2015's Most Anticipated Round Up: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Pt 1
It's kind of fitting that the past 6 months I've seen 15 movies and I can categorically fit them in equal parts of Good, Bad and Ugly. It's been a pretty good year so far - this has been the year of the fanboy and most big-budget movies have lived up to the hype while some have fell, predictably, flat. And we still have 5 and half months of more glorious cinema ahead of us - half of my top 10 has yet to show up.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road (R) - Runtime: 120 Minutes
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
Director: George Miller
Writers: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
I still can't believe this movie lived up to the hype. Ever since the trailers were released, it seemed like this movie was poised to be great. And it was! On top of the action, you had a very effective story about good vs evil and a fantastic feminist-tone throughout. Tom Hardy is every bit as good as Mel Gibson was in the originals and the unique choreography and practical effects and stunts makes this film even more unique.
Mad Max: Fury Road is hands down, the best movie this year. It's plot is minimal and takes a backseat to all the action, but it's effective and emotional enough to resonate with the audience. And Charlize Theron is just as badass, if not more so, than Mad Max in this flick. It's amazing that there's been so many great articles dissecting this action movie - from the female-led cast to the post-apocalyptic dreamscape that Miller has dreamed up here - a perfect summer flick.
32. Trainwreck (R) - Runtime: 125 Minutes
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer: Amy Schumer
I was beginning to doubt Judd Apatow's prowess as a filmmaker. This is 40 was a mess, but all it took was to team him up with Schumer and her clever take on romantic comedies. Schumer deserves a lot of the credit here for not only writing something that's smart and endearing, but also acting. She does a great job with all the emotional beats of a great romantic comedy and Apatow is the guiding hand through it all. It's a perfect team up and the results are wonderful.
And this is a testament to how great this year has been for females - another strong woman cast in the lead role who has real depth aside from just trying to find a man. She's a career woman who happens to fall in love with someone. It's a pretty straightforward story that has a lot of great cameos and laugh out loud jokes. The funniest movie this year, Trainwreck deserves to stand alongside such other rom-com greats like When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail.
7. Furious 7 (PG-13) - Runtime: 137 Minutes
Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham
Director: James Wan
Writer: Chris Morgan
After the tragic passing of Paul Walker, most were unsure of how this movie would portray the actor onscreen and would it be a great sendoff or manipulative and messy? It's a resounding affirmative to the former, with the franchise going bigger and literally higher in its action stunts and properly acknowledging Walker's legacy. I did not think the people involved had it in them to bring me to tears at the end of the film, but they did.
The film has charged into overdrive with its car stunts that are mind-blowingly awesome even though they are completely absurd. The movie has gone over into cartoon-level of realism, but that doesn't diminish how satisfying everything feels in this movie. It's fun and dumb, but the film and cast revel in it. And despite its too-long final act, Furious 7 matches the previous 2 movies in sheer awesomeness. It's a great end to the Paul Walker era while embracing a new chapter for the characters.
3. Jurassic World (PG-13) - Runtime: 124 Minutes
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins
Director: Colin Trevarrow
Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevarrow, Derek Connolly
Jurassic World managed to hit theaters at the right time. Mixing equal parts of nostalgia, superstar status with Chris Pratt and great timing after the mega blockbuster Avengers died down. It's currently number 3 all time domestically and worldwide in box office history. And it pretty much deserves it. While nothing will ever top the original that still holds up after twenty years, World manages to satisfy on every level.
There's more dinosaurs, more horrific deaths (some sort of undeserved) and plenty of thrills. The ending is satisfying and the whole journey back to Isla Nublar was worth it. Chris Pratt once again proves he's the most gifted at leading a big budget movie and the rest of the cast get their dues, but nothing will top the dinosaurs. They are just as amazing and awe-inspiring as the first film and they get plenty of screen time to make it worth seeing in the theaters.
28. Inside Out (PG) - Runtime: 94 Minutes
Starring: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith
Director: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Writers: Megan LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Pete Docter
Pixar bummed us all out with no movie last year and the last satisfying experience from them was Brave in 2012. This is their first of two films this year and Inside Out is a truly unique film. It manages to capture the complicated mess of our brains and emotions with a strong story about why all of our emotions (including sadness) are important to our health. The film isn't shy about silly jokes either, so it's a great experience for all ages.
The cast is fantastic and Phyllis Smith deserves credit for bringing to life Sadness. Their journey back to central control is a fun, sad and funny throughout because of the pairing of Poehler and Smith's characters. I am a sucker for kids movies and Pixar manages to impress with an original movie that Hollywood can't seem to translate into more adult, live-action fare.