House Spirits to Keep You Company
 

House Spirits to Keep You Company

Article

 
The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
 

The Great Hunt

Classic SFF Review

 
A Wizard’s Sacrifice by A. M. Justice – Cover Reveal and Excerpt
 

A Wizard’s Sacrifice

Cover Reveal & Excerpt

 

Top 10 SFF Films of 2015

I don’t think 2015 was quite the year for cinema we were hoping. There were a number of SFF titles that didn’t quite live up to expectations and a few more that absolutely bombed. That said, it wasn’t all bad… there were a number of surprisingly deep, moving and powerful movies that bulk up this year’s worth of cinema and make it very easy to name 10 movies from the past 12 months that SFF fans should at very least check out. Before I begin, I’d like to remind you how subjective these kinds of list are… there are people out there who enjoyed Catwoman and there are people who despised Star Wars and Back To The Future. So please don’t hate me if you’d have moved a film a few spaces up or down. Instead, leave a comment and let us know why. Right, now we’re clear on that: here we go!

Films that will not make this list:

Jupiter Ascending

JupiterAscending

$176,000,000. That’s how much was spent on Jupiter Ascending‘s production. Inevitably then, that’s how much everyone wishes was kept in the pockets of the studio who produced Jupiter Ascending. It was pretty, the action-y scenes – where you could forget about the storyline – were fun to watch, but the whole film was a complete disaster… probably the biggest since John Carter – which tried the same ‘hopefully if we dazzle the audience with pretty stuff they won’t notice the lack of plot, the holes in the thin plot that there actually is and illogical script we’ve given the actors’.

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

mockingjay_part_2

The first film was pretty good. It was Battle Royale with decent acting, a decent script, good effects and a storyline you could get behind. The second film was more of the same – it didn’t really make such sense that you’d be sent back to the games with a partner – it felt a little bit too similar to the first – but it was a passable movie and even worked to set up the finale… then we ran into issues. The third movie focused more on the emotional and psychological side of the Mockingjay’s journey, as opposed to the physical one. I don’t think many people will argue that stretching this side of things out over two films (Mockingjay Part 1 & Part 2) was a greedy move by the studio and one that completely ruined the pacing of the films. Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2 had about as much boring, uneventful and unnecessary content as it did meaningful and exciting. If they’d stuck with just three films they could have solidified the franchise’s legacy. As it stands though I think we will all be glad it’s over and done with.

Honourable Mention:

Fantastic Four

Fantastic-Four

Nowhere near as bad as we are told it was by critics. Everyone expected Fantastic Four to fail and although it won’t go down as the best Marvel movie ever, it was fun enough. I think Doctor Doom was a pretty good villain (I’ve always had a soft spot for him – bought the Funko Pop toy and everything) – his presence was pretty terrifying and the effects surrounding him were on point. I think the thing people will find disappointing about this movie is that it really is so throwaway, there isn’t much character growth beyond your usual tropes, ‘self absorbed guy becomes team player guy’, for example. But, again, nice visuals, dark storyline that fits modern trends, fairly fluent amount of action and decent casting.

Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

Scorch-Trials

If you’ve not seen the first Maze Runner film, I’d certainly recommend checking it out. Like the first Hunger Games movie, it’s full of action and features a wide variety of young characters that you quickly come to care about. The second movie asks a lot of viewers – basically a PG zombie-survival movie with the characters making appallingly stupid mistakes and generally just ploughing forward illogically. It has got decent effects, there is plenty of action (silly as it is) and the need to know whether the characters survive will get you through it far less painfully than The Hunger Games

Turbo Kid

Turbo-Kid

I don’t think it was a coincidence that Turbo Kid came out the same year as Mad Max… Turbo kid is most easily described as a mixture between that movie and Kick Ass – as if made by someone who REALLY loved the 80s. There is violence – oh so much violence, but the film really relies on your ability to laugh at the over-the-top nature of the thing and its nostalgic to appeal to the geek within. In fact, the movie’s only real let down is its length (too long) and the bits that aren’t over-the-top crazy insane… it would have made a superb hour-long special on television, it’s a little long at 95 minutes.

Our Top 10 of 2015:

10: Terminator: Genisys

TerminatorGenisys

The last few Terminator films had been preparing me for something really, really terrible… I even wondered whether they were heading down the straight to DVD route. Then, Terminator: Genisys trailers dropped, Arnie was revealed as being back and the movie ended up being pretty fun. It seemed like the franchise returned to its roots, but at the same time added a modern modern feeling and complicated plot. The visuals and action were there too – nothing too special, but sufficient. I’m not sure I fancy another one, but in a year where the SFF entries were pretty light it was most welcome.

9. Monster Hunt

Monster-Hunt

Family movie Monster Hunt out performed both Minions and Inside Out domestically (both movies I REALLY enjoyed by the way, but I can’t quite label as SFF for the purpose of this list). That’s quite an amazing achievement and is apparently the first time a movie from outside the US has taken in more revenue than every single Hollywood release (do note, however, there were a number of factors such as currency fluctuations and international movie blackout at play). For those unfamiliar, Monster Hunt is a live action/CGI hybrid. In a world based on medieval-China, a human man gives birth to an incredibly cute baby monster (Huba). The child of a monster/human is not at all popular in a world where humans and monsters generally don’t see eye-to-eye. So baby Huba must be protected from the monster-hating humans and various monsters that want to capture him. It’s a lot of fun and although you will need to watch it subtitled it’ll pay you to check it out.

