Movies 2015

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Movies 2015

Movies 2015

2k15/12

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 7/10.
  • Star Trek: Generations. 10/10
  • Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. 10/10.
  • The Firm. 8/10.
  • Patriot Games. 7/10.
  • Clear and Present Danger. 8/10.
  • Stolen. 7/10.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Seasons 1--2. 7/10.
  • National Treasure. 7/10.
  • The Da Vinci Code. 8/10.
  • Lord of War. 10/10.
  • Home. 7/10.

2k15/11

  • Person of Interest. Seasons 1--3. 9/10.

2k15/10

  • The Flash. Season 1. 7/10.
  • The Wedding Singer. 7/10.
  • Batman Begins. 8/10.

2k15/9

  • Bojack Horseman. Season 2. 7/10.
  • Longmire. Season 4. 8/10.
  • Attack on Titan. 9/10.
  • Narcos. Season 1. 8/10. Very stylish, very watchable, but formulaic and forgettable.
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. 10/10.

2k15/8

  • The Blues Brothers. 7/10.
  • True Grit. 9/10.
  • Von Ryan's Express. 7/10.
  • Wing Commander. 6/10.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. 10/10.

2k15/7

  • Total Recall. 7/10.
  • Conan The Barbarian. 6/10.

2k15/6

  • The Terminator. 8/10.
  • Unbreakable. 10/10.
  • Pain & Gain. 9/10.
  • All Is Lost. 10/10. Robert Redford plays a sailor physically adrift in the Sumatra Straits, metaphorically adrift in his old age. Excellent movie, all the more captivating for featuring literally a single actor and zero dialog, just a few spoken lines. Nothing about his background is revealed but the movie's no less strong for it. Especially early on he makes some mistakes that seem pretty obvious even to a non-sailor, and seems to be missing some basic equipment (radio beacon?) but it's all pretty believable for a man in distress.
  • The Hunter. 10/10. Willem Dafoe portrays a highly specialized game hunter essentially pushed into reevaluating his own solitude. Remains really good even after seeing it several times and knowing the basic story. There's a lot going on with some of the characters, especially Dafoe's. Still a very sad movie though, in multiple ways, not one to watch on a happy day.

2k15/5

  • How I Live Now. 7/10. Interesting movie about a modern-day invasion on England and nuclear terrorism. The vagueness of it all is a strength and appropriate to the characters' perspective, but also a weakness, rendering the story a bit light to bite into. Definitely better than I expected though.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. 10/10. Goddamn.
  • The Animatrix. 9/10. Still holds up. A few segments have become forgettable, but several of them remain classic imagery for me: Namely the robot revolution, and the track & field story.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. 10/10. Goddamn.
  • Hot Fuzz. 6/10. You really want to like Pegg and Frost, but ultimately this just isn't funny. It's watchable because of the buddy aspects, but it's too empty and based too much around arguably obscure action movie references, gags, and obvious contradictions to be interesting.
  • Marvel's Daredevil. Season 1. 8/10. Extremely well executed. The fights are very solid, but appropriately epic and yet human. People get exhausted, it gets sloppy, they carry bruises afterward. The ending sequence is really good, and Fisk gets a great monologue and an awesome closing line: "I am the ill intent, who set upon the traveler on a road he should not have been on." His character would have been more substantial with a little more work on his background, both just to make it less of a cliche and hopefully to give it more of an internal conflict. I was also saddened that his painting was given a more concrete meaning rather than him taking solace in white noise. But he's still a great character, the highlight of this show and probably the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. My biggest hope, and a plausible one, for season two is that his wife is developed more fully. Although I don't expect it, the show could be amazing if it developed her as the true Kingpin, and it could do that from where it left things.
  • Longmire. Season 3. 8/10. Definitely a step down from the previous seasons, making me wonder if that's perhaps a necessity of third seasons. The mystical elements take a backseat as they're all resolved, some of them fairly predictably. Significant tension among the main characters is also lost, in particular the conflicted dynamics of the election from the first season are missed.

2k15/4

  • Death in Paradise Season 1. 7/10. Friendly little English crime show, very standard except for being set in the Caribbean. Very formulaic.
  • Underworld. 7/10.
  • The Big Lebowski. 8/10.
  • Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. 7/10.
  • The Punisher. 7/10. I really want to like this more, but I don't think it's aging well. The camp isn't quite enough, while it's not particularly serious either.

