Tag Archives: 2015 movies

Pan (2015) Review

Time: 111 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Levi Miller as Peter Pan
Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard
Garrett Hedlund as James Hook
Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily
Adeel Akhtar as Sam “Smee” Smiegel
Nonso Anozie as Bishop
Amanda Seyfried as Mary
Kathy Burke as Mother Barnabas
Lewis MacDougall as Nibs
Jack Charles as Chief Great Little Panther
Cara Delevingne as the Mermaids
Director: Joe Wright

Living a bleak existance at a London orphanage, 12 year old Peter (Levi Miller) finds himself whisked away to the fantastical world of Neverland. Adventure awaits as he meets new friend James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). They must band together to save Neverland from the ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). Along the way the rebellious and mischievious boy discovers his true destiny, becoming the hero forever known as Peter Pan.

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Pan looked like it had a lot of potential, so I was a little disappointed when it was ‘panned’ by most people, because I was really curious to check it out. After seeing this much hated movie, I have to say that it is… okay. I’m not going to act like it’s a great movie, I’m not even sure I’d consider it good. It has many questionable aspects of it. But at the same time it has some things that I like with a couple of the actors, the action and the general feel, I didn’t really feel bored throughout. It’s a passable movie.

The story for Pan is not very good. This movie tries to force in a prophecy story for Peter Pan and it is completely unnecessary for it to do this (and its completely cliché). You’ve seen this story before and you’ve seen it done better. Also this film just has some random moments, such as the infamous moments when people start singing “Smells Like Teen’s Spirit” and “Blitzkreig Bop”. I’m guessing that director Joe Wright wanted to be unique by blending modern elements into this story but it just felt incredibly out of place. This movie is basically the first instalment of a trilogy for the origin story for Peter Pan. Unfortunately because this movie flopped and was panned, the sequels were cancelled, so looking at the ending of this movie now is like looking at the last scenes of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But even in this movie, there are some elements that didn’t work that well. For example, at no point does Hook feel like he could become the villain Captain Hook in the future. There’s never a dark edge to him. Despite this and countless other issues with the movie, it was still watchable, if annoying at times with the constant amount of times they didn’t do things right. I was reasonably entertained throughout, I wasn’t really bored at any point. So at least if you are just wanting an above average family action fantasy film that’s entertaining enough, you’ve got that with Pan.

Levi Miller is playing Peter Pan and he is trying his best here but I have a feeling he wasn’t given enough direction, he was okay overall. The reason to see this movie is Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, he absolutely steals the show, chewing up scenery in every single scene he’s in. Jackman is effortlessly entertaining in this movie and was used to his fullest potential (in that he was effective as a fun, over the top villain)/ A controversial casting decision was Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily (I didn’t have an opinion on it since this is the first time I’ve seen Tiger Lily in anything). All I will say is that Rooney Mara was good in this movie, probably one of the best performances in this movie alongside Jackman. Her choreography in her action scenes was also great. I will say that she did feel kind of out of place, she still acted well in her role. If there’s a negative acting wise I will say that it’s Garrett Hedlund as Hook. Hedlund is a fine actor but he’s not good here, he is kinda over the top in the annoying kind of way, and as I said earlier there were no hints of villanouy in him, so it’s hard to buy him becoming Peter Pan’s adversary in the future. Oh and Cara Delevingne shows up in a 1 minute cameo as twin mermaids, which was kind of pointless.

The direction of Pan was a bit of a mixed bag overall. A lot of the style and world of Neverland I liked, some of it was hit or miss though. The visual effects are very poor, it looks incredibly fake and embarrassing, especially when it comes to the green screen. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. Aside from that, the action itself was filmed well, with the fight scenes being quite entertaining. The score I will say is great, if only it was used in a much better movie.

Pan is not really that good as a movie but it’s not really bad either. The CGI was very bad, the story wasn’t particularly interesting or special. However I liked Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara and the action scenes (minus the effects), I wasn’t that bored throughout, it was passable, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t entertained during it. I say check it out if you’re interested but don’t expect anything great.

Top 10 Worst Movies of 2015

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I’ll be honest, 2015 was for me a bit of a disappointing year for movies, well at least in terms of the blockbuster films, aside from a few gems (The Force Awakens, Mad Max, Kingsman, etc). Although I liked Spectre, thought Jurassic World was decent and secretly liked Terminator Genysis, they all felt a little disappointing. None of those made the list as for me as those were more disappointing than bad, there are far worse movies that actually deserves some criticism. I didn’t watch a lot of bad movies as I don’t watch every movie that comes into cinema, most of these were from watching them in 2016 to catch up on the lowlights of the previous year. But I watched enough bad movies to make a top 10 worst movies of the year list.

Honourable Mention:

The Assassin

The reason I didn’t do a review for this movie was because there wasn’t enough for me to say about it to fill up an entire review. This movie got a lot of awards, including one at the Cannes Film Festival and before watching it, I had a feeling I knew what sort of film it is. Having seen it, I don’t personally understand all the acclaim it’s been getting. It seemed like a slow burn film with style over substance. And the worst part is that it felt like a lot of scenes of literally nothing happening, with long shots of characters doing nothing (the last shot of the film is a complete joke). This movie wasn’t the worst, it is certainly shot beautifully and looks great, however despite this movie being under 2 hours, it felt like it was over 2 hours and a half. However this movie is only on this list as an honourable mention as it really isn’t my type of movie, so I’ll cut this movie some slack.

10. The Lazarus Effect

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The Lazarus Effect is another one of those modern horror movies that just fails at delivering. The jumpscares weren’t effective at all, it got quite boring at times, and all the clichés that you can expect from this premise happens. It’s nowhere near as bad as some of the movies on this list and it still has a good cast and an interesting premise that prevents it from being an even worse movie. But it’s still by no means a good movie and it’s really not worth anyone’s time, unless anyone’s interested in remaking it into a much better movie, which I think could be done.

