The dishonourable mentions are: Joy, Daddy's Home, We Are Your Friends, Vacation, Poltergeist and The Gunman. All terrible movies, but not terrible enough to make it onto my list. I will also have to inform you that I did not see every film released in 2015 and so there are plenty of films that I deliberately went out of my way not to watch. No, Pixels and Hot Pursuit won't be appearing on this list. I didn't see them. Now that that's out of the way, it's time to get into this list. Nothing like bringing back painful memories.
Every year, there are good films and there are bad films. In 2015, there were plenty of both. Before I list my top 15 films of the year tomorrow, I must first get the bad ones out of the way. It's time to list the films I just absolutely despised, and there were plenty of them. I gave 7 different films one star this year, and the other three on this list received either one and a half stars or just a half star. But, since this list is only 10, there will be dishonourable mentions, none of which are in an particular order.
The dishonourable mentions are: Joy, Daddy's Home, We Are Your Friends, Vacation, Poltergeist and The Gunman. All terrible movies, but not terrible enough to make it onto my list. I will also have to inform you that I did not see every film released in 2015 and so there are plenty of films that I deliberately went out of my way not to watch. No, Pixels and Hot Pursuit won't be appearing on this list. I didn't see them. Now that that's out of the way, it's time to get into this list. Nothing like bringing back painful memories.
Hitman: Agent 47, like another film on this list, is a movie I went out of exhausted. I just didn't care for it. I didn't have the effort or will to write a review for it. Unlike the other film on this list, I did somehow managed to put my thoughts into words. It's a film so lazy and unoriginal that it's deserving of the 10th spot just so we can move on. There's no need to keep spending time on this forgettable piece of shit that didn't affect my life in the slightest. It happened, I didn't care for it, we move on. READ MY REVIEW HERE
Because of the popularity of teen franchises such as Harry Potter and Twilight, it seems every teen novel is getting a big screen adaptation, and while I didn't necessarily hate the first Divergent movie, the follow up, Insurgent, is an awful movie. It's a followup that doesn't even seem to care about the source material or the expectations of fans. It's nonsensical and dull, none of the actors want to be there and none of the audience members want to be either. We're only halfway through this franchise. May god have mercy on our souls. READ MY REVIEW HERE
For what it was, I enjoyed the first Woman in Black movie. It's nothing mind blowing, but it had some solid scares and some great performances. As for The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, the film is pretty freaking awful. It's a film so bad that I didn't even review it. It didn't deserve to have words written about it. It's a film so poor that at one point, just for fun, I decided to change the language of the film to a dub and watch without subtitles. I don't regret doing that. I don't regret it one bit.
I do not like movies with Kevin Hart in them. Wait, no. I'll rephrase that. I do not like movies where Kevin Hart is the star. Movies like Top Five and This Is The End are fine, but that is because he's more of a cameo than a major role. As for films like Get Hard and Ride Along, I despise them. Not even Will Ferrell, who is the film's only source of comedy, could save this god-awful experience that is essentially 90 minutes of unfunny rape jokes. The cast are charismatic, but their charisma is never put to use. This film was doomed from the moment it started. READ MY REVIEW HERE
Johnny Depp, stop. You gave one of the best performances of the year in Black Mass and with Mortdecai, you also gave one of the worst. This film could've been so much fun, but it was far from it. It's a play on British spy films and it just fails so so so badly. If you're trying to do something like this, do it more like Kingsman. That film was brilliant. Mortdecai, on the other hand, wasn't. When Johnny Depp and Paul Bettany team up, nobody is safe from the disasters they've produced. Also, why is Jeff Goldblum in this movie? He's so much better than this. READ MY REVIEW HERE
He's the seventh son of the seventh son.... or something like that. Blah blah blah who cares? This movie was one big pile of CGI dogshit, and it somehow managed to blackmail a-list celebrities into being in the movie. Julianne Moore, you just won an Oscar. You don't need to be putting films like Seventh Son onto your resume. As for Jeff Bridges, that man has always been strange so who really knows what's happening when he decides on what movie to make. The dude does not abide with this one. READ MY REVIEW HERE
I don't honestly remember how many Paranormal Activity movies there have been so far. Was it five? Or six? Or maybe seven? Does The Marked Ones count? Does that weird Tokyo one that nobody saw count as well? I don't really know, but no matter how many crappy instalments there are in this franchise, apparently it's come to an end. Thank god. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is the worst one yet, and while showing the ghost for the first time seemed like a good idea in theory, when you see it on screen it's hard to resist laughing out loud and killing the mood for everyone else.... not that anyone saw this movie and those who did hated it. READ MY REVIEW HERE
Despite many stories of this film's troubled production, I remained hopeful. I loved Chronicle, Josh Trank's previous directorial outing, and I was a fan of this film's advertising. It had me intrigued, my expectations not as low as I thought they would be. Then I saw the film, and boy is it terrible. The painfully slow paced first half is not too awful. It's not good, either, but I could get what they were going for. It wasn't Fantastic Four, it was a body horror movie. A dull one, but one nonetheless. Then the second half happened, and I honestly don't know what the hell I watched. It's an absolute mess, the studio clearly taking over and letting all hell loose. This film was a disaster, and the more I discuss it with my friends, the worse it gets. It's a two star film in the moment that's a one star movie after you let it digest. READ MY REVIEW HERE
There are good films, there are bad films, and then there's Taken 3. If it weren't for Liam Neeson, Taken 3 would be a half star movie. It's a movie so bad that my eyes physically hurt once it was over. Halfway through this movie, I had to look over at the wall in the cinema because the film had so many cuts every second. Did this movie even have a villain? I can't remember. He was probably shirtless and covered in tattoos, wasn't he? Knew it. Everyone in this film was in it for the money. Nobody was here because they legitimately wanted to be there. Goddamn, this film sucked. READ MY REVIEW HERE
And to nobody's surprise, my least favourite film of 2015 was, of course, Fifty Shades Of Grey. What started as a Twilight fan fiction has since become a global phenomenon, and for all the wrong reasons. It's a story of abuse and sex, misrepresenting the BDSM community (they're not happy about it...) and, well, human beings in general. If you are a human being, this film should insult you. That's how bad it is. It's films like this that are so bad that it makes you stop and think for a moment, 'hey, that one shot is lit better than I expected it to be. I mean, everything else looks like utter crap, but that one shot looks nice.' At least this film had the funniest scene of 2015 and that scene involves, a bed, some toast and no shirts. READ MY REVIEW HERE
2015 is over. Damn. That came around quickly. No, like, it actually did. Everyone says that at the end of every year, but I'm really not exaggerating. It still feels like September. I'm just a confused little boy who's not actually a little boy and is very sorry for referring to himself as a little boy. Okay, I'm just going to forget that ever happened. But yes, 2015 is over, and like every year it's time for my best and worst of lists. Like always, starting these lists off is my Top 2014 Releases Not Released In Australia Until 2015.
