Monthly Rewind for March

Hello, everybody!

The third edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing March! (aka my birth month)

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Mother

The Runaways

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Thoughts: Looking back, it’s hard to believe only three movies stood out to me this month. The first is the Bong Joon Ho-directed crime drama Mother, which followed a mother who desperately searches to clear her son’s name after he’s accused of murdering a girl. It was Joon Ho’s first movie after The Host, and is led wonderfully by Hye-ja Kim as the character of Mother. If you want your Bong Joon Ho fix, search out Mother.

Next up is The Runaways, the biopic about the teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways, led by Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning) and Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart), and what they went through as the band grew. It was the first thing I knew Stewart in after Twilight blew up, and see her and Fanning together was fun to watch. Granted, I didn’t know too much about that actual Runaways themselves, it was nice to see it play out on screen.

Finally, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The original Swedish version that blew up overseas and then here in the States, and it also made Noomi Rapace a household name among film nerds. The film, based on the bestselling novel by Stieg Larsson, introduce us to the popular character of Lisbeth Salander and her anti-hero ways of taking down men who take advantage of the system. It was one of the rare movies that shook me and had me buzzing to anyone that would hear me after I watched it.

 

2011

I Saw the Devil

Battle Los Angeles

Sucker Punch

Thoughts: Oh, 2011, what was going on? Let’s start with the Zack Snyder-directed action movie Sucker Punch, which is probably the definition of cool, badass trailer that doesn’t translate into a good movie. It’s also the prime example that Snyder is more of a visual director than a plot/story-driven director since the action scenes were great to watch, but everything else was rather, blah.

Next is Battle Los Angeles, the sci-fi action movie that follows a squad of marines as they fight to an alien invasion in Los Angeles. I’m going to admit that I’m actually a fan of the movie. There’s enough familiar faces in there like Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena and Bridget Moynahan to get to connect, and some somewhat familiar faces to keep you fully invested in the action. The action is also pretty fun, and it gives off a more toned down Black Hawk Dawn with aliens.

Finally, another Korean film, I Saw the Devil directed by Jee-woon Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Good the Bad the Weird, The Last Stand). The movie sees a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a twist. A special agent, played by Byung-hun Lee, tracks down his fiancé’s murderer, a dangerous psychopath played by excellently by the great Choi Min-sik, and deploys his own level of torture. This movie is FUCKED UP. I don’t want to say anymore, but this, go watch this with the information I just gave you, and that’s it!

 

2012

John Carter

Silent House

Casa de mi Padre

The Hunger Games

The Raid: Redemption

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start off with the big one here in John Carter. Disney really dropped the ball on this one. What should have started a franchise for Disney – again – was instead a heavy mix-bag of descent to good CGI and borderline mediocre. It’s a shame since the books were a heavy inspiration of sci-fi and fantasy movies that we all know and love. John Carter is, arguably, one of the biggest “what happened?” movies in Hollywood.

Next is the Elizabeth Olsen-led Silent House. A remake of the film La Casa Muda (The Silent House), the movie is shot like a one-take and follows Olson’s Sarah, who is trapped inside her family’s lakeside retreat by a supernatural force. The movie is okay, mainly held together by Olson, who’s in every scene in the movie, and was only her second film (Martha Marcy May Marlene had gotten a limited release and a film festival run at this point). The movie’s ending also loses every bit of the film’s overall story, which is why people probably, in the end, didn’t enjoy it.

Case de mi Padre was a Spanish comedy starring Will Ferrell (yes, speaking Spanish) where he was trying to save his father’s ranch, with his brother (played by Diego Luna), who ends up going head-to-head with Mexico’s most feared drug lord. The movie is utterly ridiculous, including a “sex scene” that you’d expect out of a Ferrell, but you know what, I remember liking the movie when I saw it.

Next up is The Hunger Games, based off the popular book series by Suzanne Collins (who also co-wrote the script), the movie starred Jennifer Lawrence and basically launched her into super stardom. The movie itself was fine, but it was one of the rare instincts where I doubled-down on the phrase “the book is FAR superior than the movie.”

Finally, The Raid. Directed by Gareth Evans and starring Iko Uwais, the movie took audiences by storm. Everyone called it the best action film is years, and you know what? They were right! The story might be unoriginal – elite SWAT team gets trapped in a building by the bad guy they are trying to take down – difference is, these guys beat the hell out of each other instead of shooting each other up for two hours.