2k15/3

  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Season 1. 7/10. It's hard to see how this series is going to work out. The premise is just too difficult to gel with how the bunker women actually act. Namely, they all acclimate much too rapidly to the modern day. The show is though cute and fun to watch. It starts off a bit weak, with a lot of forced and annoying "humor." Much of that continues, the teenage daughter in particular really feels like watching a high school play with the attendant forced and predictable acting. But it does get better as it goes on. Oddly, there's some lewd bits here and there which don't really gel with the otherwise pretty family friendly show.
  • Carlos (miniseries). 9/10. I'm not sure if this is quite deep enough to be really really good, but I think it's really good. Certainly it's very watchable. There's an awful lot of style and visual appeal here. It is fascinating to watch Carlos over the years, changing both physically and mentally. Definitely helps to do some quick Wikipedia reading and know the basic outline of what's going on and realize that most of the major plot actions are real.
  • Last Days on Mars. 7/10. A good sci-fi movie with characters and tension... for about 20 minutes. Then it just descends into schlocky standard horror---IN SPACE!---and isn't terrible to watch, but certainly isn't scary either, and certainly not novel or interesting.
  • Mystic River. 7/10. Pretty good movie, I'm just not sure that it's so good that I would really need to watch it again. It does manage to build up a fair amount of tension, but much of it feels very predictable.
  • In The Electric Mist. 7/10. Much better than I expected it to be. A number of plot lines don't come together and it should have either dropped the fantastical elements or gone with them much farther, but it's interesting and well done. The biggest downside is just that I'm so tired of yet another cop willing to bend the law when it suits the good cause.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 8/10.
  • Robot and Frank. 9/10. Quiet, staid piece that's really good. Gets to a bunch of different ideas, from robots in society to memory and what it means to be human, without beating you over the head or being melodramatic about it.
  • Forrest Gump. 7/10.
  • American Beauty. 7/10.
  • Archer. Season 5: Archer Vice. 8/10. This is just rolling fun throughout. The country soundtrack works super well for a number of the bits.
  • Chef. 8/10. A sweet, upbeat movie that's a little bit of a rom-com but really about a man and his son. Lightweight but surprisingly fun and well done.
  • Rounders. 7/10.
  • Muppet Treasure Island. 7/10.
  • The Station Agent. 10/10. Amazing film. Super quiet, almost wholly about (quirky) characters, not overtly predictable, lots of cool scenes and idiosyncratic bits. To some extent it's tough to say what the movie is really about or what makes it compelling, other than purely the characters on both counts.
  • Earth to Echo. 6/10. I couldn't find anything in this to latch onto.
  • Groundhog Day. 7/10. As I get older I tend to find this movie increasingly uncomfortable. What does it mean that he has to learn by rote how to appeal to her? To what extent is he actually adapting, to what extent is he just tricking her? At what point does he cross from the latter to the former?
  • House of Cards. Season 3. 5/10. Abandoned this a few minutes into the second episode. The characters have become nearly all completely unsympathetic and uncompelling, the plots predictable, who cares? The series was already mostly about style, but with this season the deficiences overwhelm what remains a top end production.

2k15/2

  • RoboCop (2015). 7/10. This is almost really good. It gets at some interesting things and hints at some even more, but I thought it pulled too many punches. Namely, it would have been vastly more interesting if the corporation had stayed on the track of being right on the edge and behaving borderline, rather than outright cross over. At that moment it lost all of the tension between ethics, science, soul, and civics that it had been building up to that point.
  • House of Flying Daggers. 8/10. Conversely, this doesn't really have nearly as interesting characters and therefore is good but not nearly as amazing as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. 10/10. The action sequences remain great, but it's the characters that really carry this through.
  • The Rover. 5/10. Abandoned this somewhere in the middle, skipped around, tried again fresh later, gave up. I had seen some people really talking this up, but I found it basically unwatchable. It's just violent, with nothing ameliorating that, not even style.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy. 8/10. Still really fun and engaging, but definitely requires some disabling of cognitive processing to slide over some plot issues.
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. 8/10. Very subtle, but extremely good.
  • Automata. 8/10. I had big hopes for this, and it has a lot of promise at the start and in the plot overall, but it doesn't quite work. It's almost a sketch, with a lot of ends not quite connected and the movie counting on their basic familiarity to carry them through in the viewer's mind. In places it just doesn't make a ton of sense either, e.g., why the enabled robots don't take more actions to defend themselves. The visuals though are really good, the robots look great, and the movie starts off with a lot of promise, basically a sci-fi noir with Spanish actors, made in Bulgaria? After about halfway through though it loses steam. It just doesn't really quite motivate things enough. Maybe? I'm super torn. The opening is really good though. Not the initial boilerplate about the solar flares, but the police officer's interaction with the robot and then the black & white montage. Definitely problems and shortcomings, but the more I watch it the more I like it.
  • Starship Troopers. 7/10.
  • Justified. Season 5. 7/10. Almost certainly the weakest of the seasons. Definitely still entertaining and very watchable, but memorable moments are few and far between and new memorable characters almost non-existent. The one really promising villain gets knocked off far too early. The entire plot arc of Ava in prison is also just really boring, generic, and cliched. By and large that's the main problem with Justified after season 2: The increasingly generic nature of the show seriously reduces its appeal and staying power. The more it drops its Kentucky backwoods terrain and characters, the less interesting it gets.
  • Elysium. 6/10. Huge waste of potential. Everything looks so good, but it's a pretty low quality movie. It just barely stays above not being watchable. Almost every character, especially the villains, has terrible dialog making them a mere caricature. A bunch of them even have ridiculous caricature accents. They come just short of twirling evil mustaches. There are also a ton of plot holes both large and small. In the first firefight, Kruger's obviously not dead, yet Max throws down his weapons to help Julio? Elysium has huge reserves of medical robots for their population of apparently 6 or so people? What, they're just not using them out of spite? It also has a lot of literally white knight action, with Matt Damon saving a seemingly 100% latino and black population.
  • Cast Away. 8/10.
  • The French Connection. 7/10. Mixed feelings. I can't decide if there's depth to it or not. Certainly an interesting plot, but I'm not sure how much there is to the characters. The lead certainly just seems like an abusive, racist cop. It's not clear there's actual depth there, other than an obsession and ultimate failure. Good car chases though.