So, why this list? Well, this list is to give recognition to all the films I couldn't put on my 'Best of 2014' list this time last year as none of these films had been released in Australia yet. Over the January/February (and in some strange cases, even March) period we're given all of the leftover releases from the year before. This year it's going to be The Hateful Eight, Steve Jobs and The Revenant, amongst many others. I'm not saying those will definitely make my list next year, but there's still plenty of films I won't see until the following year because of where I live. So do enjoy my list and stay tuned over the next two days for my best and worst films of the year. They'll be up on this page.
Kicking off the list is Big Eyes, the Tim Burton directed biopic of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), the famous painter whose husband took credit for all her work. When you go into a Tim Burton movie, one of two things will go down. You will either absolutely despise it, or you will be drawn into his weird and wacky world and have a good time. With Big Eyes, Burton managed to hold back on going full Burton, resulting in a film that works. And it works well. It's delightful and the performances are great, and Burton turns out to be the ideal director for this type of movie. READ MY REVIEW HERE
It's a film that took the world by storm. Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) managed to be so awe-inspiring that it snagged a Best Picture win at the Oscars back in February. In my opinion, and many others, the film is slightly overrated. It's not necessarily a bad movie and there's a lot to like about it, but it's nowhere near my favourite film of 2014. This film is a work of art, though. I'm not saying that because I'm trying to call it amazing, but this really is art. I can appreciate just how spellbinding it is and why so many people adore it. On a technical level, there are no comparisons. Everything just works. It's ambiguous and has a lot to say, although I'm still #TeamBoyhood at the Oscars. READ MY REVIEW HERE
If you're interested in watching a film that's consistently emotional from the first frame to the last, Still Alice is for you. It's the film that won Julianne Moore her long-deserved Oscar and she needed it. The plot isn't all that complex, merely following the progression of this woman's disease, something The Theory Of Everything tried to do, but failed. I really don't like that movie. Still Alice I like, though. Still Alice I like a lot. It made me tear up. Good on you, movie. Good on you. Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn't even do that. I mean, I do cry in just about everything but let's not talk about that. READ MY REVIEW HERE
Clint Eastwood's filmography is rather strange. It's not that he makes strange movies, but it's more so that he's constantly going from making one okay movie to making one great movie to going back to making one okay movie and then another great one. American Sniper, thank god, is pretty damn great. It's the true story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), a solider who acts tough, but deep down inside is being torn apart by his job. Cooper is great, and the film is too. It's not flawless, but it had me hooked from beginning to end, and that's all I wanted. READ MY REVIEW HERE
I don't care how old you are, where you live or what your interests are. If you are a human being, you need to watch Selma. The three films I've listed after this may be better movies, but Selma is the most important one, and it's the only one on here that's necessary viewing. It's the story of Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo), and I'm guessing you already know how that goes down. And if you don't, maybe it's about time you saw this excellent piece of cinema. READ MY REVIEW HERE
I'm a very big fan of gangster movies and crime movies, in particular that of Scorsese. Goodfellas is my favourite film of all time, and The Godfather: Part II is also up there. A Most Violent Year, which is a film not a lot of people seem to know about, just oozes with classic mob movie vibes. It's a slow burning and action-less film that's quiet in the way it tells its story, but incredible in execution. There isn't a dull moment in the entire thing. A Most Violent Year may just be my favourite performance from Oscar Isaac, and it's safe to say it's pretty close to being my favourite Jessica Chastain performance too. The more I think about this movie, the better it gets. It's easily one of the best films of 2014, and even 2015 if I were to put it in that list. READ MY REVIEW HERE
Just missing out on the top spot this year is Foxcatcher. From Bennett Miller, the Oscar nominated director of Moneyball, Foxcatcher is a dark and depressing movie that just drains the life out of you, but I loved that it did. I can pinpoint the exact moment that I fell in love with this movie. I won't spoil the scene as it's best to experience it for yourself, but it does involve a celebration and a very famous song. It just hit me at that moment that this film was the film for me. I will say this about Foxcatcher, though. It's haunting. It's a film that will certainly stick with you, and while the slow pace may be too much for some to handle, I fell in love with every second of it. READ MY REVIEW HERE
If you've been following my film adventures over the last year, you will know that I love Inherent Vice. I saw the film four days in a row. I mean, that was impressive at the time, but I have since seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens three times in one day so that's nothing. But back to Inherent Vice. Not only is it my favourite 2014 release not released here until 2015, but it's also my second favourite film of 2014 and it's one of my all-time favourites. 2014 was a great year for movies. Inherent Vice helped with this. I watched the film, read the book, read the script and even started to analyse it with the hope of writing an article that explains the entire plot. I managed to understand it all, but putting it into words just wasn't working out. It still wouldn't have made sense to others. But I really do adore this film. It's hypnotic. Paul Thomas Anderson, many seem to disagree, but I honestly believe that Inherent Vice is the best film you've made yet. READ MY REVIEW HERE
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been out for a whole six and a half days and it's already on track to be the highest grossing movie of all time. Thankfully, the film is also utterly mesmerising in every way and if you want to find out my thoughts on the film without having any of the plot points spoilt, you can read my original review here. It's time to talk spoilers, though, going through practically every nook and cranny of this soon-to-be classic.