 

2013

Stoker

Spring Breakers

The Croods

Olympus Has Fallen

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Thoughts: Okay, let’s start off with Spring Breakers, which I will whole heartedly admit, I did NOT like this movie. It didn’t matter how enthralling James Franco was as Alien, this movie felt like it was two-and-half-hours even though it was actually an hour-and-a-half. That should tell you what my experience was like watching.

Let’s move on to Stoker, written by actor Wentworth Miller and directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Thirst) which followed India (Mia Wasikowska), who finds out she had an uncle (Matthew Goode) she never knew about that comes to live with her and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman). What follows is a mystery thriller of India trying to figure what her uncle really wants. It was a nice little solid thriller, but the problem was that not many people saw it. It also had an Asian cinema feel to it, which may have set people off too.

Now let’s talk about, a movie that I think gets a little too much hate, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Yes, Rise of Cobra was pretty much hot garbage, but Retaliation got the Dwayne Johnson push, along with it being a soft reboot. The movie also gave Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow way more to do, including that pretty cool mountain sequence. If you haven’t seen it in a while, give it another shot.

Next is Olympus Has Fallen, one of the two White House invasion movies that came out this year, but I much prefer Olympus Has Fallen mainly due to it going more action-centric and somewhat more serious. It also had Gerard Butler going back to the action genre after doing his romantic comedies stint.

Finally, The Croods. Coming from DreamWorks Animation, and having a voice cast of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Clark Duke, Catherine Keener and Cloris Leachman as the titular family of cave people who must find a new home after theirs is destroyed, and finding help from Guy (Ryan Reynolds). The movie was a lot of fun. I didn’t, admittedly, think the movie was going to be anything impressive, but the humor keeps the movie going from beginning to end.

 

2014

300: Rise of an Empire

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Need for Speed

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Noah

Sabotage

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which tells the story of cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ambitious but ultimately doomed adaptation of Dune. It’s an amazing documentary about how all this work went into that adaptation of Dune, and what carried over to the version we all know.

Let’s now talk about Sabotage. Directed by David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad), it followed members of an elite DEA task force who are getting murdered one-by-one after they end up robbing a drug cartel safe house. It was lead by Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a supporting cast of Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Mireille Enos, Max Martini, Terrence Howard, Josh Holloway and Olivia Williams. This is honestly my least-favorite David Ayer film, and probably his worst. The movie is filled with unlikable characters and writing that is all over the place that makes the movie feel like it was a first draft.

Next is the somewhat controversial Darren Aronofsky’s directed Noah. The story of Noah, played by Russell Crowe, as he builds his ark before God’s flood. This story adds an army of people, seemingly lead by Ray Winstone’s Tubal-cain, who want to invade the ark and also save themselves, a group of fallen angels called Watchers who are rock creatures – the leader being voiced by Nick Nolte – and a less benevolent Noah that we’ve come to know. The film itself is okay, but it wasn’t something I’d recommend to everyone.

Moving on to 300: Rise of an Empire, a fourteen-year sequel to 300, takes the other perspective of the Battle of Thermopylae, the naval battle between the Greeks and the Persian army. The movie took the same graphic novel look and applied it to the sea battles which looked pretty cool. It also had a great villain in Artemisia, played by Eva Green.

Next is Need for Speed, based on the video game series, Aaron Paul plays a street racer who was framed for the murder of his friend by his wealthy associate, Dino (Dominic Cooper). When he gets released he joins a secretive and high-stakes race called The DeLeon, knowing Dino will be on the race, he takes part as a way to get revenge and redemption. Honestly, I was pretty surprised by Need for Speed, since I didn’t really expect much from it, but I needed up really doing the hell out of it.

Finally, The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson. Maybe not my favorite Anderson film, but a good one nonetheless.

 

 

2015

Chappie

Run All Night

It Follows

Thoughts: Let’s begin with Chappie, the third outing of Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium), which follows a police droid (motion-captured and voiced by Sharlto Copley) that gets stolen and reprogrammed to become the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. The movie was held together by Copley’s portray as Chappie, Hugh Jackman’s villain character Vincent, and surprisingly the supporting performance by singers Yo-Landi Visser and Ninja. The movie itself, so-so.

Next is Run All Night, the Liam Neeson-led action crime movie where he plays a mobster hitman, Jimmy Conlon, who needs to keep his son safe for the night when he becomes the target of a hit, placed by his boss and longtime friend Shawn (Ed Harris), after the death of his son. This was Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Sera’s third team up of their four movies together (Unknown, Non-Stop and The Commuter). The movie itself was okay, it wasn’t their best, but maybe their second best with Neeson playing up his age in this one and the on-screen chemistry he has with Harris.

