell that film looks cheap), which is great, as it means more greatness.
His performance was good too. Him and Emily Blunt share an obvious chemistry (can’t imagine why) which really sells their characters plight. He’s been in a lot of other films, but I think THIS is the one where he finally sheds his “Jim from The Office” status. The true star of the film though, is Millicent Simmonds. Not just because it’s good to have an actual deaf person playing a deaf character as opposed to someone with perfect hearing, but because she brings really subtle nuances to the character that just break your heart, and in doing so brings a non-verbal performance that’s up there with Sally Hawkins in The Shape Of Water. Also she made a few script alterations that improved it a lot. Adding “I’ve always loved you” to a father saying “I love you” to his daughter, which added SOOOOO much.
This is the best time to mention the sign language in this film. Due to both a character being deaf, and the fact the characters can’t make noise, sign language plays an important part in this film. And this is where the film does something which turns it from good to great; the characters all sign in their own unique way. Some characters sign very poetically and flow, showing the importance of beautiful language, whereas some sign very short and curt, like they’re in the military.
So yeah that’s it. Watch this film, then watch it again, and again. It has an absolutely heartbreaking moment in it, features an elderly character committing suicide over the death of his wife, and it kills a child before the opening credits, this is a film that truly gives absolutely zero shits about your comfort, and is all the better for it.
This is pretty simple, we’re going to be casting our perfect Batman film to celebrate the release of Suicide Squad. Now I know, there was a more Batman-ey film released earlier this year, but we did a Justice League casting for that (available here) If you don’t know who Batman is then I’d like to say hello to you, 15th Century time traveller, marvel at our wonders; the internet, mobile phones, bubble wrap. Now read Batman.
A different take on the character for sure, but he was still the first name that came to mind when I thought about who could take on the role of the stoic Gotham Detective. An underrated complex character, Gordon is one part the intellectual detective and another the bad ass police commissioner. Not only one of Batman’s closest friends (stories varying), in some ways Commissioner Gordon takes on the role of Batman’s handler, or at least one of his human connections that stops him from going over the edge. Without a doubt I believe Mr Washington would be able to bring the much needed gruff take to make the character his own and give a refreshing kick-ass Gordon who’s not afraid to get his knuckles dirty. Also he already knows how to rock a mustache.
Tommy Lee Jones
Yes, I know he’s already been in a Batman film, but anybody who see’s that one quickly wishes they hadn’t, so it doesn’t count. People say casting Batman is hard, try casting Gordon, imagine trying to find someone who can match Gary Oldman’s performance! Tommy Lee Jones is good at doing the whole “gruff cop” thing, he played it to perfection in The Fugitive. And if Ben Afleck can play an older Batman, then we need an even older Gordon, and whilst Tommy Lee Jones is old, there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that he’s still got it. He still has the ability to become his character and entrance the audience with his performance.
Which Robin you ask? Hmmm. Though I think the extraordinarily talented young star of The Perks of being a Wallflower could work well as most male incarnations of the character, I see him best as Tim Drake, the third, and to me most interesting, Robin. He always focused more on the detective side of Batman (he becomes Robin by working out who Batman is, like a badass) instead of just the physical like Dick Grayson seems to. Also, he lacks the usual tragedy in his past that motivates him to be Robin; instead doing it because he recognises Batman’s need for a Robin.
But why Logan Lerman? Because I like him and think he just has the right look. From Perks to Noah he’s proven himself a great dramatic actor, and though the Percy Jackson films were…underwhelming at best, he still showed he could handle action well enough.
This will obviously only work for a specific Robin. Well, two specific Robin’s: Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne (with slight tweaking so that his initial story arc into becoming Robin happens quicker than it did in the original source material). Robin should not be the finished article, he should be someone who needs guidance, who needs Bruce, but pretends he doesn’t. He basically needs to be a young adult acting like a petulant child. But you also need to remember that he is still Robin, so his still very dangerous and could possibly kill you due to being trained in weaponry, but not being too great at stopping himself. I think Egerton could do that, he could pull off that dangerous apprentice, and then, when the time comes, move onto further things with the character.