If you read my reviews for the original Star Wars films (here), you'll know that in those reviews I discussed every single plot beat. I went through the films from start to finish, sharing my opinions on all the events that took place. Obviously, with The Force Awakens I couldn't do that. But now it is time. After seeing the film 5 times (and I'm sure I'll be seeing it again plenty more times in cinemas), it's safe to say I know what I'm talking about. Grab some power converters, some blasters and your favourite droid and get ready to hear my thoughts on every single little detail about my favourite film of 2015.
The Force Awakens opens like every other Star Wars movie: with the opening crawl. As soon as the words 'A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away' came onto screen, I instantly got chills. The auditorium was dead silent. Then.... 'Star Wars' came bursting onto the screen, accompanied by the theme song. A single tear came to my friend's eye and I will admit, I almost shed one as well. It was truly beautiful to see this franchise's triumphant return, and the crawl hadn't even started yet. The first words on screen were 'Luke Skywalker has vanished.' I could not think of a better way to open a crawl. It had me hooked, and as it kept going, it just got better and better. Truly, the crawl in The Force Awakens is one of the best crawls yet. Right from the get go, J.J. Abrams was telling us that this was Star Wars. This is the Star Wars movie we've been waiting for.
The film then moves down to the desert planet of Jakku, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) meeting up with Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow), who gives him the map that will lead to Luke Skywalker, who is currently in hiding. It's a great premise for the movie and explains why Luke's been missing from the advertising and promotional material for this film. No, it's not because he's Kylo Ren. That's Adam Driver. And I'm so glad it is because he kills it. It's in this opening scene that we also get our first look at Ren, as well as Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Finn (John Boyega), who at the current time is only known as FN-2187. This opening scene shows that the First Order means business, and that Kylo Ren is not somebody you want to mess with. When a masked man wielding a cross guard lightsaber stops a bullet using the force, you know he's somebody you'd rather be fighting with than against. But damn, that bullet stop sure was cool, and it was definitely a side of the force we have not seen before.
From here, Poe is taken prisoner and tortured, and we got a brief glimpse of this in the third trailer. Kylo Ren's methods of torture? The force. We've seen Jedi mind tricks before (and again later on in this movie), but never have we seen anything like this. Kylo Ren was using the force to break his way into Poe's mind, finding the information he needed and causing Poe a tremendous amount of pain. I've seen this film five times and that scene still looks painful. Kylo Ren is unstable. He's a force to be reckoned with, and I don't know how many times I'm going to say it, but Adam Driver is perfect. Absolutely perfect.
While these events are unfolding, FN-2187 is beginning to discover what the First Order is all about. They're a despicable group of men and women, and this hits him the most when his friend is shot, reaching up and wiping a blood-smeared hand on his helmet during the opening attack on Jakku. It's an unexpected moment that already allows for emotional attachment to a character whose face we haven't even seen yet. At that point in the film, he's just a stormtrooper like the thousand other stormtroopers he's fighting alongside. It's this event that makes him realise the First Order is not where he wants to be.
FN-2187's change of opinion leads to a thrilling escape sequence through space. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a fast paced movie, events constantly happening that propel the plot forwards. It's action set piece after action set piece, but there's plenty of quieter, more personal and touching moments in-between. It really is a perfect Star Wars movie. Not a perfect movie, but a perfect Star Wars one. Plus, this scene allows for the bond to grow between Poe and Finn, and I really did love their friendship in this movie. The two of them just clicked right away. It was brilliant. It's also in this pulse pounding escape sequence where Poe gives FN-2187 his name, Finn, to which he responds very positively. If you give someone a name, they instantly become more than just a categorised group of numbers. They become a human being.
What I didn't expect about this movie (besides all the twists and turns) was how much we got to learn about stormtroopers. Before this movie, they were just white soldiers with bad aim. Now, we know where they come from, how they're treated, if they have families and even a few insights into the design of their suits, including an interesting fact about how the masks are able to filter out smoke, but not toxins. As a Star Wars fan, it's stuff like this that really excites me and interests me. I like knowing all I can about this universe and with The Force Awakens, it only furthered my knowledge.
The two are now on their way to Jakku, where they're about to meet up with Rey (Daisy Ridley), the protagonist of this movie. At this point in the film, we've already started to learn a bit about Rey, her story intercut with the outer space action. She's a scavenger waiting for her family to return, who we later discover left her there when she was just five years old. Who exactly is a part of her family? We don't know. If I were to guess, however, I'm going to go with Luke Skywalker. It just makes sense, especially since young Rey here is gifted with the powers of the force, as she discovers in the film's third act. But we'll get to that later.
