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)

My Worst, Disappointing, Least-Like Movies of the Year

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!

I’ll put up my list of “Best/Favorite” movies of the year later, but with all those best and favorite movies I have, I had to sit through some stinkers. Some of these I knew weren’t going to be any good walking in, but I ended up taking the hit anyway. The list ranges all over the place, so don’t think I’m attacking certain movies because it’s easy. I walk into every movie with a clear mind and soaking up the movie for what it’s worth. Good or bad.

The list will have the movies 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 they weren’t good enough to make it on my other list. Like all lists, this is my opinion! So if you don’t agree that’s perfectly fine, and probably justified. Finally, there are other movies that could have gone on the list, but these are the ones that truly stuck out. Alright, let’s get this over with.

 

Dishonorable Mentions

Blackhat (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Forward Pass)

Hitman: Agent 47 (20th Century Fox/TSG Entertainment/Infinite Frameworks Studios/Fox International Productions)

Hot Tube Time Machine 2 (Paramount Pictures/MGM)

Taken 3 (20th Century Fox/EuropaCorp/Canal+/TSG Entertainment/M6 Films/Cine+)

The Transporter Refueled (EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films/TF1 Films Productions/Belga Films/Canal+)

 

 

Disappointments/Least-Liked/Worst Movies of the Year

Aloha (Sony Pictures/Fox/Columbia Pictures/Vinyl Films)

Cameron Crowe’s latest film was hit with criticism with “white-washing” and keeping the film from critics to review just a couple days before release (not the only film on this list that did that). However, watching the film you can see why they kept it away from critics. Aloha had a great cast of Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, and Bill Murray. Sadly, they couldn’t save this. The film tries to have high stakes, but only when it wants to, and it even felt ridiculous at times. Overall, the film was very uneven that at times made the film boring.

aloha

Fantastic Four (Fox/Marvel Entertainment/Marv Films/TSG Entertainment)

This one definitely goes into the disappointing and worst section. 20th Century Fox can’t nail down “Marvel’s First Family,” and it is strike three for them. Of course, it didn’t help that there was so much behind-the-scenes drama between the studio and director Josh Trank, and the troubling reshoots and scenes in the trailer that are nowhere in the film. Despite all that, like I said in my review: The fans lose in this, not Fox or Trank, us because we want to see a good Fantastic Four movie and what we got crap. Started out good, but crap nonetheless.

fantastic-four-poster

Jupiter Ascending (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Dune Entertainment)

I really wanted to like this movie more than I did. There are some great scenes in there, but the film felt way too big for its own good. The Wachowskis seemed like they were doing a lot of world building, but it all felt too condense and rushed with nothing having time to breathe. Dare I say, it probably would have worked better as a mini-series instead of a movie, but that’s just my opinion. The first sign was indeed the release date switch, when they pushed back the release date by a year.

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Maggie (Liongates/Roadside Attractions/Grindstone Entertainment Group/Gold Star Films/Lotus Entertainment/Silver Reel/Gold Star Films/Matt Baer Films)

I wasn’t expecting too much of Maggie, but I walked in open-minded (as always) to watch a different take of the zombie genre. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a father dealing with his daughter, played by Abigail Breslin, being infected with virus that is turning people into zombies was interesting to see. However, Maggie’s slow burn didn’t really do the film any favors as the film felt too slow at times and when something powerful happened it took me a while to actually register it because I had to catch up at times. One thing that made me put the film on the list was the ending. The ending looked like it was going to go down a very powerful route, but instead went out in a whimper, and didn’t take the risk that that film could have really made and where they were potentially hinting at. I will say that Arnold as a father figure was great to see.

maggie

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Paramount Pictures/Blumhouse Productions)

I was a fan and defender of the Paranormal Activity films up until the third installment, and I enjoyed most of the spinoff The Marked Ones, but the series showed signs of losing it during the fourth installment. It seemed like the series just didn’t care anymore, and while it tried to add new things to the series, it just never kicked off the way they probably thought it would. As for The Ghost Dimension, the last of the series, it just didn’t do it for me. The supposed answers we were promised were rushed and lackluster, and the ending was just weak and not a good end to the series at all. The movie felt like just another installment that was setting up the real final installment. Another case of a good series losing it momentum by the end, and overstaying its welcome.

paranormal_activity_the_ghost_dimension

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Happy Madison Productions)

I didn’t walk in really expecting much from this. I’ll admit, I enjoyed the first Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It had its funny and goofy moments, but it knew what it was and didn’t take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, the sequel did take itself a little bit too seriously for its own good. The jokes fell flat the majority of the time, and to be honest it just wasn’t that good. All the charm and goofiness the first film had was stripped away and replaced with unnecessary fat jokes and lame/awful jokes.

