Welcome to My Summer in Film 2015! This will be my annual list of films I saw this summer, either at home or in the theater. Think of this as a sort of film journal. I will also assign a corresponding grade out of 5 Stars and include some thoughts. Feel free to comment and question my ratings or opinions!
Avengers: Age of Ultron, 4 Stars
I really liked this movie. I think it is fun and very well put together. With that being said, it left just a bit to be desired. I thought it was on par with the first Avengers film. Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, and Paul Bettany are the best parts of this film. Also: is it just me or is Iron Man slowly wearing out his welcome?
Furious 7, 3 Stars
Man. We are on the 7th Fast and the Furious film. If you would have told me this 10 years ago I’d laugh. If you told me Paul Walker would be dead, I also would laugh. The film was exactly what it meant to be, a fun action film. It turned into a little bit of a tribute to Paul Walker, which I am okay with. You could tell his death impacted the story of the film, his character’s arc is a little stunted, but it sends his character off into the sunset nicely.
Legend, 2.5 Stars
I bought this movie because I wanted to add to my Ridley Scott collection. This film is a dark fairy tale ala “Labyrinth” but not as well known. I liked it a fair amount and thought it was visually interesting and the score was fantastic. I have yet to watch the directors cut so this analysis might change.
Babel, 3 Stars
On a whim I decided to get this film, one I have been trying to see since it came out in 2006. It is directed by recent Oscar winner Alejandro González Iñárritu and completes his “Death Trilogy.” It tells the story of an international incident involving two American Tourists and how the other stories connect with it. I thought the acting was superb and the editing was on point. You do have to pay attention for a little to understand that the stories are interconnected. It is nonetheless, an interesting and well acted film.
Zero Dark Thirty, 5 Stars
I was utterly blown away by this film. It is disturbing, thrilling, suspenseful, and an all around wild ride. This is the film that tells the (fictionalized yet somewhat true) account of how we found Osama Bin Laden. It is a firecracker of a film. Jessica Chastain is superb in this role. The film is really well directed by a new favorite of mine, Katheryn Bigelow. Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton pop up as two Navy Seals who carry out the mission. The titular mission is awesomely shot, with Bigelow going back and forth between night vision and normal vision. I truly loved this movie!
Pitch Perfect 2, 2.5 Stars
I thoroughly enjoyed 2012’s surprise breakout, Pitch Perfect. It is a very funny, if not slightly disjointed, film. The musical numbers were inventive and fun too. The same can be said for the sequel. However, it is not as outright funny and it has some racist jokes that didn’t need to be in there which cheapens the comedy. I thought the musical numbers were a definite improvement and Das Sound Machine was a formidable antagonist to our Barden Bellas. What’s more. is that in the ending, I actually believed the results based on which musical number moved me more. While I enjoyed myself, I was left a little let down by the script. Again, disjointed. Kudos to Elizabeth Banks who confidently directs the movie.
Following, 3.5 Stars
This film is Christopher Nolan’s feature length debut as a director. It is a pretty nice little film. If you’ve seen his later works, in films like Memento, Batman Begins, and The Prestige, you can see how Following inspires those future releases. Shot in black and white, it has a real classic feel. It is a nice little thriller that will keep you guessing!
Jurassic World, 4 Stars
This film was so much fun! I haven’t had this much straight up fun watching a film since The Dark Knight came out in 2008. It was a wonderful homage to the original film while still standing on its own. It is definitely the best sequel to Jurassic Park but does not top the original, a near perfect film. Chris Pratt continues to be on a winning streak and is definitely one of my favorite actors. He has come a long way since his days on Parks and Rec and he looks like he was having fun the entire time.
Inside Out, 5 Stars
What can I say? Another beautiful Pixar gem. I can not honestly write anything better, it is a fantastic film. Love the choices for the voice cast: they are perfectly cast. Love love love this film.
Mad Max: Fury Road, 4 Stars
WOW. This film is a slam-bam stunner from start to finish. This is the film equivalent to a Shaun T Insanity work out: You barely have a warm up and it just gets real intense, real fast. The action is literally from start to finish. You would think that with so much action that Director George Miller would not be able to get much into the film that gives you exposition about the characters but somehow, he finds smaller, quick moments to give you just enough to really flesh out these characters, their motivations, and their goals. I really enjoyed Charlize Theron as Furiosa. Watch this film and tell me she’s not the biggest bad-ass in film right now. Tom Hardy also delivers as the titular Max, building on Mel Gibson’s iconic breakout role. Go see it!
Minions, 3 Stars
What Can I say about the Minions movie? It is great for what it is. Little yellow creatures that will make you giggle and laugh for a glorious hour and a half. I enjoyed this movie. It is so nonsensical and irreverent and I really appreciate that. I love how the filmmakers keep the sort of dark comedy of the original Despicable Me present. That is what made the original so original.
The Search for General Tso, 4 Stars
I was pleasantly surprised when, on a whim, I decided to play this documentary about Chinese-American culture and the rise of an iconic dish that you can order at most, if not all Chinese Restaurants. If you like your documentaries with a dash of food and a side of history and culture I recommend this one. It had a lot of surprising revelations and an awesome conclusion. All about the rise of the dish: General Tso’s Chicken.
Ant-man, 3.5 Stars
This film wasn’t really doing it for me during the trailer phase of marketing and I wasn’t all that thrilled with Ant-Man as a super hero in general. I definitely love the talent involved in this film: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglass, and Corey Stoll just to name the principal cast. The supporting cast really rounds out this film and makes it an overall awesome group of actors working on the film. I am a huge Paul Rudd fan and he simply delights in this movie. It is funny, action packed, and touching. I think it might be one of Marvel’s more daring risks and it totally pays off. Is this the best film in the MCU? No. (Captain America: Winter Soldier if you were curious.) But it certainly upholds the high standards that we have come to expect from the MCU.
Spy, 5 Stars
This is easily the best comedy to come out all year. Holy crap was this movie hysterical! I was blown away by how truly funny it was. Yes, the premise is sort of done to death. Melissa McCarthy and Director Paul Feig find a way to keep it fresh and new. The McCarthy-Feig pairing continues to deliver results; they really bring out the best in each other. Jason Statham almost steals the show as a hotheaded CIA agent. He is truly funny and seems to be having a blast being a bit self-deprecating and poking fun at his typical tough guy persona. All around tremendously funny film. I adore it.
Straight Outta Compton, 4 Stars
Timely, entertaining, with a killer soundtrack. I really enjoyed this movie. For film, history, and music buffs alike. Ice Cube’s son is the spitting image of his daddy!
Fantastic Four, 0 Stars
Had some promise in the early scenes but avoid this film at all costs.