Rey is easily the most fascinating character in the movie. She has a child-like look at the world, the scene where she's playing with a Resistance helmet being a very sweet moment. Rey meets up with BB8, who has been sent away from his master, Poe Dameron, with the map to Luke. This brings Rey into the adventure as well, and thank god for that. Rey isn't just one of the strongest female characters of 2015, but she's one of the strongest characters. Period. 2015 has been a great year for women in film and with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this isn't close to coming to an end.
Poe and Finn crash land on Jakku, barely escaping Kylo Ren's Star Destroyer alive. Finn attempts to rescue Poe from the sinking TIE Fighter, but only his jacket can be found. With the TIE Fighter buried in the sand, Finn presumes that Poe is dead and makes his way to a nearby town in search of water and the droid Poe put the map in. Does he find BB8? Oh yes he does, and do you want to know who else he finds? Rey, who's just finishing up beating a few locals who attempted to kidnap the scene-stealing droid. The two don't get off to a good start, Rey and BB8 attempting to get information about of Finn in rather painful methods. But it's all a big misunderstanding, Finn explaining where he got the jacket from and that he's from the Resistance.... which is a lie. John Boyega is brilliant in this scene. He's full of charisma and manages to bring both an intensity and a sense of humour to it.
It's not too long before stormtroopers come looking for them, and again, the scene is handled incredibly well. Thanks to this film's fast pace, it's insanely difficult to be bored when watching it. There's always something new and exciting going on, one thing leading to another, and J.J.'s cinematography is glorious. The camera moves with the scene, holding off information until necessary and looking graceful as it does so. The action sequence in Jakku leads Finn and Rey to stealing the Millennium Falcon, which has apparently been sitting unused for years. Seeing Rey at the cockpit and Finn at the blasters put a massive smile on my face. It's been thirty years since we last saw this happen and I can't tell you how happy I was to see them sitting in those iconic seats.
This Jakku sequence is the only scene in the movie to be shot on IMAX cameras, meaning when you go and see the movie at the IMAX (which I would totally recommend as it's a wonderful movie-going experience), the frame will be almost twice as big. It does a good job at showcasing the spectacle of the scene and it immerses you into the movie even further. While I would've liked to see other sequences filmed in IMAX as well, the final lightsaber fight would've been insanely cool, I'll take what I can get and I love what I got. It's still insane to see this movie at an IMAX theatre, even if it's not always utilising the entire frame. After all, shooting on IMAX is both difficult and expensive so I don't blame J.J. for only shooting one sequence.
Once in space, we get a moment of downtime where Rey and Finn exchange character details, and BB8 gives the single cutest thumbs up ever put on screen. Not long after this, their ship is boarded by none other than Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who is still being accompanied by his best friend, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Their appearance got an applause at my first showing and a lot of gasps at the three showings after that. It's such a great moment, not to mention the fact that we're also given the "Chewie, we're home," line. It's the line that caused many fans to cry after seeing it in the trailer and just like with the opening crawl, it was hard to fight back the tears.
After that second trailer came out, many were speculating as to where 'home' was exactly. Believe it or not, home is the Millennium Falcon, and that's the only place I wanted it to be. When exploring their ship for the first time in years, it doesn't feel like they lost it recently. The scene feels like they lost it back in 1983 when Return of the Jedi finished, and us, as audience members, are returning to this ship as well. The scene really hits hard, especially when Han makes his way into the cockpit and grabs a hold of the chair, a smile on his face. It's the return to the movies we know and love and I adored it.
This leads us into the first plot twist The Force Awakens has to offer. Kylo Ren and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) are meeting up with Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), and like many others, when we get our first look at Snoke, I didn't realise he was a hologram. He's a 20-foot tall motion capture character sitting on a throne and looking down at his two apprentices. His character is intriguing, but he's yet to do much, so I shall hold off from judging him until we see him in future movies. But, Snoke's appearance does allow for this first plot twist. And what is it? That Kylo Ren is the son of Han and Leia (Carrie Fisher). WHAAAAAAT?!?!?! Yep, you read that right. It may be a new trilogy, but this franchise is still about family. This time, however, the roles are reversed, the son turning to the dark side, rather than the father.
It's been established for a while that Kylo Ren is essentially a Darth Vader groupie, following in his footsteps and basing his actions on Vader's ideals. Saying that Han is Kylo's father is one thing, but when you think about that for a few moments, you come to realise that that means Darth Vader is Kylo's grandfather. He's not just following in the footsteps of some random evil dude he heard about one time, he's following in the footsteps of his family. He has Darth Vader's blood in him. Han mentions at one point that "there's too much Vader in him" and that appears to be why Luke is in hiding. Kylo was being trained by Luke, but turned against him, presumably doing something so horrific that Luke didn't want to even look at Han, knowing he had helped turn his son against him. It's quite heartbreaking when you really start to think about it.
Now, let's skip ahead a little bit. Rey and Finn, now aboard the Millennium Falcon with Han and Chewie, make their way to a nearby planet where an old friend of Han's, Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o), may have a way of getting BB8 to the resistance, which is, after all, why Rey and Finn weren't put on an escape pod and dropped back at Jakku. While here, Rey wanders off downstairs, and it's here that she discovers Luke's original lightsaber, which was thought to have been lost in Empire Strikes Back. Upon picking it up, however, she sees a vision. A vision of horrible, horrible things. It's the past and the future wrapped up into one, and at the centre of them all is Kylo Ren. It's here we see him destroying Luke's padawans, along with the Knights of Ren. I would've liked to see more from the Knights of Ren in this movie, but this is the first of a trilogy and I'm sure they'll be used some more in the near future. The same can be said for Phasma, who doesn't do a thing in this movie except get thrown into a trash compactor, but that was one hell of a line. Han, I love you. Never change. Wait.... Too late.
