This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things and my favorite/standout fights and action sequences and special effects.
Ant-Man: Ant-Man vs. Falcon & Ant-Man vs. Yellowjacket (Cassie’s Bedroom)
A nice early preview of what we could see in Captain America: Civil War, and it was great to watch. It was actually a rather nice to surprise to see the scene play out and it was a ton of fun. Ant-Man was a great movie, but having this scene in there, was pretty damn cool. As for the Cassie bedroom fight, let’s face it: That was one of the funniest, goofy and action-packed scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Hulkbuster vs. Hulk & Hydra Base Siege
This was teased for a while, and every fan knew it was coming eventually. So when it finally happened, it was like it was ripped out of the comic books. The two literally tried to beat the crap out of each and in true Marvel fashion, there was some inject humor. As for the base siege which opens the movie, it is arguably, one of the best openings and action scenes that Marvel has done – with the expectation of Captain America: The Winter Soldier – and it involves all of our heroes. The scene has it all; humor, great moments, and in that great shot of all the Avengers leaping into battle.
Creed: Adonis Johnson-Creed vs. Leo ‘The Lion’ Sporino
There was something about how the scene was structured and filmed by director Ryan Coogler that made this boxing match in Creed more of a standout than the final match. The way Coogler shot and framed the scene really made you feel that you were part of the match, and you saw the viewpoint of each character which made it even more special.
Jupiter Ascending: Chicago Chase
While Jupiter Ascending wasn’t all that great of a movie, it at least gave us one good thing: A great action sequence right here in Chicago.
Kingsman: The Secret Service: Harry Hart/Galahad vs. Church Congregation
This may be not just my favorite fight sequence of the year, but may join my favorite fight sequences list ever. Colin Firth may not be on everyone’s list for playing a badass character, but this definitely had to silence doubters. Of course we have to give credits to the stunt team, director Matthew Vaughn and cinematographer George Richmond for putting together the scene.
Furious 7: Deckard vs. Hobbs, Ramsey Rescue & Deckard vs. Dom
First, It’s like a dream match come true: Jason Statham vs. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. And holy hell was it brutal and fun to watch. Second, Ramsey’s (Nathalie Emmanuel) rescue happens a little before the mid-point of the movie and was heavily promoted in the ads. But, nothing comes close to the actual scene which plays out a little more than we thought. Overall, the scene is great. Finally, the whole movie builds up to this fight between Deckard (Jason Statham) and Dom (Vin Diesel) and when they finally meet, you can tell it’s going to come down to the last man standing. It’s not as good as Deckard vs. Hobbs, but the intensity is still there.
Jurassic World: Indominus Rex vs. T. Rex and Blue
This was like a kid’s dream come true. Hell, it was probably even mine. I don’t even know what else to say because, well, just look at it!
Kung Fu Killer: Hahou Mo vs. Fung Yu-Sau
Kung Fu Killer might have not gotten a wide release, but any chance I can see Donnie Yen on the big screen, I’m going to take it! The movie was filled with great fight sequences –no surprise with Yen involved – but it was the final fight in the movie that I picked because the fight had some high stakes to it and the final build up made the fight really great to watch.
Macbeth: Macbeth vs. Macduff
This was a short, brutal and visually fascinating scene to watch. Felt like watching a moving picture at times. I loved the aesthetic that director Justin Kurzel chose to go with for the scene.
Mad Max: Fury Road: Imperator Furiosa vs. Max Rockatansky & The Rig Escapes The Biker Gang
It’s almost hard to even choose a favorite action sequence in Mad Max: Fury Road, only because all of them have their awesome moments and the whole movie feels like an extended action sequence. But these two are definitely two that stood out to me. The fight between Furiosa and Max was hard hitting, vicious, knockdown drag out that totally fits into the movie and shows how tough Furiosa really is. The escape scene works on a number reasons, it shows the trust that Max and Furiosa finally get and the amazing score by Junkie XL elevates the scene even more.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: Car and Motorcycle Chase
One of the best parts for me in Rogue Nation was definitely the somewhat promoted action scene that involved a pretty lengthy chase that involved Ethan (Cruise), chasing down Ilsa (Ferguson) and Syndicate henchman. There was also something that McQuarrie didn’t use a real score and instead used the sound of motorcycles and cars instead.
Pixels: Pac-Man Chase
Despite what many people think about the film – it’s not perfect even I know that – Pixels had its moments and the full chase scene of the main characters and Pac-Man was a ton of fun to watch.
Sicario: Border Shootout
Sicario is one of those rare films that is unapologetic and, arguably, brutally honest about its subject matter. It’s also one of the most tense films I’ve seen in a long while and nothing is probably more tense than being stuck on the border between Mexico and the United States during a drug war. The scene bought out those feelings of not only being trapped, but having your options limited and trying to find the best way to get home.