My review of The Lazarus Effect

9. Jupiter Ascending

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This is one of the only movies on this list that I think might be worth checking out which is why it’s lower on my list, however it’s for all the wrong reasons. Jupiter Ascending is another recent failure of the Wachowskis. Although it’s not their worst film (Speed Racer is still their worst in my opinion) it’s still a pretty bad movie. There are admittedly some enjoyable moments, intentional or not, the action is well directed, the soundtrack was really great and Channing Tatum and Sean Bean manage to rise above the bad writing. And there were unintentionally enjoyable moments like some of the ideas like bees being genetically created to sense royalty was hilarious. There was also Eddie Redmayne’s performance which featured a voice which was a mix of Richard Harris’s Dumbledore, Ralph Fiennes’s Voldermort, for his whispering voice and a little bit of Michael Shannon’s Zod as he just snaps and ends up screaming out of nowhere every so often. All of this made him sound hilarious and one of the highlights of the film in the worst possible way. However there were quite a lot of political exposition and at times it could be pretty boring, so the movie was not quite at the level of The Happening or The Room. Jupiter Ascending is overall not a good movie, but I have a feeling in a few years it will be known as one of the most entertaining trainwrecks in cinema history.

My review of Jupiter Ascending

8. The Loft

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The Loft in short was pretty much a bad version of Clue, with a horrible script with hateable characters, a plot which gets boring and convoluted and includes lazy twists forced in to make this film seem smarter than it really is. The worst part is, after watching it, you immediately pick up on all these plot holes and inconsistencies which completely destroy the plot. The talented cast barely have any moments to show off their talent as they aren’t given good characters or even any good dialogue to work with. How this director managed to direct both the original and remake of Loft and manage to (apparently) succeed at the original but yet screw up at the remake I have no idea. This is definitely one whodunit to miss.

My review of The Loft

7. The Gunman

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The Gunman had a great cast and director but just like with The Loft, the poor script let everyone down. What made it worse that The Loft was while it wasn’t good and a little boring at times, there was a little bit of interest of how it would end, but with The Gunman, it was so dull and lacked any sort of effort in the script that I didn’t care at all what happened in the end. No one is interesting and particularly likable, so there’s no reason to care about what’s going on. Aside from Sean Penn, every other actor, no matter how great they are, get at most 10 minutes of screen time and don’t have anything to work with. Even the action wasn’t that special, and this is from the director of Taken. I have no idea how this movie managed to go wrong but whatever the case, this movie doesn’t have much reason watching.

My review of The Gunman

6. Fantastic Four

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A lot of people hated Fant4stic (yes I’m calling it that, that’s how it was marketed) and after seeing this movie I could see why. Even though I don’t hate it like everyone else, I still do think that it was a disaster, and a colossal disappointment from a studio that has made great superhero movies, a great director and a good cast. Fant4stic unlike its 2005 predecessor tried to go in a much darker and grittier direction, which initially sounded like a good idea considering the last two attempts at a Fantastic Four movie. However a big problem is that it tries to set up its own world and forgets to be its own movie. And it’s made all the more worse when nothing is going on and because of how joyless it is, it makes the experience all the more painful. I still think that the cast of Fantastic Four was decent with what they had but they are very restricted. And in my review I stated this many times, Fant4stic has the worst climax of any superhero movie I’ve seen so far. The effects suddenly got worse and more noticeable, Doctor Doom was underdeveloped, comes out of nowhere, has poor character motivations and the fight between him and the Four (which is by the time the only time in the movie the Four use their powers together) is about 5 minutes long. I still can’t say in good conscience that this is the worst Fantastic Four movie, as the only movie out of the four Fantastic Four movies that I actually kind of hate was Rise of the Silver Surfer, but it’s probably worse than the 2005 film, which I thought was as bad as this reboot could get. Unfortunately it wasn’t. This is the fourth failure at making a Fantastic Four movie and seeing as how this movie made about half of its budget back, it’s safe to say that Fox will finally give up the licence for good.

My review of Fantastic Four

5. Mortdecai

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Mortdecai was another nail in the coffin of Johnny Depp’s career. Even if Black Mass revived his career, no one is going to forget Mortdecai. There are some opportunities that Mortdecai had, and most of them were wasted. Johnny Depp here was pretty much British Jack Sparrow, only much more annoying and insufferable than in his other roles. The talented cast consisting of Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and many others are serviceable, but don’t get a chance to show off their skills, only Paul Bettany manages to shine in a smaller role. Mortdecai wasn’t good at all, worst of all it was pretty boring and forgettable. I hope that Johnny Depp learns from this movie and Black Mass what projects he should take on and which he should avoid like the plague.

My review of Mortdecai

4. Taken 3

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Taken 3 is one of the worst directed action movies I’ve ever seen. I don’t remember Taken 2 so I can’t say for certain if Taken 3 is better or worse than it but on its own, it was a pretty terrible action film. It had a story plot that made no sense, countless plot holes and of course, poorly filmed action scenes with close up shots as well as shots that don’t last two seconds before cutting to the next shot. Because of the performances from Liam Neeson, Forrest Whitaker, Maggie Grace and Famke Jensen, the movie still had a little bit of credibility but honestly, that was it. Taken 3 unlike many of the other picks on this list had no potential, it failed on almost every level. The film was basically The Fugitive starring Liam Neeson, under the title of a Taken movie, even though a kidnapping isn’t a major part of the movie. One of the taglines of the movie was ‘It Ends Here’, I certainly hope that’s the case for this franchise.