Catherine Zeta Jones
What needs to be said? Just look at her. Catwoman’s core characteristics are that she’s wiley, sexy, and kick-ass. All things Zeta Jones just seems to naturally emit already, combined with her record as an action star from the likes of Zorro and RED, as well as her dramatic work, she seems like the perfect fit. But more than that, I like that she would really bring the modern ‘woman’ aspect to the role; almost pushing fifty, and as we’ve already seen multiple younger incarnations of the character, a Catwoman with a few miles on her, more experienced and seasoned, would be much more refreshing and exciting than any teenybopper flavour of the week.
Odd choice I know but this was done for a simple reason: if you can be in a male-dominated genre such as an action movie, working alongside a titan of the genre like Tom Cruise, and portray a strong enough character that people remember you, you deserve more roles. Good actress, fantastic with action, and with that sexiness that is (in some iterations), central to the character.
Because I, like the few people who enjoyed Eisenberg’s performance in BvS (we do exist, we’re not just myths), enjoy it mainly just for the entertainingly camp yet oddly menacing fun he gave in his every scene in the overwrought film. He was a needed shot in the arm of fun the film needed. But ‘camp yet oddly menacing’ is not a good description for Lex Luthor, it is however a perfect description for one of Batman’s more zany villains, The Riddler. Some people seem to think Eisenberg was trying to be Ledger’s Joker with his performance, and who really the fuck knows. But! Change his name, outfit and give him riddles to constantly weave, and you’d have a pitch perfect Riddler; the fun camp of Carrey’s but with some genuine menace more akin with Nicholson’s Joker. Sounds good to me.
One aspect The Riddler needs is to act like he’s the smartest person in the room. There’s been a tendency to play this character as comedic, he may be somewhat hyperactive and dressed weird (not entirely unlike a certain time traveller), but he still needs to be taken seriously. He should be fun, not comedic, there’s an important difference. He needs to be someone who is not only the smartest person in the room, but also the person who’s enjoying the chaos the most. Matt Smith actually can be dangerous quite well and he’s proven it numerous times. Plus if he does this we might actually forget he was in Terminator Genisys.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
I’ll admit this is mainly superficial. Dwayne Johnson is huge, and so is Bane. So that equals perfect casting. But there is a bit more to it than that, I swear. One thing Hardy’s take on the behemoth captured well was how charismatic Bane is, a master of words as well as muscles, but it’s the latter of that is something I don’t think he captured as well. Yeah Hardy was big, but he wasn’t Bane big (I know I know, Nolan realism and all that), that’s where I think Dwayne could come in magnificently; as if there are two things The Rock is known for, it’s being fucking huge, and being very charismatic. The real hurdle would be whether someone as lovable as Dwayne Johnson can play a threatening villain convincingly and I don’t know, but I think he could. Again I think his sheer size will be his trump card in that department, and I think we can all agree we’ve seen less threatening looking people pull off being evil. Cough. One Hour Photo. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough.
Oh look, we’ve both picked former wrestlers. And yeah I know this might be cheating as he’s been in a superhero movie already but come on! I mean, look at the guy! He’s built like a brick shithouse. I actually really liked Tom Hardy as Bane, my only issue with him is that he didn’t really seem big enough, Bane should tower over people, and Tom Hardy didn’t really seem to, he’d be perfect as another role. Batista on the other hand? Him as Bane would make it believable that he could be the one to break the Batman. Already had acting experience in the aforementioned Guardians as well as parts in Riddick and Spectre. If it came to it he could be a Bane that you truly believe Bruce Wayne would fear.
