Top 7 Films Of 2015

20 01 2016

Film Reel 2015

I have never fully understood why the film award season takes place during February. It’s neither the beginning nor the end of the year. Nor have I ever understood why the film award calendar allows films released up to the award ceremony dates in February, why on earth would something like that be allowed as it’s rather confusing that a film released in January one year is omitted from the following year because it was not released in the appropriate month/year. Wouldn’t it be better just to allow awards to be given to films released in the traditional January to December 12 month period? Then you could still have the award season in February because it would allow judges an appropriate amount of time to judge which of the films they think should win that award. But then it would go to a film that no-one has either watched or even heard of. I am not saying those films are good or bad, it’s just that it doesn’t make sense that the more popular films aren’t more consistently thought about. Sure they may get bad reviews, but if people like them, there must be a decent level of fun about them for them to be included in some form of Award ceremony, and by that I don’t mean the Razzies. In the end it just makes the MTV Movie Awards look more prestigious. Anyway that’s a completely different argument and not one I am going to get into now.

MTV Movie Award

With it now being January, I thought I would do my annual list of which films I thought stood out from the pack. Last year you may remember I did a Top 10 than my usual Top 5. Well this year it is down to 7. I was on track to just doing a Top 5, but a film came out in December (I bet you can’t guess what that was) which I thought was worthy of a mention, but I do not like the number 6, so I added another one for extra value (I really like the number 7). This time around though it’s just one post, not 2, so it’s a much easier thing to be involved with. Once again, as per usual, only films that were released in the traditional 12 month period of January to December 2015 are included and the list goes in descending order with 7 not so great, and number 1 being the best film of 2015. Now the year has not been a great year for releases, there were some failures, and not much in my opinion to look forward to, however there was some surprises and discoveries.

Pom Poko (Studio Ghibli - 1994)

One of the discoveries for me though was discovering more and more the back catalogue of Japanese Animation Studio; Studio Ghibli. This year I have seen quite a few of their films for the first time and have instantly come to love the films My Neighbour Totoro and Pom Poko. Unfortunately these weren’t released in 2015, so don’t get a mention in this list, sadly. Anyway, without further ado, here are my top 7 favourite films of 2015.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm - 2015

7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 2015 has had a large shadow over it all year round, not an Independence Day like shadow, but a great black cloud hanging over the year that at intervals would shout at you during the day. Yes it was the release of the new Star Wars, a film being highlighted by Science Fiction fans as fantastic; although that was no guarantee of that months ahead of its release, but they just ignored that bit. I used to love Star Wars, I like all of them in my own way, they are fun entertaining films, but then the fans got a bit too critical about the prequels and started to take the fun out of it. Therefore, my old love for Star Wars was gone. So, I was not looking forward to this film, but I thought I should see it anyway. Upon release I heard lots of good stuff about it, but was still unsure, then saw it. It was nice. It was nice and fun again. It was like Star Wars should have remained for me. It had new good characters, good new villains (appearances by two main characters form The Raid and The Raid 2), some interesting and fun scenes and Harrison Ford finally pulling his weight. However there was one huge problem I had with it, and it started within seconds of the film starting and carried on throughout the entire film; and that is that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a near exact frame for frame remake of Star Wars Episode IV: A NEW HOPE. Nearly everything in this film is exactly the same as the original film released in 1977. I thought the idea was to start a brand new story to take place after Jedi, so why is it then that it isn’t? I am not going to ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it yet, it is actually a nice fun film, it’s good, it was somewhat worth all the hassle from outside forces and pin pricking in your veins from the TV, but just don’t expect anything much in the way of NEW STUFF.