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Point Break (Warner Bros./Alcon Entertainment/DMG Entertainment/Studio Babelsberg)

Despite my slight optimism for remakes in general, Point Break was a shallow and pointless remake that didn’t do much for me – and probably anyone – and while it had it’s very short and brief moments and a great performance with Edgar Ramirez, Point Break failed on all spectrum’s.

point_break

Seventh Son (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)

Seventh Son felt a bit messy. The movie isn’t horrible, but the movie sometimes feels like you’re already familiar with some aspects of the world and it’s a little off-putting at times. One scene in particular threw me off only because they made the scene feel like it was really important, but emotionally it didn’t come out that way because there was no real investment in character involved.

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Terminator Genisys (Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions)

Terminator Genisys had some potential, Arnold Schwarzenegger came back, after some fans wanted him back, Alan Taylor was directing, and the film was going to add some new things to the timeline that we all know. Then that second trailer came out. You know, the one that gave away what could have been the biggest twist in the series and potentially a great moment to watch onscreen for the first time. Yeah, that one. Knowing that going in really hurt the movie, and despite their being another layer to the twist, it still wasn’t enough to forgive them for spoiling that big plot point in the trailers, TV spots, and posters.

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The Gallows (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/Blumhouse Productions/Management 360/Tremendum Pictures)

Another addition to the Found Footage horror subgenre was The Gallows, and like some of the films before it: it wasn’t good. Despite some cool and eerie shots in the movie, one of the characters – mainly holding the camera – was annoying to the point that it took me out of the movie. I can handle annoying characters, but holy hell did he reach a whole new level. Moreover, the motivation and reveal of why the events happen ended up making no sense whatsoever and seemed like a last minute thing. The Gallows may be the worst Found Footage movie I’ve seen.

gallows

The Green Inferno (BH Tilt/High Top Releasing/Worldview Entertainment/Dragonfly Entertainment/Sobras International Pictures)

I’m not the biggest Eli Roth fan, but I’ve slightly enjoyed some of his movies in the past, but The Green Inferno was rough to watch, and not in the way it was supposed to be rough to watch. None of the characters were really all that likeable, with the expectation of maybe two, and even the slow burn and waiting for everything to go to hell isn’t worth the wait. Some of the gore is good – that’s what the film is really about anyway – but overall this wasn’t good at all. This is definitely one of the worst films of the year.

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The Lazarus Effect (Lionsgate/Blumhouse Productions/Relativity Studios)

This one had a ton of potential and even had the cast lead by Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass to back it up. Unfortunately, the potential of the film disappeared once the film became a supernatural slasher-esque film in the last act. The Lazarus Effect had a great premise behind it, but the execution of it lacked power and left the film underwhelming to watch.

lazarus_effect

Tomorrowland (Walt Disney Pictures/A113)

This one hurt. I was actually conflicted to put Tomorrowland on this list and not put it as an “Honorable Mention” on my “Favorite/Best” movies of the year. However, that wouldn’t be extremely fair to the other movies. Tomorrowland had ton of potential, had a great team behind the camera and in front of the camera, but ultimately it was the lack of execution and beating over the head theme (which I loved, but sill) that made this probably one of the biggest disappointments, if not the biggest, of the year.

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So, what were your biggest disappointments, worst, or least-liked films of the year?

Jupiter Ascending Review

jupiter_ascending_ver3

Dir: The Wachowskis

Writer(s): The Wachowskis

Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Douglas Booth, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Tuppence Middleton, and Eddie Redmayne

Synopsis: In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by a ruthless son of a powerful family that live on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign

 

 

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

 

 

The Wachowskis broke on to the scene with their smash and cult-hit The Matrix. Everyone fell in love with them, and then they started to go downward with a lot people after the sequels to The Matrix and Speed Racer, even Cloud Atlas had fans divided. Nonetheless, The Wachoski siblings have always been passionate about their projects and put a lot of work into creating the world and trying to get the audience into the world as much as possible. All of that can be said for Jupiter Ascending, problem is the film falls flat in areas and while there are highlights, ultimately the film is nothing more than an tiny bit average film.