Once again, what needs to be said? just look at him; he almost wouldn’t need makeup. Dafoe has made a career of playing deranged and creepy characters, so topping it off with the Clown Prince of Crime just seems natural (and who cares if he’s already played an iconic super villain? No one gives a shit Chris Evan’s played the human torch anymore.) But it’s beyond him just playing crazy well; it’s the lairs and distinctive ways he can play crazy, from a comical bloodsucker in Shadow of the Vampire, to a just plain nasty hitman in Wild at Heart, to just playing fairly normal guys in Platoon
This was kind of difficult for me but as soon as I thought of it I knew I had the right one: Jake Gyllenhaal. Now I know what some of you are thinking, “what, the Donnie Darko guy?” “what, the Brokeback Mountain guy?” “what, the City Slickers kid?” To which I say; watch Nightcrawler (and City Slickers, seriously? There is no way that’s the only film you know him from, you’re just showing off, now go away). Seriously, watch Nightcrawler, he’s insanely brilliant there with a sense of danger and fun that would make him perfect for the role of the Joker. The “fun” there is the most important aspect there for me, Heath Ledgers Joker was disturbing, no doubt about that, but it wasn’t that funny. The Joker should be a clown, their should be a comedic side to him, even if that comedic side is slow-cooked in sociopathy. For proof of this, what’s the definitive Joker story? The one most people use as a reference point for that character? Answer: The Killing Joke. Now, how does that story end? Answer: with a joke. The Joker tells Batman a joke mid fight scene that makes him break down in laughter (and maybe causes Batman to kill him, if certain sources are to be believed). Can you imagine Ledger’s Joker ending Dark Knight like that? It would seem weird and out of character. Gyllenhaal? I feel he could do it.
Possibly the oddest choice on this list, but I think the most fitting if you know the character well. The Batman Animated Show’s take on Mr Freeze. The seminal show completely recreated the mad scientist with a freeze-ray into a sympathetic Shakespearean tragedy; a normal man who only became the villain we know because he was betrayed while trying to save his wife’s life, and then became stricken with grief ready to go to any extreme needed to avenge her. So who better to bring this bald heart of ice to life than this classically trained bald thespian? As when he’s not trying to kill boy wizard’s. Fiennes is known for his startling character acting, bringing depth and nuance to countless characters; from portraying Nazi’s to a Hotel concierge. Add in his action experience in the Harry Potter Series and you have an actor seemingly born to bring this chilling villain to heart stopping life.
I know, I can practically hear the “who?” from here. First off; stop saying “who”, it’s 2 in the morning and I’m trying to sleep. Secondly; watch Bogowie. He’s the lead in that and he has TREMENDOUS presence. The kind you don’t see anymore, he just carries himself in such a wonderful manner that you can tell he’s someone. The major downside to this is that this will probably mean his emotional arc won’t be as effective as it was in the animated series due to English being the actors second language. But there’s a lot of characters in this hypothetical film, and I feel the villain who will have the least screen time would be Freeze, so you won’t have time to go into his tragic backstory, you need someone with presence who can come in for a few scenes and knock it out the park, and I feel he can do that.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin.
I know, we usually try to make casting relatively realistic, but someone suggested this on Twitter and it just blew my mind how perfect this would have been. This is a role you know he would have taken on with gusto and given his all. And because Hoffman was so good you know that even if he was only in it for 10 minutes, people would remember it. People would clamour for him to have longer. This would have been one of the most perfect castings of all time, and it’s a real shame that it won’t happen. I will freely admit, I never liked The Penguin as a character, I found him too silly, too out there, too, dare I say it, comic-book to work. Then I watched Gotham, the Penguin in that is one of the highlights of the series and one of the best characters in television at the moment. So for a film version, you’d need to bigger, you’d need to go better, and who better than Hoffman?
So to celebrate (or commiserate: we haven’t seen it yet) Batman Vs. Superman (or to give it it’s full title: Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of The Rise Of The Planet Of Justice League Of National Geographic) we thought we’d do a blog about it. Marvel’s cinematic universe is in full swing (although after the somewhat muted reception to Avengers: Age Of Ultron, it’s fair to say there is a lot riding on Civil War) but what about the DC one? It’s irrelevant to this blog anyway, as we’re reshaping it anyway with our traditional recasting. So here we go!
This was quite hard to do really. I say this as a completely heterosexual person, but Superman has to be good looking. And in a certain way. He can’t be hipster good looking, and he can’t be the kind of guy you imagine stepping shirtless out of a lake, he has to be 1940’s good looking. The kind of guy you imagine playing snooker in a smoke-lit bar. I was going to go for Afleck for this but then realised someone better: Wes Bentley. Otherwise known as the guy who died in the first Hunger Games film. To me he has the look, he has the hair, and he has the certain “otherworld”ness that he needs.