The vision sequence raises a lot of questions about the character of Rey. Why did the vision come to her? Is she the child of Luke Skywalker? Why does Maz Kanata have the lightsaber? How did she get it? Did Maz date Yoda? Was Chewbacca okay with that? Why did Luke actually go into hiding? Are we sure it's entirely about what Kylo did? These questions, I'm sure, won't be unanswered for much longer. Most of them, anyway. On a side note, there's a bunch of familiar voices heard in this sequence, including Yoda, Obi-Wan and even the breathing sounds of Darth Vader. Why? Perhaps it's just foreshadowing that Rey has the force, or perhaps it's hinting at a greater connection between her and the original trilogy characters.
So, the First Order attacks, Kylo Ren taking Rey prisoner. This is the first time we get to see Finn handle a lightsaber and damn, you can really feel the impact of that saber. When he runs up to that stormtrooper and pushes the lightsaber through their chest, as an audience member, I could feel it. It felt powerful. That's something I haven't seen in any of the previous Star Wars movies, so good work J.J. for making a lightsaber with an impact. Another interesting thing that happens during this battle is when Finn is confronted by a stormtrooper who seems to recognise him, calling him a traitor and instantly making the battle personal. Stormtroopers are given so much depth in this movie and I love the filmmakers for doing that. But what's also interesting is that the First Order have managed to make a weapon that can deflect the blade of a lightsaber, which would potentially give them a great advantage in future films. Just imagine an army of stormtroopers armed with weapons that can deflect lightsabers.... Rey wouldn't have a chance of taking them down.
So, Rey is now captured, being held in the same restrains that Poe was being held in earlier on in the film, and she's confronted by Kylo Ren, who attempts to use the force to torture her into giving up information. He doesn't get much out of her, discovering something about an island and an ocean, which we later find out is where Luke is. Why Rey knows that is a mystery. She saw the map, but that doesn't tell her anything about an ocean or an island. But more on that later. For now, we're discussing the torture scene, which is worth mentioning for two reasons. Firstly, we learn that Rey is strong in the force, something that nobody saw coming as all the trailers alluded to Finn being the Jedi. I love that she's a Jedi, but we don't actually have confirmation of this yet, making the actual reveal so much cooler. We know she's got the potential to use the force, but that's it.
The second thing worth noting about this scene is that it gives us our first glimpse at the man behind the mask. Kylo Ren removes his villainous mask to reveal that he is just a human like everyone else, and it even allows for Rey to take a peak into his mind, teasing him for being scared that he'll never be as good as his grandfather, Darth Vader. It's a strong scene that humanises this otherwise intimidating character. It develops him, making him a much better Star Wars villain than most of the others. Darth Maul may look cool, but he had zero development whatsoever. Kylo Ren had a lot. I could understand where he was coming from and why he was doing the things he did. It made sense. He was just a man. A man who clearly has no idea what he's actually doing, but is doing it anyway.
It's hinted at during this sequence in particular that Kylo and Rey have had previous encounters. The thing is, this is never explicitly stated, so it's really just up to our opinions at the moment, but Rey, while petrified when the lightsaber is put into her face, doesn't seem that afraid of him. She doesn't seem that shocked to see what he looks like underneath the mask, and that raises another question. If they *apparently* don't know each other, why did he all of a sudden take of his mask in front of her? He didn't do that to Poe as he needed Poe to be intimidated by him. Has Rey already seen him without the mask? Or is it simply because he can sense that she is strong in the force?
From here on out, the movie is basically a rescue mission to get Rey back and then an assault on the Death Star. But who comes and how do they get there? Why, it's only Finn, Han and Chewie, but before they leave, they meet back up with the resistance, including Leia, C3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and the apparently not-dead Poe, although we already saw him prove that he really is the greatest pilot in the galaxy in the earlier battle sequence. There's this one tracking shot of Poe taking down a bunch of stormtroopers and First Order ships and my jaw drops every time. It's most certainly impressive, proving that he really is what everyone says he is. I'd even go so far as to say he exceeded his reputation, and that's saying something as everyone in this movie seems to know just how great Poe is.
I wasn't expecting much screen time for the original trilogy characters in this movie and yet, to my surprise, they're actually in it for a considerable amount of time. Han and Chewie obviously take the two most pivotal roles, with the exception of Luke Skywalker, but he's obviously vanished and doesn't get much screen time. As for Leia, she's in the film quite a bit, and she never feels forced. She serves a purpose to the story, serving as the leader of the Resistance and the emotional core for Han's character. The relationship between the two of them hasn't always been sunshine and rainbows. They've fought over the years, but they always love each other, and she even goes so far as to say it always hurt to watch him go. Leia is handled very well.
While many of the other original trilogy characters return, not all of them are that important. C3P0 is there to be C3P0 and while his character hasn't changed in the slightest and he was there simply to provide information to these characters, I loved how they handled him in the movie. His initial reveal had me in hysterics, his character completely ruining the touching moment between Han and Leia. It's the most C3P0 thing C3P0 has ever done. As for our adorable blue friend, R2D2, he's been inactive ever since Luke left, and I liked this. Sure, he's one of the best characters in the Star Wars universe, but he didn't serve a purpose (yet) so there's no need to force him in there for the sake of forcing him in. The same can be said about Admiral Akbar (Tim Rose), who appears for one line and is never shown again. It's a cool cameo that isn't in your face, but is an awesome nod to the fans.