My review of Taken 3

3. Unfinished Business

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Unfinished Business was supposedly a comedy but it completely failed on every level. The actors weren’t funny, the movie was boring, the comedy was forced and at times cringe worthy (the gloryhole scene, and pretty much every single scene with Dave Franco), everything in this movie is at best mediocre and at worst, annoyingly bad. Unfinished Business wasn’t a good movie and worst of all it was a complete waste of time. There is no reason to watch this movie, there’s not one aspect which even works okay. It’s a shame when you come across a comedy which doesn’t feature one even mildly amusing joke.

My review of Unfinished Business

2. Fifty Shades of Grey

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This was a movie that was absolutely dead on arrival. It was a movie based on a book that was Twilight fanfiction, so I knew what I was going to get going into this movie. However it was much worse than I could’ve expected. This movie as I could tell before watching it, was horribly written. However I had no idea how boring this movie would be. The only way I could’ve enjoyed this movie is if it went bonkers and embraced what it was, horribly written fanfiction (adding the narration with the horribly written lines from the book would help), then it could be enjoyed as a guilty pleasure or a so bad it’s good movie. However looking at it now, I got the feeling that this movie was trying so hard to be credible with one of the worst material, so it actually collapses and fails. This movie might be entertaining in very brief 5-10 minute short scenes as a so bad it’s good film but not as one continuous feature film. The only things that didn’t suck was that the scenes were shot well and Dakota Johnson turned out a better performance than most people in her position. As I said in my review, this is one of the only movies that I regretted watching, even for a review. However that wasn’t the worst of the year for me.

My review of Fifty Shades of Grey

1. Hot Pursuit

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I’ve never seen a comedy movie so humourless, so obnoxious, so frustratingly generically bad, until I watched this movie. Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara play some of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in a movie but they shouldn’t be blamed for this movie’s failure, Cate Blanchett wouldn’t be able to give a good performance with their material. The script is horrible with obvious and unfunny jokes, the characters are annoying and very contradictory in their personalities and characteristics and there was never a moment or aspect that was done even okay. There is nothing to gain from watching this movie. If you want to spare yourself 85 minutes of your time, don’t spend it on this movie, it’s not worth it. The only thing I can give Hot Pursuit credit is the fact that they made a worse movie than Fifty Shades of Grey, which was quite the accomplishment.

My review of Hot Pursuit

So what do you think of my picks? Agree, disagree? What were your worst movies of the year? Comment below and let me know what you think.

The Loft (2015) Review

The Loft

The Loft

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, Sexual Violence, Drug Use, Offensive Language and Sex Scenes
Cast:
Karl Urban as Vincent Stevens
James Marsden as Chris Vanowen
Wentworth Miller as Luke Seacord
Eric Stonestreet as Marty Landry
Matthias Schoenaerts as Philip Williams
Rhona Mitra as Allison Vanowen
Rachael Taylor as Ann Morris
Isabel Lucas as Sarah Deakins
Director: Erik Van Looy

For five men (Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts), the opportunity to share a penthouse in the city — in which to carry on extramarital affairs — is a dream come true, until the dead body of an unknown woman turns up. Realizing that her killer must be one of their group, the men are gripped by paranoia as each one suspects another. Friendships are tested, loyalties are questioned, and marriages crumble while fear and suspicion run rampant.

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The Loft had a good Hitchcockian premise and great cast with actors like Karl Urban and James Marsden being a part of the movie. The cast couldn’t however rise above the terrible material that they had to work with. The plot holes, the uninteresting story and just the overall script let every aspect of the film down. There are glimpses of a potentially good film at times but for the most part this movie fails on every level. The Loft isn’t one of the worst films I’ve ever seen but it is definitely a bad movie.

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Hands down the worst thing about this movie is the script. First of all: the characters, not only is there a lack of likable characters, the main characters are so despicable, and to make it worse, we’re supposed to care about what’s happening to them and it’s so hard to when we not only don’t care about them, we want bad things to happen to them. They aren’t even written that interestingly. Another problem is the pacing, it was so slow in many scenes of the movie. This film has a non-linear way of telling its story, flashing back to relevant parts that happened in the past, however these flashbacks are so long and the relevant information takes up only small parts of those flashbacks, so it just gets boring in these scenes. Also the film shoves so many plot twists, to the point where the film becomes so convoluted and doesn’t make sense. It’s one of those mystery stories that after watching it, you begin to notice plenty of plot holes and inconsistencies.

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This movie had a great cast with Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller and many others. I can tell that they are trying to give good performances and they have moments where they could show off their talent but they have horrible characterisation, dialogue and are playing completely unlikable characters, so they aren’t given much to work with. The blame shouldn’t really fall upon them.

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The direction is fine for the most part but there are times when the director makes it overly stylistic. Sometimes out of nowhere he uses awkward close ups, tilted camera angles and pans, for no reason at all. It felt really awkward and distracting but this only happened a few times and for the most part this film looked fine.

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The Loft had so much potential to be a great film with its premise and its talented cast but for whatever reason, that didn’t come across on screen. The script had so many plot holes, the pacing was off, just everything was let down by the script. The funny thing is that this movie is a remake of a Belgian film called Loft (2008) which was apparently great. Guess what both films had? The same director, Erik Van Looy. He did an American remake of his own film. It’s strange that A. he would remake his own movie, and B. he didn’t get it right. The Loft wasn’t an unbearable movie but I don’t think it’s worth watching.