An American as the American icon! Perish the thought! But really, even as he gets up there in years, Damon still has the boyish charms of a boy scout, but the chin and body of a harden soldier. His charismatic roles in light-hearted films like, The Martian, Ocean’s 11, and The Informant shows he can play adorkable very well, while his Bourne franchise shows he can kick-ass with the best of them. Dye his hair black and bulk him up a bit and, BAM-BOOM-WACK, we’ve got a lovable Clark Kent and a badass and charismatic Superman. Really he seems like an obvious choice, and I’m surprised he’s never been approached before. Admittedly he’d have to be an older Superman, but what’s wrong with that?
I know, never going to happen but I think he could do it. The reason why I never really brought Bale as Batman had nothing to do with his performance as Batman, it was his performance as Bruce Wayne that I hated. Bruce Wayne is basically a swaggering cockhead, Bale never had that “I’m the smartest guy in the room” mentality. Hiddleston would. I know some people may doubt he’d be physically imposing enough and to them I say this: Michael Keaton managed it. Side note: I was also considering Tom Hardy for this.
I really like the look of Ben Affleck as Batman, and I’m not surprised the early reviews for Batman v Superman are siting him as the best thing about it; but as my co-producer said, this is recasting, so we have to recast. So I choose the grizzled British badass himself Clive Owen because… well look at him. Those eyes. That chin! He’s shown he has the charm and wit to play a convincingly smarmy Bruce Wayne in films like Closer, and the action experience and intensity to be a terrifying Batman. Again another older pick, so realistically there would be a restriction to how long he could play the part, but who cares!
Yes, I know, Gal Gadot looks like she’ll be f*cking superb. But the name of the blog is recasting so I have to recast. This choice was made entirely because of Pride And Prejudice and Zombies, for which she was absolutely amazing and kicked the right amount of ass. I was also tempted to go with Ronda Rousey before remembering I have no idea if she can act or not. There’s a real lack of women in hollywood who could make believable action heroes.
I just like Emily Blunt, can’t lie that’s part of it. But there are a lot of legitimate reasons why she would be a great Wonder Woman. One) she actually looks like a woman, not a teenager (and that’s only a small poke at Gal Gadot, who does look good). And two) with her excellent turns in the recent action heavy Edge of Tomorrow and Sicario, she’s shown she can own complex action set-pieces with the best of them, and can play intelligent militaristic characters with human flaws to a tee; traits a good Wonder Woman needs, coming from an island of Warrior Women and all.
Mainly because in my head I can hear him do the Lantern Oath in my head. And he looks like the kind of guy who’s had powers bestowed upon him, rather than having been born.
Michael B. Jordan
John Stewart has always been my favorite Green Lantern, and after the disastrous abortion of 2011’s Hal Jordan Green Lantern film, I think a change of pace with the hero is needed. Now Michael B. Jordan maybe a bit young to play the part, but he’s a fast rising star who’s already proven himself to have the chops to carry a film and do action well, so a younger take on the character could easily work, and add some needed levity to the DCCU. Honestly Jordan would make the perfect Cyborg too, having already voiced the character in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, but we didn’t include him on this list because well, who thinks of Cyborg when you think of the Justice League!
Imagine the fanservice! The film would have an excuse to have Ryan Gosling walking slowly out of a puddle of water, thereby doubling your ticket sales AND encouraging a few more puddles of wetness in the audience. He has the looks, he DEFINITELY has the star power, and if you’ve seen Only God Forgives etc you know he has the acting skills necessary. Aquaman is generally regarded as a bit lame by the mainstream audience, so it needs somebody who can kick it back into relevancy. And who better than Gosling?
I haven’t seen Sons of Anarchy, or even Pacific Rim, though heard great things about both. The only things I’ve seen him in are Crimson Peaks, which was fine, and the UK Queer as Folk series, which I didn’t realize was him till just now. So this is based purely on look and reputation, but Hunnam looks perfect to bring the king of the sea to the big screen, and would actually fit the character’s iconic (and heavily mocked) design, adding the much needed edge and toughness too it, instead of just changing it like the Jason Momoa version has.
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.
NOTE: Everything written regularly is written by Producer Mark. While everything in italics is written by Producer Lee.
I’m sure this gets said every year, but every year there are a whole host of great performances, that choosing one is just too hard, but it must be done…Unless you’re a shoddy internet film blog like this one. So I picked two.