 

The film follows Russian immigrant Jupiter Jones (Kunis), who works as a house maid but unbeknownst to her, she possesses the same genetic makeup from a powerful galactic royal family the Abrasax’s. She then finds out that she has some rights to Earth, (yes, the planet Earth). Because of this Jupiter is targeted by the three Abrasax siblings; Balem (Redmayne), Titus (Booth), and Kalique (Middleton). Lucky for Jupiter, she had a hybrid soldier turned mercenary in Caine Wise (Tatum) to help her. Unfortunately, they get caught up in a family feud and have to try to survive with the help of only a limited few.

 

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Again, Jupiter Ascending isn’t a perfect film and while it has some great things about it, it fails to capture on those things to help it move forward. The set design and costumes are beautiful to look at and add to the  whole building a bit, in the sense that you get where these characters are coming from and how they go about their life, but that’s all they are there for, to look pretty.

 

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Even some of the cool straight sci-fi stuff, like Caine’s gravity boots are really cool to see the first few times, but after a while they lose a bit of their specialness. The guns make the sound you would think sci-fi intergalactic weapons would make, and while cool to look at, they stop using them around the first half of the movie. The ships are another story. One of the main ships the characters use is nice to see fly through the streets of Chicago and destroy any building in sight, but once they get into actual space it, again, lose something at it even though the design of the ship looks great.

 

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The real problem with Jupiter Ascending is the story itself. While it’s nice to know what the creatures are and how everything works for these galactic characters, sometimes it is just better to let the audience enjoy the film and everything around it. I don’t really consider this nitpicky, just an observation because we see other films that don’t explain every single thing and still turn out to be good. I get that the Wachoskis are trying to get us invested in this world, but by the end of the film only a few things they explain turn out to be important and relevant.

 

The cast here is okay. It’s a nice change of the norm to have a female hero in a big sci-fi film like this with Mila Kunis playing Jupiter. Kunis gives Jupiter an equal level of being naïve, determination, and some unfortunate lack of seeing the bad in people. Let’s just say she gets caught in pretty much the same situation twice in the span of a half hour. Channing Tatum’s Caine Wise is a soldier that has wolf DNA in him, which gives him the fearlessness of a wolf and will do anything to protect Jupiter. His character isn’t just in it to protect her either, even though there is a somewhat forced love story, Caine does have a motivation to helping Jupiter.

 

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The other supporting characters are kind of forgettable. That’s not a knock on the actors playing them, it is just that they don’t really do anything and don’t really get fleshed out that much. Sean Bean is one of the noticeable supporting characters as he plays a character named Stinger, who has a history with Caine and tells Jupiter –and the audience – what is really going on.

 

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The Abrasax siblings don’t really do much. We get a quick scene of them all together, the only scene mind you, and then they disappear with the expectation of Balem. Redmayne looks to be enjoying himself chewing up the scenery while talking in his above whispering voice and occasions shouting. Out of the three siblings, Redmayne’s Balem is the most fleshed out character, even though he has about twenty minutes of screen time. Douglas Booth’s Titus is the “playboy” of the three and does something kind of creepy which you’ll know when it happens. Tuppence Middleton’s Kalique Abrasax is really just kind of there, she only serves one purpose of telling Jupiter what the Abrasax really do; she is the weakest of the three.

 

All in all, Jupiter Ascending isn’t a perfect movie, but there is some fun to it. You can get lose in the action scenes, especially the Chicago scene (maybe I’m biased), but there are a lot of characters that show up and do nothing for the film and then disappear – which includes two bounty hunters. Visually the movie is great to look at and while the story fumbles with itself, you’re going to have at least some fun watching it, kind of.

 

Jupiter Ascending

3 out of 5

February Movie Releases

So how are those New Years Resolutions coming along?

 

Just kidding!