Spectre: Bond vs. Mr. Hinx & Mexico City Opening
I love a great intense and hard hitting fight scene, and that’s exactly what we got in this fight between Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx. The henchman role felt tailor-made for Bautista especially seeing that fight scene. As for the opening scene that takes place in Mexico City during a Day of the Dead celebration, it is one of the best openings I’ve ever seen and one of the best one-continuous-take scenes I’ve ever seen.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren vs. Finn and Rey & Finn
It wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie without a lightsaber duel to end it. The Force Awakens is no different. The separate duels between Finn and Rey have different meanings. Both are done out of survival and revenge, but both of them have different meanings to each character. Finn is doing it because he’s finally fulfilling the hero role, and Rey is reaching her true potential.
Tomorrowland: Athena vs. Hugo and Ursula
Tomorrowland may have highlighted the house escape of Clooney and Robertson’s characters, but the highlight action sequence for me was Athena showing off what she can do for the first time. It was also a lot of fun to watch the scene in the surrounding it was in.
American Ultra: Mike vs. Laugher
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Sokovia Battle
Creed: Adonis Johnson-Creed vs. ‘Pretty’ Rick Conlan
Kingsman: The Secret Service: Harry Hart/Galahad vs. Thugs (Bar)
Run All Night: Jimmy vs. Price
Sicario: Alejandro Goes Solo
Ted 2: Comic Con Fight
Terminator Genisys: Guardian vs. T-800
The Man from U.N.C.L.E: Napoleon and Illya Chase Alexander & Napoleon and Gaby Escape Illya
Tomorrowland: Casey and Frank Home Escape
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Even with some of it, arguably most of it, being CGI, some of the action sequences were top notch and the beginning base siege was a ton of fun to watch.
The Fast & Furious franchise is priding itself on upping the ante on their action and Furious 7 did just that. Although, it hard to get any bigger than bringing down a big ass plane and then shooting a car out of it, but hey, the next big thing would probably be a car jumping from building to building and cars skydiving out of a jumbo plane.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Probably one of the biggest surprises of the year, Kingsman: The Secret Service not just delivered on doing a great spy film, but also a action great film. Because let’s face it, that church scene was damn awesome.
Mad Max: Fury Road
I’d have to say hands down, Mad Max: Fury Road is the best action film of the year. The whole film is one long chase scene that almost never lets up and when it does it always comes back in full force. If I just wanted to pick one movie to be the best action film of the year, it goes to Fury Road.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Yet another film that is priding itself on upping the ante with every installment, Rogue Nation literally gives it to us right at the beginning with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt hanging off a plane as it goes up in the air. You can’t get crazier than that right? RIGHT?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has the right amount of action, and it’s action that’s a ton of fun to watch. The lightsaber duos had me riled up and the X-Wing flights where just great.
Kung Fu Killer
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
It Follows was a nice throwback in terms of story and tone. It doesn’t go for the easy gore and nudity tropes, although there those things in the film, it’s actually tied in to the primary story. The film is a slow burn and plays with your paranoia and makes you uneasy while watching. Also, the “monster” is so simple, along with the film that it is pretty cool to experience.
I had a lot of fun watching Krampus and while it was sluggish at time, there was a lot more to it than I originally thought. What made the film work for me was definitely the fact that they went with practical effects and puppetry for the creatures that visually made them more terrifying.
The Final Girls
The Final Girls is a nice balance of comedy, drama, and horror, but the meta-horror elements isn’t even the main basis of the film, but are still great to watch the horror elements, especially considering how they handled it.
Insidious: Chapter 3
Dope worked as both a drama and comedy coming-of-age film, but the film was one of the best comedic films I’ve experienced this year.
The film could be also labeled as a crime drama, but there was something more about the humor that makes this film special. The comedy was one of the only real things I understood about the film when I was first watched it. Not because the film has a weird or crappy structure, but because it was so weird.
Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy returned to form with Spy, a nice twist on the spy genre and didn’t rely on fat jokes that some films McCarthy has done in the past. Instead the film lets her actually show off her comedic and acting chops. However, the rest of the cast also steal the show, especially Jason Statham.
The Night Before
This could have easily been a forgetful comedy that happens to take place on Christmas Eve, but The Night Before was a little more than that. The film was done to bone a story about three friends – that treat themselves as family – and the bond that real friends go through. The comedy really had its moments and this is coming from a guy that is starting to grow on Seth Rogen.
The Final Girls
Oh Pixar, how is it that you always find a way of making us tear up, cry and warm our hearts? You did it again with Inside Out. The supposed “I guess they ran out of ideas” film sure had a lot of heart and heartwarming and breaking moments that left me wanting more and satisfied at the same time.