At this base, it's discovered that the First Order know where they are and are charging up Starkiller Base with the intention of blowing their base up. Finn, Han and Chewie light speed their way onto the base, attempting to take down the shields to let Poe and his team of pilots in so they can blow the planet up. Why? Because there's always a way to blow the Death Star up, as Han says at one point. It's a comment that gets a laugh out of me every time I see it. They make their way through the planet, kidnapping Captain Phasma and forcing her to turn the shields off, before throwing her down into a trash compactor because why not? Phasma is a cool character who I'm sure will have more to do in the sequels, but it seems really out of character for her to just give up as soon as a gun is pointed at her face. She seems better than that.
While the three of them continue their search for Rey, she proves that not all female heroes need saving, using a Jedi mind trick on the stormtrooper on guard in her cell. The stormtrooper is played by none other than Daniel Craig, and if you listen closely, you can hear his voice when he says the line "I'll tighten your restraints, scavenger scum." It's this scene that once again proves that Rey has known all about the force the entire time, as I've already mentioned how she knows the location of Luke Skywalker despite only seeing part of the map. Was she trained already? Has she inherited these skills from her parents? I'm still not sure, but it's quite the memorable moment.
Rey soon runs into Finn, Han and Chewie, and since Poe and co. are unable to blow up the planet, they decide to give them a helping hand and place some bombs around their base. During this scene, Rey wears Finn's jacket briefly, meaning all three of the main characters wear it at some point in this film. I don't know about you, but I found that to be hilarious. Maybe I'm just weird. That's not even the important part about this sequence. The important moment is where Han confronts Ben Solo, his son, who has most certainly been named after Obi-Wan. Ben, AKA Kylo, takes off his mask and confronts him on a bridge, discussing how he's being torn apart by what's right and wishes for Han to help him to stop being torn apart. Han, being his father, agrees to do anything. Little does he realise that this means he must die, and so Kylo goes and sticks a lightsaber through Han's chest, killing him. It's not an instant death, however, allowing enough time for a heartbreaking moment in which Han touches his son's face for one last time before falling into oblivion.
While Han dying is not something that came out of the blue, it's certainly handled well. Even before the movie began, I sort of figured Han was going to bite the dust, and my suspicions were proven true when he walked onto that bridge. There was no way he wasn't going to die there. It does make sense, though. Harrison Ford has never been the biggest fan of this franchise and yet he's incredibly pleased with The Force Awakens. It's safe to say that this is partially because his character meets his tragic end, and when we see the reactions of Leia and Chewie, it put me on the brink of tears. It's not easy watching my favourite Star Wars character plummet to his death, I'll tell you that. I do think the scene works on an emotional and story level, though, allowing Finn and Rey to let their anger build for the inevitable final showdown against Kylo Ren.
The showdown, which takes place simultaneously to the destruction of the planet, just adding to the intensity of the whole thing, starts off with Kylo Ren using the force to throw Rey out of the way, allowing him to take Finn on in a one on one battle he knows he'll surely win. Kylo is full of rage and injured as Chewie shot him in the chest not too long ago. He's out for his uncle's lightsaber and he's going to get it. Too bad Finn decides he wants to fight back, but just like we saw at the end of the third trailer, he looks terrified. Going up against Kylo Ren is far from an easy task and he pays the price, not only getting stabbed in the shoulder by the cross guard, instantly shutting up everyone who said that was a pointless addition, but also getting his spine practically sliced from head to toe. I thought for sure that Finn was a goner, but thankfully it's later revealed that he does live.
The fight had my heart racing, but it was way too short. Or so I thought. As it turns out, the fight wasn't over just yet. Kylo attempts to use the force to grab Luke's lightsaber, but he's having a hard time with it, only moving it slightly. That is until the lightsaber comes flying through the air and going straight to.... Rey. Yep, he never once had control over that lightsaber. Rey did, and it's the biggest shock of the movie. Sure, Kylo Ren is revealed to be Han Solo's son and sure, Han Solo gets brutally murdered, but nothing manages to beat the impact of Rey force grabbing that lightsaber and igniting it, proceeding to take on Kylo Ren and, believe it or not, succeeding.
Now, I loved the brief battle between Kylo and Finn, but the battle between Kylo and Rey is just all types of crazy. It's aggressive and frantic, the two just going at it like there's no tomorrow. When combined together with the delicious camera work and spellbinding score, the final lightsaber fight is easily one of the highlights from the movie. Kylo Ren has never faced a proper opponent before, so fighting Rey proves to be quite the challenge, and damn, it's intense, the battle ending with Kylo getting what will soon be a massive scar across his face. I was worried that J.J. was going to kill Kylo off, but I'm so glad he didn't. There was no need to repeat the mistakes made by the prequels and kill off the main villains after one film. In fact, the only really important character that dies in this movie is Han.... poor Han.
Once the battle is over and Rey meets back up with Finn, it's Chewbacca that comes to their rescue, flying the Millennium Falcon to them and getting them off the planet just before it blows up. Kylo Ren and Hux are asked by Supreme Leader Snoke to return to him so that Kylo can finish his training. What this means, I do not know, but I'm eager to find out. The entire sequence on Starkiller Base was an emotional roller coaster. There's moments where I wanted to cheer and moments where I wanted to cry, and there's more than a few moments where my fists were clenched from the fear of what's about to come. It's an exciting, fast, funny and unpredictable sequence in which nothing can be seen coming. I just love it.
With Kylo Ren defeated (for now), Starkiller Base destroyed and Finn taken into a medical bay, there's only one thing left to do.... find Luke Skywalker, which is, after all, the reason why everything that's happening is happening. The only problem is that they only have part of the map, the rest at an unknown location. That is until R2D2 decides to wake up from his low power mode, revealing that he had the map inside him the whole time. It's never fully explained why R2 has the map, but it's safe to say it has something to do with Luke wanting to remain in hiding and at an unknown location. Shutting down R2 seemed to be the only way to keep it that way. But R2 awakens from his sleep, and when you put together his map and BB8's map, the location of Luke should be easy to find.