So let’s talk about some movies shall we? February is going to go by fast it looks like, and there seems to be at least one major movie that is going to make every fan happy. Let’s take a look shall we

 

(All release dates are based off Box Office Mojo and IMDB and all movies are either nationwide releases or large limited releases)

 

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6th

SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water: I was on the borderline of the whole SpongeBob phase in my life, so I really don’t have any interest in seeing this. Also the live-action, cartoon and CGI combination always feels weird to me and doesn’t always look great. Maybe I’m just becoming a grumpy old man.

 

Seventh Son: This was supposed to come out last year in January but production delays made the movie get pushed a whole year. Now the movie also has the tag of “By the Studio that bought you…” some would say that’s sign the studio doesn’t have a ton of faith, but his is also the last movie Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. did together before they broke off their working relationship. Overall the movie looks okay and has a descent cast. Hopefully it’s at least enjoyable.

 

Jupiter Ascending: The Wachowski Siblings are back and are bringing universal action with them. The film will follow a human woman (Mila Kunis) who is a target of The Queen of the Universe and is protected by two warriors (Sean Bean and Channing Tatum). Based on the trailers the movie looks pretty cool and looks like it’s going to have some great special effects. And, come on, it’s the Wachowski’s

 

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13th

The Last 5 Years: Based on the musical, a struggling actress and her novelist lover illustrate the struggle and deconstruction of their love affair. The movie stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. I honestly didn’t hear about this movie until I started doing this list and it also has a limited release, but I don’t think I’ll be catching this one.

 

What We Do in the Shadows: This came out during film festival season and got some descent buzz from the festival crowd. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi who are responsible for Flight of the Conchords and The Inbetweeners, respectively, and they bring a horror comedy about vampires. I never got around to watching either show, so I don’t know their kind of humor, but maybe I’ll get around to watching this one.

 

Fifty Shades of Grey: Yes, it’s finally coming out. Based on the book, Fifty Shades of Grey already came with a history, for the lack of a better term, but the movie also had some troubles to get off the ground. Originally set to star Charlie Hunnam as the lead, he dropped out due to scheduling conflicts (although some say that isn’t true), then we got Jamie Dornan to fill his shoes. Fans aren’t too happy as they had their own dream casting but nonetheless, the movie is coming out. Get ready guys, you’re girlfriends and wives are dragging you in.

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Based on the Mark Millar comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn (who also directed Millar’s Kick Ass), the movie looks pretty good. I mean we’re getting Colin Firth playing secret agent, and by the look of it gets to kick some ass. What more do you want?!

 

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20th

The DUFF: I didn’t know this was based off a book, but the movie follows a high school senior who instigates a social peaking order after finding out she’s a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her popular friends. It’s not really marketed to me, or marketed at all until mid-January it looked liked, but the cast is filled with pretty faces and big names like Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, and Allison Janney.

 

The Lazarus Effect: Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, and Donald Glover star in this as medical students discovering they can bring back patients from the dead. Of course, they use it on one of themselves (Wilde’s character) after an accident. The trailer gives off a weird vibe – aka not so great movie – but the other problem I have with the movie is that it really gives away a character death. I know other movies show or hint at character deaths but this one goes all out and shows it! Not a good sign in my book.

 

McFarland, USA: Kevin Costner is sticking to the sports dramas based on true stories apparently. McFarland, USA has Costner playing a coach who decides to coach cross country in a California town that is down on its luck and no one believes in. The trailer gives the movie the typical, against all odds feel, but sometimes those movies aren’t that bad and inspiring to watch.

 

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: This was supposed to come out in December until The Interview decided to come out, and you all know how that turned out. Nonetheless, the sequel will come out and I have a strange feeling that it won’t be good. I’m sure it will be funny and have some great moments, but there is something about the trailer and the TV promos that give off that vibe.

 

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27th

Everly: Selma Hayek is the titled character and has to fend off a wave of assassins sent by her ex, who happens to be a mob boss. The movie looks like a straight out action film that has the action set in Everly’s apartment.

 

Maps to the Stars: I didn’t know about this movie until I did this list. The film is directed by David Cronenberg and stars Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack, Olivia Williams, and Robert Pattinson. The synopsis: A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.

 

Focus: Will Smith and Margot Robbie – future Suicide Squad co-stars – star as con artists who get involved in something they can’t control, as well as possibly falling for each other. The film still hasn’t convinced me, but we’ll see.

 

What movie are you looking forward to more this month?