The Peanuts Movie
I’m not going to lie, this film probably shouldn’t have worked, but it really did. The Peanuts Movie stayed true to its roots and didn’t try to add anything new or ruin what fans loved from the original. Kudos to them for sticking to their guns and keeping what everyone loves about Charlie Brown and the gang.
The Good Dinosaur
Clint Eastwood’s biopic drama about Chris Kyle was meant with some mixed reactions over the fact of “is all or any of this true?” Despite all that, American Sniper worked best when it focused on the characters themselves and what they go through, and Bradley Cooper does a tremendous job of doing that.
Brooklyn is one of those films that everyone will connect to in some way. It’s a coming-of-age story, a love story, and a story about being an outsider in a new environment and wanting nothing but to go back home. It’s a touching story that I loved watching and experiencing.
Creed is every bit as good as the original Rocky, but it’s also its own standalone story about someone wanting to break out on their own and not trying to completely live up to someone’s legacy. The film worked even better with the performances of Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. Any time they are together the film works better.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
I read the book this was based on and when I saw the film, I couldn’t believe they captured the same spirit, heart and humor but was also able to turn the dial and make it even more stronger. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn’t the easiest movie to sit through – it does have Dying Girl in the title after all – but it truly is one of the best films of the year and one of the best dramas and indies of the year.
Definitely one of the best dramas of the year, and one of the hardest to sit through Room also gives two of the best performances of the year by Brie Larson and newcomer Jacob Tremblay. The film follows the two as they escape the room they were trapped in for years and Jack (Tremblay) sees the outside world for the first time. It’s one of the most touching and heartbreaking films all at once.
Sicario is one of those rare films that isn’t afraid to go to places that normally other films water down. It is definitely an unapologetic, gritty and raw look on the war on drugs between the U.S and the border of Mexico. The film is only stronger thanks to the performances, especially Benicio Del Toro.
This is straightforward filmmaking at its finest, and I say that it the best way possible. Spotlight is filled with great performances and tremendous cast that easily makes it an Oscar favorite and thankfully it’s great even if it wasn’t.
The story of Steve Jobs – in real life – is definitely a dramatic one. Thankfully, the film brings some of that in, but instead focusing more on the actual man himself. Michael Fassbender brings the right amount of cockiness, ignorance, genius, and humanity to the character that people will love or hate.
Straight Outta Compton
While Straight Outta Compton loses a lot of its great steam by the end, the film was a great experience to watch. Seeing the lives and rise of one of the most popular groups in music, especially with the cast they put together makes Straight Outta Compton a huge surprising hit.
The Big Short
Nothing says drama like a true story about the housing and financial crisis in 2005 to 2007. It’s one of those movies that if you really paid attention to everything that happened back then, you appreciate it more. If not, then you’ll feel a little lost, but that’s find of the point.
The Martian is undoubtedly a drama in terms that it’s about a man stuck on Mars…by himself. You can’t really get more dramatic than that right?
A Most Violent Year
In the Heart of the Sea
The Hateful Eight
Marvel’s Ant-Man has had a long road, but it finally got made and damn was it great to watch. The special effects are what really made this special too. The shrinking effect and the swarm of ants was really cool watch onscreen. There was one particular scene that involved Ant-Man running in model of the building that I think was a combination of special effects and physical (I’m not sure), but it sure as hell looked awesome.
Director Neill Blomkamp has always been known for his visual work and Chappie is no different. The film harkens back to his District 9 effects given the fact the main character is a robot – with the motion capture done by Sharlto Copley – but there was something about Chappie that made him feel real and part of the story.
Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to show off some creepy special effects. Although Crimson Peak was more a gothic romance rather than a horror film – it was advertised as a horror film – the film still had strong visuals that only del Toro would ever think of pulling off, not only that he actually built the set they were working on.
Chappie wasn’t the only robot of the big screen this year, Alex Garland’s directorial debut featured one of the best performances of the year by Alicia Vikander, and one of the most tension-filled final acts I’ve seen. It’s also one of those films about A.I that will make you think “yeah, maybe we shouldn’t do that.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen some great looking dinosaurs on the big screen, and what better way to bring them back than a Jurassic Park movie. While the film decided to go more CGI than the original, there were moments of some good old fashion practical effects that bought the specialness of what made the original film so great.
Pixels was a surprise for me in a lot of ways. No, it wasn’t the best movie out there, but I sure had a ton of fun watching it and was better than I thought it would be. One of the things I was really surprised at was the special effects and how well they really looked. The Pac-Man chase down New York was amazing to watch on the big screen and the finale was a grand showing of all these old-school video gaming.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I feel like The Force Awakens can also get credit for having the best practical effects as well because it has a great balance of the two type of effects and makes them work for the film instead of against it.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails
(The Good Dinosaur)