Krampus (Legendary Pictures - 2015)

6. KRAMPUS – (I said I bet you can’t guess) Released quite late in the year’s schedules and a film I only just got to see in the end, but overall I absolutely loved Krampus (I know that sounds wrong when said like that). It was something else, and a nice break from the consistent streams of TV adverts and trailers about a certain space movie. Krampus for those of you who don’t know much about it; is a Christmas Horror film starring the titular character from Christmas Folklore. From the first trailer I saw, I was hooked and dead set on seeing it, and I wasn’t disappointed. Terrifying and Enchanting, it was a both shocks and laughs. Very funny but also very scary, and it told both a story and a lesson in a believable setting. It was just such a fun film, and nearly made it into my Top 5. If you haven’t seen it, it is definitely worth a watch, even if Horror is not your thing, give it a try (apologies that this one is not as long as the above paragraph).

Insurgent (Lionsgate - 2015)

5. The Divergent Series: InsurgentDivergent was a fun film and a very memorable one at that too. It was a film that for the most part looked more like a Hunger Games competitor and wouldn’t live up to much. But then I saw it, and rather liked it. Then I went to see Insurgent, and I was shook back. Insurgent was such a glorious film, it was big improvement over the first. There was a lot more in action scenes, there was more going on for both the setting and characters. The main characters all greatly improved, from Shailene Woodley, to Theo James, plus it saw the introduction of a brilliant character played by Naomi Watts. There were one or two things I had issues with, the number 1 being how quickly Tris surrenders (as I had thoughts that consisted of a cross over from The Raid and the opening scene of Blade: The Series). But overall, it did things different from the genre that it birthed from, and it makes the series look more promising than how it started, I have big hopes now for the future of this series, and it all comes to this Titan of the Young Adult movie genre.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel Studios - 2015)

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron – Much like Insurgent, this too was a big improvement over the first film. I wasn’t expecting much from Ultron except possibly some more drivel brought on by constant mentions in the intervening films about the first Avengers film. I was glad to see that didn’t happen. I was annoyed that the opening of this film seemingly relied on the audience having to watch all the intervening films to get the full story, but as soon as Ultron took his spot, the film opened up. The cast has improved greatly, some of the love scenes between Banner and Widow I thought were possibly going in a very obvious direction, but it meant that Banner wasn’t necessarily going to get bullied like he did in the bridge scene from the 2012 film. Overall though, the film was good, brilliant in fact. All the cast were outstanding, Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson were brilliant additions, plus it was good to see Cobie Smulders return (although I did feel like the Vision looked absolutely ridiculous). It was a good story, had some good moments, plus it was wonderful to see the return of the War Machine.

Spectre (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer - 2015)

3. Spectre – Spectre was a film I kept forgetting about until it finally came out. I went to the cinema to see it (like you do when you go and see a film I suppose), and I really enjoyed it. I went to see it again, and had the same reaction. Is it better than Skyfall? I would say No to that one. Is it as good if not better than Skyfall? Definitely Yes. It is a huge spy epic with great scenes, good acting from everyone involved, all the heavy hitters in Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz and Batista, to the secondary’s like Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Andrew Scott. Best of all though, it had in my opinion the best Bond Girl to date in Léa Seydoux (please let her be in the sequel). It was not just characters though, it had cool opening titles and theme to back them up, a fantastic car chase, great fight and action scenes, plus an ending that reminds me of V For Vendetta. Terrific stuff, whatever you’re doing MGM; you’re doing it right, keep up the good work guys.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (Lionsgate - 2015)

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – I had been saying it for over a year, and it happened. As the curtains were charging up in the nearest plug socket, and the final scenes began to play out, I cried. It was such a big deal and moment for me; The Hunger Games series has been such a major part of my life these past 4 years, they have continuously stood out for me as some of the best and most enjoyable films that I have watched since taking a chance on the first one back in 2012, and Part 2 was no different. It had some terrific scenes, very powerful ones near the end, moments that made me cry. As the film wrapped up, I went outside, and touched the film notice board, as a sort of thank you moment, as it was there for me that the series began. This film had it all, great cast, firstly the ones we all come to love and hate from people like Jennifer Lawrence, Willow Shields and Donald Sutherland, to characters that really began to stand out, for me that was Natalie Dormer more than most, keeping an eye on her throughout. It was a film of action, a film of horror, suspense, conspiracy, but also one of love, and best of all, it ended the right way, and that was most important, that it end the correct way. A fitting end to a series that grabbed my heart and I it’s, and both never letting go until the time was right.