The Gunman (2015) Review

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The Gunman

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic Violence and Offensive Language.
Cast:
Sean Penn as Jim Terrier
Jasmine Trinca as Annie
Javier Bardem as Felix
Ray Winstone as Stanley
Mark Rylance as Cox
Idris Elba as Jackie Barnes
Peter Franzén as Reiniger
Director: Pierre Morel

Eight years after fleeing the Congo following his assassination of that country’s minister of mining, former assassin Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is back, suffering from PTSD and digging wells to atone for his violent past. After an attempt is made on his life, Terrier flies to London to find out who wants him dead — and why. Terrier’s search leads him to a reunion with Annie (Jasmine Trinca), a woman he once loved, who is now married to an oily businessman (Javier Bardem) with dealings in Africa.

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On paper this movie seemed like it would be good. It had great actors like Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone and others involved and it was also directed by the director of the original (and only good) Taken. So where did it go wrong? Despite the talented involved, they just couldn’t rise above the uninteresting and boring story. With characters not interesting enough to care about and the poor script, the actors ultimately didn’t have anything to work with, and even the action scenes aren’t that great. There are hints of a good movie but that’s it, only hints.

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The best scene in the movie was the first scene, which involves Sean Penn carrying out an assassination. There isn’t a lot of action in the movie, I’ll just say this now, the trailer downright lies about what this movie is about. However even looking at this as anything but an action movie it fails. This movie is slow and really boring, even if it supposed to be a slow burn action movie. Because of how slow and uninteresting the movie is it’s at time hard to follow what’s going on. However there was a twist in the movie which I saw coming, even though I wasn’t really following the movie that much, which really was a bad sign. The worst part about the writing is that I didn’t care about what was going on. There are glimpses of a good movie, apparently it was based on a book. However for whatever reason, this movie didn’t turn out as well as it should have.

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Sean Penn was pretty good in his role, he doesn’t have a lot of good material to work with but he at least had more than some of the other actors. Idris Elba and Ray Winstone are only in like a few scenes and are fine but they don’t do much. Javier Bardem is also wasted (both literally and figuratively), he just plays some drunk guy who’s on screen for about 10 minutes. The only actor other than Penn who gets something to do is Mark Rylance, but even he was quite limited in what he could bring. I don’t think anyone gives a bad performance but no one really gives much of an impression either.

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There wasn’t much action in this movie but when it was on screen it was fine. However the action while not shaky, does use a lot of cuts, making some of these scenes a little incomprehensible at times. The best scene of ‘action’ once again was the opening assassination because Sean Penn actually aims and shoots someone. The rest of the action mostly involves him hiding behind a piece of cover and shooting people from there. Also as I previously said, it’s hard to care about what’s going on, so when the action scenes happen there is no intensity or suspense.

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The Gunman isn’t a good movie and it really should have. The talented cast is wasted, the action is not very prevalent and when it’s on screen, it’s only above average quality, the pacing is slow, and it’s hard to care about what’s going on with the poor script and characterisation. It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen this year but there is really no reason to watch it, despite the talent involved. Even in a non-action mind-set, there’s not much enjoyment to be had in watching this movie.

Spy (2015) Review

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Spy

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, Sexual References and Offensive Language
Cast:
Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe/Einar Wegener
Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener
Matthias Schoenaerts as Hans Axgil
Ben Whishaw as Henrik
Amber Heard as Ulla
Sebastian Koch as Dr. Warnekros
Director: Paul Feig

Despite having solid field training, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) has spent her entire career as a desk jockey, working hand-in-hand with dashing agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Using high-tech equipment and a hidden earpiece, Susan is the guardian angel who helps Bradley avoid danger. However, when Bradley is assassinated by Bulgarian arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), Susan wrangles her way into her first undercover assignment to help capture Boyanov and avenge Bradley.

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There have been a lot of spy movies this year, with Kingsman: The Secret Service, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Spectre and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Spy is another one of these movies and like U.N.C.L.E. and Kingsman, is a comedy, and a very good one at that. I haven’t watched any of Melissa McCarthy or Paul Feig’s other movies (Bridesmaids, The Heat) before but now I definitely want to. This movie is really entertaining from start to finish, with good performances, a great script and the movie never had any dull moments.

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When it comes to the plot it wasn’t anything special, someone who isn’t a field agent is forced to become one but despite that, it still worked for the film. The great thing is that they played with the usual plot set up, unlike a lot of films like Get Smart where the spy character isn’t exactly the smartest, McCarthy’s character is great at what she does, making the whole movie more enjoyable as well as fresh and new. With that said, you’re not going to be really focused on the plot, the film was mostly focussed on these characters in these situations and the comedy that insures. This movie is still a comedy and the humour is mixed in well into the movie, and all the actors have at least one great comedic moment in the film.

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This is the first Melissa McCarthy movie I’ve seen and I really liked her here. As I said earlier one thing I like about her character is that it’s not like Get Smart or Pink Panther where the main character is incompetent but yet saves the day (sometimes accidently). Her character here is actually capable and it was very entertaining to watch her be awesome, especially in the action scenes. The supporting cast which had Miranda Hart, Jude Law and Rose Byrne were also really good. The showstealer for me though was Jason Statham. His performance was sort of a parody on his previous action film roles, with him being super intense and overly serious (which he pretty much does in every movie he’s in). There is one moment where he has a monologue which I can only describe as multiple Chuck Norris jokes rolled into one and for me it was the funniest scene in the whole movie.

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The action scenes were actually really good, I haven’t seen The Heat so I don’t know if Spy is the first action movie Paul Feig directed but it was really good. What surprised me is that this movie actually works as an action movie, which really gave Spy even more credibility and separated it from other films with similar premises.