Jason Segel – End of the Tour. Known primarily for his comedic roles in…well everything else he has done, Jason Segal is revolutionary as David Foster Wallace; bringing a subtle but clearly perpetually uncomfortable nuance to his manner. Even as he runs the gambit of emotions from, funny, angry, confidant, overjoyed, and sad, he never appears at home in his own skin or mind, and is a truly authentic take on the troubled genius. And for such an orgastic turn to come from Jason Segel is the cherry on the cake.
Michael Fassbinder – Steve Jobs. It’s easy to make a bad guy unlikable but loveable, to play the asshole that treats everyone like shit and make the audience love him. It is an entirely different and much harder task to play a guy you’re meant to like and have complex emotions for, like a complete asshole. But that’s exactly what Michael Fassbinder pulls off in his embodiment of Steve Jobs. He then takes it further as we peel back the layers that make and has made him the way he is; jumping back and forwards in time to see the building blocks of his character all the way to the complete man he becomes; and it’s all perfectly portrayed to us with barely any of his actual life shown
Al Pacino: Danny Collins. I know, Al Pacino gave a good performance, what are the odds of that? But this is a different Pacino performance than the normal good performance. The usual good Pacino performance makes you want to stand up and applaud, but this is different. You completely buy into his performance in a role which could have been derailed by a lesser actor. The downside is that writing this has made me have the song from the film stuck in my head.
Emily Blunt – Sicario. She’s a badass who’s always in control, but feels constantly out of her depth. She’s tough as nails and takes no shit, but her growing fear of the morality of her job she just can’t quell. Always ready to dive in and fight for what’s right even when faced with an endless darkness, but never shallow enough to not think about and feel the repercussions of what she does. And with all that, she’s never a blank, genderless slate who could be played by anyone, she’s still a woman. Though this may read more like a look at her character than her performance, the fact is you can’t distinguish the two from the other.
Runner-up: Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
Amy Schumer: Trainwreck. Not the best performance by a long shot, but the film rests so heavily upon her performance that the fact she’s actually really good in it really helps it.
Honorable mention: Phyllis Smith in Inside Out as sadness.
Steve Jobs: It’s an Arron Sorkin film script, so it’s expected that it will be one of the best of the year, but this isn’t just fanfare. Like most Sorkin scripts this is a dialogue driven spectacular that runs the gambit of funny, to thrilling, to heart wrenchingly dramatic, but it is also a complete reinvention for the Biopic genre. Set in three real time acts between the 70s and 90s from behind the scenes at product launches, Steve has to argue his way through his friends, enemies and family to make each launch. What should have been the equivalent of telling a life’s story with both arms tied behind its back is turned into a fascinating character piece that tells us more about Steve Jobs the man than any old cradle to the grave film ever could.
Inside out: It’s the story and ideas that this film tells and so thoughtfully executes that made it too amazing for me not to put it here too. Yes I think the plot isn’t as original as it could have been or thinks it is, and the writing while very funny wasn’t too special; but its imagery behind how the mind is put together and how we as people function is just too genius to not step back and applaud. And on top of that I was floored by its very mature message of the importance and the need for the emotion of sadness, and how it helps bring us together and grow-up.
Lady In The Van. A film like this rests entirely on script and performance. And luckily both shine through. The script is full of hilarious moments (and a rather odd use for madeira cake). The fact it is a (mostly) true story doesn’t diminish the brilliance. In fact it makes it more impressive as it’s framed in a good way and says a lot about the power of the writer.
The Big Game. Because it’s the only film I’VE seen this year that had me turn to my fellow Troubled Production’s producer and say, “We should fucking leave.” For more details look further down. I talk more about it in another section. 🙂
The Gallows. There was a lot of bad films this year but this tops the list for absolutely NOTHING about it working. It was badly shot, the actors were shit, the characters were annoying, the “twist” didn’t make sense in terms of plot and seemed to be an asspull, the jump scare ruined what would have actually been an okay ending (seriously, if you have a moment in your film where a character gives a monologue on stage and then the lights go out and the curtain goes down: END THE FILM THERE!), the characters were the most annoying people I’ve seen outside of Twitter.
