Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - The Highlights (lionsroar)

Films watched for the first time and reviewed in 2015

Note: Since Trophy Unlocked has to pay for most of the movies we see in the theaters and for most of the films we watch at home, we don’t have the scope of a newspaper reviewer. We don’t see everything that’s out, so our ratings of films are based on what we decide to spend our money on.

Best Films of the year:

In no particular order:

A return to form for a franchise that has been over-exploited and more than a little neglected. After a disappointing second trilogy, The Force Awakens harkens back to the original trilogy, in both spirit and story context. Not a perfect film, it is still worth seeing more than once, which is really rare these days.

Pixar is no longer the studio that can do no wrong, but they certainly came up with a winner in their summer release. Inside Out takes a look at what goes on in the head of a young girl and shows how emotions and memories make us who we are. Very inventive, funny and moving, this is one of the better Pixar films, which is certainly saying a lot.

Not a big fan of Tom Cruise, but I really must say I enjoyed Rogue Nation. It seems that the Mission: Impossible franchise is actually getting better with age.

One of the more interesting concepts in recent years, the idea of following the life of a boy from childhood through college seems quite daunting and Richard Linklater, as well as his actors, should be commended for not only pulling it off, but making a compelling film.

Again, another film in a long running franchise, Jurassic World gave this moribund franchise a new start, bringing it back bigger than before. Like Star Wars, new blood infused this story with new life, though it still doesn’t make sense from a scientific or moral perspective. But for free, it was worth every penny.

Honorable Mention:

I had seen this movie before, but had not reviewed it until this year:

I knew going in that this Buster Keaton short was hilarious, but it is still one of the better films that I watched this year and it deserves to be watched again and again. Keaton may have worked in the shadows of Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, but his body of work includes some of the best comedies ever made and One Week is one of his better efforts in short form.

Disappointments of the Year:

In no particular order:

I feel like I’m picking on a lost film, but London After Midnight, from what is left, seems to fail on so many levels. The plot is a little wonky as a murder mystery gets a horror film overlay, but the driving force of the plot, the person who most wants a police investigation into a murder, is the killer himself, which makes no sense. I wish the film had not been lost in a fire, but I doubt seeing it whole would really have changed my opinion.

Big-budget non-franchise films are hard to come by and I doubt this film would have gotten made without Brad Bird’s involvement. But one expects better from the man behind The Iron Giant and from lead actor George Clooney. Tomorrowland aims big, but sadly misses the mark.

A famous film does not always live up to its reputation and while Fatty and Mabel Adrift had some moments, it was for the most part not as funny as advertised. Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand are silent comedy royalty, but this particular pairing sadly does not stand up to the test of time.


Joss Whedon set the bar too high with The Avengers (2013) and simply could not match it even with a bigger budget, the return of most of the original cast and the addition of James Spader as the villain. In this case, bigger does not mean better.

Going in I knew this film would suck. Some superheroes make for better movies than others. For some reason, not one has quite found a way to make a good film about the Fantastic Four and this third try is no exception. Making everything politically correct didn’t help and actually worked against it in some ways.

Honorable Mention:

The James Bond series is the grand-daddy of all film franchises, which along the way has laid a few eggs. While definitely not the worst of the franchise or of Daniel Craig’s tenure as 007, I hope that his time as Bond does not end on this slightly disappointing note.

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