Finally, the much-talked about and analyzed horror hit, It Follows. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, the film follows Jay (Maika Monroe, in her breakout role), who is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter, who only she can see. It Follows was one of the breakout horror films, if not just film in general, in 2015 for its themes and overall quality. In that time, a bunch of articles came out trying to break down everything, which from what I can remember, hadn’t happened in a while.

 

 

2016

Zootopia

10 Cloverfield Lane

Midnight Special

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Everybody Wants Some!!

Thoughts: First up, Midnight Special, the indie sci-fi drama about a father and son on the run from the government and a cult who want to use the child’s powers for their own good. The film had a great cast with Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Jaeden Martell, Bill Camp, Kirsten Dunst and Sam Shepard, which keeps you invested from beginning to end.

Next is the Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age college film Everybody Wants Some!! Following a group of collage baseball players in the summer before their semester starts. It’s like other Linklater films – expect Boyhood – with a mix of unknown and up-and-comers.

Next is Disney’s Zootopia, which took critics and fans for quite a ride when it came out. Setting it in a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie cop bunny teams up with a con artist fox to solve a conspiracy. If anything, it gave us plenty of meme, gif content.

10 Cloverfield Lane, which is arguably the best movie of the month, is set within the Cloverfield universe, at least for the last ten to fifteen minutes. The movie follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle, who wakes up in an underground bunker after a car accident. She finds out the bunker belongs to John Goodman’s Howard, who has also taken in John Gallagher Jr.’s Emmett, and won’t let them leave because of a supposed chemical attack that has turned the air toxic. The movie got an interesting article after it came out relating the movie to domestic abuse, which was an interesting way to look at it. Plus, it has Winstead battling aliens, so yeah.

Okay, finally, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice aka “Why did you say that name?” I’m going off the theatrical version and look, I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I was probably one of the few people that was onboard the Batfleck bandwagon, and the giving Gal Gadot a chance as Wonder Woman. But, oh man what a massive disappointment this was. Like, how do you mess this up? Seriously! The Trinity of DC Comics and you drop the ball heavily. Big no-no.

 

2017

Logan

Kong: Skull Island

The Belko Experiment

Power Rangers

Ghost in the Shell

Thoughts: Oh, Ghost in the Shell, what happened? Let’s move pass the “white washing” controversy (the character is a robot, not to take away the seriousness of the situation, but still), and talk about the movie itself. It was rather bland.

Next is The Belko Experiment, written by James Gunn, the movie takes a twisted social experiment with eighty Americans locked in their high-rise corporate office in Colombia. They are ordered by a mysterious and unknown voice from the intercom system that they must participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed. It’s a pretty descent movie, that can be a little mean sometimes, but given the material, I guess it makes sense.

Let’s talk about Power Rangers, Krispy Kreme aside, this movie would have blown little me’s mind away. Filled with, at the time, a relative unknown cast this reboot wasn’t really that bad. The characters are written well enough, although not all of them had proper time to shine. This movie towed the line at times from cheesy to serious, and it was truly something to hear the theme playing on the big screen again.

Next is Kong: Skull Island, the reboot/remake/reimaging of King Kong, saw a team of scientists along with a group of soldiers, a photojournalist and a personal tracker who venture to an uncharted island, where they encounter massive unknown creatures and Kong himself. I really enjoyed the movie and really liked what they did with Kong, and not trying to copy the original too much. The movie also had a cast of who’s who, and some disgusting imagery that you’d expect. It also opened the door for the new Kong vs. Godzilla movie happening.

Finally, let’s talk about Logan! The R-rated comic book, and the final run of Hugh Jackman’s Logan aka Wolverine. Set in the future, Logan, now a broken down version of his former self is found by Laura (Dafne Keen), a mutant child on the run from scientists and a group of enhanced mercenaries that will stop at nothing to get her back. There’s not a lot to hate or dislike about the movie, and it was one of those movies that took me a minute to process. And that last shot, oh man.

 

 

2018

The Strangers: Prey at Night

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Unsane

Ready Player One

Thoughts: Our last year we’ll start with Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel Guillermo del Toro’s great – at least in my opinion – first movie about giants robots, called Jaegers, against giant monsters, Kaiju. The sequel sees the son of Idris Elba’s character from the first movie played by John Boyega. Boyega’s Jake, a former Jaeger pilot gets recruited to the new Jaeger program to fight off a new threat. Del Toro did not return to direct or write, so it did lose the del Toro touch, and while the sequel had some cool moments, it just didn’t feel right. Plus, the ending kind of just happens.