2k15/1

  • Galaxy Quest. 8/10.
  • Get Shorty. 7/10. I actually think the sequel, Be Cool, is much better.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. 8/10. The first half of this is really good. Caesar is impressively done, and it's a joy to watch him interact with his tribe. The second half though descends into just a lot of shooting and battle scenes. None of those are nearly as interesting as the opening segments of humans and apes carefully interacting. By and large I think I liked Rise of the Planet of the Apes more precisely because it was so much less focused on combat, and the one big action scene was much more colorful and interesting. If I see one more dystopian post-apocalyptic gunfight in trashcan-lit, half blocked, graffiti coated street, I'm going to throw up.
  • Godzilla. 7/10. I'm pretty willing to give movies a lot of leeway, but this one has a fair number of small things that make no sense and manage to catch the eye. Like, why is there a one-way window... into a supply closet-slash-impromptu interrogation room? Why does the son take off his dad's oxygen mask... so he can talk to the dad? Why would you take a train right into an EMP monster... instead of flying around its range? The list is pretty extensive. Why on earth is Godzilla fighting these things? I actually fell asleep about ten minutes in the first time I tried to watch this. I guess it's ok, but I think the trailer was actually a more dramatic movie. A big part of the problem is just that it's so drab. Everything's super dark, but even then it's not a vibrant black, everything's a drab gray fog haze. It would have been much better even if they'd done nothing but had most of the main monster fights in broad daylight. The best part is definitely Bryan Cranston yelling that it's "Gonna send us back to the stone age!" but it works better in the trailer, surrounded by more dramatic and less silly bits. All that said, I did really really like the opening montage of post-WW2 radioactive tests. I also greatly enjoy the "presence of an alien god" music harkening back to 2001's monolith that starts when Godzilla makes a new appearance.
  • 30 Rock. 7/10. Seasons 1--7. Funny and entertaining, eventually settles into a bit of a rhythm that's easy to tune out but stays mostly entertaining. The biggest issue is that it falls into the trap of introducing too many new characters in the later seasons. It would have been better to build up the writers more or something like that rather than introducing Hazel, etc.. Oddly, the show very occasionally has some pretty uncomfortable humor and once in a while takes it way too far, e.g., lovable Pete raping his wife. Given the strong presence of women overall in the show, let alone it being Tina Fey's baby, I don't really know what to make of that. It does even more occasionally make a real barb, e.g., the point about Bill Cosby that probably sailed over almost everyone's head at the time. Mostly though it's all pretty saccharine with a scatological veneer. In particular, the closing season is super sweet and the finale actually touching at multiple points. Everything wraps up very well and endearingly.
  • Mean Girls. 7/10. I can't tell if this isn't aging well or I'm not?
  • Election. 9/10. I'm a little biased because I saw this with a friend in theaters in the middle of a bikepacking trip, but it's a great movie. Tons of great little moments and a smart script.
  • The Whole Nine Yards. 7/10.
  • The X-Files. Seasons 6--9. 8/10. Definitely fades a bit in the last couple seasons, especially as they keep trying to jump start new mythology arcs after the colonization conspiracy wrapped up really well. I think the show would have been better off cutting Mulder out cold once Duchovny wanted to go. Doggett and Reyes would have fared better as new characters if he wasn't lingering around. The new AD what's-his-name also wasn't nearly as strong as Skinner and even Kirsch. On that though, Skinner definitely lost some tough guy attitude and mystique the more screentime he had. The show still has some really excellent episodes and sequences though, and it's in these seasons that the Scully/Mulder relationship really develops super well, which is one of the huge pay-offs for the series as a whole.
  • BoJack Horseman Christmas Special. 6/10. Not really a disappointment as I didn't expect much, but certainly nowhere near as interesting as the actual show.
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