SPY - 2015 FILM STILL - Pictured: Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) clearly has eyes for her partner, superspy Bradley Fine (Jude Law) - Photo Credit: Larry Horricks © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

Spy is a great action comedy movie and I think it’s really worth watching. I haven’t watched any of Paul Feig’s other movies but if they are anywhere near as good as Spy, I would really like to check them out at some point and from this movie alone, I think Paul Feig will deliver a great Ghostbusters movie coming later this year (even if the trailer doesn’t showcase it). From the smart writing, hilarious performances and of course the great comedy, there’s a lot to enjoy about it. Check it out if it interests you.

Hot Pursuit (2015) Review

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Time: 87 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Sexual References
Cast:
Reese Witherspoon as Cooper
Sofía Vergara as Daniella Riva
Director: Anne Fletcher

Straight-arrow policewoman Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) is excited and thrilled about her next assignment. Her task is to escort Daniella Riva (Sofía Vergara), a wisecracking Colombian beauty, from San Antonio to Dallas so both she and her husband can testify against a drug lord. Plans go awry when Mr. Riva gets ambushed, leaving Daniella a widow. Cooper and her witness must now use their wits to escape from crooked cops and murderous gunmen, while not killing each other in the process.

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I’ll just get this out of the way, I haven’t regretted seeing a movie this much since Fifty Shades of Grey. As you can probably tell, my reason for reviewing this movie was because it was called one of the worst of 2015 and I’m currently catching up on everything  that came out last year, like with Fifty Shades of Grey I regretted watching it. Despite its two very talented and credible leads, they have nothing to do in this movie, with horrible writing, unfunny humour and terrible direction. Nothing in this movie works, there really is no reason to watch this movie.

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Right out the gate I’ll say that Hot Pursuit was a worse 2015 comedy than Unfinished Business, not one joke worked. From the very beginning the film didn’t work and it only got worse when Sofia Vergara is brought in, it goes directly from being unfunny to painfully obnoxious. As the film moves along, it somehow gets even worse, with the humour becoming more annoying, forced and at times embarrassing. It only took me 15 minutes for me to hate this movie. This movie’s level of ‘comedy’ can be summed up in one scene: to get Reese Witherspoon out of a situation after being caught trying to look through someone else’s car, Sofia Vergara comes in and acts like her lesbian lover and starts trying to kiss her and it’s all done in an intentionally very awkward way. In the second half of the movie it actually tries to be serious and it doesn’t work because the audience doesn’t even care about what’s going on. The only thing I can thank this movie for is the fact that it’s less than 90 minutes but that’s hardly a compliment.

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Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara are very talented and have been great in comedies. Here though, they have no chemistry and have nothing to work with. Both of them are annoying, whether it be their voices (not the accent, the way they are directed to speak) or the choices that the characters make. Their interactions together drive the movie, and unfortunately that’s where it has the worst moments. It doesn’t help that their characters aren’t really that different from one another, so they can’t really play off each other. Both Witherspoon and Vergara have charisma and can play each other well, look at the bloopers in the end credits, it was much funnier than any line delivered in the actual movie, and both actresses interacted well together. It’s just that the movie gave them horrendous material to work with.

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Hot Pursuit is a hot mess in every sense of the word, the performances were annoying, the writing was worse, the comedy was even worse than that. I don’t know how they managed to get two credible actresses on board with this movie. This movie has absolutely no redeeming element whatsoever and if you are one of the few people that this movie interests, I’d recommend not watching it. I know this movie isn’t supposed to be for me, after watching it though, I can’t see this movie being for anyone.

Top 10 Movies of 2015

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I know that it’s a little late (2-3 months) for me to be posting my best of the year, but I deliberately held off making the list because I wanted to watch many of the later released films like Steve Jobs and Carol. Time went on and progress on my best of the year had been slowed down, but now I’ve finally completed it. I should mention that I haven’t watched every movie, so movies like The Hateful Eight and Room won’t make this list, though I’m sure that I would’ve included them in this list, had I watched them. And yes, I’m going to make a worst of the year list.

Honourable Mentions

Ant Man

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..© Marvel 2014

This movie proved to me that Marvel can do no wrong, at this point they could probably do a Howard the Duck movie and I’d be confident that it would be great. This movie doesn’t have an easy concept to adapt to the big screen but somehow they made it work. Paul Rudd made for a likable character, the supporting cast of Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena and Corey Stoll were also great. It was also a breath of fresh air from the ‘save the world’ type superhero movies and went much smaller scale and the movie really benefited from that. Ant Man is another solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and along with Age of Ultron, shows that Marvel are showing no sign of slowing down.

My review of Ant Man

The Big Short

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

The Big Short didn’t have an easy task: it had to create a story about the collapse of the economy while making it entertaining and interesting for the general going audience, but this movie in my opinion succeeded at doing this. Director Adam McKay (Anchorman) made his directional debut in drama and seeing this makes me think that he might have more success in drama than comedy. The performances from Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and others added even more to the movie. As I said in my review, the film doesn’t always get it right as some of the details did get confusing but the fact that I understood some of the concepts showed how well written and directed this movie was. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

My review of The Big Short

Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Avengers Age of Ultron is a movie that I’ve noticed get a lot of criticism. It’s been compared to the first Avengers quite of bit, and is often called lesser in comparison. In some ways I think that it is better than the previous movie. The characters are more developed (particularly Hawkeye) and the story does go bigger and does everything a sequel needs to do. James Spaders’ Ultron was a little divisive for some people but I actually thought that he made for a pretty entertaining villain. On its own I think Avengers Age of Ultron is a really good movie, whether you compare it to the first film or not. It’s not perfect, but neither was the original film. My trust in Marvel has not wavered after this movie, if anything it has been strengthened.