Next let’s talk about the Steven Soderbergh-directed Unsane, which he reportedly shot on an iPhone, which is impressive in itself. The movie followed Claire Foy’s Sawyer who is involuntarily committed to a mental institution, where she is, maybe, confronted by her stalker. The movie plays up the mystery of whether or not it’s real or not, but the real thing here is how Soderbergh was able to pull it off. The movie itself is fine.

The next movie is The Strangers: Prey at Night, the sequel to the first movie from 2008. This time instead of a couple, the sequel follows a family staying at a secluded mobile home park where they are hunted by our three masked psychopaths. The movie is very different from the first movie, mainly since the movie isn’t just isolated to a home, it gives everyone more space to play around. It’s also got a 80s vibe to it, which really made the movie work. I would highly recommend this if you haven’t watched it yet, and you don’t really have to watch the first movie to watch the sequel.

Finally, the ambitious adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel, Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie took us into the future and the world of OASIS, a virtual reality where people can be whoever they want to be, and when the creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind Easter Eggs. Anyone who finds them, through his series of puzzles, gets completely control of the OASIS, and the creator’s fortune. The movie itself was quite the experience watching on the big screen, mainly because of how chalk-full of references and video game characters are in the book, and how many of them are on the screen at the same time.

It’s rather impressive that Spielberg was able to get all of this together, and more importantly, get it to really work for the majority of the film. Especially considering how much they changed from the book to the movie, mainly the sequence paying homage to The Shining.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

My Best/Favorite Movies of 2015

I held out to put my list for a few films and I had yet to see that would have – and did – make it. So, forgive me for putting out the list late.

So, there were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.

The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out when it was in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time, or because they were on a very limited release (I’m looking at you The Reverent) then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, honorable mentions and then the big one.

 

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

A Girl Walks Home Along At Night

Amy

Anomalisa

Beasts of No Nation

Black Sea

Carol

Daddy’s Home

Faults

Goodnight Mommy

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

Mistress America

REC 4: Apocalypse

Selma

Slow West

Still Alice

The Walk

The Babadook

Trumbo

Turbo Kid

While We’re Young

Z for Zachariah

 

Just Missed The List

American Ultra (PalmStar Media/Circle of Confusion/Lionsgate/The Bridge Finance Company/Likely Story/FilmNation Entertainment)

Bridge of Spies (Dreamworks/Amblin Entertainment/Fox 2000 Pictures/Participant Media/Reliance Entertainment/TSG Entertainment/Marc Platt Productions)

Chappie (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Media Rights Capital/Simon Kinberg Productions/LStar Capital)

In the Heart of the Sea (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Imagine Entertainment/Spring Creek Productions)

Joy (Fox 2000/Annapurna Pictures/Davis Entertainment/TSG Entertainment)

Krampus (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)

Legend (Universal Pictures/Cross Creek Picures/Working Title Films)

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails (20th Century Fox/TSG Entertainment/Temple Hill Entertainment)

Run All Night (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Vertigo Entertainment)

Southpaw (The Weinstein Company/Escape Artists/Fuqua Films/Riche Productions)

Trainwreck (Universal Pictures/Apatow Productions/Denstu)

The Good Dinosaur (Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

The Night Before (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Point Grey Pictures/Good Universe)

Victoria (Adopt Films/Radical Media/MonkeyBoy/Deutschfilm/Westdeutscher Rundunk)

 

 

Honorable Mentions

[Wild (Fox Searchlight/Pacific Standard)]

Wild is technically a 2014 film, but I didn’t watch until after I put out my list and the second week of January, but it’s such a great film to not mention on a best of lists.

 

A Most Violent Year (A24/Participant Media/Before The Door Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment)

Two of the best working today in Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain led this drama that is a one of those films that simply relies on the actors delivering and that is what A Most Violent Year does.

 

American Sniper (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment)

Clint Eastwood directed and Bradley Cooper-led film about the true story, well depending on who you ask, about one of most deadly snipers in Navy SEAL history Chris Kyle. The film is put on the shoulders of Cooper who handles it perfectly.

 

Black Mass (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures/Free State Pictures/Head Gear Films)

While the film was just okay, it’s the performances that elevated the film enough for me to make Black Mass enough to pop in the list. Even if you didn’t like the film, you have to give credit to the awesome performance by Johnny Depp as James “Whitey” Bulger and Joel Edgerton.

