Let’s get this series wrapped up shall we, it’s the middle of February now, far too late for a 2015 blog, but hell with it I’m a man who finishes what he starts… sometimes. I’ve talked enough about video games, let’s try something different, let’s talk about movies and let’s give one away! I’m Nick R P Green and this is My Top 3 Films of 2015! Keep reading and you could win a 2015 DVD, you lucky person you.
As you may have seen before, what follows is a transcript of my Top 3 Movies of 2015 YouTube video, for those people who prefer to read articles than watch videos. If you'd rather watch this is video form instead follow this link.
It was a pretty good year for films, not overly amazing, not completely crap. We had a few great films and a few god awful ones (will we ever get a great Fantastic Four Movie? Oh yeah, we already did:
It was also a pretty bad year for video game based movies, stuffing more flops into the metaphorical wheelie bin so that it’s about ready to spew its contents all over Hollywood. Until a very smug looking Wreck-It Ralph shows up for the second time to give everything another good sweep and mop.
As per usual, I will be putting forward my Top 3 films from the past 12 months, with a couple of special mentions at the end. Bear in mind, these are only from the films I have actually seen. And it probably goes without saying, but spoiler alerts are ahead, proceed at your own risk.
Can Marvel do no wrong? Even Marvel’s worst movies and still pretty damn good, ok Iron Man 2 was a bit all over the place, but it was still a good movie. Jesus, they turned Ant-Man into a really good, successful movie. Freakin’ Ant-Man, a guy who shrinks and talks to ants! And it was a damn good movie! But, more about Ant-Man later. Despite not being anywhere near as good as the first one (and gosh darn it the omission of Tom Hiddlestone alone is where most of the points are lost), Avengers: Age of Ultron takes my number 3 spot. Despite being as irrelevant to the overall plot of the MCU as Hawkeye’s Shield career, with Captain America: Civil War picking up the ensemble movie slack later this year, Ultron is a damn good romp. Ultron himself has an impressive presence, brilliantly written and delivered fantastically by James Spader. The usual suspects do a great job once again, especially by Johannson and Ruffalo in the growing romance and tension built between Black Widow and Banner (for god’s sake Marvel, give Ruffalo his own Hulk movie already!).
It’s the set pieces though that remind us why Whedon is as good as we’ve come to expect. Despite seeing advances in the Iron Man suit in every film, the Hulkbuster was badass as hell and the fight between it and the Hulk was magnificent; we’re all used to this level of CGI by now but that scene is still worthy of so much credit. The film pulls out all the punches for the finale, with almost every hero in the universe so far (minus the Guardians of the Galaxy of course) joining in the fun. There’s *huge breath in*: Iron Man; Thor; Captain America; The Hulk; The Vision; Black Widow; Hawkeye; Scarlet Witch; Quicksilver and War Machine. That’s 10. Joss Whedon managed to balance 1 movie around 6 superheroes and then for his victory lap, makes a second juggling 7 and introducing a further 3, all in the same movie. Meanwhile, 3 laps in, 20th Century Fox can’t seem to work out the puzzling enigma of the number 4. So in summary, Age of Ultron was good. It wasn’t as industry defining as the first one, it wasn’t Marvel’s best film, but it was still a fun, action packed movie with some awesome moments. Oh and finally, it lost a couple more points only because this Quicksilver, was pants compared to this Quicksilver:
And you thought Star Wars would be my number 1! Wrong again my deluded Padawan (implying you were wrong about something before this… I dunno, blame the writer… oh that’s me!) Yes the Force Awakens was fantastic, it was fun, it was nostalgic, it was a little too much like watching A New Hope again but it was a breath of fresh air compared to the prequels (asides from Hayden Christensen, I still stand by the opinion that Revenge of the Sith was good… not great, but good...) What I liked most about the Force Awakens, was the way the film was carried, not by the original cast (hell The Joker only had about 10 seconds of screen time), but by the fresh cast and their great performances. Rey is an interesting female protagonist, with plenty of charm and appeal without having to rely on the men to prop the character up. Finn is lots of fun, and it's clear to see that John Boyega is really enjoying the role. Kylo Ren is a fantastically unique villain; Adam Driver does a superb job of portraying a twisted jedi, who rather than the usual bad guy who believes he is right and actually yearns to deliver justice, Kylo is a man whose very beliefs and soul urge him to follow the path to the light side like a mother keeping her baby safe from the icky horrors of the world, but Ren ultimately desires to be evil and rid himself of the baby reins that are holding him back from the Vader shaped sharp objects.
