Top 10 Movies of 2015

Let’s do this.

10.) Project Almanac
There are teen movies, and then there are teen movies. This one pretty much perfectly captures the spirit of today’s youth, with a mix of gritty realism and a heavy coating of young, fun, thirsty-af vigor. Not to mention the whole time travel part of it is pretty well done.project-almanac.jpg

9.) Victor Frankenstein
The soundtrack, the snazzy editing, the great lead actors, the overall design and just the fun of it all made this movie for me. It was magnificent, and I don’t care what any highbrow rottentomatoes armchair critic has to say about it (won’t be the last time I say that on this list).Victor_Frankenstein_2015

8.) The Martian
The one time 3D has ever been kind-of sort-of worth it. And the best space-flick ever, in my opinion. Not that that’s saying much as I don’t think the genre’s really been tapped to its full potential, but still. A noble award.The_Martian_film_poster

7.) Everest
It’s a harrowing movie about a harrowing true story, and the final pictures after the credits roll still give me goosebumps when put side-by-side with the identical shots in the movie. Baltasar Kormákur nailed it.Everest_poster

6.) The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
It’s the snazziest, sexiest cold war movie I’ve ever seen. Do you know the plot beats before you go in? Sure. Have you ever seen them delivered with this much raw panache and style? Probably not. Plus, the soundtrack is sick.sM6KRdy

5.) Ex Machina
It’s a movie that makes you think about why sex with robots could but won’t be the future. Need I say more? It’s REALLY thought-provoking and just all-around fantastic.ex-machina-poster

4.) Mad Max: Fury Road
Good soundtracks are a reoccurring theme on this list, and Mad Max is no exception. Great soundtrack, great action, fun plot, kick-ass leads.mad-max-fury-road

3.) Ant-Man
After the travesty that was Age of Ultron, I thought I was going to have to boycott Marvel. And I just might, if Civil War sucks too, but for now, Ant-Man has reminded me just how much fun the comic book movie genre can be.Ant-Man_poster

2.) Fantastic Four
Read my two reviews of this movie (I went to see it twice in theatres and bought it on DVD, as well, just to make sure I wasn’t being subconsciously contrarian for the hell of it) if you want the juicy details. Basically, it’s a better version of Interstellar with a comic book twist at the end. And I love that. Plus, great soundtrack.images

1.) Kingsmen: The Secret Service
It’s a 2015 release in the U.S., so, deal with it. This might just be my favorite straight-up action movie of all time. It’s so fun and visceral and playful but thoughtful at the same time, while dancing with meta-humor but never so much as to break the immersion. Basically, it’s as close to perfect as I think I’ll see in this lifetime. Aaaaaaand… it has a great soundtrack. In no world did I expect to hear Dizzie Rascal’s Bonkers in a movie theatre. But it happened.Kingsman_The_Secret_Service_poster.jpg

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Review of “Ant-Man”

Absolutely stellar.

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After the disgraceful show of incompetence that was the contrived and bloated yet paradoxically hollow Age of Ultron, my faith in Marvel had been violently shaken, to the point where I literally waited two weeks just for ticket prices to go down for this flick. This was the make or break point, as if Marvel screwed me over with two consecutive blunders I was hopping ship. Luckily, it seemed Age of Ultron was just the ugly stepchild in an otherwise beautiful family of movies, Ant-Man being the latest addition to the long list of reasons for why we (generally) love Marvel.

Ant-Man, in my opinion, is just as much of a technical masterpiece as the original Iron Man. On all cylinders, it nails every beat in its story and captures that same magic. The only difference and reason I find myself still preferring the original Iron Man is simply because I like Downey Jr. and the concept of the Iron Man suit more. BUT, Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are awesome, no denying that, and the Ant-Man suit is pretty cool as well.

Some people have been complaining that Ant-Man isn’t big enough (pun fully intended), in terms of its action. I beg to differ. While the small-scale of this adventure is appreciated, I would’ve liked if it had gone even smaller. Minor Spoiler: throughout the movie, one massive building is warped out of existence and a certain toy train gets blown up to the size of a real train, as well as a key chain tank. Those are the three major *boom* events of the movie, and even so, they still seemed a bit much for what the movie needed. I guess a certain minimum of *boom* is required in Hollywood these days, but Ant-Man came so close to breaking that trend. I understand Feige and the Marvel overlords would never allow the movie to have a scope even smaller than the current one, but still, in a dream world Ant-Man would’ve embraced its true size even more.

Besides that single complaint about the scope not being quite small enough (still, I love that it is substantially smaller than most other Hollywood flicks), all I have is praise for the movie. Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly are all great, and so are Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale. I loved the entire cast, basically. One stand-out was Michael Pena, who has two monologue-ish sequences, both of which are my favorite bits in the entire movie. In fact, Michael Pena just brought the heat. I was the only person in the theatre who couldn’t help but laugh out loud when he said “that’s some David Copperfield shit” in response to seeing Rudd’s Ant-Man for the first time. And then he says some funny stuff about what kind of art he likes at an art gallery, and it’s all just great dialogue. I could smell Edgar Wright’s work in this from a mile away. A+ stuff. Not to mention the other members of Rudd’s heist team were great; T.I. Harris and David Dastmalchian (the actor who played that one psycho guy during the attempted Gordon assassination in The Dark Knight!) were awesome in their smaller roles. In fact, I’m pretty sure I just named everyone in the primary cast, mainly because they were all fantastic. Easily my favorite full cast of any Marvel movie yet. Everyone, literally everyone, was great. Even the little girl who plays Rudd’s daughter was phenomenal, though she could’ve acted a bit more scared when Yellowjacket was seemingly threatening to kill her. Otherwise, she was perfect. And speaking of Yellowjacket, how could I forget to mention my House of Cards boy, Corey Stoll! Dude was fucking great! Loved him! Some say he was a cliche villain, but for this movie’s purposes I think he was just believable enough to work. And lastly, but definitely not least, a certain Avenger makes a sizable appearance in this movie. Anthony Mackie is present in Ant-Man and manages to deliver the perfect level of MCU integration without over-encroaching on the movie’s Rudd-centric focus.

That’s another aspect of Ant-Man I loved: there was a large amount of MCU world-building present, but none of it felt intrusive. In fact, what they built off of from Age of Ultron almost made all of that movie’s utter shit worth it. Almost. There’s also a really cool intro involving old-SHIELD featuring Howard Stark and Peggy Carter, reminding us that the old world referenced in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The First Avenger is still a thing.

Script-wise, the amount of humor present was absolutely perfect. This was naturally going to be a slightly funnier movie based solely off the premise and Edgar Wright’s inclusion, but unlike Iron Man 3, this movie knows what it is. It doesn’t try to balance heroic epic with comedic adventure, it just accepts that it is the latter and soars with flying colors.

Lastly, Ant-Man himself is awesome. The size-shifting nature of the hero is put to use in some of the coolest and most creative scenes I’ve witnessed in comic book hero cinematic history, and the utter enjoyment I got out of watching Rudd flung from a DJ’s soundboard onto a scattered dance floor where he had to dodge go-go boots was borderline unreasonable. It was just so much fun, I can’t even express it.

Overall, the more I talk about the movie, the more I realize how much I loved it. While Iron Man will always hold that special number one spot in my heart, Ant-Man has quickly nudged itself to a cozy number two, easily being the best thing to come out of Marvel Studios since 2008.