Rey, R2 and Chewie are sent to find him, Finn still unconscious and Leia still in charge of the Resistance. When arriving at Luke's location, Rey is sent to find him all by herself, making her way up a large staircase and to the top of the island where she finds a hooded figure standing by a cliff. This figure turns around to reveal their face. It's Luke, his robotic hand not at all reminiscent of a human hand anymore. There's no human tissue over this hand. What he has gained, however, is a big set of hair. Rey reaches into her bag, pulls out his lightsaber and reaches her hand out to give it to him. It's here that we cut to black and the credits role, the famous John Williams score starting up. It's an ending that left me screaming for the next movie.
What makes The Force Awakens so good is that the mystery still isn't gone. For over a year now, fans have been constantly guessing what's really going on and now that the film is out, we still don't know. Sure, we see Luke standing there at the end of the film, but why does he look so broken? Why isn't he surprised to see Rey? Is she his daughter? Every scene answers two questions and raises three. It's a guessing game that's not going to stop until Episode IX is released. I've never been more excited for a franchise before, and it's only just getting started. I mean, technically the franchise has been around for 40 years, but in terms of these new movies with new characters, the game has only just begun.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Is In Theatres Now And My Review Can Be Found Here
With Star Wars just a day away, many movies have released their trailers recently. Why? Because they want to play them in front of what will more than likely be the highest grossing film of all time (I already have my tickets to see it 3 times opening day). It makes sense. The trailer lineup for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is insane. From Independence Day to X-Men to Batman V Superman to Finding Dory, it's going to be one hell of an atmosphere in the theatre before the movie even starts. Now, the first trailer for Star Trek Beyond is online. I could've chosen to review anything today (and X-Men was seeming likely), but no. This is the trailer that's in need of discussing.
The new Star Trek movies barely resemble the Star Trek of old, but that's okay. I'm okay with that. We get two versions of the same story. On the one hand, we get the slow moving, quiet, action-less voyages of the Starship Enterprise and they're great watches. Then, we also get the fast paced, loud, action-packed voyages of the Starship Enterprise and they're also great watches. With Star Trek Beyond, there was murmurs that the film would be going back to the TV show's roots. It would be going back to the slow moving and exploration based plot. Well, whoever said that was wrong. This revamped Star Trek is still its own thing. Except now they're missing J.J. Abrams.
The trailer for Star Trek Beyond gives off a very Guardians of the Galaxy vibe, opening with Simon Pegg's Scotty questioning the crew about their choice of music, which is, of course, 'Sabotage' by the Beastie Boys. It's the song we hear a young Kirk riding a bike to during the first movie. He must really like that song. But it's not long before the song, which was originally part of the scene, becomes the trailer music, much like it did in the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. Apparently if something works in one space movie, it must be used in all space movies.
Now, I'm perfectly fine with modern songs being used in movies not set in modern times.... so long as it suits the film. 'Sabotage' suited that one scene in the first movie, but it really doesn't fit with this trailer. Like, at all. It's giving off all the wrong vibes, trying to appeal to non-Trekkies, but actually just annoying normal Trekkies. The film is advertised as an action comedy in space, just like Guardians of the Galaxy was. It's not an action comedy. It is in space and there is action, but did they really need to advertise it as a comedy? Absolutely not. That's just misleading.
Ignoring the tone of this trailer, the overall plot seems to be something we haven't seen in the modern Star Trek movies so far. The crew appears to be split up, fending for themselves in unknown terrain. Kirk is stranded and alone, and that scene with him getting out of the pod just looks gorgeously shot. No matter how bland a lot of Justin Lin's movies are, there's no denying that he can get some good looking shots. Star Trek Beyond looks gorgeously shot and I cannot wait to see if the visuals are on par with the camera work. At this stage, it looks like it will be, minus that very cheap looking shot of Scotty reaching over to grab the cliff. That looks like something you'd see in a Fast and Furious movie. I wonder why that is....
What this trailer does give us is our first look at Idris Elba's evil alien antagonist, who at this point in time is unnamed. We don't know a single thing about him, but if this trailer is any suggestion, he's no Khan. But we'll have to wait and see. I'll be honest, I didn't even recognise Idris Elba in this role. His character is heavily makeup'd and his voice was unrecognisable, and don't even let me attempt to guess who plays the white alien girl. I have no clue. Makeup confuses me. Still, here's to hoping that he serves as a worthy foe.
I'm going to be honest, I'm a little bit skeptical about this new Star Trek film. It looks like it's going to be an action packed installment, but action does not equal entertainment. Just look at the Transformers franchise. I doubt that this film is going to be on the same level as Transformers, though. It was co-written by Simon Pegg, after all, so that has to mean something. He's a talented actor and an extremely likeable guy so let's hope he understands what makes Star Trek Star Trek. I'm hoping he manages to pull it off, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Scotty is given all the best moments in the film. Wouldn't blame him, if I'm perfectly honest. I'd do the same. Star Trek Beyond opens in Australian theatres on July 21, 2016. The trailer can be viewed below.
Jimmy Kimmel, you son of a bitch. First you released the Captain America: Civil War trailer (my review can be found here) and now you've released the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer. So much for getting my Empire Strikes Back review up today. But yes, the third (and hopefully final) trailer has arrived for the second film in the DCEU. Wait, the DCEU? What's that? That, my dear children, stands for the DC Extended Universe. Get used to it. They plan to stick around for quite some time now.