 

Crimson Peak (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)

Being a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro, I was looking forward to watching Crimson Peak especially knowing how del Toro put into the film. Actually making Allerdale Hall and making actually come to life is what made Crimson Peak work so well.

 

Focus (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Zaftig Films/Kramer & Sigman Films)

Focus was rather surprising to me. The trailers really didn’t do too much for me and I thought the film looked rather boring to be honest. But, let this be a lesson boys and girls, sometimes a good or descent movie can have a crappy trailer. I did love the first half much more than the second half, especially with a standout scene that involves an unrecognizable BD Wong.

 

Goosebumps (Sony Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation/Village Roadshow Pictures/Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Original Film/Scholastic Entertainment)

I wasn’t really expecting much from Goosebumps, but I was highly surprised to how good it was and how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t just a fun family movie, it was just a fun movie all around.

 

Inherent Vice (Warner Bros./IAC Films/Ghoulardi Film Company/KVH Media Group)

Paul Thomas Anderson adapted Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same name and it was, well, interesting. The crime comedy drama gave some standout performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, and Katherine Waterston, but it is rather interesting story and how it plays out is all over the place.

 

It Follows (RADiUS-TWC/Animal Kingdom/Northern Lights Films/Two Flints)

I’d only heard some good things about It Follows before I actually watched the movie, and it is one of the rare cases that I didn’t watch the trailer and went in completely blind, so to speak, and I’m glad I did. It Follows felt like an old-school horror film that relied more on playing with your senses and paranoia than with gore and cheap thrills.

 

Pixels (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Happy Madison Productions/1492 Pictures/China Film Co.)

I know, I can’t believe it either, but Pixels was damn enjoyable. I didn’t think I would like it to be honest, and while it wasn’t perfect and some things felt forced or just didn’t work (like some casting), Pixels was filled with great stuff and the heavily promoted Pac-Man chase was much more fun to experience as a whole sequences. Also, I was surprised by how the special effects worked and they didn’t cut corners.

 

Spotlight (Open Road Films/Participant Media/Anonymous Content)

Focusing of The Boston Globe when they uncovered the huge scandal of child molestation and the cover-up by the Catholic Church in Boston, the film was jam-packed with a great cast and equally great performances by the cast that highlighted by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Brian d’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci. There was something so simple about the film, yet so special to experience.

 

Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/New Line Cinema/Cube Vision/Circle of Confusion)

Straight Outta Compton surprised a lot of people and rightfully so as the film came out a lot better than what people were suspecting. Filled with great performances by Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, O’Shea Jackson Jr. playing his father Ice Cube, Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller, and the standout in Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, the film is easily one of the best of the year, but honestly was a bit too long for my own liking, and I’m the last person to complain about a film’s length.

 

The Gift (STX Entertainment/Blumhouse Productions/Blue-Tongue Films/Huayi Brothers Media)

Joel Edgerton steps behind the camera for this one, making his feature directorial debut, but also playing one of three main characters in the film. The Gift may be one of the overlooked films of the year, but the film does have some great moments of suspense and mystery and an ending that I didn’t see coming.

 

Sicario (Lionsgate/Black Label Media/Thunder Road Pictures)

Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins put together this great tense, dark and unapologetic film about the war on drugs on the border between the U.S and Mexico. However, the standout in Sicario was definitely Benicio Del Toro.

 

Spectre (Columbia Pictures/MGM/Eon Productions/B24/Danjaq)

In what could be Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film, and director Sam Mendes’ last one as well, Spectre has a lot of things working for it, but it did fail to really capitalize on what Skyfall did before it.

 

Steve Jobs (Universal Pictures/Legendary/Scott Rudin Productions/The Mark Gordon Company)

Danny Boyle directed this interestingly laid out biopic about former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender. The film is blocked off in three different parts, set right before the launch presentations of three different products Jobs was a part of (none of which were the IPhone’s and IPods by the way). While the film lost some steam by the end, the performances made the film worthwhile, especially a standout scene between Fassbender and Jeff Daniels in the middle of the film.

 

The Big Short (Paramount Pictures/Regency Enterprises/Plan B Entertainment)

Tackling the housing and financial crisis in 2005 to 2007, The Big Short is filled with great performances by its ensemble cast and directed by Adam McKay – yes, that Adam McKay – the film really puts you in there. Sometimes, it gets a little too technical that you feel like you’re going crazy and lost, but that’s kind of the point.