We have even greater things to come from these guys. And that, is why it’s only number 2. As I mentioned, the plot is heavily recycled from Episode 4 and the characters are only developed to a less than generous degree, leaving obvious plot holes to be developed in 8 and 9. Who are Rey’s parents and why does she has have a connection with the Force? How was Finn able to defy his cloning protocols and go awol? What daycare upset happened between Luke and Ben to turn baby Solo to the darkside? The Force Awakens merely sets up the rest of the saga, it’s a film designed to introduce all the toys in the basket, only so that the next two can actually have a decent play around with them. As many have predicted, this happened with A New Hope and from it we got Empire Strikes Back, possibly the greatest science fiction film of all time. If history is to repeat itself, Star Wars: The Rise of The Order is going to be incredible (or whatever it ends up being called, that’s just my guess. Feel free to use that Disney). The Force Awakens was a good Star Wars film, J.J. Abrams got it right and this still gives me goosebumps. Ohhhhh yeah.
Special Mention 1
Before revealing number 1, I’m going to do my first special mention, just for a change. Kingsmen: The Secret Service. Damn Kingsmen was good! Can we see Colin Firth do more of that? I like Colin Firth now. Is he in the next Bridget Jones? [Hand on, let me just check… wikipedia… Bridget Jones…. Bridget Jones’s Baby, jesus that’s a shit name…] Dammit he is. Don’t do that Colin Firth, do more stuff like Kingsmen, I liked you in Kingsmen.
Jurassic World. Just gonna come out with it. Jurassic World. And yes, it is partly because I have a bit of a man crush on this guy. The Lego Movie, Guardian’s of the Galaxy and now Jurassic World. I love you Chris Pratt, but in a totally straight manly way... of course.
A new Jurassic Park film had been rumoured to be in the works since the third not bad installment but for most of the fourteen year wait, as much progress had been made as a T-Rex’s attempt at the downstairs self-service (wink-wink nudge-nudge know-what-i-mean know-what-i-mean!). Like so many examples before it, reviving a once classic franchise had its risks. Would it be a Tyrannosaurus triumph like Jurassic Park or another Diplodocus dunder like The Lost World? Thankfully it ended up much closer to the former.
Jurassic World succeeded in making dinosaurs cool once again. Rather than go, hey, let’s just make a new island, with a new dinosaur and essentially remake the first one, Jurassic World poked at new territory, exploring gene splicing, animals as weapons and a surprising first for the franchise, the effect of a dinosaur rampage on a park actually running and open to the public (three films all with Park in the title, and it’s the first one to drop the word Park that is the one that actually opens a Park. And now I’ve written Park too many times). World contained some nice nods to the original Jurassic… Zoo, and did an excellent job of balancing the pressure of continuing the franchise with something fresh and with a brand new cast whilst not simply being a reboot (god help me, I really don’t like the look of this:
A great story, some fantastic CGI, particularly the scenes involving the Raptors, in fact let’s talk about them for a moment. The raptors have been a staple of the series since, Jurassic… Menagerie introduced them as intelligent birds of prey; The Lost World suggested they could be defeated by simple gymnastics and not actually making them any more interesting at all and so Jurassic… err, Jurassic Safari Par… oh dang it! JP3 made them interesting again by exploring them as a family unit that could communicate. Rather than dump the raptors in another number 2 situation, World did the right thing and explored the idea of Raptors and Humans working together, recognizing and communicating with each other, an idea first hinted at right at the end of number 3. Did it work? Hell yeah it worked, we knew it was gonna work the moment we saw the first trailer. This scene was daft and unrealistic, but hell it was cool and fun, the kind of moment we enjoyed in the first film, cringed at the excessiveness in the second, found reasonably charming in the third and now becoming the posterboy for the fourth.
So to summarise in time before my readers feel like they’re becoming extinct, Jurassic World could’ve been really easy to get wrong, and they didn’t. Great cast, good story that feels like the first film but with enough original ideas to make it stand out on it its own and some great action packed scenes featuring dinosaurs fighting other dinosaurs, which is ultimately, what we really want from a dinosaur film. I’m not saying it was THE best film of the year, but of the films I actually saw, it was certainly my favourite.
Onto the familiar drip dry ending that is the special mentions. First up, the worst. As I said at the start in case your old noodle has been drained of its short term memory like some binge watching goldfish, this is still limited to films I have seen and I did not see Pixels, Fan4tasic or Hitman: Agent try again another 47 times until we get it right.
Spectre. It was very nearly Spectre. Spectre was a massive disappointment and despite him being my favourite Bond, I honestly believe Daniel Craig should’ve stopped after Skyfall, it was very clear his heart was in this about as much as an illiterate American teenager who’s been forced to read the complete works of William Shakespeare. But, it’s not Spectre.
No this year’s runt of the litter, for me at least anyway, was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2: Episode 4: The Battle of Penan: A Jennifer Lawrence Story: Remastered. Why was it the worst, I’m sure you’d like to know? Well, it was plain and simply boring. I got bored watching it. The thing with two parter films, the idea is supposed to be that you do the groundwork with the first one. Here you dig up the turf, plant the seeds, give it a bit of a water and then forget about it for 12 months. Part 2 is then the finale, all of the pieces are set in place for an explosive, action packed finale, filled with terrific set pieces, plenty of drama and a huge finish. You eat all the vegetables... would pretty much be the conclusion to the metaphor that I’ve seemingly left hanging. This has worked before in a teenage fantasy setting, look at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 was the setup, part 2 was the battle for Hogwarts and the second film was all the better for it.