But anyway, this third Batman V Superman trailer begins with Clark Kent working as a photographer at a party that's seemingly being hosted by The Joker... wait I mean Jason Todd... wait no it's Lex Luthor. That's right. Lex Luthor. That's who it is. And guess who just has to show up at the party? Our good friend, Mr. Bruce Wayne, who Clark hasn't even heard of. Clark and Bruce meet and, of course, Clark brings up the topic of Batman, leading to banter between the two of them where Bruce has a go at Superman and Clark has a go at Batman. While it looks like the film is still early on, I can't help but feel as if the two of them already know of each other's identities. Or perhaps it's this conversation that leads to them discovering each other's identities. Or better yet, Clark is oblivious while Bruce knows. I mean, Clark's only disguise is a pair of glasses so that wouldn't be too shocking.
The banter between the two of them is rather brilliant and just what I wanted out of these two characters, but it's soon cut short (and by soon I mean nearly a minute into the trailer... Jesus) by Lex Luthor. This portrayal of Luthor appears to be rather different to his character in the comics. He's not a manipulative and power hungry bastard, but he's instead a fast talking, wise cracking ass. While it deviates drastically from the source material, I still feel as though this can work. It's not the Luthor we know and love, but it is instead a new incarnation of the character. Plus, I'm almost positive we'll be seeing him do a lot more evil things than this trailer leads us to believe, although creating Doomsday is pretty freaking evil. But more on that later.
A very interesting aspect of this first minute is that Luthor is already well acquainted with both Clark and Bruce, and it's even hinted at during the Doomsday reveal that Luthor was the one who tried to get the two of them to fight. Why? We'll have to wait and see. I do like the dynamic between the three of them and I'm interested to see them interact. There's a moment later in the trailer where Lois Lane calls him psychotic and his reaction is brilliant. It's so Jesse Eisenberg, but it works. He seems to have his hands twisted in everyone's businesses and if so, I doubt that this is the last we've seen of him. Superman solo movie? Or even the Justice League? If I was to bet on anything, he's going to be DC's Loki. Sorry, Jared Leto. I'm sure you'll appear eventually, too.
What follows the opening party scene is a variety of different scenes, all tied in together with snippets of conversation between some of the main characters. The editing style of this part of the trailer is rather jarring, so much so that I was on the verge of a headache. It's a series of jump cuts that basically shows the entire movie, although ignoring the style of editing used in the trailer, the footage seen looks rather impressive. We get plenty of glimpses of the two titular characters battling it out and the CGI is practically flawless. This trailer even gives us another taste of Ben Affleck's Batman voice. It's a little strange to get used to, but after watching the trailer a few times, I quite like it.
And on the topic of Batman, Ben Affleck is making all the haters shut up. I've always been on board with him as Batman and the more I see of him, the more I love him, although nothing has sold me on his casting more than that 50 second teaser from a couple of days ago did. Until the mask came off, I didn't see Ben Affleck in that clip. I saw Batman. Ben who? Ben Affleck doesn't exist. There is only Bruce. Affleck is going to put all the previous incarnations of Batman to shame. Sorry, Bale. Sorry, Keaton. Neither of you can top the Kryptonite-weilding, no shit taking Batman we're about to get.
That brings me to the final part of the trailer. The Doomsday reveal. Everyone kind of suspected that something bigger was going on than just Batman taking on Superman, who, for the record, is still being played perfectly by Henry Cavill. I still love that casting. In this third trailer, we finally got to see a glimpse of this unknown enemy, and who is it? The one and only Doomsday, the vicious villain from the comics who ends up being the cause of Superman's death. I doubt we'll see Doomsday killing Superman in this film, though. This is only his second appearance.... But perhaps we will in a later film. Perhaps, like with Luthor and the Joker, this isn't the last we've seen of Doomsday, either. Only time will tell.
I really do like that Doomsday is in this movie. It's a threat big enough to allow the Justice League to form together. I don't, however, like that we saw him in the trailer. Everyone, including myself, was already speculating as to what exactly was really gong down in this movie and it would've been fun to keep on guessing right up until the movie's release. It would've been so much cooler to see his reveal while watching the actual film, as it was certainly a big "OH MY GOD" moment. My jaw had dropped and I squealed quite loudly. It just seems like a twist we won't see until the third act, along with the reveal of Wonder Woman, although I'm sure we'll be seeing her out of costume earlier on in the film. But this feels like the first time in the film we see her in action.
Also shown at the end of this trailer is Superman and Batman coming to terms with each other and teaming up to take on this unstoppable force that Luthor has created, presumably by using General Zod's dead body. It's no surprise that the two of them are going to settle their differences by the end of the movie, but what is surprising is that they showed it in the trailer. This film is called Batman V Superman, not Justice League. I don't want to see them on the same side until I'm watching the actual film. That being said, it was pretty fucking awesome. The DCEU is off to a solid start, excluding Man of Steel.
As a whole, this was a rather impressive trailer, although it's also slightly underwhelming. It's got a lot going for it and it's looking like it's on track to be the biggest money maker of 2016 (and hopefully one of the best films of the year, as well), but the trailer itself is put together rather mediocrely. It's a three minute rundown of the entire film's plot and while I like what I saw, I didn't need to see all of that. I do actually like being surprised when I see a movie. But perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps Doomsday is introduced halfway through the film. I doubt it, but it's not impossible. This is Doomsday we're talking about. Giving him 10 minutes of screen time would be an injustice to his character. We'll find out more when the film is released in Australian theatres on March 24th next year.