 

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Wilgram Productions/Davis Entertainment)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. could have been a movie that got lost at the wayside, and while some will say that’s true, Guy Ritchie’s spy film worked on a lot of levels for me. It had some great and funny moments and the opening action scene and last chase scene were great fun to watch along with the performances by Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander.

 

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Ant-Man (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Motion Pictures)

Ant-Man has gone through a lot. Originally it was going to be part of Marvel’s Phase 1, but got pushed back until now. Then it took a big hit in losing long-time attached director and fan in Edgar Wright. However, Peyton Reed and the cast were able to still bring a great Marvel film to the fans.

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios)

Even I can admit that Age of Ultron wasn’t perfect, but there was still a ton of to be had with the massive sequel. Joss Whedon was able to keep most of the craziness from going off the rails and let’s face it, Age of Ultron was probably one of the most comic book-y movies we’ve seen.

 

Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight Pictures/Wildgaze Films/Parallel Film Productions/Irish Film Board/Item 7)

A great film – also based on a novel – that tells the story of an Irish immigrant played by Saoirse Ronan that comes to America and finds love and a new life, but her past and love for her former home comes back to her, which leaves her to make a decision to accept her new life, or old one. I ended up loving this film more than I thought I would. It’s a beautiful story and told in such a way that anybody can connect with it.

 

Creed (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/MGM/Chartoff-Winkler Productions)

Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone’s performances in Creed are one of the best aspects of the film. The film wasn’t a cheap way to get to make more films with Rocky Balboa, the film was treated with respect to the films that came before, but was also a great standalone film.

 

Dope (Open Road Films/Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions/IamOTHER Entertainment/Revolt Films)

I didn’t really expect much from Dope, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well handled the film was and the great performance by breakout star, Shameik Moore. It’s one of films that keeps you on your feet with comedy and big dramatic moments.

 

Ex Machina (A24/Universal Pictures/DNA Films/Film4)

Alex Garland, the writer of films like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Dredd, finally steps behind the camera and what a way to make his debut. Garland tackled A.I. in a different take and the way they approach the story and theme was great to see unravel. Plus, Ex Machina has great performances by Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, but an even better one by a standout performance (maybe of the year) by Alicia Vikander.

 

Furious 7 (Universal Pictures/Original Film/Media Rights Capital/One Race Film, Dentsu/Original Film)

James Wan stepped into some big shoes replacing Justin Lin, and while mostly known for his horror films, Wan completely fit into the world. Furious 7 also had some troubles along the way and felt more powerful for some with of course the death of Paul Walker during production. The film paid nice tribute to Walker and the character at the end of the film.

 

Inside Out (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

Damn you, Pixar! How is it that one studio has their hands on all of your pulses and always find a way to make us either cry or tear up? I haven’t decided where Inside Out falls on my favorite Pixar films list, but it’s definitely up there. I mean, they made a movie about feelings. FEELINGS!

 

Jurassic World (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Amblin Entertainment)

Let’s face it, this probably shouldn’t have worked, and while some will think that it didn’t, I thought Jurassic World worked at just the right amount of levels for me to thoroughly enjoy it. Also, what’s not to love about seeing giant dinosaurs back on the big screen?

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox/Marv Films/TSG Entertainment/Cloudy Productions)

Kingsman: The Secret Service is definitely one of the biggest surprises of the year, and probably surpassed many people’s preconceived notions of the film. I mean any movie that can make Colin Firth into a badass spy should work right? Also Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle was probably one of the coolest villains of the year. But for me, what made Kingsman a standout was the awesome and chaotic church fight scene. Seriously, that scene was a thing of beauty.

 

Macbeth (The Weinstein Company/DMC Film/See-Saw Films)

Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard absolutely nail down the performances of arguably one of the most well-known literary figures and plays. Justin Kurzel brings a fresh, dark, gritty, and visually compelling adaptation and different approach to William Shakespeare’s play. Macbeth is one of those films that probably won’t grab you at first, but hits you very later on.

 

Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Kennedy Miller Productions)

What a lovely day, indeed! Mad Max: Fury Road was essentially one long chase scene and while it did slow down a bit – rightly so – I freaking loved every minute of it. The impressive action sequences, the score, and the two main leads of Hardy as Max and Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. Definitely one of the best films of the year and probably one of, if not, the best action film of the year.

 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Fox Searchlight Pictures/Indian Paintbrush)

Based on the novel of the same name, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a film that hit me hard. I loved the book and I loved what they did in the film. They were able to recreate some of humor and managed to keep the spirit of the novel, but also do their own thing which was great to watch. It’s definitely one of the best dramas of the year.