The problem with Mockingjay is that they do all the prep with the first one and then start the second part off, with even more prep. And it was really boring; the story was dragged out, it took a long time for anything to really happen and the set pieces were few and far between. It wasn’t engaging and it wasn’t exciting. Here’s what should’ve happened, either, they should have never taken the script writing guillotine to the Mockingjay novel, instead taking a nice pair of screenplay scissors to cut enough flak from the book to make it all into one film; or put the first one through its paces a bit more, cutting more of the boring stuff and finishing it on that bit in part 2’s trailer, you know the bit where Finnick says “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games”, start the 2nd part there and make it solely about the battle of Panem. It would have had room to be a lot more exciting and action packed, adding some meat to the veggies that they’re digging up, the same way I just dug that metaphor back up. See, I had a plan for it. I was never overly fond of the first film, I wasn’t into the hype, thinking it was simply a watered down, PG friendly Battle Royale. I liked Catching Fire a lot more, because the action was mixed with some interesting political and cultural struggles that I found myself intrigued by. Mockingjay went too far in the political direction the first time round and then just didn’t have the punch to follow it up well in the second act. So that’s my summary…. potatoes.
Second special mention is my most anticipated of 2016, no need for a full blog on this one unlike the vidya games. I’m a game guy, not a movie guy and I’ve probably already embarrassed myself enough trying to act like I know about movies to know that I don’t need to do another movie blog. So, Deadpool’s out now and I’m super hyped for that, Ryan Reynolds is clearly having a ton of fun with all of the promotion for it and I never tire of watching the trailers and laughing at the whimpering mums of America who want their baby boys to have a PG13 version. You wouldn’t give them a Deadpool comic, why the hell would you want to give them a Deadpool movie. Sorry Mums, but Billy isn’t the target audience, I AM!
But, my most anticipated isn’t actually Deadpool (I just really wanted to talk about Deadpool) and it wasn’t for the film I’ve already seen this year (which was Dad’s Army, alright for a bit of a laugh, but overall not particularly good, a desperate attempt at some nostalgia grabbing with the senior audience, which was clearly working, as I’m pretty sure my girlfriend and I were the only under 50s in the cinema). But getting back on track and, sorry Batman, as much as I like you, it ain’t Dawn of Justice that I’m yearning for, everyone knows by now when it comes to underwear on the outside of your trousers, I’m a Marvel man.
I write this after just seeing the Super Bowl trailer for Captain America: Civil War and it is almost heartbreaking to see the relationship between Stark and Rogers become so viciously ripped apart. That bit in the first trailer where Steve tells Tony that given any other choice he wouldn’t side with The Winter Soldier and then Tony says:
HHHHNNNNNNGGGGGGG! That’s drama, that’s drama right there. There’s more drama in that there 10 seconds of trailer than Hollyoaks has had in its 10 years of being on the air. It’s gonna have more superheroes than Ultron did, it’s not only only going to introduce the MCU’s first black superhero to also have his own movie, but it’s going to finally introduce freakin SPIDERMAN into the MCU! This film isn’t even an Avengers movie and it’s looking set to be the biggest Marvel movie yet. Oh, and Martin Freeman’s also in it, and we don’t even know who he’s going to be yet! Not content with being added to Tolkien, Sherlock and Watson have now infiltrated the MCU and on a side note here, how bloody fantastic does Cumberbatch look as Doctor Strange. Oh 2016 is going to be a good year!
Congratulations if you’ve made it this far, through the swamp of analysis, metaphors and terrible jokes, you’ve made it to the end. I guess you’ll be wanting some sort of prize then? As I’ve stated, to link in with this movie themed blog, and to celebrate the close of my 2015 reflection series I am giving away a DVD of a 2015 movie! And that movie is… Ant-Man! Courtesy of Marvel UK & Ireland. No seriously, it kind of is. My girlfriend’s brother very kindly bought me Ant-Man for Christmas, which I did kind of know about, but two days before Christmas, I received an email from Marvel UK & Ireland’s twitter account to inform me I’d won a copy in a competition I’d entered. So anyway, rather than nip in to my local CEX and get presumably bugger all for it, I thought I’d share my extra copy with one of you lucky lot.
To enter, just leave a comment on the original video, linked at both the top and bottom of this blog. You don’t have to comment with anything in particular, say whatever you like. Say hi. Say howdy. Say hello, my name is whatever your name is followed by WYSIWYG if you want. A winner will selected at random in one week’s time. FYI it’s an English PAL Region 2 version, so this competition will be limited to Europe only. Good luck!
Thank you very much for reading. As usual upvote and check out the original video if you like what you’ve read, check out the links below for the other blogs in my 2015 reflection series and I will see you next time!