Jurassic World (Universal Pictures - 2015)

1. Jurassic World – What else after all that was released in 2015 could possibly be better than Jurassic World? Nothing as far as I could find, I mean its right here at the number 1 spot in a list of 7 films. Now let me just say that I actually do quite like the Lost World, but for me, I agree with everyone who says it, by saying this is the sequel we have been waiting for. Jurassic Park is still number 1 in the series, but World is not far off. It is set back on the original island, ignores the previous sequels outright (like The Force Awakens ignores A New Hope outright) and creates a chilling, fun but still terrifying new story that clings to the themes of not just the work and setting of its predecessor, but also the book that started it all. Since reading the book, I can see that the island is much like what Michael Crichton envisioned and talked about in his book when he first created Isla Nublar all those years ago. World goes in-depth with the whole thing of man’s desire to control and create, but also how once again it’s easy to lose that control. World though also delves into the world of man’s desire for the need of something new, and talks in great depth about the commercialization of everything. This all though of course goes to pot in the usual case of something getting loose and terrorizing everybody, this time in the form of a brand new dinosaur. This then takes us through a 2 hour fun-fest featuring lots of laughs backed up with great acting from the likes of Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, which all ends in the most spectacular way possible featuring the Tyrannosaur from the original film plus a brand new exhibit. By the end of it all, I had no adrenaline left in me. It was like a ride in itself, all brought together by one of Hollywood’s finest new Directors (Colin Trevorrow). Jurassic World is pure FANTASTIC.


Traitor In Our Midst – SkyFall

28 11 2012

Video Game reviewer Ben “YAHTZEE” Croshaw made a very good comment about spies –

“You see, a spy who breaks into an enemy base and kills everyone isn’t a very good spy, any monkey can kill with a gun, if it’s a very bad monkey”.

If you think about it, it’s true. A spy’s job is to spy on people and feedback information and not necessarily commit evil corporation Genocide which is usually the case in all most films. But I suppose that a spy film where a bloke does nothing but paperwork would not be very interesting although it may get an academy award. But when you like at recent James Bond films you can see a sort of origins story in it which is always popular. Everyone loves an origins story and that is a good thing because the latest James Bond film SkyFall is the best James Bond film since Die Another Day (10 years ago).

The film starts off with 007 chasing someone around somewhere in Turkey with help from his aide Eve. He is chasing someone who has some confidential data on a hard drive. The chase goes all over this town, through a market, onto rooftops and then onto a train. However the chase ends badly when 007 is shot by his aide when she is instructed to take a shot at the other person. 007 falls into a river and the opening titles begin.

M is writing the obituary of 007 and is later called to see the chairman of the intelligence and security committee, Gareth Mallory. She is put under pressure to retire but refuses to do so. On her way back to MI6 HQ there is a security hack inside the building from her computer which results in the explosion of her office at MI6. Meanwhile Bond is recovering in some unknown location and finds out about this and returns to England. MI6 is now stationed in WW2 bunker formerly used by Churchill. 007 goes through several tests to be put back on the job and appears to pass. Eve has been given a small desk job for the time being. Bond also meets the new Q who gives him a gun that only he can use and a small transmitter.

007 is sent to Shanghai to deal with the bloke from the beginning of the film. He heads to a building where the man kills an Asian man on the building opposite. Bond accidently kills the man when he falls from the building. 007 is spotted by the women from the other side, he also picks up a gambling chip from the man’s equipment box. Meanwhile M finds out that 3 Nato Agents have been killed and she has to appear in front of a tribunal. 007 heads to Macau along with Eve where he hands in the chip and receives millions of euros. He also meets the woman and asks her if she can meet her employer. Bond has a small scuffle with some thugs in a Komodo Dragon pit and then leaves with Eve. He gets on the Woman’s boat and they are both taken prisoner and head to small unknown island. There Bond meets former MI6 agent Raoul Silva (when I first saw this person I mistook the actor for Donald Sutherland, Now he would make a Great Bond Villain) who blames M for his torture in China. He kills the Asian woman and almost kills bond in a bizarre shooting game but then army helicopters arrive who were signalled by bond’s transmitter.