 

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Skydance Productions/TC Productions)

2015 was a good year for spy films, and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation may have been one of the best of the year. Like the Fast & Furious films, it’s a little hard to believe that the Mission: Impossible films keep getting better with every passing installment. Tom Cruise still feels like he’s on top of his game and with a standout performance by Rebecca Ferguson, Rogue Nation ups the ante on the series.

 

Room (A24/Element Pictures/No Trace Camping/Film4)

Room might be one of the best dramas of the year and one that came out of nowhere. Two of the best performances of the year go to stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who give heartbreaking and heartwarming performances in a film that isn’t always easy to watch. Do yourself a favor and watch this as soon as possible.

 

Spy (20th Century Fox/Feigco Entertainment/Chernin Entertainment)

Melissa McCarthy had some misfires going on there, but thankfully she came back to form with Paul Feig – of all people – with this awesome take on the spy genre. Melissa McCarthy is as funny as ever and Jason Statham gives a gut-busting performance

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Walt Disney Studios/Lucasfilm/Bad Robot/Truenorth Productions)

Out of all the movies that came out this year, this one was the most unpredictable. It could have been great or it could have been bad. Thankfully, J.J. Abrams put on a hell of a movie that makes a great addition to the Star Wars franchise. The new characters were great, the movie was a ton of fun to watch, and more importantly it was just fun.

 

The Final Girls (Stage 6 Films/Groundswell Productions/Vertical Entertainment/Ulterior Productions)

I honestly didn’t think I would have loved The Final Girls as much as I did. I thought the meta horror comedy would have some great moments, and while it does, it was the other big story in the film between Max (Taissa Farmiga) and Nancy/Amanda (Malin Akerman) that really stuck out and got to me. I didn’t imagine that I’d get emotionally invested in a horror comedy, but lo and behold I did.

 

The Peanuts Movie (20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios/Feigco Entertainment)

Yet another film that probably shouldn’t have worked and people had their preconceived notions on it, but The Peanuts Movie was damn enjoyable. Sure it wasn’t done in the traditional style that we all know and love, but the film didn’t add any pop culture references or pop songs. It stayed true to its roots and reminded you why you love Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang.

 

The Hateful Eight (The Weinstein Company)

While the final product is still a little iffy for me, one of the reason The Hateful Eight is on the list is for the characters, setting, and production design. The cabin – Minnie’s Haberdashery – was a great looking aspect to the film and just a confined space for all these characters that it elevated the film much more. As for the characters, Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins are the highlights of the film that keep the slow burn mystery drama film in tact.

 

The Martian (20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions/Genre Films/Mid Atlantic Films)

Based on the novel of the same name, The Martian was every bit as good as the novel, and maybe even more. Matt Damon is tremendous as the lead and Ridley Scott was able to make us feel like we were really on Mars and we can really sense the dread that Damon’s Mark Watney felt, but there was also beauty behind everything that was being filmed.

 

So what are some of your favorite films of 2015?

Here’s to another great year in films!

Favorite/Standout Action Sequences, Genres, and Special Effects

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.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

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.

 

 

Honorable Mention

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

 

 

GENRES

Action

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.

 

Furious 7

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.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

American Ultra

Kung Fu Killer

The Gunman

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

 

 

Horror

It Follows

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.

 

Krampus

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.

 

 

Honorable Mention

Insidious: Chapter 3

 

 

Comedy

Dope

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.

 

Inherent Vice

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.

 

Spy

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.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Goosebumps

Ted 2

The Final Girls

Trainwreck

 

 

 

Animated

Inside Out

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.

 

Honorable Mention

The Good Dinosaur

 

 

 

Drama

American Sniper

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

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

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.

 

Room

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

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.

 

Spotlight

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.

 

Steve Jobs

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

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?

 

Honorable Mentions

A Most Violent Year

Black Mass

Everest

In the Heart of the Sea

Southpaw

The Gift

The Hateful Eight

(Wild)

 

 

Special Effects

Ant-Man

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.

 

Chappie

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.

 

Crimson Peak

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.

 

Ex Machina

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.”

 

Jurassic World

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

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.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Goosebumps

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails

Tomorrowland

(The Good Dinosaur)

‘It Follows’ Review

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Dir: David Robert Mitchell

Writer(s): David Robert Mitchell

Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto, and Jake Weary

Synopsis: After a young girl gets involved in a sexual confrontation, she is followed by an unknown force.