My review of Avengers: Age of Ultron

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

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The Mission Impossible Franchise has been on the rise ever since its third instalment. No one thought that Ghost Protocol could be topped, with its actions and particularly with the stunts. However Christopher McQuarrie has successfully created a sequel which in my opinion stands at least at the same level of Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise shows once that he can still be great in action films, his supporting cast also does great an Rebecca Fergusson was awesome in this movie (and will probably now be in more movies now). This movie has all the action you can hope for, a water scene, a motorbike chase scene, a car chase scene, and of course, Tom Cruise doing a risky stunt with the airplane. The Mission Impossible franchise is getting better and better the more the series is going on and I’m looking forward to see is get even bigger and better, it’s hard to imagine that happening at this point.

My review of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Steve Jobs

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Despite a lot of hype, Steve Jobs didn’t get the acclaim that it deserved, both by the critics and the box office and I personally don’t understand why. The direction by Danny Boyle was excellent and stylish, working quite well for the movie. The cast also did quite well, Michael Fassbender was magnificent as Steve Jobs, and the supporting cast with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels were also great, they all added to this movie and had their moments. But what tied it all together was Aaron Sorkin’s excellent screenplay. The dialogue, the focus on three important segments of Steve Jobs’s life, everything was well put together. If you haven’t seen Steve Jobs, you really should, it is a dialogue driven movie so it’s not for everyone but even if you aren’t a fan of those types of movies I think this film is worth a watch anyway, it might change your mind.

My review of Steve Jobs

10. Kingsman: The Secret Service

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2015 was a big year for spy movies and in my opinion, Kingsman: The Secret Service was the best out of all of them. With Matthew Vaughn’s excellent direction, Kingsman ended up being one of the most fun cinema experiences I’ve had. The action was so well filmed by Vaughn, in particular the church scene which is completely insane and over the top and fun. The humour was so well put in, it poked fun at the spy genre while being a great one itself. The acting was also great, with newcomer Taron Edgerton impressing, Colin Firth showing that he can do action and Samuel L. Jackson having a ton of fun as an over the top villain. I heard that the sequel is being planned for a 2017 release and after seeing this movie twice, I’m looking forward to seeing it.

My review of Kingsman: The Secret Service

9. The Martian

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Ridley Scott has been making some films that weren’t that good recently (take the Counsellor for instance) but with The Martian, he seems to have made a welcome return. It did do well at focussing on one character struggling to survive, which is no easy task. The cast was great, consisting of Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and many others but it really is Matt Damon’s show here, whether or not this movie would work depends on him. Damon pulls off an excellent performance just right for the film. Unlike a lot of isolated survivor films, his character is very likable and entertaining to watch, and Damon conveyed all of this in a great way. I don’t know if Ridley Scott will go back to making above average films and I don’t know how Alien: Covenant will turn out but at the very least we can say that The Martian is his best film in a long time.

My review of The Martian

8. Inside Out

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Inside Out shows once again how great animated movies can be. It tackled a subject that I didn’t think a kids animated movie would tackle very competently: emotions. However this turned out to be one of the best written and smartest animated movies I’ve seen, I actually think this film was actually more suited to adults. I don’t know if there is any spin offs or sequels to the original movie being planned (nor do I think they are necessary) but in whatever case, Inside Out is quite an excellent movie on its own and one of the best animated films I’ve seen in a while.

My review of Inside Out

7. Sicario

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Denis Villeneuve has proven with Prisoners, Enemy and now Sicario that he’s one of the best directors working today. Everything on the production value was perfect, from the excellent cinematography from Roger Deakins, to the soundtrack from Johann Johannson, and the action scenes so brilliantly filmed by Villenueve, everything is so well put together. The performances were also great from Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro (the latter being a particular standout). With a new film from Denis Villenueve coming out this year (as well as him directing the new Blade Runner), I’m excited to see much more of his work.

6. Spotlight

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Spotlight was one of the best written films of 2015. The way that the dialogue was written, the way the film was paced, the way we learned information about the Boston Priest Molestation scandals at the same rate as the protagonists, everything was nicely strung together by writer and director Tom McCarthy. The ensemble cast consisting of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton and even more added much more to the movie. Now whether the movie deserved Best Picture or not, that’s up for debate. But ignoring the awards, Spotlight really is a great and important film by itself and if you haven’t watched it, you really should.

My review of Spotlight

5. Creed

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I’m not a huge fan of the Rocky movies, I’ve only watched the first film before Creed. I wasn’t particularly excited for this film, sure it had director Ryan Coolger, Michael B. Jordan as well as Sylvester Stallone returning to the role of Rocky but I wasn’t sure of what to expect. Creed was one of the biggest surprises this year. Although it had many beats from the original it did manage to add its own spin on the classic story and made it even better than the original (in my own honest opinion). Creed also had fantastic performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (the latter particularly giving an Oscar worthy performance), and their pairing is what tied the film together. I heard that there is going to be a sequel in 2017, I don’t see how they can top this movie, especially with rumours that Ryan Coogler won’t be involved. I think that Creed can stand on its own as a great movie, and one of the best of 2015.

My review of Creed

Now these top 4 movies could honestly be put in any order, they are all 10/10 movies to me.

NOTE: My top 4 of the year had changed since I’ve made this list. Further below I will list the order.

4. The Revenant

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The Revenant was one of the most intriguing cinema experiences I’ve had. As I said in my review, The Revenant is one of the best directed movies I’ve ever seen. Everything looked real and there were times when I could honestly not know how they managed to shoot certain scenes, take the bear attack scene for instance. Fantastic performances by actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter elevate this movie even further. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has proved along with Birdman that he is one of the best directors working today. I know that The Revenant has some divided people and to be fair, I know that this film isn’t for everyone. But even if you don’t like it, I hope you appreciate some of the strong aspects of the film. I know I gave The Revenant a 9 in my original review but months after seeing it, I have to say that it is a 10/10 movie.