Best Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)
It’s an abstract – Steve Jobs. The moment in which, in the middle of a heated argument with his ex-wife, Steve Jobs turns over the Mac and shows her what their daughter had been doing on it, to prove to her (and in many ways the audience) why the computer is important and what people will use it for; and it turns out his daughter has been drawing an abstract painting in Paint. It’s a little moment, but in a film (and year) of great moments this one struck me just right. The combination of my own nostalgia for Paint, combined with the sweet little exchange between them, leads to the first time the character of Steve Jobs is humanised. It may not be the biggest moment, the most dramatic, or even the most important, but it was the moment for me that Steve Jobs went from an awesome film, to a great one.
Runner-up: and the conversation is the best one I ever had – ending scene to End of The Tour. It was a perfectly touching and an up beat way to close this melancholy true life tale.
Inside Out control room locks up. The best way to describe depression to idiots who think it’s just “being a bit sad”. A truly iconic moment in a fantastic film.
Worst Film Moment (scene, piece of dialogue or shot etc)
Focus- Woo woo. Focus as a whole is fine, it’s an okay caper with a fun return from Will Smith. But it has this one scene that involves conning an over acting Chinese Businessmen at a football game, that is legitimately one of the funnest and most thrilling scenes of the year. It’s so good that the immediate retarded explanation behind the con is such a painful whiplash, it landed itself as the worst moment of the year for me. The process to pulling off the con is sooooo over the top, ridiculous, and silly, it just destroys what was such a bad ass moment and just makes it laughable.
This is very easy for me. It’s a moment that’s so bad it stands out, even in a film made almost entirely of awful: Get Hard. Against my better judgement I watched this film, and I wish I hadn’t. It was unfunny, badly plotted and just not needed at all. I’d like to think Will Ferrell is at the stage of his career where he has his pick of films to be in, and he chose this. That says a lot either about his judgment or his cocaine addiction which I’ve just made up. So the moment: there’s a scene which is like 5 minutes of making jokes about prison rape. Rape jokes are odd as they’re the only thing that become less offensive if you put the word “Prison” before it. But this scene was just ugly, and it wasn’t needed. It was just the same joke repeated over and over again “you’re going to get raped”, and the joke wasn’t funny enough to be the focus of a whole scene.
Honorable mention: a scene in Child 44 where the camera panned to the side to showcase: a wall.
End of the Tour. I have a lot of time for films about writers, that dive into their work, their creative process, and the damage of that; hence why another of my favourite films is Wonder Boys. I also have a lot of time for Linklater-esque stories based around the conversations between characters and their evolving dynamic, instead of heavy plot. So combine those in this true life story of the five day interview of acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky, played by a typically great Jesse Eisenberg and a revolutionary Jason Segel as Wallace; which cuts deep as it examines the development of their uneasy friendship, the nature of writing and interviewing, and the plights but want of fame, you have my personal favourite film of the 2015.
Runner-up(s):Steve Jobs & Inside Out. Both are great films. Steve Jobs delivering an emotionally charged intellectual punch, while Inside Out delivers an intellectually charged emotional one; and End of the Tour only tops it for me because it does both.
The Voices. And I am soooo glad about that as if it was bad it would have destroyed me. Ryan Reynolds actually seems to be redeeming himself for Green Lantern with this, Woman In Gold and next year’s Deadpool. This is the only film I’ve seen at the cinema this year which I now own on DVD. I didn’t want to wait, I knew I had to buy it. The script is hilarious, Reynolds just seems to be having hella fun, and there’s an absolutely BEAUTIFUL shot in the woods after he kills someone. A very good live action directorial debut from Marjane Satrapi.
Best Film To Look At (a.k.a: the “Serena”)
Steve Jobs. For a film that predominantly takes place inside behind the scenes in theatres this may seem like an odd choice. But its Danny Boyal’s dynamite directing, that transforms rows of seats into complex tapestries, wide shots of walls into film screens, and characters staring at computer screens into complex moments of inner turmoil, that make this a clear winner for me. Really it’s here because this film didn’t need and shouldn’t have been such a visual feast, it just needed to let the words and actors stretch, but it still found beautiful ways to elevate those aspects, and keep you as visually enthralled as you are verbally.
Runner-up:Youth. Shot on location in the Swiss Alps and married with plenty of abstract imagery; never has a testament to youth and age ever looked so beautiful and devastating.