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

 

You rarely see horror film reviews here because for some reason I have a bit of a hard time reviewing them. It’s not because I don’t like horror films – because I do – but there is something trying to tell people how the film works without giving away how it works and giving away an experience. That couldn’t be even more true with It Follows. So here’s the best I can do with it.

 

It Follows stars Maika Monroe as Jay, who after a date with Hugh (Weary) ends up sleeping with him and instead of the two becoming closer, Hugh chloroforms her, bounds her to chair and says that “It” will come after her and kill her unless she passes it on to someone else. What follows is an eerie, slow burn film filled with tension and a retro look and feel of a horror film.

 

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I thought about not review It Follows only because I didn’t see how I can actually review it without giving away some of the things in the film. Also, the film is getting a ton of attention from the horror community and some even calling it the best horror film in years (which the statement itself loses its appeal after being overused every week for a new film). I personally knew very little about the film, I knew it was out there and sort of new the premise, but didn’t see a trailer or knew who was in it. But, now the film is getting more attention as the film is set for a bigger release after it’s impressive limited release box office numbers. I can attest to that since my screening was almost packed.

 

Back to the film, director David Robert Mitchell tries to give the film a timeless essence, but things like cell phones, the internet and social media is referenced here and there. Even one of the characters, Yara (Luccardi), has a weird e-reader. However, Mitchell wants the film to the timeless feel over all of that as Jay’s sister Kelly (Sepe), Yara, and Paul (Gilchrist) are seen watching black and white movies on their old school TV. However, it doesn’t really matter and the timeless issue doesn’t get in the way in the film overall.

 

Also, Mitchell gives the film a very retro 80s feel. The film has beautiful cinematography, shots that zoom in and out of an actor or thing, and a score that can come straight from an 80s film. Honestly, after watching the film all I could think about is if this came out during the actual 80s it would probably be a cult-following film even more than it is going to be probably today.

 

it-follows

 

The film does fall into some horror tropes, like sometimes the music will kick in when something is coming, some jump scares – although they work very effective here because of the premise of the film – and the main character being seen as “crazy” because she is seeing something that no one else does.

 

When it comes to the “It” that follows Jay around, I kind of don’t want to give too much away, even the trailers are very vague when it comes to what “It” is. Hugh says that “It” can look like a stranger or someone you know, which automatically builds up the tension. The other thing about “It” is that it slowly walks toward you, think Michael Myers or Jason Vooorhees, but without the mask or blade. “It” also has a pretty unique approach and look. They way it has to be passed is, again, something you can totally see in an 80s movie and believe and when it comes to the look, well that’s just something for you to embrace when you see – although you can’t let “It” touch you otherwise, well, you know.

 

The cast is pretty great here, but the film does belong to Monroe. She brings a great vulnerability and dread to Jay as she has to suffer with “It” following her until she passes it on. She is constantly looking over her shoulder or locking herself in her room making trying to stay safe, but obviously it doesn’t really work. Keir Gilchrist who plays Paul gets probably the second amount of screen time. Paul has a thing for Jay and even though at first he doesn’t really believe anything is after Jay he goes along with it.

 

Luccardi and Lili Sepe, who plays Jay’s sister Kelly, Jake Weary’s Hugh, and Daniel Zovatto have their moments to shine but overall the story is focused on Jay, so their characters are put aside.

 

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Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, and Keir Gilchrist

 

It Follows is a slow burn and minimalist approach to horror. It might, and probably will, test your patience in a lot of ways, but you can’t take away that It Follows has have a lot of originality to it. Things really don’t get going until the halfway point and even then, they still take a very slow pace for everything to get going for the final act. I will admit the final act of the film falls a bit flat in terms of everything else that was done before that, but it sort of works.

 

The other thing about the film is that it has multiple layers. It’s one of the rare films that had me thinking after I walked out because of one scene. The scene is in the final act that takes place in a pool. Again, I won’t go into it because I don’t want to spoil it but if you pay attention to what is said by Jay and then focus on something that comes up after, it adds a bit more depth to what happened. I know that sounds confusing, but It Follows is really one of those movies you want to tell your friends about but not say much because you don’t want to ruin it for them. It’s also one of those you movies you might have to watch again, so you can catch some of the more nuance things going on.

 

All in all, It Follows brings some new things to the table for the genre and while it fumbles in some areas, Maika Monroe and director David Robert Mitchell do some great things that will keep this film above some of the rest. With the multiple layers the film has and the great moments, I can see why many are calling this a much-watch horror film.

 

It Follows

4 out of 5