8. Jurassic world

JurassicWorld

There were memorable moments in Jurassic World, such as an unarmed Chris Pratt trying to calm dangerous raptors. There was a half-decent plot, although it was fairly generic and trope-filled. Killer Dinosaurs were pretty much everywhere… The lead did a really great job at keeping things light. And yet… something was missing. Perhaps it was an actor who could match Chris’s presence or a failure by the script writers to really take any of the characters anywhere. The result is that it’s hard to say more about Jurassic World than ‘meh’ and hope they do a better job with the confirmed sequel.

7. Chappie

Chappie_poster

Chappie is a movie that would probably have been ranked a bit higher if another title higher on our list hadn’t approached the same topics (the rights of an AI and what it means to be human) in a far superior manner. However, Chappie, as it stands, is a really fun and enjoyable movie that forces you to confront issues that are inescapable for the human race, but never rams them down your throat. It’s a heck of a movie that has you tearing up at the injustice of Chappie’s treatment one minute, laughing at his limitations and silliness the next, then holding on white-knuckled to the arms of your chair as Hugh Jackman blows stuff up with a huge mech a few minutes after that.

6. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers_Age_of_Ultron

Another movie that could probably be ranked a little higher. However, after the mind-blowing experience of the first Avengers movie, this didn’t really bring much new to the table. I, personally, felt that Ultron wasn’t quite as dangerous and/or as volatile as he has been in the comic books and that hurt the movie… maybe, too, it is time for new characters to begin stepping in (as we know is soon to be the case with the Civil War storyline). All that said, Avengers 2 still offered a fantastic movie-going experience. There was that familiar humour, there were incredible visuals, there were heroes and villains with near-perfect chemistry and it’s just amazing to think where superhero movies are now versus 15 years ago.

5. Mad Max Fury Road

Mad-Max

If you like action, you like weirdness, you like cars, you like Tom hardy: this could well be your number one movie of the year. Imagine if The Fast and The Furious was thrown into some kind of Dystopian world and all the main characters went a bit mental – well, now you aren’t too far off. There were viewers (such as myself) who were so weirded out by all that they were seeing that they couldn’t quite find a way into this movie to the same degree as so many others did. For those who slid straight into the passenger seat and shout about the unique, crazed thrill-ride that this provided, I’ve put it in my top 5 – I respect that it provided something modern cinema has been missing.

4. Ant Man

Antman

I keep reading that ‘this will be the movie Marvel drop the ball’. It was said about Guardians of the Galaxy and it was said for Ant Man. It just wasn’t the case though… arguably the two lighter entries into the Marvel Universe have been their most enjoyable. Regardless of where you order them, it would appear that Marvel has found the magic formula for making action hero movies and they’ve been able to use it, with just very small changes, over and over again. What made Ant Man brilliant was that it was, definitely, much lighter than the other Marvel entries and yet never stopped being clever or unable to maintain its breakneck pace.

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens (poster)

The return to the world of Star Wars was a success in my eyes. I think we all had our niggles: I wasn’t 100% sold on the casting, some felt certain lines were awkward, others felt cheated by a rehashing of an already used plot – but it was ten times better than the prequel movies and promises great things to come. If you like action, laughs, innocent cheesiness, breathtaking visuals, loveable characters – this is a movie that will make you smile. Most importantly it felt like Star Wars and it has been so, so long since anyone has been able to say that about a movie… bring on the next!

2. The Martian

Martian

The Martian should be an incredible boring, familiar movie… a guy stuck on a planet with no-one around and nothing much to do. The movie never allows this to be the case though, it manages to remain consistently engaging through it’s star likeable Matt Damon who ensures we are thoroughly amused and cheering on his survival attempt. The means he stays alive and maintains hope is made fascinating and I think geeks everywhere knew they were going to love this film when we heard the line: “I’m going to have to science the s— out of this.”

1. Ex Machina

EX Machina

This might not have had the same kind of budget as many of the other films on our list, but it didn’t need it. The important part of this film was getting the android perfect: she/it needed to look and feel human enough and yet machine enough. The director nailed it. Ava reached viewers through the claustrophobic interview sessions in the same way she reached our protagonist. She forced us to ask questions about whether we should be playing God – ever, what rights a sentient machine should have and oh so much more besides through multiple lenses. It was a film that was both emotionally and intellectually demanding, it’s one that should be watched alone and reflected on for years to come.

Share

6 Comments

  1. I am happy that two of my favorite movies of last year made it to the ranks in this poll namely Star Wars and Jurassic World!

    Break out characters, for me, in Star Wars are Rae and the hilarious Fin whom I’m happy found his courage finally! To me, this movie was packed full of hidden goodies!

    *** heavy breathing *** May the force *** breathing *** be with you all…

    Sharron

  2. Avatar Carole-Ann says:

    A good all-round selection for a notable year (aka more peeps are willing to watch SFF nowadays) 🙂 and glad to say, I introduced my grand-daughter to half of them!

    (And yes, I was one of those peeps who slid into the passenger seat – as if it had always been there!)

    Thank you Marc for a lovely round-up.

  3. Avatar Jo says:

    Fury Road was absolutely my favourite film of the year (not counting Star Wars, because, well, Star Wars!). I’m a fan of the franchise but I went into it with zero expectations and having carefully avoided all trailers and online gossip, with no idea what to expect. The first 20 minutes where a little like being bludgeoned to death in my seat, but when I managed to catch my breath, I realised what a smart, funny and surprisingly subtle film it was. I recommend watching it a second time and you’ll see a hundred things you didn’t pick up on while you were being battered by the first viewing. Plus it annoyed the crap out of the Mens Rights brigade, which is a bonus 😉

  4. Avatar Justin says:

    I don’t agree with Mockingjay Part 2 not making the list. Many people I’ve talked to love it. I found a good mix of people that either did or didn’t enjoy part 1, but part 2 was a hit. It certainly had more plot than Fury Road did. that had about 5 seconds of actual dialogue.

Leave a Comment