They all arrive back at MI6 where M has a word with Silva before heading to her Tribunal. Meanwhile Q and Bond try to decrypt Silva’s laptop but accidently hack MI6 which allows him to escape. Bond gives chase through the London Underground. M is being questioned at the tribunal and is almost being used as a scapegoat. Bond reaches Silva, but Silva escapes thanks to a bomb which derails an underground train. Silva heads for Westminster and tries to kill M but Bond arrives in good time. Silva escapes and Bond takes M to Scotland in his original Aston Martin and asks for Q and M’s aide to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for Silva.

007 and M arrive at Bond’s old home SkyFall and meet his old game keeper Kincade. All three set up his old house in wait for the attack from Silva. His men arrive and thanks to traps set up all over the house they are successful, then Silva arrives with more men in a helicopter. Bond destroys his house and escapes through a secret tunnel which M and Kincade used earlier. However M has a serious injury on her hand. Silva gives chase as Bond falls through an ice pack and deals with one of his men. Silva finds M and sees she is hurt, and decides to try and kill both himself and M. Bond arrives however and kills Silva with a hunting knife. Bond is too late though as M dies of her injury. Back in London, Eve gives Bond a gift from M’s will and decides to take a desk job being the secretary for the new M and introduces herself as Eve Moneypenny. Gareth Mallory has been given the job as the new M and gives 007 his next assignment.

SkyFall is a brilliant entry to the series. While I am not necessarily a fan of the Daniel Craig era because I like the Super Weapons and Super Villains. I mean, why exactly was the bloke in Quantum Of Solace Evil? SkyFall is a strong entry to the series and deserves a lot of credit. The film’s cast are a nice blend of current members along with some good new members. Bérénice Marlohe‘s character is interesting despite being killed off early on, if only she was featured more in the film. Ben Wishaw is a great Q and could be mistaken for Benedict Cumberbatch (to some people), he also has a trait of Henrik Hanssen from Holby City. Naomie Harris (Eve) is also a great addition and is slightly more reassuring than most people in the film. However my favourite character has to be Kincade (Albert Finney). Why has this guy not been in the series before? Let’s just hope that he is featured again (does anyone else think he looks like Brian Blessed?). Javier Bardem (Silva) is a pretty good villain but is too weird however he is a better villain than Stephen Lang in Avatar (just thought I would mention that).

But of course we need to pay tribute to Dame Judi Dench who has played M for 7 films. She leaves at the 50th Anniversary, a good time to finish, Thank you M for many Great Years and Great Films. OK she had to die to leave instead of living on and just retiring.

It is nice to see that the love relationships are not really apparent in this film and as a result do not slow down the plot like most films in the series (Diamonds are Forever). There are several other great scenes like the scenes in Shanghai but it is nice to see that London is used more in this film. I think London is greatly overlooked in the series and should be included more often and not just as a launching point. The scene at SkyFall could have been improved greatly with the right music, it was interesting to watch them set up the place, I think that they should have used a different soundtrack for that scene though, it does remind me of a TV Show from the 80’s, you know what I mean – The A-Team.

(When you watch that scene again, put this music to it, You know it makes sense)

The film’s effects were done very well, The Komodo Dragons were nicely done and looked real, very important (even though it did seem obvious that was going to happen). The Excavator on the train was especially good but best of all, the explosion at MI6 and the Underground Train topped all that, I wonder how they filmed those scenes?

Overall SkyFall is one of the best Bond films and Action Films in years. A nice blend of Actors and Effects combined with the well written story all adds up into one Fantastic Film. While it is still not technically a Bond Film it is going in the right direction. At least the Gadgets are back, now all we need is a villain (let’s have Donald Sutherland) with a super weapon. Why not have another satellite laser weapon, again.

GENEPOOL (I hadn’t heard of Sam Mendes until this film. This is the first time I have reviewed a Bond Film).

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