My review of The Revenant

3. Carol

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Carol is one of the best romance films I’ve seen in a long time and director Todd Haynes crafted this entire film perfectly. First of all the setting is right from the 50s with great attention to detail, whether it comes to production design, costumes, you name it. However the excellent acting is the highlight of the film, with Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett shining and delivering some of the best performances of their career, and that’s saying a lot. The subtlety in their relationship is what makes the love story so great and along with the writing, both actresses convey that perfectly. Carol has unfortunately not gotten enough attention from a lot of people, especially when it comes to awards. If you truly appreciate film, I recommend checking out this movie.

My review of Carol

2. Mad Max Fury Road

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As I said in my review, Mad Max Fury Road is one of the best action movies of the decade so far. It blended in practical effects with minimal CGI effects and it was the perfect balance, not one moment did it feel overly fake or CGI. The action scenes were some of the best I’ve ever seen but it’s not just the action scenes that impressed me. The film can do so much with so little, it had a story but achieved it through visual means, not requiring a lot of dialogue to explain what was going on. It is one of the most visual immersive movies I’ve ever seen and it will be remembered for years to come. On a side note I know that some people are unhappy that this movie didn’t win Best Picture but I think I should say that it’s an achievement in itself that Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie that could be just considered a non stop action movie, was recognised by the Academy with a nomination.

My review of Mad Max: Fury Road

1. Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens did what Creed and Mad Max Fury Road has done: create a new instalment in a franchise while making it a great movie on its own. The new cast with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and others show great promise and the next films look great. I will say that The Force Awakens is my third favourite Star Wars movie, in front of Return of the Jedi and behind A New Hope. The fact that The Force Awakens is anywhere near as good as the original trilogy is an achievement in itself. I am truly excited to see what these new Star Wars films have to offer in the years to come.

My review of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens

NOTE:
Now my top 4 of the year is as follows:
1. Carol
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Mad Max Fury Road
4. The Revenant

So what do you think of my picks for the best of the year? Do you agree with them or disagree with them? What are your personal picks?

The Danish Girl (2015) Review

Eddie Redmayne stars as Lili Elbe, in Tom Hooper’s THE DANISH GIRL, released by Focus Features. Credit: Focus Features

The Danish Girl

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Nudity and Sex Scenes
Cast:
Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe/Einar Wegener
Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener
Matthias Schoenaerts as Hans Axgil
Ben Whishaw as Henrik
Amber Heard as Ulla
Sebastian Koch as Dr. Warnekros
Director: Tom Hooper

After standing in as a female model for a painting by his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), Danish artist Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) becomes enamored with his feminine identity and begins living as a woman named Lili Elbe. Although their marriage becomes strained, Gerda stands by Lili as she explores her true self and eventually undergoes one of the world’s first gender-reassignment surgeries in the 1930s.

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Ever since the first image of Eddie Redmayne in this movie came out, I was intrigued. This sounded like an interesting movie, as well with Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander’s and Tom Hooper’s involvement. While it’s not great, I do think that The Danish Girl is worth seeing for its performances from its lead actors. The production design and direction of the scenes are still pretty good as well and the overall direction of the scenes from Hooper was decent. However its writing didn’t quite hold up, and unfortunately does bring down the movie a little bit from what it could’ve been.

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As I just mentioned, I felt that the writing was the weakest aspect of the movie. I don’t think it’s bad by any means and it gets the job done in moving the plot and characters along. I did hear that it was inaccurate from the original story but I don’t know of the original story. I will say that I thought that Redmayne’s change and how that affected his and Vikander’s relationship was handled well. But the writing did fall short of what it could’ve been. The movie despite being 2 hours long did feel like 2 hours and a half, I think it was stretched out a little too much. I also thought that the film really didn’t explore who these two characters actually were. After the seeing the movie I realised that apart from their place in the plot, I didn’t really know much of who they are. There was some emotional component that was missing from this movie, I can’t exactly determine what it is.

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Eddie Redmayne is again incredible and made up for his disastrous performance in Jupiter Ascending. I thought his transition and discovery was very believable, he manages to portray both Einar and ‘Lili’, and seemed totally different from one another, this must’ve been a very difficult role to pull off. The fact that when Eddie Redmayne is dressed up as a woman, actually looked like a woman helped, in fact he looked more out of place when he wasn’t dressed up as a woman, both physically and emotionally. Alicia Vikander is also great, she gets a lot to do in this movie as a wife seeing her husband slowly disappearing and coming to terms with his transformation. Although I felt that the characters didn’t have that much depth in terms of the writing, both Redmayne and Vikander made them seem like real people and elevated themselves above the material given.

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The production designs and value was great and I thought that it reflected the 1920s time period quite well. The soundtrack by Johann Johansson was also great. The scenes and the overall film were directed well by Tom Hooper, my problem is really not with his visual direction, it was the script that had the most problems.

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The Danish Girl isn’t that great of a movie and doesn’t hold up as well on its own. The writing could’ve been better, the pacing could’ve been handled better and the characters weren’t as well written as they should’ve. But it’s the performances from Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander that make the film worth watching. Sure the movie on the whole could’ve been better, especially with the writing, but the performances are good enough for me to recommend this movie.

The Lazarus Effect (2015) Review

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The Lazarus Effect

Time: 83 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Horror
Cast:
Mark Duplass as Frank Walton
Olivia Wilde as Zoe McConnell
Sarah Bolger as Eva
Evan Peters as Clay
Donald Glover as Niko
Ray Wise as Mr. Wallace
Director: David Gelb

Medical researcher Frank (Mark Duplass), his fiancée Zoe (Olivia Wilde) and their team have achieved the impossible: they have found a way to revive the dead. After a successful, but unsanctioned, experiment on a lifeless animal, they are ready to make their work public. However, when their dean learns what they’ve done, he shuts them down. Zoe is killed during an attempt to recreate the experiment, leading Frank to test the process on her. Zoe is revived — but something evil is within her.