The Good Dinosaur. Yes the film itself was bland and 90’s Disney-esque and the characters looked, well, wrong, just wrong. But the scenery? Oh my god it was gorgeous. A planet that looked lived in and liveable. The way they animated water in particular made it actually look like water as opposed to just “standard with a blue tinge”.
Most Disappointing Film
Legend. Far from a terrible film, but with the talent behind and in front of this camera this should have been one of the best films of 2015 and a major awards contender. But outside a pretty fun dual performance from one of the best actors today, Tom Hardy, it turned out to be nothing but a decently entertaining, if mostly dull and plotless thing that never found its footing.
The Big Game. The worst part of this film is it’s easy to fix. You make the kid actually an effective hunter so it’s about the president of the United States being out of his element but helped by somebody who knows how to use the environment. So basically Rambo turned into an escort mission. Instead they made the kid useless, so it was a president being helped by someone who’s shit.
Honorable mention: The Gallows. Had high hopes for this but in the end was the worst horror film I’ve seen all year. In a year that included Poltergeist remake, Insidious 3 and The Visit.
Most Surprising Film
The Martian. Surprising doesn’t mean you expected it to be bad and it wasn’t. It mean’s surprising. I went in expecting an existential Sci-fi about survival and the human will. And I got all that, but it also happened to be one of the best comedies of the year, that used the blend of dramatic thrills and comedy to make both more effective. From Matt Damon’s optimistic Martian and his crew, to Jeff Daniels smarmy NASA CEO and his quirky team of scientists. It is not an insult to this film to call it a comedy; it is a complement to comedy that this film is one.
Runner-up: Ant-Man. Who would of thought Ant-Man would have been the best Superhero film of 2015.
John Wick. I admit I expected a typical action film and didn’t have high hopes for it. But this film was a revelation. The universe and characters were so well defined it seemed like a comic book adaptation. News there’s a sequel excites me as I want to see more of this world.
The “well I liked it” award
Tomorrowland. What’s with the hate on this film? Was it a perfect feat of science fiction? No, but it’s a fun Sci-fi adventure, with an interesting world, fun likable characters, a combo of goofy and deadpan humour, and is a real harken back to classic Sci-Fi adventures. When the future was something to wonder for not fear, and technology looked like technology. Ray guns are big and bright and silly, and jetpacks are sleek and still make no sense but are too awesome. Is the plotting all over the place, yes, is the first act a bit too much like molasses on sandpaper? Also not a complete over-exaggeration, but it’s got way too much heart to let little things like that get in the way of a good time.
Tomorrowland. I really don’t get the hate for this film. It’s odd as EVERYBODY I know who saw it liked it, but outside of my social circle everybody seems to hate it. But why? It’s nice. It’s the kind of film where if I saw it as a child it would have been my favourite film.
The “I’m obviously not seeing what the reviewers are seeing” award
The Big Game. “As spectacular as it is funny” “Samuel L Jackson has his tongue firmly in his cheek”. I wish either of these statements were true about this still born mess, failing to be dumb fun. The concept is great; a wimpy President played by Samuel L Jackson is chased through the mountains by terrorists and is helped by a badass child warrior. This should be as fun and or as campy as Olympushas fallen, or White House down…but instead, the kid isn’t a badass at all and spends most the film trying to find himself and failing; and though all his lines are wimpy, Jackson still plays it like a badass, so it’s just awkward. For a film apparently just going for fun, it takes its story and characters’ much too seriously, and its biggest failure is trying to distil genuine arcs and development on these blocks of wood.
Unfriended. Seriously, fuck this film.
The “Yeah it’s bad but” award
Chappie: a perfect example of a hot fucking mess. The plot is all over the place, it’s supporting characters are unlikeable and stupid to the point of being endearing, it’s like a child’s film with hardcore violence…How can you not dig this film. Held up by the sheer adorableness and likability of Chappie himself, and some dark, dark humour, Chappie is one giant mess you don’t want to clear up.
Chappie. Always always Chappie. I know this film is bad, the plot is all over the place, the characters are unlikeable and it’s just bad all over. And yet I love it. No idea why. I just think the film works. It’s funny and kind of brilliant despite itself.