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.

GENEPOOL

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Lightning Strikes Twice But This Time It’s Irish – Clash Of The Titans (2010)

10 10 2012

If you were a Greek God, what would your name and what would you be the God of? Well seeing as I know which Norse God I would easily be (THOR). I suppose I could try this. Choosing one would be easy, I would choose Poseidon. If I was to make one up I would be called TEROS, the God of Monsters. TEROS sounds like Taurus which has something to do with Bulls and so in my case, Monsters. It is interesting to hear all the strange names for Greek Gods, but they are Greek of course, but I did not know that Zeus was Irish.

When I heard (late 2008/early 2009) that Clash of the Titans was being remade, I was excited. If any film deserved a remake it was Clash of the Titans. The legendary film from legendary film maker and special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen. While his film used stop motion and whose Kraken too is one of the most iconic pieces of cinema, this film would of course use CGI instead of Stop Motion. While some people could have had their reservations about remaking it, I was incredibly excited. Even more so when I saw the trailer. When I had my interview at Teesside University the music from the trailer kept going round in my head. It was the film I was most excited about for 2010 (This film also Won 4 Awards at the Sam’s Rant Film Awards 2010).

The film starts out with a narrator talking about how the Gods overthrew their parents The Titans with a creature made from the skin of Hades. Zeus then becomes God of the sky and creates man, Poseidon becomes God of the Sea and Hades is tricked by Zeus to become God of the Underworld. The Gods stay alive and feed on the prayers and worship of the people while Hades finds sustenance on their pain. After hundreds of years, Man becomes rebellious and declares war on the Gods.

Out at sea a fisherman finds a coffin with a woman and a baby inside it and raises it as his son and calls him Perseus. The boy eventually reaches adulthood and his family has grown but has questions about who he really is. They eventually arrive near Argos (not the shops) and observe as the giant statue of Zeus is destroyed by Men from Argos. Strange Flying Monkey creatures then attack the men. They then come together to form Hades who then destroys the fishing boat. Perseus lives but the rest of his family drown. On Olympus (I Think, it does not really state) the Gods are angry about the defiance and Hades appears telling the Gods that they must strike at the Humans. Zeus agrees and allows Hades to attack the world. Perseus is rescued by the Men of Argos (not the shops) and taken to the King. The King and Queen of Argos are revelling in the joy of attacking the Gods. Andromeda (their daughter) does not like this and goes to Perseus to offer him a drink. The Queen of Argos then says that Andromeda is more beautiful than the Gods. Hades appears and makes the Queen age to death (makes her get older and die of old age) and says that he will unleash The Kraken (the creature that killed the titans) to destroy Argos (not the shops) unless Andromeda is offered as a sacrifice. Before he leaves he reveals that Perseus is the son of Zeus.

Perseus is attacked by the guards and does not believe what hades has said. Andromeda tells the guards to let him go and the king asks him if he can help them. Perseus is then thrown in prison; he is then visited by a woman named Lo who tells him the story of his birth. Many years ago a former king of Argos (not the Shops) Acrisius declares war on the Gods and so to make an image of him and to punish him, Zeus impersonates Acrisius and impregnates Acrisius’s wife. Acrisius finds out and puts his new-born baby and his wife in a coffin. He then gets shocked by lightning turning him into a monster and throws the coffin in the sea. Lo reveals that she has been cursed with Agelessness after refusing Poseidon’s advances and has been watching Perseus all his life. He said to be the only man who can stand up to the gods. Perseus and a few men prepare to leave to find the Stygian witches to find a way of killing the Kraken. Before they leave a prop from the original film, Bubo, the Golden Owl, is found but they say they do not need it. The leave Argos (not the shops) for the witches.

Zeus finds out that his Son Perseus is living in Argos. Hades visits Acrisius (now called Calibos) to ask him to kill Perseus for him so that Hades can kill Zeus. Along the journey, Perseus is guided and told stories by Lo and is given presents that he does not want from the Gods including a Sword and the Pegasus. The group of soldiers are attacked by Calibos who loses his hand. They chase him into the desert where his blood creates Giant Scorpions. They soldiers fight them and manage to kill them. Three more appear, much bigger but are halted by a group of desert sorcerers called Djinn. Perseus is wounded by a bit on his arm and is cured by one of the Djinn. They then (Thanks to the Djinn) ride on the giant scorpions to the Stygian witches. Meanwhile back in Argos (not the Shops, I will stop doing this now) a religious cult is growing in number demanding the sacrifice of Andromeda.