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Most horror movies nowadays are terrible, with the exception of a few gems like The Babadook and Oculus. Most of them are by the numbers, have bad horror clichés and straight up aren’t scary at all. So how does The Lazarus Effect hold up? It doesn’t, it’s not scary (and as you probably guessed, relies on unscary jump scares), it felt dull and failed to thrill despite its initially interesting premise. However I wouldn’t call it a terrible movie. It does have a decent cast and the direction for the most part is fine and it’s nowhere near as bad as some other horror movies of today. But still, it’s not a good movie and not worth your time.

M182 (Left to right.) Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde star in Relativity Media's "The Lazarus Effect". © 2013 BACK TO LIFE PRODUCTIONS, LLC Photo Credit: Suzanne Hanover

This movie does have an interesting premise with the whole resurrection element, and what happens after people die. Despite this, at many points this movie just feels boring and dull, and there were so many missed opportunities to take the film into a scarier or at least more interesting level. Olivia Wilde dies like 30 minutes into the movie before getting brought back, that’s a third into the movie, so you can imagine how boring the road felt leading up to it. The tension only appears during certain scenes of the movie, it’s not maintained throughout most of the movie. It doesn’t help that this movie isn’t scary at all, but I’ll get to how the ‘scares’ are handled later on.

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This movie has a great cast, which was one of the few things that this movie had going for it. The cast was filled with talented actors such as Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters and many more. I thought that they did well with what they were given, despite not having very well written characters. They might actually be the best part of the movie and might be the only thing that sort of works, which is sad really.

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With the exception of the actual horror scenes, the movie is generally well directed and the production value is quite decent. Unfortunately when it comes to the horror scenes, it follows plenty of horror clichés. The Lazarus Effect, like other horror movies of today rely on jump scares, there are at least 10 of them, I counted them. Most of the jump scares I saw coming, though I will say that out of all the jump scares only 1 of them was a fake jump scare, but that’s hardly a compliment at this point in time.

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Overall The Lazarus Effect could’ve been an interesting horror movie with an interesting premise and a great cast but given the reception of this movie I didn’t go in expecting much and I got what I was expecting. It was brought down by unscary ‘horror’ scenes and a somehow bad plot, even though it promised a somewhat interesting result. It’s one of those movies like Transcendence which have good ideas but still doesn’t culminate in a good movie. Still, it’s nowhere near as bad as other horror movies of today like Ouija, that’s not saying much though as most movies aren’t at that level of horribleness.

 

Steve Jobs (2015) Review

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Steve Jobs

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs
Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman
Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak
Jeff Daniels as John Sculley
Director: Danny Boyle

With public anticipation running high, Apple Inc. co-founders Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and Steve “Woz” Wozniak (Seth Rogen) get ready to unveil the first Macintosh in 1984. Jobs must also deal with personal issues related to ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterson) and their young daughter Lisa. Eventually fired, Jobs launches NeXT Inc. and prepares to release a new computer model in 1988. Ten years later, Jobs is back at Apple Inc. and about to revolutionize the industry once again with the iMac.

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This movie had been going through many changes, with names like David Fincher considered to direct and names like Christian Bale considered to star. Despite all this controversy and work around the project, for whatever reason Steve Jobs was a box office flop, which is a shame because this movie was really great. Steve Jobs had great performances, especially from lead Michael Fassbender, a pretty good direction by Danny Boyle and a fantastic script by Aaron Sorkin. All this culminated in a great movie that shouldn’t be missed.

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Before going in, you should know that this movie isn’t a biopic of Steve Job’s life, this takes place in three points of his life. Some may be disappointed in this but I felt that the moments were well chosen, connected well and were the most interesting and relevant parts of his life to tell. Even though the film doesn’t explore his past, it does explore who Steve Jobs is as a person. One thing I liked about this movie is that it doesn’t really sugar coat who Steve Jobs was as a person but it also allowed us to see why he thinks how he thinks. When the Steve Jobs movie was in development, I immediately thought that the best writer for the script would be Aaron Sorkin due to his work on The Social Network and surely enough, that’s what happened and once again Sorkin is as much of a star as the actors were in the movie. This is a dialogue driven movie and Aaron Sorkin absolutely excels at that. As this is a dialogue driven movie, not everyone will love it, and I can see how some people might get bored if that’s not the sort of film they like. As someone who really likes well written dialogue driven movies, I personally loved it.

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Michael Fassbender is phenomenal as Steve Jobs and this is one of his best performances, and that’s saying a lot. It wasn’t overly showy like it could’ve been, it was just right and felt completely natural. I did not see Michael Fassbender playing Steve Jobs, I just saw Steve Jobs. Other actors like Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels were also excellent in their roles, and despite Fassbender being the star, they pull off solid performances and are memorable when they were on screen.

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This being a Danny Boyle film, you can expect that this movie will be very stylish. Even though this is the case with most of his movies fortunately he held back with Steve Jobs and allowed the actors and Sorkin to take centre stage instead of his style and direction. One decision I loved was the change of lens the first act of the movie was shot in 60mm, the second act was shot in 35mm and the last act was shot in digital, as it showed a progression in technology as time went on. Little things like that make this movie even better.

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Steve Jobs has great acting, an excellent script and great direction from Danny Boyle. It was a shame that this movie didn’t get more attention when it came out because it definitely deserves it. If you get a chance to see it, do so. But if you do decide to see it make sure you know what you are in for.