The group arrive at the Stygian Witches and after some convincing, by threatening the loss of their one eye the Witches say that the Kraken can be defeated by Medusa whose gaze will turn all who look at her into stone. They also say that Perseus will die. They journey to the river Styx where Perseus encounters Zeus who asks him to live with them as a God. Perseus refuses and so Zeus gives him a coin for the ferryman. They arrive at the crossing and the remaining Djinn throws the coin into the river which summons Charon (the boatman) who ferries them across the river. When they get there, Lo explains that she cannot enter the lair of Medusa, only men can. They fight medusa and most of the group die, mostly by turning into stone. Using the reflective side of his shield Perseus manages to cut off Medusa’s head. He journeys outside her lair and is confronted by Calibos who kills Lo. Using his sword form the Gods he kills Calibos and then goes to Lo. Lo tells him to go for the eclipse has started. Zeus orders the release of the Kraken and the cult goes to the palace for Andromeda who surrenders herself. Andromeda is put on a sacrificial crane thing and hoisted into position. The Kraken makes its way to Argos with Perseus riding on the Pegasus to get there. Hades then reveals that this was his plan to make Zeus weak. Hades heads off to stop Perseus who once again uses his Flying Monkeys.

The Kraken reveals itself and heads to where Andromeda is. Perseus manages to get to her in time and turns The Kraken to stone with the head of Medusa. Hades appears and Perseus uses the sword of the gods to send Hades back into the Underworld. Perseus then rescues Andromeda from drowning. They eventually wake up on the beach and with boats coming to rescue them Perseus leaves Andromeda who is now the rightful Queen of Argos (not the shops, Woops, Sorry).  despite her asking him to be her King. He then encounters Zeus and once again refuses the offer of being a God. Zeus then revives Lo so that Perseus is not alone.

Clash of the Titans is a very Good film, not good as the original but still very Good. The Cast is a nice blend but I do think Sam Worthington could have been better. Lo (Played by Gemma Arterton) is an annoying character and I will tell you why later. While some people may have issues with Liam Neeson as Zeus, I think he was very Good (so much so I gave his performance an award).

For me the best of the cast is in the side characters. Kaya Scodelario plays Peshest who is the maiden for Andromeda (I Think, her name is not revealed). Even though she only talks briefly she is a good addition to the cast. Andromeda (played by Alexa Davalos who is a lot better than Rosamund Pike in the sequel) is another great character but is also not over the top like some of the characters in the film. Pete Postlethwaite appears in one of the last films he did before his death and though while it is a small brief part is magnificently delivered. But for me Liam Cunningham is the best, he plays Solon and while his character is slightly comedic it is brilliantly done and all his scenes are enjoyable (particularly before the boatman arrives).

The CGI is not basic; it has had a proper go. The originals effects are well known and so the CGI updates it for the current generation of cinema goers but to me the original effects are still the best. Back then it was cutting edge, CGI does not really hold that title anymore because almost everyone can do it. Scenes like these can easily be done whereas back in 1981, only a few people could do those effects. But still, very good, some of the best CGI in recent years.

All these points are good however there are some issues that need to be raised. Firstly, Ralph Fiennes as Hades. Ok at the time of the film he was playing Voldermort and so may have been an obvious choice as a villain. However I did feel his portrayal was a bit too much like Voldermort. He may have been an easy choice as well as carrying that thing of the villain being British but he was almost playing Voldermort and not Hades, I mean, it can’t be helping his career if he is A: Playing Villains all the time and B: Playing Voldermort all the time. At least he got his nose back after it was sliced off during filming of the Harry Potter films.

Secondly, Lo. Lo is an incredibly annoying character that constantly narrates everything and takes away the discovery part of the story. You know what is going to happen next because she said it. It’s like the credits role of the New Doctor Who, it tells us what is going to happen next so we may as well just stop watching. It also removes some of the mythology which the film should thrive on but in a way just turns it into a film instead of a film based on Greek Mythology. Thirdly, Overacting, there seems to be quite a bit of overacting in this film, the film should be called Overacting of the Titans. Fourthly, Continuity. By far the biggest issue is the continuity, in particular the story to the sequel. I will probably bring this up when I do that review. On a smaller note Andromeda has blonde hair in it whereas in this she has black, Wrath of the Titans should just be called Continuity Issues of the Titans. In this they say that the Kraken killed the Titans whereas in the sequel it says that the Titans were killed with a weapon.

The trailer for the film used a Heavy Metal piece which I liked and that genre would fit this film. However there was no Metal in it but the music was heading in the right direction. How many times do I need to say it, Heavy Metal + Fantasy = Fantastic. The Music was generally very good though and still enjoyable. It has though inspired me to make a Fantasy Film with Heavy Metal in it for the soundtrack. Unleash the Beast by Saxon would work for this film.

There is one other thing that needs to be said about this film. When it was released I knew about Legendary Pictures plans to make a New Godzilla film. When I saw the Kraken in this I thought that providing the effects are at least that Good then Godzilla should be Fantastic. So as a fan I gave Legendary my Permission to make a new American Godzilla film. A few days after seeing this film, Legendary gets the Go Ahead.

With its combination of Good Music, Great Actors, and Fantastic Special effects, Clash of the titans is a very enjoyable film. While it is not as Good as the original it is still a film that should be seen. It would be good to do a comparison between this film and the original just to see how it stacks up (I am sure there was more content in the original than in this). For now let us enjoy this one and enjoy what is a Great story and a Good Film.

GENEPOOL (Please leave your Greek God ideas in the comments, I would be interested to read them. If you are any of my Blogging Friends (Heather, Regan, TimHannah, LukeJosh or Matt) this could be a Blog Challenge)








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